SMBs are missing great opportunities to engage customers, generate leads, and capture sales because of poor planning around website content, usability and functionality. Read below for the 7 Mistakes SMBs Make with Websites.
1. Not Understanding what the Customer Wants from a Website Experience
As I've traveled around the U.S. talking with SMBs about their web strategy, I noticed something profound. Many of them had created websites without ever asking their customers or representatives of their target markets what THEY wanted to see on a website, how THEY wanted to be engaged, or even what THEY want to buy from the web. This violates an elementary principle of marketing and competition – that is, finding out what your customer wants and then giving it to them. What good does it do to throw a bunch of content up on a web page if no one looks at it, no one buys from it, and no one engages you further? Make sure you test the content on your site with trusted customers and partners, and resolve any issues about content, usability and functionality prior to rollout.
2. Web Strategy is not Aligned with Core Competencies and Business Goals
SMBs everywhere fail to align their web strategy with their core competencies and business goals. Website content should help create opportunities for your business to convey messaging about your core products and services, and align with business strategy that can generate revenue for the organization. Time and time again, in an effort to "throw up" content on the web, I see businesses writing about and creating content for download that doesn't support the critical lines of business or future expansion of products and services. Keeping content fresh and applicable on a website takes a lot of time and resources. So, why put something up there that won't produce a return for your business?
3. No Easy Way to Contact a Company Representative
On some websites I've visited, it can take no less than 15 clicks to find contact information for a number of different departments. Customers expect to be able to easily find contact information for a business representative should they want additional information on products and services. Some companies have learned that making a sale can hinge on how engaged a customer feels when they visit your website, and any resulting first live contact with your company. To increase engagement, many businesses now utilize tools like chat boxes that instantly pop up on various web pages or when a customer clicks to find information on a particular project or service. Be accessible!
4. Social Media Presence is Absent
In a recent CivicPlus survey on digital engagement, 55% of respondents said they use social media at least once per day – and this number is rising. You should have multiple opportunities for customers to connect to your social media on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest, YouTube, G+, and others. As technology continues to be integrated and woven into our daily lives, people expect to not only learn from your social media posts, but to engage you as well through "likes", comments and shares.
5. Website is not Optimized for Mobile Display
All websites should be optimized for mobile display. In 2014, mobile display is expected to account for over 50% of all Internet usage. A friend of mine commented earlier this week that he was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office with eight other people, and they all had their smartphones in heavy utilization mode. And yet, in a recent survey by the CMO Council, only 16 percent of 250 global marketers have developed a mobile strategy. Your customers expect to have access to you 24/7 – it's time to get off the sidelines and get in the ballgame. Make sure that your mobile strategy creates a user-friendly and engaging experience for your customer.
6. Too Much Information on the Website
There. I said it. Too much information is not a good thing and can affect the usability of your site! Consider this: when a customer arrives at your web-site, you will have their attention for approximately 8-12 seconds. They want to know: What do you do? Do you have what I need/want? How do I contact you? For many businesses, there is a natural tendency to want to tell everything about their business - the history, philosophy, business units, accolades, etc., and there is an assumption that the customer wants to read this (see #1 of this blog). There is also a belief by business owners/leaders that if they can tell a potential customer every possible piece of information about the business, that they'll be sold on doing business with them. Wrong! You must be clear, concise and streamlined to get and keep the attention of your customer. Don't overwhelm your visitor with too much text, causing them to have to think too much or work too hard to find what they are looking for. If you do, your customer will experience information overload, and their brain will shut down. Your customer will solve the information overload with one click – to your competitor's website!
7. No Call to Action on Web Pages
One of the biggest items missing from many SMB websites is a "call to action". The call to action can be in the form of an invitation to learn more, to contact the business via email/telephone, to download collateral and other information pieces, attend an event, etc. I was taught at a very early age that if you don't ask for it, you won't get it. The same holds true with a call to action for web pages. If you don't ask the customer to perform the action you desire, then they won't do it. And you will lose a potential lead and/or sale. Make your call to action simple, obvious and easy.
For more information on website usability and functionality, contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.