For many established small- to medium-sized business owners, having a website was a novelty not too many years ago—and that viewpoint hasn’t kept pace with what’s really happening in our interconnected culture. Websites are digital home bases that must meet the needs of experienced and tech-savvy users. Social media is an integral part of daily life and a source of personal recommendations. Maps and local listings drive foot traffic to storefronts. And reviews (and company response) can make or break a business.
Do your online digital assets support your marketing goals and mission with your entire customer base—including digital natives? Or does your website tell consumers you’re out of touch?
Who Is Visiting Your Website?
Business clients who have resisted changing or updating their websites have often claimed that their customers like the current site, use it a certain way, and certainly don’t use social media or mobile devices (for example). That’s when a number of industry trends, specific site analytics data, and experienced insights must be considered.
- Millennials, the “digital natives” that older generations might still think of as teenagers, are now in their twenties and thirties—even pushing 40. The younger Millennials might be assistants and junior-level professionals who are buying for other decision-makers. But the older Millennials are actually among the decision-makers. So it’s critical to speak this generation’s language in your digital assets whether your business is B2B, B2C, or a combination.
- Buyers, prospects, and competitors are visiting your site and other profiles. And so is Google. Buyers and prospects need enough information to make decisions (because if they can’t find it on your site, they might leave and look for it from other suppliers). Businesses can be uncomfortable with sharing “too much” information on their websites for fear that other companies may steal that information. Is that a legitimate fear? In some industries, perhaps. But ask yourself if the information you’re concerned about sharing online is something you’d freely share over the phone or in person. If that’s the case, then for the benefit of your business, it’s likely worth sharing online to meet the needs of customers (like Millennials) who are less likely to call until they have all the details in hand. And finally, everyone in the list (including Google) benefits from good quality content on an easy-to-navigate platform that is SEO-friendly and accessible.
- Across all internet users, mobile device use has surpassed traditional desktop/laptop use. Whether it’s your website, social profile, or an email blast you’ve sent out, there is a great chance that a significant amount of users are viewing your content on a mobile device. Is it readable? Is it easy to navigate? Does it load quickly enough? Are calls-to-action clear and easy to interact with?
- If your site has Google Analytics installed, it’s easy to gain insight into how your visitors are using your site, especially mobile visits, navigation funnels, where visitors are falling away from the site, and the effectiveness of calls-to-action. So if your gut tells you that your customers are using your site in a certain way, make use of the data to verify that you’re correct—or to help you adjust if you’re wrong.
Technologies for Reaching Tech-Savvy Customers
Customers have grown accustomed to getting all their answers online and on their time. If you’re not the one providing the answers, they’ll look for them elsewhere, which means you have limited input into both the shopping experience and the narrative. Focus on making your site as complete and helpful as possible, and provide resources for users to get help and information efficiently.
- Live chat: during business hours, live text or video chat gives users quick access to customer service when waiting on a phone queue isn’t practical or desirable. If you handle a lot of customer service online, it may also be worth staffing live chats during off hours to better meet customer schedules.
- Multiple platforms: depending on your products or services, there may be a number of appropriate selling/information platforms that could supplement your primary website, including a mobile app, phone sales, tradeshows, etc. The best choices may differ by business, but it’s important to consider other ways to get your products or services in front of an appropriate audience, as supplements to your website.
- Social media: customers often talk about companies even in their personal social media posts. If you’re also present on those same social channels, you can be part of the conversation, interact with and delight customers, and even find influencers and advocates to help spread your story.
- Self-service: while statistics and conclusions vary, it’s obvious that consumers prefer to gather as much information as possible before ever reaching out to sales (if they do at all). It doesn’t mean they won’t reach out to sales, but the more you reduce friction by providing readily-available information, the happier the customer will be. This will allow them to make favorable decisions toward your company, and will make their interactions with salespeople more fruitful. Provide robust FAQs, a knowledgebase, forums, and self-service tools so they feel resourced, cared about, and that their time is valued.
Today’s customers in all markets (B2B and B2C) are very different from even just a few years ago, and so are the ways they interact with technology. You don’t have to become a tech-savvy Millennial if you’re a Baby Boomer or even Gen Xer. But you do need to have an online presence that will speak to them and meet their needs (while still faithfully representing your brand).