According to Shopping Insights by Google, 87 per cent of shopping research happens online, yet 92 per cent of goods are still purchased in stores. If your business is not online, or you haven’t optimised your online presence, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to extend your reach and strengthen your credibility with new and existing customers. A whopping 67 per cent of the buyer’s journey (from search to intent of purchase) is now done digitally, reports SiriusDecisions. That means well over half of your potential customers are looking at your online presence before even considering making a purchase in your store or online.
If you are searched for and are not found, the likelihood that your potential customer will go to a competitor is very high. To succeed and grow your business you need to cultivate legitimate online credibility — the virtual equivalent of having a clean, attractive storefront that makes shopping with you a no-brainer. With Weebly and Square, you can get a professional, powerful e-commerce website up and running in no time.
Below are five key factors to keep in mind to boost your business’s online credibility:
#A branded website
The same way you take pride in your brick-and-mortar real estate, you should invest in an online home that is inviting and pleasant for users. Make sure it is easy for visitors to find the information they need quickly (be that your hours, contact info, menus, rates, client references, or other data) and to learn what your brand is all about. It is important to establish a cohesive visual identity on your website, including a core colour palette, streamlined design effects, and uniform imagery. Make sure your domain name is as close to your business’s name as possible so that your website is easy to find. Weebly lets you easily find an unused domain name for your business and check variations until you come up with one you love.
#A thoughtful content strategy
To establish your business as a thought leader in your industry, it is best practice to create a thoughtful content strategy. Keep the content fresh and up to date to optimise your site for search engines like Google and Bing. The best way to stay relevant is to share various forms of content via a blog or social media. For example, if you are a plant shop owner, your followers will likely be interested in learning about new types of plants, the best ways to keep plants healthy, seasonality of certain types of plants, and unique and interesting facts about growing a garden. You can share content in the form of video, podcasts, pictures, tutorials, guest posts from other industry leaders, and more. Once you start publishing content on a regular basis, you will notice that your site is not only where people come to shop but also where people come to learn, boosting your voice and credibility in your industry.
#A branded online shop
Given all the time and energy you will invest in your business’s website, it only makes sense to capitalise on the site traffic you’re drumming up and make some sales. Whether your trade is in products or services, an e-commerce section of your site enables you to earn money around the clock — even after retail business hours. It lets you cater to your customers who may not have the time, desire, or ability to visit your business in person. This increases the likelihood that your customers will buy from you, and also establishes your business as customer-centric. Customer-centric businesses that cater to the way people like to shop will create dominance in their industry and differentiate their products and services from competitors.
Given the prominence of online shopping in this digital-first era, it is critical to provide your shoppers with the convenience of a fully integrated shopping cart and a secure checkout experience, powered by Square. Enabling Square on your Weebly online store gives customers the opportunity to shop with you wherever they are, and gives you the ability to view and track both online and offline sales in one place. By having a well-known brand name like Square associated with the checkout process, your customers will trust that their information will be secure and view your brand as legitimate and trusted.
Being active on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram enables you to have one-on-one conversations with existing and potential customers, as well as troubleshoot issues and answer questions. Research from JD Power found that 67 per cent of consumers now leverage networks like Twitter and Facebook for customer service. Gartner found that failure to respond via social media can lead to a 15 per cent increase in the churn rate for existing customers. Brands that are quick to respond (the sooner the better, but within 24 hours is best practice), even just to let a customer know that the issue is being investigated but may not be resolved yet, are valued and seen as customer-centric. Make your social media handles known via your website and online shop by including links to your profile on these networks in your website’s footer, main navigation, and sidebar, and in your email signature. You can even implement social media sharing buttons on individual pages, posts, or products to encourage visitors to spread the word about your business to their own followers.
By communicating with your new and existing customers using a branded email domain, you establish brand equity and credibility. Consider how you perceive a business if the founder or owner responds to you from a generic @gmail or @yahoo alias. Most of us would question the legitimacy and credibility of the business. Once the email is opened, businesses get yet another opportunity to distinguish themselves by creating a branded signature block. Be sure to include your contact information, social handles, and a link back to your website.
According to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. A good place for new e-commerce business owners to start is by setting up a monthly newsletter that features a blog post, promotion, or industry-specific news. Weebly Promote seamlessly integrates with your Weebly website, so you can choose a template, customise your message, and email your contacts all from one place. When you send relevant, engaging content to customers, you’re that much more likely to form a connection.
It’s never been more important to show your customers you mean business — literally — online. With a good-looking website and content strategy, a compelling online store, engaging social media presence, and using a tip-top email marketing service, you not only set your customers up for success but also do the same for your business.
—Brianna Dinsmore, Head of Demand Generation at Weebly. Use Weebly and Square to get your online store up and running today.
How to Make the Most of Your Business Website This Financial Year
Square’s SEO Expert: 5 Tips for Your E-Commerce Business
Square’s Social Media Expert: How to Build Your Brand Online