As technology becomes more sophisticated, user-friendly, and adaptable, companies are judged more and more on the appearance and functionality of their websites. The occasional website sanity check can make all the difference.
That’s a big deal for your bottom line, since 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase, according to adweek.com. And many are apparently losing their patience. Some studies indicate a website has five seconds to capture a visitor’s interest, while others estimate 50 percent of online sales are lost to searchers who can’t find the content they need.
Your website not only represents a visitor’s first impression of your company, it might also be playing the virtual part of salesman or customer service rep. All in all, you’re missing the gravy train if you’re not using all marketing elements of your website sanity check.
1) Is your site mobile-friendly?
Responsive website design guarantees a website will look good across mobile devices, tablets, and computers of all types. The number of mobile device users worldwide surpassed 1.9 billion last year, according to Internet technology researcher comScore. Additionally, a Google study shows 96 percent of consumers have encountered sites not designed with mobile in mind, with 48 percent expressing annoyance. Conversely, 74 percent of mobile users are more likely to return to a mobile-friendly site, and 67 percent are more likely to buy from it.
2) Is your social media driving sales, consumer relationships and/or brand recognition?
Planning a social media campaign toward any or all of those goals is worthwhile because it’s free and effective. Sixty-five percent of American adults use at least one social media platform, reports Pew Research, and Facebook alone topped more than 1.5 billion active users toward the end of 2015. Tailor your content to your audience, keeping in mind that research shows social media users most frequently follow brands for promotions/discounts, information on the latest products, customer service, entertaining content, and the ability to offer feedback — in that order. Other ideas you may not have considered include: posting promotional videos on Vine or YouTube, installing call-to-action buttons on Facebook posts, or inviting visitors to “Contact Us,” “Shop Now,” or “Sign Up.”
3) How’s your website SEO?
Search optimization paves the way for automatic web crawlers to find, read, and index your site and its content so search results send Internet users to you when they type in relevant keywords and phrases. SEO can be very technically involved or even as simple as tagging content correctly (read specific guidelines from Vertical Response here), with algorithms employing a number of factors, including number and prominence of keywords, HTML structure, headers, tags, meta descriptions, photo titling, internal and external links, mobile friendliness, whether crawlers can find your location, and the popularity of your website and social media content. In general, experts suggest identifying which search engines are most important to your industry (Angie’s List? TripAdvisor?) and focusing on improving your rank there. Local searches are of primary importance, since they convert to a sale twice as often. Note that 66 percent of consumers who search for a store via computer (and 75 percent who search via smartphone) end up visiting a store within five miles.
4) Are you using Google Search Console to full advantage?
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, the free and user-friendly service allows business owners to check their website indexing status themselves. Webmasters can then learn how customers use their site and make adjustments to improve performance and traffic. We found this to be a good step-by-step guide to the process.
5) Are you taking full advantage of email marketing?
This category can be an art and science unto itself. Recent data reveals 73 percent of marketers feel email marketing is core to their business, while other sources report it generates a hefty $38 ROI for every dollar spent. In general, experts recommend a targeted email campaign striking a balance between 80 percent educational content and 20 percent self-promotional content. Consider contests, giveaways, or coupons for visitors and subscribers, a regular newsletter that links to content on your site, and/or link buttons on emails with calls to action like “Shop now” or “Take our survey.”
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6) Does your online marketing coordinate well with your other marketing?
The best cross-marketing campaigns are strategically planned to integrate the messages and brand reinforcement you send to the stratosphere via your website, social media, email, traditional mail, and brick-and-mortar business. Using multiple sources to share your message increases the odds of customers hearing it.
7) Is your site easy to navigate?
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8) How’s your content?
Bottom line, it needs to be relevant to your audience if your ultimate goal is growing initial contacts into profitable online relationships. Shoot for helpful information sources. Keep in mind that potential customers are busy and tend to scan content quickly, making headings, large type, bold text, highlighted text, bulleted lists, graphics, and captions all good ideas.
9) How appealing is your overall design?
And does it convey the right message? Conversion rates are proven to be affected by navigation, wording, and color, and other design elements including too much or too little copy, bad photos, and overcrowding can also significantly impact whether viewers trust your company. “Choose an overall theme that gives you the ‘feeling’ you want your site to have,” advises creative web producer Andy Hayes. “Should it feel bright and open? Should it feel cozy and warm, like a cafe? Should it feel confident, professional and strong? Look for colors and fonts that help reinforce that feeling.” Among other disadvantages, bad design can also thwart smartphone users, deflect cross-marketing efforts, and mess with your SEO.
Though small business owners are notoriously busy, they’re missing out on valuable (and often inexpensive) tools if they don’t include online marketing in their promotional strategy. With today’s lightning-fast changes in technology, it’s wise to schedule a regular gut check addressing these questions.
Originally posted on loyalty360.com on March 1st 2016