In my presentation “Building Business Class Web Sites” one of the first and most important points I make is “focus on the customers”. Many web sites are built with the “tech” team in mind and look fancy – but do not consider how the web site looks and functions from the customer’s perspective.
A press release from Web 4 Marketing (UK) Ltd reads Getting visitors to come to your website is just the first part of web marketing. The next step is to persuade them to order, make an enquiry, or take some other positive action. Too often websites are designed more to meet the needs of the webmaster than of the visitor. Yet from the moment a visitor first arrives, they will make a series of judgments about your site. A single negative can suffice for them to click elsewhere.
A recent survey of business internet users in the UK by Sue Malleson of Taurus Public Relations illustrates the requirements. Even though this was not a statistically valid survey, its findings are accurate because it provides local UK support to an American survey done in 2002 by Stanford University.
Asked, what features on the first page contribute to a good impression, respondents ranked highest:
? Easy navigation
? Clear menu
? Speed of loading
? Text content
? Contact information
Many people may be surprised to see the contact information so prominent. Yet the point was further emphasized when respondents were asked to rate the importance of being able to find specific factors. They rated as extremely important:
? Contact details
? Details of products or services
? Postal address
So any webmaster trying to force his visitors to contact only by email and deliberately avoiding showing addresses and phone numbers should think again. You must provide full information if you want to maximize sales. It should also be a major wake-up call to those online support desks that reply only to emails.
The natural desire of any buyer – online and offline – is to know:
1. Who am I dealing with?
2. Why should I choose them?
Providing basic contact information is therefore the first step. This must be supplemented by the best possible proof of quality and effectiveness of service. In the “real” world you normally have a host of visual clues ranging from the type of premises, their size, the range of products, the customer flow, etc. Online, none of that is readily available unless deliberately provided by the webmaster. How will the buyer know whether you are a start-up with no experience or the leading expert in your field?
Of course, whatever the webmaster claims, finally it is the buyer who decides how much he believes. Another significant finding from Sue’s survey shows once again that personal recommendation from a friend or colleague is much more powerful than a mere top ranking in a search engine. Building that sort of credibility takes time. Your best salesman should be your last customer. Testimonials help, referrals from other sites help, mentions on relevant “authority” sites for your industry help. Personal, human contact wins.