Internet users are not a patient lot. They sit on their computers or with their mobile and smart phones with fingers poised over the mouse buttons, daring your website to delay them and waste their time. Slow loading or sites that do not deliver what the customer expects, sites that are boring and those that appear unreliable are passed over for more captivating and exciting stuff.
With more and more users on the internet, how can entrepreneurs design websites that keep attracting customers? Here are some ideas.
Understand your target market
Like all marketing initiatives, nothing should be done without firstly understanding who your customers are, even on the internet. A great marketer does not come on the internet, guns blazing and hoping to hit a target. The goal is to understand who you are creating your website for and how they should think and feel when they see your page. This requires considerable market research, which may not happen if one is contracting your web development to an external company, but since we are not all HTML savvy, we should at the very least be involved in the process. Don’t give a brief and then leave. Check in until its done.
Select a Domain name that is consistent with the image you want to portray
Just as your parents thought long and hard about your name, you need to be careful about the name that you use for your domain. You should not underestimate the power of a domain name or URL.( Your company address on the internet.)
Your domain name should be:
- Indicative of your business
- Easy to spell
- Acquired outright in order to protect it from other users who may want to use the same or similar names. This will mean paying a small yearly fee in most cases.
Be easy to find
With more than 4 billion pages of web content already on the internet, making your site memorable and easy to find is a real challenge. It is the proverbial needle in a haystack. Many web users use search engines to find products and services. Instead of using the Domain name or URL, many users type the products and services that they are looking for. Therefore the key to your business being found on the internet is to know the key words that your customers are typing to find your services and products and embedding these as meta tags in your site. Alternatively you can, purchase search engine listings and registration . Ultimately though, if your website is being created by a web developer, you need to make sure that your site is found so do not abdicate the design process but help the web designer to create a site that will make your products and services stand out.
Give customers what they want
On-line business is growing in leaps and bounce and is equalling in store purchases in many developed countries. In countries where this was not heard of a few months ago, customers are flocking to their laptops to purchase goods and services. If you are contemplating on-line selling, firstly make sure that you can deliver. The worst case scenario is to launch a website and run out of stock. You should also have a holistic IT system within your business that enables the goods to be delivered within the specified time.
Build Loyalty by giving customers a reason to return to your website
One of the most effective ways to encourage customers to return is to give them an incentive to come back. These incentives can range from e-buyer loyalty programs, on-line coupons, to e-books and fresh and exciting content.
Establish hyperlinks with other complimentary businesses
Create value for your customers by listing websites of complementary businesses. For example, if you are selling wedding cakes, why not give links to event management companies and bridal wear sites.
Give customers the ability to track their orders on-line
Customers who order things on-line want to be able to track them. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to send your customers an email or SMS when their order is being shipped or posted. More innovative companies will also tell you the name of the carrier, they mobile number and the time that the package is being delivered.
Also assure your customers that your site is safe and you can do this by having appropriate firewalls and security to safeguard your customers’ information.
You also need to make sure that you do not hide the postage and shipping charges in the small print. Many customers will get frustrated and leave your site if you are not upfront about how much you are going to charge them for posting or delivering their merchandise.
Follow a simple design
Catchy graphics and photographs are important for snaring customers to your site but these should be chosen with care. Complex designs take too long to load and your customer may be gone before the site opens.
Consider hiring a professional to design and build your site
Professionals can do this better and faster, but and this is a big BUT, don’t give them free rein to do what they want with your brand. Even if you have given a Web designer a brief, make sure that you see the site as it is being developed. And when it is done, let some of your potential customers see it as well, to make sure that it is sending out the right message to your customers.
Link your site to your other social media sites and email
Gone are the days when websites were an on line replacement of brochures and posters. Today, people want to tell you stuff about your products and services. They want to ask questions and to be given answers. So make your website as interactive as possible. Enable email, put your phone numbers out there and link your site to your Facebook/Google+ Twitter accounts so that people can interact with you.
Remember that your website is part of your brand engagement effort, so it should reflect your company. The design on your website should be indicative of all your other marketing collateral. And most importantly, it should stand out and be easy to use, in order to attract the millions of potential customers and users on the net.
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