One of the major barriers to understanding potential customers on the internet is the fact that many of the interactions our site visitors have with us are nameless, faceless and one-sided.
Contact forms, live chat support and readily available contact details take us some of the way towards being able to understand what site visitors are interested in, but they also fall short in that they tend to be utilised towards the end of the decision-making process, when people have already decided that you probably do or do not have what they are looking for. The problem is, how do you know what you don't have that they are looking for?
Here's a suggestion. Ask your web developer to implement a search box on your website, with all search terms recorded. Now you can analyse what people are looking for, without them even having to tell you. If you want to get the most out of this exercise, ideally you should also be able to click a button and see the actual search results your website returned. That way you can assess how relevant the information you provided your prospective customer was.
Now you're in a good position to start making information about your business easier for people to retrieve. Implement this new system for a few weeks, then assess your log file to see what people are searching for. The results will probably surprise you. Very often the information you think is obvious is not so much so to someone who does not know your business.
Take the most commonly searched for information, and place it prominently on your home page. Ensure that your navigation system makes it easy to navigate directly to this information. If people are mistakenly searching for products or services you do not provide, and do not want to, or are not able to provide, perhaps you can think of a simple way of making this clear on the site. Those that you can and do provide should be made clearly and easily obtainable with just one or two easy clicks.
Let's look at an example. Let's say your website specialises in motor vehicle parts. You notice that in the past week, 20% of the searches done on your website relate to spark plugs. A catchy promo on your home page, combined with a new link to a page all about your spark plug range, and some strategically placed links to your order page, and you will very likely increase your sales of a product that is obviously in demand, even though you were not previously aware of it.
By analysing your customer searches, you will very quickly start to get a good idea of what your customers want, and where you are best able to improve your online services.