How to read your customers’ minds

How to read your customers’ minds

The biggest challenge for any business website is finding a way to immediately engage the visitor’s interest.

Ask yourself, what do they want? What are they really looking for? How can you make it clear that you have what they want? (Or that they want what you have?)

Knowing what a prospective customer is thinking when they first arrive at your website makes it a lot easier to hook ’em with your copy. Luckily, it’s not too hard to figure out. In fact, I’ll show you exactly what’s going through the typical visitor’s mind. Let me borrow my crystal ball from this turbaned fellow and we’ll walk through the process together.

Peering into the brainpan: What website visitors are thinking

The fortuneteller with the crystal ball

How do most first-time visitors find your site? If you guessed Google, Yahoo, or one or the other search engines, you’re right. Chances are, they typed in one or two keywords to describe what they were looking for, then clicked the SEARCH button.

Almost instantly a search results page popped up, containing a long list of links to websites. Most of them, they’ve never heard of.

Which one will they click?

This, too, is pretty predictable. Statistics show that 80 to 90% of them will click one of the first four listings – which is why it’s pretty important to optimize your website for search engines.

OK, they’ve clicked a link and, miracle of miracles, they land on your website! How cool!

Then what? Well, put yourself in their place. What goes through your mind when you land on a website you’ve never seen before? There are three things you immediately want to know:

  1. Am I in the right place? Is this where I meant to go? Or did I click the wrong thing?
  2. Does this site have what I’m looking for? This is a biggie. If you don’t show them instantly, they’ll hit that BACK button and be gone faster than you can say, “Huh? Where’d everybody go?”
  3. How do I feel here? Am I comfortable? Or is it creepy or sleazy? Can I trust these people — or are they just trying to rush me into buying something? Do they even know what they’re talking about?

Oh, by the way. You only have a few seconds to get all that across.

Why the big rush?

The dazzling speed of computers and the Internet has conditioned us all to be very, very impatient. Admit it. If you don’t find what you’re looking for instantly, you look elsewhere. Right? If a link doesn’t open fast enough, you click somewhere else.

We all do it. And so does your website visitor. If she doesn’t see the answers she’s looking for instantly – I mean within the first 3-5 seconds – you have very little chance of keeping her around.

How in the world can you possibly communicate all that in just a few seconds? I’ll show you how, in the next installment of today’s exciting adventure.

Next: How to write copy that gets to the point — without getting obnoxious.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: KrätzschePhotography

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