5 Coaching Website Mistakes That Are Costing You Clients

Over the years, I’ve seen thousands of coaching websites come by. I see them on people’s LinkedIn profiles, in email signatures, and on their business cards.

They either look like this: janetmcgonagall.com (first name, last name.com)

Or like this: marklebowskicoaching.com (first name, last name, coaching.com)

Or this: flourishforgrowth.com (words related to growth.com)

I absolutely love that there are people on this planet who make it their mission to help others do better in life.

In fact, I’m one of them.

The problem is that most ‘helpers’ are not marketeers.

And that’s why I want to ‘help the helpers’ to get their marketing in order. Because the highest-paid coaches are not the ones who deliver the best coaching, but the ones who have their marketing in order.

The highest-paid coaches are not the best coaches, but the ones who have their marketing in order.

Here’s another thing about these coaches: Not only are they the highest-paid coaches, but they also get to cherry-pick their clients and say ‘no’ to anything they don’t feel like doing (like networking, blegh) because they already have a fresh stream of clients coming in on auto-pilot.

If you are planning to reach and help more people with your offerings, please let me entertain you with the following mistakes that I witness time and again on coaching websites. I hope they offer you a fresh perspective.

Mistake #1: Self-Obsession

This is the biggest mistake in my eyes. Get this wrong and you’re bound to bore and lose a lot of potential clients. Get this right, and your phone will ring off the hook.

The majority of coaching websites I come across seem totally self-obsessed. But it makes sense that a website about you and your services deals with, well, you and your services, right?

Wrong.

It shouldn’t be about you as much as it’s about the people you’re helping and the problem you’re helping them solve.

Your website shouldn’t be about you as much as it’s about the people you’re helping and the problem you’re helping them solve.

Introducing Dennis

To make the theory come alive, let’s use a friend of mine (Dennis) as an example. Dennis is a breathing coach who helps people with stress-related breathing problems. Most of his clients are successful entrepreneurs or C-suite executives.

Dennis mostly does one-on-one coaching and charges a pretty tariff for his services. His clients are happy to pay said tariff because the problems they experience (chest pressure, fast and shallow breathing, shortage of breath, stress) are lowering their quality of life.

They’ve typically already spoken with their general practitioner, but to no avail.

Imagine being the perfect client for Dennis. A busy person with shallow breathing and other stress-related physical symptoms.

If you were to land on his website and find only chest-thumping stories and pictures about Dennis and how awesome he is, would you feel like getting his advice?

Probably not.

But what if you landed on his site and the first text you read described the exact problem you’re experiencing?

E.g. “Do you regularly feel short of breath, anxious, and stressed out of your mind? Don’t worry. These problems often have clear causes. Together, we can find out what they are and eliminate them.”

You don’t know who this guy is, but you feel heard and you know you’ve landed in the right place. This website – this Dennis – may just help you solve your problem!

Now that you feel heard, you become interested in who Dennis is and whether he is indeed qualified to help you.

The lesson here is to first make your visitors feel heard by describing their problem in as much detail as possible. The better you describe their problem, the more convinced your potential clients are that you have the solution.

The better you describe their problem, the more convinced your potential clients are that you have the solution.

This brings us to Mistake #2.

Mistake #2: Not Defining the Problem You Solve

Most coaching certification programs will tell you to define and own your niche.

I think this is excellent advice that can’t be taken seriously enough.

If you are helping people to exercise more, eat healthy breakfasts, and improve their work-life balance, while simultaneously offering leadership training, but also squeezing in the occasional psychoanalysis session: congratulations.

You are officially all over the place.

The above continuum shows All-Over-The-Place on the left side and Laser Focus on the right side. The more your website leans towards the right side of the continuum, the greater the chance that the people you’ve chosen to help with your services will feel heard and choose you.

I know what you’re thinking. You don’t want to make your focus too narrow, because you’re afraid that fewer people will reach out and want to make use of your services.

Wrong again. The exact opposite is the case.

You have to choose to be chosen. If you don’t choose what set of problems you help clients with, clients definitely won’t choose your solution.

If you don’t choose what set of problems you help clients with, clients definitely won’t choose your solution.

Mistake #3: No Clear Funnel

The best way to understand what a funnel is is to imagine a literal funnel.

Website visitors enter at the top of the funnel and coaching clients come out the bottom.

Very oversimplified, but that’s what a funnel is.

But a website visitor doesn’t convert into a coaching client right away. Funnels typically consist of different steps.

For example:

  1. Visitors land on your website (100% of them)
  2. Visitors fill out your contact form (10%)
  3. You schedule an introductory call with qualified clients (5%)
  4. You get permission to send them a proposal via email (2%)
  5. Clients subscribe to your coaching services (1%)

This is more or less what a typical coaching client journey looks like. I made up the numbers, but you get the idea.

Now that you know the exact steps, you can optimize your website and every step of the funnel to send as many qualified potential clients as possible to the next step of the funnel.

In the above example, for instance, you convert 1% of your website visitors to coaching clients who are a good fit for you.

So, the goal of your website is to convert visitors to the next step of the funnel, namely to get them to fill out a contact form. That’s it.

Because you now know what action you want your website visitor to take, you can include many call-to-actions (CTA’s) in relevant places on your site.

This brings us to Mistake #4…

Mistake #4: No Clear Call-to-Action

Now that you know the steps you want your website visitor to take, you can create clear calls-to-action on your site that lead them to the next step.

Because let’s not forget: as a website owner, you are leading this tango.

A great way to do this is to have a ‘Start Here’ page on your website where you not only share your most valuable materials (blog posts, PDFs, videos, your TED talk, etc.) but offer all the information a visitor needs to consume before getting in touch with you.

Another tip is to make your calls-to-action stand out visually and try to avoid words like register, subscribe, membership, etc. Words like that give off the impression that the visitor is making quite a (financial) commitment by clicking on them.

It’s better to use more playful, casual phrases like ‘Let’s Talk over Skype’ or ‘Schedule a Free Coaching Session’. Specific, but it doesn’t feel like a huge commitment – which it isn’t.

You can even use the desired end result as a CTA. In Dennis’s case this would be something like: “Yes, teach me how to breathe”, or something fun like that.

Mistake #5: Too Much Information

I’ve seen coaching websites with walls of text that make War and Peace look like a toddler’s first scribbles.

It’s the online equivalent of that person at the conference who just can’t stop talking about himself. The one you just met. And that’s while you already had to go to the toilet…

The long and short of it is this: no one cares about you, yet.

Your website visitors have their own agenda. They care about (1) solving their problems, and (2) reaching their goals. As soon as you realize this and ride that wave of self-interest rather than trying to fight it, you’ll be just fine.

Ride the wave of self-interest. Don’t fight it.

I always consider it a great exercise in empathy. Trying to get inside the head and under the skin of the people I’m helping. If you’ve spoken to a lot of them, you’ve probably seen patterns emerging and the words and phrases they use to describe their predicaments, their hopes, their dreams.

Demonstrate this understanding by using the exact phrases that they use on your website. Show them that you understand them, and make them feel heard before they even talk to you. That’s the purpose of your website, not to be the annoying person at the conference who just can’t stop talking about him- or herself.

Also, kill your darlings. Are there texts on your site that don’t serve a clear purpose? Maybe there are even complete pages that can be deleted?

Save them in a Google Doc (makes the loss aversion less painful) and delete them from your site. The easiest way to make your website 50% better is to delete the 50% that doesn’t serve a clear purpose. Simple.

Closing Remarks

There’s a lot more to be said about creating the perfect coaching website, but I don’t want to assume any of this is interesting to you.

If it is, please leave a comment and tell me what you think. What mistakes have you spotted? What best-practices do you know, that I didn’t cover in this article?

I always love hearing from you.

Talk soon,

Seph

About the author

Seph Fontane Pennock is a serial entrepreneur in the mental health space and one of the co-founders of Quenza. His mission is to solve the most important problems that practitioners are facing in the changing landscape of therapy and coaching now that the world is turning more and more digital.

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