Is your website a door to fabulous riches and untold fame?
Either way your website is the first impression a person has of your business. Time to make your visitors stay longer.
In digital marketing these 7 website secrets make that perfect first impression.
The Prelude – Understanding Business and User Objectives
Researching your niche, ideal client audience, and the competition is done way before any fingers hit the keyboard or code is written.
Decide on your business model and goals is the starting point.
Secret #1 — Content
Harsh? Yes. True? You better believe it.
We use the internet for everything — entertainment, education, information, and to buy stuff.
If your content does not entertain, educate or inform you loose visitors before they hit your website.
Content is everything you view, say, write, read, watch or hear. Articles in newspapers, movies, shows on TV, books, music and programs on the radio. All are examples of content. Because content is king:
“70% of the buying process in a complex sale is already complete before prospects are willing to engage with a live sales person – SiriusDecisions”
Buyers are educating doing research as opposed to talking with sales people. Customers still need education and learning. The difference is people will search and find answers on your website or from your competitors. With helpful content people will choose your website.
Do you have enough of the right content to replace ‘sales people as educators?’ If no, began a strategic content marketing program to fill those gaps.
The challenge is having content to address the pain points your customer will ask, at every stage of their funnel. Think of the questions your customers have and multiply each topic by each audience segment (marketing personas) (usually three) and funnel stages (3-5) to find the volume needed for your business.
Content is needed because people are using more sources to make decisions today and the number of sources is increasing.
Secret #2 — Navigation
Can a visitor get an answer on your website? 2 clicks? 3 clicks?
Your challenge is to make this as few and as easy as possible.
Poor website navigation affects incoming traffic, usability, and search engine rankings. Good navigation affects your conversions rates and impacts on the user-friendliness of your website.
Here are some common navigation mistakes to avoid:
1) Non-Standard Style
The logo at the top left, search and phone number top right. The contact us tab on the far right of the menu. The menu bar itself is at the top of your website usually below the logs and search bar.
2) Generic Labels
Avoid generic menu labels. Products, services are simple, but, do not entice action. ‘Financial Consulting’, ‘Garden Hats’, ‘Home Insurance’ are Social Media Training are better labels and invite further action.
3) Drop Down Menus
Drop down are difficult for search engines to crawl, unless they are programmed correctly. The bigger reason is annoyance.
Drop down menus annoy people and this usability study from NNG suggest that small annoyances add friction and give to poor user experiences. Friction adds difficulty, difficulty leads to bounce rates.
Effective web design should remove friction from the use experience.
4) To Many Items in Navigation
Our short-term memory can hold at most of 7 chunks of information, for about 20 seconds. Therefore, limit the number of menu items and design them upon recognition and not recall. Contact us far right, home far left.
5) Getting the Menu Order Wrong
The order of the items in the menu is essential. Restaurant arranges their menus from starter, mains, and deserts for a reason.
Psychological studies show that attention and retention rates are highest for items that appear at the beginning and at the end.
This is the serial position effect. The tendency to recall earlier words is the primary effect; the tendency to recall the later words is the recency effect.
The most important item you want a visitor to read is the first menu button. The next most important item must be the last menu item. Often it’s the “Contact Us” menu.
Secret #3 — Responsive Design
If your website is not mobile/smartphone/tablet enabled you are losing customers and loosing Google rankings!
[Tweet “20% of the World Population has a Smartphone. Is you website mobile ready?”]
Today, 20% of the World population has a Smartphone. Absorb that — 1/5th of everybody in the World has a smartphone!
It gives access to the internet and your website. US smartphone ownership will cross 50% in 2013 and iPad penetration rates will reach 20% by year’s end.
This is titanic shift from PC’s to tablets and smartphones impacting your business.
Responsive web design is one design tool. Web design for different devices is important because viewing a website designed for a PC on a tablet or smartphone is analogous to viewing the world through a keyhole.
A keyhole view of your business/website is a negative user experience.
Responsive website design adapts the PC based layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images, CSS and other elements to optimise the viewing experience. It’s a device agnostic.
Secret #4 — Macro – Micro Conversions
Macro website conversions are sales or phone call. Micro conversions are any other behaviour a visitor takes.
Further, micro conversions have a lower emotional commitment and takes less effort.
[Tweet “#Micro-conversion is any desired action less significant than (lead or purchase) #NudgeMarketing”]
Examples of micro conversions are social shares, newsletter sign ups, eBook or whitepaper downloads, or adding an item to a wish list.
Buyer purchase paths and buyer intent are not straight line nor do they follow the historic stages of the buying process:
- Recognizing a problem / need
- Searching for a solution to the problem
- Evaluating options discovered
- Post-purchase evaluation
It’s unrealistic to expect every visitor who comes to your site to convert into a sale or make a phone call.
But, micro conversions as micro emotional commitments lead to macro conversions.
Pro Tip: Assign a financial amount to each micro conversion in your analytics. Report these micro-conversion rates side-by-sides with your macro-conversion rates and track and improve them over time.
Secret #5 — Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization is the practice and process of improving a web site to increase the number of visitors from search engines.
SEO ensures visibility of your website in Google/Bing/Yahoo and to pull relevant visitors to your website.
SEO is a process and not a destination.
A webpage listed on the first page Google will get more clicks and website visitors than a webpage on page two or three.
The position of your webpage on the results page is positively correlated with more clicks and visitors.
Therefore, it is important your pages are on the first page of Google for your keywords/key phrases.
The secret formula Google uses to decide the rankings of web pages has hundreds of elements. The formula is a closely guarded secret and is postulated to contain hundreds of elements.
What is commonly agreed is 25% of all the factors that determine ranking are on the webpage. 75% of those contributing factors are off page.
You are in control of the 25% on-page ranking factors. With a wordpress website you are in luck as numerous free seo plug-in exist that help ease the pain with SEO. One of the best is the Yoast.
Yoast WordPressSEO Plug-in (not affiliate link) provides all the features you need to achieve the 25% on page ranking factors. This powerful free SEO plug-in has many features that will help your site immensely.
Download and use it. Also learn a bit of SEO and reap the benefits.
Secret #6 — Social Proof / Social Sharing
Social proof is psychological.
It is a phenomenon whereby we are interested in what other people are doing. Displaying social proof on you website is one way to encourage people to take that same action.
People do not blindly following each other. We like each other and tend to follow others behaviour.
Use this behaviour phenomenon to your benefit. With social sharing buttons on you web pages and posts.
Social proof is important for many reasons including:
- Demonstrates Interaction by other
- An explicit proof of value
- Social share are a search engine ranking factor
- Offer brand exposure to new audience
- Provides a method of micro conversion
- Easy to use
- Competitive advantage 46% of sites do not use social buttons
Secret #7 — Trust, Credibility factors
Credibility leads to money!
Four in five users say being able to trust the information on a given website is important to them. You don’t buy from someone you don’t trust, do you?
BJ Fogg – one of the leading researcher on web credibility – stated that web credibility is about making (read designing) your website in such a way that it comes across as trustworthy and knowledgeable.
“As aesthetically orientated humans, we’re psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites. Our offline behaviour and inclinations translate to our online existence.” Dr Brent Coker
To increase the credibility impact of a website, find what elements your target audience interprets most favourably and make those elements most prominent. – BJ Fogg’s credible design
Your website is often the first point of contact with your business. Ensure everything on your website drives trust and credibility.
Designing for credibility has a strategic advantage over your competition.
People won’t micro-convert or buy if they don’t trust your site. Think about your own online behaviour. If a site doesn’t give you the warm and fuzzy will you buy? Probably not.
These are obvious and simple trust signals your website should have:
- Web design matter – that’s why you are reading this post.
- Make your address and phone number visible and prominent. Include in the footer and in the header.
- Make it easy to contact you – ‘contact us’ on the last menu tab.
- Provide staff bios and photos
- Show photos of your office — no stock photos
- Use a branded email address not @gmail.com
- Ensure the copyright date at the bottom of your website is current
- Trust marks. Use The Verisign Seal security seal.
- Customers reviews
- Offer free products/services trails
- Money back guarantees
- Badges – internet associations, better business associations, trade associations or others.
- Display a written return policy
See my web pages on: Anatomy of an Effective Homepage; Anatomy of a Perfect Website
Secret #8 — Website Analytics
Website analytics access to your website and monitor and record what visitors are doing on your website.
“You can only improve what you can measure”
Formally – web analytics is the process through which internal data about your web site is collected, measured, and analyzed to optimize website usage.
Website analytics help you make more money for your business through a continuous improvements of you website.
What can website analytics do for you?
- Understand every aspect of your website.
- Understand where you website traffic is coming from
- Which keywords are people using to arrive at your site
- Which page get the most views
- How long each visitor is staying on your site
- Macro / micro-conversions
- Bounce Rates – how quickly visitors leave your site.
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I’ve not uncovered all the Secrets to website success. But, maybe I have ask a few question to get you thinking in the correct direction.