11 Common Website Engagement Errors and How to Fix Them
Originally published on SalesPanda Resources
With the internet becoming more and more interactive by the day, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to encourage engagement on the different digital channels they are present on — most importantly, their websites.
What exactly is website engagement?
An online business is all about driving traffic to your website, captivating the interests of your potential customers, generating leads and nurturing them to be sales ready.
While the plethora of digital platforms and marketing opportunities available these days might make this seem like an easy task, this is quite far from the truth. For even the simplest website engagement plan to be effective, a well defined and effective engagement strategy is a must.
Furthermore, this strategy should also allow keeping track of the level of involvement and interaction a visitor has with the website over a given period of time and against defined business goals.
Today, inserting a few call-to-actions, providing links to your blog or including a contact form on your landing page isn’t actually going to do much in the way of getting you engagement. These days, tactics such as high quality multimedia content, guided tours and active social media engagement are the least that is required to capture your target audience’s attention and generate leads.
Is my website engaging enough?
A website’s bounce rate is the key metric to use to effectively measure how engaging your customers find your website. Another key metric to keep a close eye on is the page load speed, as it is not uncommon for users to simply abandon a website if it takes too long to load or loads improperly.
But putting aside these key metrics, there are a number of other ways businesses get web engagement wrong, and never seem to realize it. Here are the most common website engagement errors businesses make, and how you can avoid them:
Mistake no. 1: Not using the right color palette
Most businesses miss out on the opportunity to engage their visitors simply because they used a color palette that fails to adequately depict their core message. People tend to set expectations of quality and general outlook based on your marketing messages. It is important that you consider what you’re selling, which section of the market you are targeting and what action you want them to take, before choosing a color palette for your website. After all, it’s the first thing that your customers notice.
Here’s a nifty infographic on the commandments of color theory by DesignMantic:
Mistake no. 2: Using low quality images
While it’s common knowledge that images can do wonders for a website’s overall look, most fail to realize that they often have the opposite effect if their quality is not up to par. When we mention quality here, we mean both the image’s design quality and technical quality.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing and using an image:
- It should be relevant to your business image and message
- It should compliment your value proposition
- The placement of the image matters more than you think
- It should include a caption — image captions get read upto four times more than the body copy
- Ensure that it doesn’t break the left margin
- Low quality images do more harm than good, avoid pitfalls like pixellation, bad compression, etc
Mistake no. 3: Writing extensive website copy and ignoring formatting
It’s perfectly normal for your content to sometimes get a little longer than usual, but in cases like these it is important to keep in mind that unformatted and continuous walls of text will serve to do little more than drive your precious readers away. If you really want your visitors to sit through your content and consume it, break it into smaller sections or paragraphs and format it well, to make your content more digestible.
Ensuring your web copy is formatted well — headings, subheadings, lists, quotes, highlighting, etc. — can massively boost it’s readability. The first thing a customer notices on observing content is whether it’s aesthetically pleasing, so make sure you don’t fail on the first step! If your content looks good, your readers won’t mind reading through it. It is important to focus on the scanability of your web copy.
Here’s an example of how formatting affects the readability:
Mistake no. 4: Ignoring the ease of navigation
For most businesses, website visitors are split into two categories — curious browsers who are looking for something tangentially related to your business, or visitors who directly want to learn more about what your business offers. The one thing that can put both groups off and drive them away is difficulty in navigation.
If you don’t pay attention to and simplify the navigation of your website, your visitors will need to work extra hard on your behalf to find whatever it is they’re looking for. This will leave them frustrated in the long run and cause them to instead choose the easier way out and just look for alternative services.
So, ensure that your visitors have an easy time navigating your website, so that they might easily find what they’re seeking and your information is readily available in an organized manner. Here are a few important guidelines to follow:
- Include broad categories of products/services and then add the sub categories under them
- Depict major categories with high quality visuals
- Link your company logo to your home page on every web page of your website
- Include a search functionality at the top of your web pages
- Make subscription to newsletters and email opt-ins effortless
Mistake no. 5: Using pagination for the wrong purpose
Pagination refers to the practice of splitting up your content into several pages. This is often used by websites that have an exhaustive list of information to offer — articles, products, services, etc. It is used to avoid displaying too much information on a single page, which would otherwise make the page very cluttered, unorganized, and slower to download and process.
Here is the kind of pagination you often see on websites:
But most businesses don’t quite understand where pagination should be used and why.
It is important to understand that when incorporating pagination into your website content strategy, each page should add value to your customer individually. For example, if you think an article that lists 10 points in an elaborate manner would be better consumed if each point is fed individually, use pagination to split the points. But if it’s a quick or short list, you might want to avoid using it at all — after all, the public consensus about clickbait sites that force you to load an entire page each time, just for an image or a few sentences, is far from positive. So, ensure that your pagination strategy serves to make your content easier to digest and share, not annoy your website visitor.
Mistake no. 6: Ignoring abandoning visitors
Even if they are keeping their website visitors engaged with the right copy, social elements, and interactive content, most businesses still miss out on engaging their abandoning visitors — losing out on their last chance to encourage interaction or convert them in a micro or macro manner.
Using exit intent technology from tools such as Exit Bee, gives you the chance to set up a trigger based campaign for those visitors who are either trying to leave your website or switch tabs on their browser. And if implemented correctly, this message could allow you to edge a last word in, encouraging them to engage with you or converting them right before they leave.
For example, The House of Folklore offers exclusive deals on some of their products every now and then. But since a first time visitor might not know that, they use an exit intent campaign to target them with a simple message that says so, and encourages them to subscribe to their newsletter — giving them further chances to convert visitors into potential customers.
Mistake no. 7: Not including social proof
There are thousands of businesses out there similar to yours, competing with you to grab the attention of your prospective customers. Yikes! But, looking at it from another perspective, this also means that there are thousands of people out there who are confused about which business they should engage with for their needs.
This confusion often results in them relentlessly seeking advice from their peers, or as is more common in the internet age, searching for online reviews or experiences regarding their specific problems. A good way to grab the attention of these particular prospects from the get go, is to include definitive social proof on your website.
Social proof can work as a powerful tool towards convincing your prospects that you are the perfect match for their needs by establishing credibility in their eyes. The inclusion of social proof has shown to boost conversion rates. Here are a few types of social proof you can make use of:
- Customer testimonials
- Product reviews and ratings
- Social media signals
- Usage numbers and statistics
- Influencer/Celebrity endorsements
- Case studies
- Existing customer logos
- Awards and certifications
- Platforms and integrations
- Media mentions
For example, FreshBooks displays some of it’s most prominent customer testimonials on the homepage of their website. They also display these customers’ names and their designations at the companies they work at, to reinforce ‘real usage’ — that these are real people in a similar standing to the majority of the website visitors, all to make the reviews more relatable.
Mistake no. 8: Using long forms
Though vital for capturing leads, if implemented improperly, contact forms can also become a barrier to engagement. Because it takes a certain amount of effort to fill them in, you can end up making the process of filling forms a daunting task for your visitors, if you ask them for too much information upfront. You need to carefully consider and balance the amount of information you ask for, since if you include one too many fields or request overly detailed information, your website visitors are more likely to give up and not bother handing over any information at all.
There are two ways you can get around this problem — the first and the most obvious way is to reduce the amount of information you’re asking, just include a few fields of the most important and relevant information. The second way is to offer something in return for their information, such as gated content. Your visitors will be more amiable towards giving you their information if you give them something in return for it.
According to a study by Neil Patel, removing 1 field from your form can increase your conversions by upto 26%. So keeping your forms as short and relevant as possible is a good practice. If you think a certain field doesn’t really add any value to what you offer, remove it from the form.
For example, Tumblr has what is possibly the shortest sign up form in the blogging industry. It only asks for the bare basics — a potential user’s e-mail address, password and their desired username.
But of course, that doesn’t mean you follow the ‘keeping contact forms short’ practice unquestionably. After all, more information does help immensely; so it’s always a good idea to A/B test a few different forms to understand how willing your target audience is to share their information with you, and pinpoint the ideal number of fields.
Mistake no. 9: Not including contact information and social links
While some might think that their social account isn’t really going to add any value since they’re not in the form of ‘immediate conversions’, the fact of the matter is that it’s vital to let your visitors know of your digital presence. At the same time, this also applies to contact information such as phone numbers, e-mail addresses and even physical addresses.
Giving your audience multiple avenues to contact or get in touch with you makes it that much easier for you to gather feedback, quickly respond to any queries they might have, and provide a good impression in terms of your presence and customer support. For example, Wendy’s has gained a massive cult following on their Twitter account, due to their willingness to respond to each and every comment or question tweeted at them.
With the increase in social activity across all age groups, there are a lot of people who prefer to follow brands closely on social channels. Whether it’s to keep a tab on new launches, more information on a product or simply keeping a channel accessible for asking support, visitors often seek out this information.
Ensure that you provide links to your social profiles either at the top of your homepage, at the bottom of your page (below the fold) or even better, at both positions. If you have something to offer that you’d like them to share in their circles, make social sharing easy by providing suitable social sharing widgets.
Mistake no. 10: Making use of tiny clickable areas
Hyperlinks to social media accounts, blogs, comments, likes, etc., are obviously meant to be clicked. But more often than not businesses make them so tiny compared to other elements on the page, that they are barely noticeable and the least usable.
A large clickable area makes it easier to hover the cursor over the link provided — making it that much more clickable. To ensure that all your links are clickable, increase the padding (amount of free area) around the link or make the whole link bigger.
Here’s the comment section of Hacker News under each thread. The links are so tiny, that they’re barely clickable.
And here’s an example of New Pond’s comment section that is larger as well as clickable.
Quality of life changes such as these might seem tiny and inconsequential, but they add up over time and lead to having an overall much more user friendly and universally liked website. Make no mistake, if there are two websites that are offering the exact same kind of content or function, users will favor and flock to the one that offers the most intuitive and comfortable user experience.
Mistake no. 11: Sounding like a robot
Businesses talk about and focus a lot on having unique value propositions, products or services; but what about a unique personality? Sometimes businesses focus so much on listing the features they offer, that they forget including a human touch to it, and end up turning into robots parroting the same marketing messages over and over. This results in new customers and prospects finding it difficult to relate to the brand — decreasing the number of people who actually resonate with the brand and the product they offer and converting as a result of it. Existing customers might also face disillusionment if the brand doesn’t recover in time.
Given how widespread a phenomena information overload today, it is becoming more and more important to ‘connect’ with customers and prospects in a real way; to think of them like humans, and not just as mere sales, and to speak to them accordingly is a major factor to digital success, and one most businesses fail to pick up on at that.
Without diving too deep down that rabbit hole, here are a few simple things you could do to sound more human:
- Write the way you talk
- Show understanding of your customers needs and challenges
- Let people respond more naturally on both sides of the spectrum
Over to you
Let’s face it, web engagement can be an endless topic of discussion. While some tactics might work wonders for a particular business, it might not exactly be what another’s target audience wants to see. What we’ve listed here are just the most common errors.
To truly understand what tactics will work the best for your business, one has to have good working knowledge of the basics, and plan carefully from there. To learn more about the basics of website engagement and how to go about engaging your website visitors, check out our detailed eBook: Ultimate SalesPanda Guide to Web Engagement and Lead Conversion