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Is Your Site Ready to Outsmart Your Competitors in 2020?

One way of getting an edge over the competition is with a website that really stands out. You should be at the top of your game no matter what your budget, simply by paying attention to the little details. Knowing who your target audience is and what they want should be your first step before making any changes.

In a survey of 612 people, researchers found the 94% of users want easy navigation. The majority also want an appealing look and relevant content.

Start with the things you know users want from your particular industry and then pay attention to the other small details of your site to outsmart your competitors in 2020. Here are seven things you can do before the end of the year to make sure your website is up to par:

1. Clean House

Get rid of clutter by remembering the main purpose of your website. Anything that doesn’t match the goals you have for that page needs to be moved elsewhere or permanently deleted. Make sure you redirect visitors who may have saved any old content links to a more pertinent area on your site. 

It’s important to find a single focus for each page. What do you want users to do when they land there? Do you want them to move to another step in the buyer’s journey? Once you know the focus of your page, it’s much easier to delete anything that doesn’t mesh with that purpose. 

Look at this landing page for the new Google Pixel Buds. Note how the singular focus is on the earbuds and how the images showcase them. The calls to action (CTAs) invite you to join the waiting list for the earphones, and the text describes the product. 

2. Check Usability

Overall user experience (UX) tops the list of what people want out of a website. It’s estimated that by 2025, there will be 75.44 billion connected devices around the world. As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands and connection speeds become faster and more reliable, the numbers will only increase. Users need to be able to access your site from anywhere and on any type of device, so make sure your website functions on every device users might turn to when browsing the internet. 

The UX of your site includes your navigation structure, how well videos load, the look of your website and even if your forms are effective. Conduct split testing as often as possible to figure out what works best for your particular target audience. Use online testing sites such as What Users Do and User Zoom to see how people interact with your page and get feedback on ways to improve.

3. Revamp Your CTAs

Improve your conversion rates by enhancing your CTAs. Most brands don’t get specific enough with their CTAs. You’ll see a lot of generic wording such as “Get Offer” or “Subscribe.” It’s much better to use specific, first- and second-person language to describe what happens when they click on that button. Some examples might be “Get My Free Guide” or “I Want the Book!”

There are many reasons first-person wording helps with conversions. It puts the reader in control, makes the page more personal and gives you variety from using second-person language all the time. 

Illuminated Integration uses specific CTA text that reads “Tell Us About Your Project.” There is a clear action the reader takes when clicking on that button. You also get the sense the company cares about your project rather than just wanting to secure another lead. The wording allows for additional questioning to figure out the best way the brand can serve its customers. 

4. Go Mobile

By 2023, approximately 84.8% of the U.S. population will use mobile devices to connect to the internet. In 2018, the percentage was around 80, so if your site isn’t already optimized for mobile, you’re missing out on a lot of potential traffic.

Put yourself in the mindset of a person browsing your website via their smartphone. Can they see all the text and images clearly? Is it easy to fill out forms, or do they feel like they’re all thumbs? How does navigation adapt to mobile users?

In addition to personally testing your site on your own mobile devices, use a free program such as mobiReady. Ask family, friends, employees and even top customers to check your website for you and report any issues they encounter. There is no substitute for a live person testing the UX of your mobile site. 

5. Add Live Chat

One recent study analyzed more than 45 million chats and found the average wait time for live chat was about 48 seconds. It’s no wonder many people prefer live chat for their customer service needs.

Live chat is fast, personal and the user doesn’t have to push endless buttons to get past the AI robot and get help. While they may need to deal with a chatbot, the responses are recorded, so they don’t run into the issue of inputting information and then losing it immediately and having to repeat it to the live agent. 

If you plan to add live chat to your website, make sure your agents are fully trained in your policies and rules. Give them the power to solve problems rather than pigeonholing them into a single solution. If you can only afford to use live agents during business hours, then only offer live chat when you have people available to cover the feature.

There are few things in life as worrisome as when you or a family member are diagnosed with cancer. The National Cancer Institute offers a live chat feature so you can get information immediately on topics such as current clinical trials and help with quitting smoking. It’s only open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, but it lists that limitation clearly on the chat page. 

6. Build Trust

Why should people trust you over your competitors? Figure out why you’re better than the competition. Map where they do business and who they serve.

You have to work to show them you are authentic and reliable and keep your current customers as happy as possible. Ramp up your efforts toward customer experience (CX), and be sure to touch base with regular customers and ask what you can do better. You can also build trust by sharing testimonials, letting people add reviews on your website and joining professional associations such as the BBB or industry organizations. 

If you don’t already have your privacy policies in an easy-to-find spot on your website, make sure you add them now. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires you to inform users what information you collect, how long you keep it and how you use it. You are also responsible for protecting that information from hackers. Even though the GDPR is a European Union (EU) regulation, it applies to you if you do business with any citizen of the EU. 

Include any product guarantees, return policies and other pertinent information. Place links in your footer so they are easy to find. 

7. Utilize Video

Video gives you a visual way to reach site visitors and engage them before they bounce away. Wyzowl surveyed 613 marketing professionals and consumers about video marketing. They found 90% of marketers believe the competition and noise in the video field has increased in the last 12 months. That means you have to be on your game more than ever before.

Don’t just throw a video up on your page. Know the purpose of any web animation and how it converts browsers into customers. Make sure the tone and style of the video match your brand identity. Understand that video works well on social media as well as your website, so produce the best one possible and use it in multiple locations.

The Ranch at Rock Creek uses video effectively. It understands not every user wants a video to automatically play when they land on the site, so if offers a CTA button that simply reads “Play Video.” Click on the button, and you see a full-width video with breathtaking views of the ranch. The website makes it stand out from the competition and shows that it puts the customer’s needs first. 

Solve a Problem

Stop trying to sell to your site users. Instead, figure out what their pain points are and solve problems for them.

If you put their needs first, then the overall experience on your website will be a positive one and will help your brand image. Now is the time to get ready for 2020, before the busy holiday season hits and you’re in a mad rush just to meet customer demand. Implement some of the ideas above, seek feedback from your users and get an edge over the competition. 

Lexie is a web designer and branding enthusiast. She loves checking out local flea markets and taking her goldendoodle on hikes. Follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner and check out her design blog, Design Roast.

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