Does Your Website Capture Customers?
Six Questions for Evaluating the Effectiveness of Your Business Website
The time and resources you spend on marketing your business could be wasted, if your website isn’t doing its job. Why drive traffic to a site that can’t convert browsers to buyers?
According to recent studies, more than 80% of consumers research companies online before interacting with a salesperson and 85% of consumers use the Internet to find local businesses. Today, your website provides a buyer’s first impression. It may be time to take a good look at the impression your site is actually projecting. To learn if your company’s site is making the right impression and working to convert browsers to buyers, regardless of industry, ask yourself these six questions:
1. Can site visitors easily find the information they need? How can they tell if their site's navigation makes sense?
Review your site’s navigation so any important information is one click away. “It is so critical to get people through a website not just to it,” says Lorrie Thomas Ross, author, speaker, educator and CEO of Web Marketing Therapy, Inc. “That is where navigation and website architecture come in. Navigation is not just about the navigation bar at the top or side of the page, it is about how each page’s real estate is used (graphics, buttons, call-to-action words like Learn More, etc.). Web analytics like Google Analytics will show the user experience flow of a website. You can see trends in how the site is used to help illustrate how well it is working.”
2. Are you making it easy for visitors to get in touch and stay in touch?
“Make sure customers and prospects have an easy way of getting in touch with you,” says Nancy Shenker, founder and CEO of The OnSwtich. “Social media icons, customer service addresses, and contact names should be readily apparent. Service is more important than ever before and live chat function is a nice addition to any business site.”
3. Is the design helping or hurting your site’s effectiveness?
“Your business website should be visually appealing, refined and professional,” says Bruno Scap, president of Galeas Consulting, a technology management company. “But keep the design simple and consistent. Use fonts that are easy to read and supported by most web browsers, such as Arial and Helvetica. In order to guide your readers in a predictable way, for example from top to bottom, use a one-column layout instead of a multi-column approach. The webpage layout is often an overlooked component but its usability is critical to the successful business website. Use a consistent layout and established web interface conventions to decrease your visitors’ learning curve and increase their ability to read, navigate and understand your web site.”
4. Is your call to action getting traction?
A call to action can be anything from a website form completion, a purchase, a download or signing up for an email newsletter subscription. However, when evaluating your site, make sure you have a clear strategy behind the action you want visitors to take. “Any business website should know what the end result should be for a site use,” says Dan Farkas, professor of strategic communications at Ohio University. “Are you trying to get an email address to create a relationship or entice a customer to come to your location and make a purchase? Too often, I see small business websites that don't have a specific conversion in mind. Those sites don't offer one simple step to convert.”
To help you evaluate if your call to action is working, make sure your website has analytics built in so you can measure conversion rate (the % of people who visit the site vs. taking a desired action).
5. Is anyone reading my content?
The average webpage visit lasts less than one minute. With this in mind, are you communicating effectively, and quickly, enough to convert browsers to buyers?
“Web surfers scan before they read,” says Thomas Ross. “Content must be pithy, powerful and to the point to get the people who arrive to the site to get your message quickly before they leave it. The content should be educational and helpful.”
6. What does my site look like on a smartphone?
“Today, most people view websites on tablets or smart phones, so make sure your site is device-friendly,” says Shenker. In fact, According to a recent Washington Post article, 63 percent of mobile phone owners now use their phone to go online. And because 91 percent of Americans now own a cell phone, this means that 57 percent are "cell Internet users." Take a few minutes to browse around your website using your phone and tablet. If the experience is frustrating, it may warrant a call to your developer to look into the cost of a mobile responsive site or design “band aids” that could make your current site appear more readable on hand held devices.
 RetailingToday.com, Study: 81% research online before making big purchases, http://www.retailingtoday.com/article/study-81-research-online-making-big-purchases
 Yelp.com, Survey: 85% of Consumers Use the Internet to Find Local Businesses, http://biz.yelp.com/blog/survey-85-of-consumers-use-the-internet-to-find-local-businesses
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