Why your website may be failing - Business Works
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Why your website may be failing

Isobel Pearce, Marketing Director, The Inviqa Group While only a hard core Luddite would argue that websites have no relevance to business in 2013, most companies and organisations are not exactly hitting the ball out of the park when it comes to offering user-friendly websites.

Most websites are stuck in a pre-social and pre-mobile era. The mobile part is especially disconcerting when you look at the stats. For instance, according to a 2012 Ofcom report, 58% of the population in the UK owns a smartphone and mobile devices account for 16% of internet traffic in the UK, which is the highest in the world. And yet, a Q3 2012 Google survey pointed out that 96% of users have not encountered a mobile-friendly site.

That's a lot of traffic, leads and sales lost right there.

Leaving mobile aside, there are some industry sectors that are failing their customers and users more than others. Here are three of them.

Financial and banking sites

Almost every bank offers banking facilities online. Except for a few standout sites, the overall landscape is disheartening.

When it comes to websites for banks, the biggest concern is security holes. From simple SQL injection attacks in the frontend to sophisticated assaults on the backend infrastructure, banks all over the world face daily threats.

For example, in Oct 2012 cyber thieves hit Citibank systems, stealing more than $1 million from cash kiosks in casinos in Nevada and South California.

Last November, Anonymous hacked into the Bank of Jerusalem and deleted the entire database. In related attacks, hackers dumped personal data including names, addresses and bank passwords in plain text.

The biggest danger of poor websites is not that banks will lose money. The biggest danger is the loss of public confidence in the ability of banks to secure private data.

To prevent this from happening banks will have to design their frontends and backend with a view to ensuring bulletproof security.

Automotive websites

Like a lot of service-oriented websites, the sites in this industry sit at various positions on the user-friendliness spectrum. Let's take the example of car dealer sites.

If you are planning to invest thousands of pounds in a new car, you would want to know everything about it before you sign on the dotted line. Yet, car dealership websites do a poor job at providing useful information.

Visit any website at random and youíll likely encounter some or all of the following:

  • Broken navigation
  • No way to book an online appointment for a test drive, or look-up the location of service centres
  • A mess of pop-up ads and flash banners
  • Video or audio on autoplay
  • Half hearted efforts to link the site to social media networks
  • Confusing or absent call to action buttons
  • An absence of customer testimonials

If all of these issues are fixed, conversions rates will skyrocket and cost per lead will drop.

B2B websites

B2B websites are infamous for bad aesthetics and design.

B2B websites are infamous for bad aesthetics and design

It's well known that the B2B sales cycle is long and involves a number of stakeholders. B2B buyers have evolved tremendously in the last few years and extensively research online and offline before making buying decisions. They consume a lot of content in various formats - case studies, videos, white papers, how to guides, blogs, third party reviews, social media analysis. But instead of making preferred content available on websites, most B2B companies still have an outdated brochure format with a largely static website.

As a result, companies are not maximizing the return on investment in their websites because of their failure to update them. Instead of going with the same old boring format use these tips to make your website more attractive.

  • Redesign your site so that it looks good regardless of the platform or the device itís viewed on.
  • Shun outdated, proprietary technologies in favour of open source alternatives for your frontend and backend (PHP, HTML5, Apache, MySQL).
  • Work on your homepage - particularly, your headline and your call to action. You have a window of around 2-5 seconds to persuade unique visitors to explore deeper (eg. Forrester).
  • Make the navigation user friendly, especially for a website with multiple product or service categories. A text sitemap in the footer can be your friend.
  • Adopt content marketing, and highlight your content on the homepage. Case studies and whitepapers are especially effective for conversion (eg. Salesforce).
  • Use short videos, especially for product demos. They convert beautifully and are good for SEO purposes.

Conclusion

Your website is the first and in many cases the last place where impressions will be made. If people donít know you, they will judge you and your company by the state of your site.

Play this part well and your chances of converting casual visitors to paying customers will improve dramatically.


Isobel is marketing director for The Inviqa Group. Previously, she studied Advertising and Marketing at Bournemouth University and completed an MPhil in Publishing at Stirling University.



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