7 seconds….1,2,3,4,5,6,7….done. Did I lose your attention? Maybe, maybe not, but more than likely your website just lost the attention of a potential customer. 7 seconds is all the time you have to keep visitors engaged on your site and a large majority of the clients we see miss this.
“Yes but I have a well designed, highly creative site” you boast. That’s great, I’m sure it will win many creative awards while someone with an uglier more customer centric site keeps taking your business. It’s not your fault. For years big creative agencies have promised that slick, graphical, flash and other creative “wows” will increase your competitiveness while you sit back seeing the same conversion rates and scratching your head about what happened. The only thing your slick non-customer centric site is doing is keeping up with other slick non-customer centric sites. While the organizations who put the customer and usability first and the creative second are stealing market share and increasing their conversion rates.
Ask yourself this, has all the money you spent on creative, creative strategy or even long-term business strategy paid off. If you say “Yes”, how do you know? Did you set out to measure the results over a control group? Did you do any type of statistical analysis pre/post your massive new undertaking? If not, then you really can’t say for certain you know if that money you spent brought you anything in return. “But my competition just added this new technology to their page. I need to keep up.” If your competition decided to charge twice as much as you do for the same product, would you try to keep up with them as well? My guess is no. And more times than not, it’s these types of creative site changes that actually hamper and slow down the customer engagement than speed it up. I’m sure you have seen site changes made to your competition only to see it changed again 6 months later. That typically happens when their decision was based on creative agencies or whims and not customer focused.
“OK, so what am I supposed to do then?” First and foremost, understand your customer from every angle. You need to understand how your potential and current customers perceive you. Understand how they think, what they look like and what makes them purchase. Next, remove the blinders by understanding what your competitors’ visitors look like, how they think and what makes them purchase. Find out what current and potential customers are saying about you on social media sites and incorporate all of the above findings into a strategic roadmap and game plan.
Once you fully understand your visitors, and your competition’s visitors, you can develop strategic messaging and site layouts tailored to the different segments within your visitor universe. Then, you can apply the fancy creative to the site, but only as long as it meets the guidelines of what each segment is looking for. Finally, test, test, test. You need to show the world (and your boss) the benefits of being a customer-centric site. As long as you have a well thought out, strategic testing plan in place you will be able to confidently show whether your changes work or not and continue to build on those changes to compound the conversion improvements.
keep your mind on the customer and the customer will keep their mind on you
To summarize, non-customer centric sites lead to unhappy customers, same or lower ROI, same or lower sales and empty pockets. Customer centric site designs lead to happy customers, improved ROI, increased sales and happy bosses. As always, keep your mind on the customer and the customer will keep their mind on you.