As consumers are more and more tied to online technologies, business websites are playing an ever-growing role in the customer-company relationship. Yet, creating an online space that grabs customer attention is only half the battle. It’s vital to success that websites also drive sales.
To help you hone your company’s online prowess, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council share their top tips for turning your website into an engaging and successful part of your sales effort.
1. Start With Strong Content
We believe in the power of strong, nonpromotional content that assists our prospects and customers in overcoming their most pressing business challenges. Driving prospects to that content is only the beginning of the journey with them. It’s important to continue to engage with them at the right time, with the right message, using the right channel until you close the sale. — Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
2. Provide Something Relevant
Helping prospects purposefully navigate brand websites is vital. Provide something of interest and relevance within several clicks — without deep navigation or endless meandering. Once a topic resonates, entice visitors to want more. Providing additional areas or ideas to explore with an easy method of contact keeps conversations moving. Relevant engagement moves prospects to lifelong customers. — Dave Wendland, Hamacher Resource Group
3. Use More Engaging Calls To Action
Businesses can increase consumer engagement by making it easy, convenient and fun to interact. Instead of a simple “Contact Us” button, you could use: “Sample Our Product,” “See a Demonstration in Person” or “Get an Appointment Today” as a way of better connecting to customers. Be creative and specific. For example, one of our business-to-business clients asks, “How do you test industrial valves?” — Francine Carb, Markitects, Inc.
4. Leverage User-Generated Content
The power of user-generated content extends far beyond social media. Consumers want to see the product in action before they buy it, so providing content from real customers helps add credibility and drives purchase intent. User-generated content tends to be more authentic, personal and engaging — qualities that consumers now demand from the brands they buy from. — David Shadpour, Social Native
This is all we do for our clients. We test and measure every element strategically to figure out what really holds the most weight in the eyes of the visitors. That quantitative approach really helps drive sales conversions and average order values. Figuring out what they like and don’t like can help us better position the products for sale and see exponential growth. — Justin Christianson, Conversion Fanatics
6. Use Chat Tools
One thing that I always add to my clients’ sites is a chat tool. Why? It improves consumer engagement and ultimately keeps them on the website longer. There are a ton of chat tools to choose from, and I always lean toward those that have a third-party company manning them 24/7, as most small and medium-sized businesses don’t have the internal resources to manage this around-the-clock. — Dustin Detorres, DeTorres Group
7. Take Your Retargeting Offline
Quite often, the team focused on driving site traffic and the team focused on driving conversions are different. Creating focus is good, but it can cause conflict. Introduce programs that link these objectives and break down the silos. Web-powered direct mail leverages increased site traffic with browsing data the consumers share, which can be used to retarget via direct mail and drive conversion rates. — Lori Paikin, NaviStone®
8. Monitor Analytics
A website tells the story of a company and its services while appealing to the target audience. Specific service offerings mixed with individual company culture and a distinct target market creates a need for a unique website. A site must be an evolving project and requires webmasters to periodically analyze consumer flow, interactions and behaviors and adjust the website accordingly. — Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing
9. Leverage Users’ Behavior
Even if your website generates crazy traffic, it doesn’t mean that it will bring you a ton of leads. You need to take a smart approach here and leverage customer behavior. On average, it takes around six to eight interactions between a brand and a prospect for the latter to become a customer. Invest in observing the users’ behavior on your website and use remarketing ads via different channels. — Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
10. Reduce The Bounce Rate
Reduce the bounce rate at all costs. Every step of the user interface/user experience should take the users forward. Be entertaining, introduce options and give them information at every step to keep them going forward. Even a 404 Error message should be entertaining, branded and include other action buttons that can take the user to a place in the site that she hasn’t discovered yet. — Susan Akbarpour, MAVATAR TECHNOLOGIES INC.
11. Find Leaks In Your Funnel
Using analytics, analyze where leaks occur in your funnel and implement new marketing tactics to fix them. You may find that content is driving traffic to your site, but that traffic isn’t converting. Use A/B testing to experiment with different headlines and personalized content to see what can drive more leads to sales. Sometimes it’s as simple as redefining a value proposition. — Kristopher Jones, LSEO
12. Keep Things Simple
Reduce the number of steps (a.k.a. the amount of friction) for a customer to either complete a purchase or submit a contact form. Provide enough context and marketing material around the product/service, but always point them to the call to action at the end of the experience. — Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC
13. Create A Compelling Offer
Once you’ve engaged with your target audience online, create a compelling offer to encourage them to take the next step and complete the sale. Know your audience and offer a special that will motivate them based on their selected product or service, and that will encourage repeat business. Keep the messaging simple and clear and direct them quickly through your site to the point of conversion. — Stephanie Shreve, PowerChord
14. Consider The Customer’s Path
Make sure you know the purpose of every page. Some pages are there to inform; others may be moving customers down a funnel, while others are more conversion-focused. Consider the path of your customer and strategically include call-to-action buttons throughout your site that will lead them down the right path to help nurture a conversion. — Bernard May, National Positions
15. Respond Swiftly, With Options
In a service industry, always assume that if someone filled out your lead-gen form, they probably filled out a few. Response time matters, as does the flexibility to deal with a prospect on their terms — via phone, email or whatever, and whenever. Make it easy on them. Speed and convenience are frequently killer differentiators. — Marcus Grimm, Web Talent Marketing