Eight Ways You Can Improve Your eCommerce Website – Strategies from a Long Island Internet Marketing Consultant

“My eCommerce site is not selling enough, what should I do? Optimize my website? Drive more leads? With a Pay-Per-Click Campaign? etc.”

Search Engine Optimization is hot right now and it will continue to play a key role in your overall web strategy.  Certainly SEO can help bring targeted, prequalified prospects to your online storefront. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns can be successful as well, however they can be very costly and time consuming, and much attention needs to be given to return on investment. On top of that, if a site is not built well from the beginning, you can spend an arm and a leg advertising your site because Google and other engines will likely associate you with a low quality or relevance score which can significantly drive up costs per click and your advertising visibility.

The truth is, many of us get caught up on driving leads / driving traffic when the real issues are your website’s design, your marketing message, your sales funnel and your ability to convert sales. Here are some basic tips to help you look openly and honestly at your eCommerce website and ask yourself if there are improvements to be made there first. If you build it they will come…but they may not buy, so look within first.

Design: Professional. Modern. Makes a positive impression in first 10 seconds. Instills confidence that your brand identity fits with your target market. Colors should be appropriate to your audience. Look and feel should be appropriate to your industry.  Every image and design element should support your overall message.

Structure: If your purpose is to sell, ask yourself if the structure of the site supports that objective.  If you are trying to do too many things on one page at once (promote events, provide tips, link to social network sites etc.) your message can get diluted and lost.

Navigation: Should be simple, intuitive. Menu options should be clear. So should your message; instead of “products” try “Shop Our Products.” Are the most important parts of the site easy to identify? How many clicks deep are key pages? If you are looking to sell, sell, sell, ask yourself why there is a lone “products” link in your Nav. vs. an overt message weaved through all copy and site elements.

Appealing Products: Do customers care what your product is or what it does?  Make your product descriptions concise and prioritized based on what is important to the customer. Convey products and services in a way that shows the customer how they will solve a problem or benefit directly.

Shopping Cart: Which one to choose? Have you ever seen customers walk out of retail stores when the line was too long or when policies were not understood upfront? Now think online shopping carts. Your cart can make or break the sale so do your homework. Know the questions your customers will have and answer them proactively in FAQs, calculators, and on page information, for example, to avoid cart abandonment. Know what your competitors are using and make yours more useful to your customer.  Make the cart an integral part of your sale strategy to sell, cross-sell and up sell, not an afterthought.

Privacy Policy: Privacy and personal information are expected, especially when confidential billing information is being shared. Invest the small amount it takes to write up thoughtful, clear policies and post them on your site. Have a lawyer review them to be above reproach.

EZ Contact: With a virtual storefront and so many choices for online shoppers, it takes more work to humanize the online shopping experience and gain the trust in your brand. Obscuring phone numbers (as many large Corporations do) and contact info. can frustrate users and make you lose sales. Know what customer service level is needed for your customers and build a process and communication plan around that. Tell customers how long it will take to contact them after an inquiry. Give them contact options. Put phone numbers strategically around your site with a multitude of contact resources to show customers you are on the other end of the line.

Post Sale Contact: Is the sale the end of your dialogue with customers? Are your customers coming back to your site after their initial purpose? What is on your site that would entice customers to come back? Are you offering something unique to buyers to get them back? A thank you card, a gift, a discount, etc.? Many times, the most sales lost are potential sales from first time buyers who are never contacted again.

If you have any further questions, please send a note to Upside Business Consultants at info@upsidebusiness.com or give us a ring at 516-610-0922. We are happy to answer a question or just hear your thoughts.

How Do You Know When Your Website Needs a Tune-Up? Tips From a Long Island Marketing Consultant.

Your new site is launched. Now you can move onto other things for a couple of years, right? For some, that might be true. For most, not true. Every site needs to be retooled eventually and even great websites get outdated quickly. Trends change. Customers change. What works and is relevant to your users also changes. The challenge is spotting the tell-tale signs and being able to back up why your site needs an update.

Some quick thoughtbites to help you find out:
First stop: Ask yourself, “Is my website doing its intended job well?”
When you built your site, what was the number one job it was supposed to do for your business? Is it performing now, or does it need a development plan?

Whether it was to drive a certain number of email registrants, sell $X of product directly to consumers per month, or another purpose, if your site is not accomplishing its fundamental strategy, you need to investigate further. Is it your content, your site structure, your online marketing strategy, your overall marketing strategy, a simple technical issue etc.?

What do your site analytics tell you?
Website analytics are your best friend when determining how visitors are using your site, how the site is performing and why you might need a site redesign. Comparing your actual results against the “success” metrics and goals you created before launch can reveal gaps and illuminate potential design issues.

Looking at the pages viewed, time on page, click paths, and exit pages, you may decide to surface high traffic pages that were buried to easier-to-find locations or reduce the number of clicks to get to pages customers are looking for the most, for example.

If you have an eCommerce site and notice significant cart abandonment at the same point over and over again, look deeper. There may be critical information customers wanted earlier that is influencing their purchasing behavior. Would you be better off providing a link to shipping costs on your homepage or an estimate on your product information page, for example? Or, there might be a technical issue that needs to be fixed by your developers at that point.

Adding a simple survey or feedback tool is another easy way to establish dialogue while gaining customer insights that will back your hypotheses and your case.

Are you attracting the right visitors to your website?
The issue is not always “how many” but “who” when it comes to the site traffic.  How would you describe your visitors to others? Who are they? Are they who you intended to attract? If you determine that you are attracting the wrong audience, examine the audience you attracted and the people you want to attract, and then try to think of what you need to change about your site, if anything, to close the gap. In the end, when you have built a site that is for your visitors, and designed with your customer in mind from concept to site architecture to imagery, you have a better shot at branding yourself correctly from the beginning.

Is your site conveying your brand and key messages clearly?
Your website should accurately convey who you are and resonate with the emotional or “gut” side of your customers. How you express your brand through the look and ‘feel’ of your site, your content, and all site elements are part of your brand voice. Ensuring that all of the elements come together cohesively to tell a consistent story to your visitors is critical to driving successful marketing.

Maybe you have grown. Maybe you know more now. Maybe you have rebranded.
Still, even when you might get your branding right, your brand may evolve over time as your company grows and priorities change, especially for new ventures who are constantly learning more about customers and how to go-to-market with their products and services the right way. Sometimes you can get away with replacing your logo, but rebranding often implies a redesign.

Is your site telling the same story as your offline materials?
Ideally, your site should tie in seamlessly with your offline marketing materials. Projecting a consistent brand and message to your customers helps build trust and confidence in your company. It also makes your message hit harder when you are talking to your customers and executing a 360 degrees marketing campaign. Your site is often the first place prospects look for information about your company. If you have updated offline materials, your logo etc., your website should reflect those changes.

Is your layout outdated?
Spotting an outdated website is not very difficult. You can often tell in the first few seconds. Maybe it’s a narrow site built for old computer monitors and not the current wide screens used today. Colors and images may be dry, or not contemporary with a dated look. Maybe your layout looks “tired.” Or maybe your site looks like it is taking a bold step into the 1980’s. Bottom line: layout matters.

Is your content right?
Is it right for your customer, and is it right for the times? Knowing how your customers want to be spoken to and in what tone can not be assumed. It is based on a real understanding of your customer. If your copywriter is not briefed or aware, there are cases where copy can be too colloquial or too formal and academic in other cases. Phrases also get outdated. “Bling” and other trendy words plagued the internet recently but are out. When you use content that is too trendy, or not relevant to your target audience, you are more likely to have to rewrite often.

Is your functionality overwhelming or frustrating to your visitors?
There are some who jump on the trend train, incorporating the trendiest apps and functionality onto their sites to stay on the cutting edge. This can work in a site’s favor, or against depending on the customer. If your site looks like it was designed by an overzealous developer in 2040 looking to demonstrate his/her technical prowess, you may want to reevaluate if this is what your customers want. If your customer is looking to quickly navigate through your site, get information and leave, ask yourself if long-loading splash intro pages, complex site navigation and a text-loaded site will potentially frustrate and distract them. Or, just call on some customers and ask!

In sum, every web site needs a redesign eventually. Knowing the tell-tale signs and being able to back up your case with the data from analytics are important first steps.

When you redesign:
Be up to date with your own business model. Make sure your website is doing its intended job. Be relevant. Be contemporary. Be on brand. Be consistent with your overall marketing program. Be conscientious about how layout, content and function can impact your results. Most importantly, know your customer and track their footprints!

If you have any questions, or need help determining if your site needs a redesign, email info@upsidebusiness.com or contact Long Island Marketing Consultant Upside Business Consultants at 516-610-0922.