Today’s online experience is about adding value; whether you do that through offering deals, discounts or incentives, conducting customer polls, chatting with new visitors or through other means, this is what it takes to make your website stand out from competitors. It is ridiculously easy for a prospective customer to get frustrated and surf away to a competitor’s website a few seconds later. To grab, and hold, your customers’ attention is the crown jewel of any successful website. Luckily, there are several bells and whistles you can add to boost the chances of engaging your visitors’ interest all the way to the moment their order is processed.
Live Chat Support
Live chat support is still a minority online. Reason being: It costs more to have live chat support 24/7. But if a prospect or returning customer logs in and can’t find what he needs, there is a low probability he will call or send an email to get his questions answered. Offer live chat to provide help to your customers (and help them place orders).
Online Sales Incentives
Offering coupons, discounts, frequent shopper incentives, bulk-order price reductions and clearance items can boost interest and even prompt impulsive sales. If your visitors and customers know they can download valuable coupons from a certain page of your website or receive a free gift for ordering on certain days of the week, you can bet they will bookmark your site and return. You also have a greater chance of building loyalty by offering sales incentives.
Easy Search Tool
If your Web visitors cannot find what they are looking for — even if they have only the faintest idea of what that may be — they will not stick around. If you have an easy, visible search function on your website, you have boosted the probability your visitors will turn into customers. This is an easy feature to install whether you are using a build your own website tool, blog platform or other Web development tool.
Interactive Customer Forums
There is no substitute for word-of-mouth feedback. Customers like hearing from other customers and will linger longer on your website if there is a forum or message-board feature. Interactive customer forums can be as simple as offering a way to post and reply to comments about products, services or topics, or it can be as full-fledged as hosting an online community strictly for customers that requires a separate login and password.
Fast Load Time (On Any Bandwidth)
The easiest and fastest way to lose a prospective customer is to have a website that takes too long to load. You need the graphics and functions you use to load quickly on both slow and fast bandwidths. Test your website on multiple browsers and on bandwidths to ensure your site is compatible and fast in every scenario.
Account and Preference Options
If you allow visitors and customers to open an account and save their preferences and communications options, you not only have a way to keep in touch with them — but you also have a new line of two-way communication with them. Web visitors usually don’t mind taking a few extra seconds to set up a personalized account that serves as their “memory bank” on your website.
If you have a blog, interviews with experts or celebrities, videos or podcasts or other services on your site, these extras can market for you in various ways to pull in visitors to your website and then invite them to stick around to enjoy all the other wonderful features you offer.
With these bells and whistles, you can ensure your website makes a lasting impression on visitors and invites them to explore, shop, purchase and return — again and again.
About the Author: Karen Laurey is a Web designer who specializes in add-ons. Often she works in tandem with a Web company, adding the bells and whistles after the basic site is built.