Not a week goes by that I don’t get a call from an online business asking why their sales are going down, why their site isn’t taking off, why nobody is subscribing to their product demo, what they could do to improve online sales, and so forth.

Sometimes the flaws are obvious, but more often than not finding the reason for low conversion rates can be a challenge.

It is especially frustrating when you have a lot of traffic. Traffic is good, traffic is nice, but just like a bee visiting flowers, it’s not the number of buzzing bees that counts, it is what they do on the flower.

So what can you do if you have all the traffic you need, but visits still aren’t converting?

Of course, there is A/B testing. But before you get busy testing, make sure you lay the groundwork. That means creating landing pages that are actually worth analyzing, looking closely at visitors’ behavior on your site, and, sometimes, asking direct questions.

So, let’s get busy then.

Create simple landing pages

Websites are usually chock full of distractions. There is simply too much information to decide which particular element turns away customers or reduces conversion rates. Often the very design of the navigation tools is a conversion killer.

A landing page should have the bare minimum of information and clear visuals. One or two product images are usually enough, and a short description will do. You can include options to expand text or images to see more or click through to a more thorough description. Technical details, usage in specific cases, or comparisons should be done on separate pages, that way you know who is really interested in your offering. There should be one clear call to action rather than a bewildering selection of what to do next.

If you use landing pages for lead generation, A/B testing is, of course, the logical next step.

Analyzing behavior is fun

Online behavior used to be a bit of a mystery, and a lot had to be inferred from sparse Google Analytics data. Time spent on a page doesn’t really tell you much for most content, while the bounce rate can be terribly misleading.

Happily, for marketers, there are now a number of nifty tools available to get to the bottom of things. Analyzing what people are doing on your site is not just essential, it’s also fun.

There are a lot of things you can learn from the analysis. How much of a blog post do people actually read? The best headlines are useless if the first paragraph makes people lose interest. What are they clicking on first?

Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer

The more you know about your site visitors, the better you will get at creating content they like, and offering products they actually buy. Analyzing online behavior and segmenting audiences with cleverly designed navigation options are the first steps, followed by A/B testing. Together these “hidden” analysis options can give you insights without actively asking customers.

Sometimes you want to know more of course, and then you need to turn to questions. Google Forms is a great way to design simple questionnaires. In our experience, customers are willing to answer 3-5 questions as long as they don’t have to write out the answers. Just make sure you ask the right questions, however. I recently was asked to reply to the question “Do you think our product price is right, or should it be a) lower or b) higher?” I seriously doubt that large numbers of customers would choose b, so the responses are perfectly meaningless.

Stay in touch and build relationships

If you have analyzed your website traffic and done your A/B testing, and you know your product is great but website visits still aren’t converting, it’s time to look at your funnel.

One reason why I don’t like advertising is that it distorts the funnel too much. You can spend millions on the flashiest ads with the biggest superstars, but what percentage of the people who respond to the creativity of an ad, or the allure of a star, actually end up being your customer? Unless you are a ubiquitous brand like Coke or McDonalds, advertising is probably not the most cost-effective way to promote your product.

There are a lot of content marketing options you can use to engage audiences and increase conversion rates. For shopping websites and B2B business alike, email newsletters are still a fantastic tool to stay in touch with customers. They also help improve conversion rates, sometimes very significantly. We recently started a newsletter for a niche fashion website and doubled their sales in just 3 months. Don’t underestimate the power of good old email!

The more you know about your visitors, the better your relationship will become. Better relationships mean higher trust, and that, in turn, leads to higher conversions. Investing the time in simple analysis or A/B testing is a lot more cost effective than increasing your ad budget, that’s for sure, and finding out about visitor behavior on your site can offer you a lot of valuable insights not just for your digital marketing, but also for your overall business strategy.