In the very early days of the Internet, people would visit websites simply for the novelty of viewing their content. It didn’t take much to engage an audience for your product or service at a time when few of your competitors even had a presence online. You were there, and that was cool enough.
Today, with nearly 4 billion pages of content, your website is a very small fish in an enormous ocean that is filled with sea creatures of monstrous proportions. If and when visitors find you online, they want to find answers to their questions, presented in an organized manner that makes the information easy to find.
In the interest of streamlining the user experience, it may be time to reevaluate your site – adding, updating, and cross-referencing content as needed. As is often the case, a good place to start is a review of your statistics on Google Analytics. I would suggest taking a careful look at the new Behavior Flow data found under the Content reports.
Your website’s Behavior Flow report will graphically present the “flow” of visitor traffic from page to page within your site, allowing you to identify the content that keeps visitors engaged, as well as the content that seems to be showing your visitors the door. Are there popular paths of content, and do specific pages frequently lead visitors to another secondary page? How much time do visitors spend on specific pages, do they appear to be searching for content, and are they spending time viewing a photo gallery or embedded videos? These questions – and more – should all be answered. If there is measurably popular content on your website, provide more of the same by either adding to the page or adding one or more pages of related content.
Photo galleries and videos consistently prove to be popular content that engages visitors. Because each photo is said to convey a thousand words, people can often see the answers to their questions right there in your photos. (“Yes, I see a dog on a leash, so pets are allowed.”) Videos can be even better than photos because they allow you to tell your story. Just be sure that your story anticipates and answers questions, rather than creating a new set of questions that will remain to be answered. For example, a video may show a security gate, but does it leave people wondering about access cards? Or you may mention the tranquility of quiet nights, but does it say when your quiet hours begin and end? Think ahead, anticipate questions, and provide answers.
Make Your Phone Time Count
If you find that you or your staff are repeatedly answering the same phone questions, is it because the answers are either not available or too difficult to find on your website? If that is the case, you only have yourself to blame. Make your time answering the phone more productive, answering campsite-related questions that are prerequisite to finalizing a reservation. Each of the following questions should be answered on your website, in a logical location that is easy to find.
- Will I have wi-fi at my site?
- Are pets allowed in your cabin rentals?
- Will your swimming pool be open during our stay?
- Is there a fee to use your miniature golf course?
- Is there a charge to run the air conditioning unit in my RV?
It is essential that fee-related information, in particular, be referenced on your website. In some instances, the information should probably be provided in more locations than one. For example, your pet policy should probably appear in your rules, on your cabin rentals page, and directly on your reservation request form. The duplication of content is far preferable than dealing with a disgruntled guest who shows up at your registration desk without the rabies vaccination certificate that you require or with two Pit Bulls that you do not allow.
According to Emily Yellin, author of “Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us,” the average customer service phone call handled by a small business like yours costs $7.50 to process. This takes into account compensation for the staff member who fields the call and any subsequent follow-up or fulfillment action that might be required. The smaller your business and the more limited your staff, the more likely it is that you will be the one taking the calls yourself. While you are providing those answers that should already appear on your website, you are taking the time that could be applied toward a more productive task. It could also come at the expense of a customer who is ready to make an immediate reservation decision who is instead met with a busy signal or a request to be put on hold.
As is usually the best practice, try to put yourself in the role of your potential customer. If necessary, ask a trusted third party for assistance in evaluating your site. Ensure that your website is a properly maintained component of a well-oiled machine that generates the new business that is the key to your overall business growth and survival.
This post was written by Peter Pelland