Even if your website was created solely to promote a personal brand, or if your business exclusively sells products in a store and has none online for purchase, the user experience you create throughout your website heavily influences the perception of your brand. In 2016, research and consulting firm Nielsen Norman Group declared digital user experience to be the main contributor to brand loyalty today. Every touchpoint of a website provides an opportunity to increase sentiment for a brand, through thoughtful design and interactions.
An easy-to-use website that features an enhanced user experience leads to more sales; customers prefer an omnichannel approach for big purchases, researching online before heading into a store to buy. Your competitors know how important a great web journey is, since 22 percent of e-commerce pros and marketers say optimizing customer experience is their top priority this year.
What kind of impression is your website making? Here are four mistakes that could be hurting your brand reputation, customer loyalty and sales.
Contacting You Is Difficult
The digital age has produced a consumer culture that demands instant gratification, and that extends to customer service. On social media alone, customers expect a response within 60 minutes, according to research reported by marketing expert Jay Baer. Expectations for getting through to someone who can help answer a query may be even higher when it comes to email responses or phone calls. More than a third of customers expect a live chat option, reports The Next Web. Having as many options as possible fosters a stronger connection to your website visitors.
While they may be visiting you online, many web visitors still prefer to talk to a living, breathing person, making phone customer service vital. Keep in mind a local number can be a turn-off for people concerned about hold times or long calls. However, a toll free number for your brand listed in a public directory makes you even easier to find.
Your Site Is a Pain on Mobile — and It’s Slow
Since 2011, smartphone ownership has more than doubled to 77 percent of Americans owning smartphones today, according to Pew Research Center. More than 10 percent of people are smartphone-only web users. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile usage, people will be frustrated with your site and potentially never revisit it. You’ll also experience decreased Google search results, since the search engine positively rewards mobile-friendly sites with better results.
Prevent users from having to pinch and zoom in to see your website message by optimizing your site across all devices, from laptops to phablets. Research by Kissmetrics shows the importance of fast loading time, too, given users will typically only wait around six seconds for a page to load before they abandon a site.
The Message Is Confusing
55 percent of people only actively spend 15 seconds on a web page. If your website design is confusing, if your copy leaves visitors scratching their heads or if the imagery and customer journey you’re trying to take visitors on doesn’t match up with your brand objectives, you won’t be able to hold customer attention that long.
To make a bigger impact, include:
- Compelling calls to action
- Immediate brand value
- Emotionally strong copy and imagery
- An intuitive interface that leads customers on the path you want them to take
Creativity can achieve amazing results, but keep that 15-second window in mind when you’re creating ways to grab and keep attention. Clear and concise is more powerful than a complicated message that requires a significant time investment to understand.
Shopping Isn’t Simple
If you do sell goods online, it is vital to make the e-commerce experience as smooth, fast and simple as possible. E-commerce sales continue to climb and become shoppers’ method of choice. As Marketing Land reports, e-commerce sales increased 15.6 percent year-over-year to account for nearly 12 percent of all total retail sales in 2016. A shopping experience that features easy-to-read product information, secure and encrypted transactions and a checkout process that works perfectly the first time, every time, will make visitors want to keep coming back.
Showing off customer reviews is important, too. Similar to how customers like to research products online before committing to buy, 67 percent of consumers use online reviews to influence their purchases. Using an easy-to-understand rating system allows web visitors to quickly scan and get an impression of the product, and they can dive into learning more if they choose.
It’s important to test, optimize and test again all the features on a website to create the most pleasurable user experience possible. Enlist focus groups and random users to take a look and provide feedback, and continue refining so that visitors will want to return again and again.