If the online world has become a shopper’s paradise, it’s also a crowded marketplace in which digital stores jostle for position at the top of Google’s search rankings.
It’s not hard to see why the online market is booming. E-commerce companies can make the most of low-cost social marketing, target their sales with easily-obtained customer data and – when they get it right – compete with the big brands that have traditionally dominated the High Street. The true beauty of the online world is the fact that business overheads are slashed, making it easier for anyone to get on the field and play ball.
That’s not to say that small, online businesses don’t face a ‘David and Goliath’ challenge when they are pitched against the big names – but it’s a battle they’re well positioned to win, especially with an effective and well-designed website.
If you want a digital store that will outshine your competitors’ and give you a greater return on your investment, we recommend you try these proven tips from the Coast Digital team.
1. Use a consistent template across your whole site
A familiar website page structure makes users feel comfortable, and it’s key to sales conversion. If you embed a strategic template across your entire site, customers will correctly guess what their target page looks like before they even reach it. Everyone likes their assumptions to be correct, so getting the structure and feel of your template consistent will give users a subconscious ego-massage and put them in the mood for buying.
2. Make navigation as simple as possible
Ignore this at your peril. If a potential customer can’t find the page they’re looking for, they will leave and give their custom to a rival with a better-designed site. Stick to clear, logical navigation systems and never sacrifice ease of use for design gimmickry.
3. Establish your branding
Brand association is a decisive factor that influences purchasing decisions, so it’s crucial that your website conveys the right image. Providing visitors with a brand they can associate with will help you overcome the lack of an orthodox POS strategy, so it’s a good idea to have synergy between your online and offline operations. On the other hand, if your business is solely online, you can carry out research into existing brands and pick up ideas from the ones that are successfully reaching the audiences within your target market.
4. Make sure your content appeals to your audience
Get your content wrong, and you’ll lose conversions. Keep it relevant, digestible and targeted and you’ll pick up sales. Never forget your intended audience, and shape your language and tone to meet their expectations.
5. Use simple, attractive imagery
Don’t succumb to the temptation of using visual tricks to make your site look cool – your pages will almost certainly be a disaster. Simple, relevant imagery is always appealing, easy to decipher, and helps emphasise your credentials for quality and reliability.
6. Help users to locate what they’re after
Provide customers with both a site map and an intelligent search function and you’ll ensure that they will always find what they’re looking for. The simplicity of these options is very attractive and savvy visitors will use them to get straight to the point.
7. Find more ways to keep visitors engaged with your brand
An online shop has many benefits, but one major drawback is the fact that visitors can leave your website in an instant. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep customers engaged with tools and resources that encourage them to maintain a relationship with your website. Email sign-ups, community sections and free guides are popular, and give users the incentive to return in future.
8. Provide external links, but keep visitors in
Because it usually costs money to get a visitor to your site, it can fly against reason to provide them with out-clicks – links to external sites. However, providing relevant external links can be highly beneficial for users, and improve their relationship with you. Just make sure that all external links open in a new window – that way visitors still have open access to your website and don’t need to make the journey afresh.
Whilst these tips are not a complete set of recommendations, they will certainly get you started on the road to online success. For information on how Coast Digital can power your web presence into an even higher league, be sure to get in touch.