According to Google, 83 percent of U.S. shoppers who visited a store in the last week said they used online search before going into a store. Overall, 68 percent of people said they’re looking to do more of their shopping online in the next year.
If a business is not online or isn’t optimizing its online presence, it is missing out on a huge opportunity to extend its reach and strengthen its credibility with new and existing customers. The virtual equivalent of having a clean, attractive storefront is an eCommerce website that makes shopping there a no-brainer.
Below are five key factors to keep in mind to boost online credibility.
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1. A user-friendly website
A website that is inviting and user-friendly is as important as having an attractive brick-and-mortar store. It’s important to establish a cohesive visual identity for your website. This includes fonts that harmonize well together and are easy to read on desktop and mobile phones, color sets comprised of complementary main and secondary colors, and design layouts that suit your business needs.
When creating your website, ensure customers can find the information they need quickly. This includes hours, contact information, menus, rates, client references, or other information that helps them learn what a business is all about.
2. A thoughtful content strategy
When customers buy a product, they also invest in a brand’s expertise in its respective industry. Through content, businesses can establish themselves as thought leaders which keeps online content fresh, improves brand authority, and helps optimize a site for search engines.
For example, a plant shop owner might want to do blog posts or how-to videos about plant care. This business owner could share these topics with potential shoppers on the website or in other eCommerce marketing channels. Once a business begins publishing content on a regular basis, customers will see their site not only as a place where they can shop, but also as a place where they can learn about a business’s brand. This only helps boost a company’s voice and credibility in its industry.
Being active on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram gives a business the chance to have one-on-one conversations with existing and potential customers, as well as troubleshoot issues and answer questions.
Two 2017 consumer satisfaction studies conducted by J.D. Power suggest that social media is now consumers’ preferred channel for customer service. Gartner found that failure to respond via social media can lead to a 15 percent increase in 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.
Display your business’s social media handles in the website’s footer and include social media sharing buttons on individual pages, posts, or products to encourage visitors to spread the word. Using your social media bios to link to your website or online store can also drive valuable traffic from your followers.
4. Email marketing
According to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. A good place for new eCommerce business owners to start is by setting up a monthly newsletter that features a blog post, promotion, or industry-specific news. Relevant, engaging content is how businesses form meaningful connections with consumers.
Email marketing using a branded email domain also cements a brand’s credibility. Consider how a customer might perceive a business if the email correspondence comes from a generic Gmail or Yahoo alias. A branded email domain makes a business look that much more legitimate and credible. Plus, once an email is opened, businesses get yet another opportunity to distinguish themselves by creating a branded signature block that includes contact information, social handles, and a link back to the website.
5. A secure online store
Fifty-one percent of Americans prefer to shop online, while 49 percent like to shop in an actual store. Satisfy everyone’s preference by adopting an omnichannel business approach with an online store that provides shoppers with the convenience of a fully integrated shopping cart, a secure checkout experience, and smooth online order fulfillment. If you’re already using Square, it’s easy to set up a free online store using your existing Square account. Once you’ve activated your Square Online Store, it will be automatically set up to accept online payments through Square.
Today’s customers demand convenience and want a choice in how they purchase goods from sellers. Square’s online payment services offer another option for your audience and ensures you can reach them through their preferred channels.
As eCommerce continues to gain market share in the global economy, it will become essential for businesses to have a solid online presence. With an attractive website and content strategy, a user-friendly online store, engaging social media presence, and a top email marketing service, a business can stay competitive with the best practices for engaging and growing its customer base.