“Your website is the perfect opportunity to make a great first impression,” says Desirée Gullan, executive creative director and co-founder of G&G Digital. “A clear and easy-to-navigate website will make your business more credible to customers, which is important, as the majority of them will first visit your site before making an inquiry or purchase.”
So, how do you make it easy for customers and potential customers to find you online? And how can you gently push them through the conversion journey? Gullan recommends six practical tips for hard-working websites:
1. Use SEO and keyword research1
Make sure your URL name matches your business name or describes your services and products. If your customers enter your business name, your website should be the first result. Also, use search engine optimisation (SEO), keyword research, content marketing, and paid advertising to drive traffic to your site. "When your customers search for products or services, and you've optimised those keywords, they will end up on your site," Gullan said.
2. Make it easy to navigate
Don't overwhelm customers with too much information. "Clearly label pages and tabs and only include relevant and necessary information on those pages," said Gullan. Include buttons or links with descriptive copy that guides customers along their journey. Don't clutter pages with widgets that won't enhance the customer’s experience.
3. Use customer-oriented copy2
Add content from a customer's viewpoint and ensure it adds value and builds their trust in your brand. When they find value in your content, they'll stay on your site for longer.
4. Mobile first
More than 78% of South Africans access the internet from their cell phones. Ensure your website is easy to view and navigate from a phone, or your potential customers will bounce and end up at your competitors' sites. "A negative user experience can affect your site's search engine rankings, pushing your brand down the Google results page and out of customers' minds," Gullan added.
5. Speed matters3
Only when it comes to websites. If your site loads too slowly, users will leave and are unlikely to return. Keep the software up to date and optimise all visual elements for quicker downloads. What's more, research shows that the amount of time it takes a page to load affects the purchase decisions of almost 70% of online shoppers. "Customers want their online shopping to be easier than going into a store, so make the integration between shopping and payment seamless," Gullan added. Your site load speed shouldn’t interfere with customers’ purchasing decisions.
6. Respect customer data
Improve user privacy and limit how customers' data is shared. Always allow them to opt-in or out of your marketing initiatives and assure them at all times that their privacy is protected.
The long-term benefits of a good website cannot be underestimated. Use your website to keep customers informed on your business, your products, or services, establish better customer relationships, and open your business to more customers. "No matter the size of your business, a good website will boost your brand recognition, drive conversion, build trust with customers and give them multiple ways to interact with your business," Gullan concluded.
1. Business News Daily. 12 Tips for Building an Effective Business Website. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9811-effective-business-website-tips.html. Accessed on 2 August 2022.
2. Statista. Mobile internet user penetration in South Africa from 2018 to 2027. https://www.statista.com/statistics/972866/south-africa-mobile-internet-penetration/. Accessed on 2 August 2022.
3. Think with Google. What Google is doing to make web and app experiences safer and more accessible. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-ssa/future-of-marketing/privacy-and-trust/web-and-app-safety-and-accessibility/. Accessed on 2 August 2022.