How to Repel Customers from Your Web Site

Having an online presence is imperative for small businesses to both attract and retain customers. But if you don’t pay close attention to the design and upkeep of your site, you may end up repelling, rather than attracting, new customers. Here’s how:

1. Hide your site. Sure, you’ve built your Web site, but let’s make sure no one finds it! Not listing your business and site with GoogleMaps, Yahoo Local, and many others will make sure local customers can’t find you.

2. Don’t rush it. A Web site load time of 30 seconds or more leaves your customers wanting more. You don’t want them to think you’re desperate by providing too much content too quickly, do you?

3. Bury the treasure. Your customers come to your Web site seeking information on your company and products or services—make them hunt for it! Simple navigation and a clean layout makes it way too easy on them.

4. More is better. Clutter your Web site with pictures and lots of different colors and designs. Don’t bother thinking about what kind of image you want to project or how you want your company brand to be perceived. It’s not like your Web site will ever be the first impression you make on a customer.

5. Be shy. So what if you have something that customers want—make it difficult for them to purchase items or contact you. Making it easy to engage with your business and site with an obvious shopping cart button or an easily accessible phone number would turns lookers into customers.

6. Keep it stale. I know, getting your Web site up and running alone is a huge accomplishment. So updating it on a regular basis with your latest deals or new menu items to keep customers coming back is just too much to ask. Besides, fresh, relevant content will keep search engines interested in your site… and we know where that leads.

As you can see, repelling customers is easy—it’s keeping them coming back to your Web site that is more challenging. Here are the top three ways to use your Web site to keep customers engaged and excited about your business:

1. Keep customers engaged. Make your Web site speak with them and not at them.

2. Get your Web site out there. Search engine listings like GoogleMaps and Yahoo Local, optimization, and advertising help make sure you are reaching the right customers.

3. Make it special. Give your customers content, coupons, and information that they can’t get anywhere else.

Angus Thomson Vice-President and General Manager, Grow Your Business Division Intuit Mountain View, Calif.