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Six website conversion killers your firm can avoid

Six website conversion killers your firm can avoid

Rankings are up, traffic is up, you're in the local map 3-pack — it looks like your SEO efforts are paying off. More people are finding your website through organic search. Internet life is good.

Except, for some reason, leads are flat. People are coming to your website, but they aren't converting.

Poor conversion can destroy even the best marketing campaigns. If you are making an investment in bringing visitors to your website, it should be generating leads. And not just any leads, good ones. Leads that can become high-value clients, not leads you have to turn away.

Here are some potential conversion killers you can watch for — and fix.

1. Malfunctioning forms, or forms that are difficult to fill out

Forms are a quick and easy way to collect contact information from potential clients. People who are not comfortable picking up a phone and calling, or who are strapped for time but want to talk later, will often be willing to fill out a quick form. If you goal is lead generation, you should have a convenient form on most pages of your website.

Several issues will cause visitors to abandon a form. Three of the most common are technical errors, form length and the types of questions being asked.

To address technical errors, test forms regularly to ensure they are working and visitors are able to submit them. Try to break the form by filling out fields incorrectly or leaving a required field blank. If visitors are entering information incorrectly, are they being shown an obvious error message that outlines how to fix the problem and correctly submit the form? Are required fields clearly marked? Are form notifications being sent to the right email address?

In addition to being technically sound, your forms should be easy to fill out. The longer a form, the higher the risk of abandonment. Identify the information you absolutely need to pursue a lead and ask only for those things. Remember, website visitors are generally comfortable entering details like “name” and “email” but may balk at filling in more personal details like a phone number or address.

2. Banner blindness

Banner blindness is a phenomenon in which people ignore content they believe to be an advertisement. For example, ads are commonly placed in a sidebar area on the right-hand side of a page. Because people are used to seeing ads in this area, they may ignore legitimate content because it looks like an ad. Pictures that serve as navigation, particularly if they are sized and placed in areas of a page where people are accustomed to seeing ads, may be lost to visitors.

Banner blindness also affects auto-rotating header carousels. Multiple user studies, including one from the Nielsen Norman Group, show that people often do not see the messages contained in rotating banner images. Visitors may ignore this feature because they assume it is trying to sell them something, or they may simply not get to see the part of the slideshow that would most interest them. Research has also shown that when an auto-rotating slideshow is replaced with a static image, conversions increase.

3. Content blindness

Internet users (that is, most people) can also be trained to ignore content that is predictable, generic or overly salesy. Your page content, particularly that on high-traffic practice area pages, must go beyond the boilerplate “legal issues are complicated, we can help” followed by a bulleted list of services.

People who are researching a legal problem may come to your website at various stages in their hiring process. Some may not yet realize they need a lawyer and are just looking for information. Others may be looking for an attorney for a specific issue and need to find someone they feel they can trust. And, of course, there are many stages in between.

Presenting useful, instructive content to people who are at these various stages within the decision making process will help prevent content blindness, keep them on your website longer and encourage conversions.

4. Keyword disparity

People who land on one of your pages after having searched for a specific keyword or phrase should find information relevant to that phrase. If there is a discrepancy between the answers your page provides and the questions visitors have asked to get there, they will click away.

For attorneys, this means you should be putting the bulk of your SEO efforts into your most lucrative services. Ranking highly for many terms is not helpful if the people searching for those terms aren't viable — or valuable — leads.

5. Unanswered questions

When a website is attempting to promote a complex product or service, as an attorney website often is, visitors need to understand what they are purchasing before they are willing to make a commitment. If a visitor leaves your site feeling like he or she doesn't really know what you do or what can be expected from the process, that visitor is not likely to become a lead.

One way to address this problem is to use the theory of separation of concerns. Websites designed according to this principle break content up into small pieces, each of which describes a single aspect of the product or service. This both helps visitors understand the service and it presents information in a way that helps them scan the page and find the sections that specifically address their uncertainty.

A robust site search is another way to ensure visitors' questions are being answered. You may have multiple pages and blog posts about a topic, maybe even a video or two, but if visitors can't access them, these resources are wasted. Be sure your site search is easy to find and provides relevant results.

6. Poor visual direction and non-specific calls to action

Functional design and pretty design are different things. Pretty designs use visual elements for the sake of looking good, not necessarily because they further the purpose of the site. Functional websites understand how visitors use the site to accomplish a goal.

Hopefully, your website can have both: it can be visually striking and functional. However, one way to kill conversions is to create a good-looking website that does not clearly direct visitors toward a specific action. You, or your design team, should be able to justify every element that makes it onto a web page in terms of its function. Do not waste resources on features that look cool but may ultimately confuse or distract visitors.

Additionally, be specific with the wording of your calls to action. For example, “Get Started” is not as compelling as “Request a Free Consultation.” The language in the second case tells visitors exactly what they can expect. Website visitors crave certainty and predictability and are wary of taking an action if they are not sure what might happen. Don't leave room for doubt.

Kristen Friend
Kristen Friend holds two bachelors degrees from Indiana University and an associates degreee from the International Academy of Design. As Art Director for Custom Legal Marketing, her work has been awarded Webby Honorees, WebAwards, Davey Awards, Muse Awards, W3 Awards, and many others. She is also a contributor to Entrpreneur Magazine through the Entrepreneur Leadership Network.