Why businesses must consider all aspects of their online presence - The EE

Why businesses must consider all aspects of their online presence

Modern consumers interact with around six touchpoints when making any purchasing decision. For online businesses, it’s both a blessing and a curse, says Terri Misters, marketing specialist at LCN.

While this provides plenty of opportunities for businesses to cut through with relevant and targeted content, it also demands attention and activity across all online channels for those looking to grow.

So, what are some of the key considerations and quick wins online businesses should focus on for multi-channel success?

Your business’ home

For most businesses, their website is the final stop in the user journey. It’s where their users typically convert.

Studies suggest it takes less than a second for users to form an opinion of a website. Design and accessibility issues, or even loading speed, can see potential customers bounce at the last minute. Therefore, businesses must treat their website as a critical asset rather than just a shop window. 

Those looking to reduce abandoned checkouts must regularly audit their website to make sure it offers an effortless user experience (UX). Fortunately for SMEs and ecommerce start-ups, this doesn’t have to mean hiring a team of web developers. There are plenty of tools available to support ongoing website improvement.

For example, website builder tools can alleviate design worries by providing templates and features proven to deliver intuitive UX.

Businesses can use responsive, eye-catching and speedy website templates that load effortlessly on all devices – another key consideration given a third of all UK online shopping is now done via mobile.

Additionally, free tools like Google’s ‘Lighthouse’ allow businesses to audit how well their site performs among those with accessibility issues like sight and hearing loss – and even provide actionable advice on how to improve these aspects.

Reliable, secure and consistent

The growth of online shopping doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with customer satisfaction. Research suggests only 57% of shoppers prefer online shopping, with over half citing the inability to see and feel products as significant drawbacks.

For those looking to navigate these potential pitfalls, trust is critical. This means delivering a consistent and secure experience across every digital touchpoint, encompassing branding, design and user experience.

Firstly, businesses must provide a stable and secure website connection, so users can shop confidently and access reliable and responsive customer service support.

Repetition and recognisability are also crucial in driving trustworthiness. Not only is it recommended to use consistent brand messaging and design guidelines across all channels, but this also goes for domain credentials.

Consistency in domain names like website and email domains gives consumers the confidence to engage with the brand across digital touchpoints, alleviating worries around the risk of interacting with fraudulent pages or services. Working with a single hosting provider makes it easier and often more cost-effective to align these.

Investing in the right web and email hosting services also gives businesses peace of mind. With the right host, they will be sure of 24/7 up-time across their website and email platforms and immediate support with technical issues. This means more time to provide the responsive service their customers demand.

With a quarter of online consumers still ‘very concerned’ about their data online, those able to provide reassurance are more likely to encourage conversions or at least drive calls to action, like newsletter sign-ups.

Meet customers in the middle

While the goal for businesses is typically driving website traffic, it’s important to understand exactly where consumers can be found at each stage in their journey from researching problems and reviewing services to interacting with specific brands.

Google Analytics provides an in-depth platform for this data. Businesses can see which digital channel their leads have arrived from and can predict where they are in their buying journey by tracking their on-site behaviour. For example, whether they immediately click on a product page and convert or browse service pages and complete a form.

However, while this data allows businesses to tailor their on-site content to users’ typical behaviour, they shouldn’t neglect prospects who haven’t yet reached their site. This demands a complete organic online search campaign.

Businesses should identify gaps in their online marketing efforts, highlighting places where they may be failing to target users in different stages of their purchasing journey. They can then focus their efforts on plugging these gaps.

For example, producing informative thought leadership content for their website or sharing on others puts businesses in front of customers in the research stage of their journey. Launching paid advertising campaigns can also attract users and drive brand awareness among those researching and reviewing relevant key phrases online.

Similarly, updating Google My Business profiles to include contact details and website URLs helps businesses convert those who are ready to visit and make a purchase.

Ultimately, those able to understand consumers’ needs and put them first with their digital activity will be best placed to attract and retain customers.

The author is Terri Misters, marketing specialist at LCN.

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