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Boost Your Business with These First Impression Hacks

Want customers to flock to your brand? Focus on making a great first impression.

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Your customers might not make purchases as fast as you'd like. But you can be sure they won't drag their feet when it comes to deciding how they feel about your brand. In fact, if Princeton University researchers are correct, your customers' first impressions take just milliseconds to form.

Don't let this fact intimidate you, though. With the right steps in place, you can make the most of your first encounters and glean the advantages of looking good from the start. Making a great first impression can help boost customer satisfaction ratings, online reviews and customer lifetime value levels. The only catch is that you have to thoughtfully orchestrate buyers' initial moments with your company.

Related: 5 Tips for Getting More Online Reviews for Your Small Business

Are you eager to "wow" your customers when they encounter your brand? Below are several strategies designed to make strong impressions on leads and newer customers.

Adopt a "zero digital hiccups" mantra

People get impatient when faced with the all too familiar online experiences of tortoise-paced loading speeds or slow and outdated websites. An Unbounce survey showed that seven out of 10 consumers take page loading speed into consideration when making purchases. If a site spins instead of loading, those consumers will take their business elsewhere without hesitation.

So how can you avoid losing leads because of digital snags? Test and retest all user points of entry to your company. Additionally, be sure that all your virtual content and design elements are intuitive and essential.

Start this process with your site analytics. See which pages get the most traffic. Then, review those pages and fix any issues such as slow loads or confusing calls-to-action. Over time, track items like page bounce rates, average session time and general pages per session. If you see an increase in engagement, you will know that you're making better first impressions.

Related: 7 Ways to Improve Online Engagement With Visual Content

Aim for a personal touch

Personalizing your exchanges with buyers makes them feel welcomed and appreciated. That's a big bonus when you're trying to make a memorable first impression on someone who doesn't know your company. But you can't get personal if you don't know enough about your audience. That's why tools created to support a customer identity strategy are beneficial.

For example, leverage a Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) system to gather data that fuels personalization. A reliable CIAM provides a way for consumers to opt into your company's ecosystem. Once they're part of your organization, their data becomes available for you to use and you can use this data for customization purposes. Identity platform Okta estimates that CIAM customized communications could bump up sales by 20%.

After putting your customer identity tech stack in place, start experimenting in terms of personalization methods. You can use consumers' names consistently to send AI-powered custom marketing content. This deepens your bond with buyers and shows them that their first impressions of your brand were correct.

Live up to your hype

A fast way to destroy a great first impression is with broken promises. Even a small slight — like not answering an email within a guaranteed timeframe — can have big repercussions. Therefore, you and your team should do everything you can to be transparent, genuine and honest in your dealings with customers.

For instance, let's say you tell customers that you protect the first-party data you collect. This could include anything from a physical address to a credit card number. To support your pledge, you would need to put security measures in place. Why? If a cyber criminal hacks into your website and takes all your customers' information, you'll be the one answering tough questions.

The same holds if you promise buyers that they will get free shipping but end up charging them accidentally. You could risk losing a valuable relationship even if your program made a mistake. Fine-tune your system to avoid these risky mistakes.

Customers don't expect you to be perfect all the time, particularly if they've had a lot of interactions with your brand. Loyal customers are surprisingly generous with second chances. MIT research indicates that 74% of disgruntled consumers will forgive after receiving both financial and non-monetary remedies. However, you do have to prove to them upfront that you deserve their loyalty. Because of this, your first encounters have to be consistent and true to your word.

Related: Bill Gates Says Unhappy Customers Are Good for Your Business. Here's Why.

Most of us realize that first impressions matter on a personal level. They matter in the professional realm, too. When your first impression is delightful to prospects and buyers, you set the stage for a more rewarding relationship. You also set up a foundation that will allow your business to grow.

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