I was recently reviewing some corporate CPG / FMCG websites and what a shock I got! These are organisations with the consumer in their actual name so they should be the most consumer-centric, right? Well yes of course!
And yet few of them appear to take the consumer’s perspective when creating their websites. Even fewer sufficiently delighted to make me want to return to their website, at least any time soon!
From my review of several sites, it looks like most organisations build their websites to share material with their customers. However, it is the information they want to share, not what their customers might like to have.
This made me think about what would be important, from a customer’s perspective, to include on a website. Here is my list of seven things, but I welcome your own ideas or additions in the comments below.
The 7 Things that MUST be on a Website
- A clear structure that is intuitive. You should still include a sitemap for those who need further help or who are less logical in their search.
- Easy to find contact links, or full company details on the home page. These should include telephone numbers, email, postal and street addresses, and social media icons. You should keep in mind that these days, customers often go to a website to find out how to contact a brand or company. Therefore make it as easy as possible for them.
- A list of your brands, products and services. Since customers think brands before categories, include images of them, together with relevant details such as pack content and ingredients. Add usage suggestions, especially if there are any limitations, and information on where to find it, especially if distribution is restricted. These are the minimum facts to include, but of course you can include further details that you know may be of interest and important for your customers to know.
- An about section showing the company details, including its management team – not (just) the non-executive directors. If you are a global company, add the geographical areas you cover and offer a choice of languages on the homepage. The company mission statement, its values, strategy and culture are also important to share and help build a positive image with customers. Although you must have a media section for journalists and investors, customers too like to know what’s happening with their favourite brands, so add a news section with the latest stories.
- Valuable content from the customers’ perspective. The site must be regularly updated and have cross-browser compatibility with web-friendly images. Since photos and videos are one of the most popular elements of the web, include them or invite your customers to add their own.
Purina has become a well-liked site thanks to its user-generated content, to which it also adds its latest TVC and print advertising. People love to watch, comment and share new material, so make it easy for them to do and appealing to regularly return for the latest news.
- A FAQ section with the most often asked questions. This area also needs to be regularly updated with the questions coming into the care lines and customer services team.
- Utilities such as search, sign-up and subscribe forms, and an RSS feed for your customers are worthwhile adding, to help them get the most out of your site’s content. In addition, tracking and analysis codes will enable you to follow where and what your customers look at most often. This will provide more information than that obtained by asking your customers directly, which parts need revision or replacement.
A good example for inspiration
One of the better corporate websites I have come across and which is also a lot of fun to interact with, is the site of Reckitt Benckiser. It really interested and engaged me for quite some time and in many different areas. For example, instead of the usual list of its brands and their logos, it shows what it calls its Powerbrand line-up displayed on a retail shelf or in the rooms of a virtual home (I admit the sound effects irritated me somewhat, but you can turn them off). You can then click on the picture of the product to get more information on it, the category and its latest advertising.
Inviting audience participation encourages people to click on all the brands to find out more about them. And the interactive demonstrations of the Reckitt Benckiser corporate world, through the addition of games and challenges, add further appeal, not only to consumers, but also past, present and potential employees.
Take a look at their site linked above and compare it to your own corporate website. Which would you like to spend time on? Is your site a corporate or customer-centric one? Do you have all seven things mentioned above for your own website? If not, it’s time to think customer first.