• Bounce Rates and the Search for Self on your business website

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Ever been window-shopping, and you’ve popped into a store only to immediately realize the store offers nothing you want? Maybe you walk a quick circle around the shop’s interior just to be polite, noticing the carpet and fixtures as much as the merchandise. Or if you’re bold enough, you immediately turn on heel and head back out to find some other store to browse through.

Same thing happens with websites. Businesses hope to attract customers to their online storefronts, keep them browsing for a while, and convert their interest into a sale. But sometimes a customer opens a website, looks for a matter of seconds, and immediately closes the window (or hits the back button on their browser) without even glancing at a second page.

This is known as a website’s bounce rate – the percentage of viewers that come and go in a matter of seconds, obviously without taking in any content or visiting other pages. 

A recent post from Glen Lipka, of Marketo, discusses how shiny new websites (and logos) aren’t enough to defeat bad bounce rates and that it comes down to whether your website is meeting the expectations of your potential customers.

Lipka uses the example of Yahoo!, which is rolling out a new logo, but suffers from a fundamental marketing problem – people still aren’t sure what Yahoo! is. Is it an Email hosting service? A search engine? An e-commerce platform?

“Their new logo made me go to Yahoo!’s new website,” he writes. “I still didn’t know what to use them for, so I clicked the back button.”

He points out that Google does a good job of keeping church and state separate – you won’t find any mention of Google’s popular Android smart phone platform on its search site, and vice versa. This helps minimize not only page clutter, but also consumer confusion.

It boils down to the two most fundamental questions every business must answer before launching a marketing campaign: Who am I, and what do I want to be known for?

It’s not enough to simply answer, “I’m a general contractor,” or “I’m an auto mechanic.” You need better answers than that. What do you specialize in? What products or services do you receive the most interest in from potential customers?

If you’re a contractor, do you want to be known as the local expert for refinished cabinets? If you’re a mechanic, do you get more calls about check engine lights, or squeaky brakes?

And it’s not just identifying the products and services you provide, but also how you provide them. Do you have a particular eye for detail? Do you take pride in working quickly?

It’s crucial that you make that message clear, front and center on your website. When a potential customer visits your site, they should know exactly who you are and what you do from the first moment.

It’s around these questions (and their answers) that all marketing efforts should be built, particularly websites. Otherwise, you may just be that store with the fancy window display that customers walk in and back out of without a second glance.

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