Tag Archives: Customers

Business website or social media profile? Combine both channels in 3 steps

Your business website is the base of all online marketing activities, but potential customers may also search for your company on social media, review sites or online registers such as Google Maps. Since business websites may not reach your entire audience, it’s important to meet customers in other areas where they spend time online such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. On the other hand, customers do not get detailed information (such as company information and product details) from social media until they are directly linked to your website. That’s why it’s important to maintain both communication channels in order to reach your customers. Here’s how you can optimize your reach by combining your business homepage and social media networks.

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Retain Your Customers Online

Nearly every small business currently has a website or is working towards one. You probably know how to cater to your customers in a store front or office, however, online shoppers are different and you must adapt a specialized approach towards them. If you feel like you aren’t making the best effort to retain customers online, follow these tips:

Customer Service – Creating a personal and genuine experience for every customer is still a priority online. You have fewer opportunities through your website or social media profile to show your customer service expertise. If customers present you with questions, comments, concerns or complaints, it is important to address them immediately and work towards a solution. If you present a well-rounded customer service approach to your business, clients will notice and come back again for the same treatment.

Effective Website Design – Today’s consumers are more connected than ever before and they expect websites to be impeccably designed. Ensure that your website is neat and organized. It is important that anything a customer is looking for can easily be found. Keep descriptions detailed but not too fluffy or wordy when describing products.

Utilize Email – Give customers the option to sign up for email newsletters on your website and when placing an order. You can utilize their email addresses for email marketing, news, sales and events. However, avoid sending multiple emails in one week. Always provide an easy opt-out option too.

Social Media – Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter contribute to how your business is viewed online. Set up your profiles on social media with the same detailed information that is present on your website.  Use social media to form a personal connection or relationship with your community of customers. Genuine interaction is the quickest way to give customers a positive perspective of your business.

Update Often – Failing to update your business website frequently could deter customers from visiting your site again in the future. It is important to show customers through your online presence that you are dedicated and constantly working towards a better product or service.

Payment Methods – You want the payment process to be as easy and painless as possible. Offer multiple payment options for online ordering.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/s_john79

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Make Your Website Useful for All Visitors

There are many reasons for a small business to maintain a Web presence. As a small business owner, you may value some reasons above any others. For instance, if you want to use your website as a way to sell products, the fact that the site can also provide useful information to other visitors is just an added benefit. No matter what reason you vale most for maintaining a presence online, you should be mindful that your website should be useful to the widest selection of your audience as possible, including past, present, and future customers.

In order to please the majority of your Website visitors, you must first research what your different target customers are interested in. Past customers might be interested in what new products or services you have to offer, present customers might be more interested in tutorials or how-to articles of products, and future customers will be interested in detailed product information and customer testimonials.

Developing a site that is appealing to all of your current and potential customers requires a well-organized and intuitive website. You don’t want to turn any of your visitors away with too much information on one page, so the goal of the website should be to clearly lay out a path for each segment of your audience. The navigation should be clear and consistent to instruct each visitor where they should go. The home page should answer the main questions of what your business is and what you do, but there should be a menu across every page with links to other sections such as customer testimonials or product descriptions. Testimonials are a great way to attract new customers, as they can see that other buyers have had a positive experience with your company.

To keep present and future customers interested throughout their relationship with your business, consider creating informative content for them that gives them reasons to return to the website, and reasons to purchase from you again. This content could be anything from informational whitepapers about your business, new product photos and videos, or an ongoing blog about your expertise in the industry.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/adventtr

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Thank Your Customers for Their Online Purchase

Most people know how and when to be polite in personal interactions, but it can be difficult to remember when and how to be polite in online interactions. If you use your business website to sell products or services, are you thanking your customers after they make a purchase? The simple gesture could mean the difference between repeat business and just a one-time sale.

Think of the last time you ordered something online. You were probably directed to a confirmation page with a “thank you” for shopping at that site. It is worthwhile for all small and medium business owners to have this page, as it can provide the shopper with a more positive overall experience. For instance, if you were running a physical store, you wouldn’t just shove the customer out the door once they bought something. You would thank them for their business and ask if they needed anything else.

The “Thank You Page” is also beneficial for the customer in that it shows them that their order was officially placed, and possibly even provides them with a confirmation number to check in on the order at a later date. Website managers should consider the following tips to optimize this page for their customers:

  • Lay out the customers’ next steps carefully. Let them know what to expect once they make a purchase, such as shipping timeline.
  • If possible, also send customers a confirmation via e-mail to let them know of their purchase details.
  • Inform the customer on the best ways to contact your business for support or other questions. This could include a phone number, e-mail address, or even social media channels.
  • Allow customers to print the confirmation page, as this can take the place of a receipt in many cases.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/marincas_andrei

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Could Your Website Be Letting you Down?

New research of 1500 consumers by 1&1 Internet finds that many consumers today will not forgive a slow or faulty website.  In an era when many rely on around-the-clock e-commerce and online banking, more customers than ever are frustrated by websites which are slow, faulty or taken off-line for maintenance.

Significantly, unreliable websites have led more than 1 in 3 users to decide not to use a company again as a result.  Some 44 percent admit to being more critical towards website errors today than they were five years ago.

Oliver Mauss, CEO 1&1 Internet, warns “Unreliable websites continue to reflect badly upon businesses of all types and sizes.  It is clear that when faced with a faulty or off-line website, consumers will turn elsewhere.  Perhaps more surprising is the proportion that will be unwilling to return”.

Here are a few tips for ensuring a flawless business website:

  1. Need for speed

Slow running websites are the number one web complaint, with the average shopper wasting a staggering 2 days per year waiting for slow sites to load.  Ensure your hosting provider offers the highest possible speed, called ‘connectivity’.

  1. Practical design

Home broadband and wireless speeds can still limit shoppers, so do not risk using large images or video files high up on your landing page.  Offer quick links directly to the main functions of your website. Test that shopping carts and add-ons work for all types of browsers.

  1. Communicate often

Consumers always need help, so check chat-boxes, email or inquiry forms are within 2 clicks-away and work properly.  Add regular advice and information that can support a buying decision and help your site to be found on search engines.

  1. Stay reliable

Frustrations have led 72 per cent of web users to abandon a company website for a competitor’s.  Ensure maintenance is done very late at night, publishing warnings in advance. Use ‘geo-redundant’ web hosting that improves uptime by maintaining two identical copies of your website in separate data centers.

  1. Be mobile-friendly

1&1 recently found that half of small firms have not checked their own website from a mobile device.  Millions of consumers buy and research using iPads and mobile phones.  Use software or a website package to ensure your website will load promptly, function correctly and look attractive on mobile devices.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/photovideostock

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Why Customers Keep Coming Back

Take advantage of your online presence. You should use it for more than just a calling card, because a website can do so much more. Even if your business does not use an online store, keeping up-to-date information about your products or services, and providing attractive offers for your customers is beneficial for many reasons. You should update your site regularly to advertise and implement many promotional offers throughout the year.

Seasonal promotional opportunities: New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Spring sale, Easter, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Summer sale, Independence Day, Labor Day, Autumn sale, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Winter sale, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza, New Year’s Eve.

Other promotional opportunities: Subscription, old vs. new, welcoming new clients, thanking loyal customers, demonstration of products, invitation to a seminar, branch opening, early booking discount, company anniversary, sweepstakes, coupon campaign, clearance sale, survey, new opening, new announcement, contest, price reductions, special offers, promotional gifts, etc.

The goal of every promotional opportunity on the internet is so your customers or prospects can learn more about your company and its offers. Therefore, the offer should always be announced on the homepage of the website as prominently as possible, and then linked to a landing page.

Be sure to announce promotional offers to as many customers as possible, via fliers, advertisements, direct mail, etc. But you should also consider electronic advertising opportunities, such as an e-newsletter or social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. For even more of an impact in your online advertising, read more about search engine marketing and search engine optimization, as those methods are essential for establishing a strong presence online.

Photo Credit: Liv Friis-larsen – Fotolia.com

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