Why Websites Fail

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No, we’re not talking about the world’s most famous (or infamous, as the case may be) failed website.

We’re talking about an emailed November 26 Center for Media Research report [link unavailable] on why consumers leave websites without buying. Any connection between LivePerson’s “Connecting With Consumers” findings and that notoriously failed site is, as they say, purely coincidental.

76 seconds or else

The main reason for failure is consumers’ impatience with slow, unresponsive, uninformative or otherwise shoddy websites. “Online consumers want access to real-time help in an average of 76 seconds,” the report declares, “or else they will seek alternatives away from the site.”

It’s no surprise that consumers want to reach their goal online in the fastest and most convenient way possible, observes the report. The window of expectation for timely assistance is growing narrower, making it essential to have the right engagement strategy in place and ready the moment a consumer arrives at the site.

Too many websites don’t.

  • 58 percent of consumers are “frustrated by poor quality service online.”
  • 49 percent still find websites hard to navigate.
  • 33 percent struggle to get help or locate customer service.

Even a site that more or less works online, that’s relatively easy to navigate and that has prominent help buttons or customer service links isn’t home free, though. Because there are still more reasons – easily remediable ones – why consumers abandon websites in dismay (or even anger):

  • 57 percent drop out because they can’t get product, service or delivery information.
  • 53 percent because they can’t find what they’re looking for (like maybe access to comparative health-plan costs).
  • 53 percent have concerns about the website’s security.
  • 45 percent because of checkout problems.
  • 43 percent because an overly complicated login or registration process won’t let them go further.
  • 41 percent because they can’t find answers to questions they have.
  • 41 percent because of technical issues, such as, but not limited to, 404 problems.
  • 37 percent because the experience is “disruptive.”
  • 35 percent because they can’t get help or customer service on the website.

Anything here sound familiar, Secretary Sebelius?

The negativity lingers on

Failing websites can cost not only current sales, but also future ones. Short-term, they drive traffic into the welcoming arms of a brand’s competitors. Long-term, they militate against that traffic ever coming back.

According to the report, “The result of a poor online interaction with a brand is abandonment of the transaction (45%), a negative perception of the company (45%), loss of trust (43%), and loss of a customer to an alternative website (41%)…The repercussions of a negative digital experience have never been higher..”

Half a century ago, William Bernbach, a founder of Doyle Dane Bernbach and a leader of the advertising industry’s 1960s Creative Revolution, said that nothing destroys a bad product quicker than great advertising – because the better the advertising, the more and sooner people try the product, find out how bad it is, and warn their friends and relatives to avoid it.

If he were alive today, he’d probably add that nothing destroys a product – good, bad or indifferent – faster than a failing website.

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