When you are thinking about your website, and your business, it is easy to forget the people whose opinion really counts: your customers.
If your small business website does not give your customer what they are looking for, it needs fixing.
One way to ensure you always bear your customers attitude in mind is to take a step back and try and think about how you feel when using someone else's website, perhaps for the first time.
A useful way of doing this is to pick a competitors site that you think is similar to yours (or not, as this can be just as rewarding), then set yourself a task for that site; you could decide you’re going to buy a product (make sure it's cheap!), sign up for a newsletter or try and get hold of someone at the business to ask a question.
Once you've set yourself the task, go to the website to complete it; while you're doing so, list all the elements that you found annoying, confusing and off putting – ask yourself if the navigation seems natural and intuitive or was it confusing and unhelpful? Were there any quirks about the transaction process if you're trying to buy or book something?
Then take a good look at the list and try and compare it to your site. It can really help you focus afresh on the elements of your site that perhaps aren’t working particularly well and need changing.
Of course, Google Analytics is there as well to give you the stats for where people are going on your site and what they're doing and how long they're spending on it, but this exercise allows you to take a "hands on" approach which sometimes the stats can't really get to.
Try doing the same exercise but using a friend or someone in your family who might not be too familiar with your site and what you do. The results could be really illuminating (hopefully not too alarming though!).
Here are a number of elements a user might look for, and expect to see, if your website has transactional capability and which, if you have most or all of them, will certainly go a long way to ensuring that sale/lead is captured and your site is functioning and laid out as it should be:
Perhaps the most vital element: When it comes to the point of transaction and you're asking the user to enter personal details, your URL should begin with "https://", not "http://". The additional "s" shows it's on a secure server.
These days a secure website will also rnak better than a non secure site in Google so on top of the trust and confidence factor you also have the benefit that making your site secure should, in theory, improve your SEO rankings.
What are the options you offer? Are you being flexible and offering a good number of options? Will your charges seem extortionate when added to the price of the item being delivered? If so, think of changing your pricing structure so more of the delivery cost is in included in the cost of the item as there can be nothing more off putting than going through the transaction process only to find there’s an extra 20 per cent to add on for delivery.
Customers really do like it if you can offer some sort of phone support either post, or pre-delivery. If you simply haven’t got the resource, then email is a must. It's a really easy thing to add to your website so if it's not there now get in touch with your website designer and get it updated!
Is your website getting any reviews anywhere on the web for its service and products? Users often look for this as another way of finding out if your site and company is trustworthy and, of course, the products and services up to scratch.
Of course, if you are a new business, there might not be any comments out there. But take your time and remember business success is more a marathon than a sprint and as long as you offer a quality service the reviews will build up in short time.
Voucher sites are big business and many people with trawl them looking for vouchers offering small to larger discounts on goods and services before then going to those sites to transact. It can be a good idea to get involved yourself; contact the sites and see what terms they're offering. You might only have to offer a 5 per cent discount, but it's free advertising essentially.
Consumers will often or nearly always look for contact details which are clearly available on a site. If yours doesn't have any, or they are somewhat hidden, it can make the customer deeply suspicious.
Again, phone assistance in the transaction process is a huge bonus, if you can put the resource together for it.
If a customer adds something to a shopping cart but can't easily see how to remove it if they change their mind during their time on your site, or it's difficult and not obvious how to navigate back to where they were or your transaction homepage they'll often go elsewhere.
Most ecommerce websites obtain a fairly small conversion based on slaes V unique visitors so you will be surprised what a real difference you can make by focusing on the buying experience.
Lots of these things can be done yourself but if you would llike some professional help then please get in touch and we will be happy to discuss what you have done to date online and then suggest some ideas of what your online future could bring.