When we design websites, we more or less assume that visitors will “tour” the site in some kind of orderly way, probably first taking in the home page, then reading the “about” page or company history, and finally pulling out the plastic to order a product or service.

The truth is usually altogether different. Millions of internet users keep three, four or more tabs or windows open to monitor e-mails, tweets, posts, feeds, and subscriptions; they’re also sending and receiving calls and text messages, sometimes listening to a radio or half-watching a television, and usually working in a busy office or at home with the kids. The reality of visiting a website online, in other words, is chaotic, although sites themselves have to be designed with order and organization.

Researchers are finding that visitor expectations are a key element in keeping visitors at your website long enough to read content and order products. Have you ever clicked on a link expecting legal, financial, or real estate advice, but you ended up at a gambling site, or worse? That’s an extreme case, but it’s the kind of incongruity that can make a visitor click away from your website in just moments. Your paid online advertising, your social media accounts, blog, website – all of your marketing – should reflect the same kinds of messages and themes. Your messages and themes are conveyed not just with words; keep your symbols, motifs, colors, fonts, and other elements consistent. Create a brand people know and trust. Meet the expectations.

What does a visitor find when he or she Googles your company and clicks on the link? Is the visitor’s experience what he or she expected? Was the visitor’s experience “consistent” from page-to-page throughout the site? If a visitor links to your site from a social media site, will the visitor’s expectations be met? What about email, blogs, podcasts, and video?

Let every element of your marketing strengthen and reinforce every other element. Nothing drives website visitors away more quickly than failing to meet their expectations, especially if they feel they’ve been misled. And if you’re like most people in business – busy – you might consider hiring a social media marketing company to create consistent web content that keeps bringing visitors back for more.