Is Website Clutter Hurting Your Sales?

Albert Einstein famously asked, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Don’t worry.  I’m not writing today to pass judgment on your desk –provided, of course, you don’t pass judgment on mine! But, I amwriting to let you know about new research suggesting it may be time to address clutter around another aspect of your business: your company website.

According to recently released study results from SAY Media, a website that’s too “messy” may be costing you sales. Among the key findings of this intriguing research:

  • A “clean” site enhances ad and site perception. SAY Media found that sites with an uncluttered ad layout were perceived as more useful, more trusted and better than similar sites. Likewise, ads on these sites were seen as more engaging and positively adding to the overall site experience.
  • Ads on clean sites are always seen. Based on eye-tracking data, the study concluded that 100 percent of respondents viewed the ads on clean pages. Only 76 percent viewed ads on cluttered, multi-advertiser pages and 89 percent on sites with multiple ads for the same advertiser with complete share of voice. Content remained consistent across all test pages.
  • Viewers spend more time with ads on clean sites. If you send an email or have a TV ad campaign that directs prospects to your website, but they can’t find the link or relevant information, they will likely bail in the first 3.2 seconds. Those who believe a site is uncluttered will spend more than 13 seconds looking at the ad, four times more than time spent in a cluttered environment.
  • Clean environments result in higher ad recall. Both aided and unaided ad recall was highest in a clean environment compared to a cluttered multi-ad page and a page with 100 percent share of voice.
  • Clean sites improve brand metrics. With only one ad exposure, there was an increase in key message association for two advertisers on a clean page vs. a cluttered environment.  More importantly, one advertiser saw a significant lift in purchase intent.

Consumers today are bombarded with marketing messages both on- and off-line, and it’s no surprise shoppers’ attention spans are shorter than ever before. But, don’t make the mistake of thinking your only recourse is to cram more into every interaction. This same logic also applies to your email campaigns.

When creating an email campaign:

  1. Ensure the subject line is clear and to the point
  2. Ensure the content in your message pays off on the subject line and is easy to find, not buried among other content
  3. Use custom landing pages or even personalized landing pages (PURLS) on your website to drive consumers to the content you are trying to promote
  4. Follow the tips above to highlight and reinforce what you are sending them in email. Sometimes consumers will not click on your email but go directly to your website to find information.

“More” typically leaves consumers feeling confused, overwhelmed . . . and perhaps even worse, frustrated and annoyed –because they can’t find the information they need on their (smaller-screened) smartphones or tablets.

“Clutter is killing digital media,” said Troy Young, president, SAY Media.

Is it time to revamp your approach? Digital marketers now need to think simple and clean. Your goal should be to streamline messages and deliver only the most relevant information. In addition, pay attention to ad placement. The right ads in the right places are a key to helping improve ROI on website design.

Once again, I think Albert Einstein summed it up quite nicely:

“Out of clutter, find simplicity,” he advised.