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What makes a great website?
What makes a website great for your customers?
What makes a website great for your potential customers?
The answers to these questions will help you to publish a successful website. One that encourages current and potential customers to both see and engage with your content. And hopefully buy your products and services too!
One of the major changes since then, is that today, with mobile more likely to be the screen of reference, we have gone from a “no scroll” to a “must-scroll” format. Words have given way to more images and now also to videos. We have gone from information to entertainment, from push to pull, and from “ours” to “theirs.”
Still, I do have a couple of criticisms about the post – sorry Craig. It starts with technology and also includes company rather than customer priorities. But you, fellow customer centricity champions, know that everything should start with the customer! So I’d like to build on both his post and my earlier one, to lay out what it takes to win online these days.
9 Essentials of a Customer Centric Website
Checking a website is often the first step a customer makes when they are interested in a brand or manufacturer. Therefore we should ensure that ours responds to their needs, whatever the reason for their visit. I have chosen the nine essential elements of a customer centric website below.
Please let me know what you think, by adding a comment below.
1. It’s for the customer, not (just) you
Although your website is about you and your company and/or brands, it is your customers, both current and potential, that need to like it.
Therefore, start by thinking about for whom you are developing the site and what their desires and needs are. Use our 4W™ template to ensure you go as deep as possible in your understanding of them. I also suggest you read “12 things you need to know about your target customers” for more on what you should know in order to understand them and be able to describe them in depth.
We don’t have time to read, let alone learn how to navigate a website. Customers will leave if they can’t immediately find what they are looking for. This explains why many – dare I say most? – businesses have a 50% plus bounce rate. (See the RocketFuel analysis for more on this)
It may still be necessary to have a sitemap for those visitors who need help in navigating or are less logical. However, it no longer needs the prominence it once did. Put it at the bottom of the page and don’t waste valuable real estate by placing it at the top.
If you make it easy for people to find what they are looking for, they will never need to revert to a sitemap, and even less to leave for a competitor’s website.
Contact links or your full details must appear on the home page, including telephone numbers, email, postal and street addresses, and social media accounts. With the global nature of the internet, a customer has the right to know where you are based.
Do away with impersonal forms and drop-down menus, which force customers to use your classification. Instead, make them feel special, valued and appreciated. Make them feel like you are waiting to hear from them, and that you want to know what they have to share or ask. Above all, customers want to be treated as individuals, not as just one insignificant member of a mass.
4. Full details of your products, brands and services
Today’s customers demand information. They want details about ingredients, sourcing, limitations of usage, distribution and availability.
They want reassurance about your practices. Are they sustainable? Is your vision acceptable and your practices ethical? The more information you provide, the less need people will have to contact you with such requests for more information.
One more recent addition to this already long list, is company purpose. There is a lot of debate about whether or not customers care about companies and brands, but the covid pandemic has brought company support to the forefront. The best have been able to demonstrate their purpose through their actions. McKinsey wrote a great article on the topic that I highly recommend. It’s called “Demonstrating corporate purpose in the time of coronavirus.”
5. Details about your company
Anonymous websites are no longer tolerated. Customers demand to know with whom they are engaging. So you can no longer hide who you are, as mentioned above. But customers need far more than just your contact details.
A detailed “About” section must also be provided, with clear information about all aspects of the company. Topics to include are your management structure, operational areas, mission statement, values, strategy, culture, and if you have one, your company societal purpose too. You also need to add the latest company news, both for investors and customers.
With the continued rise in the interest of visual content, incorporate a media section too. In it, you can provide images and films of your products and advertising. This will ensure that your brands are correctly presented online, as everyone will have access to professional, quality photos and videos.
This visual section also has one further advantage. That of making it easy for customers to both comment on and share their favourite ones. Advertising, in particular, is popular for sharing on social media, so make sure you have the best possible selection of both the latest and historical but popular material available.
6. Valuable content
Regularly updated content is good for your SEO rankings as well as for appealing to customers. Think about the topics of most interest to them. Perhaps you could answer common questions they have through a FAQ section or blog. Or provide useful recipes, styling tips or other relevant information that your customers will find appealing. Frequently added new content will also have people coming back to visit your site more often.
As mentioned above, visual content is vital today as people read less. If you struggle to create sufficient new content, or just want to get your customers more involved with your brands, then inviting them to provide it is a win-win for both of you.
User-generated content (UGC) as it is called, enables customers to share their real-life experiences with your brands, products and services. You can take advantage of this by offering space for them to add photos, videos and comments. Their stories help convey your brand’s values to other people and build trust.
Purina has been doing this successfully for many years, as owners love to show off their pets. They have even turned user-generated content into advertising. And many other brands have been inspired by what their customers share with them. For an insightful overview of some of the best campaigns, I highly recommend “14 Inspiring User Generated Content Campaigns.”
7. A responsive design
We are all multi-screen users today, moving seamlessly from smartphone to tablet, and from a laptop to TV. We expect the same quality of experience no matter what screen we are using. So a great website needs to be optimised for this.
I am always amazed when I view a website that is not optimised for mobile; it really does negatively impact the customers’ experience and will certainly damage the brand’s image in the medium term.
A further reason for having a responsive design is that in the last year or so Google has started to penalise those which are not optimised. Your potential customers may never learn about you because you won’t appear on the first pages of search results.
8. Engaging content and entertainment
Even if your customers come to your website looking for information, they are often also expecting some form of entertainment. Whether through useful tips and guides, or quizzes, games and competitions, customers demand to be surprised and delighted by their experiences online.
I bet you just clicked or plan to click on one of those links, didn’t you?! See how powerful quizzes can be?
And don’t forget our very own C3C Evaluator™ for assessing how customer centric you are.
9. High level of security
Companies record more and more information about their customers than ever before. At least we now have the possibility to define what we are willing to share and what we are not. However I, like many of you too I am sure, never bother going into the details of the cookies we are asked to approve.
But in return, we all expect their details to be kept safe. While it remains your responsibility to ensure a secure environment, you can also help, by only asking for details that you will immediately use for business purposes.
Do you really need telephone numbers if you will never call or text? Do you need postal addresses, occupation or other details that may be possible to collect? By only requesting the information that you will use, you will not only reduce the chance of being hacked, due to the lower value of your database, but you also risk losing fewer customers than you would if you require detailed information, especially at the beginning of the relationship before trust has been built. You can always build up your information on your customers over time and they are happier to provide it to you.
Of course, no matter how much information you collect from your customers, you need to protect your database from cyber attacks, whether the risk is high or low.
When I wrote the original post on customer centric websites, I mentioned Reckitt Benckiser as a best-in-class example. Today, when I look at the leading CPG / FMCG websites, I find many that deserve a mention. I, therefore, decided to ask you, the reader, to vote for your favourite customer centric website and why you consider it to be a great example? Please share your ideas below in the comments.
And if your own website doesn’t pass the above nine essentials test, perhaps it’s time to make some changes? We can help with a detailed website audit which will pinpoint how to optimise it for your customers’ experience.
“Never miss an episode. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts to get new episodes as they become available.”
What habits have you become so comfortable with that you don’t even notice or question them? With today’s fast-paced world, businesses need to be constantly adapting and preparing for the future.
These thirteen marketing quotes (plus a bonus one!) are amongst my favourites of all time. They will hopefully excite and inspire you to consider what changes you need to make to become even more successful through a customer first strategy.
As is the tradition at C3Centricity, there is a recommended action for you to take for each quote. How many will you complete?
#1. “There may be Customers without Brands, but there are no Brands without Customers.” Anon
This has to be the most important marketing quote to remember for all of us wanting to be more customer centric. It’s also one of my favourites, as I’m sure you’ve realised!
Brands depend on customers and if companies remember this, then they can only succeed. If however they get so tied up in their products & services that they forget their customers, they may enjoy their work but their brands will always be vulnerable to competition.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Watch the Customer First Strategy Webinar HERE
#2. “Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets.” Nido Qubein
One of the biggest mistakes marketing can make is to not appropriately define its target audience. It is understandably hard for a brand manager to accept that he can’t please all category users and that his target sub-category is smaller than the total category he thinks he could attract.
By trying to please everyone, we end up pleasing no one! So bite the bullet and reduce your target category size by being more precise in selecting and describing your audience.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Learn the essentials of targeting HERE.
#3. “The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.” John Russell, President, Harley Davidson
If they aren’t already included, then every employee should have regular customer connections added to their annual objectives. Whether they are the CEO, an Executive Vice-President, a machine operator, sales clerk or brand manager, they all need to understand how their day job impacts the satisfaction of their customers.
Customer connections also inspire new thinking, can identify previously unknown issues and excite everyone to think customer first in everything they do.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Sign up below for the FREE Customer First Strategy Webinar.
For more ideas about getting to know your customers, join the FREE Customer First Strategy Webinar. In it, I share many Tips,Tools and Templates to improve your Customer Targeting, Understanding & Engagement to Grow your Business Faster.
#4. “If you use standard research methods you will have the same insights as everyone else.” David Nichols
When was the last time you revised your market research toolbox or refined your insight development process? It’s a rapidly changing world both technologically and societally-speaking. The methods you use to observe, understand and eventually delight your customers should be moving as fast, if not even faster, to stay in touch with the market.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Attend a 1-Day Catalyst session reviewing all your market research methodologies and metrics. Find out more HERE.
#5. “The structure will automatically provide the pattern for the action which follows.” Donald Curtis
There has been a lot of discussion about the new roles of the CMO, CIO and the creation of a new CCO (Chief Customer Officer) position. Perhaps it is time for your organisation to review its structure and see if it is still optimal for the business of today, as well as of tomorrow.
As mentioned above, the world is changing rapidly and you need to keep abreast of these changes to stay in the game. Who wants to find themselves the equivalent of the Kodak or Borders of 2017?
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Develop plausible future scenarios to prepare for possible opportunities and threats. Contact us HERE.
#6. “Customer Service shouldn’t be a department, it should be the entire company.” Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos
This is one of my all-time favourite quotes from a man I truly admire, for truly “getting” customer centricity. Their slogan is even “Powered by Service”! As already mentioned above, every single person in a company has a role to play in satisfying the customer.
Zappos have an integration program for all new hires – including the EVPs – that incorporates time at their call centre answering customer queries. What a great way to show a new person what the company is really about.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Why not start a similar introduction programme in your own company and organise regular customer connection sessions? We can show you HOW.
#7. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust
Today’s customers are very demanding which has prompted many companies to increase their innovation and new product launches. However, it has been shown that renovation is as important as innovation in keeping customers satisfied (find links to relevant articles HERE).
Instead of forcing your marketing and R&D to meet certain percentage targets of new launches, most of which will be destined to failure according to latest statistics, why not review your current offers with new eyes?
If you truly understand your customers, you will quickly find small changes that can make a significant impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty, when you take their perspective. And as an added bonus, if it solves a frustration of theirs, it might even bring you increased profits, since the perceived value will be higher than the cost.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Download the free "Secrets of Innovation" eBook by completing the form on the right-hand side of this page.
#8. “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Jeff Bezos
In the past, most companies were more concerned with the reputation of their brands than they were with that of their company, other than with investors. As consumers become interested in knowing and adhering to the policies of the companies behind the brands they buy, it is vital to manage your image from both perspectives.
In addition, if your company isthe brand as is the case of Coca-Cola or Red Bull, then this is vital to follow very closely. The same applies for any organisation that is considering adding their company name more prominently to their packaging.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Review whether there are differences between your company and brand images and whether they are complementary. And book a 1-Day Catalyst Training Session to ensure you are measuring the right metrics to optimise your images.
#9. “The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Chinese Proverb
Today’s customers often have more complex paths to purchase in many categories than they did in the past, so thinking of the simple awareness to loyalty funnel becomes less relevant.
In order to understand the purchasing of your brand, think information integration, as customers are becoming as savvy about products as they are about themselves. They seek out information based on the size of their budget and take the time needed to make what they consider to be an informed decision.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Check whether you are in every relevant touchpoint with appropriate information for them. Learn more about optimising your communications HERE.
#10. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Winston Churchill
If your world has changed then so should the metrics you use to manage the business. Annual reviews of your KPIs should be made, if not even more frequently.
Also, review last year’s business results in comparison to the metrics you have been following. Were you correctly assessing the environment, the market and customer behaviour? If not, then it's probably time to update your KPIs.
#11. “The fear of being wrong is the prime inhibitor of the creative process.” Jean Bryant
Do you embrace entrepreneurship in your organisation? What happens when someone fails whilst trying something new? The more accepting you are of relevant trial and error exercises, the more likely it will be that your employees will share their more creative ideas.
If failure is punished, then they will be reluctant to try or even propose new things and your business will stagnate. This is a great time to review your ways of compensating creativeness as well as how you share learnings from failures.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Download the FREE "Secrets to Actionable Insights" below.
FREE Secrets to Actionable Insights eBook
Get your copy of this new 50-page eBook on the “Secrets to Actionable Insights.”
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#12. “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information.” T S Eliot
Do you ever take decisions based on information or knowledge? If so then perhaps you should reconsider your insight development process.
While information and knowledge are essential to a deeper understanding of your customers, it is only when you have integrated everything you know and understand about them, that you can begin to develop insights that will positively impact your customers’ behaviour.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Sign up for a 1-Day Catalyst Training Session on "Insights to Action" or "Insights to Impact." More information HERE.
#13. “If you can’t sum up the story in a sentence, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Garr Reynolds
Taking the decision to share information and understanding in a new way through storytelling, will have a profound impact on the way your employees think and remember the essential understandings of your customers.
Before every presentation ask yourself what is the one sentence that sums up everything you want to share.
If you can't come up with one, then perhaps you don't know what you're talking about, or perhaps you just need more time to practice.
So there you have thirteen marketing quotes that will excite and inspire most people. And because I promised you a bonus if you read to the end, here is one more which aptly sums up all the others.
It is the one message out of all these marketing quotes from Charles Darwin which remains vital to remember in this awesomely changing world we live in.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, it is those most responsive to change”
If you have your own favourite marketing quote that inspires you to change your business practices in 2017, then please share it below. We would love to hear from you and we promise we'll add it to our growing library of quotes, with appropriate credit to you. (Fame at last!)
For even more inspiring marketing quotes, why not check out our website library? it's regularly updated.
Stories exist in all cultures. They have developed down through the ages as a means of transferring knowledge, long before books and now the web enabled their storage.
Today’s information-rich world has made storytelling a required talent for CEOs and CMOs alike to develop. And websites and Fan pages now make it a necessary skill for br ands too.
Br and stories are perhaps one of the easiest ways to resonate with customers. Hopefully, this will then lead to those highly sought-after but ever-diminishing rewards of loyalty and advocacy. Of course, I say “easiest” with caution, since great storytelling is an art that is often learned but rarely truly mastered. ( and I am conscious that I am (too) often in that group!)
One of the best places to find great stories is on TED. Amongst the most popular talks on the topic of storytelling, “andrew_stanton_the_clues_to_a_great_story.html”>The Clue to a great story” was given in February 2012 by Andrew Stanton. Stanton is the Pixar writer and director of both the hit movies Toy Story and WALL-E. I was reminded of his talk because it has since been turned into an infographic on the TED Blog. It inspired me to review the five “clues” Stanton talked about and then to apply them to br ands. These five essential elements of remarkable br and stories are the result.
Make me Care
According to Stanton, a story needs to start by quickly drawing sympathy from the audience / reader. The hero is introduced as being rejected or badly treated by family, friends, circumstances, or the world in general.
Well-known examples of heroes include Cinderella or the lovable WALL-E in the film of the same name. Their predicament immediately generates feelings of concern and empathy, especially when identified as unfair or outside the control of the hero.
This works well for people, but for br ands I believe the emotions sought should be on the opposite side of these as demonstrated by Plutchiks’ Wheel of Emotions (see right).
Those of trust, admiration or anticipation are more relevant for br ands than remorse, grief, and loathing. People spend money on br ands because they believe that they will provide pleasure and / or solve one of their problems. Our job as marketers is not only to satisfy this need but to go even further by turning that expectation into surprise and delight (but more on that later).
Take me with you
In storytelling, there is often a journey, a mystery or a problem that needs solving. Something that entices the reader or audience to linger a while longer and to learn more about the situation. In a similar way, a br and wants its customers to remain and become loyal. It therefore makes promises, whether real or just perceived as such by the customer.
When I first started working at Philip Morris International, there was a rumour amongst consumers that Marlboro was financing the Ku Klux Klan in the US. This started because its packaging had three red rooftops or “K’s” on it (front, back and bottom of pack). Management obviously didn’t want this untruth to be believed by its smokers, so one of the K’s was removed by making the bottom of the pack solid red.
However, consumers’ desire for mystery and intrigue was so strong that another rumour quickly emerged. This time, smokers had found three printer’s colour dots inside the pack (black, yellow and red). The story went that these markings symbolized that Marlboro hated Blacks, Asians and Indians! Once again management looked for ways to dismiss this rumour, but as in the previous case, just denying it would have most likely led to further reinforcement of the rumour. Since the printer needed these colour matches, they remained for many years.
Customers love to tell stories about “their” br ands. There are many myths about the greatest br ands around, often starting from their packaging or communications. For example, Toblerone has the “Bear of Berne” and the Matterhorn, exemplifying its Swiss origin, on its pack. The br and name too has Berne spelled within it and the chocolate itself is shaped like a mountain.
Camel has the “Manneken Pis from Brussels” on the back leg of the camel. Whereas the Toblerone links were intentional, I don’t think JTI planned that association into their design! Consumers just looked at the pack and having discovered the resemblance, started to share their findings, and it became a “truth”.
Many other br ands have developed stories through their communications, that are also shared and repeated until their customers believe they are true. Further examples include Columbia outdoor wear’s “Tough Mother” campaign, Harley Davidson’s enabling “middle aged” men to become bikers at the weekend, or Dove’s campaign for real women to name just a few. All these stories confirm and further support the connection their customers have with these br ands, so they almost become a part of their extended families. Such a strong emotional connection will ensure br and loyalty and advocacy for as long as the stories are maintained.
In a story, the hero has an inner motivation, which drives them toward their goal. They will encounter problems and challenges along the way, but their motivation remains strong to reach their desired destination.
For a br and, this motivation is what it st ands for, its br andequity. What is the br and’s image, its personality; what benefits can the customer expect? Not only is it important to identify these, but perhaps even more importantly, is to consistently portray them in everything a br and does. From its product to its packaging, its communications to its sponsorships, the customers’ loyalty and appreciation are reinforced by every element that remains consistent and continuously reinforced.
Let me like you
A story depends on a hero with whom the audience can empathize; someone worthy of their respect, even love.
This is exactly the same for br ands, which is why problems and crises need to be h andled quickly, fairly and respectfully. In today’s world of global connection, everything a br and says or does, anywhere in the world, is shared and commented upon, around the globe in a matter of milliseconds. Whereas in the past, disappointed customers may have told ten others, today it is estimated to be closer to ten million, thanks to social media!
In a great article entitled “What an angry customer costs” by Fred Reichheld, it is said that the cost to companies of haters or detractors is enormous. “Successfulcompanies take detractors seriously. They get to the root cause of customers’ anger by listening to complaints, taking them seriously and fixing problems that might be more pervasive” But it’s not merely a question of preventing the spread of negative word of mouth. As Reichheld, himself says “For many customers … (resolving complaints) …is where true loyalty begins”.
(Surprise and) Delight me
Stanton says that stories should charm and fascinate the audience. For br ands, we should aim for surprise and delight as previously mentioned. The surprise of learning something new about the product or company that made it; delight at getting unexpected gifts or attention from the br and.
This is where limited editions and seasonal offers first started, but over the last few years, thanks to today’s connected world, br ands are going much further:
Also in 2010, another airline KLM, had staff members prepare gifts for a select few passengers who tweeted about their pending departure on a KLM flight at the airport.
Tropicana brought “Artic Sun” to the remote Canadian town of Inuvik, where residents live in darkness for weeks each winter.
Amazon is known for their excellent customer service, but they often go the extra mile, upgrading customer shipping to expedited service for free.
Kleenex surprised sick people with their Feel Good campaign that targeted people Tweeting about going down with the ‘flu.
Google, who are known for their creative and timely illustrations on their homepage, started showing a birthday cake as the image above the search box on people’s birthday.
The last example actually happened to me for the first time a few years ago and I admit that I was so excited I actually Tweeted about it! Am I the only one who was touched by this gesture, because I haven’t heard anyone else mentioning it?
So those are Stanton’s five clues to a great story, adapted for br ands. Do they work? What stories are told about your own br ands? Or do you have other great examples to share? Please share them below.