By Stephen Alexander, managing director, First Internet
Too many businesses view their websites as an overhead rather than a profit centre – but Stephen Alexander, managing director of new media agency First Internet is of the opinion that this needn’t be the case.
In fact, he firmly believes that dedicating time and resources to your company website, making it ‘sticky’ with reasons to visit, can dramatically increase online spend and boost your profits:
Attracting visitors to your site is half the battle, but if once they arrive they’re uninspired and quickly leave, you’ve wasted valuable time and effort spent on a search engine optimisation campaign.
So, it’s vital that you constantly update your site to ensure that people stick around and spend. Following these simple tips will soon have you added to your customers’ and potential customers’ ‘favourites’ file.
Keep it fresh
Constantly updating your website with fresh, relevant information, will not only help it rise in the search engine ranks, but also offer a reason for visitors to keep coming back for more.
For an immediate hit, try updating the visuals on the homepage – this is the first signal to visitors that the site is dynamic and likely to include new information. Then, be sure to follow through, with regularly updated content. There’s no bigger turn off to a visitor than reading news stories that date back two years! You should aim to refresh content at least every month.
A reason to visit
Promotions, competitions and special offers are a great way to draw people to the site and encourage them to browse and spend – everyone loves a bargain! It’s important that people know that these ‘events’ are happening, so do market them as you would if you were selling on the high street.
Create a buzz by sending out e-mailers to your online database with news of upcoming promotions. Remain targeted by managing your customer base, and viewing purchase history to ensure that you’re sending out information that’s relevant.
Introducing new ranges to the website is a key route to keeping it looking dynamic. Make a song and dance of new products with a new product feature on the homepage. You can make use of seasonal events – like ‘winter warmers’ – to make the site feel really current.
Create a community
Buying online can sometimes feel a little impersonal, as, unlike the high street, there’s no human interaction. However, you can certainly create a sense of community with a few friendly touches to the website.
Consider including blogs and podcasts on the site, which will give a personal feel and help foster a sense of personality and brand for your business. Seeing and hearing from an informed and approachable representative of your business will work wonders in terms of customer loyalty.
A humorous or lighthearted look at latest trends and industry topics will have visitors keen for the next instalment.
User-generated content can really engage visitors, making them feel a part of the brand. Why not think about introducing a message board on the site, and the option for visitors to respond to blogs?
A fashion e-commerce site, for example, might encourage visitors to post photos of themselves wearing their new purchase on a night out, or offer tips for accessorising. Do include a filter system, though, so that you’re not surprised by any less than favourable comments.’’
Make the site an information centre
Providing plenty of information about your product or service is crucial, so that potential customers feel more comfortable buying from your reputable site, than from a competitor with only vague credentials.
Adding a links page to other relevant websites, making your site an invaluable information centre, can ensure that visitors return time and time again. A financial services website, for example, might provide links to the FTSE 100, or a respected business magazine, as an added service for their visitors.
Set up links so that they open in a separate window, so that your website is still open in the browser and visitors can easily return to your site.
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