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August 2011
More Website Power-Up Performance Tips
By Kip Cozart

     Building a smarter, more productive online strategy can pay huge dividends to your business in more ways than one. Reinforcing customer loyalty, gathering critical marketplace feedback, and portraying your company as an industry leader are as critical as the direct pursuit of new leads and immediate sales through your website. Here are a few more suggestions to help energize your Web marketing process. Think more “Power Boosters.”

 

Invite participation and remove obstacles… Think of your website as a virtual and ongoing, face-to-face conversation with customers and prospects, where their input carries equal weight as the information that you hope to convey. Embed brief visitor polling questions within the sidebar of key Web pages. Create a customer “user group” providing an open-ended “discussion forum” that invites frank comments, questions, ideas and suggestions about your services. Demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction by clearly publishing a direct email address inviting clients to freely correspond personally with the company’s president.

     Generate more positive responses from your website by removing annoying features that can turn off visitors. Replace poor quality or outdated graphics and layouts. Remove Under Construction pages and pop-up screens that can irritate and derail the communication exchange. Consider dropping “captcha” visual validation requirements from your interactive forms, which can inadvertently turn away just as many real customers as malicious spambots. Deactivate extraneous background music players and instant loading video content. Avoid the use of tiny font sizes, slow loading images, overly complex dropdown navigation and other features requiring extra patience or unnecessary effort by your intended audience.

 

Keep it fresh, new and exciting… Frequent contact can promote and strengthen relationships with your customers, so give them reasons to return and interact with you. Repeat visits solidify customer loyalty and open the door to upsell opportunities. Blogs are particularly helpful in this regard. By adding regular updates to blog posts, readers experience something new during each session. Customers who respond with comments provide insight that can lead to future sales.

     There are numerous ways to maintain a fresh appearance for your website. Regularly replacing inserted images within your pages extends the life of surrounding text content. Making periodic site-wide color changes to your website’s style sheet (CSS) coding is another quick and inexpensive way to keep your content looking new. Also, change your website’s background image or texture on a monthly basis to maintain a fresh look and feel.

 

Say it like you mean it… Too often, too little time is devoted to the actual written words that appear in a website. When communicating online, substance matters, while the sizzle will usually just get in the way. Present text in a concise and informative manner, composed in a friendly, approachable style. Avoid the use of technical jargon, abbreviations, slang, and obscure references that could confuse a novice customer. Avoid the overuse of capitalization, excessive punctuation, and multi-colored or overly styled fonts. Formatting is also important, along with the strategic use of headlines, text captions and sidebar notes that guide the reader towards your desire course of action.

     Providing extensive and complex content is still okay, but don’t expect the first time visitor to slog through it all just to gain a sense of your product’s unique value. Get to the point quickly, posting optional supplemental content in the form of downloadable whitepapers, specifications tables, footnotes, and links to other detailed resources.

     The written word is also critical to search engine recognition that drives customers to your door. Inclusion of clear, pertinent, keyword-oriented phrasing is the leading criteria used by Google, Yahoo! and Bing for connecting visitors to your website. If you do not have an experienced Web content writer in your organization, consider an outside consultant.

 

Kip Cozart is CEO of CC Communications, a Web design, programming and Internet media company.
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