How many times have you landed on a website to find relevant information and it quickly becomes obvious that the site had not been updated for quite some time? From a user’s standpoint, there is nothing more frustrating than thinking you finally found what you were looking for, only to realize the information you’ve discovered is very disjointed, outdated and irrelevant.
This happened to me on two occasions two weeks ago. I was gathering information about two different professional organizations I had an interest in joining and I visited both websites to fill out their “Contact Us” form (conveniently located on the home page). One organization got back to me very quickly (within a few hours actually). It was great! Nevertheless, after more than a week, I still had not heard back from the other organization – even after reaching back out to them a second time. Not only did they not get back to me, but when I clicked on the “Click Here to Register for Upcoming Events” button, I found no current events. It directed me to a page that listed events that had occurred several months ago. No future events whatsoever were listed. Now, if you were me, which organization do you think you would be more likely to join? Which organization do you think I’m likely to recommend to my professional colleagues?
Obviously, I had a very positive first impression of the organization. They met my needs in a timely manner. Their website was current, had great information and was easy to navigate through which suggests they are on top of things. If I’m going to make a decision to join a professional organization, I want to make sure it’s one that is well established and meets the needs of its members. Because I had a positive user experience, I wanted to go to the next step and ask for more information. Similarly, if your customers have a positive user experience on your website, they are going to naturally want to proceed to the next level in the sales cycle. On the other hand, the organization that didn’t respond to me left me with a negative feeling about them. Are they still in existence? Do they not want any more members? I definitely do not want to attach my professional reputation to an organization that can’t seem to maintain the most basic information on their website!
My point in sharing my frustrating user experience is to highlight the importance of having a designated person or outside firm responsible for regularly updating the information on your website. Here are a few tactics that can help:
- Add fresh content and new images on a regular basis. This is good for the user, and the search engines love it. Your web marketing partner can help or you can use a Content Management System (CMS), which allows a non-technical person to modify a website with just some basic training.
- Implement a blog into your website. Blogs are easy to use, may be accessed by multiple people (this makes sharing the responsibility an easier process), and enhance the searchability of your website. Blogs aren’t just full of words; use photos, illustrations and video to keep it interesting!
- Current event dates, employee updates and current service offerings are all critical marketing components of a website. Make sure your website truly reflects your ever-changing business. Schedule a regular website review (at least quarterly) and make sure you include representatives from each department in your business.
- Designate someone in your company to serve as the gatekeeper of the forms on your website. Set an expectation for this person (reply to a website request within 12 hours, for instance). If you don’t have anyone who can monitor your website, use an autoresponse email to connect and move the prospect to the next step. This will buy you some time to respond (try within 24 hours) and confirm for the user that their request is being fulfilled. In our fast paced world, users have an expectation of being contacted in a reasonable timeframe when they ask your company for information.
In summary, your website is your most valuable online marketing tool. Don’t forget about it! If you are not going to update information as it changes, or respond quickly to requests, you are risking your company’s reputation and losing potential revenue from new customers. If a user has a negative first impression of your website, it is likely these individuals will make negative assumptions about your company as a whole. The sales cycle will end before you even knew there was a possibility. Don’t wait: start updating your site today!