Who cares about the user?…..your competitors do!
User experience or UX is becoming a far more important topic to businesses. While I have been advising businesses about websites for years it is amazing how many rarely think about their visitors using the site.
Designers do a great job of making a site look good, and optimisers spend their days driving traffic to the site, but does it actually perform well? As a business owner you’ve probably spent a reasonable amount already, and in the current climate are reluctant to spend more on yet another service.
I would argue, can you afford not too?
Most business struggle to get more leads, and more customers, so typically start spending more on advertising and even more SEO, and maybe pay per click campaigns. All probably driving more traffic to the site. So what would you say if I could increase enquiries by 10% without spending more on SEO or marketing?!
That is user experience/conversion consultancy!
To look at it properly you need to understand your business, I often ask what objectives have been set for the site? How many customers do you want to generate? If these have not been thought through its back to the drawing board. The following are my easy approach top tips for setting objectives & improving your sites effectiveness.
Where are we now
1. What is a customer worth?
Understanding the lifetime value of your customer will help you determine the budget to allow for acquiring the customer in the first place. I’d suggesting looking at on average how long does a customer stay with you, and how much do they spend, what proportion of that is profit and how much of that profit are you willing to use for acquisition. Calculate your current acquisition cost, which methods work and which do but are just too expensive.
2. What is your site bounce rate?
Benchmark how your site performs currently, look into Google Analytics as starting point. Most campaigns drive traffic to the site, so what happens when visitors arrive. Do they struggle to find what they are looking for, miss the point of the page, or are just turned off by it and reaach for the back button. Measure this and you will be suprised.
3. Offending pages
Look at your Analytics, are there individual pages with a high bounce rate?, are users dropping out of the site at certain points?, these are the areas that if tweaked can give you more customers from your existing visitors.
4. How do you perform?
Create goals and embed them into the site. In Analytics you can set goals and get statistics then as to how many visitors the site gets, from those how many enquire, and if you are tracking properly, how many enquiries from the website turn into customers. Looking at what you spent on your web campaigns to get them to the site will give you your acquisition cost. Compare the actual with your budget.
It is at this point website owners see the value of user experience and conversion consultancy, especially when they realise just by tweaking layout of a page I could increase the number of enquiries from my existing visitors.
A case study
I work for Buzz Connect a telecoms business specialising in small business telephone systems after rebranding the business from our old Buzz Networks site to Buzz Connect, we had a complete redesign from a professional agency, optimised by emarketing experts locally. All good you might think.
As it is a new site, SEO has yet to mature so in order to gain instant visitors, Pay Per Click advertising is used. In our market a click costs between £26 and £7, so for that cost I have to be sure the site is doing its job.
The initial campaigns worked well, we occupy a prime spot against the search terms for our target market, adverts are sufficiently well crafted they attract a good level of visitors, so traffic is healthy. Although it looked good, and we spent hours pawing over content rewriting and tweaking it, the bounce rate was around 80%.
Of those that stayed a healthy 30% enquiried, and of those that did we converted 40% to customers. I won’t give away the exact numbers but you can already see that if I can lower the bounce rate to appeal to more visitors, and enourage more to enquire the picture would be much better.
So with the help of specialist software to analyse visitor behaviour, where page elements were drawing attention we came up with a new design for the page, have a look at our Business VoIP page. The new page had a cost implication to build but it has reduced bounce rate by 15 – 20%, and enquiries are up!!
Coming soon – how to go about user testing, & methods of split testing
Business Link’s conversion seminars earlier this year looked at software that helped with that thinking process, by highlighting areas of the site that attracted the most heat or clicks. The following links might be useful if you are looking for examples.
Those of you that made it to the sessions will remember Adrian and his presentation, he has subsequently found a handy website that you can upload a jpg screen shot of your site to and it will generate an estimated heatmap for you for free. Perfect for those that want a quick check to see if the site elements are likely to draw visitors attention. Visit the Feng-GUI site to try it out. Would be interested to hear any of your feedback from using it.
We recorded those sessions and the upload is nearly ready, will blog as soon as ready for anyone who is interested in recapping. In the meantime if you need any of the links to the tools discussed please shout.
I often talk to businesses about how they spend lots of time and money optimising their website but they still struggle to get good search engine rankings. After we have looked at their onsite optimisation elements I usually ask the question ‘what’s your inbound link strategy?’
Usually businesses are plagued with calls from perhaps less reputable companies offering to get them onto page one by building links for £200-£400 pcm without any thought for relevancy. Some website owners have built their own thought through plan, however more often than not it is an area that is overlooked and unclear as to the approach to take.
I would suggest that the value of inbound links are crucial in the optimisation effort to ensure your site is well ranked. There are many arguments to support my belief an example of one of these is
‘There are two reasons to build links to your site.
1. Direct Traffic: Links send direct traffic to your website that could convert into leads and clients.
2. Search Engine Optimization: Links are the key to getting you ranked on the first page of the major search engines for your target keywords. This search traffic is very likely to convert into leads and clients. ‘
If you are still not convinced there is more from the source of the quote at the following article Why You Need to Build Links and What A Good One Looks Like
The subject of this post is not really to convert you to the idea of the need for inbound links but to give an idea of how this can be done. There are some basic steps that site owners can take but before you do I would encourage you to ensure you have your statistics in place so that you can measure the your success.
Step 1. Business directories & Social media – simple entries in directories are good to get, some may cost others are free. Your site statistics will begin to show which are referring traffic to you so you can decide which of those paid links are worthwhile. Social media sites may or may not provide much in terms of link score benefit but may well send visitors to you.
Step 2. Press releases and articles – there are lots of online sites you can post your press releases and place articles, pressbox.comis an example of these, remember to include a link to your site in the article. This step involves more work and of course there is no guarantee that the press releases will get picked up. If you have a blog and are writing content for that then this step should not take too much extra work. The good news if that there are experts out there you could consider contracting to deliver regular content for you. Your local Business Link can provide details of local businesses providing the service.
Step 3. Link with other websites – my tip here is not to beg, think how you would network at business event, or business meeting, can your site add value to their site visitors, and build links through a natural synergy. Of course this approach won’t work for everyone and sometimes a more aggressive strategy is needed. A tracking spreadsheet might be worthwhile keeping as you would use a contact manager, so you know who you need to follow up.
Obviously its not as simple as that, there is hard work, time and effort to put in along the way. Looking at other businesses blogs, responding to their articles to build your relationship, or networking in your local area will be the challenge here.
Another technique that some businesses adopt is the creation of multiple sites with specific content to each and use of a blog that promotes them. David Lakins @ KeyMultimedia who specialise in website promotion work, use this technique well on behalf of their client. The sites form a three way link, each building important page rank with unique content, promoting and supporting the other. Check out the following sites to see the example at work, the first site is the wet suit centre second site is the sorted surf shop and the surf related blog that serves both is interestingly named manky monkey .
If you want to try getting started there is another blog article that takes a similar view and gives more tips here on link building there is another article from the same blog which covers how not to do it which makes for a really good read how not to link build
Back in June I covered the importance of capturing location based traffic searches for businesses that operate geopgraphically. Local search is still important but with the appearance of Bing and predicted increase in search market share, I would suggest including this in your strategy.
The basics are the same, think about where your customers are and monitor your site statistics to determine which location areas you wish to optimise against and include those in the meta and site content. Just as you would include a Google local business entry, complete similar for Bing Local Listing Centre.
Bing has a supplemental website area to the listing, which can be used for link to subpages, a hotel for example might link to tripadvisor ratings, online booking page, or seasonal offers.