Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re planning to open a new store right across the street from an existing one. How can you stand out against the competition?
Branding is the thing that makes Larry’s corner store distinguishable from Paul’s right across the street. No matter how many years Paul has worked to keep his head above the water, his business will suffer if Larry’s newer and flashier store is able to build a more stable and loyal customer base.
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Every business can relate to this, whether you’re running a business that caters to consumers or even if you are running a B2B operation. While packaging isn’t everything, it does deliver the first blow to the customer. You want that first blow to hit hard enough for anyone receiving it to be intrigued by your product.
The concept outlined above applies to every product in existence sold in the private sector. It’s why companies offering digital services like cloud storage aren’t using website designs from the 1990s anymore. If they did this, it would deliver the impression that the product is weak in about seven seconds or less.
Once you funnel in a prospect through branding, the user experience (UX) featured by the product itself will determine if there will ever be a return visit. Technology companies in particular offer experiences, which factor heavily into their projected growth. If customers do not have as thrilling of an encounter with your product as they do with a competitor’s, they’ll very likely not remain very long with you.
Brand presence, experience, and trust in your product are all the most important determining factors for a company’s growth and its retention of a loyal customer base. After all this is said and done, it’s time to put all of this into action. But how?
Start by making a knock-out first impression
As mentioned above, you have seven seconds to deliver a first impression. Start out by delivering the most impressive blow you can. This can be done by being mindful with your website and product design such that visitors will be drawn by every single aspect of your site, what it says about your product, the way it is designed, and the promise of something they’re yearning for.
Every word must resonate with authority, and every design decision should center on making use of screen real estate to bring the point home. You need to have a presentation that justifies the product that you have, and the site needs to convey that the company that created it believes in what it does.
Here’s a great exercise: Try to remember a brand or product site that really caught your eye and made you sign up. Take a step back and analyze precisely what gave you the biggest hit, then try reproducing its effects in the context of your product.
Keep them engaged and scrolling
If good first impressions get users on board, then a great second impression will make them stay and keep scrolling.
Small touches can ensure that your website is not boring. One way of ensuring staying power is by letting users explore and engage with the on-screen elements, which can keep them motivated to learn more. Dynamically presenting data and information to the user as he or she hovers or clicks on page elements can help entice their curiosity.
Easter eggs hidden in the site’s design elements, in particular, have great potential in delighting a user. These are small features that enhance the user experience by rewarding exploration.
Some words of advice: Delight your users in every step of the way, and your website will be memorable for them long after they leave.
Gain trust through the user experience
You’re getting people to use your product, but all that effort will be for nothing unless the user actually benefits in some measure. Delivering a worthwhile user experience is perhaps the toughest part of creating a digital product.
“For starters, good UX reduces friction, and reducing friction is one of the most powerful ways to drive growth throughout the conversion funnel,” says Sean Ellis, founder and CEO of Qualaroo.
He further says: “Tapping into your ideal market — those users who will engage with and love your product or service — is the key to authentic growth, and this can only be achieved through a deep understanding of how people interact with the product.”
Technology companies especially find out that there is an extraordinarily strong correlation between the quality of their product and the growth they experience. The concepts are so married that any change in the graphical interface can inspire otherwise loyal customers to begin seeking alternatives.
UX strategy should be central to the development of technology products. That’s why some companies choose to hire user experience consultants to help them build a better product that goes along with the needs of the user. Your interface should reduce the amount of friction between users and their goals. They should be able to use your product without having to jump through hoops or search too long for the feature they’re looking for.
Solidify that trust through reliability
Once you have a brand you can be proud of and a product that delivers exactly what it promises in the most efficient manner possible, you have a working model that can achieve customer retention.
The one thing you have to avoid at all costs is a server outage that can pop that bubble of trust that takes time to build in a matter of minutes. Make sure that the service you provide is hosted on the most reliable infrastructure possible.
Each of the above is a pillar that cannot stand on its own. These aspects of product development are all interdependent, and you can only achieve growth when all of these reflect the strength of your product with impunity.
Your customers need to see you as an authority, as the only entity that can get a job done the way they want it to be done. If your customers leave your site with anything but the fervent conviction that you are the best choice, you’ll probably never see them again!
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.