Like it or not, the first experience most people have with your company is going to be your website design. Do you want them to see a flat, bland, and impersonal electronic brochure? Or rather, an individualized, warm, and interactive experience that gets prospects connected with your company from the very first visit?
More importantly, which experience do you think will generate more leads? After all, inbound marketing teaches us that our goal is to generate leads, right?
Your prospects are making their purchase decisions during their first visit to your site. That’s because we (human beings) make most purchase decisions emotionally first, and then rationalize the decision second. As a result, when prospective clients land on your site, if you don’t capture them emotionally and give them an amazing, personalized experience, they might just end up at your competitor’s site.
How a Responsive Website Can Help
Delivering an amazing experience for your prospects has to be realized whether they visit your website via computer or smart phone. This means your site has to work perfectly on every device. If you’re still unsure if you need your site to look great on a smart phone or a tablet, here are some cold hard facts:
“Some 88% of U.S. adults own a cell phone of some kind as of April 2012, and more than half of these cell owners (55%) use their phone to go online,” said Aaron Smith, senior research specialist, Pew Internet & American Life Project.
The Pew study also found that 45% of those who use the internet on their phones prefer web browsing on their mobile devices.
The same study found that, overall, 17% of the U.S. cell phone adult users prefer going online by using their phones instead of desktops, laptops, or tablets.
These stats mean your website has to be what is called, “responsive,” so that it works beautifully on all devices, including computers, smart phones, and tablets. Here are a few snapshots from the responsive Square 2 Marketing website and how it looks on a laptop, iPhone, and iPad:
Your inbound marketing strategy can help inform your website redesign if you decide to go responsive. Responsive sites deliver either altered navigation or menu options, so your strategy can help you decide what content should go where. You have to plan this out in advance to ensure that the most important pages and pieces of content (from your prospect’s perspective) are prominently delivered.
It’s also important to view your new responsive site on as many devices as possible. Since you may not have each potential device at your disposal, you can use a Google Chrome plug-in called Responsive Site Viewer or try out HubSpot's Device Lab, currently in beta, to view your website on different devices right in your browser.
Looking great is certainly important; however, delivering great results is even more important. Here are some data points that show a dramatic increase in leads once we moved to a responsive site in May:
Our inbound leads increased by 66% immediately, and then continued to show an increase of 34% over an average of pre-responsive months.
Usage from devices other than laptops also increased from 11% of total traffic to 15%, which means that people may have been sharing links from smart phones and tablets after experiencing our site.
Our site-wide conversion rate also increased from 2% to 5.6% once the site went responsive.
Adding Personalization to the Mix
But a responsive site is just a piece of the puzzle. The other key ingredient to an amazing website is providing a personal experience. To date, delivering a truly personalized experience has been owned by the major website companies, such as Amazon, Netflix, and Zappos. While these sites have taught us a lot about how to personalize a visitor’s experience, the tools have been limiting.
Here is an example of a client who provides IT consulting and outsourced technical services to small- and medium-sized businesses. Its website home page allows visitors to self-select whether they are a business owner or an IT professional:
Once they pick a path, they then tailor the message, headline, web page copy, pictures, and call-to-action buttons directly to their specific issues and challenges.
Here you see a snapshot of both secondary pages. One targets the business owner, with specific pictures, headlines, and offers, and the other for the IT professional, with relevant content, copy, and images.
While this client is early in its program with us and its traffic numbers are still climbing, these two pages are in the top five for visits and conversions. For most company, the results of personalization will be dramatic.
Gravity, which calls itself the, “Interest Graph Company,” has seen these dramatic results first-hand. It delivers personalized content to visitors of sites like The Wall Street Journal, TIME, and TechCrunch. For the first time, the company has shared its initial user engagement statistics, comprising data from the past six months. The results, if accurate and sustainable, seem impressive.
Gravity reports have delivered an average of over one million personalized content recommendations per day to more than 400 million users per month over 10 initial sites.
Across these partner sites, they say that click through rates have grown two to three times.
Site loyalty, as measured by monthly return rate, is up three fold.
Finally — and this is a hell of a claim — its partners have seen pageviews increase more than 40 percent on average.
What does this mean to you? It means you have to take a long hard look at your website. If you are like most business owners, CEOs or marketing professionals, your website is two or three years old. While your last website redesign project might have been painful, it’s probably time to start considering another upgrade. The number of people viewing and interacting with your company’s website via mobile devices, smart phones, and tablets is only going to continue to increase. If your site isn’t usable on these devices, and if the experience is subpar, there is a great chance that your potential customers are going to look elsewhere for your products and services.
If your site doesn’t have personalization today, and you’re not prepared to deliver a more personal experience in the future, you are going to be at a competitive disadvantage with businesses that are more proactive in this area.
Today, the tools, expertise and information are available for your business to deliver a “world-class” website experience to your prospects. The data shows that this experience influences people to buy from you, to share your site with other people like them, and to help move your business to the next level.
Co-founder and president of Square 2 Marketing, Mike is passionate about helping entrepreneurs, CEOs and marketing professionals think differently about how they marketing their firms. Mike works daily to help them move from interruptive marketing to highly efficient and lead generating inbound marketing. Mike is the author of the popular blog, Inbound Unwound, a guest blogger for a number of marketing-related blogs including HubSpot, SmartBlogs, Talent Zoo, MarketingProfs and Business 2 Community, a frequent public speaker on the topic of Inbound Marketing and a regularly quoted marketing expert in the media.
Originally published Sep 17, 2013 4:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017