5 reasons you’re not converting website visits into client enquiries

Your site should be a tool for generating more clients and ultimately, more revenue. So why doesn't your website contribute its fair share?

The chances are you’re doing a pretty good job at getting visitors to your site but if you can’t push them over the edge (to give you their brief), or they won’t stick around then this post is for you. I want to show you that when you’re pitching a prospective client (even if they’re just browsing your site, you should still be pitching) your messaging is everything. This post was prompted by a question from a Freelancelift member:

I’m having a tough time getting steady work. I get compliments on my site and work all the time but I am not getting job offers. What could I do to change this?

Ramon M, New York

In this piece I’m going to cover the 5 quick tweaks you can make right now to get yourself in the frame of mind to use your site as a tool for generating more clients and ultimately, more revenue.

Stacking these tweaks will give you the compound changes required to make your freelance clients value, and then WANT what you’re offering.

But first, there’s something you need to know…

Not every visitor/prospect is ready right now

We live in an information age which for small online businesses has its pros and cons.  The con is that you’re probably not the first freelance designer/writer/coder/marketer your prospect has found, nor will you be the last.   That is to say your prospects have options and will go on a journey of information gathering and validation before even looking to make a decision.

This is where the smart win out

If you’re getting visitors to your site(s) already (as this also applies to portfolio & social channels too) you’re in a great position to be able to at least convert them into something meaningful for you.   You’ll see just by reading between the lines of Ramon’s question here that compliments don’t pay the bills.

So are you asking to start the relationship?

I mentioned the information age has its pros and cons, well the pro is that its commonplace now for prospects to trade an email address for something useful to them. That means even when a prospect isn’t ready yet, they are ready for some ‘arms length’ dialogue at least.

Normally taking the shape of ebooks, videos, guides, tools which aid a client’s end goal. If you’re a designer, would it be fair to assume that the visitor has an issue with their website they’ll want to fix in the short-term future? Could you put together a short 2-3 page PDF with a checklist of “things you absolutely must include in your next website build”?

You can use that information to hook visitors into an autoresponder process and deliver great information intermittently (automatically). The point of this is to educate and transform the prospect into someone who trusts you and is much more likely to turn to you when the time comes to hire that freelancer.

Action point

Do you have at least one call to action which challenges your site visitors to give you their email?

Have you registered with an email follow-up system (such as Drip or Campaign Monitor) and loaded it with at least 2 follow-up messages which help to make an eventual sale more likely?

So here we go, let’s look at the 5 reasons your prospective clients don’t buy.

1. You’re not addressing their specific concerns in your content

Yes, this is marketing 101 but it’s such a crucial step it needs to be covered here.  There is a sweet spot between where your prospect is now (current situation) and where they want to be (ideal situation) that, if addressed multiplies the chances of them getting the outcome they’re looking for.

The objective of your service is to take your customers from their current situation to their ideal situation but it’s amazing how many freelancers don’t actually point that out.

Action point

Take a look through your own site content, there are some minor changes you can make to ensure that your content addresses at least a few of the feelings your prospective client is going through:


> What outcome do they desire and are you covering how your service will solve that?
> What would they want out of your product/service and how do you deliver?


> Does your content address the challenges the prospect believes they have?
> Does your content address the benefits they believe you can provide?


> Which fears have brought them to your door and how might they overcome them?

Your messaging should be unique, it should stand out from the other options your prospect has.

2. They don’t clearly understand what it is you’re providing

The next factor which will limit conversions and sales is that of a lack of clarity on what your product/service actually is. 

Again, this should be something you should have done right out of the gate but sometimes clients don’t know the difference between a front-end developer and a UX designer – so spell it out. What do you provide (in their language) vs the other options they’ve seen?

You’ll notice there may be lengthy superlatives around the features of your service (I write really well, I design really well)… who cares? You should address it in the context of your client, address the benefits to them.

It’s the difference between (real-life example):

“We make websites”


“We boost your revenue by designing websites that convert”

Your homepage should serve to tick the box “Yup, I understand that and I like it” then display a solid call to action to move to the next section.

Action point

Figure out what the primary purpose and primary benefit of your service is, in the client’s eyes. In doing so you’ll have a message which provides a more customer-centric explanation of how you make a difference.

3. They don’t value what you’ll bring to the table

I’m always surprised how few businesses actually push the emotional buttons that make for buying decisions.  If in doubt, go find some classic infomercials on Youtube for a masterclass on triggering an emotional “I need this” response, you’ll probably find it in the first 10 seconds of each one.

I’m not suggesting you ham it up as much as this but you should be able to identify with real issues your target audience is encountering.

As you’ve been able to define exactly what problems your product/service solves and you’re speaking in such a way that relates to your ideal customer you should now introduce your autoresponder opt-in.

You should produce top-of-the-funnel content which addresses these specific pain-points (as covered in the preamble above) which prospects can download in return for email & content information.

If you get the lead at this point great, you only needed three improvements but let’s move on to the more passive visitors!

Action point

Ensure your site journey addresses the value working with you provides and begin to close in for an opt-in

4. They don’t believe you

This applies whether you do business online or in person, regardless of your industry.  You should introduce some trust indicators within your site flow, taking the form of:

Video testimonials
If you can, use video it’s much easier for your prospect to identify with the human emotion within the testimonial.  This is a killer technique.

Written testimonial with headshot
This is the next best thing, but for extra cayenne pepper include a link with the option to “don’t take our word for it, contact this person yourself” for a verified response.   You’ll be surprised how few people will take this up, but the mere offer of a direct email to one of your customers is so powerful.

Social proof
If your sector allows for it, Facebook comments on a particular point really underlines a following but for more B2B elements you need to have an active suite of social profiles and you can “favourite” particularly positive responses and feed those into that area of the funnel.

As featured in…
Sometimes it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees as this technique is used so frequently but in certain situations it does carry some clout!

Again, your opt-in should remain present at this point and I do recommend A/B testing everything here but as I say the big gains have been from re-positioning content.

Action point

Are you validating your claims with easily verified trust factors and introduce these into your conversion path?

5. You’re not giving them a no brainer opportunity to kickstart a relationship

We’ve been able slicken the flow so there is less opportunity for DreamClient to go passive.  Now it’s about hitting them with the big sell (or opt-in if your goal is to generate a lead).

You have put together lots of value already if you’re addressing some of the steps above so you are now in a position to ask the question. At this point you can put together a no brainer offer, a chunky bundle of free content or free consultation.

Doing so in such a way that it really makes it simple is key here. Elicia at Writing Business Well does this perfectly with her ‘free copy review’ service. If a prospective client is potentially going to enlist their help, why not take a no-obligation taster of the service first?

You’ll know exactly what pushes your the buttons of an ideal customer so you can package your ‘no brainer offer’ accordingly.

Action point

Are you making it really easy for a prospect to convert?  Consider repackaging blog posts and videos into a hard-to-refuse bundle of content which you can give away in return for data. You could give a free consult, free trial of your service or similar.

Bonus.  Get clever, chase them (Pro tip)

So this is a bonus tip and fairly advanced, but its killer so it bears mentioning. If you’ve ever been shopping for clothes or travel, you’ll notice (if you didn’t buy) that you are now followed around the web by ads from that store. This is known as remarketing and its crazy-powerful.

With barriers to entry all-but removed (pretty much no lower limit on remarketing audience size) and with costs and complexity within reach of even the smallest business, remarketing via Google Adwords should be pretty much a no brainer.

For example, if you find someone exits at your contact page you might show them a small ad which gives short, insightful explainers about what your product actually does.  On click you can then take them back to a page within your site with an encouragement to make that final step and connect.

Action point

Get really really good at remarketing.  Google Adwords is a good place to start, but services such as AdRoll and Struq can help those with bigger budget appetites.

Its where you go from here that counts

The improvement points I’ve laid out in this post have been a catalyst for double-digit conversion rates in studies we’ve carried out with clients at Tone (the agency I founded from a “just-me” freelance business).

It starts by understanding that when it comes to getting value from your web presence, there should be no assumptions.  You need to take advantage of more effective messaging to ensure your site tells your story perfectly, in a language your client will understand (they really only care about their desires, beliefs and fears).

You should see an instant improvement by looking at this list of action points then its time to test, refine and improve every link in the chain until your website is a waterfall of new client prospects.

So I’m interested to know, are there any techniques you currently use to generate leads from your site which we haven’t already mentioned? Get involved in the comments below.

Learn anything? Please share

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