How to Increase Online Customer Retention
The user-friendly methods of many web design applications have turned the once-complicated world of building a website into a relatively simple, do-it-yourself task. Although the process may be getting easier, creating a website that actually yields conversions still requires forethought and spot-on execution. If your bounce rate is high, and your conversion rate is low, you’ve got a problem and it may well be time for a website tune-up.
How do I know my company site isn’t working?
Generally speaking, hosting companies provide you with some statistics about your website activity, which includes information about visits to pages. Web frameworks and blogging platforms such as WordPress have plugins that can be used to monitor visitor behavior.
You’ll know with certainty you have an ineffective website when you see one of two major trends:
- Your site gets no traffic.
- Your site gets traffic, but visitors leave immediately without clicking anything. This is known as a website’s bounce rate, and it’s a sure sign a website doesn’t work.
What’s the problem?
Once you know you’re failing to attract or losing site visitors, it’s time to figure out why. For low or no traffic, start by looking at your content. The only way search engines can find your page is by scanning what you provide them. That means content must be relevant to the site and accurate in describing what’s on the page.
For bouncing traffic, look to your navigation. Ask yourself honestly if you’d be able to easily find what you’re looking for on the page. Pay attention to how long it takes each page to load, and make sure you’re testing these load times on a computer where the cookies have been cleared. It’s easy to think your pages load faster than they do if your computer already knows what to expect.
How do I correct the issues?
When your content fails to attract users, start editing for intent. Learning SEO tactics can be extremely helpful in creating search engine–friendly content. “Print shop in Ohio,” for example, has a much narrower search range than just “print shop,” and you can expect users to search for it in this manner. Use your details to thin the crowd.
If you think your navigation might be a problem, it’s a good time for a thorough site inspection, but don’t do it yourself. Ask your great aunt or someone else who spends very little time online to attempt to navigate your website. If you tell her to look for shoes on your shopping site, and she can’t tell where to begin from the homepage, chances are many users will be just as lost.
The essential question is, what does my site need to accomplish? People come for a reason. They come for information. They come for entertainment. They come to buy. Design with this intent in mind. If your users want to shop, put shopping categories on the homepage in easy view. If they come for information, provide an FAQ that puts it all in one place. Users also need a way to contact you, so make contact information easy to find. Being able to ask a question and get a quick response may prevent some users from bouncing.
In the event that your cookie-free site testing proves your site loads slowly, two problems may be in play. One is on your end; the other on your hosting company’s. Start by making your site as streamlined as possible. Images should be saved for the Web so they’re smaller and take less time to display. Videos should be hosted on a video-hosting site and embedded, because videos suck resources when hosted directly. Popular video-sharing sites, however, utilize a cloud-based CDN hosting service, which allows the video to be accessed from several different servers and this prevents any lag.
Making users wait for pages to load is no way to encourage them to stay, yet a bigger issue is at hand beyond user aggravation. Google actually pays attention to site speed when determining search placement, and a slow site can push your site down the ranks and out of the market.
Back when it was all about code, building a website might have seemed impossible to many amateurs. Now building is the easy part. By incorporating a little pre-planning, with a blueprint for navigation and the right details in the design, you can build a site that doesn’t just look good but is effective at drawing guests in and keeping them coming back.
About the Author
Emily Miller is a marketing professional and small business blogger who recently graduated from Indiana University. She is an administrator and occasional contributor to Technected, and she is currently working to help startups and small businesses implement technology solutions for their companies.