The Real Reason Your Website Visitors Aren’t Buying

Are you missing your conversion goals? Here's the real reason your site visitors aren't buying. Hint: It has nothing to do with your website design.
Columnist, American Express OPEN
March 04, 2014

We’re all selling something. The challenge remains: How do we get people to buy from us more often and with a contagious fervor that sends more folks just like them our way?

If you’re finding that your on-site conversions aren’t where you’d like them to be, you might be missing the real reason.

It’s not your logo. It’s definitely not your WordPress theme (though I’ve seen some that scream 1992). And it’s not your AdWords targeting.

It’s emotion—and you're lacking it.

Emotion: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

With over 102,000 online retailers in the U.S. alone, there’s a fair share of competition out there for your customer’s attention. That number doesn’t even factor in sites that sell service-based goods or those where a good conversion is considered something like a subscriber sign-up or other opt-in action.

To rise above the tide of online noise, your on-site experience has to evoke an emotional response. You have to serve up feeling for three squares a day to your audience, or else you’ll get lost in the shuffle.

Why don’t we have a listen to what four experts have to say about using emotions to increase conversions? After all—if you can fix something, you want to fix it. Right?

Get Motivated

Your site visitors landed on your site for a reason. Whatever that reason might be, it’s now your job to keep them there. Keith Hagan of ConversionIQ, a Denver-based tech firm that specializes in helping companies increase online conversions, helps clients understand the “why behind the buy,” or the site visitor’s motivation.

“We then work with our clients to identify the primary motivation of the user and address that upfront, commonly in the homepage headline,” Hagan says. “For example, the most common reason women purchase vanity items like skin care, shapewear and apparel isn’t to 'look good,' but to feel confident. Once you talk that up, conversion rates follow.”

Your action item: Have three strangers go to the homepage of your website. Ask them to tell you what the homepage makes them feel and want to do. If the answer is nothing (or not the feelings or actions you’re hoping for), then you have your first emotion-driven action item to tackle. You need to find out and understand how people want to feel when they come to your website. Try polling current customers to get clearer insights on what they really want, then shift your messaging and tie your on-page calls to action to those desired feelings.

Improve a Situation

Still a bit flummoxed by this whole “emotions” thing? Sunny Hunt, CEO of Hunt Interaction, a Salt Lake City-based company that helps companies build better customers, asks her clients to start with improving something.

“Customers are looking to solve a problem, even a problem they didn't know they had, and problems come with emotional baggage,” Hunt says. “One of the best ways to engage and convert an audience is to answer one simple question: How does buying this product/service make my life better?”

But Hunt doesn’t let her customers stop after answering that one question. Instead, she helps her clients demonstrate how their products and services improve upon their audience’s current situation. That’s where the emotional connection comes in—a brand’s ability to truly deliver on the improvement of their audience’s current situation.

Your action item: Make a list of the ways your products and services make your customers’ lives better. Again, you can even send out a poll to current customers to get answers straight from the source. (Please, don’t guess how you make their lives better—they’ll happily tell you!) Once you have those responses, review your website with one neutral party—someone who can be objective about your brand. Your goal? To find out: a) if your site clearly addresses the idea your products make lives better; and b) if your site demonstrates the “how,” the ways the product improves current situations.

If They Feel It, They Will Come (Back)

Spreadshirt knows all too well how crowded the online customized t-shirt market is, and Adam Lidsky, marketing manager for Spreadshirt, also knows firsthand that if people feel you, they’ll come back—and they’ll bring their friends.

“We spend a lot of time trying to create 'Spreadshirt moments' to elicit feelings of belonging. We want our customers to feel comfortable expressing themselves and to connect with the personalized products they create,” Lidsky says. “Involving our customers in these moments removes risk from the buying process and elicits a desire to be included. This leads to higher conversions.”

And the best part? Spreadshirt is realizing that people are coming back not because they can create a t-shirt or mug with their baby’s picture on it. They’re coming back because of how they felt when they saw and held what they created with their baby’s picture on it.

Your action item: Review your brand and answer one question: How are we inviting our customers to share their experiences with our brand? Many brands have regular customer shout-outs on Twitter and Facebook. Others do a great job of interacting with their brand advocates across social media. By establishing an emotional connection with your audience, you’re giving them a reason to interact with and share you. But are you making it easy for them to share you?

Feeling is where it’s at. The next time you find your conversion goals lagging behind your brand aspirations, take an emotional inventory. With all the competition out there for your customers’ attention, don’t you want to be the brand they love, remember, buy from and share? I know it’s scary, but hugging it out is a solid sales strategy.

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Photo: iStockphoto

Columnist, American Express OPEN