Monday, January 18, 2010

Building a lasting relationship in the fickle web world

I confess. I was as fickle as the next girl. I went for the ones who were dark, handsome and mysterious. Those plain, clean cut, honest ones bored me to tears. I wanted a challenge. I craved the thrill. I was obsessed with finding the next best thing www could offer.

Like so many surfers, I eventually became disillusioned. Sure, the websites looked good on the surface – damn good – but they had no substance. Get past the pretty face and there was nothing to build a relationship on. We broke up. I never saw them again.

In the flash of the web world, it’s easy to dismiss sites that deliver interesting content, relevant information and an engaging user experience. Hey, if they don’t have a pretty face, why bother looking beneath the surface?

As in the real world, though, pretty will only get you so far. Websites that deliver a lasting experience that the user finds valuable will stand a better chance at building a long-term relationship with your customer.

Creating these online relationships is not much different that creating relationships in the real world.

  1. Provide interesting, relevant content. Users want to hang out with sites that interest them and provide them with information they can use. Update your content on a regular basis. Keep it fresh and new.
  2. Engage your users. Users want to feel important, like their thoughts, feelings and opinions count. Build avenues for them to express themselves. Blogs, forums, surveys and polls allow users to be heard and feel valued.
  3. Become a resource. Users want to be with you, but there are a lot of other websites competing for their attention. Rather than fight it, welcome their curiosity by providing interesting links, articles, and viral content for them to visit. They'll keep coming bakc to you.
  4. Make users feel special. Users want to feel valued so provide them with special discounts, give them VIP access to news, web casts or other relevant information, and allow them to customize their web experience. Remind them that you love them all the time.

Take a good, hard look at your website. Is it relationship material?