It’s true: looks matter. A company can have a “great personality” but if you dress it up in a cheap suit, no one’s going to pay much attention, are they?
The way customers view your company these days is largely formed by your online presence – the way you “dress it.”
They’ll visit your website with specific expectations. Keeping them interested and coming back starts with meeting their expectations. The challenge? Figuring out what your customers expect and finding a way to deliver it through the aesthetics and functionality of your web presence. That’s what keeps them interested and coming back for more.
Who Do I Want On My Website?
If you’re selling hunting supplies, you’re not looking for someone shopping for summer dresses, right? (Last I checked, the hunting supply stores weren’t carrying ladies wear, but I could be missing something.) Your target audience consists of people who are most likely to have an interest in what your business provides. Pulling in lots of traffic that isn’t targeted to your target demographic may bring in decent traffic numbers, but that doesn’t mean it will bring in customers. You want customers. To target potential customers who will actually come back again and again, define exactly who you are marketing your site to and what that group will want to see in your website. And no 36,000 foot view stuff, either – get specific when you think of your target audience. Including their age, gender, education level, activities, and lifestyle.
What Should My Site Offer the Whos?
Once you have pinpointed your audience, you must pinpoint what you want your website to do for that audience. If the goal is to simply have a website because other companies have them, go out and grab some coffee. Maybe go for a run. Both will be more productive than just another website on the Internet. Instead, think about what your site can do for your company. It may offer you a way to communicate with your customers, offer in-depth information about products or expand the reach of your business beyond your regular local shopping area. Concentrate on developing your site around what will best serve your business and the whos you want to keep coming back.
While your site primarily has to serve your company, it should always serve your customers first. The whos drive the what. Your website must provide benefits to customers beyond telling them what your business does. Hooray! You’re business DOES something! (Hint: so does everyone else’s.) Value-adds like convenience, information and entertainment are often the factors that draw customers to a website. To define which of these aspects to concentrate on, think about what interest your target demographic. A serious, businesslike audience may not want to spend time on a website that provides a lot of entertainment, while a younger audience may get bored and click away if your website is “dense” or information heavy.
Why Should They Return?
Once customers have found your website and they’ve seen what you want them to see, ask yourself why they should ever come back. They should leave after their needs have been met, but you don’t want them gone for good. Make your business accessible and make it easy to communicate though useful value-adds like an email opt-in form, coupons, tips or special reports about your business or industry.
In the end, your customer’s experience is what will determine whether they’ll come back to your website again. If the whos haven’t had their needs met, they’ll make a mental note of it and not spend more time on your site, making all of the effort you put into the what a moot point. However, if they know that they can navigate the site easily and get exactly what they want from it, they’ll be more likely to bookmark your site and return to it anytime they want that same experience again.
Bottom line: Figure out who you want, what your business has to offer those whos and why they should return once they’ve dropped by for a visit to your website.