3 Reasons Why Potential Customers Will Walk Away From Your Online Business

By Kerry McDuling
42 Comments

Have you ever wondered why it is that some online businesses thrive and continue to do so, while others just fail miserably?

It is interesting to observe the differences between successful online businesses and those that, while they have a presence, just are not profitable at all!

Knowing the reason why these businesses are successful should ultimately allow others to also be successful, if they follow their lead.

While the keys to success can range from how well bloggers and online entrepreneurs manage to reach their target audiences, to the online technology they use to do so, and how they manage and expand their online presence, sometimes it is the very foundation of their business that is letting them down.

Customers Are Walking Away From Your Business!

The reality is that as the time-poor people we are today, we don’t like to have to think too much. If we want to spend our money, we don’t want to be solving puzzles. We just want to be certain that we are making the right decision to purchase from the person who is the expert in what we want to know about.

Having said that, it is amazing how many online entrepreneurs manage to confuse what should be such a simple message.

1. Problem: Too Many Areas Of Expertise And Skill

Having more than one skill and talent is indeed advantageous. Today’s Gen X and Gen Y recognize the benefits in being skilled in more than one industry, and more often than not, take the opportunity to train and up-skill in different areas out of necessity, opportunity or simply interest.

However, I find that this very fact can be detrimental to business success if you make the mistake of including all of your areas of expertise on your website, particularly if they are far-removed. It is never beneficial to be thought of as a jack-of-all-trades and master of none!

Solution: Segment Your Skills

Consider whether all of your skills and abilities need to be in the one place. If you are, for example, a gardening blogger, confusing your audience by highlighting all of your experience as a marriage celebrant or private investigator will not serve you well.

If your skill set areas are from totally different sides of the spectrum, then you would be far better off creating two different identities, and profiles, for yourself.

Have one website for your gardening business and blog, and a different website for your private investigator business and blog.

I would then suggest focusing on your relevant experience for each area on the corresponding website. Talk up your gardening experience and qualifications in the bio for your gardening website, and your private investigator experience and qualifications in your private investigator website.

I am not suggesting you hide your experience or background in the other fields, just don’t focus on it. It is probably not of any relevance to your chosen audience for each sector anyway.

2. Problem: Offering Multiple Far-removed Products Or Services On The Same Website

People who make the first mistake tend to also make this one. How many times have you gone to someone’s website and noticed, for example, they are offering both online business products and toys for children and toddlers?

In this instance, it is so difficult to get a clear picture of the business, its expertise and what it actually specializes in, that more often than not, you choose not to do business with them and rather go with someone recognized for what they do.

Solution: Segment Your Products And Services

There is no problem if your products and services are somewhat related and identified as being related, but if not, then best to create a whole new business or website in which to offer these.

Keep in mind, though, that it can be difficult to juggle your time and energy between multiple businesses, so think carefully before pursuing a different stream of income. Even businesses that more or less operate by themselves still need a clear direction and some TLC occasionally.

3. Problem: Failing To Personalize Your Business And Brand

You may have heard me, or another business identity, say this before: people want to do business with people.

Technology has made the impossible a reality, and we can now connect and do business across the globe, at any time of the day or night with the click of a button. However, technology has also removed the personal touch.

In generations gone by, our ancestors used to do business locally, with people they had formed relationships with. Now that this element has been removed, we are forced to spend money with people we neither know nor trust. And while times have changed, our preferences and human instinct has not.

Hence the rise of the term ‘relationship marketing’. We are being encouraged to build rapport and trust with our current and intended customer base by sending them newsletters, emails and blogging directly to them.

With this in mind, it is interesting nonetheless how many bloggers and online businesses still hide their personal identity behind a logo.

Solution: Expose Yourself

In the nicest way possible of course!

If you are going to build a relationship and rapport with your customer base, now is not the time to be shy about it.

Receiving newsletters from “the business group” does nothing for me. But receiving contact from “Jane – the business connector” is so much more personal.

Suddenly, I have an identity – someone I can relate to. She is a woman, like me. She may choose to share how she enjoys walks on the beach, going to the gym, chocolate ice-cream and connecting business people from around the world. We have something in common! Right there is the relationship building I was talking about.

With this in mind, share who you are – your photo, your interests. Give your customers the opportunity to know you, to like you. Then, they will feel comfortable spending their money with you.

By following these key tips for building an online presence that stands out and really says something to your audience, you have the chance to create a truly remarkable online business.

Kerry

Photo courtesy of ocom

About Kerry McDuling

Kerry McDuling is a publicist and Director of her own public relations and publicity consultancy McDuling PR and exposure speciality business, Stratosphere Me – building brands and developing profitable business opportunities for companies, authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs.

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42 Comments

  • I’m glad you said that about people wanting to do business with other people (number “3” on your list). When I visit or use an online service, I am absolutely thrilled when I get a personal email from someone at the company thanking me.
    By the way, I enjoyed reading your article here for that very same reason — it comes across as if you are speaking directly to your readers — and for me, that directness is appreciated!

    • Normally I wouldn’t approve a comment like this because you didn’t use your real name. However the irony in this case given your comment about talking to a real person warrants the approval.

      • Brilliant post made even better by the absurdity of the first comment. Good choice on approving it!

      • Love it Yaro, thanks for being so switched on!
        And yes, I agree on all three accounts – it is so much more valuable when we are given an insight to a real person, particularly online.
        It also appears spammers are starting to get the idea too, given the recent style of spam to my email account and blog for dating sites, dubious job offers and online casinos – from individuals now, and not companies.

      • Haha it’s stuff like that, that makes me want to read comment sections!

        As for exposing yourself, totally agree. Most of my loyal customers all seem to come from an ebook which I wrote about my personal experiences. If people connect, they seem to trust. It’s that simple.

    • I learned this lesson the hard way a while back. I believe it’s more important that we think to be personal with people. The majority of the time, they can find your product/service somewhere else and won’t feel any guilt at all by going somewhere else where they are treated more like royalty.

  • This is a great post and by reading it I can tell that you obviously have experience of businesses. I say this because when I talk to new business owners or people contemplating starting up they very rarely seem to grasp the idea that working in a specific niche is the way to go.

    I think people believe that focusing on just a seemingly smaller area will end up losing them business opportunities when in fact the focus will more often gain them more work / sales.

    Focusing on one subset area of business only lets you establish yourself as an authority in that area and I have found that you can more than compete with bigger organisations going down this route. It really paid off for me with my first online business and continues to do so.

    Darren

    Yaro: Fantastic comment by the way!

    • Absolutely, Darren, because by specialising in a niche gives the perception that you are the expert.
      That is why Mazda or BMW service centres do so well for example – they give the impression that they offer specialist experience in that particular make of car. Which they do, of course, but somehow it adds to the desire to do business with them for better and more quality service.

  • Hi Kerry-

    Great article. I’ve had a problem with #3 – Failing to Personalize Your Brand, but I’m trying to come out of the cave.

    The subject of my site is more male-oriented though women are very good at it when they choose to do so. My point is, I’ve found it difficult to expose myself on my website for fear the men (customers) will think, “I don’t want to listen to a GIRL!” I kind of wonder if that kind of thinking is going on and perhaps holding some back from buying my product … In the meantime, I’ve gotten better by putting up the “About Me” page and sharing more about how I do what I do so that anyone can relate to it. Additionally, it always feels sort of stilted and inauthentic if I don’t write from first person perspective (rather than “we” perspective).

    Creating a successful online biz is definitely a process and thanks to you, Yaro and others on this website I learn a bit more each day.

    Thank you. :-)
    Natalie

    • Natalie, thanks so much for being apart of this conversation. I had a look at your website and business, and think the About Me gives a very personable aspect to a topic that can potentially be very dry – online stock trading. Your story is inspiring and shows us that anybody who understands what they are doing can really change their life by trading.
      I disagree that men will feel they don’t want to listen to a girl (perhaps if you were talking about something really macho, like motor mechanics or grid iron, but definitely not this topic). You have a great engaging style of writing and your online business is written and designed in a way that makes people want to stay on your site and find out more.
      Thank you for being courageous and giving something of yourself to your clients and site visitors.

      • Kerry,

        Thanks so much for your reply, perspective, support and encouragement.

        I look forward to more terrific info from you.

        Natalie

  • Really good list, and I am so guilty of No. 1 (lol). But it’s really hard to have a lifestyle blog without a lot of areas. Totally agree with your No. 3 though. My page views went up only after putting myself out there. It’s hard to do, but so worth it.

  • Thank you very much Kerry, this information has a lot of value for me and my organization. :)

  • I couldn’t agree more with your first point. I have run into this first hand. Not only do you confuse clients by offering to many services, but I found it also made it more difficult for me to perform well at what I like doing most…WordPress development. Narrowing our services has actually increase our business which is something we were concerned would have the opposite effect.

    • Hi Troy – yes, often you find out these things by trial and error. Glad you have decided to specialise – well done!

  • Your point about doing business with people REALLY speaks to me. It is a major foundation stone as I gradually build my business. I hate receiving mails that are not personalized…it doesn’t take me long to unsubscribe from lists like that.

    Another problem which might cause a business to lose customers is when the customer does not feel cared for. There is a certain marketer I subscribed to because I bought her product and really loved what she had to say. However, all she ever does is sell to me. I hate that.

    People want to feel like you’re there for them and you care about them. This means you should be willing to offer top quality information to your subscribers (customers) and sometimes give them quality for free. I am building a business, but I intend to build relationships in the process.

    Thanks for this post. Very typical of EJ – thought-provoking and educational.

    • Hi Sharon, thank you so much for your feedback and I am really flattered by it. Means a lot to hear that.
      I had a look at your online business and what really appealed to me was your honesty. I immediately had a feeling of authenticity, because you are not afraid to admit you are still learning! This invites others to join you on the journey and, to be really honest, I think this is more appealing than so-called gurus, who are “intouchable” so to speak.
      Nobody wants to be sold to all the time, and I had an unfortunate experience with a high profile blogger who used a high-pressure approach that made me feel completely uncomfortable and put me off.
      I might share that experience because I learned about what approach works, and what does not.
      Like you, genuine people who want to share what they have learned on their journey appeal to me. Sharing should not always have to come at a price.
      Thanks for being you, Sharon!

      • You are too kind Kerry. Thanks for your words – they are really encouraging. Honesty is very important to me and I am humbled that it comes through.

        I would love to read about your experience; I’m sure there’s a lot for me to learn.

  • Hi there!
    Fabulous article and really pronounced the importance of people contact. If you have a chance, could you review my blog and let me know how it is going. Do you think the name could be interfering with it’s potential? I have been going for a year and half now and am ready to take it to the next step of real marketing. Would love any feedback before I devote myself more into the marketing.
    Thanks

    • Hi Melissa, thank you for connecting.
      I had a look at your business and I think you have chosen a fantastic niche. Women who have endometriosis find it difficult to forget the condition and go on with life, due to the pain they experience and the possible consequences (infertility, etc). Therefore, you will attract a loyal following across the globe as they join you finding your answers.
      I believe the name you have chosen is perfect and congrats on winning the domain! Powerful because it will lead to HUGE page ranking results on Google search.
      I think that your photo on the front page together with your story allow the reader to connect with you as a person. I can feel your genuine warmth through the screen.
      I would encourage you to create a saleable ebook with your “conclusions” in the future – busting myths about cures for the condition and perhaps including testimonials from other women for your recommendations.
      Well done on a brilliant business idea and I think you are so very courageous for sharing your trials and tribulations with an online audience. x

  • Nice Kerry. I’ve always been a fan of the KISS method… It seems that the past couple years have produced a more for less economy and having or offering too much can certainly have you fall into the trap…

    • Thanks Mike, often the more simple solutions are the most effective in life and business.

  • Ann

    Good article, our business is strong. You are right, clear information and an easy and secure way to buy.

  • Kerry,
    Thank you for the article. I think being consistent as well as being open online is important. I think being consistent helps builds trust in a similar way as being open about your identity online. Thanks again.

  • Joe

    “With this in mind, it is interesting nonetheless how many bloggers and online businesses still hide their personal identity behind a logo.”
    What about the thousands of succesful businesses that have no identifiable person behind it? IE coke, clickbank, best buy, the almost entire fortune 500, I could go on and on.

    • Thanks Joe for contributing.
      Many of those large brands established themselves before the trend back to personable business to business relationships. While the importance for “big business” with a board of directors and shareholders to promote themselves with a face is sometimes impossible, simply because there is more than one person responsible, these businesses always try to do their best to interact with clients by nominating a representative and thereby giving them a name.
      Small businesses and online businesses not already widely recognised absolutely need to identify the person and his/her story today in their public relations and promotional work.

  • Great post – and is the conclusion I was coming to about my main site – too many tools! Am now in the process of building a site for each modality … and decloaking, too. It’s very safe to hide behind an online persona, without really being authentic. Working on that, too. I used to think that people would probably chat by email before making a decision, but I think you’re right – who has the time any more? So thank you – you’ve concentrated my mind about this.

  • Andrea

    Hi! i agree with you in everything! and mostly with number 3. Lately when i go to a website i like to read the “about me”, and i don’t like when i don’t know who is being that website. I have been trying to put together a new website/blog and I’m making sure it’s is personalize, and with your advise I’m going to make even more sure I’m doing it :) thank you!

  • nice reminder Kerry. it’s amazing how the fundamentals work year over year, industry after industry…the challenge is even more pervasive today given the dynamic environment in which we play. however, clarity and focus are key as it allows us to keep progressing toward our objectives

  • I think you are right. Small business have to let their personality shine through!

  • Thanks for these tips. I find that customers will walk away if you are in it just to get their money.

  • Good post Kerry. I’ve been in sales for 14 years and having moved into online marketing a few years back I can honestly say I’ve been guilty of all 3 key points at one point or another. Good advice, never been on this site before but I’m glad I stopped by.

  • Hi Kerry. #2 and #3 create a conflict with me. As a personalized brand I have lots of interests, more so than a business brand focusing on one thing. It is a struggle to figure out “how much” and to determine when you are to broad.

  • Thanks for this amazing blog post. Your Point 1 impressed me a lot and I do personally feel that we have to be specific and clear while dealing with customers. Moreover customers these days get easily confused and we need to make sure that we do not make them confused at any cost by making things simple and straight..

  • Personal touch is always crucial, I absolutely agree with you. Especially when it comes to people/companies who are providing me with services rather than selling me products.

    For example, I may be less interested about somebody who is about to sell me a car than about somebody who is about to be my teacher, gym coach or even accountant. I would want to know more about them in every way.

  • Guilty on all 3 counts. I’m usually asking “what I can add to my website?” Maybe I should start asking “how can I make things more simple?”

    Thanks for the reminder.

  • Thanks Kerry, Being new to this online business thing, I need all the help I can get. Your tips are very useful and I will be sure to keep them in mind as I move forward.

  • Jan

    Kerry,
    Thank you for a great article. I really relate to Point # 1 – the importance of segmenting your skill or area of expertise. I am coming to terms with that at the moment. Making a decision as to who and what I offer. Having been in the consulting, coaching arena for so long you can become a jack of all trades. I am now taking the step of bringing mind, body soul techniques and strategies into the work place. Loud and proud!

  • Thanks for this great article! It came at just the right time for me because when I first started building websites, I was taught to do it in a very “business-like” way and now I feel I need to do change all of them to a more personal style. It’s such an important point.

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