The goal of any website is to get your brand in front of as many online visitors as possible and to turn those visitors into regular customers. This really encompasses the heart of your business performance. Now it’s not uncommon to think of “performance” solely in technical terms as optimizing images, caching, and adjusting style sheets, and that kind of thing. These are elements that help to improve your performance but they don’t constitute performance itself. As one industry expert has well summarized, the focus of doing any kind of business online has to comprise 4 main goals: 1) Increased conversions 2) More prominent placement in Google search results 3) Greater repeat visits and customer retention and 4) Ultimately greater sales and brand exposure.
In other words, true performance (whether you call it “web” or “online” or “digital”) is more than mechanics. Performance is a holistic endeavor and encompasses a range of strategies that help to attract visitors to your website and convert them into followers, leads, and customers . . . while also giving them an unforgettable customer experience. So let’s outline here 5 things you should keep in mind in order to make your online performance as ideal as possible.
1. Keep things fast!
Research shows a clear relationship between web load speed and customer conversions. The faster a page loads the more likely customers will be to visit and do business on your site. The inverse is also true. The slower a page the less likely customers will be willing to wait around and engage with your brand. While this seems fairly straightforward, it’s surprising how few business owners really get the importance of website performance and the role it plays in their business strategy. It might be nice to have a trendy looking website, but if it takes 10 seconds to load visitors won’t hang around long enough to appreciate all the bells and whistles anyway.
2. Make your central message crystal clear
From the moment visitors hit your website you want to give them a clear reason for why they should stick around. To do this you need to deliver your central message as quickly, clearly, and convincingly as possible. Don’t make your home page so convoluted that folks don’t know what action to take. Use large font, go generous on the content, and create clear pathways to the channels they need to purchase your product . . . period, end of story.
3. Give visitors a reason to return
So you’ve gotten some visitors, now what? Well, that’s only half the battle. Studies show that most will not purchase on the first visit. So you need to give visitors a solid reason to return to your website. Do this by providing them with something useful, something they can’t refuse. Provide practical articles, a regularly updated blog, a newsfeed, or other user-generated content . . . anything that will engage your visitors and provide them with something of value.
4. Design your website for “mobile first” quality and speed
Forrester reported last year that it expected mobile commerce transactions in the United States to total $114 billion in 2014. $76 billion will be from tablets, while the remainder will be from smartphones. Given the prominence (and dominance!) of M-commerce, it’s critical to ensure that your website is “mobile first.” The paradigm of making desktop sites responsive for mobile devices must now be switched. The strategy should be to code for mobile users first and then progressively enhance the experience for tablets and desktops. Doing so will help reduce the number of unnecessary dependencies.
5. Use web analytics and gather metrics
To some this sounds like a well-worn cliché by now, but it needs to be drilled in more and more. If you’re not tracking the behavior of your visitors with metrics then you’re leaving money on the table. Use the many available web analytics on the market to learn as much as you can about your customer’s online behaviors. The ability to track a single customer across your site and across multiple devices will ensure that you can tailor your brand to their needs. For instance, you want to learn more about when and where they’re visiting from, what devices they’re using, what are their online activities, and other key demographics such as age. Gaining these insights will help your organization better understand what’s important to your visitors and how to personalize their experience.