Virtual Clerks & Vids: Your Business Website of the Future

12 June

You’ve just spent a lot of time and money creating your Web site. You like how it looks, the functionality and the content. But will customers like it? If your business Web site is not connecting you with potential customers, then it’s not serving your business well. Make sure your site includes these five key elements to start creating a following of loyal customers.

1. A Video Is Worth a Lot of Words

Greet your viewers with a short video introducing your company on your home page. A 30- to 60-second video can make a connection with your viewers and encourage them to look around your site, according to Trent Blizzard of Blizzard Press. In sites he has worked with as an Internet marketing expert, Blizzard Press found Web pages with videos garnered 43 percent more organic search traffic after the videos were added to the sites. That is not a license to fill your site with videos, which can make your site confusing and distracting. If a piece of helpful information works well in a video, then add that to your site.

Include a call to action at the end of the video. If you have given the viewer some helpful information, a gentle nudge is appropriate. A simple statement such as “Please check out our other helpful pages on _____, and if you have any questions, feel free to click on our live chat button to speak to us,” works.

2. The Virtual Store Clerk

Implementing live help on your site is like constantly having a store clerk available, should a customer have a question while browsing. Sixty-five percent of American online shoppers have used the help, or chat, button to get their questions answered quickly, according to a study by BoldChat.

Visitors to your site might be at a decision point when they use your live chat feature. If they get their questions answered quickly and to their satisfaction, they may be converted into paying customers. If not, you may still get some good reviews about your customer service.

Do a little market research. By asking the customer two or three questions during the chat session, you start to build up data on their preferences. Try asking open-ended questions to get feedback, such as, “After looking at our product(s), what improvements would make them even more useful to you?” You could get input that will help you evolve your products and services.

3. Make Your Site Easy on the Eyes

There are many things that people do to Web sites that make them look “cool,” yet they completely lose the customer. The viewer wants to find the point of your site quickly, navigate intuitively and take something with them. A failure in any of these areas may mean the viewer is gone in 10 seconds or less.

A few of the easiest ways to keep people on your site, as reported by Mashable, include:

  • Text needs to be easy to read, understandable and concise
  • Get to the point in your content quickly
  • Capture the viewer’s attention in the first paragraph
  • Break up long articles with headings
  • Use bulleted lists
  • Use white space on the page to create boundaries
  • Use images to enhance the experience, not just to impress

4. Make Your Site Social

Include social media links on your site, and actively engage your viewers with them. This builds a community of customers from which you will gain some loyalty to your products and services. The advantages of using social media, according to Forbes, include:

  • It creates brand recognition for your company
  • It turns followers into a community that supports you
  • It gives your company and products visibility
  • It gives your company credibility
  • It increases Web site traffic
  • It makes you stand out from your competitors who don’t conduct social media interactions well

Building relationships with customers through social media gives you permission to send appropriate marketing messages to them, as well, which may increase sales.

5. Don’t Forget the Mobile User

With some people relying on their smartphones and tablets to get information, don’t exclude them with a restrictive Web site design. Responsive design allows you to create a site that can be viewed easily by anyone on any device, making smartphone and tablet Web site use just as productive as the desktop version, which improves customer loyalty, according to Dan Rowinski of ReadWrite. A site that only works well when viewed from a desktop computer will miss a lot of customers.

What steps have you taken to improve your business Web site? Leave your thoughts in the comments.