Post by Waqar Tariq – You may be thinking that because your business website is well established and the content and layout are regularly updated, there is little left to do in order to keep your products and services in front of existing and potential customers. Until as recently as the last four of five years, this might have been a safe assumption, but today it could prove to be a costly mistake in terms of lost sales opportunities
A couple of developments related to tablet computers and smartphones, namely apps and social media, have transformed the way people purchase goods and services on the internet. It has reached the point where mobile apps are threatening to overtake websites as the preferred method of accessing the web.
If your business is to expand or even retain its current level of market penetration, you are advised to take a look at the following tips and check that your website is equipped to meet the challenges posed by trading in the 21st century.
Your homepage has to attract the attention of potential customers within a couple of seconds. It is your virtual shop window, so if it does not catch the eye, no matter how impressive the rest of the site is, you will have fallen at the first hurdle.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial, so have a professional with a proven track record go through your site and suggest improvements that will ensure it appears on the first page of search engines such as Google. A recent survey found that some 94% of people only look at the front page.
Having caught the attention of your visitors, the next issue relates to how easy they find it to navigate through the site. Check that the menu stands out from the page by using a contrasting color scheme and button titles that are self-explanatory. Ensure that no matter what page is being viewed, visitors can always navigate back to the homepage. A popular way of achieving this is to use the company logo as a link back to the homepage.
Optimizing for mobile users
The explosion in the use of mobile devices has meant that you absolutely must have a website that is configured to display correctly on smartphones and tablets. A 2014 survey reported that by the end of the year around 50% of global mobile device owners will be using them to access the internet. What’s more, the figures for areas such as North America, Europe and parts of Asia are forecast to be higher still.
The changes required are relatively simple, so whether your website is outsourced or maintained in-house, the time taken to carry out the upgrade and the costs involved should be minimal. Remember, your competitors have probably already modified their sites, so why not check out how they look compared to your own site?
One of the biggest changes in the way the public uses the internet when out and about has to be the mobile app. A recent report suggested that the first thing any business should do when setting up a web presence is to build a mobile app.
Savvy customers want to be involved; they are eager to know something about who is running the business they are purchasing from and what its ethics are. They expect it to be easy to make contact, register how satisfied or otherwise they are and have the ability to interact with fellow customers.
From your business’s side you should have the ability to offer special deals and discounts to customers in specific areas of the country or regions of the world, and trial new products with groups of customers whose suggestions and feedback you value.
As with your website homepage, the way your mobile app looks and its ease of use are critically important. Though it may be tempting to take shortcuts, you are strongly advised to employ the services of a professional studio such as Worry Free Labs to build your app. When you consider the increased sales that are likely to be generated, the return on investment will make the cost appear trivial. Over time, you can also rest assured that your app will be upgraded to reflect all the latest developments.
Maintaining a presence on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook enhances the ability of the public to build a relationship with your business and is a key element of expanding your customer base. Most businesses, whatever their size, now use blogging and Facebook page articles to interact with and maintain the interest of visitors and followers.
The cost of setting up a Facebook page and a Twitter account are negligible; from then on, all you have to do is commit yourself to spending an hour or so, each week, updating content and responding to queries.
Whether you own a local store employing one or two staff or a multi-national trading company, you cannot afford to sit back and ignore the incredible changes that have taken place in mobile communications over the past year or so. Take a close look at your website, spend a few minutes surfing the net from a mobile device, make a note of the best sites you find, and being ultra-critical, ask yourself how yours compares. You may have to spend some money bringing it up to scratch, but consider what would happen to your sales figures if you do nothing.