You Only Get One Chance to Make a First Impression, Make Sure it’s a Good One!

Blue Beetle founder Mark Hirst on the valuable impression you must make on those who research or deal with your business online.

 

The need for a professional website is an absolute must these days. There are many reasons for this. One of them is that they can provide invaluable data. Unlike printed material, where you don’t know who is consuming your content or even if it’s reaching its intended audience, online you can specify to a very high degree who to advertise at and consequently drive to your website. Furthermore, once they get there, you can see through analytics who is coming, where they are coming from, what they are looking at and for how long, what they read and what they ignored, and so on. This ability to accurately target your ideal customer and know when you’ve been successful really helps you ensure you get a good return on your investment.

 

Another reason is that consumers today simply expect a seamless brand experience all the way from your offline to online touch points. In fact, they demand it. This applies to all companies, whether a large international enterprise or a small local start-up. As of January 2015, the UAE had a population of 9.58 million, with 8.81 million of them active internet users, that’s 91.96% of the population. This is amazing penetration, well above the global average of 42%. In short, your customers and more importantly, your future customers are online. Are you taking full advantage of this fact?

 

Your Website is Often the First Impression People Will Have of Your Business

Besides the clear benefit of having actionable data and the fact that your customers demand it, there is another reason one should have a professional, high quality website. Your website is more than your first touch point with potential customers. Your website is the first impression they get of your business. And as we all know, you only ever get one chance to make a good first impression.

 

According to recent studies, it takes just 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for a user to shape an opinion about your website. To compound the matter, 79% of desktop users and 61% of mobile users who are not satisfied with said website, go straight back and search for another similar site resulting in a likely chance of one losing the prospect to a competitor. Bear in mind that first impressions are shown to be very hard to change once they are made

 

Think about it. What do you do when you hear about a company or have a need for a product or service, where do you go? Online, off course. You Google what you’re looking for and you do your research. This is what the bulk of your customers are doing too. And if it’s your product or service they are looking for, they will very often go to your website to look you up. What do they see when they arrive at your website? Is it well presented? Is it tidy and professional? Does it reflect what your brand stands for?

 

It’s About Trust

It’s similar to when you meet someone in person; you observe them. Are they dressed well? Do they walk and present themselves with confidence? Do I trust this person? That is the same question people ask when they hit your homepage.

 

First impressions matter. In the era where 85% of B2B customers are sure to visit your website before making a purchase decision, it could be the difference between a new customer or potential customer lost to a competitor. Leaving a good first impression with someone does not necessary mean a sale on the first contact, but it does mean that you’ve left a positive mark in his or her memory. The next time they come across you, it will spark a positive reaction and as long as you maintain this impression consistently across all your touch points, you’re off to a very good start at forming a loyal customer.

 

Good Looks Are Everything

So when it comes to websites, what makes a good impression? Well firstly, the aesthetics. Recent data shows that design related matters shaped 94% of the first impressions made by website visitors. Also, according to research from Stanford, 75% of people admit to shaping their opinion about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design. So design is extremely important.  

 

Think of public speaking as an analogue. They say that it’s not what you say but how you say it that makes an impactful and memorable speech. Of course the content on your site is important, but if it's not well presented, it’s not nearly as effective.

 

Smooth Customer Experience

Design is also very closely linked to the question of whether your website is easy to use. Good usability is paramount, your site should be intuitive, it should not make your visitor have to think. It should be immediately obvious to the visitor where they are and what they should do next. That second part is crucial for your visitors. It’s as if you are holding their hand and showing them: “look, this is what we have, this is why it’s good for you, and this is what you need to do to get it”.

 

The Need for Speed

There are other first impression criteria besides good looks though. Your site also needs to work and work fast. 47% of consumers expect the website load in less than two seconds. No one has the time or the patience to sit and watch a loading bar. It has to be snappy or at least give the illusion that it is. That can be done with smart loading techniques whereby you load content in an order that gives users something to consume instantly while the rest loads in the background.

 

Accessible Everywhere and on Everything

For the first time ever people are now accessing the internet more with their mobiles than on their desktops and this trend will only increase. In the UAE alone over 75% of the population are active online with their mobiles. Out of the total web pages served to web browsers this time last year, 50% went to mobiles, 44% to laptops and desktops, and 6% to tablets. Having a website that does not work well everywhere is like meeting someone who’s a bit clumsy and tends to knock stuff over. No one wants to do business with someone like that.

 

Accessibility does not just apply to hardware, it also applies to software i.e. browsers. You’d be surprised how different a website can look in different browsers if not coded properly. Your site might work fine and look great in Internet Explorer but when opened it in Safari, Firefox or Chrome it falls apart completely. Hence it is important to invest in a web developer who will be sure to test your site and make sure it works perfectly across all platforms.

 

Search Engine Optimization

When up to 80% of users ignore paid ads and focus on organic search results, search engine optimization (SEO) is another good opportunity to make a positive first impression. If someone searches for something and your name comes up, that is great. You really need to be on the first page though because 75% of users never click past it.

 

Keep in mind that what shows up on the search engine result pages is under your control i.e. the link title and the description should be well thought out and written in such a way that the reader understands exactly what it’s about, they should be able to click the link with confidence knowing what they are going to get.

 

Great Copy

Content is another important consideration. Almost 60% of online visitors will avoid doing business with a company that carries grammar mistakes on their website. Is your site well written? Is it to the point or does it waffle on? With only 20% of content being read, it is important to ensure your message is delivered. A good web copywriter will make certain that the key points stand out on the page. Strong copy is like a confident and professional person who knows what he or she is talking about. You want to talk to someone who listens to you and is willing and able to help. You can give off this impression with well-written, concise and relevant copy.

 

Languages

This is not a decision to be taken lightly. We live in a multicultural society and businesses in the UAE tend to cater to everyone. But take care not to overextend yourself. It’s tough enough managing and maintaining your website in one language never mind two or more. If it makes business sense you should do it because it leaves a good impression when your site is in your customer's language of choice. However, it has to be done to the same high standard. There’s no point having a very well written site in one language and have it poorly translated into another because that will defeat the purpose.

 

Your Website is Your Window to the World

Your website is very much a representation of your business. If it doesn’t look great, it will leave a negative imprint in the mind of your customer. Just as you’d want to make a good impression when someone comes to visit your brick and mortar premises, you want to make a good impression when they visit your virtual home. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression and that matters because you have to work double hard to correct a negative one as opposed to building upon a positive one.

 

Capitalize on Your Great First Impression Using Remarketing

Here’s a helpful tip: once you have your excellent website in place, one that creates this great first impression in the minds of your visitors, you can capitalize on that for a set period of time after they leave using Google remarketing.

 

Remarketing is when, through Google AdWords, you display banner ads across the internet to users that have visited your website. How it works is when someone comes to your site a cookie is placed in their browser cache. This cookie is then referenced as they browse the Internet and when the same user visits other websites that display banners, you can have your banner come up.


So what you’re actually doing is displaying banners only to people who have been to your site, which is very powerful. Think about it. They came to your site, got a great impression and now you can trigger that positive memory by popping up in different places around the Internet. Be careful though because it can also get annoying. You don’t want to be seen as a stalker, so don’t display your banners for too long. This is easy to control through Google AdWords.

 

About Mark Hirst

Founder & CEO, Blue Beetle

Mark Hirst started Blue Beetle early 2004 after having worked for a number of years in the UK and the Netherlands on various international multimedia projects.

Within the 12 years of operation, Blue Beetle has grown into a comprehensive and integrated digital agency with prominent clients across all major industry sectors, including leading brands in hospitality, retail, F&B, technology, and property development / real estate.

The agency’s services include but are not limited to website and application design/development, content and email marketing, social media campaigns, analytics, search engine optimization, consultancy and strategy development.

Blue Beetle has won a number of awards for the work they have done including an IMA Best in Class Award for the Just Falafel website, an IMA Outstanding Achievement Award for the Spin to Win project for Atlantis, a Bronze Stevie Winner for the Atlantis Treasure Hunt and the company was Ranked 60th in the Dubai SME100 2011.

 

 

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