Does your website stand out from its competitors and attract visitors who become customers? Tap in to the innovation process to boost your cyber sales.
A quick look at some of the stats released by the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark report of Cyber Monday 2012 shows the stakes are higher than ever for online sales—cyber shoppers turned November 26 into the biggest spending day ever, even eclipsing Black Friday's online sales. The average shopper spent $182.12 online.
To help your business claim more online sales, follow these 10 tips below:
1. Make regular updates. Just because your small business has a website doesn't mean the work is done when the site goes live. Regular updates are a way to reach out to potential new customers as well as enhance ranking on search engines.
The updates are just the start of getting the site noticed and drawing traffic to it, says Ricky Joyner, owner of SEOFuture.com of Maricopa, Arizona.
"It's going to take months to get noticed," he says, adding optimization is a multi-pronged approach to drawing in visitors.
2. Look professional. Joyner recommends spending the money and having a site professionally designed, because you don't want your small-business site to look like an afterthoughtl.
"If your website looks like a cookie cutter site that was made by your sister-in-law's brother right out of high school, people are going to notice," Joyner says. Site visitors will likely not take your small business seriously if the site doesn't look professional.
3. Build trust. Looking professional and offering something of value through regular updates builds visitors' trust and gives them reasons to return. The more they return, the more likely they are to buy your product or service.
4. Post fresh content. When people see fresh content on your business' site, especially content that caters to your business niche, they remember and return. It also improves your credibility to be seen as an authority on your industry through your content.
"Without content, you have nothing," Joyner says. Content includes blog posts, photos, videos and infographics—a graphic element with text that shows how a product works or explains an issue.
5. Network. To help optimize your site, make sure it gets listed in directories such as Yelp and Manta, which includes links to the site. Each listing with its link back to your site will add that much more to the search engine optimization of your site.
6. Guest posts. These are posts you get published on other websites, and usually include links back to your site. The guest posts establish you and your business as an authority in your industry.
7. Research competition. Check up on what your competitors are doing with their websites and work to outrank them in search results, Joyner says.
8. Customer reviews. Submitted by clients, these posts to your business site actively involve your customers in the site and your business. Reviews build trust and loyalty.
9. Social media. Build a following through social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. When your site is updated, tell your followers and encourage them to share the news.
Social media also allows you to engage your customers. Encourage them to post questions and comments that you respond to, letting them know your business is responsive and interested in helping them.
It's best to keep your personal pages separate from the business, Joyner says. If they're mixed, the business tends to look more like a hobby than an actual business and you'll lose credibility with your customers.
10. Plan for mobile, too. People are on the go more than ever with tablets, iPads and smartphones. Make sure your website is easy to load on those smaller devices. According to the IBM report, 18 percent of consumers used a mobile device to surf retail sites on Cyber Monday.
Read more articles on online sales.