Customers are increasingly looking online before shopping, whether that’s for true e-commerce or by checking out a business website before coming to the brick-and-motar store. Today, the customer experience often starts well before the customer walks into a store — if they walk into a store at all. And a slow, organised or otherwise optimised website begins that customer experience off on the wrong foot.
So what should small businesses do to optimise the online experience? Here are five things to consider to deliver the best possible customer experience — online.
Make sure your website is running efficiently.
Waiting for a page to load is the modern equivalent of waiting too long in the checkout line. Small businesses should regularly check their website for possible speed improvements. Visitors are more likely to click that back button if a website doesn’t load quickly, not to mention the bad first impression if they do stick around patiently. Some common factors of slow webpages are cluttered code and unnecessarily large image files, to name a few.
Ensure email marketing efforts are helpful, not annoying.
No one likes junk mail — so where do your email marketing efforts fall? If subscribers aren’t opening your emails, it’s time to rethink your email tactics. Consider adjusting how often you send out the emails. Revamp your subject lines. Rework the topics to ensure the emails are helpful. Set up emails to send when a customer hasn’t opened an email in awhile. The key is to reach customers, without driving them to click that unsubscribe button.
Keep your website well organised.
How hard is it to find something on your website? Potential customers will quickly look elsewhere if they can’t find what they need. Make sure your website has a simple, straight-forward menu system that organises all the different pages in a simple way. Add a search bar for finding specific items. Correctly categorise blog posts. Include shortcuts to main pages from easy-to-access locations.
Test your website.
Finding errors in your own website is tough. Just like proofreading your own emails only to see an error as you hit the send button, having someone else test your website will help highlight issues and possibilities for improvement that you didn’t see. Invite a handful of people to test your website. Encourage testers to click on all the links, to start an online order, and to explore the website. Prepare a list of questions to ask about the experience, then leave an open-ended question to allow testers to offer their own insight.
Revisit your website on a regular basis.
Websites aren’t meant to be static. Along with posting current information, small businesses should regularly look for ways to improve their online presence. At least every few months, brainstorm new, helpful content to add to the website. Consider ways to enhance the performance of the website. Evaluate options for grabbing attention on the home page.
As the welcome mat to a business, small business websites should deliver a positive customer experience. By considering what’s working and what’s not, small businesses can help create a positive experience before a customer even places an order or walks into the store.