As online sales boom and online stores continue to proliferate, foot traffic to retailers’ storefronts is shrinking. 

For companies in the considered purchase category, the competition for showroom traffic is fierce. 

Whether it results in an offline or online purchase, most buyer journeys start with a keyword search online. Consequently, companies are spending more than $25 billion annually to convert consumer search inquiries into website traffic. In contrast, website usability investment lags far behind SEO spending. 

Delivering a great user experience plays just as vital a role in revenue generation as search engine marketing. For brands in the considered purchase category, the user experience is the secret sauce for converting online traffic into foot traffic. 

Poor ease of use and poor navigation will stop your traffic dead. A great experience will deliver your website visitor right to your brick-and-mortar showroom. 

5 Tips to Bring Them Into the Showroom

A web visit that triggers an in-store visit requires brands to accomplish five user experience responsibilities:

1. Communicate trust and transparency

A consistent look and feel for a brand fosters confidence and builds trust. 

Most websites do a good job with incorporating a consistent brand look (logo, general color scheme and fonts). Far more challenging is communicating the right feel or experience. 

When it comes to feel, a common mistake that marketers make is prematurely asking visitors for personal data or too much data. If someone walked in to your physical store, would you immediately hand the person a form and ask for his or her email? 

Forcing visitors to fill in a short form with their email as soon as they land on your webpage is the same rude experience. A well-placed call to action (CTA) will capture their attention. If consumers think you are asking for information that you do not need, they typically respond by leaving. Our research shows a direct correlation between forcing someone to log in and an increased abandonment rate. 

2. Communicate relevant information

Google’s research shows that 51 percent of smartphone users purchased from a company other than the one they originally intended to because the competition’s website information was more useful. 

You can identify the right content by reviewing your search terms to see what consumers are seeking. Provide this information in the form of FAQs, how-to videos or other content. Blogs are another great way to provide consumer information, as long as you do not force visitors to scan through your articles to get an answer. 

3. Optimize your mobile experience

The big issue we see with mobile is that companies mistakenly think that responsive design equals mobile friendly. 

Creating a mobile-friendly site goes beyond fast load times and configuring your website for the small screen. Mobile visitors want access to the same functionality and content that you provide on your desktop site, but they consume it differently. 

Design for touch to really make your website mobile friendly. Space links and buttons so a finger can easily click them. 

If a purchase requires a visit to your location, your prospect is more than likely planning a trip to your store. Pew Research reveals that 49 percent of all mobile visits to websites occur because the visitor is seeking directions, recommendations or other location-based information. Every business is different, so use your analytics to determine what content you should serve first. 

4. Allow consumers to perform time-consuming tasks online

Even though you may have top-notch staff ready to serve anyone who calls or walks in the door, Forrester research reveals that 70 percent of customers prefer to use your company’s website to get answers. 

Offering self-service options makes your customers happier and reduces expenses. A few self-service options that build positive customer relationships are loan payment calculators, room design tools, credit applications with real time approvals or how-to videos. 

5. Own your online directory listings

Our retail clients’ analytics show that when consumers are ready to buy, they may visit either your brand website or an online directory (Google My Business, Bing, Manta, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.). Before they leave, they are checking to see if you are open and looking for directions. 

Your online directories are your websites — own them! Complete your company profile — especially the hours of operation and address — and encourage reviews.

Consumers’ growing dependency on the web combined with the reduction in face-to-face communication with a business can really shape a bad perception of a company. Usability expert Jakob Nielsen says having a poor user experience is the same as having a grumpy salesperson. If you make your website the best sales experience you can offer, you will convert your digital traffic into showroom visits.