Your website is an important business asset. It performs many functions – promotes, informs and sells to your prospects and customers. Ideally, your website should deliver the best possible customer experience.
Whether you’re planning a complete redesign of your website or incremental improvements, some consideration of best practice will pay back dividends in the future.
CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS DIGITISED
First, let’s reflect on some tried and true principles that have served small business well in the past.
Before digital changed the way we interact with our customers, brands and companies interacted with customers in a more traditional, physical way. Think face-to-face meetings, demos, site tours and phone conversations. And relationships would be carefully built up over time through site visits, meetings with field reps or trade shows.
Those relationships are still important, but the way they’re established and nurtured has changed with the advent of digital.
Sure, many businesses still interact with their customers in an interpersonal way at some point in their buying journey. But increasingly, customers are doing a lot of preliminary research online before making a purchase.
That means your website needs to both replicate and extend the benefits of interpersonal contact to create a memorable online engagement.
Good design is important. Your website needs to be visually appealing to engage users in the first place. After all, it’s said you have approximately 3 seconds before visitors go elsewhere. Hmm. That’s not long.
Once you have their attention you’ll want to keep it so that you can communicate your brand offering. And the best way to do that is to make your online assets logical and easy to use. That’s where considerations of Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX) come into the equation.
So what’s the difference between the two? Well, think of CX as the broader strategy covering end-to-end customer interactions, and UX, as part of that is the experience you provide your customers.
While most businesses are aware of the importance of customer service, many don’t appreciate that if their business doesn’t give their users good UX, they can’t engage with their target properly in order to provide good CX leading to sales.
Good UX means your prospects and customers can find the information they need to make a buying decision. It can be the sum total of their experience with your business and your brand, so it’s in your interest to make it engaging and valuable to the user.
No matter the size of your organisation your web presence is an important business asset. It should ideally be an extension of how your business deals with people.
You should also ensure that your website is easy to use and found using search engines. Before you leap straight into developing what you think is best for your website, do some research. Have a look at your competitor’s site as well as high-performing sites in other categories. Consider what makes those sites work and think about any possible cross overs and synergies that your site could adopt.
TEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS
A/B Testing or split testing is a way to improve your website and ensure you’re maximising engagement with your visitors. You may think you know what your customers want from their online interactions with your business but you can’t accurately predict their responses until you do some A/B Testing. Even if you can’t afford to outsource the process you can ask a customer to use your website then answer some questions on its usefulness and utility.
Once your website is launched, there are a number of ways to optimize its performance including Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) that uses analytics and user feedback to improve engagement.
According to Michaela Aguilar, General Manager of Catchi, a Website Conversion Optimisation specialist, small businesses can benefit from an understanding of CX and UX principles even if they can’t afford to keep a specialist on staff or outsource to an agency such as theirs.
“A new site does not have to be expensive to be effective. Nowadays small businesses can hire good resources via Upwork or Freelancer to work in-house,” she said.
“Also, many businesses spend a lot of money on search but when visitors come to the site they ‘bounce’. So it’s an idea to find a balance between driving traffic and converting traffic. Leads that bounce are a waste of money and opportunity! Basic A/B testing is easy to do, and no specific technical skill is required. Some platform vendors offer free licenses (with some restrictions).
Here are Michaela’s tips to help small businesses to create the best possible website:
CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAPPING
- Identify prospects and clients who will be buying your products and services.
- Determine how they will find you (social, word of mouth, search, print, etc.).
- Identify the devices they will be using (mobiles or desktop) and at which point of the purchase journey.
- Determine the value proposition and the benefit of your products and services
- Ensure that your content is consistent (tone and value proposition) across all channels.
- Consider how often you can update the content.
- Ensure your landing pages reflect what prospects were searching for and can grab the visitor’s attention straight away.
- Use an affordable tool like semrush.com to audit your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and look for improvements.
STRUCTURE AND UX
- Ensure it’s easy for prospects and clients to find what they are looking for
- Check that all elements are in the right place (best practice).
- On average people come back 9 times before they buy.
- Consider strategies to better engage your target audience like mechanisms to capture their email addresses via sign-up forms.
As more of the economy goes digital, the pressure’s on to ensure your website provides what your customers need to help them make a sales decision. Your website can no longer simply be a digitized brochure. The effort that you put into your website will pay dividends.