The following is an article from the ADP Lightspeed site authored by Travis Cook, CEO of Solution Stream, addressing how to turn websites into profit centers.
A strong online presence is the foundation for any retail effort in today’s business environment. But just being on the Internet is not enough.
Web pages must be found before they can influence. If found, they must deliver content in an interesting and pleasing way. And finally, that found, creative content must create a
call to action that drives customers to the brick and mortar door. Click counts are not the measure of success here. It is sales. And only sales.
To the Internet shopper, your website is your company. So you want it to look good and work right. The average American spends 13 hours a week online and is familiar with attractive, user-friendly sites. If you have flashing images, too much clutter and loud bright colors, your visitors will judge your company to be the same as your website. Can you say, Unprofessional? How about Amateurish? An outdated, messy scrapbook website is not the message you want to send to today’s sophisticated big-ticket shopper.
A successful website will be appealing to the eye, user-friendly, and focus driven. Consider:
• Appealing to the Eye: Gone are the days of bright flashing images and cartoon graphics. Your site should have professional images which have been properly purchased from high quality stock photo sources. Your text should be easy to read, your use of clean colors must be pleasing, and your functional layout must carry a simple, direct, consistent theme.
• User-friendly: Can visitors find your contact information easily? Does your navigation make sense and put emphasis on the most important parts of your website? Is it obvious how to make a purchase, find support, or locate contact information? If not, your site is failing at getting people to contact and buy from you. Each page of your website should enable visitors to call or message you. Make sure that your phone number is prominent on every page and provide maps so you are easy to find.
• Focus Driven: When a visitor sees your website they should know within 3 seconds exactly what to do. We know from studies that any longer than that will frustrate and confuse your potential buyers. You should not have excessive buttons, images, or links telling your users to “Click on me!” Quickly lead your visitors to a point where with they can easily take advantage of your services. There should be just one focus point on each page of your site.
A great website is the first step in growing your online business. It is important that you both update that website frequently, and that you make it easy to find. A Content Management System (CMS) enables you to easily update your site. You do not need to hire a design company for every little change.
A CMS will also keep the site’s coding in a format that is easily read by search engines that are constantly combing the web. If your site is correctly catalogued by Google, Yahoo, and Bing, they will direct more traffic to you. An awkward or poorly structured site will be downgraded by these web crawlers, and you will find that you don’t appear anywhere near the top of their search-result lists. Try finding your web site with a number of different word searches. See right now where you fall. You may be unpleasantly surprised.
So. You have a great website that you update regularly with a CMS. Now what? If no one can find your site, it doesn’t matter how good it is. And, people must be moved to find you. That doesn’t happen through serendipity, it happens through good, intensive, consistent, measured marketing. Services like Pay Per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are cost effective and proven to bring traceable, qualified buyers to your website. PPC can also target your exact potential customers so you know that none of your marketing dollars are wasted.
Creating a successful website will set you apart from your competitors. Marketing your website will ensure you are taking full advantage of your site dollars. It may be time to revamp your online presence. Look at it objectively, if you can. If you can’t measure the activity on your site, if you see clutter or colors that offend, if you do not land near the top of the search list every time, you may need a fresh set of trained eyes and some new ideas.
Quit wasting money on a website that doesn’t do the job. Get it done, and get it done right. Enjoy fully the benefits of this amazing technology that has changed our retail world.