Tag Archives: websites

Turning Website Visitors Into Business or How To Avoid The “Click and Flick

Everyone talks about getting visitors to your website, but what then? How do you turn visitors into customers?  The key is that most users of the Internet are seeking detailed, up to date information.  Deny them this and you will get what I call the “click and flick”.

On the Internet, limited or out of date information is worse than putting telephone callers on hold.  With so many competing websites available your potential customers will click and flick straight to the next site.

You can tell if you are getting the click and flick – your site visitor statistics will show very short session times and a low number of pages viewed per session.  (If your website provider can’t supply this information, seriously consider giving them the flick in favour of someone who can.)  So how do you avoid this phenomenon and keep visitors on your website long enough to turn them into customers

First you need to ensure that your website has sufficiently detailed information for a customer to decide to do business with you.  The most common oversight, amazingly enough, is pricing information.  Internet users want hard information and they want it now – a call, emailed quote, or price list tomorrow will often not be acceptable.  Even when not purchasing online, visitors interested in specific price comparison will be unimpressed by non-specific information on value.  Adding offline e-commerce to your site can have a benefit far exceeding the direct sales volume by providing a structured source of detailed product specification and price information.

The next most common problem is lack of detail.  While summary information and glossy images may be adequate for your brochures, your website needs all the background detail your most experienced salesperson gives when dealing with customers in person. Think detailed dimensions, plans, layouts, colour charts.  Think performance data, explanations of design principles and rich information on the background.  Think of background information about the technology that makes your product unique, preferably with hyperlinks to pages that give even more detail.  If you’re in the service sector, think detailed examples of services you’ve provided successfully.  Visitors who have their thirst for information quenched will leave with a good impression of your business and are more likely to become paying customers.

It’s no good hiding the information several layers into your website.  If the path to detailed information is not clear, don’t expect visitors to persist until they find it.  I recall a website in which the link to price information was so obscure I could only find it using the search facility.  Having said that, a search function is a great asset – it shows you are serious about helping your visitors to find information.  Properly set up, a site search gives your visitors a powerful way of homing in on the information they need.

But the most insidious and difficult to rectify cause of click and flick is out of date information.  Failing to keep your website up to date is like letting cobwebs multiply on your shopfront.  No one would expect a customer to buy from a shop where only last year’s model was on display.  But that’s just what many websites amount to. While they were up to the minute when built they have been slowly going out of date ever since.

Another really important reason to keep content is current is to ensure your place in search engines.  Search engines put a high priority on the date of your HTML file, some even compare the current HTML file to the last version they looked at.  This explains why when you first register a website, you have great placement in the engines, only to find that within months you have slipped to the bottom of the pile.  Web readers want the newest, latest information, and the search engines are designed to accommodate this appetite.

Even if your core information does not change often, prominently posting recent news will inspire confidence.  You should aim to give visitors a reason to return to your site.  Product news releases or newsletters are good, but only if you put up at least one a month.  Another good idea is a monthly Internet-only discount – this encourages use of your website at the same time as clearly signalling that the website is up to date.  Just remember the golden rule – no recent information  is better than a six-month-old newsletter.  So if you do not have the means to easily update the content do not put time sensitive or dated material on your website.

With so many websites so grossly obsolete, many of your visitors will be overly sensitive to any hints of being out of date.  Make sure your website looks up to date – an old appearance or layout visually links your website with the enormous number of abandoned web pages and makes the click and flick more likely.

So now you’re all fired up to post detailed information and keep it up to date, how do you do it?  Broadly there are four options.  The first is to employ or train an in-house Webmaster; this may be the best option for a large company with a very substantial Internet presence but is probably overkill for most small and medium sized businesses.

The second option is to pay your website designer to post changes for you.  This works well if you have a responsive designer, although it can become costly as the scale of your website increases.

The third option is to engage a specialist content provider who will also assist you to present the information effectively, often as part of a broader marketing consultancy.  The improved quality of your content can justify the extra expense.

Finally, you can invest in a database driven website.  These enable you to add and modify content through an easy to use web interface.  As you or your staff can easily control all information on the site and update it with a single click, this is the simplest way of keeping your information up to date. This solution is also best in terms of providing detail, as your staff are invariably more knowledgeable about your products and services than any third party you may employ.

Irrespective of how you keep your content up to date, as long as you maintain a professional appearance and avoid technical errors you will be well ahead of the majority of your competitors.  And by avoiding the dreaded “click and flick” you will dramatically increase the value you gain from your Internet investment.

One Billion websites and counting. How does your website measure up?

I just can’t help myself, as soon as someone says they have a website I offer to take a quick look at it and see if I can improve it for them. I am almost on a mission to make every website more attractive and profitable. With 2015 set to be year that we reach the milestone of one Billion websites again (last time it was September 2014) your website just has to stand out. So here is my quick rundown on the things I look at and maybe it will help you out as well.

1] First impressions count
Your visitor will make a judgement of you and your business almost the moment your site loads. You need to display a professional appearance. Anything that looks like an amateur put it together will shadow your credibility. Your visitor’s first impression is critical.

2] Home Page – The Biggie
The first thing that greets your visitor needs to make an impact. This is your billboard. Tell your visitor exactly what they want to know about you and do it in the first couple of lines. Unless this information virtually smacks then in the face, they may leave quickly and never return. The dreaded “bounce”

3] The Message
This gives the visitor a reason to stay. Can your visitor see who the message is being directed at and can they see why your site is better than all the others that are offering much the same thing? This must answer their question: WIIFM – “What’s In It For Me?”

4] Load Time
How fast does the page load? Run it thru www.pingdom.com continue to make changes until you have the speed of loading your site down as far as you can. If graphics are a big part of your page, and quite often will be, optimize them as far as you can without losing their impact. It is imperative that the home page especially loads in less than 15 seconds. Most visitors will never stay around. Eliminate music, applets, heavy graphics or whatever it takes to optimize the load time.

5] Graphics
How pertinent to what you are trying to convey are the graphics that you are using? A picture says a thousand words, it’s true. And it’s difficult to show your product or service and to excite the senses without the use of graphics. In addition to optimizing them by reducing the number of colours, also reduce the dimensions and once again eliminate all that are not necessary to convey your point.

6] Fonts – Readability
Use basic fonts that are easy to read and keep their size where they can be easily read by all visitors at all screen sizes and resolutions. Make sure there is plenty of white space and that text is blocked into small sections. People do not usually read web pages word for word. They skim and pick and choose what catches their eye. Encouraging them to read more of what you have to say is easily accomplished by grouping the text into smaller bits that are easier to assimilate.

7] Skimming
Even when your reader skims the page, how easy do you make the task. Use a lot of short headings and small bits of text. Highlight special items, use colour changes, or use centering or dividers. Draw your reader’s eye to important information that you want to convey.

8] Quality of Text
Your visitor does not like to read a lot. As they skims thru your text, is your copy direct and to the point? Or does the reader have to swim thru a lot of words to find out what you are trying to say? Don’t “fluff up” a page just to meet a certain word-count requirement for SEO. The questions to ask yourself are: Have I said everything I could? Have I overcome all objections? Have I showcased the product or service? Does the copy encourage the next conversion step? Have I connected with my reader?

9] Navigation
How easy is it for your visitor to find their way around your site. Do you make them have to use the back button on their browser to get back to your home page or any other page on your site? Provide a link back to your home page on every page on your site. Do not allow your visitor to ever be lost or you might lose them as a customer.

10] Forms
People do not like filling out forms. When you use forms keep them as brief as possible. Use check boxes whenever possible. If you gather email addresses, be sure to let your visitor know how they will be used. Spam is very prevalent on the Internet and your visitor does not want to receive any unsolicited mail. You will increase your integrity by letting them know exactly how you intend to use any information that you ask them to supply.

11] Testimonials & Reviews
Your honesty and integrity is of utmost importance on the Internet. Your visitor wants to know that others are happy with your products and/or services. Provide testimonials that you receive from customers that have used your services/products. This is one of the most important things you can do to insure your credibility to new visitors and Google loves them

12] Errors
Check and recheck your site. Nothing will turn a visitor away quicker than a lot of spelling mistakes, broken links or missing graphics. Try http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com to test for broken links.

13] Mobile Friendly Website
Last but not least, make sure your website can be viewed on a mobile device. Have you ever tapped on a Google Search result on your mobile phone, only to find yourself looking at a page where the text was too small, the links were tiny, and you had to scroll sideways to see all the content? This usually happens when the website has not been optimized to be viewed on a mobile phone. To check whether your website is mobile friendly try the Mobile Friendly Test https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

That’s a quick spring clean for any website and here’s to the next one billion websites!