Website traffic tends to be fast, and it tends to be fickle. So you may find it’s a lot easier to get customers to visit your website than to stay on your website long enough for you to accomplish your objectives. As author Robert Parker says in his book I published, Streetwise Relationship Marketing on the Internet, visitors to your website will make a decision to leave or stay within a few seconds. It is up to you to design a website and—in particular—a home page that encourages visitors to stick around so you both may get to know each other better. Here is a summary of why most websites fail to attract and keep visitors at the introduction stage:

No visit at all. This is a failure to promote your website via social media, constant repetition in your advertising, and inclusion in your emails, business cards, and other literature. It also means your website may not be well designed for search engine result optimization.

Slow loading. Website visitors are very impatient. You have a very short time to attract their attention. Within a matter of a few seconds, if they do not immediately see a reason to remain at your website, they will move on. There are too many fast-loading websites for visitors to stick around for slow-loading ones. And today, anything loading in less than almost instantly is too slow!

No information. Unless your website offers immediately obvious benefits—that is, information unavailable elsewhere—visitors are unlikely to remain. Websites live and die by information. Visitors are not interested in hearing how great you are; visitors are selfish, they are more interested in hearing how you can help them achieve their goals.

Difficult navigation. Confusing navigation can devalue the best information. If your navigation is not immediately obvious, visitors will move elsewhere. “About us” or “Our products” does not offer visitors much of an incentive to click on the navigation link.

Lack of incentive to register. Visitors are unlikely to provide you with their name, email address, and other information unless you provide them with a reason to share this information with you. In addition, you must also promise not to share visitor information with others.

Difficult registration process. Asking too many questions or rejecting registration forms with simple errors is a proven way to kill visitor interest.

There are plenty of other reasons why visitors leave quickly. I think one of the most important questions to answer is the ubiquitous one: “What’s in it for me?” What’s the benefit for your prospect to hang around your website?

In particular, you want to ask yourself whether your website just comes across like a slick advertisement trying to “hard sell” prospective customers or whether it gives them the feeling that you are trying to “inform” and “educate” them. The difference in factual content may not be great, but the difference in perceived tone could make all the difference in the world. Another way to think about it this: Is your website shouting at prospects, or is it whispering in their ear?

Takeaways You Can Use

  • How you present your content matters as much as the content itself.
  • Make a visitor’s experience smooth, informative, and beneficial.