A new white paper by Singapore technology company Neowave suggests that up to 40% of consumers may do online research prior to making offline purchases. Another recent study by Google India revealed similar findings about this “ROPO” behavior (research online purchase offline), but Neowave goes further to suggest that one of the primary places that ROPO consumers go to research is your website.
To paraphrase the freewheelin’ Vice President of the United States: your website is a big deal.
The 2000s called and want their web design back.
I knew a company whose website landing page consisted of a press release for the good part of a year. The mystifying part of this content choice (besides not understanding the purpose of a press release) was that their product was a prime candidate for ROPO consumers. Curiously, their post-press release design choice was a static website with fifty (or so) unique pages of content stuffed with fluff, keywords and jargon.
Contrast either of those designs with the accessibility of information that Google provides. Users can find anything in seconds, yet businesses oftentimes design their websites as if they are completely oblivious to what prospective customers want to know. Our attention spans have been conditioned to a length comparable to a goldfish’s, yet many websites seem oblivious to the urgency that technology enables. If you can’t give consumers what they want in nine seconds, somebody else probably can.
The presumption that Google will navigate a consumer to a convoluted page on a bloated website is a little naive. Maybe not as naive as assuming that a consumer doesn’t need any information from their website at all…. but close. And though that one example is extreme, many websites have some degree of disconnect between what users want and what the site provides.
The difference between 70% and 40% is… whatever
In the Google India study, they concluded that up to 70% of technology consumers participate in ROPO behavior. The difference between Google’s 70% and Neowave’s 40% ROPO numbers may indicate is that ROPO behavior is quite elastic depending upon the commodity or service and consumer location. The Neowave study intimates as much. (note: Neowave’s ROPO percentage is derived from a Forrester report).
Whether it’s sating ROPO customers, inbound marketing, social media or digital advertising: a website ties all of these activities together. The extent that a company can convert a ROPO consumer or a Twitter follower into an honest-to-goodness customer has a large deal to do with the thoughtfulness of its website.