I’ve lost count of how many websites I’ve gone to where the immediate question comes to mind: “Hello, is anybody home?” The website looks like it hasn’t been updated for years. It’s not necessarily a color scheme issue, or a graphic design issue, or the fact that the site could just be plain ugly. It’s just the fact that there’s no indication of anything current happening on the website. It’s hard to give potential customers confidence in a site, or convince them to purchase something from a website, or entice them to fill out a contact form, if they are not sure that someone is actually minding the store.
I’d like to offer a few simple solutions to help rectify this “empty” feeling. First, you can put up a date stamp on the site that reflects the current date. This can go in your header, near your navigation bar, or anywhere in the upper portion of the website. Yes, it’s a potentially useless bit of data that even an abandoned site could be using, but at least one of the first impressions that a new customer will get is one of “now.” And first impressions are absolutely critical for first time visitors, especially in the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising arena where you are paying per click for each one of these new visitors.
Second, put up a current bit of news about your company, your business category, the products you sell, the brands you carry. Date the news and update it about once a week. Again, it’s all about giving the website a “lively” feeling, that someone is actively minding the store, putting up fresh current tidbits of information. The news really could be about anything, but you’ll get more mileage out of it if it relates to your business and products. This could include starting a blog, which is very similar to this. Or you could just carve out a small space on the home page and update that with some timely bit of information every week or so.
Finally, and I think most importantly, give your calls-to-action a sense of urgency by giving them an end date that’s no more than a few weeks or a month out. If you offer Free Shipping, then also mention the month in the same sentence. For example: Free Shipping in December! Maybe you will offer Free Shipping in January, but then again maybe you won’t. The same thing goes for any sales you might run. If everything is 5% off, then offer 5% off in December. Maybe you will offer 5% off in January, but maybe you won’t. If you leave Free Shipping or sales offers open-ended, then you don’t give customers a strong incentive to buy now. They’ll think they can just come back later and get it, but of course then they have a good chance of never coming back at all. Once they are on your site, you need to do everything you can to close that sale as soon as possible. This all ties back to giving the site a sense of being “current.” By putting an end date, or a month name, into all of your promotional pushes it gives the site a sense of being “alive” and “fresh.”