If you want to convince a potential customer to buy your product, you have to make a good first impression. Without that initial spark of acceptance or appreciation, your users will move on, or might forget you entirely in the span of a few seconds. If you want to be successful in captivating new visitors and potential customers, you need to win that initial interest.

Why First Impressions Are So Important in Online Marketing

This has been a principle of marketing (and business operations in general) for as long as marketing and advertising have existed; it’s why business signage and lettering is still such an important element of modern physical businesses. But today’s businesses face a tougher challenge—making a good first impression online.

The Importance of First Impressions Online

Consider some of the factors making first impressions even more important in today’s online marketing world:

  • Decreasing user attention spans. The attention span of the average user is low, and it’s only getting lower. When a user encounters your landing page or home page for the first time, they’re only going to consider it for a few seconds before either leaving or continuing. Sometimes, a first impression is literally all you’ll get.
  • The semi-permanence of first impressions. Though not always fair, it is a general rule that our first impressions tend to stick around for a long time. That’s because our brains are wired to form snap judgments about our environment—it’s what kept us alive as a species in a hostile world. Today, these snap judgments make us accept or dismiss brands after only a few seconds of interaction, making it difficult for brands to earn a chance to prove their reputation.
  • The oversaturation of brands and content. Today, it’s easy for new entrepreneurs and new ideas to make their way onto the scene. Unfortunately for existing entrepreneurs, that also means hundreds of brands are competing for your shared user base. A first impression can mean the difference between being white noise and winning out.
  • The rising importance of brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is hard to come by these days, but a strong first impression can help make the difference between a user who’s only using you as a temporary means of utility and one who’s going to stick with you for the long haul. Customer retention is vital if you want to survive.

How to Make Better First Impressions in Online Marketing

Knowing the importance of first impressions is only half the battle; now you have to step up your game and improve your web design to deliver those first impressions:

  • Display your brand prominently. Your brand should be advertised throughout your landing pages; this will help cement an atmosphere or tone in your users’ minds. If nothing else, it will make your brand more memorable when they leave.
  • Choose the right design and web theme. Your design will make a powerful first impression, so be sure to pick a good web theme that fits your brand and is aesthetically pleasing to navigate. Minimalism is good here, with colors specific to your brand and industry, and an intuitive layout that doesn’t prohibit exploration.
  • Write compelling headlines. Most users will stick with you long enough to at least read your headlines—they’re only a few words long, and they’re quite prominent on your site. Writing killer headlines can help secure your users’ first impressions, so spend time perfecting them. You’ll want to stay in brand voice, be as concise as possible, and use compelling language to intrigue your users to read further.
  • Don’t bombard your users. It’s tempting to give your users everything up front—your products, services, history, and so on—but most users detest the feeling of being overwhelmed. They probably won’t get to view everything anyway. Instead, you’re better off with a minimalistic approach—give your users only what they need to see, and only what’s most important to securing that important first impression.
  • Include a personal appeal. You need some kind of personal angle if you really want to lock down a positive first impression. That might mean featuring customer reviews or testimonials, or it might mean including more personal faces of your team on your main page. People crave connections with other people, so show that you’re a personal company.

With these strategies, you can resist and overcome the challenges that most brands face in making good first impressions online. It isn’t easy, and it won’t be perfect—in fact, you’ll have to measure your results, analyze your performance, and adjust your strategy accordingly if you want to see your efforts pay off.

Still, if you can secure better first impressions with your users, you’ll achieve better customer acquisition and retention in an age where competition is relentless.