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Shabby Chic is Not Fashionable Online

Carrie Mahoney
Carrie Mahoney

Good news…small enhancements can go a long way. Adding new functionality or features is a great way to not only update your website, but also provide an enhanced user experience. The following 3 tips provide a few ideas to quickly boost user engagement and take your site from shabby to chic.

  1. Content Sharing
    Creating the ultimate relationship with your users is a challenging, ever changing task. Sometimes the gap between you and your customers can feel light-years apart. It’s important for marketers to continually experiment with tools and channels to bridge the gap and minimize barriers to maintaining an ongoing relationship. Measuring the social actions users take on your own site can act as a strong indicator of the shareability of your content in social channels. Tools like ShareThis and AddThis are an easy way to make every shred of your content available for sharing. Content sharing activity (comments, likes, tweets, retweets, shares etc.) will not only build relationships but will enhance your Google search ranking too. Companies that optimize content for digging, pinning, stumbling and more will be having a more meaningful conversation with customers. The leading social networks - Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. are continuing to improve allowing more rich content and post types. Marketers who are able to leverage the latest capabilities will have a distinct advantage. Resist the urge to control the whole conversation; authenticity is a big part of the customer experience. One way to gently steer conversation is providing a suggested tweet complete with hashtags at the end of a piece of content like a new product page, blog post or press release. As with all good online marketing strategies, start with solid content that users want and then measure, test and tweak based on their response until you find a path that works - for right now. Customers and prospects will be interacting from different devices and they expect that social features like sharing, commenting, and even rewards will be built in. Which leads me to #2.
  2. Example: 
    Mashable is a great example of a site that does an excellent job of offering users the opportunity to share content on just about everything. For example, at the top of each article there’s a way to share across all the big social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon). Then in the right navigation area there’s easy access to follow/subscribe to Mashable on their Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and RSS feeds as well as apps to download for your mobile device.

  3. Mobile – The Golden Child
    It’s not new news that mobile device usage, over the last several years, has grown at an explosive rate. It’s time for companies to re-evaluate their mobile strategy and keep up with the changes in technology to provide an optimized experience. A good place to start is tracking your mobile audience so you can keep up with their evolving behaviors, device types, browser preference etc…User experience design and content consumption by users for a standard website and a mobile site will not be the same in most cases. Regardless of the site, at the end of the day it's all about ease of use, engaging users and speed/performance. Good news, if you’re using a robust content management tool it likely has the ability to separate content from presentation allowing you to repurpose the same content (created just once) in several ways across many channels. This will avoid having to create separate content, web infrastructure and sites for specific mobile devices.

    Are you taking full advantage of what users now consider commonplace? For instance, devices with GPS can pinpoint a specific user’s whereabouts. This means marketers can deliver highly targeted sales incentives at exactly the right time and in the right place. If you’re receiving a lot of Google search traffic from mobile users your mobile website needs to be mobile SEO friendly. Because devices have significantly smaller screens and people want quick answers and less scrolling; users will click on the first few search results. If ads are displayed, there may only be a couple of natural search results visible, so it is vital to get to the top. Companies with a mobile website will also get ranked higher than those with only a desktop website.

    The New York Times is an example of a standard site with lots of content (copy, graphics etc…). The mobile version of the site completely streamlines the content without jeopardizing navigation or breadth of content offered to the mobile user. 

  4. Add Video
    If you’re not using video you’re missing out on an opportunity to keep users engaged and on your site longer. comScore just released its U.S. Online Video Rankings for July 2012. The data pretty much speaks for itself; in July 2012 184 million U.S. internet users watched 36.9 billion online content videos. This is up from 180 million in July 2011. Over the past five years, the number of Americans watching online video has increased 37.3%*. So what are you waiting for? It’s easy to embed YouTube or Vimeo videos on landing pages for virtual tours, demonstrating product features or tutorials. Aware has built everything from interactive “display” rooms for a certain nerdy electronics service firm, to strategizing a QR-code enabled video gallery for a high-tech server manufacturer. Don’t worry about trying to film a fancy Hollywood movie, sometimes the more casual videos are the most engaging and effective. The video should always support the main conversion goal of the page and not just repeat the on page copy. Remember to keep it short, sweet and most of all purposeful.
  5. Example:
    Aware’s longtime client Lunds Food Holdings, Inc uses video to demonstrate how to cook recipes or master cooking techniques using products sold in their stores and online. Aware developed functionality within their existing Sitecore CMS tool for content authors to easily manage and play videos on the site.

Plan your next site enhancement by revisiting the list of “nice-to-have” items that didn’t make the original site launch and pursue those that still make sense. Another great place to start is to identify common tasks conducted by your users and determine if there is a way to improve on them. Aware Web is always here to help, weather you need a full site makeover or just some small updates to make a big difference. We have a whole team of stylish web analysts who are constantly researching and staying on top of the latest web and technology trends.

*Online video stats published August 17, 2012 by comScore, Inc.

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