25 Easy Tips for Creating Happy Website Visitors

Is your website attracting traffic but no sales?  Do you wonder what you can do to make those potential customers stay at your site instead of clicking on to the next one? 

As the owner of giftbasketnetwork.com, my directory can send you potential customers that are ready and willing to buy.  But it’s up to you and your website to convince those customers that you’re the company they want to buy from.  Here are 25 easy tips for creating happy website visitors.

  1. Make sure your site loads quickly.  Use your photo program to reduce the pixels in all your photos and graphics.  Photoshop Elements will do this automatically for you if you click “save for web”.  Other photo programs should have the same capability.
  2. Provide easy-to-find contact information on every page of your site.  People need to know that you are real and can be reached in case there is a question or a problem. 
  3. Send an e-mail to customers to confirm that you received their order and then a follow-up one with tracking information when the order ships.
  4. Answer all emails from your customers quickly.  If you have an online business, you need to check emails at least two to three times daily.
  5. E-mail your customers around two weeks after they receive their product and thank them once again for ordering from you and ask if you can do anything else for them.  This is a good time to send a discount offer for their next order. 
  6. Don’t make them log in before they can checkout. Customers, including me, hate that.  This is one of the most frequent reasons for abandoning an order that has been placed in a shopping cart. 
  7. Use a type size that is no smaller than 10 points.  Some of us are getting to be old geezers and can’t see as well.  Others sit slouched in their chair several feet away from the monitor.
  8. Make sure your photos are ones that will sell your product.  I find all too many gift basket photos on the web that look like someone just stuck some stuff in an empty basket.  Or that have a huge piece of cello wrapped around the gift and tied with a pull bow.  Pull bows are not the enemy.  I use them on low-cost gifts.  It’s the total presentation that makes the difference.  Also gifts wrapped in cello usually do not photograph well.
  9. Make your products easy to find.  Navigation that is clear and direct as well as categories that make sense are important.  Home pages that have the product link simply say “catalog” or “products” or “gift baskets” invite the customer to click to another site.
  10. Write clear accurate descriptions.  Don’t keep the customer guessing.  Many of us don’t use specific brands, using a more generic term such as gourmet cookies instead, because our product inventory changes and varies throughout the year.  Most customers seem to accept that but if you are using the exact same product all the time, specify what it is.  If you have chocolates listed as part of the gift and you substitute something else in the summer, say so.
  11. Tell people who you are on your website.  An About Us page is ideal for this.  Customers trust people they know and the only way they can get to know you is if you don’t hide who you are.  All too many “Who We Are” pages are so generic that you may as well not even include it.  For an example of an about us page, see “Who Is Behind Gift Basket Owners” on this site.
  12. Give your customers all the pricing information up-front. Don’t hide the shipping cost until the end of the process. Let the customer see the shipping cost as early as possible in the checkout process. 
  13. Use dark text on a light background on your website.  Those dark backgrounds may make you look creative but they’re hard to read.
  14. Make sure your shopping cart is secure.   Your customers won’t thank you for security. But they’ll  hate you if you let someone make off with their credit card info.
  15. Keep your website  simple.  Flashing pictures, slide shows, music, and flash entry pages (those pages that say click here to enter the site) are real turnoffs.  Think of your customer and your budget.  Customers look for gifts while sitting at their desk at work.  They will click away as fast as possible if they hear music when they open your site.
  16. Words are powerful.  Be careful of what you say and how you say it on the website as well as in your emails. You’ll win more business.
  17. Offer ways to stay connected. Let folks sign up for an e-mail newsletter or subscribe to a latest news feed (or a special deals feed).  You’d be surprised how many folks appreciate that sort of thing.
  18. Don’t be sneaky. See that ‘Register for our newsletter’ checkbox in your information request form? Is it checked by default? Change it to unchecked. That’s not a decision your customers want made for them.
  19. Make them feel special. Give past customers a special deal just for being a customer. Too often we work like mad trying to create new business while ignoring our old customers.
  20. Don’t stereotype and never assume that your target audience is a niche demographic.  That golf bag gift that you are offering just for men may be the perfect gift for a woman golfer.  And women can be junk food junkies as much as men are.
  21. Be descriptive in your page’s title tag and headline.  This is what most search engines show and will determine whether they click to your site or go down to the next one.
  22. Write content that can be easily scanned.   Write for your customers — not for the search engines.  Use bullets and short paragraphs to  break up the page. Have no more than 14 words on a line.  Many gift basket websites have long paragraphs at the bottom of the page filled with links.  These are obviously written in order to increase links within the site and to increase keyword density.  Or how about the “We deliver to” with a list of every state in the Union and even some major cities thrown in for emphasis. Seach engine spiders are aware of these “cutesy” ploys and mark you down for it.
  23. Make sure that your site looks good, not only in the latest version of Internet Explorer, but also in Firefox which is becoming a popular browser.  Others that are used by many people are Opera and Safari.  Different browers show your site differently in many cases.
  24. Check for errors and fix them. Your server logs every kind of error thrown by your site: Review the list periodically.
  25. Always think like the customer.  Think about what makes you abandon a website when you are ordering online.  Put your own ego aside and create your site so that it intrigues rather than turns off that potential customer.

Gift Basket Company Owners: Have you considered this market?

We, as gift basket company owners, are so busy marketing to the corporate market that we tend to overlook some other markets that can be profitable.

One of these is the church market.  The marketing is much the same.  Many of the products may be the same as well, but others are unique.  Church budgets don’t allow a lot of money for gifts but it all depends on the individual church.  If the church itself doesn’t have a budget, women’s groups within the church may.  

Of course, this would be an ideal market for new baby gifts, sympathy gifts, and wedding gifts.  Some churches have annual Conferences or guest pastors and a “Welcome to Our Church” gift basket would be an ideal gift for the speakers.

If the churches you contact don’t already provide small “Welcome” gifts to visitors to their congregation, this is something you could suggest.  These are usually small gifts and can be as simple as an imprinted mug or tote bag filled with info about the church and perhaps a packet of coffee or chocolate.  And, don’t forget the kids who visit.  A small canvas tote bag, with something cute like “Sunday Sack from xxx Church” added with either an iron-on transfer or imprinted if large quantities are needed, can be filled with inexpensive things to keep the child busy during a Church service.   These would be low-cost gifts but, in quantity, small can be beautiful.

Even Squirrels Need A Helping Hand

Everyone needs a helping hand.  Whether you’re starting a new business or trying to grow an existing one, a helping hand can make the difference between success and failure.

Watch this video and then come back:

Everyone Needs A Helping Hand

Did you smile as you watched?  Did you see how it can apply to us as well.? 

I’ve been asked by several people, why are you spending your time creating this blog and writing in it just about every day?  What do you hope to accomplish?  What are you going to get out of it?

Well, that video says it all.  Everyone needs a helping hand at some time or another.  I’ve created several successful businesses through the years.  And now it’s time to extend that helping hand.

This is just one of the “helping hands” in the works.  There are others planned.  I’m asked a question on several gift basket related forums and received a variety of answers.  But I know that some of the readers of this blog don’t visit the forums.  Some of you are not even in the gift business but have found this blog helpful.  So, it’s time to ask you the same question.  Here it is:

“What do you consider your biggest business problem or frustration to be?”

Your answers will help me zero in on the areas where a “helping hand” is most needed. 

Another Promotion That Backfired

Today’s post is reprinted with permission from our guest blogger, Rick Segel of Rick Segel and Associates.  He is one of the leading experts in retail marketing.

A reader sent me a story this week that I just had to share with you. Especially, since we are focusing on sales skills this month. However, before I get to the story, I want to share a couple of lessons first. Due to the current business climate, more retailers have been complaining about how cranky and irritable customers have become. That’s not a big surprise because people are upset with the economy, the losses in their worker’s 401K accounts, the fear of losing their jobs, and just the uncertainty of not knowing what to do. Is the economy rebounding or not?

Couple that with customers telling us that they aren’t going to buy anything, just because they aren’t in the mood. Well, the question is how do we get customers in the mood? The first rule is to control every time a customer has any contact with your business. Our past experiences with businesses set the tone and our mood. If the sales team is overly aggressive or pushy, then the next time the customer comes in they will have their guard up. If the sales people were upbeat, friendly, and helpful, then our attitudes and expectations change.

That is something we all know. We don’t always practice it but that’s just one of those accepted facts about business. What has changed is that our impressions to our customers are no longer limited to their last visit to the store. Now we have to worry about our Facebook entries, our Twitter comments, our emails, our websites and the impressions they give, and then the process the customer has to go through if they want to buy merchandise from your website.

Now let me share a reader’s tale.  This person is a big sports fan living in the Cleveland, Ohio area. However, being a fan of Cleveland teams has not been very rewarding. There has been nearly a 50 year drought of any major league team, The Browns, Indians, or the Cavs in basketball, winning any type of championship. But now the area has a true super star in the person of LeBron James. He just won the MVP Award from the NBA but what makes him so special is the level of maturity of this young man. He is only 24 years old, and is truly remarkable.  LeBron is a true leader and a very astute business man. He negotiated a contract $92 million contract with Nike when he was only 19 years old, without an attorney. (He fired the one he had)

A couple of days after LeBron won the MVP honor, Nike came out with an MVP Award T Shirt with the word Witness on it. LeBron made a statement a couple of years ago that he wanted the fans to “Witness Greatness”. So Nike, being the great marketers that they are, jumped on that statement and made the word “Witness” as part of the LeBron James mystique.

At the first game of the semi-final series, Nike gave away thousands of these shirts. Well it did exactly what Nike wanted. Everyone watching on TV wanted to buy one of these unique looking T Shirts. They were not being sold in stores yet and you could only buy them directly from the Nike website. The selling price was $30, plus shipping and handling. The worst part was that 2 days after the game, the Nike site was quoting 21 to 30 days for delivery. The orders must have been flying in. My reader went on line, ordered the T Shirt. The next morning the confirmation of the order was emailed. He was shocked that the cost of the shirt with shipping and handling came in just under $50.00. He rethought his purchase and decided to cancel the order. It was less than 12 hours after the order was placed. He found a phone number for customer service and called.

He was informed that he couldn’t cancel the order. He was also told it had been shipped. He questioned that because it said that there was a minimum of a 21-day delay. When he asked for the tracking number there wasn’t any tracking number. Then he was told that this shirt CAN NOT be cancelled or returned. He then asked for a supervisor and was told he couldn’t help and the shirt could not be cancelled. But the good news was that they found a shirt and would be sending it out immediately. Overnight delivery at the buyer’s expense. There were actually 6 calls made until he finally spoke to someone who understood what was happening and informed the buyer that they could return it.

At first the buyer was relieved but then he realized that he had to pay freight both ways and one was overnight shipping. Well the shirt was shipped and received the next day and he shipped it back on the same day. It cost him $28 for this adventure. I asked “Why didn’t you just keep the shirt?”

“That is the whole point of the story” he went on to explain. “I will never buy or wear anything Nike ever makes. How sleazy can they get?”  He is right. I can’t look at Nike quite the same way ever again. All of this great brand building to have some overly aggressive middle manger type do a good job in destroying it.  All over $30 T shirt. That’s dumb! Why did they have to lie?

Are your image and brand consistent? Are all of your contacts with your customers in alignment to what you believe? 

Just as an FYI, I was asked to share this story. But I am only one of many people who were asked. No one knows how many publications this might appear in. This is a person who knows how to make things happen. I applaud you for being proactive and sharing and exposing a really horrible customer service . Have a great week.

Recession Rescue Tips from Another Guest Blogger

Today’s guest blogger is Michele Pariza Wacek  of www.MichelePW.com.  Recession has become a common word in today’s vocabulary but Michele recently attended a workshop and shares some tips she learned:

In the book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” after
Earth is blown up, Arthur (the main character) is presented
with a small computer (not unlike an iPhone I’d imagine)
with these words on the front — “Don’t panic.” Arthur finds
this oddly comforting, even though Earth is gone and he is
on a spaceship with a guy he really didn’t get along with
too well when they were both on Earth.

Although no one said those words, that was the underlying
theme of this past Dan Kennedy/Bill Glazer Superconference.
Don’t panic. Yes we’re in a recession. Yes the government is
doing crazy things. Yes we have pirates and pig flu and
everything else. But you shouldn’t be panicking because it’s
very possible for us to not just survive but thrive. (Hey,
if Arthur can keep from panicking after watching the end of
the world, we should have no problems.)

So what can we do? In a word — lots. Here are 3 things to
get you started:

1. Don’t allow what’s going on to paralyze you. Over and
over again we kept hearing stories about business owners who
have just stopped doing anything. Whether it’s from fear or
because they believe it’s not going to make a difference so
why bother or they think this is smart to hunker down and do
nothing while they wait things out, the end result is
they’re frozen. And because they’re frozen, their businesses
are dying.

Now is not the time to be doing nothing. Now is the time to
be doing something. Lots of things. Like marketing. Lots of
marketing. In fact, this is an excellent time to be
marketing because your competition is probably panicking and
frozen and hiding in a closet somewhere, so you have the
chance to not only solidify YOUR position but take customers
away from your competition.

2. Work harder. Ivanka Trump came and spoke to us, and the
biggest thing I took from her is she works 16-hour days. Yes
she’s rich. Yes she has a trust fund. Yes she’s in the
family business. And she works her little tush off.

Now, I’m not necessarily advocating ignoring your family and
your health and everything else and just focusing on your
business. What I AM saying is if your business isn’t where
you want it to be, rather than shutting down or doing less,
try doing more. Whether that looks like hiring someone to do
a marketing campaign for you or you get some systems in
place to free up your time so you can focus on other things
or you roll up your sleeves and do things you wouldn’t
normally do, you might need to do more right now rather then
less.

3. Fix any fundamental flaws. Dan said what’s really
happening right now is the recession is exposing flaws in
businesses that were always there, it’s just before the
businesses were making money despite those flaws. So, again,
don’t panic, don’t shut down, and look at this as an
opportunity. You’re able to fix problems in your business so
when we do come out of the recession, your business will be
that much stronger.

And the most important thing to remember — don’t panic. You
CAN not only survive this but thrive.