For many people, visitor engagement on your website is the point where they decide whether make contact or continue their search for an adviser elsewhere.
Where your services match their need, your mission should be to end the visitor’s search once they reach your site. That means successfully:
- Visitor engagement
- Creating calls to action
For this week, let’s focus on engagement. Next week we’ll look at calls to action.
What should you be aiming for?
Before you start trying to improve engagement you need to understand how your site is currently performing.
We can use three key metrics to indicate engagement:
Time on page: The more time someone spends on your website, the better
Pages per visit: Engaged visitors will view a larger number of pages
Bounce rate: There are exceptions, but generally you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible
As an aside, the definition of the first two metrics are straightforward. Bounce rate perhaps not. Google defines bounce rate as:
“A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.”
So now you know!
Our research (looking exclusively at the websites of advisers and planners) shows the average results for each metric to be:
- Time on page: 117 seconds
- Pages per visit: 2.63
- Bounce rate: 50.99%
You can check how your website performs for these, and other metrics, by using our Adviser Website Index.
So, now you know how your site is performing, what next? Here are our top tips for improving visitor engagement.
1. The ‘split second test’
First impressions count. And in the online world, these are formed in a split second.
When a visitor lands on your website (remember, the first page they see might not always be your homepage) they immediately need to feel comfortable and be able to understand what it is you do and who you do it for.
This can be done through a combination of images and text.
2. Make the visitor’s life easy
First impressions will also be affected by a poor user experience (UX).
Good UX is all about making your site easy to use and making it simple for visitors to find what they are looking for. That means simple navigation, well laid-out pages with easily readable colours and fonts.
3. Solving problems
As a rule, consumers don’t wake up in the morning motivated to build a financial plan. Most people will seek financial advice when they have a problem, issue or challenge they need help with. That means your website needs to show who you work with, and the problems you solve.
Sure, talk about financial planning. But not exclusively, or at the expense of building empathy, recognising the consumer’s current challenges and showing you have the solutions.
4. Make your site mobile and tablet friendly
Our research shows that adviser and planner websites receive an average of 26.82% of traffic from mobile devices and 9.59% from tablets. The amount of visitor engagement is increasing too.
We also know that engagement levels on mobile and tablet devices are typically lower than on desktop.
That means most advisers and planners have some work to do. Start by checking how the mobile friendliness of your website by clicking here and using Google’s handy tool.
That said, nothing beats pulling your site up on your phone or iPad and checking how it looks. If you are squinting, scrolling left and right or pinching with your thumb and forefinger, these are tell-tale signs that your site needs some work.
5. Increase your site’s speed
The on-screen egg timer might be a thing of the past, but so should waiting patiently for web pages to load.
Improving the speed at which your website loads will help increase visitor engagement. You can see how your website is currently performing using this tool from Google.
You can then, if necessary, take action to speed up your site.
6. Links out
We recommend avoiding unnecessary links out to other websites. You’ve worked hard to get someone on to your website, why send them elsewhere?
There are exceptions, for example the FCA Register.
However, to avoid your site disappearing, any links to external websites you do include should always open in a new tab or window. That way, your site remains open in the background and the visitor is more likely to return to your website when they have found what they were looking for on the linked page.
7. Social media links
Be careful where you place links to social media. All too often we see them in the top right-hand corner of a site, where your key calls to action should be placed.
Of course, you want visitor engagement on your social media. Ideally though, it should be used to push people to your website, not the other way around. Linking to social media is undoubtedly a distraction that results in users forgetting to return to your site.
8. Update blogs
I lose count of the websites which have unloved and sporadically updated blog or news sections. Research shows that businesses that produce content (blogs, news articles and so on) on a regular basis generate 126% more enquiries compared to those who don’t.
Our research shows us that this section of your site will be in the most popular five pages. That means you need to keep it updated on a regular basis with relevant, useful and well-written content.
If you can’t keep your blog updated, then you’re better to take it down or outsource it (our telephone number is 0115 815 7770!).
9. Paid advertising
If you use AdWords or Facebook ads, make sure they are linked to specific landing pages.
To engage consumers, you really do have to do the hard work for them. No one is going to bother searching through pages and pages of your content when your competitors are handing them information on a plate.
10. Improve readability
We read differently online to the way we do printed material. Typically, we skim content, which means that your content should be displayed in a way which enables visitors to get the information they are looking for easily.
- Using headings and sub-headings, being careful to maintain consistency across the website
- Short sentences. Typically, a maximum of 25 words.
- Short paragraphs. Ideally, a maximum of three sentences per paragraph.
- Using bullet points
- Including questions to invite the reader to engage and think about what they are reading
- Placing important content in separately coloured boxes
11. Treat pop ups with caution
Research has shown that pop ups annoy users and lead to higher bounce rates.
We only recommend using them if the results you are getting from the pop up are worth the likely lower engagement levels elsewhere on your site.
Even so, if you use them already we recommend removing them for a period and testing the affect it has on engagement. Does your bounce rate go down? Does the time on page increase?
Consider changing the timing of the pop up too. A message or invitation to sign up the moment the visitor lands on a website is premature, and frankly rude. Timing the pop up to appear after the visitor has spent a couple of minutes on the page or has finished reading the article may be more acceptable.
12. Tell stories
People love stories.
Empathy is hugely important. So is making sure that your content demonstrates how you have impacted people’s lives and handled their problems. Nothing sells better than reassurance: “This person had a great outcome after facing the same problem I have right now. I want that, too.”
Case studies: Showing the reasons why people choose you, the problems they had and how you helped
Blogs: Interesting, relevant and informative blogs based on your experiences
Testimonials: Quotes from clients who have used your services explaining how you helped them
News: Believe it or not, people are interested in your team and developments on your business
The Yardstick DIY corner
Then, if it’s clear your visitor engagement levels could be improved, download our checklist by clicking here and work your way through it, making updates to your website as you go.
As always, if you need help, we are here for you. Give is a call on 0115 815 7770 or drop us an email to email@example.com