In the early days of the internet, many businesses scrambled to create websites to showcase their offerings. Most of these early sites simply acted as printed brochures - a place to highlight the business name and basic offerings with plenty of colour and fanfare - and like brochures, were mostly static.
Nowadays, the majority of businesses realise that having a successful website means more than just a static page with pretty pictures. Websites need to draw visitors in by first capturing their attention and then engaging them with relevant and interesting content.
Here are a few tips to help ensure visitors not only stop and visit your site, but keep coming back and even send their friends.
Encourage participation: Unlike brochures, websites provide the opportunity for two-way interaction, which you can take advantage of. For example, introduce surveys and contests on your main page and encourage comments in the blogs. Let your visitors know you want them to be involved.
Use video: Videos provide a dynamic and interactive experience for your visitors with just the click of a button. Creating a more a 3D experience for users, they are great for people that don't want to slog through a bunch of text to learn about a product or service. Think of them as a quick and efficient doorway to your online store.
Update regularly: Nothing makes a website more unappealing than a blog that was updated last year. New content, ideally focused on a few key topics, gives visitors a reason to keep coming back, along with increasing your SEO. Be sure to link new content to your social media sites.
Keep it simple:As more and more marketing messages are being thrown at consumers, sometimes less is more. Make sure your site provides a clear 'map' for visitors, one which clearly guides them through a logical decision-making and buying process. Avoid too many advertisements or images that have nothing to do with your business.
Focus on the user: Big companies like Coca-Cola are redeveloping their websites to incorporate blogs, video and interactive content. Before redesigning your website though, it's important to know your target market and what would attract them.
Keep content useful: Businesses that succeed at creating and providing great content do so with the customer in mind. For example, a plumber should post catchy blogs and videos featuring advice on plumbing-related issues, rather than a multi-paragraph plug for their services.
Avoid flashy gimmicks: The days of fancy flash features are in the past, and with many consumers accessing sites on tablets and smartphones, it's more important than ever to keep the frills to a minimum. That said, if you do choose to incorporate multimedia on your site, let the customer decide if he or she wants to watch your video or listen to your sound clip.
With so much information at our fingertips, today's internet user expects to have the information they want, when they want it. By providing engaging information and encouraging participation, you'll increase your chances of turning your website from a brochure experience into a truly interactive one.
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Kathleen has a degree in marketing with over 10 years experience in the IT field as a database developer and web designer. As a freelance writer, Kathleen has written for several publications across Australia as well as for various business and hi-tech blogs online.