12 Hidden Obstacles to Online Lead Generation

If you’re like most of the business owners who initially turn to us for help, you’re dealing with two obstacles. The first is that your website isn’t actually creating any sales opportunities for you. And the second is that you don’t have any idea why that might be.

This issue is far more common than you might think. Everyone wants a website that will help them win new customers and create revenue, but most business owners don’t actually know how to build a workable sales funnel. That’s our specialty, of course. 

What we often discover in working with new clients is that the first step to generating leads is actually removing the obstacles that get in the way. In other words, before you can do the right things, you have to stop doing the wrong ones.

In today’s post, we want to take you through a dozen of the most obvious and common errors we see when evaluating client sites. Here are some quick reasons your website might not be selling the way you want it to.

1. Your Website Has No Traffic

If no one is coming to your website and seeing your content, then you can’t be surprised that leads aren’t pouring in. While the relationship between web traffic and sales opportunities isn’t always as straightforward as business owners think, you do need one to get the other. 

If you don’t have sufficient interest in your website to generate traffic, it might be time to look at search engine optimization, internet advertising, email marketing, and other tactics that draw visitors in.

2. Your Pages Load Too Slowly

Sometimes it can seem as if you have plenty of visits to your website when in reality no one is viewing your content. How can this happen? If your webpages take a long time (i.e. more than a few seconds) to load, then you might be losing visitors before you ever get the chance to sell.

Slow websites are usually a symptom of underpowered web hosting, coding errors, or issues with improperly formatted content. These kinds of problems are easily detectable with a website audit and should be easy to fix.

3. Your Website Layout Isn’t Mobile-Friendly

Did you know that more than half of all the visitors to most websites are using mobile-ready phones and tablets? If your layout isn’t configured to be compatible with these devices, then users might leave… Or they might not even get the chance to see your content in the first place.

There are plenty of ways to add mobile functionality to an existing business website. The technology is easy and inexpensive and can have a huge impact on your ability to generate sales opportunities online. Why wouldn’t you want half or more of your prospects to be able to see what your company has to offer?

4. Your Pages Have Technical Errors or Broken Links

There are a lot of things that can go wrong on a business website that aren’t apparent to the naked eye. You could have missing pieces of content, outdated plugins, or links that don’t actually go from one page or tool to another. This is especially prevalent on older websites, or those that have been created using DIY tools and templates.

An experienced web design team (using auditing software) can detect these kinds of issues and clean them up very quickly. If you never look for these kinds of problems, though, you might not realize they are preventing website visitors from turning into qualified leads.

5. Your Web Design Hurts Your Credibility

When someone arrives at your website for the first time, they have to make near-instant assumptions about the quality of your products and services. The initial impression they get from your designs and layouts can be all-important.

If you have a color scheme that doesn’t work, outdated low-res images to sell your products and services, or a generally disorganized feel to your content, then that’s going to tell a story that works against you. Remember, a lot of people who come to your website won’t know anything about you except for what they see right in front of them. Make sure it doesn’t convince them to take their time and money elsewhere.

6. There Are Obvious Typos on Your Pages

This can seem like a minor issue on your business website, especially if you spent a lot of money on design and development. What we want you to understand, though, is that no one will share their contact information with you if they don’t trust the credibility of your company. And few things destroy confidence in your professionalism faster than a whole bunch of obvious typos and grammatical errors.

It’s easy and inexpensive to have someone proofread the content on your website. That one investment of time and money can boost your lead generation results in a big way.

7. Your Content Doesn’t Set Your Business Apart

If your business seems like it blends in with all of your competitors, then why should anyone work with you? In other words, if you aren’t offering anything unique then there isn’t any reason to choose the products and services your company offers.

This shouldn’t be an issue in most marketing situations, but we frequently come across websites that have obviously been “inspired” by another more successful business. Being generic, blending in, or copying other business owners is no way to make a name for yourself, and it’s generally not going to help you attract new customers.

8. Potential Customers Don’t Trust You

Sometimes intentional customers won’t trust you even though your design and content are strong. It might be that they’ve been burned in the past or have seen your competitors overhyping their own products and services.

If you suspect that might be the case, then your best bet is to do whatever you can to make your business more trustworthy. That might include showing off verified reviews, pointing out that you are a member of the Better Business Bureau, or even highlighting a money-back guarantee. Any of these can help remove distrust and encourage conversion.

9. What You’re Asking Isn’t Realistic

Imagine for a moment you were trying to sell a mansion on your website. Would you put up some photos and a “buy now” button, or maybe include a downloadable brochure that invited visitors to an open house?

This is a ridiculous example, but it points to a bigger issue. What you ask for as a next-step working version of your website needs to be reasonable and realistic. If you ask visitors to give up too much, too soon, then you’re bound to be disappointed by the results.

10. There Isn’t an Obvious Conversion Option for Customers to Follow

In order for your website to generate leads, you’re going to have to ask visitors to take a step that goes beyond simply reading your content. You might want them to sign up for a webinar, download a buyer’s guide, schedule a phone call, or do something else. The specifics aren’t as important as the need to be clear in your invitation.

If website visitors can’t tell what they should do to let you know they are interested, then you can’t be surprised when they don’t ever follow up. And if they don’t follow-up, you aren’t creating any new sales.

11. Your Lead or Purchase Link Doesn’t Work

It’s amazing how often we see this kind of issue pop up. It only makes sense, if you want to generate leads for your website, that you would have working apps or features in place that allow people to share email addresses, download white papers, sign up for appointments, etc. However, lots of marketers never test these tools to ensure that they are working properly.

You need to check and double-check every part of your conversion process. Be sure they all work, and that they’re functional with a variety of browsers and devices. If you don’t, you could be letting sales opportunities slip away without ever realizing it.

12. There Aren’t Any Follow Up Mechanisms in Place

Even when you do have a strong sales funnel in place and don’t have any obvious errors on your website, many prospects simply aren’t going to become leads the first time you ask them. They might want to talk with a spouse or supervisor, for example, before submitting an inquiry or scheduling an appointment.

If you don’t have any follow up mechanisms in place – such as a retargeting an ad campaign or automated email autoresponder series – those opportunities might be lost forever. Make it easy for potential customers to stay in touch, or give them second and third chances to say “yes” to the next step in your sales funnel.

Could Your Website Be Doing More For Your Business?

It used to be enough to have a professional business website that told prospects all about your business and your products. In today’s digital marketing world, though, you need a tool that helps you establish your brand, drawing qualified leads, and generate finished sales. You might even want your website to process orders, automate mundane tasks, and help with recruiting.

Why Google Might Be Ignoring Your WordPress Website

It is often taken as a given that WordPress websites are going to be search engine-friendly. And to be fair, that’s usually the case. A lot of WordPress sites rank well in Google because the CMS is easy for search engine spiders to crawl and encourages content creation in a straightforward way.

However, that’s not the same as saying your WordPress business website will necessarily stand out in Google’s search listings. In fact, there are a number of reasons the search engine might ignore your WordPress site altogether, or at least bury you so deeply in the rankings that no one ever finds your website at all.

Today, we want to look at a few of the reasons this could happen to you…

Your Website Doesn’t Have Its Own Domain

Sure, you can save a few dollars by hosting your website in WordPress instead of its own domain. But by doing so you give away ownership of your pages and your content. You also signal to Google and the other search engines that you’re maintaining your website as a hobby rather than a serious concern. Add all those details together and it’s easy to see why your posts aren’t going to rank very highly.

Your Theme Doesn’t Work

The theme you choose for your WordPress website matters more than you might think. Although a lot of business owners tend to choose based on aesthetics, the fact of the matter is that some templates and layouts are more search-friendly than others. That’s particularly true when you consider that certain themes might rely on bloated code, outdated plug-ins, or graphical elements that slow your website down.

There Are Technical Problems with Your Site

This builds on the last point we made. There are certain technical, behind-the-scenes factors that affect the search visibility of your website. These include the time it takes for your pages to load, whether your layout and content are compatible with mobile devices, and whether you have any broken links or plug-ins on your pages. Each of these issues is problematic for users, which means Google will send its search users elsewherewhether you’re using WordPress or not.

You Aren’t Actually Posting or Optimizing Content

Simply installing WordPress doesn’t do anything magical. It might make the process of creating and posting content easier, but it won’t actually do it for you. It’s no secret that nearly all high-ranking websites feature regular blog posts and updates. You need to follow their example, and make sure you are using the right tools and advice to optimize everything you publish, if you expect search traffic to find its way to your pages.

Readers Don’t Like Your Content

Speaking of content, you need to be a source of high-quality articles and ideas if you’re going to attract search traffic. For one thing, engagement is now a major search signal, meaning Google will pay attention to the amount of time users are spending on your website. And for another thing, there isn’t really much point in attracting a high volume of search traffic if no one is hanging around to engage with your content. So, write for your target audience first and then search optimize your content only after you’re happy with the ideas you presented.

7 Ways to Deal with Online Competitors and Their Dirty Tricks

In most business books and classes, competitors are treated like an abstract concept. They are in the background, like gravity, but don’t really affect you except as a thought exercise. In that context, the way to deal with them is simple: just do what you do better than anyone else and let customers figure out that you offer more value on their own.

As most of us know, the real world doesn’t really work like that. You do have to concentrate on your own business, but your competitors are anything but abstract. They are people just like you. In fact, in some cases they are petty, unethical, and downright dishonest.

That brings us to a question that’s rarely ever addressed directly enough: how do you deal with the dirty tricks they play? What should you do to fight back when they try to run ads using your brand names, put up websites that look like your own, or try to copy your products? What are your options when they post fake online reviews, try to steal your content, or market their products or services with lies?

In today’s post we are going to give you the answers. But first, a quick warning: don’t try to fight bad behavior with more bad behavior. While it might not always seem like it, those who perpetrate online lies and scams usually get caught. And once they do, they can face severe consequences, ranging from legal challenges to blacklists from search engines and social platforms. Your competitor might be willing to risk the future of their business, but that doesn’t mean you should put yours in jeopardy.

With that little bit of fine print out of the way, let’s look at seven ways you can deal with dishonest online competitors and their dirty tricks…

1. Run Defensive PPC Ads

Suppose you have industry-leading products and services, or just draw a lot of traffic to your website. Your competitors might take an approach that could be summed up as “if you can’t be them, imitate them.” That usually involves running search and social ads based on branded terms or product names that are normally associated with your company. In other words, they try to steal web traffic that’s meant for your website.

An easy way around this is to simply run your own ads for the same terms or branded search phrases. You might not prefer to spend money on search traffic that was meant for you anyway, and that’s understandable. However, you’ll end up getting most of those visits at a very low price (usually pennies per click). And in the process, you’ll deprive your competitor of that web traffic while also driving up their pay-per-click budget at the same time.

2. Lock Up the Right Domains

A similar tactic some dishonest competitors will use is to direct searchers towards a website that looks like it’s owned by your company. Usually they’ll be savvy enough to employ a variation that’s just different enough from yours to avoid any legal liability. Again, the goal is to siphon traffic away from your website and towards their copycat pages.

If you have a very popular company, it’s worth taking the time to snap up a handful of related domains. As with running ads on your own branded search terms, this can be annoying but it’s ultimately going to be inexpensive.

Not sure which domains you should reserve to play defense against your competitors? Get together with your web design team to evaluate search in traffic patterns, along with your most important keywords or brand names. Then you can come up with a list of the most obvious targets and lock them up before your competitors can.

3. Monitor Your Online Reviews

One particularly nasty tactic some desperate competitors will use involves hiring people to post negative reviews of your business. The theory in this case is that if they can’t beat you on price, service, or value, they can at least make you look worse in the eyes of potential customers who might not know better.

This is an area where a little preparation goes a long way. For a few dollars a month you can have your web development team deploy reputation management software that will keep you informed any time someone leaves feedback about your business. If lots of false and negative reviews show up at once, you’ll be alerted before they can do any damage, and as an added bonus you can use the same tools to improve your reputation online with legitimate reviews, boosting your sales in the process.

4. Protect Your Content

There are lots of scams related to web content, but a competitor who is jealous of your success may simply use it as their own. Unfortunately, this is something that’s common enough for us to have seen dozens of times.

Protecting yourself from this kind of theft is pretty simple. There are software tools (like Copyscape) that will scour the web and let you know if someone has posted your copy-written material. If you find that has happened, you can contact the company hosting the offending website and have them remove the pages right away. Google and the other search engines will also take action against blatant content duplication or scraping. However, you have to monitor the web and be aware of the problem before you can do anything about it.

5. Post Comparison Product Reviews

Sometimes, the problem with competitors is that they try to pass their products or services off as better, using false or misleading information. If you come across minor exaggerations, you might not care enough to address them. If you feel like they’ve shared something inaccurate that’s going to hurt sales, though, you might decide to take the issue head-on.

The easiest way to do that is to simply post a side-by-side comparison video or product review. Just put what you have to offer up against the competition and point out the differences in a clear and accurate way. This type of content tends to attract plenty of views and can be easy for buyers to understand. 

Just be sure that you are sharing your facts, comparisons, and assessments. Being untruthful or overboard doesn’t help you. In fact, it just makes it harder for customers to separate you from others who are being unethical with their marketing.

6. Get Customers to Tell the Story

Even if you are completely honest and straightforward in your marketing, it can be hard to get buyers to pay attention. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem: because your competitors lie, it’s difficult for buyers to trust you. And because they don’t trust you, they can’t see the value in what you are offering.

To get around this stumbling block, you just have to let your satisfied customers do the talking for you. People might not believe marketers, but they do believe impartial reviewers who look and act like themselves. So, if you have testimonials from customers who faced the same problems that the rest of your target market is dealing with, get them to share their experiences.

The caveat here is to make sure your reviewers are uncompensated, specific about the benefits they received, and are easy to verify. Do that, and their kind words will do more to boost your sales than any kind of marketing content ever could.

7. Just Keep Leading the Pack

You knew this piece of advice was coming, didn’t you? As frustrating as it might be, the best way to deal with an unethical competitor is usually to ignore them and do your own thing. They might be getting under your skin, but they probably aren’t making a very big dent in your bottom line.

Think about it this way: when someone tries to imitate your products, your content, or some other aspect of your messaging, they are basically admitting that your business is better than theirs. They’re pointing out that you have the real thing and they are a pretender.

Naturally, we don’t want you to ignore serious copyright violations or let a competitor steal money from your pocket. When in doubt, though, your best bet is to work on your own business, continue racking up those positive reviews, and watch your reputation (and profitability) just keep growing.

Are You Getting the Right Kind of Online Marketing Advice?

Having the right information and strategy has always been key to finding customersand surpassing your competitors—on the internet. Now, with the changes and disruptions we are facing in 2020, it’s more important than ever to have a winning plan.

How Closely Should You Copy a Competitor’s Website?

Judging by the phone calls and in-person meetings we sit through, there is a certain level of ice cold dread that comes with finding out a close competitor has launched a new website. It’s not hard to understand why. Who would enjoy the thought of another company having a powerful tool to steal their customers?

Because things like income and prestige are squarely on the line, many business owners and executives will want to take immediate action when a competitor steps up to the plate. Specifically, they’ll inquire about copying certain parts of another website they have seen and liked. But is this a good idea?

Before we answer this question, let us point out that you’re always going to have competitors and it’s easy to over-react. When you see something new or interesting in your industry, try to look at it the way a customer would. Is the other company doing something valuable, or just vaguely interesting?

Once you have that mindset in place, you’re ready to come back to the original question: how closely should you copy a competitor’s website? To help you find the right answer, let’s go through a quick series of ideas…

Figure Out What You Like

Often, when a business owner tells us they “really liked” a competitor’s website, it turns out they actually appreciate a single feature or design point. This is important because you shouldn’t go and duplicate big parts of a strategy when you are actually enamored with a small part of it. It can be difficult to separate the various elements when you’re first looking at them, so break the website down into pieces and try to identify specific traits that you find engaging.

Separate Features from Gimmicks

Remember, the goal is to think like a customer. Often, the things we see on competitors’ websites seem fascinating to us as marketers but deliver very little in terms of payoff for customers. It’s important to be able to separate what is shiny from what is useful. Otherwise you could end up adding things to your website that get in the way of your success rather than adding to it.

Find Out What’s Feasible and Profitable

Suppose you determine there are elements of your competitor’s website that you really are fond of, and feel like your best customers would be impressed with. The next step is to find out whether you can add them to your own site legally, feasibly, and profitably. You certainly can’t copy word for word, but you might be able to add your own version of an app or a downloadable report. Talk to your web design team and figure out what makes sense in the context of your existing site or a redesigned page.

Put Your Own Spin and Improvement on the Idea

Rather than just copying something your competitors have done, why not take the next stepone most business owners and executives missand see if you can improve on the idea? Look for ways to put the unique spend on what your competitors have done or make it more engaging and valuable. Often this kind of brainstorming leads to groundbreaking innovations.

Get More Proactive about Web Design

Finally, regardless of whether you institute some version of your competitor’s idea or not, don’t settle for simply following their lead. Sit down with your web design team and internal staff and see if there are more ideas you can come up with that go beyond what is currently available in the market. Look for ways to give extra value to your customer base. The more often you do this the easier it will become to have the competition following you instead of needing to worry about catching up to them.

Ready to Start Leading the Pack in Your Market?

Far too many business owners feel as if they are simply following the herd online rather than leading the pack. If you want to have a website that gets your competitors worried about what they should be doinginstead of the other way aroundthen it’s time to get serious about thinking outside the box.

Valley Power Systems Case Study

Since teaming up with Marcom, our SEO, Google Ads, and social media presence have experienced significant increases in traffic that have helped us attract new customers.” – Valley Power Systems, June 2020

Valley Power Systems partnered with us in November 2018 to boost their online advertising campaign. Utilizing a variety of marketing strategies, we’ve been able to improve their online presence, resulting in better web traffic and higher conversions.

Want to view the full report for detailed information? Fill out the form below for a .pdf copy of the case study!

What a Perfect Web Design Looks Like

When business owners and marketing executives turn to us it isn’t because they want an “average” or “great” web page design – they want the very best. But what exactly does that mean?

We hear versions of this question almost each and every day. So, we want to help our readers and clients by shedding a little light on what the perfect business web design looks like.

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Why You Shouldn’t Do SEO Without Social (or Vice Versa)

When social media marketing started taking off, some business owners sought it as a way to replace search engine optimization (SEO). With a few tweets and posts, they imagined they might be able to break away from the competitive and sometimes-grueling cycle of generating and promoting content.

Lately, we have seen the opposite happening: that some small and medium-sized companies are ignoring their social profiles to get back to the more proven strategy of turning search visitors into customers. 

We think that’s a mistake. While SEO might be a more direct route to growing your bottom line, social media marketing still has its place. In fact, we don’t think you should invest time and money in search without also paying attention to your social accounts. Let’s look at why.

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5 Bad Reasons Business Owners Put Off Web Design

Are you one of the millions of business owners who know they need a new website or at least improvements to an existing web presence, but put it off month after month? If so, the good news is you aren’t alone. Many of your peers are procrastinating as well. The bad news is that some of your competitors are taking action and might be well on the way to leaving you behind.

It’s human nature to put off projects that don’t seem urgent, but delaying improvements to your website is a losing strategy. For one thing, your online presence can be your most important sales and marketing tool. It’s nearly impossible to grow your bottom line these days with an underwhelming digital strategy. And for another thing, your excuses for putting things off probably aren’t as strong as you might think.

If you want a little bit of proof, let’s look at five exceptionally bad reasons business owners tend to put off web design projects…

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How to Double Your Blog Post Views

Posting articles to your company’s blog can involve a bit of a Catch-22. On the one hand, you definitely need to be producing new articles if you want to achieve a prime search engine ranking and generate online conversions. But on the other, it hardly seems worth it to keep writing new content if no one is reading what you’ve posted in the past.

Often, bringing readers to your blog is a matter of persistence. It takes a while for Google – not to mention real-life readers – to take notice of your efforts. Still, there are things you should do to accelerate that process and is worth it to maximize the marketing impact of every post you create.

With that in mind, today we want to share a handful of easy tips you can use to double the amount of readers you attract to every blog post you write…

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The Biggest Trend Driving Online Marketing in 2019 and Beyond

This is the time of year when business owners (not to mention those of us in the web design community) naturally tend to look ahead and think about what a new year might mean for the world of online marketing. That’s certainly the case now, as we are fielding more questions than ever about what to expect in 2019.

There are never certain answers to these questions, of course, simply because technology moves quickly and no one can predict the future. However, from our point of view it’s easy to see that the biggest trend to pay attention to is the one that is already taking place right in front of our very eyes. In fact, it’s so significant that it’s easy to take the associated changes for granted.

We are talking, in this case, about the shift towards mobile web usage.

No matter where you look people are on their phones and tablets. Statistics back up what our eyes see, with mobile web usage approaching 60% of all Internet traffic in 2018. There’s no reason to think mobile web users won’t make up and even bigger percentage of the online market in coming years.

Smart marketers are taking big steps to adjust. Here are some of the tools we are using to help our clients to be ready for the continued growth of mobile computing in 2019 and beyond…

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