With customers continuing to expect more from their interactions with brands, we explore the role your website plays and how to make it work harder in 2023.
A website is an essential element of your business and marketing strategy. It is your ‘digital shop-front,’ and can often be the first interaction a customer has with your brand.
When designed and optimised effectively, your website essentially becomes your “best salesperson” – it answers questions, collects leads, never sleeps, and never needs a holiday. Do it wrong, however, and customers can soon lose interest and seek better experiences elsewhere.
With this in mind, we asked our agency specialists how to make your website work harder to meet growing expectations in 2023.
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A satisfying customer experience is essential for the success of a business, but it’s a constantly moving target, more difficult to achieve every year.
New technologies, growing competition in your field, and heightened expectations from consumers means that keeping on top of CX trends is a great way of staying ahead of the curve.
With this in mind, we asked our Network specialists how customer expectations of a business’s website are changing in 2023.
Andy Golpys, Co-Founder and Creative Director at MadeByShape says that customers are expecting content to be more tailored to them throughout their journey. “I envisage more sites this year talking to customers about their issues, the solutions directly rather than shouting about themselves and trying to convince customers to go with them.
This seems obvious to skilled content writers, but there’s so many websites that don’t write content to target an audience specifically. Customers are becoming savvier with this, especially due to the growth of LinkedIn content over the past 12 months.”
According to Osh Rice, Managing Director at Daydot, customers are no longer comparing your site to competitors in your vertical. Instead, they are comparing you to the experience they have grown accustomed to across leading eCommerce, subscription, and internet banking apps. “Failure to live up to these expectations is a key driver for performance drop-off.
Ultimately, it is the customer’s prerogative to demand exceptional experiences, and the brand’s challenge to stay ahead, understand their customers, and continue to test, learn, and optimise their brand journeys. Looking to the future, this will simply never change. Specifically in 2023, consumers will expect more control of their relationships with brands. For example, customers will expect:
Millennials are now the largest generation in the UK and far more considered when deciding which brands they purchase from. In 2023, businesses need to consider their sustainable credentials and values, and ensure their prominence on their websites in order to build trust with this audience (who are savvy to greenwashing.)"
Sean Giles, Growth Director at WebBox, tells us that customers see a website as a sign of reputation and trust. “If you have a badly designed website, or no website at all, this can put them off straight away.
Customers are also looking for an experience that is easy to use and engaging. If the website takes too long to load, or they cannot find what they need in a few minutes, they will look for another business’s website that can provide what they need.”
From what Alex Moss, Director of FireCask has seen, “businesses are now focussing less on sophistication in terms of website complexity, and more towards sites that fulfil Google’s E-A-T (‘Expertise’, ‘Authority’, and ‘Trustworthiness’) principles (originally known at the Medic Update).
Whilst the original principle in the Medic update is a few years old now, Google's main core algorithm updates in the past 12 months have been primarily around E-A-T. As such, pages within sites have been focussed more on how best to portray E-A-T within as many pages of a site as possible.”
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There are some common metrics that indicate how well your website is performing, the most used of which include:
If these numbers aren’t as healthy as you’d expect, there are some common reasons that might be holding you back from performing as well as you should.
Andy highlights that having content to address issues and provide clear solutions is an aspect of your site that everyone should spent time on. “You need content that addresses issues and provides clear solutions, with direct CTAs.”
The need for good content is also echoed by Alex. “Without presenting expertise, authority, or trust within a page, there is no reason Google should rank you above your competitor. Ensure that the best quality content is produced for all important pages - both within money pages as well as informative pages - to ensure that the user can trust you and your site.”
Osh says that businesses need to anticipate customers’ needs and deliver seamless and immersive customer experiences, but knowing where to start can be a daunting task. “When research is carried out, businesses often struggle to link customer insights to outcomes. Good user research unlocks deep insights into customer behaviour, motivation, and anxieties.”
Sean paints a similar picture, saying that one of the main reasons a business's website doesn't perform is because there has been no thought put into their target audience and the intended user journey.
“You really need to consider who is using your website and what you want them to do. Is it to find out information? Is it to purchase a product? Is it to enquire about a service?
Knowing this will help you to focus the user journey and ultimately lead to a more engaging website that provides more leads.”
Poor performance and site speed are another two reasons Alex gives for a website not performing as well as it should.
“A poorly built or older site will have out-of-date technology powering it. This can cause slower page load speed and impact Core Web Vital measurements, therefore causing rankings not to be as strong as a site that loads quickly.”
While some issues need more time and expertise to solve, there are some changes that can be easily actioned in-house with minimal technical experience. Here are 12 changes you can implement yourself to improve the functionality of your website:
Improvement #1: Website navigation: Have a sticky navigation so that people can always move through the site, including a contact button top right of the screen.
Improvement #2: Have a video from the Founder: This should explain what the business offers and who it offers it to.
Improvement #3: Create unique content: Make sure all page content and meta data is unique per page and caters the keywords you’d like to target in Google.
(Provided by MadeByShape)
Improvement #4: Review your Google Analytics (GA): Identify drop-off points in your customer path to conversion and then look at these pages carefully with your customer hat on – how can you test and improve the page?
Improvement #5: Simplify your messaging: Look at your most common customer journey to conversion. Look at each page and ask yourself what’s the one message or action you need communicate on that page – consider removing (or as a minimum re-organising) other information on the page to hero that message or action you want your customers to receive/take.
Improvement #6: Include social proof: Enable reviews and user feedback on your website to share positive experiences of previous users. The greater the number of people voicing the same 'this product is great’, the more the decision to purchase seems easier to the user.
(Provided by Daydot)
Improvement #7: Produce informative content: Create more informative and well-presented content so that users can trust you, your product/service, and your brand.
Improvement #8: Optimise your images: Ensure they're not too big both in terms of pixel dimensions as well as file size.
Improvement #9: Implement caching and compression: This can be through code on server level, installing plugins, or joining Cloudflare.
(Provided by FireCask)
Improvement #10: Start with your main website navigation: Make sure that the key links are present for the user and that they are named in a clear way.
Improvement #11: Use relevant imagery: Try to use imagery that is relevant to your business and supports your website content. If you can create your own images rather than using stock, that is also a bonus!
Improvement #12: Create engaging content: Make sure that your content is engaging for the user. Are you talking about yourself? Or are you talking about the problems that you can solve for your customer? It should always be the latter.
(Provided by WebBox)
What else is in our ‘Marketing 101’ series?
If you don’t have the resource or knowledge to implement the above change, have a more technical challenge, or would like to give your website an entire overhaul to meet increasing customer expectations, there are plenty of external resources available to support.
Here, we asked our Network specialists to list some of the ways marketing agencies can help when it comes to website optimisation and improvement.
“Marketing agencies can offer expert advice across a team of people in different services, such as design, development, content, and SEO. Leaning on a team of experts saves that client a lot of time, which is the main driving factor for getting in touch with an agency.
It would be far more expensive to train existing staff in all these areas or hire individuals in each of these areas instead of just paying an agency to work on a project.” – Andy Golpys, MadeByShape
“Brands often think about agencies as a bolt-on, expensive last resort - but they simply haven’t found the right agency.
A good optimisation agency should become a trusted partner and an extension of the brand team, working with you to achieve your business goals.
My advice is to find the right partner, then integrate them into your business - deep into your ethos, values, and mission, invest time into the relationship – as they should in you.
They will help you stay ahead of the curve, bringing their expertise and agility to the table to super charge your organisation.” – Osh Rice, Daydot
“There are many benefits to hiring an agency for marketing activity. By covering a wide skillset, it gives any in-house resource a chance to focus on other aspects of the business.
Agencies can also provide a more objective and broader look at you as a client due to not being in the business on a daily basis.” – Alex Moss, FireCask
“Using a marketing agency can allow you to tap into the ‘3 E’s.’ The first is expertise. The agency will have a team that works in marketing day in day out. They should have their finger on the latest trends and tips to help you.
The second is experience. If you find a reputable agency, they will have been in business for multiple years and know what you need to help you succeed.
The last thing is energy. It can take a lot of time to implement marketing strategies. Using an agency will free up time to run your business day to day.” – Sean Giles, WebBox
Continue the new year with confidence! If you have a marketing need that will keep you ahead of the curve when it comes to customer expectations in 2023, let us know your requirements and one of our senior team will be in touch to offer free, impartial advice.