We’ve all seen misplaced ads. The latest one I saw was in a devastating article I was reading about recent deaths due to COVID-19. About half-way through the article, I couldn’t help but notice (and not in a good way) an in-text ad depicting a woman jumping for joy. Taken aback, I wanted to see what they were advertising. It turned out the product they were highlighting was actually appropriate given our current context. But the tone of the ad — not so much.
In turbulent times, visits to your website can be like that in-text ad. Your users have landed on your site in the middle of stressful days probably filled with worry and uncertainty. Websites that depict “business as usual” can seem out of touch and insensitive. While a complete website redesign may not be prudent nor needed, adjustments to content that sets the tone or that highlights content that addresses current user needs can make a big difference in how your brand is perceived.
Evaluate your website content in the following areas and consider adjustments.
Check tone: The tone of your website is communicated in a number of ways, from copy and messaging to your tagline and imagery. Consult your web analytics to identify the half-dozen most visited pages on your site, and focus your efforts there. In addition to evaluating the messaging and/or offers on these pages, consider the imagery you’re using. Images of social gatherings and enthusiastically happy people may seem out of touch with current sentiment. Stress test your tagline against the current climate. If there is room for misinterpretation, consider suspending its display.
Provide easy access to COVID-19 specific content: If you have developed COVID-19 specific content, make sure it’s easily accessible. For most websites, the majority of users enter on pages other than the homepage (check your analytics to see if that’s true for you), so highlighting this content on your homepage is not enough. Consider collecting access to all relevant content on a single hub page, and highlight access to that hub page in the global header displayed at the top of all your website pages.
Adjust to current traffic trends: Turbulent times can change consumer behavior. Compare your web traffic trends over the past month to previous months. If certain topics or products are getting more traffic than usual, consider highlighting or contextualizing those pages. Approach this task in the mindset of how best to be helpful to your consumers and/or how to address their questions.
Adjust to current consumer concerns: If your website has onsite search, analyzing the search terms your visitors entered can be a good source for evaluating their current concerns. Compare the top terms entered over the past month to those entered in previous months and identify any changes. In addition to the top terms, scroll all the way down the list of terms to where users have entered full sentences into your onsite search (full sentences are unlikely to have more than one instance, so they’re at the bottom of search term lists). Pay special attention to the how-what-when-where-why questions that have been entered over the past month to gauge your consumers’ mindset.
For more on how to adjust tone and tactics to better align with consumer expectations, see “Consumer Sentiment About COVID-19: What They Expect of Companies“.
For more on the types of content that may resonate with your customers, see “Early April 2020 Update: Marketers, Solve for Consumers’ Most Urgent COVID-19 Fears“.
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