Sales Barriers: Confusing Customers Is Bad For Business

Are you confusing customers? Find out now!

Confused prospects are barriers to sales

Confused prospects don’t convert—period.

Before someone becomes a customer, he is first a prospect.

He embarks on a purchase journey that, if you’ve done your marketing right, you’re a part of. That is, your brand is present and useful at every stage.

But if you don’t pay much attention to your marketing – copy included – then, rather than being relevant, you just end up confusing your prospects.

What’s the big deal? It’s bad for business.

Aside from the fact that they won’t be buying from you, they also won’t be returning to your website anytime soon (or ever). And they certainly won’t be recommending you to anyone either!

That’s three strikes—you’re out.

Because when prospects interact with a brand, they want and expect a positive experience. Leaving shoppers in doubt, skeptical, or with hesitation doesn’t land sales.

This is true for all industries but it’s particularly bad news if you’re engaged in direct to consumer e-commerce.

What are the warning signs to look for?

The next question is – and it’s an important one – how do you know if you’re confusing customers?

The following are good indicators that your e-commerce site needs work.

  • Abandoned shopping carts: people add to cart, but never complete the checkout process.
  • A low conversion rate: you get traffic, but many don’t end up doing anything on your site.
  • Frequent product returns: items get sent back, but they were not defective to begin with.

Often times, those same indicators are already symptoms of a larger problem. That something you’re doing (or not doing) is getting in the way of your own success.

So what now?

At this point, it would be a good idea to audit your website.

You want to make sure you aren’t making silly e-commerce mistakes that discourage prospects from buying from your store. And while you’re at it, it’s also worth refreshing your knowledge about the online shopping landscape as well as how age influences purchase behavior.

The different ways you’re confusing customers—without even knowing it!

Here’s the thing: there are so many ways you could be confusing your customers, albeit unintentionally. And the longer you do so, the worse it gets. So it’s really important to get to the bottom of things and assess various sales and marketing materials as soon as you notice you aren’t getting the results you expected.

Some of the most common barriers to effective sales communications include the following.

1. There are lapses in marketing

Lack of research, rushing to market, or plain old sloppy marketing – whatever the case may be, you’re confusing customers if:

Your positioning isn’t clear and you haven’t been able to successfully differentiate yourself from the competition.

It’s hard to grab shoppers’ attention if you sound just like everyone else in your industry—and if it’s not immediately evident what makes you the better option. If that’s the case, how will shoppers know that you’re a brand worth choosing?

You’re targeting everyone and, therefore, resonating with no one in particular.

You can’t be everything to everyone. You also can’t please everyone. Having said that, you should, at the very least, know who your buyer personas are and who is most likely to become a paying customer. Otherwise how are you going to write effective sales and marketing copy?

You don’t understand your customer, so you play it safe with generic copy.

If you don’t know who your target segments are, you aren’t thinking about what makes them tick. So how will you give them the information they need? If your marketing copy is not customer-oriented, you leave those most likely to buy feeling uninspired. That’s a lost opportunity right there.

There are many ways you could be confusing customers without even knowing it.

2. Your text could be better

Sometimes, you get everything else right except for the copywriting part. It’s poorly planned, written, structured—or all of the above!

(By the way, you’re not the only one with that problem. That’s why so many solopreneurs and small business owners choose to hire a copywriter.)

So how do you know if your e-commerce copy is the problem?

You had no time for research, planning or any review whatsoever.

If you write your sales and marketing copy on the fly; publish text without first editing what you wrote; or resort to using free online translation tools to generate an English-language version of your website – you’re in (big) trouble.

Because here’s what you end up with:

  • Text that waffles. It’s hard to follow because it’s all over the place; there’s no clear direction.
  • Inconsistent (or a weak) brand voice. Going from one page to another feels like they’re for different brands.
  • Stagnant copy. Prospects are left wondering, is this even up to date?

Great copy is well-researched, well-planned and edited without mercy to yield optimum results. It’s definitely not a bunch of words hurriedly strewn together, thrown on a page and then forgotten!

The writing is convoluted.

Another side effect of no planning, strategy or editing is complicated copy.

You’ll know that’s your problem if:

  • Copy is full of jargon. You’ve failed to do a good job if no one outside your industry can understand what you’ve written. Remember: readers shouldn’t require a degree in rocket science to shop from you!
  • Product descriptions are either too generic, so complex or padded with useless information. All of those put readers off.
  • Information overload. There’s a lot of text but most of it isn’t very useful. In fact, there’s so much that it’s overwhelming.

Effective copy is clear, sharp and packs a punch. It gets the job done by drawing readers in, keeping them interested, and moving those prospects to take action.

It’s poorly presented!

Visual cues matter. So does structure. Without it, readers are left to their own devices and what that leads to is people leaving the page. Yikes!

If your writing isn’t beautifully structured, you end up:

  • Burying important details in mountains of text. No one has the time or patience to search for that!
  • Discouraging potential customers. No one wants to wade through lengthy paragraphs. It’s hard on the eyes and not reader-friendly.
  • Confusing users. What should they do on the page? What happens next?

An important part of copywriting is knowing how to present your text in an attractive manner. It shouldn’t be a tedious read.

3. Your website’s design isn’t helping

Another way you could be confusing customers is by having – for lack of a better way of putting it – a messy website.

What does that mean?

  • You’re distracting visitors with too many links, too many buttons, too many colors – there’s too much of everything except a clear direction. It’s so much easier to just leave your website!
  • Navigating your website is like navigating a maze. Visitors can’t easily find what they came for.
  • You keep forgetting to fix / redirect broken links. It happens, but it really shouldn’t.

Your design—free e-commerce template or not—should come with a practical layout that’s also easy for your team to manage and maintain.

There you have it. The most frequent causes of confused customers—and why prospects never converted!

So the question now is, do you leave your pages as is or do you fix what needs fixing? What happens next is up to you!