By Bob Speyer, President, Web Success Team
Field of Dreams
By now you probably have read numerous articles about driving traffic to your web site by implementing some proven techniques, such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Keyword Marketing, Pay Per Click, among others. But how many articles or techniques do you read on “How to keep visitors from leaving a website?” Chances are very few.
The adage, “If You Build It, They Will Come” may work for the movie “Field of Dreams,” but not necessarily in the real Web World. Like in the movie, there has to be a raison d’etre — a reason to keep watching, a baited hook. If you remember, the film featured baseball greats of yesteryear that tapped into the consciousness of the fan, giving people something of value, a need fulfilled or just plain curiosity. They will watch the game/movie transfixed for hours.
As They Say… “Timing Is Everything”
It’s the same when designing a website for maximum effectiveness and viewability. You want visitors to be “mesmerized,” wooed, and guided. Make them believe in something… even if it is as practical as selling a product or service.
There are what I call “Web-niques” that will orient the visitor, engage and direct them to action — either passively or actively. Passive Action is having the visitor give your website a thorough viewing and when they leave, they will either bookmark it, send it to a friend or colleague as a site of interest, and/or download something of value onto their desktop. The Active Action is having them send you an email, call for your services, or make a purchase directly from your shopping cart. And when they eventually leave, it will have been a quality visit.
So how do we turn viewers into fans, visitors into buyers, the inattentive into passive to active participants?
10 “Web-niques” to Increase Visitor Viewing Time
First you want to understand the viewing habits of visitors. Numerous studies have been done to explain this process along with statistics to back up how often viewers stay on a website or webpage, what part of the site they are most interested in, where they are clicking through and what links are the most active. The same holds true for shopping carts —why they leave before completing the buying process, and the when and the where. You see, a website has personality traits.
When you meet a person, first impressions count BIG; then as you continue to visit, you find more information about that person starts kicking in and you determine how much time your conversation will last. So how does this analogy translates to the web? The short answer is that your website takes on a personality of its own. The more engaging the personality, the longer the interest level will be for the viewer.
Here are 10 Proven Web Techniques to increase your visitors viewing time:
1. First Impression: The look and feel of a landing or home page should be immediately digestible in less than 10 seconds. Imagine leafing through a newspaper and an attractive ad or headline catches your eye. Why? Because it grabs your attention and you can relate to its content.
2. Seek the Balance: The landing page should look designed, not over designed. This may be a matter of “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but there has to be substance, not just beauty marks. For example, flash or music elements can enhance, but also annoy. Remember most viewers want to roll up their sleeves and “window-web shop.” They are looking for something. The question is whether it is “your something!”
3. It Speaks!: “Silence is not always golden.” A website with an audio message that is carefully crafted will give your site added personality, engage the viewer and give them more information in that precious 5 seconds of decision time — whether to stay or vamoose. They can even walk away from the screen and still listen to your site!
4. Fresh Is Good: “Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish wrap.” Make certain your content is relevant, concise, crisp. No bloviating. Use sharp headlines, sprinkle in informative sub-headlines that orient the reader and lead them into the text, and use a smattering of graphics or photos to reinforce the image.
5. Break the Mold: Celebrate your differences. What is it that makes you unique from the competition. Your viewers should know up front they came to the right place. Give them a feeling they haven’t experienced before. An out-of-the-box solution. But don’t get too far from the core. Remember Clinton’s move to the center to capture more winning votes! Unless of course your products or services demand an “off-the-wall” solution.
6. Something for Nothing: You should offer a viewer a caveat for just visiting your site (such as a downloadable report, free offer, etc.). And by the way, while you’re giving it away, capture their name and email for further marketing outreach. We call it in direct response web marketing lingo, an op-in. I always like downloadable pdfs, branded with your contact information. That way your branding is on their desktop and they can refer to the article or content, revisit your site, or contact you. You remain a top-of-mind presence on their computer.
7. It’s Not About YOU: Well it ultimately is, but in this web technique, your viewer wants to see “what’s in it for them.” So it is important to address their needs and concerns, to be the solution to their problem. If you make them feel like they can relate to your site, you are half way to a sale or call.
8. Going Somewhere?: Remember, the idea is to engage the viewer and keep them navigating through your site. The navigation should be logical and easy to maneuver. Some nav bar headings should be creative, not just the simple who, what, where and when. For example, instead of putting a special offer only in the body, put a nav that says Limited Time Offer and in a different color to attract their attention.
9. Socialize: Social media is a key component in any on-page marketing effort. Having your social icons like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube will further inspire your visitors to find out more about you, engage your visitor and build fans or followers.
10. Your Alter Ego: The use of testimonials is important for credibility. Call them rave reviews. It gives the viewer some recognition that people are satisfied with your products and services. Use of audio to accompany the written testimonials is also a novel way to present them.
The First Step
It is never too late to implement effective direct response web marketing techniques. As in the old Chinese proverb, “The longest journey begins with the first step.” The beauty of the web and web marketing is that it is a fluid environment. See what’s working for your site, revise it, hone it and improve it. Be clear, talk straight and shoot from the hip.
About the Author: Bob Speyer is an online marketer, social media strategist and co-founder of the Web Success Team. Bob develops effective marketing strategies to help companies increase brand awareness and target more customers for their products and services. His articles are intended to educate as well as inform readers of the latest tools and techniques of online marketing. You can follow Bob on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.