When you operate within a competitive market on tight margins, having a website is a huge benefit to your business – but just having it is not enough. What your site looks like and the information it offers both play a pivotal role in attracting or retaining customers, and offers you the opportunity to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Just as customers seek certain things from a shop they might walk into – visible products, friendly staff, central heating – they also require a website to offer them certain things if they are even to consider parting with their money. So what do customers want? Read on for our top five and ask yourself; are you meeting all their expectations?
1. Clear messaging
Within moments of landing on your home page, a visitor should know who you are, what you do, and what they need to do next. Regardless if you sell jam or run a consultancy business, your website should give a clear and compelling message that makes every potential customer feel they understand your business and how you can help them.
You should also include clear ‘next steps’ so the customer’s journey through your site and to your service/product is fluid and straightforward. The same applies to whether they arrive on your website via their mobile device, a tablet or a computer, so think carefully about presentation.
Ask yourself: ‘what makes my business unique?’ The answer should be clearly communicated from your homepage to turn every visitor into a customer and protect your space in the market. Monitor your success by inviting honest feedback from acquaintances outside the business and heed their advice – fresh eyes can often see things you miss.
2. Compelling offers
We live in a time of ample choice and competitive offers, so customers seek compelling, personalised offers that make your business worth their time and money over and above the many others. Plan and run interesting, engaging and timely offers to attract your visitors to your site – this could be a reduction on prices or a voucher to use next time they shop or when they recommend a friend.
Customers are increasingly seeking something unique – Deloitte research found one in three customers want personalised products – so find a way to personalise what you do, whether it be hand-wrapped gifts or personalised products. Small companies have the edge over large companies in this area, so leverage your position and find a means of offering something special to pique the interest of site visitors.
3. Great content
There is no shortage of content or stimulation online, but customers will always be interested in material that is timely, appropriate, useful and interesting. All the content on your site should be tailored to your audience and be high quality, offering value to the reader without being self-serving to the business – customers can spot an advert masquerading as an article a mile away!
Research the trends and areas of interest for your target audience and then invest time and resources in crafting well-written articles, blogs and news stories to share on your site.
There is an added benefit to generating great content as it should help improve your SEO too, boosting your site’s appearance in search results and therefore your visibility. Great content will also help keep visitors on your site for longer, and the greater the duration of their visit, the more likely it will transform them into a customer.
Legitimacy needs to be clearly stated in this era of prevalent cyber crime and the giddying anonymity of the web. Your customers need to believe you are who you claim, so include case studies, testimonials or quotes from previous customers to reassure the nervous and persuade the tempted about your business.
You should also have clear contact details to make it easy for customers to find you, and this can include an address, a contact phone number, an email address or a contact form that can be filled in and submitted from the web page itself. Leave no room for doubt when it comes to your credentials and legitimacy.
5. Engaging visuals
Website design is a serious business as we are all superficial creatures to a certain extent, easily attracted and persuaded by visuals that appeal to the eye and engage us with the product. Make sure your site not only looks great, but it also features a range of visual stimulation, as all customers will have preferred means of being communicated to.
Videos, images, infographics and photos can all be used alongside text to ensure you appeal to as many eyes as possible. Remember that the human attention span has dropped to just eight seconds – shorter than that of a goldfish – so you need to pack a punch with your look to win them over in a short space of time.
Visuals is an area that requires fairly constant engagement. Monitor the trends and look at other websites, finding ones that you like and applying some of the same methods to your own. You need to keep updating your site to make sure you are meeting the most current expectations and the changing preferences of the capricious customer.