Collecting and analyzing data is an important part of any successful web marketing campaign. Data, when interpreted correctly, can tell an amazing story about your website and how people find, use, abuse, and refuse your website. In fact, it’s impossible to really know what to improve without that data.
Yet, that very same data can also lead us astray. It tells us what is happening, but never why. That part comes through personal research and intuition, along with a heavy dose of testing. But one of the other problems with data is it can impersonalize our marketing efforts.
For instance, one of the key metrics we look at is visits. We want to know how many visitors are new and how many are returning. We analyze how visitors use our site and whether or not they convert. We want to know where and why visitors leave.
But therein lies the problem. We think of those who come to our website as visitors rather than as guests. Those two words are pretty similar in meaning, but they are also worlds apart. The difference can be easily seen simply in how we talk about them:
- Someone comes to your house for a visit.
- You have someone over as a guest.
Tell me that each of those sentences doesn’t make you feel differently about the person in your home!
This explanation between the two seems to hit the nail on the head:
I might take exception with “or much thought afterward” for a visitor because that depends on who they are. But the rest is pretty dead on.
Why does this matter?
Because we tend to treat our website “visitors” as just that — people passing through. Instead, we should be treating them as an invited guest. Let’s look at some major differences between a visitor and a guest:
How to Treat Every Visitor as a Guest on Your Website
If you want your “visitors” to feel like guests, you have to treat them as such. Let’s look at how.
1) Anticipate the Arrival of Your Guests
The biggest difference between a guest and a visitor is you anticipate a guest’s arrival. You may welcome them the same, but a visitor doesn’t necessarily see you at your best because, well, you weren’t expecting company. Here’s how to anticipate your guests.
Clean up around the house
Try to look at your website through fresh eyes. Sometimes we see our site so much we become blind to obvious problems. Find and fix any usability issues you can uncover. Not just once, but every day. There is always something on your site that can be improved. Just because you didn’t fix it for the last guest doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) fix it for the next.
- Run tools through your site fixing any architecture and usability issues.
- Broken links, hard-to-access pages, and forms that don’t work should all be fixed.
Prepare for their needs
When we have guests, we put the coffee on, bring out the snacks, and make sure we have something to offer them to drink. Every guest has different needs, which means you need to address those needs quickly. Building optimized landing pages that address these needs is the best way to be prepared for your guests.
- Great content that is designed to meet specific needs of your visitors.
- Build, optimize, and test your landing pages to ensure guests find what they need quickly and are able to move on.
2) Make Your Guests Feel Welcome
Visitors don’t mind if they catch you unprepared. It’s expected. But a guest should always feel as if you are ready for their arrival. A guest that doesn’t feel welcome is really no guest at all.
Welcome them warmly
Once a guest arrives on your website, you need to make sure they feel welcome. Don’t bombard them with ads or requests to sign up for your newsletter or download your e-book seconds after walking through the door. Unless, of course, you want them to feel as if you only invited them over to hear your Amway presentation. Give them a chance to get comfortable and look around first.
- Remove ad overlays that pop up too soon.
- Have clear messaging that lets them know the page they are on fits with their desire or search.
Give them the tour
First-time guests need even more time to look around. They may even need a “tour” of what you offer. Most first-time guests will make their way to your home page, which should highlight various sections of your website, allowing your guests to head in any of those directions based on what they came for.
- Have a clear, clean navigation that is easy to understand.
- Use textual links to allow visitors to find their course while staying engaged with the content.
- Implement calls to action so visitors know what to do next.
Attend to their comfort
When a guest comes, you want them to be comfortable for the duration of their stay. That means you have to be a place they can trust.
- Use trust symbols, such as organization memberships, to showcase your expertise.
- Provide adequate contact information and ways to reach you.
- Showcase bios of your team so they know they are working with real people.
3) Plan the Next Visit
The end of the visit should really be considered the beginning of the next one. This is especially true once your guest has made a purchase. They may walk away happy, but keep them coming back for more.
The best visit is an engaged visit. When the conversation dies down, that’s the guest’s cue to leave. Keep the conversation going, and give your guests plenty of ways to continue the conversation, even after they leave.
- Encourage newsletter signups without annoying them to do so.
- Give them something for free such as an e-book.
Invite them back
Guests don’t come back without an invite. Go out of your way to make sure they know you want them back and you’re prepared to make it worth their while.
- Remind them of your visit through remarketing.
- Send them special deals and coupons with their order and through email marketing.
Some people will always be visitors. You can’t help it. They come and they leave. But you can turn many of those visitors into guests by making sure they feel special.
Eventually, visitors stop dropping by, but guests will return time and time again. Make sure every visitor to your site knows just how important they are. Roll out the red carpet for them, and make them feel as if they are the only customer you have. Because if you don’t… they just might be.
Featured Image: Image by Stoney deGeyter
In-post Images: Screenshots and images by Stoney deGeyter
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