This month, the Sterling Woods Group is going to be talking about user experience (UX). This is a broad term that encompasses all interactions a user has with your brand, from the first time they come across you to the hundredth time they do business with you. Every single social media post, page on your website, and customer service email are all a part of UX. Over the course of the next four weeks, we’ll be looking at the ins and outs of creating the best possible UX for every type of member: new or returning, younger or older.
Of course, every business owner wants to create an outstanding user experience. What customer would want to do business with a company that leaves a bad taste in their mouth?
This much is easy enough to figure out. But it’s not always evident what actionable steps will ensure that each and every person coming across your brand has an incredible experience.
Today, we’re going to look specifically at UX for new members. What can you do to help your brand stand out from the very beginning and ensure that prospects choose your membership program over that of your competition?
Make It Clear What You Do
There’s nothing worse than going to a company’s website and leaving feeling confused about what it is they do. When someone happens upon your website, it’s because they have a problem they’re looking to solve. You need to make it very clear that you understand their pain points and have the perfect solution to their issue.
You do this by creating a very clear value proposition. Start by talking to your existing customers about what they love about your business. Once you understand what it is that gets your current customers excited about your product or services, you can craft a value proposition that best articulates what you do.
After you’ve created your value proposition, it’s time to put it to the test. Make sure that it’s clearly stated on the home page, and follow it up with a call to action button, giving your prospects the opportunity to take you up on your offer to solve their problem.
It’s not always possible to predict how users will react to your value proposition, so it’s okay to test out a few different approaches. In fact, A/B testing is a great way to see which value proposition resonates best with your audience.
Make Navigation Easy
If a user finds the value proposition on your homepage enticing, it’s likely that they’ll want to take a look around the rest of your website to gain a deeper understanding of your business. Once they start moving around to other pages, you want to ensure that it’s easy for them to navigate.
Scrolling pages are preferred; it allows you to keep all pertinent information on one page and keeps the user engaged and right where you want them. Once you introduce clicking, you’ve asked the user to make a decision.
Studies have shown that providing too many options and forcing people to make decisions can scare them off. If you want your prospects to say yes, keep navigation simple, and make sure you have only one goal for each page.
If your website is designed with a lot of clicks, provide breadcrumb navigation so that users can easily find their way back to earlier information. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to use the back arrow in your internet browser to try to find the relevant information you read six (or was it seven?) pages back.
One of the most critical things to do with prospects is establish trust in your brand. If it seems like you’re hiding something on your website or social media pages, users will notice, and it will erode their confidence in your business.
Be up-front about membership costs and what each level of membership includes. If you don’t include a price, you may scare users off; no one wants to accidentally sign up for something that’s outside of their budget. Additionally, if you’re vague about what is included in a membership package, users will assume you’re trying to hide the fact that product doesn’t offer a great value.
Make It Easy (and Valuable) for Prospects to Introduce Themselves
If you’ve followed the steps above, it’s likely you’ll get some prospects who are excited to learn more about your business. Now is the time to make their user experience as seamless as possible.
Make it very easy for prospects to sign up for your newsletter (or other free product) or a trial membership. Provide a clear place to do so on each page of your site, or consider a non-obnoxious pop-up asking for their contact information.
When asking for information from prospects, keep it as simple as possible. No one wants to fill out a form with 20 fields, so only ask for the essentials. It’s also helpful to auto-populate as much of the form as possible.
Finally, don’t punish people for doing things their own way—things like dictating the formatting for phone numbers or credit cards can easily annoy a prospect. People get frustrated when forms are long, confusing, or finicky, and if you lose out on collecting a prospect’s contact information because of a silly annoyance on your website, you’ve missed a huge opportunity.
Experimentation Is Key
So much of creating a great user experience is about experimentation. Sometimes messaging or a website layout that you think will be effective turns out to be a dud. Other times, that approach you were skeptical about is a runaway success.
There is incredible value in experimenting and measuring to find what is most effective with your audience. As mentioned above, A/B testing is a great way to see how the tactics you’re trying on your website are working out. Keeping an eye on analytics and being willing to make changes quickly when things aren’t working are the keys to the best possible user experience for your unique customer base.
Users have a lot of options out there about where to take their business. Make sure your online presence sets you up for success from the start by creating a seamless user experience that clearly states your value proposition and makes it easy for interested users to learn more.
About the Author
Rob Ristagno, Founder and CEO of Sterling Woods, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. He started his career as a consultant at McKinsey. Ristagno holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.
Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors: A Proven Method for Making More Money Online. He regularly speaks at key media conferences, including at Niche Media events, Specialized Information Publishers Association meetings, and the Business Information and Media Summit.