At ATAK Interactive, we believe user testing once a website is built is mandatory. We all have our own vision of what a perfect website will be, but in reality a perfect website is only that if your users feel this way. Your website design will always evolve. Just a few years ago social media was not even a term and today you cannot build a new website without including social media tools and links.
There are many hurdles one must jump while developing a user experience that is attractive and converts to sales. Attention to detail is only one important characteristic, and attention to your customer is really what is important. It’s painful to not know about problems your users are having, and this can be easily prevented if you can identify these costly problems before you find it is too late to develop and test an improvement plan at all. There are many tools to find out whether users enjoy navigation your site and you can view many of those resources here. To add to this article, we wanted to pose a few questions you should be asking your users, frequently, to make sure they are satisfied with how you offer your material and your services.
- Have you been to this website before?
- What is your immediate impression when you land at our website (or web store) home page?
- What do you sense is the purpose of this site?
- Who do you think is the target audience?
- What frustrated you most about this site?
- How do you find the site layout? Do you like the organization? If no, why not?
- If you were looking for “XYZ Product” could you easily find it?
- If you had a magic wand, how would you improve this site?
- Can you get to the home page easily, from anywhere on the site?
- Can you find our contact information easily, from anywhere on the site?
- Is there something (whether pleasant or not) that you weren’t expecting to see?
- Were you offended by anything on the site?
- Was anything on our website too well hidden?
- Do you have any issues with the color scheme used on the website?
- Was the text on the website easy to read? Do you like the font?
- Does the product search work for you? Please try a search and let us know your thoughts on your result.
- Can you find our social media profiles?
- Please register at our site. How do you feel about the registration process? Are you offended in any way?
- Can you easily find where to reset your password?
- Can you easily find where to logout and login?
- Can you easily subscribe to our newsletter?
- Are you happy with the email message you received when you registered? Can we make this email more useful?
- How likely are you to recommend this site to a friend or colleague (0=Not at all likely, and 10=Very Likely)?
- Compared to competitors you consider, is our product quality/offering better, worse, or the same?
- Are our prices more reasonable, less reasonable or the same as our competitors?
- On a scale from 1-5, how responsive is our company?
- How well do our customer service reps serve you?
- What would encourage you to return to this site more regularly?
- What are your favorite three things about this website?
- What are your least favorite things about this website?
- If you could change one thing on this website what would it be and why?
Every site has a different agenda and many but not all questions will apply. At ATAK Interactive we have built over 500 websites (many ecommerce websites included in this number), and all our experience tell us you should ask your users a lot of questions, but that you keep your questions clear and to the point so your users do not have to guess what you want to know. Be specific so you get specific answers.read more
As eCommerce and SEO specialists we at ATAK Interactive work hard to produce the best results for our search engine optimization (SEO) clients. We do feel, however, are several ways that our clients can help make our job easier and in turn produce better results with a search engine optimization campaign. We put together a list of things that can be done before and after an ecommerce web site is launched that will help with search engine optimization and results that produce a better sales figure.
1. Avoid Exact Manufacturer Product Descriptions: Ecommerce website businesses find it tempting to just copy and paste product descriptions from the manufacturer’s website. Resist the urge. At the very least, re-write the description in some way to make the product description somewhat unique.
2. Create a SEO Keyword Field in Product Database: Just as every product record in your catalog has a name, price, and other attributes, you should also create a SEO keyword field that is displayed in the title tags, Meta tags, and preferably the body as well. As you add products to the site, enter commonly search for keywords in this field. Not everyone will search by the brand name or item number, so this will greatly help your product pages rank for long tail searches.
3. Focus on Singular Keywords on Product Page: As a general rule, I try to optimize for plural keywords on the home page or other SEO landing pages. Focus on singular terms on the product pages by using the SEO keyword field mentioned in step 2.
4. Simple Product & Category URLs: Ideally, URLs should consist of keywords and not useless ID’s, numbers, codes, dashes, or other parameters. If you don’t have the option of using URL re-writing software, at least limit the number of variables passed in the URL. ATAK Interactive would suggest you to rewrite the URL of the website. Like: – http://www.alliedtime.com/Traditional-Employee-Punch-Clocks-s/1477.htm .
5. All Products 2 or 3 Clicks from the Home Page: Keep your product pages as close as possible to your greatest source of Page Rank. Many sites bury part of their product catalog deep within dozens of pages of categories and subcategories. This can be accomplished by using SEO friendly rollovers or increasing the number of products per page. Ask your ecommerce company how to do this if you do not know. ATAK Interactive can always help.
6. Unique Title Tags: While it’s debatable whether the company name belongs in the beginning of the title tag, most agree you should not include extra keywords that are repeated in every tag. For example your company name was XYZ CCTV, include only the company name in title tag, not “XYZ CCTV Camera and recorders.” Use as little duplicate content as possible in order to prevent diluting the value of the rest of the text in the title tag. We can avoid duplication of title tags when a developer adds the product category/name into title tags. Suppose the website category is ip Cameras so the title tags should be ip Cameras – XYZ.com as well is if the product is ip cctv camera then title tags should be cctv camera – xyz.com.
7. Unique Keyword Meta Tags: Meta tags, including keywords and description, should be entirely unique on every product page. Though Meta content likely does not directly affect your ranking, unique tags will prevent duplicate content penalties. In addition, don’t stuff keywords into your Meta tags that aren’t relevant to the specific page they are on.
8. Unique Description Meta Tags: Personally, I like putting the same product description that appears on the product page in Meta description tag. This will ensure unique content on each product page.
9. Product Reviews: A great strategy for guaranteeing unique content is displaying user generated content from your customers. Allow customers to review products they’ve purchased or comment on one’s they haven’t.
10. Internal Contextual Links: Site navigation links don’t tell search engines very much information about the page. Within a paragraph of text, link to a relevant page using keyword rich anchor text.
11. Avoid Session IDs in URLs: Many ecommerce software platforms use cookie-less unique session IDs in the site URLs. Unfortunately, this creates an infinite amount of duplicate content for the SE’s to crawl. There are ways to prevent this using an ethical type of cloaking which serves URLs to spiders without the session ID.
12. Page File Names: If possible, use keyword rich page file names. A page files name such as www.yoursite.com/keyword-phrase-here.html tells Googlebot a lot more than a URL such as www.yoursite.com/?ID=1234.
If you have more questions about ecommerce or search engine optimization for ecommerce, please call ATAK Interactive. We are a Los Angeles website development agency that specializes in ecommerce. We also know search engine optimization very well, and offer search engine optimization services specifically for ecommerce. Please call our Los Angeles headquarters at 310.526.7493.read more
As a Los Angeles web development firm, we work with many local businesses to help maximize their online appearance and activity. Over the years, we’ve invested a lot in LA, and are proud to see our tech and business communities continue to thrive.
We want to serve our community and the small businesses that call her home by taking that support to the next level and share some resourceful articles we feel will help entrepreneurs, small business owners, and fellow Angelinos. After all, we all grow together.
With that said, here are some of the most insightful reads we came across on the web last past week:
- Heard of the Internet Sales Tax? Confused about it? CNBC’s Peels Back all the Online Tax Layers.
- Spending too much time on emails? Follow “The 5 Sentence Email” productivity lifesaver and you’ll be good to go.
- With eCommerce changing the landscape, it’s time we think about The Future of Brick and Mortar.
-Does your eCommerce store use Product Recs? If so, check out these 11 Useful Examples of Copywriting in Product Recommendations.
- Google Hangouts and Your Business. Are the two a match?
- Motivate yourself by reading 8 Things Really Successful People Do.
-Or motivate yourself further and pick up one of these: 10 Eye-Opening Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read.
- Locals Only: Mapping the Pavement Quality of Los Angeles’ Streets.
-Lastly, here’s an argument for why you should Pay Employees Too Much.
WHAT IS WEBGL?
WebGL is a powerful programming interface that allows gamers and web-surfers to view 3D graphics right inside their browser. It’s short for Web-based Graphics Library, and it enables web graphics and animations to run in real time, creating the kind of dynamic user experience we’ve come to expect.
Collectively run by Opera, Mozilla, Google, and Apple, WebGL is designed and maintained by the non-profit tech association The Khronos Group. You used to need special versions of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari to experience its effects, but now the most current version of your browser should automatically support the language. Smart phones are also equipped to display 3D graphics in apps like Autodesk’s 123D Catch, which transforms your photos into sharable 3D models. Best of all, this platform is free to use at will. Because it was started as part of the open source movement, The Khronos Group is dedicated to keeping WebGL royalty-free and widely functional.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
WebGL is not like ordinary programming languages. Since its prototype appeared in 2006, it has grown into a cross-platform web standard. That means it works directly through scripts that are already built into a website’s code, eliminating the need for a plugin. With WebGL, you can write your exciting, interactive, 3D design once, and then publish it anywhere, again and again. That’s a giant leap forward for developers, who were previously limited by competing platforms and incompatible plugins.
WHERE CAN YOU SEE IT?
WebGL is most commonly used to create 3D games, music videos, and interactive consumer applications like My Robot Nation, a site that lets you design your own mini robot to be 3D-printed and shipped to your doorstep. You may have already used MapsGL, a Google Maps experiment involving 3D buildings and a thrilling “swoop” effect when transitioning to Street View.
These tools are also widely used by architects, engineers, mechanics, etc. to virtually sketch a prototype of their idea and have it sent to a 3D printer. There are also a number of other applications and experiments of WebGL that take place to bring us things like 3D music visualizers, piano keys you can play on your screen, and virtual tours of far-flung ruins. This is also a great tool to use to create 3D virtual marketing tools.
HOW CAN YOU INCORPORATE WEBGL INTO YOUR WEBSITE?
WHAT IMPACT WILL WEBGL HAVE IN THE FUTURE?
WebGL basically eliminates the barrier between browsers and operating systems by bypassing plugins to run on your computer’s processing power – so it opens a lot of doors to possibilities with new similar functioning technologies. The importance of this emergence is in that 3D is likely to soon become the norm when it comes to graphics on most websites. And since it’s still not yet widely seen on most websites, ATAK Interactive can help you get ahead of the curve and update your graphics to give your users an impressive and cutting-edge presentation.read more
It’s the internet – you can use it anywhere. So, you can use any web development and design firm out there for your business’ website, right? Technically, yes. But is it a good idea? Maybe not. It really depends on what you’re looking to get as an end product, along with how you’re expecting the journey to get to the end product to look like. Los Angeles-based website development and design firm ATAK Interactive, Inc. takes you inside the benefits of working with a local company and how it improves many aspects of the experience.
A FACE WITH A NAME
In our virtual world, it’s common to correspond with individuals regularly who we’ve never met. Email, virtual meetings, and phone calls make this completely possible. And while this may work for a number of scenarios, think of it this way: Your website is the face of your company throughout the whole world. People anywhere can view it, so don’t you want to put your best foot forward and have a website that reflects exactly what you want on it? When you work with a local website developer and designer, you have that personal, one-on-one connection so you can be on the same page about the look, feel and personality of your website. Cookie-cutter is something a developer who can hide behind a screen all day produces. But when you make that personal connection, there is a higher degree of accountability.
It’s been three weeks since your website was supposed to be live. You’ve spent endless hours preparing content and choosing layouts for this magnificent showcase of what is your business. The link appears in your inbox from the developer you’ve hired in China. You eagerly click on the link and wait for the page to load. Hmm, when you said you wanted a blue background, did they think you said black? You scroll down. The crazy-cool slideshow you created showcasing those photos you sent are missing and have been replaced by random people. You quickly dial the 1-800-number and hear something that is definitely not English. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Working with a local company means there’s all-around better communication, and a local number you can call when something just doesn’t is what you envisioned.
KNOWING WHO THEY ARE
You’re likely going to shell out some big bucks for your website project, so wouldn’t it be better to hire someone who you know and trust? When you use a local web developer and designer, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into by seeing their portfolio, talking with previous clients about their experience, and getting a feel for how they conduct business. Plus, you might be able to better negotiate the things you want as part of the package based on other work they’ve done and rates they’ve quoted. This could save you a lot of money and a lot of headache.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF COMPETITION
In Los Angeles, there are a lot of web developers and designers out there. Besides the variety of companies to choose from, the competition these companies face is fierce – so you know you’re working with a cutting-edge company who has to stay ahead of the game. A company in Los Angeles might be strides ahead in terms of technology and web programming than a company based in a more remote part of the country with less competition.
KNOWING WHAT YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS TO GET AHEAD
Being part of the landscape and understanding businesses in the area is essential to a web designer, since their goal is to make your website stand out from many others. That’s why Los Angeles web developers and designers like ATAK Interactive, Inc. can use their Los Angeles know-how and expertise to guide you in making your website one-of-a-kind of and effective. Whether it’s a website for show-biz or a small storage company, understanding the customer dynamic is important for the end result. So even though outsourcing can be attractive, keep in mind these points that can really make a difference in what represents your business the most and your overall experience.read more
You may have heard of responsive web design, and you may have heard about the parallax effect – but have you heard of them together? Responsive web design encompasses an entire approach to creating websites where the website can be experienced flawlessly across laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices. As more and more people alternate between multiple devices on a daily basis, there is increasing demand for sites that can alternate with them. Responsive websites literally respond to various contexts, resizing fonts, images, and column width, and reorganizing content for optimum readability. So you can imagine why this is an important characteristic for any website owner to incorporate. But let’s take a step further and throw the parallax effect into the mix. Confused? ATAK Interactive, Inc. spells it out for you.
WHAT IS THE PARALLAX EFFECT?
The parallax effect isn’t exactly new; it has appeared in animation since the 1940s and video games since the arcade days, but it only made its appearance in web design in the last few years. In fact, the parallax effect is simply a term that describes the funny way distance alters perception. Here’s an easy way to understand how it works: Have you ever looked up from your Smartphone and out the window of a speeding train? Then you’ve seen how objects that are close seem to move faster than objects far away. This same principle is being put to work in just about every hot new product website and design portfolio.
So you might wonder how this ties into responsive web design. Basically, responsive web design allows the parallax effect to be effective across all types of devices – giving your website the look of cutting edge technology no matter what someone is viewing it on.
THE FUTURE OF RESPONSIVE BROWSING
Parallax effects are quickly becoming a standard component of every designers’ responsive design toolkit. This creative manipulation of depth and speed is beginning to feel like the norm, even to those who have never heard the term “parallax effect” before. Part of what makes parallax scrolling so effective is that much of the movement depends on user interaction. In other words, you control when to move between layers, initiating a sudden change in images. One effect, known as “the raster method”, causes images to load top to bottom with a slight delay – rather than all at once. This gives the impression that the content is materializing right before your eyes. Nowadays reading up on a company or artist on the internet can feel a lot like a video game.
Parallax effects, along with the entire craft of responsive web design, will continue to anticipate and respond to users’ needs and preferences. So, the future is in sites that are flexible, interactive, and visually pleasing. Designers and developers are rapidly adhering to the demand – which is why it’s time for you to implement this new technology if you haven’t done so already, and ATAK Interactive’s team of advanced programmers are ready to help. So whether your customers are on the subway their Smartphone, or at work with a 27-inch desktop monitor, they can continue to read your blog and see products on your website with ease – helping your business in the long run.read more
From the glory days of eBay, to new private label upstarts like eyeglass company Warby Parker, the online marketplace has won over customers with convenience, discount price tags, and rapidly changing product lines. Previously unknown retailers have built in-demand brands by cutting out the middlemen and working directly with manufacturers. Add almost unlimited consumer reach without the operating costs of a physical storefront, and it’s easy to see why e-commerce companies have come out on top. But with more and more companies competing for business, they are also competing in ways to bring a better ecommerce experience to the customer. So here’s a look from Los Angeles ecommerce web design firm ATAK Interactive, Inc. at what trends we can expect for the upcoming months in the world of ecommerce.
TREND 1: BIG DATA
Big Data has been transforming e-commerce for several years. Until now, it has posed more of a problem than an opportunity for merchants who didn’t have the processing power of Amazon or Facebook. A lot has been said about the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data collected every day, and the possibilities it presents for advanced customer analysis and targeting. But most companies will be concerned with simply accessing Big Data, finding the right tools and talent to harness it, and honing in on the information that’s relevant to their unique market.
TREND 2: PERSONALIZATION
When companies call for Big Data, what they’re really calling for is enhanced personalization. This year is all about the customer profile: marketers want to see every bit of data linked to robust individual profiles that can help them predict each customer’s interests and buying behavior. Enhanced personalization–which goes far beyond the basics of targeted ads and predictive check-out forms–integrates data from multiple sources to tell merchants what products, prices, coupons, content, and customer service to offer. As companies pour more resources than ever into personalization, people will notice their buying experience become more and more intuitive.
TREND 3: CONTENT MARKETING
To bolster personalization, e-commerce sites need more than some SEO keywords and a Twitter account. Whatever their product, companies are working harder to create genuine and engaging content that people will want read and share. Social media platforms that give the marketer an opportunity to curate and control the story being shared, like Pinterest and Storify, are being used more and more to build brands. And on-site social – like sponsored blogs and forums – is growing to meet the demand for relevant information from expert sources.
TREND 4: CONVERSION OPTIMIZATION
Content marketing is all about boosting the ROI, which is now expressed in conversion rates. Conversion Optimization (CO) is the game of analytic inches. Teams release multiple versions of landing pages and content and then count how many visitors convert to paid customers. E-commerce execs are demanding advanced, continual testing to reveal customer behavior in real time, and analyze why one landing page did better than another. CO is where Big Data, personalization, and content marketing are all put to the test. It’s also the department many companies are actively recruiting.
TREND 5: GOING MOBILE
Finally, e-commerce companies big and small are preparing to finally bridge the PC-tablet-phone divide with responsive, fully integrated sites for each device. When a customer starts shopping for shoes in the cubicle, they can finish the transaction on the bus ride home. The goal is seamless transitions even mid-checkout. Browsing products on a Smartphone has typically been slow and cumbersome. Responsive design for miniature screens is a top priority this year, as are quick and easy mobile payment systems.
THE FUTURE OF ECOMMERCE
This year is shaping up to be a game-changing year for e-commerce. The best players are attracting big-name investors, who see there is still room to grow. This year, the real e-commerce innovators will distinguish themselves from the knock-offs with time-tested strategies repurposed for the digital future. So how is ATAK Interactive staying ahead of the curve? By using the latest ecommerce platforms that are already one step ahead of the coming trends, ATAK Interactive, Inc. can proactively help your business stay in front of the competition – instead of reacting to the new trends as they become more commonplace.read more
In today’s expanding ecommerce world, it’s not surprising that platforms are becoming more advanced and providing better options for their users to connect with their customers more efficiently. But with these new advances comes more complexity – and for this reason, ATAK Interactive, Inc. most often uses the Magento ecommerce platform. Not only does it have high functionality within all of its features, it’s easily pliable to whatever you envision your ecommerce website accomplishing. So here’s some information on this highly-recommended platform ATAK Interactive recommends.
WHAT MAGENTO ECOMMERCE IS
Magento is a full-service ecommerce platform that serves over 150,000 websites using its scalable technology, resources, support, and module services. From small businesses like an online bakeshop, to innovative upstarts like Warby Parker and huge brands like Nike, Magento can adapt to various sizes, needs, and budgets.
The company’s web application was originally developed with input from the open source community, and is designed for maximum user control, customization, and ease. The majority of their customer base – midsized businesses – can start using Magento eCommerce without installing any software on their computers or worrying about hosting and servers. Additionally, Magento Inc. has partnerships with eBay Marketplaces, PayPal, Authorize.net, and others offering third-party extensions to customers.
HOW DOES MAGENTO ECOMMERCE WORK?
Magento was built on the open source Zend Framework, a software framework that was created for developing dynamic websites and web applications. All of Magento’s products use a specific set of coding practices to achieve their signature versatility and end user control. The first is Magento’s own model-view-controller (MVC) design. MVC is a term for the software and web application structures that mediate the user’s interaction with source code and data. In other words, it is the architecture of the user interface. Magento uses a configuration-based MVC as opposed to the more common convention-based MVC, making it easier for customers to manipulate the display of their own, unique web store.
Magento products also use object-oriented programming (OOP). This means that instead of basing their program on discrete data or a list of tasks to be performed, it is based on “objects.” An “object” is a grouping of data and its function, or behavior. For example, in a web store, one “object” might be the buyer. Each buyer comes with a unique grouping of data, such as a name, address, and credit card number. They also come with variable behaviors, like browsing, adding items to the cart, and entering coupon codes. By bundling all of that information into an “object,” retailers can see how individual buyers interact with various features on their site, which is better than wading through vast amounts of disconnected data. It also allows customers to run multiple web stores while keeping all their sales data in one place.
THE BENEFITS OF MAGENTO
While Magento is “user-friendly”, it’s mostly user-friendly with skilled programmers, which is why ATAK’s programmers utilize it so frequently. But some of the most common features that Magento Ecommerce users can benefit from include coupons that can have set terms like time periods and restrictions, advanced customer analytics so you can see where you might be losing business, and SEO features that will help improve your presence on the web without you needing to do anything.
Plus, Magento Ecommerce also has an endless array of inventory management features and nearly 100 payment gateways and integrations you can choose from. So no matter what your business is, Magento will without a doubt be able to give you what you envision for your online store.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Because of all of these features that Magento Ecommerce offers, ATAK finds it to be the perfect starting point to any ecommerce website. In fact, ATAK uses the software program to build most of its clients’ sites since its flexibility and options can match anything a customer is looking for from an ecommerce standpoint. If you’re thinking about adding a new ecommerce solution or improving your existing one, Magento Ecommerce is definitely the way to go – and ATAK’s programmers can help you get there.read more
YouTube is a great place to share videos and even learn new things, and it is also an excellent way for you to generate traffic for your website. In fact, 79% of Fortune Global 100 companies have a branded YouTube channel according to global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller. Los Angeles SEO specialist ATAK Interactive shares some ways you can use YouTube to not only get your company some free publicity, but also to use it to attract more visitors to your website.
1. Be original and creative. Chances are unless your business revolves around a very niche topic, there is some sort of video already posted on YouTube that is relative to your company. Take some time to do your research and determine what has already been posted and how you can create something different that will attract viewers. This can mean putting your own angle on an existing topic, or if the video that exists is poor in quality or execution, using your expertise to create a similar but better video. Either way, don’t try to replicate something that is already there or you’ll be wasting your time in the end when you have little viewers.
2. Post something that will appeal to the masses. This means that your video should be as general as possible without losing its uniqueness and differentiation from every other video out there. The more people who want to see your video, the better the chances of increasing traffic to your website.
3.Create a series of videos instead of just standalone ones. By posting frequent videos that are relevant to each other and maybe even is a continuation of the previous one, you can quickly build a loyal viewership of individuals who want to find out what you’ve posted next. Encouraging subscriptions to your channel is a good idea as well, but beware that frequent viewers who rely on your next video being posted within a short amount of time may get frustrated if you lapse for any reason.
4. Be sure to include your website and logo. That traffic on your website you were hoping for from YouTube may never come if you don’t promote your website and company brand through your videos. Include these in small type on the bottom of each of your videos, and also include them in the video description and comments that are located below each video.
5. Respond to any feedback or questions you may receive. It is important for your viewers to feel that they can connect with you, along with feeling that you value them enough to respond to their questions and comments. The key to using YouTube as a means of gaining valuable viewership is to build loyalty and trust with your potential customers.
6. Engage with owners of videos on similar topics. Use your competition to your advantage by become a regular subscriber to comparable video authors and commenting on their postings. Leave valuable suggestions or ask relevant questions while asking for their feedback of your videos, and including a link to your website for their viewers to see as well.
YouTube is a great medium for sharing your expertise with others, but a key thing to always remember when creating a video is to keep it short, fun, and engaging. The effect you want is to have viewers waiting for your next video, and if you use your creativity well, this is entirely possible. Los Angeles web development agency ATAK Interactive also recommends posting every video from YouTube to either a dedicated page on your website or to your blog. This way, the flow of traffic to and from YouTube and your website can be open and hopefully increasing with each new viewer.read more
Potential customers come to our offices all the time and ask “if I start an ecommerce site how will I compete against the larger competitors?” As one can imagine, big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Target have loads of marketing dollars to spend. Our job is to often set realistic expectations, but our job is to also have answers to this question. Below are the key things our customers are doing to compete.
1.Treat Your Customers Just a Little Better than the Competition. If you are a store that specializes in products for Babies, for example, you can create resources such as checklists, tip guides, a glossary of terms, and many other useful articles where Target and Wal-Mart do not deeply focus. Make sure parents and grandparents have a place to ask questions, and get answers. Ask your customers what they would like your site to have, so to improve their experience. Ask them what products are their favorites and what you can offer that they have trouble finding other places. If you can, offer a better shipping and return policy, or offer additional shipping options to give users more flexibility than they have at other stores. You can also add a “reorder tool” to make reordering the same products over and over again easier.
2. Create Interesting Content. The more descriptive and keyword rich you make your product descriptions, blog posts, company “about us” content, and resource page content the higher your site will climb in search engine results. This is a fact. Google likes content, especially content other people value. Other bloggers, and websites/people will repost and share your content. Write keyword rich descriptions, take great product photos and blog post photos, create videos and add them to a YouTube Channel as well as embed them on your website, and add new categories, pages, and blog content regularly. Create a memorable shopping experience and users will come back. Make part of that experience be “this site has great information” and the search engines will drive new customers to your site.
3. Consider Product Data Carefully and Don’t Skip Details. To understand how databases work, imagine an Microsoft Excel file where at the top of column contains a data set like name, price, color, and then all of the products are listed below, in row fashion, where each column is populated with the correct piece of information for that product (sizes available, product name, colors available, etc.). For example the first row might be a shirt product and will have “Prada Dress Shirt” in the product name column, “$199.00” in the price column and “Blue, Green, Black” in the color column. As mentioned above, if you want customers to be able to search and sort by designer or manufacturer, you’ll also need a column for “Designer” or “Manufacturer” and also have that designer name in the row with the product (ex: “Prada”). This would then allow a customer to search for “Prada” only products and the website would look for all rows that have “Prada” in the “Designer” column. The more extensive your database, and the better the sort options are for users (the ability to sort by blue, green or black…or if a TV 36”, 46”, 55”) the better your conversions will be. Users will find exactly what they want and not have to sort through what they don’t want. Further, search engines can pick up on all of this data. The more you have, as long as it is organized correctly for their standards (call us for more details), the more favorable you will appear to search engines and thus show higher in the rankings. With more data we can also make more pages (like a brands pages) for each brand, or even a completely different category structure for a different type of shopper (perhaps wholesalers).
4. Market to People who Want to Hear from You. You have to get the word out. This is not the movie Field of Dreams where “if you build it, they will come.” Send out an email newsletter, post on your social media outlets like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and others. Reach out to customers directly on their pages, send out coupon codes to people who have added items into a wish list but have not purchased, and create relationships with other sites who will share their customers with you if you share your customers with them. Remember, people receive emails and see tons of content in their social feeds every day. Provide them with an incentive to see you. A funny piece of content, a coupon for first time buyers, or an exclusive offer can go a long way. One big tip is to reach out to popular blogs in your field. Offer them a big discount to shop on your site and post their experience on their blog. These audience introductions/endorsements are incredibly valuable.
5. Create a Rewards Program and Offer Coupon Codes to Customers. Give people reason to continue to buy their products through you by making their experience simple. If your ecommerce system allows, enable, or build in a rewards system (points system) and don’t forget send coupons out regularly to people who have bought from your store. If you add a rewards system to your site, users will receive points for every purchase and you can set the value of each point. Magento (our favorite ecommerce platform) has a module for Rewards Points and our experience tells us any open source ecommerce system allows us to add a system like this in.
6. Find a Few “Stand Out” Products. We suggest that you find some products that the big box stores don’t carry. You can find these products by first asking your customers what they would like you to carry. Further, go to trade shows to find some new to market products. You may be able to offer vendors unique opportunities to sell their products online if they do not sell online or cannot offer an experience as good as yours. In many cases these vendors are just finishing development and do not sell online themselves. This is an opportunity to be one of a manufacturers first vendors and if successful can lead to the most favorable rate ongoing. You may also be able to work out exclusive deals. Last, note that big box stores only sell a portion of a brands entire line in their store (and even in their online store. Home Depot may not sell every single Makita Drill. You may be able to find uncommon products these big box stores don’t carry. Although the sales volume will not be high, the return will be there if you do not have to stock all of their products. Many companies will set you up on a drop ship account.
7. Meet Fulfillment Expectations You are only as good as your word. If you break promises people will not trust you, and will not look to depend on you in the future. If you make promises and guarantees for shipping and price matching, keep them. If you don’t, customers will not return. Make sure automatic notification emails go out to confirm an order, when you ship an order, and when the order is complete. Add a tracking code when you ship the order and send it to the client. If you miss a delivery date send an apology and a coupon code. When you do this, and customers are expecting this communication, you can then slip in “how are we doing?” emails to get real feedback from clients who are willing to share how you can better serve them. Send out a coupon when they fill out these survey’s too!
8. Answer Your Phones. Make sure people can find your customer service phone number, but more importantly make sure someone answers the phone if someone calls. Your customer service representatives should be educated on products, delivery lead times, inventory levels, and company information such as length of time in business, locations, etc.
9. Make Your Website Fast. Believe it or not, the faster your website moves the more sales you will get, and Google like this so you will get more traffic if you have problems and then improve speed. Google favors sites that load and move fast so they will put favor over your site in search engines, given all other attributes being equal when being compared to a competitor. On the conversion front, it’s just obvious users enjoy a fast experience. Data proves that when users realize little or no delay they are more confident the site is coded in a secure manner, and by professionals. Last thing, if your coders say that the site speed is not a coding issue, they may be right. Check your hosting account as well. One factor may be an inadequate server your website is sitting on.
10. Make Wise Investments. Be careful when considering holding inventory. If the margins are not much better, see if you can drop ship with your manufacturers/vendors/distributors so you are not left cash strapped. Your most expensive investments should be in marketing and getting the word out. This includes spending to, if you have to, create interesting content and videos that will get picked up by other outlets, and that your customers will also value.
If you want to learn more about any of these ideas, or want to learn about ecommerce in general, please call ATAK Interactive at 310.526.7493 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are based in Los Angeles, California.