Last Updated Jun 21, 2011 12:26 PM EDT
Last week, I asked you to take a close look at WildChina.com, a company that provides high-end travel packages to China, and to send me your suggestions for how to boost traffic and convert more lookers into buyers.
Here's a look at the home page to refresh your memory:
A compelling reason to keep clickingThere are hundreds of websites devoted to travel in China. If WildChina is going to stand out, it is imperative that its visitors know -- in an instant -- why they should be investing their precious travel dollars with this company and not another one.
So what differentiates WildChina.com? Let's take a look first at the company's tagline:
WildChina is a premium, sustainable travel company that offers unforgettable journeys throughout China.
What does that mean to the visitor? Let's break it down.
- Premium: Well, we all know what premium means: expensive. Once you've announced that, then you better make a hell of a case for why visitors would want to pay a premium price.
- Sustainable: I think I know what this means, but do most luxury travelers? And more importantly, even if they do, is it really a major selling point?
- Unforgettable journeys: You have to be awfully jaded to go to China and forget the trip. What makes this company's trips more unforgettable than the competition's? It's not clear from the home page.
What's the formula for achieving that end? It's actually quite simple: Get the visitor intrigued by the offer and then make it as easy as humanly possible for the visitor to take the desired action (i.e. book the trip).
When I look at the WildChina.com website, the feeling I get is that they are so busy trying to be informative that they forget their website needs to generate revenue. The home page feels more like National Geographic than a travel booking site.
BNET reader Nilfina, hit the nail right on the head:
"The website design does not match the topic of the website at all. With the company name "Wild China" and after reading the above article (including the target audience) I would have awaited something more... exceptional, mysterious, fascinating and intriguing.Similarly, pgamse was turned off by the feel of the site.
"And what did I see? White background, visual overload of information and an awful logo."
"As a web strategist who talks a lot about the emotional connections that you make with your visitors, I'd start with the lack of energy -- the site is very professional, but very corporate and flat. The community-oriented content, e.g. traveler videos and photos is buried at the bottom of pages and easily missed."By way of comparison, take a look at a competitor, China Focus.
Like WildChina, China Focus uses the field just below the top navigation to highlight various destinations, but unlike WildChina, it immediately provides key information on specific trips right on the home page.
With the WildChina site, a visitor must work way too hard to view the details of an itinerary. The one call-to-action on the homepage ("View Trip") takes you to a landing page of a broad description of the trip. You feel like you are on a travel book site like Frommer's as opposed to a travel booking site. To get to the next step, you must scroll down to find the real call-to-action ("Inquire About This Trip").
Again, by way of contrast, look at Tauck, another premium travel outfit.
Tauck also provides strong calls-to-action, including a prominently placed phone number, a place to request a brochure, and a clearly marked opportunity to subscribe to their newsletter.
Low visibility onlineOne of the biggest problems with the site is finding it in the first place. I did multiple searches for traveling in China, and had enormous trouble finding WildChina.com in the results. The key exception was a search for China adventure travel, where the site came up as the fourth organic (unpaid) result.
A number of readers suggested that it was time for WildChina.com to invest more money in their search engine optimization efforts.
BNET reader Luca Vincina had this to say.
"The main problem is that for common searches the site doesn't come in the top position of search engines," Vincini noted. "The competitors are doing a better job at SEO. [WildChina says] 'the site gets about 1650 page views a week'. This is the wrong metric to focus on for a site like this.
"The owners should focus first on visits and bounce rates. Then, optimize other metrics like Lead Generation conversion rate and average time to respond to enquiries."
Technical IssuesReader Steve picked up on another key issue that may be preventing WildChina.com from converting more visitors into clients -- site speed.
"It takes nearly two seconds to start displaying anything and it can take up to six seconds for the page to complete loading, depending on browser. It's worth keeping in mind the research from the Aberdeen Group: 'a 1-second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.'"WildChina's awards -- National Geographic's Adventure Magazine named it one of the "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth" -- and multiple client testimonials show that the company is good at what it does. That's great (though I would like to see these endorsements of the business on display more prominently. But the website could -- and must -- do a lot more to drive business if it's going to stand out in the competitive travel website industry.
Have more suggestions for WildChina.com? Leave them below.
Jon Gelberg is the Chief Content Officer for Blue Fountain Media, a Web design, development, and marketing company in New York City.