As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies and even small businesses have accelerated their digital initiatives to include an online presence and stay relevant to their customers. The opening move for a business to make a great first impression online is through a powerfully designed website, says Andrew Bourne, Business Development Manager, Africa at Zoho Corporation.
If you are a business owner who is just getting started on your official website, or you are currently updating your site and would like a refresher on general best practices, here are five tips for you to keep in mind:
1. Make your copy prospect-oriented and benefit-driven
When prospects visit your site, they want to know one thing - how your solution or product adds value to their personal lives or their line of work. That said, an objective listing of basic features, however well-written, might not do the trick. Features are only material facts about your product; they are not prospect-oriented information.
Relaying business/individual benefits along with product features transforms your copy into meaningful inputs for prospects. Say you are creating a website for an event management software. One of the product features is that there are 100+ built-in event layout templates. An event manager visiting the site will be intrigued by the feature when your copy also informs him/her that the digital templates expedite floor plan decisions by cutting back 40% of time spent on manual layout designing, not to mention quicker collaboration through contextual email integrations. It's always the value outcomes that catch the prospect's eye.
2. Offer social proof wherever you can
Social proof is the psychological phenomenon in which people look to the collective opinion of people to determine the best way to act in a given situation. As a business owner, the most powerful form of social proof you can display for the prospects are customer testimonials—video or written, customer success stories send a strong message to visitors. There are also awards, media mentions, positive analyst reviews, and endorsements.
Try positioning testimonials at friction points, i.e. places where a prospect is likely to encounter resistance to conversion - some of these include the pricing page, checkout page, or by any of your Call to Action (CTA) buttons.
3. Make your visitors’ journey clear and their next steps easy
When you have a prospect's attention, the next crucial step to retain it through clear call-to-action (CTA) buttons. Take your homepage, for example. The point is to offer calls to action for visitors who arrive on the page with different levels of commitment and different levels of readiness to purchase. Your homepage can offer more than the main menu to get users started, like a free downloadable report to cater to them in the awareness stage, a "Learn More about Our Business" CTA for the consideration stage, and a "Browse our Services" or "Request a Quote" CTA for the decision stage. Your homepage has to also couple dynamic CTAs with subtle design to ensure your prospects feel enlightened at every stage and not stifled by the options.
4. Make sure users can reach you on the other side
Remember to keep your official contact information on the header or footer of every page on your site, and/or offer features such as live chat. Today, live online chats are important for the Gen-Z customers who demand mobile-first and instant communication methods. Moreover, regardless of the speed at which business technology advances, people are still drawn to doing business with people, not with interfaces, and the last thing you want is to lose a prospective customer because they had a question and didn’t know where to turn.
5. Go visual...and multimedia
Multimedia content can enhance your copy by offering your visitors a deeper impression of who you are as a business and engaging with them at an artistic level.
● Concepts (like where you fit in your industry) might be more easily explained through an infographic
● Instructions (like how to use a product or how to return/exchange a product) can be simply illustrated through screenshots
● Processes (like how your product is made, or how to assemble your product) might be better demonstrated through videos
● Portfolio (like videos or images of your finished product/service and of customers using them) will help prospects get an aesthetic sense of your offering.
A business website is a perpetual work-in-progress in terms of SEO and user experience. In an ocean of information out there, an intelligent SEO strategy is the beacon of relevance that helps prospects discover your site. Once they land on your website, an insightful user experience is the anchor that holds their attention until they reach the end of the purchase funnel. A religious best practice-approach is imperative to get both these aspects right over time and turn your website into one of the most powerful marketing tools for your business.