A successful website

Steve Garrard

Today’s websites are essential marketing tools that require introspection and planning to be successful.

For most businesses, a successful website should be about accomplishing two things.

1.) First Impressions/Image- The site should convey a professional and capable image. If a visitor only spends 6 seconds looking at your site, let them at least leave with a good impression.
2.) Conversion- You’re in business to be profitable. Right?
To do that, people must “convert” from a visitor to a buyer. A well thought out, easy to navigate website, full of convincing benefits must catch a shopper and spur them to “convert.” Your site should connect with a visitor, visually, cognitively and emotionally.

I’ve often referred to a good website as a “mousetrap”. Not that visitors are mice, but if looked at from a marketing standpoint, a business owner might employ what is referred to as AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) to capture a visitor’s interest and move them to take action.  Think about your profit centers and develop strategic copy that moves visitors through the “conversion funnel.”

Use graphics, attention-getting headlines, video and targeted, concise copy that act as “cheese” to capture a visitor’s interest and hopefully desire.  Good site navigation and structure will help visitors browse and find what interests them without thinking too much about where to click. Make it easy. Show credibility by using third-party trust logos and affiliations. Reviews/testimonials are extremely powerful and help conversion. Use them liberally. The end result is that visitors become customers, and heed the calls to action on the site.

Bounce rate is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the website and “bounce” (leave the site) before viewing any other pages of the site. Successful websites have a low bounce rate since they capture the interest of visitors and spur them to view and explore more pages of the website.

According to an Inc.com article: “As a rule of thumb, a 50 percent bounce rate is average. If you surpass 60 percent, you should be concerned. If you’re in excess of 80 percent, you’ve got a major problem.”  Therefore, the landing page (typically the Home Page) is the most important page of a website as many visitors don’t go any further. Treat it accordingly.

Most website visitors don’t read every word on a page; rather, they scan quickly. Research has shown that visitors read an average of 20% of the text on a webpage. As such, it’s essential to make good use of headlines and help visitors see important text in a paragraph by using a bold font. Give someone a reason to read the paragraph. “I’ll give you $500 if you read this paragraph” would likely get most people to read it. Seriously though, entice your audience. Tell them why they’re in the right place and why they should look further.

Think of your website as an employee. Invest time in it, think about features and content that will elicit desired results and “train” it well. Know the features and benefits of your website inside and out and refer to it on a daily basis. With solid planning, it will sell 24/7 and, most importantly, support every customer/client interaction. You can rely on the resources of a well-thought out website to  back-up conversations, cover products and services in greater depth, answer commonly asked questions, impress with photos/portfolio, and explain procedures and customer service details, just to name a few.

An effective and successful website projects the right image of a business and provides the visitor with enticing content. Templated websites that contain a name, address and phone number plugged into a canned, generic presentation can fall flat and – even worse – project the wrong image.

Take the time to make your website an accurate reflection of your business so it becomes an extenion of your business. Go forth and be successful.

http://www.inc.com/guides/2011/01/how-to-reduce-your-website-bounce-rate.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDA_(marketing)
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/percent-text-read.html