First Impressions Matter
FOCUS is the first rule that defines marketing today. Every door opens to companies that can capture user attention. Visitors, friends, users, followers, views, clicks, likes are all quantitative expressions of attention. If your site isn’t sticky enough, if your blog isn’t provocative enough, if your content isn’t helpful enough, if you do not grab your clients’ attention- your business is in jeopardy. The answer: updating your online story to something truly original.
It’s not a cliché. We judge a book by its cover and we judge a business by its website. First. Impressions. Matter.
In today’s digital world, an outdated website can hurt your business and downgrade your credibility. When should you redesign your site and what improvements should you audit for? Read on to find out.
Let’s talk about intelligent analytics and your bounce rate.
Is your website optimized to position you ahead of your competitors? If your site is failing to rank high, this could mean it’s time for an update.
Analyze your SEO coding. Outdated SEO strategies are bypassed by the newer Google algorithms, which reduce your site’s ranking. Once considered popular, “keyword packing” could now be penalizing you. While SEO was not a big deal a few years ago, it is now the bread and butter of your business. You need to be easily discovered by potential clients and you need to show up at the very top of search lists in order to be noticed and imposed yourself on the market. Take time to understand your industry keyword battles to create an efficient strategy.
To understand your performance rate, take a look at Google’s webmaster tools and analytics/Bing webmaster tools. Intelligent insights beyond “page views” and “unique visitors” are increasingly important to determine what works and what doesn’t on your website.
To be relevant, you need to engage people within seconds of landing on your site. “We’ve run tests. If you can make the site a second faster, you can drive engagement by 5 percent” says Cait O’Riordan, Chief Information Officer at The Financial Times (FT). FT recently redesigned its site to optimize speed and user experience.
What slows you down? The size of your image resolution, interactive scripts, font replacement techniques, outdated website code, your CMS platform, your web optimization and hosting options.
There are several tools you can use to measure your speed, like Google’s PageSpeed Insights. While overall load time will not penalize your Google rankings, it will contribute to the fall of your conversion rate. A research by Dynatrace found out that users tend to leave a site that hasn’t loaded within 3 seconds. It gets worse, 80% of shoppers who experience a slow page load never return to the same site again and 44% of them will share their negative experience with friends.
If your pages takes more then a few seconds to load, you should seriously consider revising your website and updating its speed.
How many of your visitors leave without interacting with your site? If the number is consistently above 50% or you don’t know the answer at all, then you need to think about your online marketing strategy.
They could be many reasons for a high bounce rate: users are getting turned off by your speed, the design of the site, it’s usability or the overall informational content. The bounce rate is also high when visitors cannot access your site via their mobile devices. Knowing what audiences currently expect can serve as inspiration for an eye-caching, interactive design that engages your clients and draws them to stay longer.
2. GO MOBILE (or go home)
A mobile version of your website is a MUST. Most of your customers are accessing the Internet on the go. If you are selling products and are not mobile friendly, you are committing e-commerce suicide. Not to mention that with Google’s algorithms pushing mobile dominance, having a responsive website is an SEO priority regardless of your website purpose.
We believe that the future of marketing lies in the Internet of Things (IoT). Soon we will be checking information from our car dashboard and ordering products from our fridge screen or smart watch.
So is your website mobile friendly? And beyond being “technically” responsive, does it actually look good on a small screen- any screen? Your website might have been designed to adjust its content to smaller devices, but is your design featuring the optimum information display?
If your website is not mobile friendly, this is a problem you will need to fix. The sooner, the better. If you are not responsive, you are irrelevant.
3. COPY WRITING AND CONTENT
Have you revised any of your website content in the past year? How about your design? If it has been a year since you’ve last analyzed your information, it’s time for an update.
Why? There are many reasons for you to audit your website regularly. For one, your site needs to catch up with the latest technologies, plugins, security requirements and browser updates. Any broken links should be amended, page redirects should lead where they are supposed to and crawl errors should be frequently eliminated.
If your brand has been growing in the past year, you have another reason to review your website. Use your insights and campaign success to leverage what works and what doesn’t. As your company expands and changes, so does your sales strategy. It’s natural to close pages and create new ones to make sure you are still relevant to your public. Is there a better way to formulate your brand story? Are the products and services you provide in compliance with current regulations? Do you advertise services you have dropped? Outdated information can confuse and annoy customers. “The devil is in the detail” as they say.
Your copywriting needs scrutinizing too. Is your trademark dated “2010”, while your latest blog post was in June of last year? This is a turn-off for both your traffic and SEO raking. Creating content is one of the best ways to help potential clients find you online.
Social media is another reason to look closely to your site. Most websites proudly redirect people to their social channels. We think that the opposite is more beneficial for your business. Think of integrating your social campaigns to drive people to your website. Start the conversation on social media and bring user back to home base. Instead of pushing users towards Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, use social media to pull them in.
And last but not least, it’s also good to follow the latest visual trends. Updating your design is the best way to keep interesting. It’s like updating the windows of your store, but digitally.
Is your site easy to navigate?
User experience has become the most important aspect of online advertising. Visitors come to you for information. They must find their fix intuitively, or you will loose them to your competition. Your navigation should to be logical, easy to follow and give instant information.
If your site is and hard to navigate, it’s time for an update.
Are you relying on your developer for every little change?
If you are having a hard time updating your information, pictures, videos or creating new pages, it’s time to switch to a custom-made Content Management System (CMS). Anyone from your team should be able to make changes to your website at a click of a finger.
Is your design fading out?
Older websites tend to have crowded homepages. It’s important that your content has room to breath. Your message needs to stand out. Your website must be esthetically pleasing to the eyes, especially in the B2B space. Your fonts need to be easy to read on both mobile and desktop as they appear smaller on newer, high-resolution monitors.
Low quality images and overused stock photography will downgrade your business credibility. You should use as many personalized photos as possible. For e-commerce websites, custom photography by a professional photographer is a must.
Your social media pages, landing pages, campaigns and print materials should all be consistent with your online story and creative platform.
Visitors are looking primarily for information, but they welcome some entertainment along the way. This is the very reason why you should create designs which are both interactive and memorable. An update of your digital presence can do wonders for your business. A positive first impression can set the stage for the rest of your client relationships.
Cyber security is a priority in 2017, with more consumer awareness on the data we share and collect. Starting January this year, Google will be flagging HTTP websites as non-secure. Chromes users will be discouraged from visiting HTTP sites and will be heavily warned against browsing non-secure information. Does your website has an HTTPS indicator yet? If your answer is no, now is the time to plan for it.
A website is an investment. It needs to be kept up to date, interesting and fresh. Otherwise you are doing a disservice to your business image.
“A stunning first impression is not the same thing as love at first sight. But surely it is an invitation to consider the matter” (Lois McMaster Bujold).
The bottom line is, you need to grab attention and keep visitors entertained in order to convert your online traffic into paying customers.