The Secret to a High Converting Website

The secret to high converting websites is shocking in its simplicity.

In the first week the new site went live, it generated twice as many leads as the old site generated in an entire month. Same again in the second week. Significantly outperforming industry averages, the new site continues with high conversion rates. Wildly successful, the new site is growing the client’s business. Now comes the predictable question: “Will you tell me your secret to a high converting website?” You will be insulted by the simplicity of the answer and confounded by the difficulty of executing on it.

The secret to a high converting website is to give the customer what they want. A high converting website isn’t about you. It is about your customer, the problem they are trying to solve, and making it easy to solve their problem. Your customer doesn’t care about you, your business, your branded phrases or your logo. They are self-centered and singularly focused on their own needs.

Jeff Bezos once said that Amazon isn’t in the book selling business. Amazon is in the help people buy books business. Bezos knows that the path to success for Amazon is to help customers solve their problems better than any of his competitors. His reward for that focus is a conversion rate around 17%. That is a stunningly high conversion rate for ecommerce. More stunning is the 75% conversion rate for Amazon Prime members. Prime members reached a level of trust where Bezos essentially eliminated all competition in a highly commoditized field.

Simple is hard

You may be thinking, “of course we are focused on the customer — what a trite piece of advice.” Are you passionate about your business? Are your employees and colleagues also passionate? Are your products awesome and is your customer service world class? Yes? That is excellent. But you have a huge blind spot.

Your blind spot is rooted in your own desire for excellence. You know your products or services are excellent and will help your customer, so you talk about how excellent you are. But your customer doesn’t care about you. They care about their problem and how they are going to solve it. You respond with yes, we are excellent about solving problems like that. So, true, but still missing the point.

It’s about their pain, stupid

“It’s the economy, stupid” hung prominently on the walls of the Clinton campaign offices in 1992. That blunt message kept the campaign team focused and on message. Bill Clinton repeatedly said “I feel your pain” as he proceeded to tell voters how he would relieve their pain. Whether you like Clinton or not isn’t the point. The singular focus on the pain of the voter kept the campaign team on message and led to victory. A singular focus on your customers’ pain points will change how you communicate to them. It will change how you design your website. It will be about them, not you.

Now the hard part

Build a list of the pains your customer feels. Don’t forget to include that they don’t trust you because of disappointments from one or many of your worthy competitors. Don’t limit your list to only problems you directly solve. List everything that will keep them from converting, understand each scenario and build a blocking plan to remove obstacles and keep them on a converting path. Remember Bezos’ “we are in the helping people buy books business.”

The Pollyanna Theatre Company website is the high converting website mentioned above. There were numerous challenges to overcome. First was the variety of customers they had:

  • B2C: Parents looking for entertainment for their children
  • B2B: Booking agents with venues to host plays on tour
  • B2edu: Teachers looking for field trips for their students
  • B2C: Homeschool parents looking for unique curriculum

Keeping in mind that customers are self-centered and singularly focused on their problems, we created 4 parts of the website that spoke to the unique needs of each audience. We removed irrelevant information that was a distraction to that audience. For parents, we identified the problems they were trying to solve and helped them solve them. This included listing local restaurants to help them plan their trip. For teachers, we provided lesson plans, budgeting information and information about professional development. We focused on solving their problems and the result is a stunningly high conversion rate.

Consider outside help

One of the criticisms of consultants is that they tell you what you already know. That is true. We have yet to work with a client whose business we knew better than they did. Our help consists of bringing what you already know into proper focus. We uncover overlooked truths hidden behind faulty assumptions. We advocate for your customer from a perspective that isn’t blinded by the zeal and familiarity of the inside team. It’s sometimes a bigger shift in thinking than anyone realizes needs to happen.

We had never worked with a theater company before, but our process delivered outstanding results for them. The focus was clear: solve the customer’s problem. That is the secret behind the high conversion rates of the new Pollyanna Theatre website. It is also the secret to getting the industry-leading conversion rates you are looking for on your website.

Originally published at on March 24, 2016.