As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
Have you ever met an attractive person, only to discover they have the worst personality? After that, it doesn’t matter how they look, because they don’t make you feel good. It’s the same with beautiful websites. You can have a great-looking site that reels in leads, only to lose customers because of a miserable experience.
When customers encounter a cumbersome site with poor messaging, limited chat capabilities, and not enough resources, they assume you don’t know them very well. If you lead with your solution and your brand, rather than focusing on why they’re your service, they feel unheard. You’ll lose valuable customers before you even have a chance to engage them.
A lot of companies encounter these challenges, which is a shame because they don’t have to. It all comes back to mastering the brand experience.
The Brand Experience On Your Website – Why It Matters
From the very first time a lead hits your website to when they’ve been a customer for years, you need to provide an intuitive process and consistent, exceptional support. If that doesn't happen, they will find another provider. Remarkably niche industries are sometimes an exception, but overall, there’s almost always another way for a customer to solve a problem that’s less complicated or cumbersome than what you’re serving up.
In a worst case scenario, if you are the only solution, customers will resent working with you. You won’t build brand advocates or foster loyalty, only generate negative reviews and unhappy customers. None of this will lead to the kind of growth you need to be successful. That’s why the brand experience is so valuable and influential. With the right website, you’ll not only generate leads and customers but foster loyalty and trust with your target audience.
To accomplish this, you need to avoid some of the most common errors. Here are the most surprising website mistakes that prevent your brand experience from being top-notch.
#1. Insane Walls of Text
People skim, and it’s unavoidable. When you have walls of text without any structure, you deter the skimmers, because your message won’t seem to flow and will be disconnected. There will be too much information to process page by page. You can avoid the walls of text with a better website content strategy.
You want to create a consistent message from page-to-page that's concise, direct, and tells a story about your brand. You can read more about creating a website strategy in The Complete Guide To Developing A Website Content Strategy.
#2. Dead-end Pages
Every page needs to have an ask. If there isn't a definite, compelling next step, there isn’t anything keeping the customer on the site. It will look like you didn't plan out your website, and overall, it disrupts the flow and the buyer journey. You can avoid creating dead-end pages with a page flow template, which we use religiously for mapping out website content.
With a page flow, you can outline the objective of every page, and determine a next step that flows with the message of your site. See why page flow templates are an essential part of a website build in The 7 Essential Pieces of a Winning Website Project Plan.
#3. An Unclear UVP Headline
People have the attention span of a goldfish (myself included). As a result, if they don't get whatever it is you do right away or don't feel a connection to you from the beginning, they're gone. That’s why you should kick off their experience with a prominent UVP, or unique value proposition, that dictates the flow of content on your homepage.
If you can hook a lead on your website, you’re on your way to converting them into a customer. Here are 25 excellent examples of companies that nailed their UVP. According to Ryan Scott, the author of that piece, Listia's is one of the best out there.
#4. Things That Scream "I'm OUTDATED!"
There are a few key indicators that your website hasn’t seen an update in a while. First, there’s the copyright date in the footer. If that’s even a year off, it looks like you never refresh your site. Second, there’s your blog content. Some brands choose to leave the blog dates off entirely because it automatically dates the material. If there hasn’t been a blog post in a month or so, it doesn’t matter what the subject matter is, because it looks unprofessional.
Overall, these kinds of missteps decrease trust with the customer, and they may even wonder whether or not you’re still in business.
#5. No Clear Way To Contact Anyone
People expect accessibility. They need some way of reaching you 24-7, even if it’s merely sending an email or booking an appointment. If there isn't a clear way to call, message, or email you, you will lose your customers to competitors that make themselves available all hours of the day. And today, there isn't an excuse for a way for your customers to reach you 24 hours a day.
HubSpot has a live chat feature, and you can also use Facebook Messenger to send messages. Even a contact us page with a form is better than nothing. There are a lot of ways to provide your customers with constant service. (This model isn't right for every company, but here's how Help Scout transitioned to 24-Hour support.)
#6. Barely Any Content (Brochure Websites)
We live in the information age. At all hours of the day, people are seeking feedback and researching solutions before making a decision. They also need to find those answers quickly. That’s why it’s so advantageous to build content that addresses their frustrations and concerns. You give the customer the content they’re seeking, and you keep them on your site. You familiarize them with your brand and build trust.
The best part? A content-rich website doesn't need to break the bank. You can create a great site without exhausting your budget and sacrificing your content using the growth-driven-design methodology.
#7. Broken Forms, Images, Links and More
It's never been easier to find common issues like broken forms, images, links, etc. And that’s why when something on your site breaks, and you don't fix it, you look lazy. It detracts from your professionalism, similar to finding an error in an essay or blog post. Everyone has spell check, so there isn’t a reason for it.
The additional risk of not checking for broken materials on your site is preventing a conversion. If a customer can’t book a demo, look at an infographic, or access a page because the portal doesn't work, you’ll lose them, and they won’t come back. You can use SEMrush to check your site for broken links and pages, amongst many other website quality check and SEO tools.
#8. Still Not Mobile Optimized...
It's 2018. There is no reason why you can't optimize your website for mobile devices. And becoming "mobile responsive" goes beyond selecting a mobile-friendly template. You need to make sure that every form, every contact method, and your entire site is accessible from any device. It’s not realistic to think that a customer will try again from their laptop or desktop later. Moz has an excellent comprehensive guide to optimizing for mobile, including best practices, site speed, and more.
#9. Slow, Slow, Slow
If your site takes too long to load, the pages are too long, or it's too difficult to click/fill out a form, you've lost your customer. To avoid UX challenges, you need to make it as easy as possible to use your site, and that includes speed. According to the Google Developers blog, Google is also considering site speed for ranking. Moz also has a guide for improving page speed, with a lot of actionable tips to speed up your site as soon as possible.
Building A Better Brand Experience From The Start
The best way to create an excellent brand experience is to make a great website from the start. The longer you wait to prioritize it, the longer it will take to get better results from your site. And regardless of your industry, customers want websites to be easy to use, with consistent support, content, and more. There isn't a website design in the world that can fix a bad experience.
In my experience, establishing this type of brand experience starts with prioritizing your customer. If you can build a website that your customer will find tremendous value in, and use as a resource, you'll have an invaluable asset. Using our Sprocket Rocket Strategy Kit, you'll gain access to all of the templates necessary to identify the experience your customers want.
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