By Jon MacDonald, founder and president of The Good, and member of EO Portland
This may come as a shock but on the other side of the screen displaying your website is a human being. Not a user, a visitor or a hit, but a real, “live” human being with a specific task in mind. This person has come to your website to accomplish this task, and if your web website is optimized to help them, not only do you “win,” but your customer “wins,” as well.
Most web websites are set up to accomplish several tasks: Talk about the company’s mission, promote the latest product release or offering, archive years of press releases, display a calendar of events etc. These amount to “yelling” at your customer when their sole purpose in visiting your web website is to research and purchase your products.
When a brand “yells”, time, attention, budget and effort go towards building something that no customer has a need for—typically summarized as “marketing brand story.” No customer asks to be interrupted with these items when they shop online. Instead they are looking to accomplish their personal goals, and brands need to listen for those goals and then serve content that matches the consumer goals.
Recall the last time you’ve visited a web website to look for a product and the homepage was obstructed by a box telling you to “Sign up for emails.” What did you do? If you’re like most people, you looked for a way to close it so you could resume doing what you were there to accomplish.
If what you came to do was buy something and there was a tempting enough instant discounts offered in exchange for your address, you might give provide personal information (and perhaps unsubscribe later). More often, however, you’d find such a demand both jarring and irritating. And if the “pop up” is not implemented properly it actually can kill all mobile functionality. The thing to keep in mind is that customers aren’t coming to a website looking to share their email addresses. Sure, it helps build a list of emails, but the question is: How much is it really costing your brand to acquire that information?
Help your customers accomplish their tasks on your web website and you’ll find yourself creating loyal customers; customers who are more likely to endorse your product and come back to your website again and again. So don’t make them work to get what they need. Once you embrace the idea that there is a task-oriented person on the other side of the screen, you can get to work creating a customer-oriented web website. With this in mind, evaluating your current web website becomes a process of eliminating extraneous content and promoting relevant content. If your customer’s task is to research and buy a product, your web website should be optimized to accomplish those tasks quickly and easily.
1. Rotating image banners are proven to not be effective, remove them and focus on statically emphasizing one or two main points.
2. Email pop-overs frustrate customers and interrupt purchase paths. Avoid them and find ways to capture email addresses in the purchasing process.
3. Do not outsource your social media to a marketing agency. You’ll come across as inauthentic, and the agency cannot provide the support your customers deserve.
4. Avoid the temptation to stuff your web website full of “brand story”. Stick to content your consumers are looking for.
5. Create content and invest in the initiatives that will help your customers make a purchase decision.