The world of online shopping is very competitive, and it’s easy to get lost in amongst all the traffic, so you need to put some effort into not only driving traffic to your website but making sure they make a purchase. A lot of people are put off by a poorly designed, difficult to navigate website, but there are ways you can improve yours to make it user-friendly, look good and actually increase the chances that visitors will buy your products.
There are 3 main technical issues that cause problems with websites, so make sure these aren’t causing your site a problem.
The first one is whether your website is mobile-friendly. Google indexes the mobile version of a website, so it will penalise you if your website isn’t set up for different screen sizes. I’m sure we’ve all used our phones to look at a website and can’t read the text because it’s not mobile-friendly. It puts you off and you immediately go somewhere else. If your website isn’t responsive then speak to your webmaster, or fire them and speak to us.
Security is important too, and you will be penalised if you don’t have an SSL certificate. A secure website will have a padlock symbol in the search bar. You may also lose traffic because some browsers will show a warning if a website isn’t secure, and a lot of people will just go elsewhere rather than risk an unsafe website. Having an SSL certificate means that your users who send information through your website are less likely to have their details stolen. An SSL certificate will protect your website from phishing scams, data breaches, and many other threats, something we’re becoming increasingly aware of.
The last one is speed. If your website is slow to load, people are more likely to look elsewhere. In fact, Google recommends 2 seconds for your site to load! We live in a society that expects instant results so make sure your site loads quickly.
Your website is often the first point of contact with your business, so make sure it makes a good impression. Around half of all online sales are lost due to a poor website so it’s probably the most important thing you can do for your business right now, especially as so much shopping is done online.
The design of your website helps with customer retention, so take a good look at how your homepage looks. Is it clear and uncluttered? Is it obvious who you are and what you do? Are your calls to action obvious? And your key messages? What do you want people to do once they reach your website? Buy your products, get in touch, visit your shop or even head to your Etsy/eBay shop if you don’t have eCommerce set up?
When we design a website we have certain criteria that we try and stick to, although sometimes the client is adamant about what they want and we have to persuade them that we know what we’re talking about.
- Stick to 2/3 main colours that complement each other.
- Don’t have too many fonts and make sure they’re legible
- Try to steer clear of stock images that don’t reflect your business. You can usually tell a stock image from one that’s been taken especially for you, so invest in some professional photography for maximum impact and individuality.
- Clear navigation that makes moving around your site easy for visitors
- No pop-ups or ads, these just annoy people and are likely to send them elsewhere
- Don’t have too much information on the homepage, it’s confusing and makes it harder for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Keep it simple with basic information and links to the relevant pages.
SEO is all the activities you do on your website to make it look and work properly, attract visitors and keep them on your site. These include
- Good quality content – remember to write for humans and NOT for Google.
- Backlinks, including social media. This includes mentions on other websites, in the press and in directories
- Regular updates on your website
- Back-end information, including meta details
- Keyword research
- Competitor research
There are actions you can take yourselves to do your own simple audit, some you will be able to do but some you may need to speak to whoever manages your website.
The content on your website needs to be well-written and informative and include your keywords. This tells Google what your website is all about and helps match search queries.
It’s important not to ‘keyword stuff’, which is putting too many keywords into your content. Not only is keyword stuffing bad for your rankings, it dates a website and tells people that you haven’t updated it for a good few years (or you’re using a web developer who hasn’t kept up with Google’s many updates.
SO HOW DO YOU DRIVE TRAFFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE?
Now that we’ve got the basics sorted it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of driving traffic to your newly-optimised website.
Blogs are a great way to attract people to your website, but make sure you write what they’ll want to read. Talk about your products, your processes, your story, industry news, special offers and promotions. Think about your customers and what they would want to read about, the more interesting they are the more likely they are to be shared. Use lots of images, infographics and charts. People love statistics, and behind the scenes information.
You can even ask people to ‘guest blog’ on your site, so if you supply a restaurant with your products ask them to write about how they use them, recipes etc. This works well for both of you as you can each promote the other’s business.
Email marketing is a great way to reach your audience, whether they are customers or people who’ve shown an interest in your products. You can build your email list by offering incentives in exchange for email addresses, like discounts, downloads and freebies. In case you’re concerned about GDPR you are covered by the ‘legitimate interest’ option as long as you give people a clear opt-out.
Half of the world uses email, so it makes sense to reach out to as many as possible with a well-crafted email campaign. The last year alone has seen a huge rise in email, and it’s one of the best ways to reach out to people.
We use Mailchimp which is fairly straightforward and easy to use. The free plan allows you to create basic mailers and send them to up to 2000 contacts. Don’t send too many though, or people will get fed up and won’t open them. You’ll soon know when you’re sending too many as you’ll start getting a lot of unsubscribes.
Make your emails informative and concise, with compelling calls to action. Put some thought into your headings to increase the open rate. As with your website, make sure you keep it simple and easy to read. Content could include
- Links to your website
- Blog articles
- Useful information about your business
- A round-up of your month
- New products
- Links to relevant industry articles
Always put contact details, and links to your social media profiles to encourage people to follow you. Encourage people to share your email to help grow your client base.
If you do nothing else to grow your audience, make sure you have a social media presence.
In a recent article by Hootsuite, they said that the main reasons for people using social media are education, entertainment and inspiration. They don’t go to be sold to, although they will look for recommendations and reviews.
Think about who you are posting for and where they hang out, this will help you decide on which platforms will work best for you. Facebook is the obvious choice if you sell direct to the consumer, although it is getting more difficult to be seen unless you pay to boost posts. LinkedIn is the best platform for reaching businesses and there are ways to reach out to geographical areas, industry sectors, businesses and individuals within those businesses using the search feature. But remember that everyone is a potential customer so don’t be too corporate. By all means, set up a business page for credibility but use your personal page to reach out – remember that people buy from people.
Instagram and Pinterest are ideal for food businesses as they’re all about the visuals. Your photos need to be great quality and interesting to get people liking and sharing. Follow other businesses in your sector, and influencers who might help to promote you.
Twitter has a super-fast turnaround so be snappy with your tweets. Use hashtags, mentions and statistics, and ask questions to encourage engagement.
Consistency is key when it comes to social media, and this is where a plan comes into its own. Spending an hour at the beginning of the month writing down what you’re going to post for the next 4 weeks will make your job so much easier. Examples of posts are
- New products you’ve introduced or sneak peeks of new things in the pipeline
- Events you’ve attended or are planning to attend
- Collaborations and businesses who sell/use your products
- Behind the scenes – how you make your products, packaging up orders, receiving deliveries. Remember that your customers are interested in your business, they have chosen to buy from you rather than some faceless corporation, so they’re invested in you. Share the highs (and lows, we all have them) and show the human side of your business
- Meet a team member
- A day in the life
- How to use your products – recipe ideas, the benefits of your products (health, wellbeing etc)
- Special occasions like Easter, Mother’s Day etc – whatever is relevant to your business
- If you write blog posts, you can repurpose the content to create several posts
- Industry-related tips, articles, news items
- Days of the week hashtags #throwbackthursday #mondaymotivation etc
- Customer reviews and testimonials
- Funny quotes or memes
Don’t forget that posts with images get much more engagement if they have images, so put some effort into your graphics. If you’re lucky enough to have some photoshop skills you can create images quite easily, but if you don’t then it’s worth having a graphic designer and photographer on speed dial. Your photos or graphics need to be eye-catching enough to make people stop when they’re scrolling through their feed. Food images need to be mouth-watering, make people want to try your products and not be deceptive. It’s okay to do a bit of window-dressing but don’t go overboard or your customers will be disappointed when they receive their order.
Advertising on social media can help you reach more people and can be targeted to specific audiences. Retargeting is a good way of reaching out to people who’ve shown an interest in your products but haven’t become customers, this involves adding some code to your website that identifies visitors who’ve had a look round, maybe even put products in their basket, but haven’t bought anything.
Facebook groups are a great place to promote your business, from local town and village groups to business groups supporting each other. There may be niche groups for your specific business, so look out for those too. There are plenty of food and drink related business groups to join.
Analysing what your competitors are doing is a good way of improving your own activities. Use them for inspiration, sometimes we are too close to our businesses, or just too busy to come up with new ideas, so doing a bit on surfing can yield great results. Look at their profiles, how are they set up and what keywords are they using. What sort of images are they using? How often do they post, and what do they post about? Who do they follow? Use the information to update your posts and profile.
Don’t forget that it’s not just about posting, social media is a 2-way street so comment on other businesses posts, share their updates and build relationships. Although you might not buy their products, or they aren’t your target customer, you don’t know who’s going to see their posts. There could be collaborations to be had, or one of their followers could be looking for just what you sell. We all want to see each other succeed, so get sharing and promoting your fellow business owners.
LOCAL GROUPS & PRESS
There are plenty of opportunities for advertising in your local press, they are always on the lookout for good news stories so don’t be afraid to get in touch. You might have a new product range, moved to new premises or taken on a new staff member, or you could be celebrating a milestone in your business. If you have something to shout about contact your local newspaper office. Industry-related publications might also be interested in sharing your story, you won’t know until you ask.
There are also local free publications that we all get through our letterboxes. Advertising costs are usually fairly low, and with people spending more time at home they are more likely to have a flick through them. Some people even use them as a kind of yellow pages, so it’s worth a try. Just make sure your ad is eye-catching or you’ll get missed.
We use Google Ads for some of our customers and if set up correctly it can bring in lots of business. You can create highly-targeted ads to reach the right people, and it’s easy to see how successful your campaigns are. You can choose when your ads are shown, which areas they are shown in and exactly what your ads should say. Using specific keywords/phrases you can limit wasted spend and ensure that the people who see your ads are more likely to buy your products. Your ads are linked to your website, and Google will give you a quality score to show how likely your ad will be shown on page 1 for your chosen keyword, so use that information to improve your ad. Basically, your keywords need to be relevant to the content on your website or your ad won’t get show as much or as high.
As well as Google ads you can also advertise in your local press, in directories, on social media platforms and physical adverts in shops, noticeboards and billboards. You often see sponsored advertising boards on roundabouts or on planters in towns and villages but these aren’t for everyone so be sure to do your research and use your marketing budget wisely.
If you have any questions please contact us directly. If you’re interested in working with us we’d love to have a chat.
Get in touch on 01964 542916 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-obligation chat.