In this economy, marketers can't afford to let potential customers get lost, confused, or overwhelmed on their sites.
Decisions, decisions, decisions - life is full of them. While some are easier than others, decisions usually come down to having the information you need when you need it, so you can act. That's exactly what visitors want on a Web site, but that's not usually what they get.
Most Web sites today often speak about their products or services, but rarely do they actually help customers make a decision. Like a grocery store that offers more than a dozen types of detergent but gives no direction on which one is ideally suited for my needs, most Web sites have pages and pages of content, but offer little direction in getting the right information to the right person at the right time. In other words, marketers need to do a better job of helping potential customers make decisions on their Web sites.
The Necessary Shift
To facilitate the decision-making process on your site, you first need to shift your perspective to one of customer advocacy. If more sites were advocates for their customers, the content would be better, navigation and linking would be more intuitive, and users would more readily be able to decide if a company was the right fit for them or not.
Specifically, you should look at your site through your customers' eyes. When doing so, consider whether the onus of demonstrating value clearly falls on the Web site, or if customers have to figure it out for themselves. For example, the Progressive Insurance home page does a great job of clearly demonstrating its value by listing competitors' quotes next to its own. Not only does it provide customers with valuable information, but it also helps them to be perceived as a trusted resource.
But beyond this fresh perspective, you need actual strategies that will help you develop an improved decision-making process on your site.
In this economy, marketers can't afford to let potential customers get lost, confused, or overwhelmed on their sites. Smart marketers will follow the above tips to develop an experience that gets visitors what they need when they need it, so they can make a decision.
This column originally appeared in the March 2010 edition of SES Magazine.
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Mark Blanchard is a client ser vices director at iProspect and oversees strategy and execution of campaigns for clients in various industries, including travel, insurance, retail, and education. Part of the iProspect team since 2004, Blanchard was previously the director of knowledge management and innovation for the search engine marketing firm. A native of Canada, Blanchard is certified in Google AdWords and Analytics and is a Yahoo ambassador. He holds an MBA from the University of Massachusetts.
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