When people are deciding whether or not they want to buy from, or work with, a particular business, they often have an internal checklist that helps them form their ultimate opinion. Part of that checklist includes your website, which should be home to helpful information about your company at the very least. Unfortunately, simply having a website or e-commerce shop isn’t enough, and if you aren’t properly maintaining your site, it could be negatively impacting your business.
We’ve collected five of the biggest offenses to help you ensure you’re running a successful website.
It’s extremely important for your website to look its best. Part of this is because it’s a reflection of your business, just like if someone was passing your storefront or taking a peek inside your store. However, the elements involved get a bit more specific.
This is critical for two reasons. First, load speed is a ranking factor for Google and other search engines; if it loads too slowly, your SERP position will drop significantly, making your business harder to discover. Second, online users expect fast load times, and they aren’t willing to wait. What should you aim for? A mere 2 seconds is an acceptable page load time for e-commerce sites; however, Google itself aims for under half a second for its pages. Bear in mind that 53% of smartphone users are going to abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
By modern, we mean a site that looks like it’s been created recently. You see, 75% of users will judge your business’ credibility based on your website design. If your website looks like it’s a little old, your business may seem out of touch and question if you’re the best brand for their needs, but if it seems too old, they’ll begin to doubt your quality or legitimacy as a business.
Mobile-friendliness is another major Google ranking factor, and while having a separate mobile site is a solution, responsive design is significantly wiser. Consider the fact that smartphones are often slightly different shapes and resolutions, but they’ll also use tablets, desktops, and even their smart TV to browse the internet. A responsive website means that no matter what kind of device the customer is using, elements will place themselves within the screen appropriately, and text will appear at an appropriate size.
Users don’t want to feel like they’re navigating a labyrinth to reach the information, content, or products they’re interested in. The more difficult it is to find what they want, the more frustrated they’ll become and the more likely it is they’ll give up or simply head to a competitor instead. Mobile-friendliness plays a factor here as well: for instance, elements like drop down menus are annoying enough to visitors that are using a mouse, and trying to navigate one using their thumb is that much more difficult.
Brand consistency is also critical in building consumer trust, lifting message recall, and improving conversions. If you drive a visitor to your website through a radio ad, they need to clearly associate the website with the brand they heard on the radio. The message needs to be consistent, especially if you direct them to a landing page, and whatever you’re promoting in your radio ad needs to be easy to discover on your website.
You ought to be regularly checking to ensure that all of the links you feature on your site are functional. This is especially critical for navigation within your site: if a customer clicks a link to view products featured in a sale but end up with an error page, that’s frustrating. They may give you the benefit of the doubt and come back later, but if it continues to happen, they’ll give up on your brand. Don’t leave broken links that lead out from your website either, since numerous broken links will begin to damage your credibility.
Calls-to-action are critical, but they’re not just for your advertising. Whether it’s on landing pages or inside blog posts, CTAs have a major impact on lead generation and conversion. Think about it: how are you convincing visitors to sign up for your email newsletter, exchange information for content downloads, read your latest blog, or tap your latest sale?
Your CTAs need to be relevant not only to the message on the current page and the content they lead to, but also to your customer. That also means you need to be extremely direct, appealing and bold. A vague “click here” won’t cut it, but something like “download our free app instantly” will be powerful. Emphasize value and give site visitors a reason to click. Featurebox and welcome gate CTAs are among the most effective (3-9% and 10-25% respectively).
Your website is one of your best tools for lead generation, and it provides a variety of opportunities to collect information to provide new touchpoints for marketing as well as improved data for personalized outreach. For instance, if a visitor downloads an ebook on a specific topic, but you don’t collect information, you’ve missed an opportunity for a lead. However, if you have them sign up for your email newsletter when they download the ebook, you’ll be able to associate that information and better segment them for future emails. Similarly, if you don’t encourage users to make an account along the path of considering their purchase, if they abandon their cart, you can’t reach out to them via email to improve their chances of coming back to that cart or remarket similar products to them.
Content plays a key role in a number of areas. First is discoverability: 72% of marketers believe that the most effective SEO tactic for organic search is relevant content creation. Furthermore, 10% of blog posts are compounding, which means that over time, they continue to increase traffic to your site. Second is lead generation: believe it or not, B2C brands that leveraged 11 or more blog posts per month saw more than four times as many leads generated than those that only posted half as often (i.e., 4-5 times per month).
However, you can’t just make posts randomly. You need to have a plan in place to post content regularly; the consistency will build trust. You also need to plan the content of your content to ensure that it stays on message and provides value to your audience; this lifts brand perception and makes your company a go-to resource. Don’t forget visual content either. Videos, infographics, and images are appealing, resonate emotionally, and can share information in a more meaningful way than plain text.
You need to view your website as an investment, which means you need to ensure its health and effectiveness. We cannot emphasize the value of data enough. You need to be measuring and monitoring the performance of your site to understand where users are navigating, when they stop using your site, and what is actually working well (or poorly). You cannot simply follow the generic path. Instead you need to react to how people are actually using your site.
While there is a myriad of ways to attract people to your business, if you want to build customer confidence in your business and bolster conversions, you must have corrected the problems we’ve listed above and develop a successful website. If you have an attractive site and leverage a clear message with calls-to-action, you can establish your company as one that puts checks in the right boxes and keep you at the top of visitors’ minds. Don’t forget to collect information to expand your touchpoints, and always watch analytics to ensure everything is on par.