With the meteoric rise of social media, websites have become largely overlooked by many businesses, who almost view them as an afterthought.
But there's a reason that websites remain the most important customer touchpoint and why nearly 9 out of ten marketers view them as critical to online success.
Whether you have an existing website or are planning to build one, here are seven ways to use your primary Web presence to attract a following (that you own), build an audience and increase online sales.
- Simplify Your Homepage
Many business owners mistakenly believe that the best approach to optimizing your homepage is to provide Web visitors as many product and/or service offerings as possible. But the truth is when it comes to overall Web design, the cardinal rule is to keep it simple. Stuffing your page will overwhelm your audience with too many elements vying for attention.
Instead, try featuring fewer products or services on your homepage. Research shows that this tactic increases overall sales by allowing your visitors to focus in on one or two specific offerings with powerful imagery and strong content.
A great example of a simple yet effective design can be found at coffee merchant Gevalia's website, Gelavia.com. Their homepage is beautifully done with an elegant use of space, contrasting colors and a customer-centric design. Above the fold, the header image is custom branded, the headline is clear and the call-to-action is direct and compelling. It has great information hierarchy, making it easy to understand and easy to quickly navigate. Though they offer dozens of coffee products, they only show four highly-rated brews on their homepage.
- Add Video
According to the digital media experts at Mashable, adding video to your key landing pages can increase conversions by an average of 86%. Considering our brains process visuals roughly 60,000 times faster than text, videos are a great way to help any visitors to your site absorb information in better than they would by simply reading text. Learning about your product or service will be much more effective through video than text.
UK spirits producer Seedlip's seedlipdrinks.com offers a beautiful example of the impact that adding a quality video to your homepage can have. The page features a simple, elegant split design with a large, high-resolution video which effectively draws in visitors while offering cues to the brand's story.
- Get Prospects' Email Addresses
Email marketing remains one of the most useful digital marketing techniques, producing three times the return on investment (ROI) of social media, according to McKinsey & Company. But email marketing campaigns require email addresses, which means you have to create methods to capture this information from visitors.
One of the best ways to get prospects' email addresses is to offer them something of value, like a discount on their first order or free digital download (ebook or white paper). A good example of this can be found at website of brick-and-mortar and ecommerce home goods retailer Pottery Barn, which uses a popup to offer a 15% discount on first orders in exchange for email addresses.
- Create Quality Content
Provided you have an audience or a way to attract one, becoming your own publisher by creating quality content is almost guaranteed way to increase website traffic and conversions. Well-written content targeting specific market segments will allow you to attract different types of customers, while establishing your authority as an expert in your field or industry (that’s why you’ll find tons of great content on the Dotlogics Blog!). Start by writing or hiring a professional to write a weekly blog post, then promote it through your social channels.
General Electric's GE Reports produces some of the best written and video brand content anywhere. The blog-turned-online magazine publishes newsworthy stories filled with information on emerging technology in different industries tied to GE's operations across the country and around the world, with regional international editions. Always informative and educational, the stories have editorial integrity and are tailor-made for sharing, which explains why they keep their audience of a half-million-plus readers engaged. And, their content has the type of credibility that has led it to be picked up by leading national media outlets in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
- Be Trustworthy
Using your website to establishing social proof that builds customer trust—through reviews, testimonials, partner messages and case studies—is a surefire method of developing a reputation for excellence and great customer service.
Software maker mHelpDesk's testimonial page uses a combination of raw-looking videos, images and quoted text, proving that customer feedback videos need not use high-cost production quality to effectively convey messages that brand trust. Finally, in the theme of earning trust, we love that mHelpDesk closes out its testimonial page with awards and badges of recognition.
- Upsell to Customers
Upselling is the act of encouraging customers to buy more and increase your average order value by offering them a premium product when they add an item to their shopping cart, reach the checkout page or become members. Shopify says that upselling online is 20 times more effective than cross-selling, which is used much more often.
Dollar Shave Club, for instance, has made millions with upselling. Starting with the simple model of offering cheap razor handles with recurring blade sales, their shaving blades page draws in customers with the promise of each blade only costing one dollar, then reveals more expensive options created specifically for upselling, including an ever-expanding line of bundled related products.
- Use Live Chat
Stats show that 99% of first-time website visitors are not yet ready to make a purchase. Savvy digital marketers know how to probe and determine their prospective customers' intent, nurture and educate them through evaluation stage and pass them along as quality sales leads to close the deal.
Live chat tools allow you to engage your website's visitors at their peak point of interest, quickly address any questions or concerns they may have and provide them with an immediate response that's simply not possible through response forms and emails. Live chat software also has the ability to track would-be customers' activity (page visits and product views), providing you with insight into their purchasing behaviors. And live chat can be triggered by any number of actions, from visitors reaching a certain page to hesitation at checkout.
Remember, your website is much more than just digital signage for your brand or a virtual storefront for your company; it's your online home base and has the potential to be the center of your digital marketing strategy. Using these seven tactics will help make your website an effective sales and marketing tool that you have complete control over, providing proof positive that it is one of the most worthwhile investments you have made in your business.