You have no choice today but to have an aesthetically pleasing website that works across all devices providing a great customer experience.
Alternately your company will face a slow demise as customer frustration rises and sales decline.
Far too often businesses, especially brick & mortar retail stores who have an existing website, assume that the website is not crucial to their fortunes. That is a dangerous line of wishful thinking.
All of the dominant platforms (essentially Google and Facebook) that companies depend on to drive traffic, will direct that traffic not to a physical location but to a website. Load time, bounce rate (which can be seen as a good or bad customer experience based on if it’s low or high), engagement, etc. all factor it into where they rank you, or what you pay to send traffic to you, and a negative experience can and will have a material impact on your success.
Let’s look at an eCommerce business that has product / market fit and competitive pricing. To generate sales, you need traffic, and traffic that deems your online business worthy of taking out a credit card and making a purchase. The goal is to acquire customers with a high LTV (lifetime value), and one of the largest costs early on and ongoing is customer acquisition.
Paid traffic is expensive for most verticals and a low conversion rate equals a higher cost per acquisition. That data point alone doesn’t tell the whole story, as often the company assumes they are just not bringing the *right* traffic to the site or even worse, that they are but just need more of it to hit revenue goals.
Unfortunately, that’s a partial truth. In reality, they’re not converting because the customer experience is subpar or terrible, and that is why costs are high and profit is non-existent.
But there is only so much that can be done if the website is out-of-date or if it is too old and non-responsive. Mobile changed the game; the customer experience became imperative and those companies still living with a PC first mindset are losing out.
Some may think that because they carry a superior product, that is what ultimately matters… false. Newspapers provide a superior product (great journalism). However, they provide a terrible user experience filling their site with so many ads that what has been termed in the industry a “takeover” or “road block” could also be rightfully termed a “multi-car pileup.” It’s horrible, and people hate it. Many have downloaded ad blocking software as a result!
So where do they go?
Facebook for the most part and Twitter and Google to a lesser extent. Each of these platforms provide a superior user experience and so the entity with the better product is forced to supply the behemoths with great journalism because the platforms that provide the experience took the business (advertising) that paid for the great journalism. Newspapers are dying a slow death because the advertising that supported the product has gone elsewhere and they no longer own distribution, so they create a subpar product (clickbaity articles) to generate a meager subsistence from crappy banner ads which in turn has turned off its audience because of the terrible experience.
And as they and other business have and/or will surely find out, it’s extremely costly to generate meaningful traffic to one’s site that it’s insane to neglect the experience that traffic receives when it gets there.
So what can you do? First off, if you are using a website that was designed a decade ago, change it immediately. There are ways to do so that won’t put you out $50K, and you’ll be ale to compete. Next, make sure the consumer has a great experience on mobile. This can’t be expressed enough. There are exponentially more eyeballs coming from mobile than there ever were on desktop or PC. To do this, have someone run through an order or locate products on your site. If either operation takes longer than a couple seconds on a cell phone, that’s a lost sale. After that, make things as seamless as possible for your audience. If you are looking to generate leads for events, do not make this process convoluted; have a simple lead form placed prominently on the events page, or a phone number, to capture the information needed on that visit. Do not make the process an onerous one or you will lose that visitor. Simplicity and ease are key!
After you begin running paid traffic to the website or are currently generating a decent amount, do conversion rate optimization. This can include implementing heat maps, running A/B split tests on landing pages, introducing tools like Mouse Flow which allows you to see how users move their mouse on pages and what areas they visit when they come to your site. Once you have analyzed the data, make any changes needed, and then test the changes for a period of time. Repeat this process until you no longer find improvements to be made and then re-visit again in 3-6 months.
The name of the game now is customer / user experience. If it’s frictionless and wonderful, your business will be rewarded handsomely.
If it’s not, well, it’s going to be an uphill battle and one likely to have an unhappy ending.