Everyone wants their website to be at the top of those all important search results and so lots of time is spent doing ‘on page’ optimisation. Things like Keywords, Titles, Meta Tags and then Backlinks are all top of the list for proactive website owners looking to improve their sites. However, all too often one thing gets overlooked – The User – your potential new customer and that desirable source of revenue.
To make things easier to digest and to give you time to take action about the three points being made here, we’re going to publish them as a 3-part mini-series.
In these articles, we’ll be looking at three topics that need to be tackled effectively to produce a better experience for your site visitors. After all, there’s no point putting all this effort into getting your website found, only to discover your visitors are leaving without taking your required action.
The first one has an ominous title, but don’t be put off.
Your Underlying Mission Statement
These are not something I’ve ever been comfortable with, either reading them or writing them. Perhaps I just read a lot of bad ones in the early days of the web and it felt like someone was preaching at me. So let me make this bit clear, I am not suggesting you write a Mission Statement to publish on your website – sigh of relief. However, the message your website delivers is critical to your success and it’s important that every visitor is getting that same impression.
When I talk about ‘message’ here, I’m not referring to an annoying box of text placed awkwardly on the page for readers to ignore. No, this message is the ethos of your business and delivered throughout everything you say and do on your website. The only way you can achieve this effectively is with your own personal Mission Statement (let’s drop the mission from this point on). You can start writing one today by asking yourself a few simple questions.
Now, not all of these will be appropriate for everyone and I’m hoping that before too long, you’ll be adding a lot more of your own.
- What does my website offer
- What makes my website different
- What is my standout feature
- Why would people choose my site over a competitors
- What additional costs might my customers want to know about
- How do I demonstrate customer satisfaction
- How do I reassure customers of quality
- How do I make potential customers feel safe
- How am I demonstrating I’m genuine
- What tone am I using when communicating (on page text and off site interaction – Emails, Social Media etc…)
- Am I creating any unnecessary false illusions or impressions
That last one is possibly the most important. There is that old expression that if it sounds to good to be true it probably is. If you overstate anything it can lead to distrust.
Great, you’ve now got a page or so of answers and hopefully some scribbling out, changes and a few revisions. Put them all together and create a Statement that expresses the ethos of your business/website. I use the word ‘Ethos’ here as it’s particularly poignant. In an extract from Wikipedia they note:
“The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence its hearer’s emotions, behaviours, and even morals.”
Your Statement should be music to the ears of your potential customers. Is it?
It’s time to read it back out loud and preach to yourself.
Does this sound like your business?
I hope it does, but this is just your first draft. One of the main advantages of being a small to medium sized business is that you have the ability to evolve and respond to changes quickly. If something doesn’t ring true, adjust it. If reading your Statement shows room for improvement, then you have already discovered how you are going to take your business forward.
Now the tough part. If you showed someone three or four websites (one of which was yours) and you read them your Statement, would they select your website as the one that most reflected those values?
Chances are the answer would be no or at least if it was a yes, it could be a lucky guess. As experts in our own businesses, we sometimes omit to express the things that we know are important to potential new customers. When we seek to gain trust or encourage sales online, we don’t have that face to face interaction. We can’t express ourselves with our body language or that winning smile.
We have to make sure we deliver the message contained within our Statement consistently on our website. Make sure your customers know what makes you different, how customer satisfaction is important to you and what you do to ensure safety and privacy on your website. Let them know you’re genuine and make it easy for them to reach out to you if they need to. If for example there are delivery charges, let people know about them, why you chose your provider and what the potential costs are. Don’t leave them guessing about anything you could have already reassured them of!
All too often people think the web is all about price. It does make it easy to research value, but people rarely purchase the cheapest option just because it’s cheap.
At this point, you’ll probably need to make a few changes to your website to ensure your message is getting through. Perhaps you need to create some Social Media profiles to reinforce your ethos or at least update the ones you already have. And remember that your Mission Statement can be revised at any point in time. Perhaps you discovered a great new question to ask yourself, the answer to which could very well have a positive impact on converting site visitors into customers. Revise your Statement and ensure this new value is reflected in your websites content.
Stay tuned next week for the 2nd article “A Better User Experience” in this 3-part mini-series.