The user experience of many brand websites is like a bad first date. Too much talking about itself, name dropping, poor hygiene, rude, and often expecting too much at the end of the date (or right at the start). By providing potential customers with a poor website and user experience, brands are the ultimate bad date.
Knock it off.
Here’s how to not be the Facebook-worthy bad date:
No one likes when the guy you went on a date with calls every day looking for another date. Daily emails can have the same chilling effect.
Email and content marketing is still a great way to connect with your customers, to offer them exclusive deals, and incentives that drive traffic and build loyalty. Be careful not to oversaturate your customer with emails or create indecision in their minds.
The frequency of your emails to your customers may be contributing to customer burn-out. The frequency of emails that are helpful and drive sales varies by brand, so pay particular attention to opt-out, spam, unopened rate, and other negative actions that indicate the content marketing is too aggressive, frequent, or irrelevant.
Over-saturating your customers with offers and incentives via email can have the opposite effect of driving traffic and sales. Often, frequent offers result in indecision by the consumer. If they buy today, will they miss the deal tomorrow? Spacing out your offers or making certain deals occur at the same time (monthly, quarterly, yearly) will do more to drive purchasing customers to your site than daily deals.
Your homepage (or any landing page, for that matter) should be the boulevard which customers use to quickly find the right product and checkout. If there is an over abundance of brand-centric content, irrelevant calls-to-actions and other barriers, there is a high likelihood your site is missing key opportunities to gain customers and increase revenue.
Unfortunately you can’t really look at your peers’ sites for ideas because, like singles at a dance club, most sites all follow the same formula—huge rotating (or static) hero with the latest campaign, links to social media, news updates about the brand, little to no product—that results in fewer sales and lower revenue (or dates).
The key to unlocking your homepage’s revenue potential is through user testing and a change in attitude that puts customer tasks first and brand agendas second. Homepages that drive huge revenue gains share these traits in common.
On-site search results
On-site search is the Match.com of your website. Great results equal sales and happy relationships, poor sales result in bounces and bachelorhood.
Customers who use onsite search are (on average) 350% more likely to purchase than customers who do not use search. Keep that in mind as you remember the last time you tuned and tested your on-site search.
While completing a Stuck Report™ for a major consumer active lifestyle brand we discovered that despite their on-site search results page looking good, its actual returns were terrible. We were searching for jackets and the search result page only gave us pants, despite jackets being the top sellers.
Search is the often neglected feature on websites that is due it’s comeuppance. It may be hard, tedious work to fine tune your search, but the payoff is worth the effort.
Unhelpful Product pages/Category pages
Customers who navigate to product category and product detail pages are typically looking for something specific. Just like trying to find that perfect partner for a date, they may want descriptions, tech specs, large photos, video, reviews, or everything. Give it to them.
Across the web, this idea is picking up steam, but there are still far too many sites that are blind to the ease of use and helpfulness of content that customers demand.
Conversion from category or product pages vary from company to company, but by tracking, testing, and evolving each step along the checkout path, you’ll gain an understanding of what your customer is looking for, how they shop, and where your content may be lacking.
Checkout experience (okay, so your platform might be a limiting factor)
A poor checkout process is akin to forgetting your wallet on a date. At no point leading up to that moment did you suspect that paying would be a hassle. Yet, here you are, ready to be on your way and you’re faced with a significant barrier.
Whether intended or not, preventing your customers from quickly and efficiently checking out is one of the biggest reason for cart abandonment rate being in the 70-80% range.
To streamlining your checkout process, remove the barriers to checkout completion: limit the number of necessary fields, auto-fill fields when possible, eliminate account creation, and be upfront about shipping costs. By doing this, you can proactively reduce your cart abandonment rate and increase your site’s revenue.
For many (okay, most) brands, micro-managing their site is an overwhelming task. Whether you have a team of 1 or 100, there are often more things to consider, test, calibrate, create, and code than there are days in the year. But this effort is worth the time (and the money). We see a 100-200% ROI on brand sites that we help navigate through all the minutiae of managing a site.
The end result, a site that turns customers on to spending on your site. And maybe you even land a second date.
About the Author
Jon MacDonald is founder and President of The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm that has achieved results for some of the largest online brands including Adobe, Nike, Xerox, Verizon, Intel and more. Jon regularly contributes content on conversion optimization to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc. He knows how to get visitors to take action.