A great website can be the best tool in your marketing toolbox to increase online sales. Customers know exactly where to go to find what they need and they know you're website will have what they're looking for. Your website can set you up as an expert in your industry who has your customers' best interests at heart. On the other hand, a poorly made website can turn customers off to current and even future products. Here are some tips to creating a website that will help you, rather than hurt you.
1. Increase sales with a consistent look
Have you ever noticed, while every page of a magazine looks slightly different, there's generally a consistent organization, color scheme, and overall look to the whole magazine? This helps users who read the magazine find exactly what they're looking for quickly and easily. In the same way, if you keep your web pages consistent, your customers will have an easier time finding things. One of the best ways to maintain a consistent look is to create a style guide that includes information like the fonts are used for headlines, paragraphs and sidebars; capitalize of your headlines and titles; brand colors; and more. I keep a Google Doc with this information in a Google Drive folder for my site.
2. Test your website in different browsers
You've set up your website and it looks exactly how you want it. Then your customers start getting upset because they can't find items, figure out how to order, or even see simple parts of your page. The likely problem? Their browser. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone uses the same program to surf the web. It's recommended that you design your page so it can be seen well on most, if not all Internet browsers. If you're using WordPress for your website and a professional designed theme, like Thrive Themes, your site should already be coded to work in multiple browsers and on multiple devices (desktop, tablet, phone). Thrive, which I'm using on this site, also includes the ability to test your website on multiple devices right in the customization area.
3. Provide awesome support
While it's great to have an awesome website, if it goes down or has other technical issues, you're not going to be making any money off of it. Plus, it will upset your existing customers, as well. Once you get your website up and going, be sure to keep it going and get issues and bugs worked out as quickly as possible. You need and deserve amazing support from your upstream hosting providers, so I'm recommending my providers, Reliable Webs, who I've hosted with for more than 10 years. Owner and manager, Scott, always has my back and keeps my websites up and running. Also, if you want a host who understands how to run an educational publishing company (and who has Scott's support) you can purchase your hosting through my company reThink Education Hosting.
Another important way to increase your online sales is to setup a system to help you quickly respond to and follow up on customer help requests consistently. I started out offering email support, but quickly realized I was loosing some requests and replies with all the rest of my email. So now, I have all my support emails piped to LiveAgent, which automates the management of my customer service process while making it super easy for customers to just reply to one of my emails or send me a message to my support email address for help.
4. Keep it simple
Your site should look good and can have some special features, but if it's too complicated or the colors and designs are just too much, you're likely to lose customers. Try to keep it simple with just a few special touches. Keep it appealing without being overwhelming. Remember what your focus is for each page and think about it from the customers perspective. When they arrive at a specific page on your site, what problem are you solving for them and what action do you want them to take. Then simply and concisely provide them with what they need and tell them what they need to do next. Thrive Architect (which is part of the Thrive Suite), helps you build well-designed pages without knowing code and includes several tools that will help you convert your visitors to subscribers or customers.
5. Keep it coming
It's great to get information from a website, but it's a pain to go check for new content all the time. Keep your users updated by adding a newsletter or RSS feed. You can introduce new products in the blog section of your website, which can then automatically update your email list. You can also link to your blog post on your Facebook page and in your Facebook group. This is important because you'll want to drive your traffic back to your website, which is where you make the actual sales.
6. Get feedback
Running a business is all about helping the customer, so why not improve your site by asking your users what they want. You can add a quick survey or just a suggestion box to the side of each page. You can use a WordPress plugin like CrowdSignal, or if you're using Thrive Themes, you can create a survey using their quiz builder.
7. Make searching easy
If you have a lot of information on your website, try adding a search box so visitors can easily find what they're looking for. A search box will help them find what they want and keep them coming back in the future. Thrive Architect includes the ability to easily add a search box anywhere on the site. I recommend a search box in the header (usually on the top right) and in the sidebar.
8. Publish quality, valuable content
If your website is mostly links and advertisements or sales pitches and products, there's not going to be much on there to inspire people to stay at your website. You must have quality content on your site. Plus, if done right, good content can also help you get links and increase your search engine rankings. This is true even if you're selling a local service, such as lawn care or card making classes. Blog articles on topics like “10 tips for winter lawn care” or “10 best ink pads for card making and scrapbooking” can inspire others to link to your website from theirs and will drive traffic to your site. That traffic may then decide to hire you to provide your service since they trust you as an expert or purchase your product with will help solve their problem.
9. Build a community
Almost any business can increase online sales by adding a community. Whether your add a message board to your website or a Facebook group, this is not only a great way to answer people's questions and keep them coming back, it can also be a way for your customers to get to know you and trust you as an expert. The community and the members who know, like, and trust you can also serve as social proof that you are indeed an expert, and not just because you said so.
10. Have fun
If you don't like your website, and don't like working on it, it's going to show through in your work. Just because a topic might be able to make money, doesn't mean you will find it interesting. Instead of thinking about what website you want to build, think about your areas of interest and what you like to do. Then research your target market. What problems do they face and how can you solve them with your interest and skill set. Then create a website that will help you connect with that audience and offer them the products, services, and information that will solve the problem.
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