Don’t over think your website

The number one most common problem we come across during the website design and build process is that customers massively overthink their website.

They want too much from it (and usually without paying for it).

Imaging a shop window. Let’s say it’s the shop window of your favourite high-street retailer. They use eye-catching design to grab your attention, they feature new and fashionable products, they use simple but effective graphic design, and that’s about it.

It’s highly unlikely that as part of that display you will find every scrap of detail about each individual product – barcode, product name, item description, sizes available, conversion chart for sizes, colour choices, price range, etc.

Instead, that minimalist but well thought-out window design has the sole purpose of grabbing your attention and getting you to go into the store to find out more.

Your website needs to take exactly the same approach.

Your website is in fact your shop window. It is the place where you need to grab the attention of passing visitors, and make them want to contact you to find out more.

Less, as they say, is more.

Provide your potential customers (visitors) with enough information to wet their appetite, and give them easy ways to get in touch with you to find out more.

The getting in touch part is essential. Why? Because once they contact you they have taken the first step in creating a relationship with you. And it is relationships that make money.

So, think about your website. Have you made the fatal mistake like so many others and shoehorned every last scrap of information onto your web pages?

If you have then it may be time for a rethink of your strategy.

ASA regulations also cover websites and social media

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is well known for governing the advertising campaigns of UK Businesses such as print publications and TV advertising.

However, many smaller business owners were not aware that the ASA also govern the use of advertising on digital platforms including websites and company owned social media accounts.

The announcement made by the ASA explains the extent of which their regulations cover is “Advertisements and other marketing communications by or from companies, organisations or sole traders on their own websites, or in other non-paid-for space online under their control, that are directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods, services, opportunities and gifts, or which consist of direct solicitations of donations as part of their own fund-raising activities”.

This guidance is fairly clear cut, but there are some key points that every small business owner should take note of.

1. All communications on your website are subject to the ASA regulations. These regulations aim to control communications that are designed to mislead, harm or offend. Particular focus is placed on communications relating to alcohol, health and beauty claims, children and young people, medicine, finance, environmental claims, direct marketing, prize promotions and gambling.

2. Social Networking Sites are included in other non-paid-for-space, and are subject to the same regulations as your own website. Interestingly, if you share a line of text on a social media account that is actually an advertisement then you should include a statement that tells people it is an advertisement, such as using the hash tag #Ad on Twitter, or placing an “Advertisement:” or “Ad:” warning on Facebook and other such sites.

3. Any comments posted by a 3rd party, such as a customer, will not be your responsibility. Only those communications that are posted by you or a representative of your business/company are subject to the regulations.

Basic email marketing tips

Email marketing is a powerful tool that every business large or small should consider using.

There are however some key tips and tricks to running an effective email marketing campaign, some of which are detailed below:

Signup Permission

There are numerous laws that govern the use of email communications, and these laws change from country to country. Essentially though, if you have not been given permission to send email marketing communications to a recipient then you are classed as a spammer.

As such ensure that rather than purchasing email lists and emailing random contacts you should instead consider building a list via a signup form on your website that requires a user to enter their name, email address and confirm that they wish you to contact them.

By ensuring that a user opt-in to your email communications you are not only ensuring legal compliance, but you are also ensuring that each contact on your email list is a pre-qualified prospective customer.

Avoid Spam Filters

Nearly all ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) have rigorous spam protection in place to help trap and reduce unsolicited email messages before they reach a customers inbox.

There are lots of different criteria that these filters use to identify an email message as spam, but they generally rank each individual email by these differing criteria’s and then if that email achieves a rating about a specific level then it is automatically flagged up as spam and deleted.

To stop this from happening to your email communications ensure that you don’t use words such as “Free”, “£££”, “Save” or “Discount” in the subject line and content of your emails. These, and many like them, are used regularly by spammers and as such you are likely to be flagged up as one such spammer if you use them.

Personalize Your Emails

It doesn’t take much to do this, as most email software allows you to send to a distribution list with an option of how each email recipient is addressed.

Receiving an email addressed to you… your own name …is much more personal than a “Dear Subscriber”, and it immediately creates an emotional bond between you and the recipient.

Improve Conversion

Research shows that by including text links in bold, blue and underlined have a much higher click-through rate than using banners and buttons. So, keep it simple.

Simple Unsubscribe

Make it easy for your recipient to unsubscribe from your emails. Over time people turn off from what you are saying, and your emails become irrelevant. When this happens there is little point in sending them your communications, as they do no good, and in the eyes of the recipient become spam messages (even when they have given you permission to contact them). As such, ensuring that there is a quick and easy way to unsubscribe allows you to keep your email campaign legal and as effective as possible.

Repeat Email Communications

It has been proven by thorough research over the years that repeat communications work better than single ones.

If you are sending an email telling your list about a special offer then you are likely to receive only a small amount of interaction from your first email. A second email increased that interaction. A third email significantly increases that interaction. And in many cases a 4th and 5th email can see increases of up to 300% in the interaction seen previously.

Stay Consistent

The look and feel of your emails should stay the same on each email, and should be sent at roughly the same day and time each week.

Using a simple template and email auto-scheduling will ensure this is achieved as best as possible.

Subject Line

When someone is checking their email inbox they dedicate approximately half a second to each email subject line to see what catches their attention.

With this in mind you should take great care over the subject line you choose to ensure maximum open rates.

Test Your Emails

Before sending your email en-mass ensure that you send yourself a test email to see how it displays, and to ensure that all images and links are working as they should.

Nothing screams unprofessionalism more than receiving an email marketing communication that does not work.

Signature

Ensure that every email includes your signature. Not only does it look more professional and radiate a more personal touch, but it also significantly increases click-through rates.

Your signature or footer should also include your registered address and contact details to comply with email communication laws.

Simple pointers for effective ecommerce design

As e-commerce explodes through the development of technologies, increase in faster internet connection speeds and the wider access of the internet to all, so too does the level of competition that your e-commerce store will come up against.

With that in mind it is essential to plan, design and build your e-commerce website for optimum effect.

Here are a few simple pointers for effective e-commerce web design:

Mike It Clear

Your e-commerce website design should make it perfectly clear WHY your visitor should purchase from you.

Use big, bold yet simple messages and images to portray that communication.

Do you offer low prices? Is your dispatch service fast? Do you have a wide selection of products to choose from? Do you offer a set of specialised products that are hard to find?

Understand what you offer that will make the lives of your prospective customers easier and more enjoyable, and then tell them!

Make It Easy

Give your visitors lots of ways to find what they are looking for.

A top level navigation could give them the section that a product falls into, whilst a secondary navigation could give them a list of specific product categories.

A simple and advanced search option can help them locate the items that are a little harder to find, and a popular products list can help to encourage additional purchases.

Make It Convenient

By simplifying the process, speeding up the time it takes from landing on your site to making payment, you can significantly increase conversion rates as this makes your site much more convenient for the shopper to use.

Every last little pixel of your site should be scrutinized from the perspective of the customer, with a view to continual improvement of process. Don’t simply finish your site design and say “great, we’ll never have to do that bit again”.

Make It Engaging

Grabbing the attention of your visitor is obviously essential for making conversion, but you can go the extra mile through the use of advanced approaches including things like gift-giving options, order tracking abilities and a customized user account where they can view past purchases and make quick and easy repeat orders.

No Surprises… We Hate Surprises!

Make all your information available to the visitor quickly and easily including your Privacy and Security Policy, Additional Charges Policy, Returns/Refunds/Exchanges Policy and Shipping & Handling Policy.

Consider the use of a FAQ’s sections and keep it updated regularly.

Summary

A well thought-out, professionally designed and trustworthy e-commerce website will significantly improve your online business performance.

Remember, your website is your shop window, so make it as clean, tidy, attractive and engaging as possible to achieve that much desired conversion.

Want to know more about e-commerce web design? Get in touch.

Great content increases website conversion rates

Studies show that a half of pretty much all retail sales are influenced directly by content found online. Prior to making any kind of buying decision many people perform web searches for information on a product or service, and often visit multiple websites in search of that information. They make informed decisions based on both technical information and user experiences.

Interestingly, there is significant research that details a massive surge in consumers making online purchases via their mobile phones, further reassuring small businesses that buying habits are changing and that more and more people are now choosing to shop online versus making that trip to the shops.

Small Businesses are of course reacting to this, partly due to a better education surrounding the benefits of a presence on the Internet, but also due to these significant shifts in buying habits.

Once such reaction is to invest (however large or small) in a website and the related web marketing to drive qualified traffic to their sites.

However, spending all this money driving consumers to a website that does little other than display a little bit of text describing a product or service is very much like hiring the most expensive limousine you can find and having it drive you to a field full of manure… pointless!

Driving the traffic to your website is only one tiny part of the online challenge. The rest of the work requires achieving high levels of engagement and interaction, culminating in a conversion… which for most is likely to be a direct sale or at least an online enquiry.

There are key things you can do as a Small Business Website Owner, starting with ensuring that you offer outstanding content to your visitors.

If you are advertising a product or service don’t just publish a paragraph or two about what it is you are asking people to spend their hard earned cash on… give them a compelling reason to buy it. Turn their “want” into a “need”.

Ensure that you include a high quality featured image, then back it up with additional images so that if they want to delve a little deeper they can. Use a “grabbing” headline style product or service title, back it up with an additional sub-title, then offer simple, easy-to-read and energizing copy to get the consumer hooked.

Finally, use other consumers to seal the deal, and provide some kind of customer comments and/or ratings section, allowing genuine consumers to let everyone else know just how outstanding the product or service actually is.

You need to imagine that a website and it’s sub-pages are the same as the in-store sales process. You must greet the customer at the door (your home page), let them know you are there to help (onsite search and FAQ’s), present your sales pitch (sub-pages) and finally close the deal (online payment or direct contact page). Sales psychology doesn’t just apply to real bricks and mortar businesses… it is equally relevant online.