8 Tips for Making Websites Stickier
We consistently see a strong correlation between customer experience ratings and important business outcomes, whether those outcomes are purchase intent, conversion, return visits (engagement) or some combination thereof. In support of the argument that engaging website visitors by creating more satisfactory experiences will deliver results to your organization, here's a compilation of recommendations on the most effective ways to make websites stickier:
1. Identify and respond to online visitor needs when developing websites and online functionality. Find out what consumers expect from their online experiences.
Make website navigation as simple as possible for all types of users. If your grandmother can surf it, anyone can.
2. Create an engaging experience. Consider the websites you visit most frequently: How do the mix of photos, graphics and other content help you to feel connected with that brand? Consider adding a feature that allows users to post their feedback, comments and read what other customers are saying.
3. Evaluate human behavioral patterns, including the ways that people navigate websites, how they tend to read from left to right and how their eyes gravitate to graphics positioned in the top left-hand corner of the page. Examine the characteristics and tendencies of your target audience.
4. Solicit and act on visitor feedback. Give people an opportunity to rate your website and web services. If your company hosts an informational site, use surveys, social media feedback, referrals and other means to determine what information matters most to customers and how they want it presented.
5. Create personalized, responsive online experiences. Like any other channel, websites should treat each customer differently. This includes the ability for sites to identify visitors from previous transactions to provide the type of information and service they’ve sought previously.
6. Avoid drastic website changes. Radical changes made to a site will often confuse visitors and make them reluctant to return.
7. Infuse ongoing testing and continuous improvement. Customer behaviors continually change; so does your competitive landscape. Make sure all types of users feel confident using your site and web services. Ensure your organization has rigorous processes in place to foster and apply continuous learning.
8. Promote social media connection points. Create a continuous loop for visitors to come to your site via Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Regularly refresh content and promotions. If your site appears stale, users won’t be motivated to return frequently. Make your homepage current and edgy, but be careful about striking the right balance between updating content often and giving visitors a chance to absorb current materials.
It's very difficult to convert visitors who give up, let alone convince them to return. While websites may be more efficient than traditional channels of inquiry for consumers, that's no longer the comparison — sites are compared to other sites. Those that are more fluid, more intuitive and that deliver results quickly will draw larger audiences. At a time when product differentiation is slight, a website and its utility becomes a huge advantage to your business.
Erin Polka is the director of marketing at iPerceptions. Reach Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tom Hoffman is executive business editor, Peppers & Rogers Group and 1to1 Media. Reach Tom at email@example.com.