Every minute of the day, people are searching online for answers. If they need a new car, it is more than likely that they will first research it online before ever visiting a dealership. If they are looking for a restaurant in a particular area, chances are that they will "Google it" to find it. The internet serves as the perfect matchmaker between businesses and potential customers.
Once a potential customer has stumbled across your company's website, you have about two seconds to capture their attention. If you haven't captured their attention within those first couple of seconds, they simply click off of your website and onto the next one down the list. That is why it is crucial to have your website set up for optimal conversion. If your website doesn't have these 15 elements, then it's probably not bringing you business. Here are the 15 must haves and must not haves of an effective website:
- A Bold Headline at the top of every page- The headline should be short and it MUST depict what benefit the customer will get by reading further on. People today are busy and the internet includes millions of other websites that people can move onto if your site does not capture their attention immediately. Too many companies make the mistake of marketing about themselves rather than about the consumer. This is called "Ego Marketing". To be effective, the headline message must always be about how your company can help the consumer or what you can offer to them.
- "TMI"(Too much information)-No more than 2 paragraphs on a page- In this busy era, people don't have the attention span to read any more than that. Plus, if you give them too much information, then they have no reason to contact you. The whole idea is to get the website visitor to call, stop in or contact you in some way, right?
- Have a call to action on every page-...but have no more than two calls to action per page. Studies have shown that if you give people too many choices then it overwhelms them and that is when they will take no action at all. That's the point where they will usually say "I have to think about it". So put a clear call to action on every page and actually tell the website visitor what to do next on each page. Examples- "Click here now" or " Call 1-800-555-5555 for more information".
- Have a user friendly navigational bar- A prominently placed menu bar makes each page of your website easy to use. Keep it simple.
- A Picture- A picture can easily replace a thousand words. A picture that depicts what the page or product/service is about can capture their attention much more effectively than paragraphs of text which will only send visitors clicking away.
- Consistent Branding- It is important to have a consistent look and style throughout all of a company's marketing pieces. This instills a reputable image of your company to the consumer. Avoid having a different style on your website than what you have on your other marketing pieces.
- Name and contact info of the company on every page of the website- It seems simple, but if you search around, you would be surprised at how may companies overlook the basics.
- Limit color to no more than 3 complimentary colors- More than that is too busy to the eye. It will distract the visitor's attention away from what you want them to be focusing on.
- White space - White space is a breath of fresh air for the eyes. If a person can look at the web page for two seconds, and then look away and be able to tell you what the main subject was of the page, then you've got a winner. If not, then go back and eliminate items until the two second rule applies.
- No auto load music or video- A sudden burst of noise when a visitor clicks onto your website typically will cause users to click right back off of the page. Let the website visitor click on the video or sound file to play it when they are ready to.
- An email sign up form- on at least one page of your website will provide leads that can be followed and nurtured for months. Even if the website visitor is not ready to make a purchase that day, they may be ready a couple of months later after they have received regular emails from your company.
- An interactive link to contact the company- Whether it be an email link or a form box, make it easy for the website visitor to contact your company with just a click of the mouse. An interactive, simple to use website produces more leads than a site that makes the visitor work for it.
- An interactive map to the company location with directions- With Mapquest and Google maps, this has become the common way for people to get directions. It can be added to a website in just a couple of clicks and it gives the visitor an easy way to find you.
- Company business hours- Surprisingly this is quite often forgotten. It is also smart to add the time zone...remember, this is the world wide web. Visitors to your site are not necessarily in your same time zone.
- Keep it relevant- It's nice to add a personal touch to your website, but remember, people who are looking for a company to do business with, may not have the same personal, religious or political beliefs as you do. So be certain to only include information relevant to the business, don't include personal pages on religion, politics or other non-relevant information. No one wants to lose a potential customer due to opposing personal beliefs. Remember, business is business. Leave your personal life at home.
Every year, statistics keep rising on the percentage of consumers that first search online in order to find information on new products or services. In 2011, it was upwards of 85% depending on the type of industry being searched. Don't miss out on your opportunity to capture that potential business. Follow these 15 tips and then analyze the response that you get. If at first you don't succeed, tweak it until you start getting results.