Is the appearance of your website important? Of course it is. You only get one chance to make a first impression. In years past, that first impression would come from the attractiveness of your storefront, or the furnishings in your office, or the pleasant voice of your receptionist. In some cases, this may still be true, and those things are definitely important parts of your image. But in this day and age, many, if not most, and sometimes all, of your prospective clients will get that first impression of your business from your website.
So, your website should portray the personality of your company effectively – whether that means a crisp, clean, well written professional design for an accounting firm, or a warm, soft, cuddly design for a dog groomer. The visitors to your site are forming their impression of your site from the second they arrive. Ensuring that impression is a good one is critical to the success of your site, but it's only the first step. What happens next will determine whether or not your website actually brings you business!
Convincing those admiring viewers to actually take the next step and contact you is the ultimate goal. Without converting those viewers to contacts, you've accomplished precious little. One effective way to improve your conversion rate is to provide valuable information that displays your expertise. There are several benefits to doing this – first, it shows to your prospective clients that you know what you're doing, giving them confidence that doing business with you will be good for them. Secondly, search engines index pages based on the quality and quantity of relevant information contained on a page, so the more good information you provide, the better that page is likely to index, improving your search engine rating. Lastly, providing such information can make your site a reference destination for those seeking more information, so even if you did not convince them to contact you on their first visit, they may very well do so on a subsequent visit.
Providing multiple ways for your prospective customers to contact you will also help to improve your conversion rate, as preferences vary. There are obviously many ways to accept contact from your prospects. The best known is probably the toll-free phone number, allowing your prospect to immediately talk to a live person. While many choose the phone, others may prefer to contact you via a response form, requesting written information or a phone call. You may also choose to provide live support directly on the site using text entry to a live operator. Lastly, depending on the product or service you provide, you can offer self-service functions like a shopping cart system. Coupled with credit card validation, this allows them to complete a transaction without any human involvement at all, turning your casual web site visitor into a valued customer.