Don’t let your website lead customers astray

30th Apr 2019

For a company just getting off the ground, a website is often top of the priority list. But with funds tight, many startups still opt for cheap, simple website builds with an off-the-shelf template in an effort to get a box ticked ready to move on to the next.

A website is effectively the business’ shop window, sales engine and customer loyalty tool all rolled into one. Getting it spot on can pay dividends. In this article, Hannah Brice, Managing Director, highlights six common website mistakes that could be seriously holding businesses back.

1. The website is invisible to customers

The first mistake made by many businesses is believing that as soon as the website is launched, customers will flock to it. In reality, unless customers know the exact website address, they’re not going to find it as without investment in SEO, the website simply won’t feature for several pages.

SEO is worth every penny spent, especially for a new brand. This involves transforming the site with keywords and tags that will help search engine ‘robots’ find relevant information to improve its ranking.

SEO is about defining the audience a business wants to reach and then telling Google where to meet them with specific key words. To be most effective, think about the search terms that customers are going to be using; for example ‘high vis jackets’ or ‘legal advice’. Building a website without SEO is like building a store in quicksand.

2. The homepage is turning customers away

In real life as well as in marketing terms, first impressions can make all the difference. Customers are able to tell a lot about a business by looking at its homepage, but it’s important to get it right as it can be a turn off for some customers. Factors include; un-engaging stock images, a brand style that tries too hard it detracts away from the core message or simply too much text making it difficult for customers to read.

Throughout the entire website build, it’s important to think about the target audience; would customers (or potential customers) appreciate lots of bright colours, whizzy videos and motion or are they time-poor and simply need to know the businesses USP as quickly as possible?

By keeping an eye on the Google Analytics for the website, it’s easy to identify what the bounce rate is. If people aren’t progressing from the homepage, it’s likely that’s where the problem lies.

3. The website isn’t suitable for mobile devices

Smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular device for getting online, yet, for many businesses, building a mobile responsive site is very often overlooked. The majority of customers will do their research online before buying a product or service and the chances are the website will be viewed on a smartphone as usage levels are hitting record highs.

And that’s not just for Google searching. Customers are also likely to read a business’ email communication whilst on the go. If a customer clicks through to the website and is unable to view anything as the screen resolution isn’t right or it’s too slow to load, the risk is that they’ll click out straightaway.

It’s also important to consider the different internet browsers that people could be using to visit the site. If the website features tools or content that won’t work on certain browsers, it could put customers off and send them running to the nearest competitor for what they need.

4. The website is not focused on customer needs

It can be tempting for a startup feeling like the new kid on the block to want to lead straight in with credentials and lots of information on when it first started, where it’s based, how many staff it has etc. But if a customer doesn’t feel confident in its understanding of what it can do for them, the chances are they’ll leave and look elsewhere.

Think about what a customer is going to want to find out by visiting the website; what problems are they looking to solve, what kind of product, solution or partner are they going to require to support them? Making the information about HOW the business solves that problem is so simple, yet effective. There will be plenty of time to reveal company credentials at a later stage.

5. The website takes too long to load

Customers are quick to dismiss a website if it takes too long for it to load, no matter how clear and concise the images, text and core messages.

According to research by Aberdeen Group, a one second delay in page load time will mean:

  • 11% fewer page views
  • 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
  • 7% loss in conversions

The reason the website is slow to load is most likely to be image size, number of components that need to load on the page, not deferring larger files from loading until after smaller elements have, and a lengthy server response time.

6. The customer journey hasn’t been considered

One of the most common mistakes for startups is that no time has been spent thinking about the customer journey. It’s all very well attracting lots of traffic to the website but converting that traffic into sales (or clients) should be the ultimate aim. The steps that make website visitors go from joining the site to purchasing is called the customer journey.

Ideally, there’s an option to buy straight away (for those who know what they want) but for those who need more information, their journey should lead effortlessly through the website, teaching them new things and convincing them to buy. This is where informative blog posts, customer testimonials and product information pages really help.

To illustrate how this could work:

Step 1: They want to see a product that is effective in solving the problem they have. Where? Homepage. How? Place copy talking about how the business has helped other customers

Step 2: They want to see proof it works. Where? Customer testimonial page.

Step 3: They want to see how it works in practice. Where? Information or product tutorial page.

Step 4: They want to buy. Where? Purchase page.

The customer journey may also take up a different route from email or social marketing campaigns on issues related to a product or target audience. Setting up a separate landing page and directing visitors there via blog posts or emails is an effective way of engaging customers where they’re not even sure they want a particular product. The text and images can be tailored specifically for a target audience to engage them around how the business will help solve a particular problem.

These mistakes are very straightforward to fix, but getting them right could make all the difference in customers choosing to buy rather than clicking on by.

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