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How to Fix a Leaky Web Site

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This may sound shocking, but your company may already have more than enough traffic on your Web site to achieve your business goals—but the problem is that you may have a leaky Web site... That is, prospects and customers are visiting your Web site, but very few are taking the next step to do business with you.

Might you have a leaky Web site? Read on to learn how to diagnose the problem and, more importantly, how to fix the leaks.

How to Tell If You Have a Leaky Web Site

To determine whether you suffer from the symptoms of a leaky Web site, review your Web analytic reports that track visitor behavior and look for the following issues:

  • Your conversion rate is low. How many anonymous Web visitors turn into named leads for your sales process? Your conversion rate is the measure of your ability to persuade your visitors to take action and reach out to you. If your conversion rate is low (or nonexistent), your Web site definitely has leaks.
  • Your bounce rate is high. Your bounce rate measures the number of people who arrive at one of your Web site pages and then leave without doing anything. They are a good indicator of whether your Web site meets the needs of your visitors, or whether they think it is a complete waste of time. If your bounce rate is relatively low (under 25%), then your Web site is doing its job effectively, leading prospects to the next step. If your bounce rate is high (over 40%), you have a leaky Web site.

How to Plug the Leaks

If you have a leaky Web site, don't fret. The following tips will help you plug the leaks and optimize your Web site for more leads and sales.

Make sure your content is customer-focused

Prospects are not visiting your Web site to kill time. They are there to find a solution or solve a problem. Does your Web site content draw these prospects in—or cause them to bounce away?

To draw them in, make sure your Web site engages prospects by offering customer-focused content that speaks to their needs and provides a solution to their problems. Talk less about you and your company and more about your customers' needs and concerns. If your content is customer-focused, prospects will stick around and ask for more.

Don't rely on your 'contact us' page

Do you want to turn your Web site into a lead-generation machine? Then stop relying on your Contact Us page as the sole method for prospects to contact you. Rather, offer visitors easy access to contact information on every page of your Web site in a consistent location.

You will be amazed at how many more prospects will reach out to you if you invite them to do so.

Make an offer they can't refuse

Now, take it one step further by supplementing your contact information with relevant calls to action that will compel your site visitors to respond.

When crafting your offers, think about the audiences you are trying to attract, as well as the various stages of the buying process they may be in. To attract individuals ready to buy, offer product specials, quote-request forms, salesperson consultations, and online ordering.

In addition, to help you build a marketing database, offer softer calls to action for the tire kickers and early-stage buyers. Examples of soft calls to action include downloadable "how to" guides, whitepapers, "ask the expert" question submission, and e-newsletter subscriptions.

Simplify your lead generation forms

Are your lead-generation forms as daunting as a tax return? If so, simplify them immediately. Don't try to qualify prospects with your online forms—that's the salesperson's job.

The more fields you require to be filled out, the fewer people you will hear from. So, ask only for the most basic information that a salesperson will need to reach out to the prospect and begin the relationship.

Also, make sure that those forms immediately get to a knowledgeable salesperson for follow-up. The best time to follow up with a prospect is when they are still browsing your Web site.

Shorten your checkout process

If you sell products online, take a close look at your checkout process to identify leaks. How many customers who add an item to their shopping cart actually complete the sale?

If you are losing many of these valuable customers, look for opportunities to simplify your checkout process, including the following: cut the number of clicks required to complete the sale; communicate shipping costs early; offer a progress meter to let people know where they are in the process; and offer alternative (offline) ways to order.

Make your phone number obvious

According to our research, people are highly likely to want to pick up the phone and call when they are browsing a company's Web site. To boost the number of inquiries you receive, don't make your visitors hunt for your number. Make your phone number one of the prominent calls to action on every page.

In addition, I recommend using a unique toll-free number on your Web site so you can accurately track the number of calls you receive from Web site visitors.  

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Bob DeStefano is president of SVM E-Marketing Solutions, a B2B online marketing agency that helps industrial companies use online marketing to produce bottom-line results.

Pro members: Interested in hearing more wisdom from Bob? Be sure to check out this online seminar presented by Bob, How to Make Your B-to-B Website a Lead Generation Machine.

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  • by Jami Tue Feb 17, 2009 via web

    even if we did all the things us recommend, still bounce rate is above 40% .

  • by Beks Wed Feb 18, 2009 via web

    I think this is great, useful advice. If I put a product in my cart and then they ask me to "sign in" or "sign up" I end up not purchasing the product because the steps to sign in are a pain. This should be offered after the purchase is made.

  • by Jean-Sebastien Wed Feb 18, 2009 via web

    good post Bob. But I'm questioning your 2 kpis. In fact, conversion rate could be low, maybe is due to a lack of call to actions on your website. Although, the element you need to really check is funnel completion rate. It will tell you where potential leads leave the process and it could help you simplify your forms. Average bounce rate on a lead generation site is near 60%. You might need to break down it to bounce rate on your product page and even by trafic sources.

    Than, you could identify which page needs to be improve with, for example, A/B testing. You could modify message communicated on your source.

  • by Stuart Fri Feb 20, 2009 via web

    Great article and some really useful information but like Jean-Sebastian I too question your percentages. (I've worked in the SEM industry for 12 years and have extensive data on bounce rates)

    Bounce rates can vary widely. Anything for 30% -70% is a good bounce rate depending on the website. For example, on an ecommerce FMCG website you can see the same visitor(IP) coming back daily for days on end - sometimes several times a day. This is a typical case of visitors "price comparing" with other competitors. These sites have typically high bounce rate sites. Also take into account visits that occur as a result of a longtail search - typically 80-90% of a websites overall traffic. Longtails account for a very high percentage of bounce rates.

    Low bounce rate websites can have engaging content, news articles on the front page adding stickiness and lowering the overal bounce rate.

    Landing pages such as those that sell e-books ( the ones that are very long single pages) have extremely low bounce rates. This is due to the covert keywords placed throughout the page. Users are frustrated by page length so scroll but every so often something cathces the eye and they stop to read.

    Bounce rate is too wide a metric so it's not accurate to say a website should be 25% or less to be successful.

  • by aricard Thu Apr 9, 2009 via web

    These are great points that are sure to plug a lot of leaks. One issue I would disagree with is the heavy emphasis on phone communication. Recently, a client spoke with 250 online shoppers and presented them with a variety of scenarios they might encounter when shopping with an online retailer. These were pretty typical experiences such as difficulty finding an item, general questions about a product or service, questions on return policy. Shoppers were then asked to identify their preferred method of communication for each situation. Interestingly, phone was never the #1 preferred method of communication. Turns out that live chat was the preferred method for scenarios that are most likely to occur during the sales process. So while I agree that you should make it easy and obvious for people to connect and engage with you, consider alternatives beyond the phone. Customers may very well prefer it.

  • by chris Sat Jun 6, 2009 via web

    how do you fix a web site?

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