This article was updated on 12/9/14.
There are very few things that are more frustrating for a business than to see your potential customers get stolen by a competitor. Many businesses know this is happening to them, but can’t identify precisely why they are losing sales to their competition.
More often than not, online businesses surrender potential customers to competitors because they don’t have an optimized conversion funnel that seamlessly leads users from the initial discovery of their brand all the way to an actual conversion goal. As a result, users look for other websites that have better online marketing visibility, a better understanding of what kind of content they are looking for, and a clearer navigation path to purchase a product or service.
While the specifics of addressing these issues on your website might sound too complicated to easily solve, more often than not, 1 of 5 issues is effecting your brand’s site in one way or another, and needs to be addressed to keep your competition from stealing away a piece of your online revenue.
1) Lack of Promotion Across Multiple Digital Marketing Channels
When it comes to properly promoting your brand online, using different digital marketing channels is an absolute necessity. While an online business should obviously take the time to identify which channels are going to provide the best ROI from their budget, effectively using a variety of different digital marketing channels can take an online marketing campaign from decent to truly great. This is particularly true if you are an ecommmerce brand, as there are many options that can get you great results:
If your competitors have both the top paid and organic positions for a keyword you’re trying to rank for, potential customers are being siphoned away from your business. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward - users feel more comfortable converting with a competitor who has the brand legitimacy to rank well organically, but also has the budget to advertise. When combined, users see a brand with high paid and organic positions as an industry leader. Even if you rank in the first position for an organic keyword and a competitor ranks second, if they have paid ads and you don’t they could be stealing substantial amounts of potential customers from you.
2) Limited Content Optimization
In a time where content is playing an increasingly large role in SEO success, many businesses are getting their sales stolen because they are missing high quality content on their website that provides value to customers and builds loyalty. With 71% of marketers actively increasing their investment in content marketing during 2014, not creating effective content is no longer acceptable for an online business.
Content should be high quality, and should build lasting customer loyalty at the top of any conversion funnel so that users come back and eventually purchase a product or service after many interactions with your brand. For businesses that still aren't doing this, traffic (as well as SEO rankings) are being squandered to competition that is willing to put in the time and effort it takes to create content users love. Don't let your competition steal your customers. If you provide your users with content that keeps them engaged with your business, your can make sure that online sales aren't being squandered.
3) Failure to Include Personalization
A trend that is quickly becoming common for online businesses is the idea of personalizing content for specific users based on their needs. Marketing personalization requires a better understanding of your customer's wants and needs through demographics. Once you have a good idea of what they are looking for, you can tailor content to specifically for them.
With more than 32% of online retailers not using any sort of website personalization at all in 2014, there is a huge opportunity for brands to get ahead of the competition and win new customers at a competitor’s expense. Some great tools that can be used to do this are remarketing display and search ads, email newsletters, and even building out segments of your website that have specific segments of your audience in mind with unique customer names or welcome messages included, and then driving a target demographic to those pages. This makes it easier for your business to engage users and bring them content at all parts of your conversion funnel that is more tailored to the specific product or service that they might be looking to purchase.
4) Poor Mobile Presence
One of the most widely publicized ways that businesses are getting traffic and potential customers stolen from them by competitors is by not having an optimized mobile presence. 74% of marketers that are on mobile already are planning on scaling up their spending in the next two years, and if your business isn’t on mobile already not starting now will leave your brand even further behind the competition.
If that isn’t enough of a reason to take mobile seriously, Google ranks websites for key search engine queries based on whether or not they are responsive. So even if your business doesn’t get many (or even any) sales from mobile devices, not having a mobile presence could still be hurting the amount of sales you’re closing by effectively gifting keywords you should be ranking for to competitors who have a website that can more effectively cater to mobile users.
5) Website Designs that Don’t Convert Traffic
One of the best ways to make sure that your competitors aren't stealing your online sales is to make your online point of sale convert as much traffic as possible. This means creating a website that is visually stimulating to a user, but is primarily built to convert them into customers.
A great way to make sure users can convert easily is to map out your website’s navigation in a way that is logical to users and gets them from the initial point of entry on your website to your website’s conversion pages quickly and efficiently. This means that there should be a clear structure to your website that never leaves users stranded on pages they aren't interested in. A great way to make sure everything is working as it should is to keep a close eye on your website’s analytics – particularly on metrics like bounce rate, exit rate, and time on page.
Straightforward navigation is important, but in order to make sure you’re converting as much traffic as possible, your business should always be testing new elements on your website to understand what gets people converting at the highest rate possible. They might seem like small, relatively innocuous pieces of a website, but things like color, size, CTA copy, and page layout can play huge roles in your website's conversion rate, and only through testing can you find the right combination to get the highest possible amount of users converting.
Don’t Let Your Competition Rob You Blind
When you feel like your businesses is losing online sales to a competitor it is easy to think that your business is offering a product or service that isn’t measuring up to your competition. However, a lot of the time it has less to do with the quality of the product, and more to do with making sure that your online conversion funnel is set up to capture as much of your target customer base as possible.