The internet. Can you imagine life without it, now?
Your website is where your customers go to engage with you online, and maybe even to purchase directly from you. It’s also where your potential customers are going to make a decision about where to buy from you.
So, what does your website say about your business, your brand, your people? Are you meeting your customers’ information needs? Have you really put your best foot forward?
Here are just a few of the many things that customers are looking for when they visit your brand’s website to decide if they’re going to do (or continue to do) business with you:
User friendly navigation
Just like we expect to be greeted by a friendly face when we enter a retail or hospitality venue, consumers have expectations about where things should and shouldn’t be on your website.
In research carried out by Hubspot, 76% of consumers say the most important factor in a website's design is "the website makes it easy for me to find what I want."
Some simple tips for ease of use include:
- Keep the navigation bar where consumers expect it (ie, at the top or down the left hand side of the page)
- make it easy to find the ‘contact us’ page (there’s nothing more frustrating for a consumer when their sole purpose of visiting the site is to find your phone number or street address), and
- add a reliable ‘search’ function to your site (for example ‘google search’).
Regardless of your business size, customers expect a certain level of digital sophistication from your business, with basic functions such as booking appointments, leaving reviews, and purchasing online (including all of the security and verification that comes with secure shopping).
According to studies cited by usability.gov, having a credible looking website scored 4 out of 5 on the importance scale. That means incorporating some must-have functions on your website, including:
- Ensuring that your site is arranged in a logical way
- Providing a useful set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers
- Ensuring that your site is as up to date as possible
- Ensuring that the site looks professionally designed
- Show author’s credentials, and provide links to outside sources and materials
And with around half of internet users being mobile, mobile device compatibility is now not-negotiable for your brand (and your search engine optimisation).
There’s no denying that in the digital world, and in the retail world, Apple has mastered the art of intuitive design, along with clean and clear layout.
Consumers are increasingly preferring minimalism in their online experience over bells and whistles - so say goodbye to flashing images, auto-start music and pop-up windows.
(While there’s still an argument for the benefit of pop-up windows in driving your database growth, the real benefit of this stands when it functions correctly and offers real value to the consumer.)
Design preferences, just like fashion, change frequently, and users expect website owners to be up to date. If your site looks dated, then your brand will be perceived to be so, too. That doesn’t always mean jumping onto the latest trends, but it does mean subjectively critiquing your brand regularly for aesthetic improvements to enhance your brand message.
Slow loading websites are among the top reasons that someone will leave your website. Particularly if it’s on your homepage, when their frustration mounts before you’ve even had the chance to ‘open your front door and say hi’. Your home page should load instantly, and this comes down to simple graphics optimisation, and a minimalist approach to your website design.
If your website takes longer than three seconds to load, you could be losing up to 50% of your site traffic, according to Hubspot. As little as 1 second delay can reduce your sales by 7 per cent, and 78% of users saying that they wouldn’t visit a site again if it was too slow. Can you afford to lose 80% of your customers? No? Then improve your site loading time, and do it fast.
Among the primary reasons that people visit your website is to find out ‘more information’, or to find out whether they want to do business with you. And there’s little more frustrating when you’re trying to learn about a brand than when there’s not enough information to make an informed choice.
Investing in developing your content will not only help provide your customer with the information that they are looking for, but will keep your customers on your site longer, and help with your search engine optimisation.
That includes providing information about your full scope of services, having a news or blog section which helps give solutions or information to your customers for their possible problems, and video and photography to reflect your brand and engage your customers on site.
But filling your website with content alone is not enough - you need to make sure that the content is relevant to your customers, well written and on brand, and of course, free of errors. Content should be updated regularly and consistently (customers don’t like surprises - don’t keep your customers guessing when the latest and greatest information will come from your brand!).
Find out what your customers are interested in, and what problems they’re looking to solve, and then write about it! Use Google Analytics to tell you what your customers (and prospective customers) are searching for, and find your best writer (or hire a third party writer) to develop the content that will give your website the substance that your customers are looking for.
Clarity around what you actually do
Too many brands are cryptic or unclear about what they actually do. Whether that’s because they’re not 100% sure what their customers are looking for, or because they’re trying to be a bit cryptic to create intrigue, brands need to remember that when it comes to website messaging it’s not what you want to say, but what your customers want to hear.
Give your potential customers enough information to make a decision about whether they want to purchase from you. Be clear about what services you offer, or how you differentiate from your competitors. And don’t make your customers dig for the information - have it up front and clear on the home page, plain to see. Because they won’t contact you for more information, they’ll simply move onto your competitors’ sites.
In August 2019 there were 1.94 billion active websites, and another 380 new websites are created every minute. There’s only one thing that will differentiate your website from the (potentially) millions of others that are in your competitive field: you. Your brand and your personality is unique, and being authentic to your brand and honest with your customers will help your customers to clearly understand whether you’re a good fit for them, or not.
A word from your customers…
Research shows that as many as 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
And contrary to popular belief, positive experiences with your brand actually prompt more customer reviews than negative experiences. So focus on good quality and personal service, because customers are sharing their thoughts with friends and followers through reviews. And don’t forget to prompt your customers for their review of your business, this is going to help with your word of mouth marketing efforts, as well as your search engine optimisation.
And if you’re still not 100% sure what your customers are looking for, ask them! Customers love to give their opinions on what they want to ensure they have the best possible experience online with your brand.
How can DMC Group help you with your website and ecommerce solutions
Your digital brand presence today is the cornerstone from which all marketing activities can pivot, to attract prospective customers to you, and engage existing customers and communities in the context of your brand’s vision, values and content.
DMC Group are experts at creating customer-centric experience online, through targeted and strategic architecture, easy navigation, and informative content, which aligns with your brand and values, and provides foundational materials for use across other digital and offline marketing platforms.
Contact us to find out more today.
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