Friday, December 30, 2011

Online Store New Year's Resolutions

This weekend everyone will be thinking about and possibly writing down things that they would like to do differently in the coming year.  These New Year's Resolutions often include a fitness goal, a social goal, an education goal, or experience goals.  These same goals for the coming year in your personal life can be applied to your business' website.  Below I have outlined a few New Year's Resolutions for your online store's website for this coming year.
  • Fitness - Trim Down While Bulking Up.  This does not mean removing content from your website.  When you work out, it is best to have some fat on you in order to build muscle.  If you don't have any fat, then you have nothing to convert to muscle.  This is the same for your website.  Every website has some "fat" on it; it is just a matter or rearranging or re-purposing that fat to bulk up. Look through your website and find areas where pages or functions are not as efficient as they could be. Then take those areas and enhance them or move them to where they will be more useful.
    • Content vs. Calls-To-Action. Content is important, but you should not have all of your content above your calls-to-action.  Make sure your calls-to-action are above the fold on your website; this will likely involve rearranging your content so that it it lower on your page.
    • Images with Text. Do you have large images such as banner graphics that have text in them?  Change those images to be smaller background images, and allow the text to be plain text on top of those images.  This will cut down on your page load times, while improving the content for search engines on your pages.
    • Too Much Information. Again, this does not mean removing content.  If you throw all of your website options, products, advertisements, et al. all your customers on your home page, it can be overwhelming.  Divide your content out into sections or even multiple pages with each section or page focusing on one area.  On your home page, customers can click on the area they would like to learn more about and get that additional information.
  • Social - Let Customers Know You Appreciate Them. Customers purchase from your website because they like something about your website.  It may be that they like your products, or that they love your low prices, or even that they like your flexible and informative customer support and return options.  Whatever the reason may be, customers who purchase from you are letting you know that they like your business.  So show the love back; let your customers know that you appreciate their business.  This could be as simple as a thank you card included when you mail their order, or it could be an email.  Ask customers for feedback on both the products that they purchased, and your company as a whole.  See if there is anything that you could do to improve their experience.  Also, provide customers with a way to keep up with your website and learn about new products, specials, or changes that might interest them. Make sure that any newsletters that you send are regular and not spammy (if you say it is a monthly newsletter, don't send one every week), and that they are for the benefit of your customers.  After all, it is your customers that keep you in business :).
  • Education - Continue Learning And Sharing. This is great for you as a merchant, the customer, and your search engine ranking. Continually add content to your website or update a blog with information that deals with your company, the products you sell, and the industry you are part of.  If you sell furniture, you can include information on how to maintain your furniture, or new interior design trends.  If you sell clothing, show pictures of people wearing your clothing, give style tips on accessories, research the best materials and maintenance and share your research with your customers.  If you sell books or music, share information about your best selling authors and musicians, as well as relevant news in your industry.  Keep the content on your website current and informative. If you make your website an information resource, customers coming to your website for information might just end up purchasing, and customers who have purchased from you will come back to see updates.  You can include some of this information in your monthly newsletters, your blog or twitter posts, your facebook wall, and one relevant pages of your website.
  • Experience - Try Something New. Your website may be functioning great, so you may not even be considering trying something new, but this can be good for both improving your visibility on the web and increasing sales.  If you are not doing regular newsletters, start a sign up.  Services such as MailChimp have packages that are free to get you started. You may want to add mobile pages to your website.  If you are using the latest version of ShopSite Pro, you can add a mobile option to all of your store pages easily. Maybe you haven't been blogging or you have yet to get on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Google+.  You don't know how may more customers you can reach until you try to branch out from your norm. 
I am going to try all of these things on my website, this year.  I resolve to re-organize my pages so that the most beneficial information for my customers is the easiest to find.  I resolve to provide more ways to keep in contact with my business.  I resolve to provide regular information updates about the eCommerce industry on my website, both information that I have researched and write, and link to third party websites providing helpful eCommerce information. I resolve to send out a monthly newsletter with eCommerce tips, specials for website enhancements, and fun facts or online stores that I come across.  If you would like to sign up to receive these monthly newsletters, you can sign up at the following URL:

Good luck in the coming year, and have a happy New Year!