Five ways to improve your corporate website for visitors
Customers on the corporate website?
Whether you intend it or not, customers are likely to be the second largest group of visitors to your corporate website*. With approximately 25% of your annual site traffic potentially linked to profit from sales, it (literally) pays to ensure this group is well served by the global corporate web estate.
*Based on visitor statistics gathered over a twenty-year period of research into corporate digital communications. Learn more about Bowen Craggs visitor research.
This differs by company and industry. Our research shows that customers visit corporate websites with a range of objectives, including:
- To find specific product information such as ingredient details or information on parts, where to buy, or why a product has been discontinued
- To learn more about brands or sub-brands
- To answer ethical questions about the company – are business practices and products sustainable? What about supply chain practices and treatment of workers? This is especially the case for companies linked to controversial issues, industries, or events
- To contact the company – this includes product complaints or enquiries, supplier information, corporate sponsorship queries, aftersales or returns information etc
Five ways to improve your corporate website for customers:
1. Provide clear routes to product and/or brand information from the corporate website
Many companies do not include detailed product or brand information on the corporate website for a range of practical reasons, and in many cases this information exists on dedicated sites elsewhere. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but customers should be able to find their way to product or brand information quickly and easy, wherever it may be.
For example, Bosch’s global web estate includes a large number of regional product and e-commerce sites which can be easily found by customers via the clearly labelled ‘Products and services’ section and prominent links on the home page. The ‘Brands’ section of Reckitt’s corporate website is quick to spot from the primary navigation and brand pages provide onward links to dedicated brand websites.
Quick tip: on external product or brand sites, include a clear link to the corporate website as well. This can help to increase awareness of the parent company and make it easier for some customers to access corporate level information – Bayer does this well with a prominent Bayer logo on most of its subsidiary sites.
2. Make contact as quick and easy as possible
Customers expect quick answers and direct engagement from a company (especially if making contact via social media). They are likely to be frustrated by the lack of a direct phone number or email address and won’t take kindly to onerous contact forms. Links to contact information should be prominent no matter which page the customer lands on and making contact should be easy.
For example, Tetra Pak’s global website includes multiple links to contact information via the ‘sticky’ on-page letter icon, and links in the site header and footer. ‘Customers’ is a prominent category on bp’s contact page.
Quick tip: if your site includes a contact form for customers, try to provide an indication of response time.
3. State the company’s position on controversial issues clearly
If your company has been involved in a controversial issue or event or operates in an industry under public scrutiny, it is likely that customers will come to the corporate website to read about the company’s own position or version of events. If this information is not easy to find, or hard to understand, they will look elsewhere.
For example, ‘Ask Nestlé’ is a main section of the company’s corporate website, dedicated to answering common questions about its business practices and responding to criticism. GSK’s ‘Our position on’ page provides a range of position statements sorted into clearly labelled categories.
4. No more ‘corporate gobbledygook’
Nothing is quite as off-putting to customers as a website full of vague marketing-speak and corporate buzzwords. Customers, and in fact all visitors, want information that is clear and concise. There is nothing wrong with creativity when it comes to tone and style, but information should always be easy to understand. This is especially important for customers seeking product information such as ingredients, or reputational information such as a company’s sustainability practices.
For example, language on the Verizon and Enel corporate websites is engaging and accessible. The Google Research ‘Philosophy’ page provides a straightforward explanation of a reasonably complex topic without ‘dumbing it down’ for visitors.
5. Include product and brand websites in the internal search function
Customers expect good search functionality on the corporate website, or they will turn to Google. If your corporate web estate includes a range of product or brand sites, it is worth having an internal search engine capable of referencing pages across these sites as well.
For example, the search function on the KPMG International website covers the wider estate and provides highly accurate results.
Quick tip: if your internal search function is unable to cover multiple sites or is not particularly accurate (you are certainly not alone), then focus on providing clear links to customer information from the primary navigation menu – see point 1.