Many small businesses, faced with the daunting prospect of attracting new customers online, find their integrated digital marketing efforts falling flat. Despite extensive efforts at search engine optimization, social media marketing, and web design and development, some entrepreneurs find themselves unable to “break through” to younger customers online.
The fact is, younger consumers are used to highly responsive web design; if a website does not load within three to five seconds, Millennials will abandon their search. If a website is difficult to navigate on a mobile phone, younger consumers will simply choose another business with an “optimized” mobile web design and a more satisfying user experience.
Experts say that interactive web design is essential for reaching American consumers of any age: digital shoppers spend over $3 million every minute on online purchases, and business is increasingly conducted — or lost — on cell phones around the world. Modern web design may be graphically sleek, but customer experience continues to separate good web design from mediocre.
Basically, a website should be easy to use. Customer experience, sometimes referred to as user experience or UX, is paramount for small businesses groping for market share. Social media can help drive users to a business’s website, but if the site is slow to load or confusing to operate, the gains from social media can be rapidly lost.
Professional web design must streamline the shopping experience into as few clicks as possible to attract busy, impatient shoppers, and SEO companies are constantly looking for ways to move their clients’ websites higher in internet ranking. Most online shoppers begin with an online search; very few consumers look beyond the first page of results that the search engine returns for their perusal.
Finding success with interactive web design should involve some consumer testing, experts say. Too often, web design ideas are insufficiently tested; a promising website may have some latent “bugs” or errors that could be fixed before the website is open to consumers. The purchasing power of American shoppers under the age of 25 is expected to surpass $1 trillion in the next several years; even established companies may find that they want to rework their marketing campaigns.
Interactive web design plans should also include SEO strategies for mobile websites. A good customer experience on a laptop computer may be forgotten by the customer if mobile websites are difficult to use or take too much time to load. The vast majority of Americans use their mobile phones to do at least some of their online marketing, and businesses with a streamlined mobile presence continue to post larger profits.
While the key to small business success may seem difficult to isolate, companies that are actively engaged in website optimization and aggressive online marketing tend to do better on average. Companies that do not take the time to maintain a digital presence may find their customer base rapidly evaporating.
If the average online shopper will not wait 10 seconds for a webpage to load, how can the average small business hope to attract and maintain a customer base? The reality is that small businesses across America continue to grapple with their responses to that essential question.