Why Customer Confidence Is Essential To The Success Of Any Website
Before Covid a website could often get away with being “good enough”, but since March 2020 everyone has got used to browsing online for pretty much everything, and inter-acting with websites to order goods, make bookings, transfer money, pay bills, and generally do everything they need to do online.
As a result, customers expect more from a website than ever before. It has to be as good as it possibly can be. They start judging you from the moment they start searching for you, and they continue to do so all the way through to the call to action – and beyond.
They expect the site to be easy to find. They expect it to work on computers, tablets and phones. They expect the site to include modern features (ie you’re going places, not standing still!), be easy to navigate, and to contain up to date, well written and neatly presented content. It’s important they know they can trust the information they see is accurate. They also expect the site to be secure, always available and to load fast. A website with a glitch, or running slowly, or containing factually incorrect content incurs lost revenue, and without proper attention an issue can go unnoticed for ages.
Whilst your own website may have some of the main key fundamentals in place, it’s always worth re-examining what you could be doing better. This really means paying attention to the detail, and focusing on what is really important for customers.
This communication is purely designed to get you to look at your own website rather than just drift along. Specifically to get you to look at your own website through the eyes of a customer. With a fresh pair of eyes so to speak.
When we speak to you about your own website, we’ll identify what needs attention and will make a plan to go through it and restructure, amend and improve it where relevant to do so. Every business is different so it is hard to say what’s involved without looking in more detail. The point is though, whatever needs to be done is done thoroughly and properly. If you make more effort you WILL get better results.
Even if your current website is already doing a lot of things right, there are always things that can be improved, and some of the things we say may just strike a chord and give you something to think about.
Successful websites immediately reassure the customer that they are in the right place and dealing with the right people. They don’t give their customers a reason to start looking at a competitor’s website. They do everything that the customer hopes and expects will happen – from finding the site easily to begin with right through to the call to action.
OK, some people have a unique product, or a unique talent, or they have a huge existing customer base, and feel they can bypass some of the fundamentals. However, this is not a time for complacency. Doing nothing is not a business plan! There are more websites than ever before, and the successful ones are spending time and money making sure their website gives their customers everything they need. It is more competitive than ever before.
We feel we have got to hammer home how important this is. Your website is the public face and focal point of your business. First impressions are vital. It should be an up to date statement of your operation as it stands today and every day. You want to be proud to direct people to it. It represents you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in every country in the world. If it was a real person, you’d insist that they were dressed smartly, knew their stuff, were able to convey information about your products or services eloquently, and were either able to “close the deal” themselves or to direct them to whoever they needed to speak to.
And there’s the added benefit that a website doesn’t get sick or need holidays either. It just needs a bit of tender loving care from time to time!
A successful website gives customers confidence that you are the RIGHT choice for them to do business with. If you’ve been in business a long time and have built up an existing customer base, it is easy to take this for granted. But, do remember that when you talk to anyone about your business, the first thing they do afterwards is look at your website. If they see a business card or an advert, they look at your website. If they’ve never heard of you but find you via Google, they start judging you from the moment they find you easy to find and then click on your website. If the site is clean looking, easy to navigate and contains well presented, up to date content and is generally “tidy” it conveys instant customer confidence that you are “open for business” and gives you an immediate head start. In short, what they hoped would happen is actually happening! It may be the difference between them picking the phone up to call you or calling someone else.
Perhaps the best way is to look at how YOU like to be treated when you search for a product or service – and the mental journey you go on both consciously and sub consciously. The same things that matter to YOU when you are looking at a website are the same things that matter to your customers when looking at your website. If you then look at your own website objectively through a customer’s eyes, you can quickly note what you are doing OK, and what you could be doing better.
This is the typical journey from a customer’s point of view, and these are the core things that really matter to them:
Start by finding your own website on Google using a variety of relevant phrases or combination of words. When you look for a service or product via a search engine, you enter a detailed enough combination of words to give yourself a good chance of finding it. For example, you don’t just type in “golf” if you are looking for “waterproof golf clothing” do you? When you start looking at the results for anything you are trying to find, you’ll naturally be drawn click on websites that contain a logical and relevant page title and description. It immediately reassures you that this could be the best choice, and makes you want to click on it.
This is why your top level pages – not just your home page – need to be properly optimised with well written page titles and descriptions. If each top level page is optimised properly for the content that appears on that particular page, it gives your customers more relevant results to choose from and should mean that visitors will land on the page that’s most relevant to them.
Of course, this just makes it easier for people to find you. You still need to drive people to your website by getting them to want to visit you in the first place. We’ll revisit this further down.
Landing On Your Website
When a customer lands on your home page it should be clean looking, welcoming, easy for them to navigate to what they want, with content neatly and logically laid out. If they land on any other page on your website, each page title and description should ensure they’ve landed on the page that contains the information they are after. This should be well written, up to date, neatly presented and in a logical order, culminating in a strong call to action – be it to call you, compete a form, or buy online.
Having an SSL certificate (ie the address starting with https://) indicates the site is secure and encrypted, and a cookie control policy shows you care about people’s privacy. These give customers confidence that you care. Google ranks sites with SSL Certificates higher too.
All the websites we build are responsive and mobile friendly – meaning that the design, navigation and page templates respond to whatever device the site is being viewed on. This is important as most people now browse on tablets and mobiles and Google ranks sites down that are not mobile friendly. Even if your current website adhered to these guidelines, mobile design technology and related features continually evolve, so it’s important every website is kept upgraded too.
Customers expect the best experience you can give them. They expect “the job” to be done properly. If you don’t care, they’ll notice. For example, they expect your website to load fast and for there to be no dead links. You don’t like it when a website you’re browsing takes ages to load or doesn’t behave like it should, so why should your customers be any different when they are browsing your website?
In addition to having a strong call to action, it’s also important to ensure that a potential customer knows what happens next, and when it should happen. For example, when people complete an enquiry form or purchase something online, does your last “thankyou” screen reassure the customer – ie “we’ll be in touch within 24 hours”. You don’t like it if you’re left hanging, not knowing what should happen next – and neither do they.
Attention to detail is important. If 90% of your website is OK, customers tend to remember the 10% that isn’t. They’ll notice typos, dead links and uncropped images. It is the same as when you wash the dishes. Your partner always notices the plate that is still dirty, and never congratulates you on all the ones you have cleaned properly!
Do You Come Across As Nice People?
We know this is a strange thing to mention, but it really matters to a new customer. We know you are nice people, but a new customer doesn’t! The ”tone” of the website should convey that you know your stuff and are obviously nice, friendly people who always strive to look after your customers. It conveys that you want them to be happy with your products or services, and makes it a joy to do business with you. If something goes wrong, they want to know what you’ll do about it too! They want to know that they can contact someone and that you are “available”.
Reviews or testimonials play a huge part in reassuring potential customers that you are reliable and will look after them, but it can also be conveyed via well written text, a profile on your business, and other little things, such as FAQs and letting customers know what happens next after they have completed a form or placed an order. When can they expect to hear from you? The more reassured a customer is, the more likely they’ll do business with you. Why look elsewhere if all their conscious and unconscious boxes are ticked? I re-iterate, this is how YOU think when looking at someone else’s website, so it applies to yours too!
If you ask customers to provide a review or testimonial, ask them to tell you about the bad as well as the good. It is very useful to know what you’re doing wrong as well as right! If people don’t tell you, you’ll never know and it might be something you’d be able to improve if you knew about it.
And wherever possible, reply to everyone so they KNOW you care and have noted their comments. Both the good and the bad!
Driving More Traffic To Your Website
We’ve covered the importance of your top level pages being optimised for Google and other engines above. This helps you to be found, but doesn’t actually drive more people to your website. Other factors to look at include:
Google My Business – make sure your GMB account is claimed and up to date, listed under the right category and with a relevant description.
Social media – if relevant, make sure your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Trip Advisor etc accounts are up to date and look like they are “alive”.
Ads – Google and Facebook Ads are getting more and more competitive as more people have websites and are trying to promote them. We’d recommend that any campaigns are re-visited and re-evaluated.
News and newsletters – Existing customers and enquiries are really important. The best way is to send them a newsletter via Mailchimp. This can be done on an ad hoc or regular basis. The best way is to use the newsletter to provide a “taster” and to get them to click on the newsletter on your website. After all, that’s what you want them to be! Make the newsletter pages interesting – provide offers or even make them “fun” when relevant. Make it easy for readers to link these to others.
If the above are consistent, and professionally managed, it reassures the customer. It helps them build a picture of your operation. It’s what they expect and hope to see.
What really matters to your customers.
The most trusted?
The most tested?
Giving quicker service?
The most advanced?
The most loved?
The one experts prefer?
The most reliable?
Sold in a special way?
Easier to deal with?