Your Online Business Tune-Up: Is Your Website Working For You?

greatwebsiteexperience

Now that we’ve finished up with the 2009 holiday season — an incredibly busy time for many online businesses — it’s time to make sure your website is ready to serve your visitors and customers effectively in 2010!

We’ve noticed over the years that many e-commerce pros tend to neglect their sites  in favour of product development or new internet marketing strategies… without realizing that they’re putting all that effort to waste if they’re not providing their visitors and customers with a great experience!

Give your website our 5-step website checkup to make sure you’re in top shape for the year ahead:

1.  Does the look of your site reflect your products and appeal to your market? From your header to your footer (and everything else in between!), every element of your site  — your colors, graphics and images –  should be specifically chosen to highlight your products, and to engage your target market.

If someone can’t figure out what you’re selling within seconds of arriving at your site — and if they don’t feel like you’re speaking to them as your ideal customer — you’re putting an automatic dent in your conversion rates.

Your goal should be to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit, and tweak what you’ve got to be as true to your products and your audience as possible.

2. Does your site copy get your message across? Everything from the title in your website header, to your headlines, to your salescopy, to your navigation should be directly related to what you sell, easy to understand (even if your visitor doesn’t know much about your product), and rich with relevant keywords for the search engines to spot.

In addition, you’ll want to make sure your copy (short or long) is easy to read and scan. Short sentences, short paragraphs and bullet points make it easy for even short-term site visitors to grasp your marketing message. And don’t forget your call to action — encourage them to buy!

3. Does  your site function properly? Your navigation buttons should be clearly labeled with terms your visitors can understand, they should be grouped in a logical way (information with information, products with products, etc.), they should be placed on every page of your site, and they should be kept to a bare minimum — but don’t forget essentials like your “About” and your “Contact” pages.

In addition, take an hour or two to do a full link check on every page of your website. Any link your visitors can click on should take them exactly where it says it will. If you find broken links, dead links or duplicate links, clean them up (or delete them) right away!

4. Does your site take payments effectively? If your buyers have to click through more than three screens to make a purchase, you’ll end up losing about 25% of them with every additional click they have to make to purchase your product.

Make sure your shopping cart instructions are crystal clear,  that you offer a message about the security and privacy of their checkout process to put buyers at ease, that you have contact information posted in each step in case they need your help to finish the process, and that you send them an automated email with all the details of their purchase for reference and follow-up as soon as their purchase is completed.

5. Does your site keep people coming back for more? “Stickiness” is a word we use to refer to how much your site makes visitors want to return to it again and again. They might come back to buy more products they love, to take advantage of great deals,  to check out valuable  information you provide, or to interact with your other visitors and customers — but your goal is to make sure there’s something to keep them coming back for more.

One of the most powerful ways to make your site one that people want to bookmark is to continue to connect with visitors after they leave your site. We recommend that EVERY business website includes a compelling opt-in offer to collect visitor information so you can contact them again via email marketing, even if they don’t make a purchase.  Then you can stay in touch… and keep your online business on their radar.

If you can answer all these questions with a “Yes!”, then you’re clearly ready to sell in 2010!

Tomorrow, we’re going to talk more about the power of great content to make your site sticky.

Be sure to stop by!

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