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.

Ready for a website?

computer-userThere are a number of different ways, and levels of expense,  to create a website.  You can have someone build and maintain it for you.  This is usually the most expensive but the least time consuming way.  The drawback is that you have no control.  And without some knowledge of what you need and what it should cost you, you could be taken advantage of.

You can have it built by someone else who will teach you how to make changes and maintain it.  They will usually continue as a fee-based consultant for those times when you run into problems and need help.  This can be less expensive over the long term, is more time consuming for you, and allows you to have some control depending on how much you wish to learn.

The third option is to build your own site.  And once again, there are several options.  When creating my first website, my business hadn’t grown enough to allow me to pay someone.  But what was of greater concern for me was that I wanted total control.  The trade-off was time.  The first website was built on a “free” service and wasn’t beautiful but I learned the basics. 

After a few months, I made the decision to move it from the free server to my own domain and to learn how to build it myself from the ground up.  I purchased Front Page and several dummie type books and dug in.  I joined a google group about Front Page where my questions could be answered, and the site began evolving.

Knowing how important search engines are for providing traffic, once again I learned how to do it myself.  There are many companies out there begging for your business, guaranteeing they can put you on page one of google by optimizing your site.  Some are legitimate.  Many are not.  But no one can guarantee you a position on page one of google unless they pay for a Pay Per Click ad and then you’re not in the organic search results–you’re in the ads. 

I am the kind of person that doesn’t want to hire someone to do something for me when I have no idea of whether or not I’m being taken for a ride.  Optimizing is not hard.  It’s just knowing how to do it and taking the time to implement what you know.  There are free classes online and books available if you are willing to invest the time.

Fast forward a few years and I can honestly say that doing it myself was the very  best decision I could have made.  I now own a number of different websites, all of which I’ve built and optimized myself.  Believe me, it’s a wonderful feeling when those orders come rolling in and you know that you did it!

But my decision may not be the best one for you.  Each has to weigh the pros and cons and decide what is best for themselves.  For those of you who have the desire to step out into website building, here are several options that are currently available to make it easier for you.

Microsoft, the creator of FrontPage, now offers their newest website building program called ExpressionWeb.  If you would like to try it with little cost, for a limited time Microsoft has a page listing web hosts that are offering a free copy of Expression Web v2 with 60 days of free hosting.  For this offer, see  http://www.microsoft.com/web/ jumpstart/ platinum- hosting/default. aspx for more information.

If you would like to have someone build a site for you and hold your hand as they teach you how to maintain it, I recommend Laura Wheeler of  Firelight Web Creations.  Located in Wyoming, she can be reached at [email protected] .  She’s honest, patient, and has worked with several members of GiftBasketNetwork either building or rebuilding their sites.

If you want easy, you might take a look at ProStores. They say that ProStores has everything you need to start selling online today- shopping cart, domain hosting, merchandising, reporting, and more!   I build my own sites so haven’t used it but it does appear to be everything it says it is.  Check it out and decide for yourself.

Regardless of which option you go for, in today’s world, every business should have some form of internet presence.

Do you sell based on price?

moneyIn today’s economy, price is important.  But even more important is value.

If all you talk about when marketing your gifts and gift baskets is price (whether on the internet or in person), that’s what your customers will base their buying decisions on.

If what you feature is the needs and benefits to your customers, they  will base their decisions on how well you meet those needs and desires with your product or service.

What do you talk about?