Running a website means you've got to keep your eye on a variety of elements, including attracting as many visitors as possible. But having a lot of hits doesn’t mean much if your bounce rate—the percentage of visitors who only visited your home page before leaving your site—is high.
Enticing visitors to stay around can be challenging, but it’s key to website success, notes OPEN Forum community member Jackson Powell, a graphic designer and website applications developer and designer with Little Red Truck Idea Co.
“We all spend hours agonizing about how our website does at converting sales, attracting customers and other aspects, but oftentimes, we lose sight of one key element—how long are people staying on our website?” Powell says. “As you keep guests on the site longer and have key features they are attracted to, you’re more likely to gain repeat visits and referrals, as well as sales.”
Powell recently asked the OPEN Forum community: “In your experience, what is the stickiest feature of your website? What are the key elements on your site that draw people in and that people would refer others to use or look at?”
Not surprisingly, users want an easy ride when it comes to navigating websites, says OPEN Forum community member Jonathan Devine, a user interface designer with KeepVault Online Backup. “In our testing, users simply follow the path of least resistance. So as long as it's above the fold, it doesn't matter where it is. If it's big, loud and easy, people will click on it. Hence why our current site has a one-step trial sign-up right on top of our hero image.”
Surprisingly, Devine feels that too much time spent on a site can indicate a website’s ineffectiveness. “Many of our users who spend a lot of time on the site are doing so because they're having difficulty finding what they're looking for,” he says. “We try to figure out what they want and streamline their experience.”
Clear Calls to Action
If potential customers arrive at your home page and are confused about what you do, this uncomfortable feeling will result in their bouncing right off your site. While it might seem like you're hitting them over the head too hard by explaining what you do, you want to make it crystal clear exactly what products and/or services your company provides. A website's home page is no place to use clever phrases and images that don’t clearly relate your purpose.
Your aim is to ensure your visitors that they've landed in just the right place, which means immediately and clearly spelling out what you do and how your products and services can help them.
Free Useful Resources
Free stuff keeps visitors engaged and coming back for more, especially if the information you’re offering helps them improve their businesses or lives. OPEN Forum community member Meredith Wood is director of community relations for Funding Gates. She says that her company’s free tools and templates make for an especially sticky website experience.
“We are a collection software, so we provide financial calculators, letter templates, etc.,” Wood says . “Doing this gets people coming back to our site all the time [and] allows us to capture leads and helps prove our thought leadership.”
Offering visitors trial versions and sample products builds trust and bolsters your brand name. A willingness to show visitors what you have to offer proves your credibility and the quality of your products, which often leads to sales.
Well-written blog posts that cover topics of interest to your visitors provide one of the best ways to increase the stickiness of your website, says OPEN Forum community member Torrey Gage, co-owner and executive vice president of Think Big Go Local. “Our company blog receives a majority of our traffic and has the lowest bounce rate of any of our pages,” he says. “The average visit length on the blog is four times the rest of our pages.”
Jason Reis, owner and lead programmer for Flehx Corp, agrees. “On our sister sites, we have a blog, and the blog [generates] the longest time spent on a page by our visitors,” he says. According to Reis, blogs allow customers to develop personal connections with your products and services.
"Customers get a better glimpse into your company culture and learn about any upcoming features or local events in which your business is involved," Reis says. "Help them form such a relationship with your company via a blog, and you'll find your site being visited frequently by both new and existing customers.”
High Conversion Rate
Most small-business owners would agree that when all is said and done, stickiness should result in sales. “Ease of purchase is key," says Josh Sprague, CEO of Orange Mud LLC. “Time on your site is great, but noting your conversion rate from it is obviously critical.”
Keeping customers on your site longer will help them get to know you and what you do, and help turn looky-loos into shoppers. Try adding a few sticky features to your site to encourage people to "come in and stay awhile."
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