More than six in 10 U.S. consumers say that their go-to channel for simple inquiries is a digital self-serve tool such as a website (24%), mobile app (14%), voice response system (13%) or online chat (12%).— American Express
In today’s modern sales arena, buyers are much more likely to do online research than pick up the phone and call a salesperson. Just about every company has a website, but very few of them effectively attract and engage visitors long enough for them to become legitimate leads. Those that do have a major advantage over their competitors, more easily meet business goals and are more likely to experience sustainable growth. In order to get the most out of your website and turn it into your best sales tool, you must consider:
- Website User Experience
- Website Functionality
- Search Engine Optimization
This post includes tips and tricks you can begin implementing today that will make your website more attractive and useful for potential customers. The longer you can hold their attention and the more interaction you can get, the better your chances of conversion and making a sale.
Website User Experience (Hacks 1-9)
When visitors come to your website, it’s a race against the clock. The time is limited to draw them in and establish the credibility of your company. If your site isn’t visually appealing, is overloaded with fluff or doesn’t elicit a response — they’re gone! The user begins to form assumptions about your business, brand and products & services immediately.
1. Maximize the Space Above the Fold – Yeah, it’s a newspaper term, but it still applies online. You can’t assume that a site visitor will scroll down or click anything. For this reason, it’s critical that your primary content is visible immediately. This includes:
- Your Unique Selling Proposition (what you do better than your competitors)
- Information that highlights the credibility of your company
- Instructions that direct users at various stages of the buyer’s journey to more relevant content
2. Make It Easy to Contact You – If you’re fortunate enough to have a visitor who wants to contact you, it better be simple for them to do so whether it’s via phone, email or form submission. Contact information should be easily visible on every page of your website.
3. Utilize Lead Magnets for “Tire-Kickers” – At any given time, only 3% of the market is actively buying, 56% are not ready and 40% are poised to begin. Engage non-buy-ready prospects by offering relevant, high-value content or freebies in exchange for their contact information. This will allow you to stay top-of-mind until they are ready to buy.
4. Use Calls to Action & Make Them Obvious – Your website should serve two purposes: providing information and generating response. It’s not doing its job if visitors are left saying, “Ok, what do I do next?” CTAs should compel users to act and should be designed in a way that makes it clear what you want them to do and what will happen next.
5. Personalize Your Content – The interior pages of your site should serve a different purpose than the homepage. The homepage is where you grab attention and tell what your business is about. The interior pages should provide more specific information that helps visitors make their way through the buyer’s journey.
- Don’t let your content be too broad. Content should be designed and organized to speak specifically to your target audiences. By funneling visitors through more relevant content, you better address the pain points and needs faced by the personas in your target markets/industries and make more sales.
6. Keep It Simple – Complex, busy designs and an overabundance of information make it difficult for users to identify your USPs and CTAs. A basic design and more concise information will prevent confusion and make it more likely that visitors will take the action you want.
7. Remove Unwanted Noise – Most website visitors are turned off by videos or audio clips that begin playing automatically. Turn control over to your guests and let them decide whether or not they want to watch or listen.
8. Highlight the Good Stuff – Your most important information must be easily seen and understood. Be mindful of the headlines and graphics you use, and make sure they help prospects grasp the main ideas. Never put key information into carousels or sliders that will go out of sight.
9. Collect Feedback for Site Improvement – A great way to know whether or not your website resonates is by having people outside your company provide feedback you can use to build on your site’s strengths and address its weaknesses. You can get feedback by:
- Reaching out to existing customers
- Utilizing focus groups or services like www.usertesting.com
- Launching a survey campaign to a target market (you’ll likely have to offer an incentive like a gift card or promotional product to get decent response)
Website Functionality (Hacks 10-13)
Appealing visuals and good content are only part of the formula that makes a website a good sales tool. The technical aspects of your site may not be as exciting as the design, but they’re just as critical to your success. You can have the best-looking site in your industry, but if it doesn’t function in an efficient manner, visitors will get frustrated and leave. How can you expect prospects to trust you with their needs if your site doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to?
10. Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly – According to Genwi, 86% of B2B buyers access business-related content on mobile devices. It’s essential that your site is responsive, meaning it provides an optimal user format regardless of the user’s device. People are five times more likely to leave a site if it isn’t mobile-friendly.
11. Test Your Site Speed – We live in an age of instant information. Don’t expect visitors to stick around waiting for a slow-loading webpage to come up. Nearly half of all visitors will leave a site if the pages don’t load within 3 seconds.
12. Verify That All Links Work – Broken links are a sign that a website is not maintained regularly. Go through every link on your site and make sure they go to the pages they’re supposed to. Customers expect you to take care of their every need, right down to the smallest details. If your website has broken links, it puts your attention to detail in question.
13. Minimize Coding Errors – It is common for all sites to have a few coding errors and warnings, and some of them will go completely unnoticed by visitors. However, it is recommended to minimize coding errors as much as possible because they can affect user experience, site functionality and search rankings. Have your IT person check the code of your site for errors, or hire a professional to do it for you. You can also utilize the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) validator at http://validator.w3.org.
Search Engine Optimization (Hacks 14-18)
No matter how nice your website looks or how well it functions, it won’t serve as a valuable sales tool if no one visits it. Sure, it may help you serve existing customers and create a few good leads. However, this formula will not provide sustainable growth. The fact is that your business and website will not be top-of-mind to most of your target markets. This is why search engine optimization (SEO) is vital. According to Forrester Research, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, so do what you can to get your website to appear high in the search results.
14. Register Your Site with Search Engines – Registering your website with top search engines like Google and Bing tells them that you have information you want to share. They will then index your site so that people can find it organically when they perform a search. You can submit your site through the respective search engine’s webmaster tools.
15. Develop a Keyword Strategy – Registering your site does not guarantee a high ranking, which is why a well-developed keyword strategy is necessary. Keywords are words and phrases that resonate with a target audience, or more simply, the words they would type into a search engine when they are looking for specific information. Come up with 5 to 20 keywords, and use them throughout your website.
16. Optimize Meta Tags – Meta tags are snippets of text embedded within the code of web pages, and they help search engines more easily identify the content of the pages. Take the keywords you identified, and make sure they are used in title tags, meta descriptions and heading tags on your site.
17. Build Citations – Citations are mentions of your business name, address and phone number, a trio abbreviated as NAP. They appear on websites that are not your own, and they don’t need to include a link to your site. The more citations that exist for your business, the better your chances of receiving a better ranking. Good places to build citations are local directories like Yellow Pages, Yelp and Foursquare, as well as the local chamber of commerce or business association websites.
18. Utilize Social Media – Another way of building citations is through social media since nearly all the industry giants allow you to list your business information as part of your profile. Plus, utilizing social media builds brand awareness and creates backlinks from sites with high domain authority, which is an essential part of off-page SEO (boosting your website using strategies that don’t involve working directly within your site). You’ll be doing your website a favor by getting your business on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Have additional questions about website design and development or want to learn even more? Call us at 815.431.1000 or submit this form to contact us. You can also visit the Web Design & Development section of our blog.