Oh no, not another one of those New Year’s resolutions blog post! At this rate, you must have a laundry list of resolutions to get around to. If you are anything like me, that list will probably rot away in some drawer.
Instead of resolutions, I want to give you areas of your website to focus on, with a couple of quick fixes and some more in-depth solutions for each area. That way, you can work on what makes sense to you and still have time for the ‘new year, new me’ shenanigans.
Your website is arguably the most important part of your online business. Having a bad site is like having a run-down brick and mortar storefront that gives potential customers a reason to keep driving to the next store. You wouldn’t expect to have great sales if your windows were broken and your shelves were so old, they had 5 years’ worth of dust caking your inventory. Same thing with an outdated site – how do you expect to sell anything if your site looks like something out of a 1990s website archive collection back when it was called electronic commerce instead of ecommerce?
It is time to make a few changes – not just because it is the new year, but because it is a new millennium and these changes need to be made now, if not sooner.
I know, I know. Websites are expensive. It is probably the costliest undertaking for a small business owner, but it does have the biggest reward. You only have a few seconds to make an impression on buyers, and an outdated, clunky website is not going to attract anybody’s attention in that timespan. I have bounced off countless sites, no matter how great the great deal was, if I found it to look archaic. If it looks like the site hasn’t been touched since 1999, I am not giving my credit card information – just like I wouldn’t feel comfortable stopping by a rundown convenience store with bars on the door, no matter how badly I may want to stop in and buy a soda.
In today’s world, there is no excuse for poor web design – not even the cost. If you do not have $10k for a good website, there are other options. There are many websites with ecommerce templates for sale, including the major shopping carts like Shopify, Bigcommerce, and 3dcart. You can choose one of those templates and even customize it for a couple grand, if your budget allows. Reach out and ask the development companies behind the various themes and find out your options.
Whether you are picking a template or starting from scratch, keep these 5 elements in mind to boost your ecommerce site’s conversion rate:
1. Is it SEO-friendly? Having a template or custom design that blows my socks off will not help if I can’t find it. You have to be diligent when working with web design companies and ensure that their templates are built with SEO-friendly features. It is better to spend the time, effort, and money to guarantee it is done right instead of going back later to correct the website. We both know that isn’t going to happen, remember the rotting New Years’ resolution list?Keep SEO best practices top of mind throughout the website design process. From the website layout and navigation to the product images and descriptions, your success in getting found is tied to following proper SEO practices. Optimized pages mean higher visibility in the search results pages, which usually means more traffic and money. You can even implement some of those tips now and start building your visibility sooner, rather than later.
2. Keep it branded. To keep people coming back to your site, you have to make your site unique. If you are using the more affordable template options, you need to spend the time and money to customize the website to distinguish you from the thousands of ecommerce sites out there. Make sure your logo and colors match the personality of your brand. Don’t have a brand? Creating a brand for your company should be the first thing you tackle prior to purchasing a new website. Having a company brand identity gives you the competitive edge needed in today’s market. It also helps build trust and connections with potential customers. The new target consumer group, Generation Z, expects companies to have identities and brands to connect with when purchasing products. With $44 billion in purchasing power, this target group is not one to ignore. Ensure you are connecting with your target audience and building trust with potential buyers to increase your sales. Determine your company’s brand, and then get a website to build on it.
3. Responsive (mobile-friendly). If you do not have a mobile-friendly site by now, you better get one, and fast! Data shows $838 million were made from mobile devices on Cyber Monday alone. Google also released information announcing that mobile-friendliness is being included in its ranking algorithm. Which in laymen’s terms means, if your site isn’t easily viewed on a cell phone, a customer will have a hard time finding your site when searching on Google. What are you waiting for? Get in touch with a development company and get a responsive website so you can get a piece of that multimillion-dollar pie.
4. Bold Call-to-Actions (CTAs). Help your customers know what to do on their journey to buying your products. Have strong “Buy Now” and “Add to Cart” buttons so users can easily navigate through each step. They should stand out from the background and be legible. You also do not want give the user too many options. This will cause them to either get side-tracked or become indecisive, neither of which will help you make money. Having effective CTAs will help increase conversions and ensure your customers are taking the actions that you want them to. Follow these best practices to make the most of your CTAs. This can be a quick and easy win that will improve your customer experience and boost sales.
5. Good Product Images. I am sure you’ve heard how essential good photos are way too many times. I hope you’ve heeded this advice, because even though a good website is awesome, bad product images will make it hard to move inventory. Imagine me trying to sell you a 1988 Cutlass Ciera with the front smashed in for $50k because it has a rare Lamborghini engine in it. If you want that engine, this sounds ok so far, but there’s a catch – you can’t open the hood to confirm the engine is rare and not damaged. I doubt you would feel comfortable handing over $50k. Buying products online takes a lot of trust, and you can’t expect someone to hand over money if the photo looks like a scanned 1980s polaroid. If a professional photographer isn’t in your 2016 budget, there are things you can do yourself to get better quality photos. Optimizing your photos is important for SEO purposes as well. Make sure you save the photos correctly so that they do not increase your website’s loading time. This all ties back to number 1 again, and website speed is another element in Google’s algorithm. You want your website to load fast, not just for ranking reasons, but for the customer’s experience. I will leave a website if I wait too long for it to load. Call me a self-absorbed millennial, but I will not waste my time on a slow site – there are too many fish in the sea. Having proper alt tags, file names, and image site maps can help increase your ecommerce website’s exposure tremendously. Shopify has a great blog post that walks through quick tips and online tools to get you started.
You need a great website to compete in today’s online market. Without a good first impression, it will be hard to generate income and turn your ecommerce business into the empire you’ve dreamed about. With the busy holidays behind us, take this time to get your website up-to-date and start 2016 off on the right foot.
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