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Does your site present a bewildering array of manufacturers, products, or options without any guidance as to selecting from these? Think about conversation that you'd have with a customer in your store. You'd find out what they were looking for, and then you'd ask a number of questions to help them find right solution for their needs.
So how can you mirror this process online? You could offer a "Help Me" page that guides visitors through some Frequently Asked Questions or other choices and provides links to recommended products based on their answers. You could incorporate an interactive chat facility with a customer service agent during office hours, or access to a searchable knowledge base. Do I Feel Convinced?
If visitor is seeing your business for first time, they need to be comfortable that you are who you say you are, and that you can deliver what you promise.
One of most important elements in establishing this part of connection is to show "faces" of your business. Have you noticed how many Websites don't name any of their owners, or people that customers will interact with? It's much easier to have a conversation when I know who I'm talking to!
Customer testimonials and other third-party endorsements are critical elements in establishing trust - they say far more about you than your own marketing statements. How many sites have we all seen that trumpet "nationally recognized" or "premier provider . . ."? Prove it!
Include client quotes and success stories right across your site where they're front and center as visitors are engaged in your content. If you win an award, tell visitor what that means for them in terms of how you were evaluated. Do I Feel Motivated?
Towards end of our "real-world" conversation, we'll hopefully close a sale, or we'll talk about some next steps, or we might say "Let's stay in touch". To do that with our online visitor, we need to persuade them to buy something, or to tell us who they are, and give us permission to reconnect with them.
Too many Web pages tail off with no call to action or directions about where to go next. If you don't issue a clear invitation, you again leave it to visitor to work out what to do - and you run a big risk of losing them.
So at every point on every page where visitor might be thinking "Tell me more", or "How do I get this?", provide a clickable link to next step, to your shopping cart, to your newsletter subscription page, or to whatever you want them to do. Don't wait until end of page - they may never get there! Look for emotional "tipping points" on every page where they're ready to talk more with you and grab them in moment!
Of course, it's all too easy to undo all good feeling that we create by frustrating or annoying visitor, or simply by giving them a dead end.
One of my favorite bugbears is site search engine that allows me to enter my query, and then tells me "No results found. Please try again with different search terms".
How is that supposed to make me feel? What was wrong with my keywords or my parameters if search page allowed me to select them? Am I being stupid? Or do you really not want to help me?
Your visitor is clearly looking for something, and has taken a step towards connecting with you. So how about a results page that lets them know that you can't immediately answer their question, but offers a link to your contact form so that they can send a question, or some tips or suggestions on how to find more information.
The ultimate customer service feature is an opportunity to interact with a live assistant - if your site offers this utility, search results page is a perfect place to maximize its visibility.
So how "Emotionally Connected" is your Website?
I hope that I've sparked your curiosity enough to take a fresh look at your Website.
Think about specifically why visitors are coming to your site, what might be on their minds, and review your copy and navigation accordingly. Think about new customers and existing ones, employees, media - everyone who might have a reason to visit. Are you doing everything that you can to create an "emotionally connected" experience for everyone?
The right mix will gain you significantly higher time spent on your site, more calls from pre-qualified leads, more signed contracts, happier repeat customers, attention from new markets, offers of strategic alliances and collaborations, and insights into creating successful new products and services.
(c) Philippa Gamse, 2005. All rights reserved.
Philippa Gamse, CyberSpeaker, is a Web strategy consultant and professional speaker. How does your site rate against Philippa's twenty "emotionally connected" criteria? Visit http://www.CyberSpeaker.com/ to find out. Philippa can be reached at (831) 465-0317 or mailto:pgamse@CyberSpeaker.com