Online Sales 101: Why your ads may not be working

By Jordan Miller

Have you spent time and money on advertisements and outreach, only to create a handful of leads? Some simple insights from the world of consumer psychology may shed some light on this common problem. It's time to get inside the head of your target buyers! Here are the top five reasons they may be ignoring your marketing efforts.

1) Your messaging has no "call to action"

You've just created a beautiful advertisement, complete with imagery, a smart, bold title, and a life-changing offer. Great! Now what prompt have you provided the consumer that makes it simple for them to take the next step?

A "call to action" (CTA) is the piece of your blog, newsletter or ad that motivates your audience to do something. It may not seem like much, but looking up your company online or navigating to a particular webpage can feel like an unnecessary eternity to a distracted consumer.

Make their path to you as convenient as possible. Use simple CTAs like "Get Started" and "Order Now" with links to clean, intuitive web pages that keep your visitor engaged the entire time.

2) Your messaging creates "action paralysis"

Maybe you've nailed the CTA. Congrats! But did you know that an advertisement as simple as "Buy a Carport Today" could be a major deterrent to a substantial portion of your potential audience? Here's why.

Some of your buyers may have preconceived notions about a product or service that prevents them from acting. For example, even without pricing information, "carport" (a large metal structure with an installation process) may immediately translate to "expensive" to an uninformed buyer.

You can lower the barrier to entry with a simple adjustment that makes it easier to make a move. For example, "Buy a Carport Today, as Low as $129/Month" clearly identifies the minimum that a potential customer needs to break through. For many of your buyers, this could be the perfect price. And for the buyers who can't meet your minimums? You've just saved time on a dead end sales conversation.

3) The gratification you offer isn't instant

As much as we'd like to think of ourselves as rational and level-headed, when it comes to purchasing decisions, we're about as reasonable as a kid in a candy shop-- we want something sweet, and we want it NOW.

This is a major problem for the build-to-order industry where custom quotes come into play. If you don't have a way for customers to come to your website, check out a structure, make personalizations and receive immediate feedback on pricing and/or building specifications, this could be the primary cause of your low conversion rate.

Amazon has taught consumers that literally anything can be purchased with the click of a button. Even though you are selling a complicated structure, your potential buyers won't make an exception on your behalf-- they'll just head over to a competitor with the ability to customize and checkout online. If your advertisements tell buyers to call for a custom quote that can be prepared within 24 hours... you're behind the curve : (

4) Your offer isn't simple enough

Not to completely destroy your outlook on human nature but... consumers are also lazy. One of the biggest mistakes we see our clients make is offering too much complexity. Over 1,000 window - door - size combinations for a given building is not a compelling offer to a potential buyer, it's a homework assignment! Our brains are actually wired to prefer things that are familiar and easy to understand. So... there's really no need to advertise that technicolor cat-shaped weathervane.

In summary, don't overburden consumers with options that they'd have never considered in the first place. Do give them a clean set of features that make you the fastest, easiest way to buy a particular structure.

5) Your offer doesn't instill trust in potential buyers

A crucial component to gaining traction with potential customers is giving them a sense of peace and comfort that they are working with a competent, reliable business. As purchasing is a largely emotional decision, it's important to embed your messaging with proof that you can produce a quality product or service in a timely fashion, and that your customers will be valued and treated with respect. Here are a few trust-boosters you can think about plugging into your next advertisement:

  • A positive review from a recent customer. Do you have a quote from a satisfied buyer that speaks to the speed, ease, and joy of purchasing a structure from your business? Put it front and center, and think about adding a face to the review. Remember-- purchasing decisions are emotional. The more relatable and "human" you can make an ad, the more likely it is to resonate on a deeper level.
  • A free & compelling "thank you" gift or gesture. If you want potential buyers to get a sense of how well they can expect to be treated by your business, think about offering a gift or gesture of goodwill to thank them for working with you. It doesn't have to be related to your product-- in fact, it's better if it feels disconnected from the sale. Think something along the lines of "Free holiday gift baskets to any customer who purchases in December".
  • Personality! If your industry carries a stigma of being dry or procedural or downright boring, separate yourself as a real business run by real people. Showcasing personality or a sweet story that underlies your product offering can help potential buyers to see your business as authentic and relatable. But don't force it-- sob stories and overly emotional yarns can't resonate if they aren't real.




There you have it! A bit of insight from the world of consumer psychology to take your ads to the next level. At IdeaRoom, we're working to make sure that anyone who wants to can reach out to us at any time with questions about online sales, marketing or business development. Give us a shout at to tell us about your successful ad campaigns!

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