I’m doing a marketing makeover on Ralph’s website. He’s got a vacation rental site selling properties in Paris and Nice. Ralph tells me that he wants to cut the cord from the big, impersonal, lead generating aggregators. He wants to have more direct interaction with customers. But has his website got what it takes to stand alone and have customers reach out to someone they don’t know? (I’m listening to Meg Myers while I work.) So, air kisses all around, here are my top 6 tips for turning this website around…
1. Never give your customers unnecessary options. 2 different products require 2 different websites.
So your domain name is parisnicevacations.webchalet.com I’m wondering why you’re pitching two totally different locations from the same website? Getting inside the mind of your customer, do they ever really land on your website not knowing which part of France they want to stay in?
Paris and Nice are two entirely different places. Don’t try to persuade people which location to stay at. (That’s the job of the French tourism boards. You simply don’t have the money to do that). You need to sell the benefits of your individual property within a location that your customer is already set on visiting. And already searching for.
I can’t imagine any search scenario where people would be searching for Paris and Nice at the same time. And you only use the word France once on the homepage. By pitching two locations, you’re actually making it harder for the people who already know where they want to go, or at least thought they did before they landed on your site.
Action: These are two distinct properties, they need two separate websites. It’s fine to cross link them, but never confuse your customers with unnecessary decisions.
2. Automatically rotating image carousels drive people crazy.
You start to confuse your visitor immediately by showing them a series of apartment interiors, but they don’t know where those apartments are yet. Is that the Paris apartment interior or the Nice apartment? You’re asking them to fall in love with 2 different places, then you’re going to snatch one away from them.
I’m also not a fan of rotating carousels that take away the control from the viewer. It’s like holding a brochure in front of my face and then turning the pages for me every 2 seconds. Study after study shows how our brain is adapting to completely tune out anything on a page that looks like an advertisement. The more we try to force things down people throats, especially flashing, rotating things, the more likely they are to scroll it off the screen or click away to regain control of their environment.
Action: Have images for one apartment only and use a carousel that clearly gives the user control of how and when they flip through the images.
3. Orient your travellers, take them on a journey and make them feel safe.
I click on the “Le Trésor de Montmartre” link. First of all, that phrase is literally a foreign language to any non-French customer. At this stage your customer may have it in mind to travel to Paris, but they likely have no frame of reference for exactly what that means. They are disoriented and it’s your job to orient them as to where your apartment is. Take them by the hand, reassure and guide them as you would a child.
Make then feel certain at every step, call it “The Paris Apartment, Le Trésor de Montmartre”. Then visually make it easy for them to locate themselves. If it were my apartment I’d start my images with a map of France, so they know exactly where Paris is. Then I’d have a zoomed-in map of Paris so they can see the neighbourhood in relation to the main destinations. Then I’d have an aerial shot of the direct neighbourhood. Then I’d drop down to street level, show them the front of the building, take them through the front door, then room by room, then finally local amenities. You’re taking them on a journey, showing them exactly where in the world you are asking them to go. Making them feel safe.
You already have many of these images, but they don’t take me on that journey. Do not underestimate how disoriented people feel about new destinations, especially after browsing multiple websites.
You’ve got another autoscrolling image carousel that doesn’t allow anyone to study the images you’ve uploaded. It makes everything look like an advertisement. I’m trying to study the rooms and zip, they’re gone. It’s such a trust killer. And the images are small and low resolution. It looks like a beautiful apartment, but why would you serve up tiny poor quality images for a product that you’re asking people to pay 5000 Euros a month for?
Action: Give people all the visual information they deserve for a 5k product, high res, full size and ordered in a way that orients and takes them on a journey. Your customers don’t care about the design limitations of the website, or hosting service, or plugins that you have selected. They care about spending their hard-earned money well.