Episode 32 - First Impressions Count with Your Website

You never have a second chance to make a first impression

People make the same snap judgments about website that they do about people.  Google and other researched how people react to websites and found out that in about ½ a second, a person will form an opinion about your website and either stay to explore more or leave and go elsewhere.  Explore how your website might be leaving a bad first impression.

 “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” as the phrase goes and as a first impression is made, if it’s less than great, unfortunately it takes a long time to change it. Experts say it takes less than a second for someone to form a first impression about a person.   But let’s recognize that we now live in a digital age and often our first impressions about you and your company are online vs. face to face.

Let’s consider websites.  People make the same snap judgments about websites that they do about people.  Research shows people react and form opinions on websites in only a fraction of a second, on whether or not they want to stay and explore or leave and go elsewhere.

Interestingly, we’ve talked to a number of small business owners at Convey that come to our portals for business information and polled them about their viewpoints on their websites.  Here is what we learned that surprised us:

  • People view their websites as a necessary evil, but not materially important to their business
  • Their websites never produce any leads, so why have them?
  • People admit that their websites are poorly designed and out of date.

More importantly, small businesses may not recognize how much their current customers or prospects are doing online research before they engage you to help them complete their buying decision for business services. People in business follow the same pathway that consumers do by starting their buying journey online, researching their options, checking you out online and then either engage with you or look elsewhere.

Recent studies have shown that almost 70% of the buyer’s journey for business services is digital.  People find the services they need first, then engage with you second.  If your site doesn’t assist the online buying journey your customers and prospects are engaged in, then you are likely missing deals without even knowing it.

Back to first impressions.  Let’s focus on some common mistakes that companies make with their websites that drive that digital researcher elsewhere vs staying on your site to learn more about you:

Let’s start with the kitchen sink effect.  You want the viewer to know everything, so loading your website with tons of information ensures they don’t miss anything valuable.  Right?  People view overly busy websites as confusing and overwhelming and frankly a turn-off.  This is a particular challenge for business in an indirect sales channel that represent many products and providers.  People don’t want to see every vendor you work with or all their services.  They need you to focus their attention on what is most important.

The second turn off is a website that is too slow.  You’ve seen them.  Everything takes too long to load, and we don’t have the patience to wait for that cool picture to display.  And slow also relates to not getting to the point quickly enough. 

And then there is the website that just looks bad.   We talked about sites that are just too busy, but what about the ones that are just poorly designed.  They use garish colors, have visuals that are not appealing, or have text that is too small or hard to read.

Websites that have old information signal to the viewer that your business is not up to date on the latest trends and products they may want to explore.  I’ve viewed websites where the office address is old and phone numbers are outdated.  I’ve seen websites in the telecommunications and cloud channel that highlight vendors that were purchased years ago and are no longer around.  I’ve seen insurance websites that don’t refer to current product categories such as cyber insurance.  Unless you keep your site up to date, people will think you are not in tune with what’s current.

Websites need to “net it out” and if there is too much text, viewers can get to what’s most important.  It’s perfectly OK to have content on the website that gives you a deeper dive into the products you sell, but it’s not OK to not offer a quick overview before someone goes deeper.  People need to know who you are, your mission in the marketplace, and the key areas you focus on without having to dig through paragraphs to find it.

Websites that are difficult to navigate or search are a huge turn off.  I’ve gone through websites where it’s almost impossible to find what you are looking for.  A straightforward navigation is necessary and websites that don’t have basic search where you can enter keywords and be taken to the information you need are a real turnoff ensuring that a frustrated viewer will navigate away from them.

And last but not least, is the website that has no call to action or ways to connect with you.    When a business complains that they don’t get any leads from their website, it’s often because people don’t have a way to express their interest in your services.  Websites need contact forms and ways to express their interest.  Otherwise, you’ll never know that they may have wanted to buy from you.

Businesses need to think about their website as their best opportunity to make a first impression.  That impression can make a small business look substantial, knowledgeable, trustworthy, and worth of attention.  Or that first impression can be old school, out of touch, outdated and confusing. Businesses who don’t think their websites are important to their business just haven’t realized their potential.

People are checking you out online every day and make a decision to learn more, get in touch, or go elsewhere.  Those people may be your existing customers who could have bought more from you or new leads to expand your business.  The online buying journey for business services is here to stay and businesses must address it.

Now, if, like many others, you don’t have the time, expertise or resources to make the right first impression, help is on the way.  Convey is getting ready to launch a new program to give you that high-quality business website you deserve, keep it updated with fresh information automatically, and give you other valuable marketing tools in the same technology to drive demand.  Keep tuned into our podcast to learn more about how we are getting to help small businesses that sell services make that very important first impression and garner more engagement for your business.