Get More Mileage From Your Existing Website

In the first installment of this conversation, I offered a couple of litmus tests to make sure your brand new site isn’t already outdated. Once you’ve performed those basic checks, here are a few more that will increase usability, stickiness, and most importantly, ROI.

Are Your Money-Saving Coupons Actually Costing Your Customers?

You’re driving traffic to your site using downloadable coupons, great. You’re increasing sales and loyalty using coupons, great. Your customers have to go to your site, log in and print your coupons, then keep up with them until they are actually at a location to use it, not so great. While there are still a lot of printers saving people money by spitting out downloadables, the real savings for you, the environment, and your customers is mobile couponing. A recent Borrell Associates report stated that U.S. mobile coupon spending will jump from $90 million in 2009 to $6.53 billion in 2014. Even further are location-based apps like Foursquare, MyTown, and Groupon that combine the fun of mobile social gaming with the very real savings of coupons and offers. So wean that dependency on the printer and save trees, money, and time – all while increasing your relevance.

Are Your E-mails Going Straight in the Trash?

You have people interested in you and you have lots to tell your customers, which is a good place to be. But a better place to be with all that new information and good will toward your brand is in the middle of the conversation, talking with people, not at them. The rise of social networking hasn’t pushed e-mail into obscurity just yet, but a report by Nielsen shows that e-mail saw a double-digit decline in share of time, dropping from 11.5 percent to 8.3 percent. It’s not that you have to scrap your e-mail program, as it has a very useful place in your box of marketing tools, but don’t miss the opportunity to really engage all your interested participants in richer, two-way communication.

Considering the massive use of both e-mail and social media, (906 million hours were spent on social networks/blogs; 407 million on games; 329 million on e-mail, according to Nielsen), it makes sense to use them in tandem. Create a loop with e-mail instead of a line of communication by pointing consumers to your Facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube page so that they can post thoughts, spark conversations, and, of greater importance, share and link with others. You can initiate and steer some of those conversations with relevant content, too, so that it becomes tactical as well as simply social. So before you hit “send” on an e-mail push to thousands, consider a simple post to reach that same group with more relevance and possibly greater impact and message longevity.

Is Your Store Locator Taking Your Customers Nowhere?

All you have to do is enter your Zip code and you get a list of stores in your area. If that sounds simple, listen up. Enter your Zip and get stores within a certain radius, and have the option to get directions and store information like hours and coupons, too. Sounds a little better, right? It’s not alright anymore to expect users to scroll through a lengthy list of store locations to find you. It’s not even alright to expect a store location without a link to directions. Although it’s not the most fun place to spend money, more people visit company websites to get store locations/hours and product information than any other reason. So, pony up for a richer store locator experience and you’ll find your business in a much better spot.

Do Your FAQs Still Leave a Lot of Questions?

Many people always ask the exact same questions about your company, so it makes sense to have a place to find answers to those frequent questions. But consider this fact: word of mouth is the most powerful influencer on the Web (and arguably off of it). As people rush toward digital socialization (Americans spend nearly a quarter of their time online on social networking sites and blogs, a 43 percent increase from a year ago according to a Nielsen report), it is more and more common for them to look to peers for product information and reviews or opinions of others for answers – and not just people they know. The people who tweet, post, blog, or otherwise share those opinions are seen as having a viable opinion. An eMarketer study showed that a full 79 percent of U.S. Internet users say they go online to obtain tips and advice. Instead of trying desperately to control your answers, welcome and encourage social conversations by changing your mindset from that of pushing out answers to sparking conversations. Yes, you may have to facilitate some damage control, but better to know about it than have it happen elsewhere out of reach, because it will happen regardless and spread if not checked or rebutted. A smarter strategy is to turn your FAQ mindset into FHC thinking (frequently had conversations) and provide a platform for interaction where you are an active participant.

Your “Second” Language Site Might Need Some Translation

It’s very PC and very smart – depending on your product or service – to have a sister website that speaks to your Hispanic audience. But if you’re just translating English words to Spanish words, there could be much lost in translation. For one, English phrasing is often incorrect in Spanish and/or expressions can be irrelevant or misplaced if translated straight vs. a smart translation of the meaning of the words as well as just the grammar. According to the AOL and Hispanic Cyberstudy, only 3 percent of Hispanics say they trust a Spanish site more, and less than 3 percent say the Spanish site has more useful information. But don’t go scrapping your second site just yet. This has more to do with the quality of the information and attention to important cues than it does desire for Hispanics to find content in Spanish.

Internet usage among Hispanics is growing at a faster pace than the total online population. But just because they are online, you can’t assume your Hispanic target uses the site the same way or wants the information in the same order as any other target. Be sure your user path for your audiences syncs up to the content and/or expected experience they want. Another classic misstep is to use the exact same images and just change the language. Face shapes and hair styles alone can place Hispanics in sub-groups that may make others tune out.

Hispanics who prefer Spanish marketing say:

  • It’s “very important” that it’s more than just a straight translation – 47 percent
  • It’s “very important” that it takes into account my ties to my home country – 75 percent
  • It’s “very important” that it reflects my experience in the U.S. – 56 percent
  • Unless you’re hyper-targeting, use neutral language translators and neutral representative images. In the case of product shots, pay attention to cultural propping that may distract rather than attract your Hispanic target. Even if you find both your English-speaking and Hispanic groups use the site the same way, you’d be very smart to be sure rather than alienate or, worse, become irrelevant to this growing and influential group. As a final note, don’t forget to translate your mobile version as well because according to comScore, more than 70 percent of the Hispanic population accesses content on their mobile phone more than any other demo. Can you say, “importante”?

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