Why do people visit your website? What do they do when they get there? What exactly are they looking for? A crystal clear understanding of the answer to these questions is essential for a highly successful website. Let’s explore what people look for on small business websites.
Where your website visitors come from
People come to your website for different reasons, and by taking a look at where people come to your site from, you’re able to gain clues into why they visited your site. Visitors come to your site from search engines, online ads, social media, etc. A great place for identifying where people are coming to your site from is the Channels report in Google Analytics. That report tells you how many people come to your website from each channel – search results, social media, referrals from other websites, paid advertising, or direct. Where people are coming to your site from will have a lot to do with what you’ve done to promote your website.
Once you know where people are coming to your website from, you can begin to dig a little deeper for insights into why they came to your website in the first place. After all, once you know exactly why someone comes to your website, you have the insight necessary to provide exactly what they are looking for as efficiently as possible. Some of these insights will come from the Channel Landing Page report in Google Analytics, where you’re able to see exactly which pages people first visited on your website when they came from a particular place. When you drill down deeper into Google Analytics you can see what pages people go to next on your website, and this provides deep insight into why they came to your site in the first place.
The 3 reasons people come to your website
The people coming to your website can be lumped into 3 very broad groups in terms of why they came – those who found you online when they were looking for something that you provide (goods, services, or information), those checking you out to determine whether or not they want to do business with you, and existing clients / customers. Understanding the different needs of the people in these three groups is essential for a website to be highly successful.
The exploratory visitors on your web didn’t start out looking for you specifically; they came across your site because they were looking for something that you do or provide. Perhaps they were searching for the solution to a problem they are facing and your site has relevant information on it. Perhaps they know exactly what they need, and now they’re just looking for who does that or where they can get it. These people are in the exploratory phase of their purchasing decision.
For B2B (Business to Business) purchases, 94% of business buyers do some form of online research prior to pulling the trigger and making the purchase, according to the State of B2B Procurement study from the Acquity Group.
- 77% use Google search
- 84% check out business website
- 34% visit 3rd party websites
- 42% read reviews & testimonials
For B2C (Business to Consumer) purchases, the pre-purchase behavior is nearly the same – 80% of customers start their research online prior to making the purchase, according to the Fourth Annual Major Purchase Consumer Study done by Synchrony Financial.
Exploratory visitors are looking for information, first and foremost, about the goods or services that you provide and then, secondarily, they look for information about the company. They typically start out with no prior knowledge of, or preference for, your company. They need to know how exactly you can meet their needs and, secondly, why they should prefer your company over your competitors.
The hot prospects on your website are looking for a reason why they should prefer your company over your competitors, or they are checking out your site to make sure that it matches their impression of your business from a referral, personal contact, etc. Hot prospects need to know that you are indeed credible and should be preferred over your competition.
This is an area where lots of business owners run into trouble. If new clients come primarily from referrals and other off-line methods, it is easy to forget about the role that the website plays with new business.
Prior to making a decision on whether or not to do business with you, most prospective clients will check you out online. This fact has big ramifications. If your website doesn’t resonate with perspective clients as being credible, then they simply do business elsewhere – usually without giving you any indication that your website was a turnoff. The only time small business owners find out that their website was a turn off for a prospective client is when they follow up with that person, only to find out that they’ve made the decision to go a different direction. Savvy business owners dig into the why behind the decision, not to change the outcome of that sale – that ship has already sailed – but to understand if there is something that they should do differently in the future.
The existing clients on your website are frequently looking for a way to contact you. Years ago, people turned to the phone book when they wanted to contact a business; now most people just go online to locate that information. Make sure your contact information is super easy to find on your website. This information should appear on your contact page and, depending on the nature of your business, it may also be appropriate for some contact information to appear at the top and/or bottom of each page.
Additionally, existing clients may also be on your site to pay their bill, change their service, update their account information, make a purchase, or find out about additional products or services that you offer. Strong navigation that is super intuitive to follow is what this group needs most.
Putting it all together
Although people come to your site for different reasons, the way they interact with your website can be lumped together into different buckets or website use cases.
Personas are a very helpful tool in conceptualizing the needs of the people who come to your site. Once you know where people are coming from and why they are visiting your website, you’re armed with valuable information that is essential for making sure that your site is setup to efficiently meet their needs. Taking action on this will have a dramatic impact on your website ROI (return on investment).