5 must-have features that will boost engagement on your website

 
 Ready to boost? Read on for our recommended features that you can utilise

Ready to boost? Read on for our recommended features that you can utilise

Intro

We just finished a mini-project for Derby-based charity, Welcome Churches - a refresh of its website.

 A snapshot of the homepage of the Welcome Churches website

A snapshot of the homepage of the Welcome Churches website

Welcome Churches is a Christian charity that exists to help refugees settle in the UK.

One of the common misconceptions with a website is to assume that it will do all the hard work and that people will come flocking, send enquiries and buy or donate.

This is sadly not true. The real work starts after you pull the trigger and go live, but there are some helpful features that can boost engagement.

This blog is not a pat on the back, but designed to:

  • Show you website features that can boost visitor engagement
  • Highlight what we are learning as we build websites as part of our business
  • Tips, tricks and anything to avoid along the way!
 The promotional pop-up in action for Welcome Churches

The promotional pop-up in action for Welcome Churches

1. Promotional pop-upS

  • A promotional pop-up is the small box with a call to action that appears when you land on a website
  • It is an attention-seeking feature that, when well devised, can encourage visitors in certain pre-defined directions
  • It has a number of applications, such as newsletter sign-ups, social media engagement, special offers, codes and vouchers and promoting content
  • If we take newsletter sign-ups as an example, the net result could be as high as a 40% increase in your conversion rate (source matthewwoodward.co.uk)
  • This is significant, as your newsletter gives you the means to talk directly to your audience about matters and products at the core of what you do
☠️Beware☠️ Although pop-ups can boost engagement, if presented badly, they can be spammy and have an adverse effect. Consider your objectives and check your analytics if unsure.

What we learned

  • To maximise the impact of the promotional pop-up for Welcome Churches, we delved into its branding pack and chose a high impact supporting colour (the pink)
  • We also tweaked the timing of the pop-up to give visitors a bit of breathing space on arrival, rather than ramming it down their throats
  • There is still a lot of debate about sign-up forms and GDPR compliance
  • Our approach was to include a well-visible privacy notice and ensure that double opt-in was turned on with MailChimp
  • For more on GDPR, see below

 The About us page - one of the most popular page on a website

The About us page - one of the most popular page on a website

2. About us page

  • The About us page is one of the most popular pages on a website, believe it or not
  • It's also one of the most unloved, which is unfortuante, but leaves an obvious opportunity
  • The reason for this is that your visitors want to know about you, not simply the prosaic details about what you offer
  • About us presents an opportunity for you to put some flesh on the bone - an insight into what makes you who you are
  • Who doesn't like a good story?
  • You can do some really obvious things that will help connect you as a brand with your audience
  • Put your people up with photos and some interesting bios
  • Structure it so that it doesn't become information overload - not everyone wants your blow by blow timeline
  • For those that want more detailed information, link to it or keep it tidied away in concertinas
Further reading: It's a fact, good About us pages engage users and build trust. Check out the research and best practices from Neilsen Norman Group →

What we learned

  • Bios are best written by the individual or someone close to him or her in the organisation
  • To get the ball rolling, we found some bio text elsewhere online
  • However, this wasn't quite sufficient (and just a primer), so we ensured to tap the team on the shoulder regularly for this
  • In the era of social media, quality head shots were a little hard to come by, so our advice (as with LinkedIn) is to get these done professionally where possible and budget allows
  • Present yourself well to the outside world - there shouldn't really be any excuses with all the technology and free apps available

 An example enquiry form with a privacy notice

An example enquiry form with a privacy notice

3. GDPR-compliant forms

  • As you've probably picked up, the theme here is trust
  • Data and privacy is a massive area which relies on trust between visitors and service-providers
  • At the end of the day, it's pretty simple though
  • Visitors want to know what you need, what you're going to do with it and why
  • Not in minute detail, but the general assurance that you're trustworthy, and somewhere to find more information, should the need arise
  • Forms are a really handy bit of kit on a website, and probably taken for granted as well as abused in the past
  • Now that GDPR is in force, your privacy notices need to evident
  • A simple sentence is sufficient to establish the trust relationship, and provided your back office systems are in place, you will have the audit trail that the ICO talks about

What we learned

  • We've found a nice, neat way to cover lots of bases with forms
  • We now include a privacy notice as standard and a radio button to capture active consent
  • The form is then typically saved to a Google Drive sheet and directed to the appropriate inbox for processing
  • This forms part of the audit trail as well as a backup in the cloud
  • We want to do some further work on styling forms overall to lift the aesthetic and convey corporate branding
☠️Danger☠️ You may be tempted to hook up your forms to MailChimp, but beware falling foul of GDPR consent requirements. If in doubt, consult a suitably qualified legal professional.

 One a handful of newsletter sign-up boxes

One a handful of newsletter sign-up boxes

4. Native newsletter sign up boxes

  • We've established that if your website is doing its job visitors are taking action
  • Aside from the promotional pop-up, a newsletter sign-up box is another excellent tool to begin engaging with visitors
  • In its simplest form, it is a box in which an individual types an e-mail address and clicks a submit button
  • He or she is then added to a maillist, such as in MailChimp, allowing you to begin to communicate what is important to your business objectives
  • Obviously, there are a few other things to think about, such as:
    • Engaging wording around the box to encourage sign-ups
    • A privacy notice (see above)
    • Do you ask for a first name or not?
  • If you want to supercharge the process, you might consider:
    • Redirecting the form on submission, since you've got someone's undivided attention
    • Add a welcome message to your MailChimp subscription process to underline a key offering (or just be polite)

What we learned

  • It's good to have sign-up boxes in key areas peppered across your website - one doesn't really maximise your chances
  • As this was quite repetitive, we created a template in Evernote to copy and paste details in each instance
  • It's also a chance for a bit of humour, rather than being another transaction, so we exercised some imagination with the sign-up copy

 An example of a branded, integrated donate widget

An example of a branded, integrated donate widget

5. Integrated donate widget

  • This one's not directly relevant to businesses, but there are some transferrable principles
  • Charities' lifeblood is volunteers and financial gifts
  • Making the donation process as smooth as possible is vitally important
  • A neat, simple donation area makes life easy for the donor, building favour with the charity
  • Ideally, you will be able to cut and paste some code so that you can deploy the widget at will
  • We used a donation plug-in from Donorbox on this project, which works and integrates well
  • It includes the ability to style the form, allowing it to flow with the corporate branding
  • See below for our thoughts on business applications

 

What we learned

  • Donorbox was a bit of an unknown, but we have been pleasantly surprised by its UK-tailored functionality
  • It can handle Gift Aid declarations, £ currency, one-off and regular gifts (Direct Debits), thank-yous to givers and GDPR
  • As for businesses, the closest parallel is processing online payments
  • We have found a number of functions that we use or recommend
  • Acuity scheduling is brilliant for optimising diarising appointments, and can be used for paid classes or tutorials. It also free with a Squarespace account!
  • Stripe Billing is excellent for recurring subscriptions, and we have discovered membership platforms that integrate with Squarespace

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We hope you've enjoyed this week's blog. If you've got a website or a branding need, do get in touch - we'd love to chat and see how we can help you!