Did you know that when you meet someone in person, you form 11 impressions about that person in the first 7 seconds? Sounds pretty incredible, but more than one study seems to bear it out.
Meeting someone new doesn’t exactly mirror a potential client’s first contact with your business. But, especially when your business is online, it’s fair to say that you have at most 7 seconds to make a “do or die” first impression.
To help completely understand this, let’s compare a visitor’s first contact with your online business, to your own experience walking into a physical store.
Let’s use the example of a shoe store. There are 5 big first impressions that matter when you walk in to find the perfect pair of shoes to wear on a big night out. Those first impressions matter even more to your online business. Let’s look at what they are, and why you need to make sure to get them right.
1. Look Good
You drive up to the shoe store, and two of the letters in the store’s neon sign are burned out. You walk in to find peeling paint, faded signage, and mis-matched placards displaying the price next to each shoe. Your first impression is that this doesn’t look like the kind of store that will have that special shoe you’re looking for.
Your visitor lands on your website. Do they recognize the colors or logo or your picture as being consistent with what they saw when they “met” you on social media? Or when you handed them your business card at a networking event? Does your site look like you paid a professional to do a professional job of representing who you are? Or like you downloaded a free stock photo and wrote your name on it in some free editing software? Do you look like you’re running a profitable business?
2. Be Organized
Back at the shoe store, you head towards the section where women’s dress shoes are found. And discover that not only is there no “dress shoe” section, but that women’s and men’s shoes are all mixed together, with an occasional kid shoe thrown in for good measure. You’re thinking you certainly don’t have the entire day to dig through all of this and find what you’re looking for.
You’ve probably never seen a shoe store resembling that description, but it’s an all too familiar problem with websites. Your site needs to be super-easy to navigate. Which means you need descriptive tabs with drop down menus that have sub-categories that make sense.
First, you want to make sure your visitors don’t have to spend time searching for what they came to get from you. Second, you want to make sure you aren’t hiding any valuable gems that might attract or even sell a new client ~ if only they had seen your brilliance.
3. Have Personality
We’ve all had the store clerk who could barely stop texting long enough to check you out. The one who doesn’t bother to ask if you’re finding what you need even though you’ve been pacing the aisles for 20 minutes. And who gets an attitude when you dare to ask if they might have something similar in your size in the back.
But how do you have personality on your website? Whether you realize it or not, you do. And if you aren’t aware of it, you may be projecting the impersonal attitude of the dreaded “company” rather than a person.
To make sure your website shows off who you are ~ and makes you a person your visitors will grow to know, like and trust ~ you need to include 3 things. First, your photo should be in the header, or on your home page and landing pages.
Second, you should have an “About” page that includes information about you as a person. Don’t make it all about your business. Tell your personal story and illustrate it with pictures.
Third, you should have a video. This could be in connection with your opt-in offer, an intro video on the sidebar of your home and landing pages, or a video incorporated into your About page. Don’t make it long. Two minutes or less will do. There’s no better way for people to see a glimpse of your personality than through a video.
4. Deliver Value
There’s nothing worse than spending your whole Saturday going from store to store in search of just the right shoe for your big night. Especially if you’ve started with the store that specializes in dress shoes for big nights. Ultimately you settle for something that’s “not quite right,” yet way overpriced. Grrrr.
People will find the same frustration with your website if you don’t deliver what you’ve said you can, and in fact made your visitor feel like you over-delivered. What message are you putting out on social media and other places you promote your business?
If you’re claiming to offer a way to experience quick weight loss through a whole foods diet, your website better be packed with concrete instructions, solid recommendations, and whole food recipes. Visitors who come to find every page filled with flashy ads for the latest and greatest diet supplement are going to leave quickly and with great disappointment.
5. Simplify Buying
Ever waited in line for 30 minutes to pay? Dealt with the unsupervised trainee that can’t get the sale price to ring up? Patiently waited for the supervisor to stroll over and complete an “override?” These are frustrating episodes at the end of your buying experience. And, you remember them.
Your customer’s online buying experience must be easy, seamless, and pain-free. Include plenty of “Buy Now” buttons if you have a long form sales letter, so your customer doesn’t have to scroll all over the page to add your product or service to his cart.
Make sure to use trusted and secure payment processors so your buyer can enter her credit card number with confidence. While it used to be a little “low-rent,” Paypal has become a very trusted payment method that is easy to use, and is recognized and trusted by everyone.
Finally, always offer some type of money back guarantee or refund process. A very few people will abuse it, but that’s the cost of doing business. For the most part, people will just feel better knowing it’s there, but will never use it.
Life-Changing Bonus Tip: Be Awesomely Unique
This isn’t a required first impression like the others, but the best way to make your first-time visitors fall in love with you, and keep coming back for more, is to provide them with something memorable of value that no one else in your market offers. What that might be, of course, is uniquely up to you!
Why Your Online Business HAS to Get These First Impressions Right
First impressions are important when you own a physical store like the shoe store in our example. But, most of us have bought something in a store that didn’t make the best first impression. In fact, you may frequent a store that never left a great impression on you.
Why? Because you’re already there, so it’s easier and faster. Or because the store is near you, so you keep ending up there.
Not true when it comes to your online business. Which is why I said at the beginning of this article that you have at most 7 seconds to make good first impressions when it comes to your website. If any of these things go wrong, your visitor will experience immediate disappointment. And she doesn’t have to walk out of your store, get in her car, and drive to another store. She can be doing business with another online site in about 7 seconds.
Make it a priority to get these five first impressions just right. And please share with me in the comments any additional things that you find essential to keeping potential customers from leaving your site before purchasing, even if you have the best thing out there to offer!