Some solo business owners go to great lengths to make their web site attractive, easy to navigate, professional looking, and as “sticky” (hard to leave) as possible.
Others throw up a cheap and simple web page that carries their company information, maybe a sales page or product catalog, and little else.
Those who feel that the web site is an important marketing tool and a critical element of small business success will tend to spend more time and money trying to optimize their sites with key words, simple and intuitive navigation, straightforward financial transaction systems, and lots of great content and news that will keep their audience interested and sure to make return visits often.
Business owners that tend to look at the web site as an online business card or simple product catalog will probably not try to design any features or interactivity into the site that would cause a prospect to come back again.
Which business owner stands to profit most in the long run?
Study after study has shown and documented the fact that customers don’t generally buy a product on the initial visit to a web site.
Generally, the more often the prospect makes a return visit, the more likely she is to place an order. There are exceptions, of course, but I have found it best to base your business on the “rule” rather than the exception.
That fact alone, it seems to me, is cause enough for every business owner to scrutinize his online presence and do whatever he can to offer customers both reasons and incentives to return to the his web site very often.
How do you make a web site sticky? How do you entice customers to return to your place often?
There are many ideas and approaches that have been tested since the Internet came into existence. Some of the best ideas about site “stickyness” that I have found are the following:
1. Make your site a community gathering place. If your web site has a lot to offer the customers in the niche, your prospects may decide to call your site “home.” It might become a “hangout” or place to check out on a very regular basis.
Like-minded folks tend to gather in close proximity to talk about and share their experiences.
Think about setting up your site with a community focus. Add a niche forum or some other system that allows users to talk to each other.
2. Provide the latest news and events in the niche. News is a big draw on the Internet. People are trading the old paper thrown on the driveway for a computer monitor or smart phone that can display the day’s news at convenient and desirable times.
Online news is always fresh, timely, and generally free. Old news is really no news – it’s history!
Therefore, web sites that serve up daily news in a niche are valuable properties and will draw a lot of niche traffic.
3. Fill your business site with lots of great and valuable content.
Some businesses have chosen to become a source of unparalleled information targeted specifically at their niche customer.
You might start up a niche library, or an archive of valuable content, or a blog with archives that can be read online, or a niche article directory site. Some site include paid private “members only” areas for those that want additional “in depth” paid content.
All of these web models will thrive at a time when information is so important to customers if the content is valuable, credible, and kept fresh. To do this requires some good writing skill on the part of the business owner … or … someone that he employs to product great content.
4. Add interactivity to your web site.
Some businesses go out of their way to provide incentives to customers to participate in polls at the web site, or interactive games, or forums, or other strategies that entail the customer going to the web site and taking some action in order to derive the benefit that the site has to offer.
If the interactivity is fun, or rewarding, or educational, your chances of bringing customers back again and again for additional visits are excellent. Even a blog with comments enabled will give the audience the opportunity to participate in the latest discussion.
5. Have a continual stream of events or customer-requested activities that will keep interest in your business alive and inviting.
Contests are a good example of ideas that have been shown to draw lots of customers.
Always relate these events to the niche and provide clear and motivating reasons or incentives to those who visit your web site on a regular basis.
6. Open the door for customer-submitted (uploaded) content, photos, articles, etc. Sites that allow customers to show off their talents and creations are some of the most widely viewed Internet locations.
Think about the reasons why a customer would want to visit your web site beyond the initial visit. Are those reasons compelling?
Is it a fun, or entertaining, or educational place to hang out? If not, figure out what you can do to make it such!
Human beings love to be acknowledged. They have a need to be recognized and validated. Use that fact to your site’s advantage.
7. Add media and sharing opportunities to your web site. It’s easy to add and encourage social media sharing on your site. You just need to make sure that you have valuable and “shareable” things there for your customers.
There are other ways to keep folks coming back to your web site. Feel free to share what you have been doing.
To your online business success!