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Enhancing Your eCommerce Store’s Usability and Increasing Online Sales

website-design-for-ecommerce-online-store-07-2016One of the most important aspects to focus on for your ecommerce store is it's usability and ease of navigation. Having good usability for your online store can greatly improve your ability to convert visitors into solid buyers. The basic premise is to make it easy for your visitors to find what they need and to finish the conversion funnel from choosing the product to getting to your shopping cart and finally to finishing the payment process.

Here are some tips to help you improve your sales through your eCommerce storefront:

First, focus on ease of navigation. This encompases the ability of the user to get from your home page to different parts of your website. We suggest having your main categories as part of your navigation. For instance, if you are selling beauty products, you can have as main navigation tabs the following: Oral Care, Hair Care, Skin Care, Make-up and Accessories, etc. This strategy also helps with SEO efforts.

To complement that, you should also make good use of headings and subheading in each page. The larger fonts can easily be spotted by the average web user and helps them understand where they are in your site. In addition, we suggest using breadcrumbs. This, gives the users visual clues about where they are. Let's go back to the example for the beauty site. If you are already navigating the deeper pages of your free web store, say looking at mascara within the eye make-up section the breadcrumb would look something like: Home > Make-up > Eye Make-up > Mascara. These should all be links that the users should be able to click to go back to particular mother categories or even back to your home page.

Second, you should review the elements you have on the first "virtual fold" of the home page and the different category home pages. While today's internet users are used to scrolling up and down to view additional content, the first virtual fold is still prime real estate for any website. This is particularly true for ecommerce stores that have yet to come out with a mobile version or one compatible with a tablet. Three things that we suggest be prominently placed in your first screenfold are your logo (which is always linked to your homepage), your call-to-action (especially in your product pages) and your contact phone number. The last is especially important for establishing your credibility.

The third most important element for your ecommerce store's usability is your search box. Users who are not familiar with your site design or the way you arrange your navigation will always rely on the search functionality to help them find what they need. Make your site search truly functional by allowing searches for misspellings and providing suggestions for related products. You can also expand its usability by creating search filters. Allow searches for the entire site as well as to limited categories. You should also allow search by price, by brand, by color or whatever your users mostly look for.

 

If you'd like to discuss how Panther Marketing can help you improve your online eCommerce storefront, please contact us today.


Essentials of Small Business eCommerce Store Web Design

A Small Business website design is made with the aim of driving customers to buy products through the site. This means the web design firm you select has to come up with a design that will not only attract qualified prospects, but appeal to them to make a purchase. The design must be aesthetically pleasing, functionally sound, and secure. Here are a few tips to achieve your goal of having an effective Small Business web design:

Having structured and defined navigational paths

It's difficult to influence customers to buy without a proper outline to guide them into the buying process. A clear, clean, well-structured path will make it easy. Including a flowchart as part of the website development process, for instance, showcasing the different webpage elements along with path direction for each simplifies the things for the visitors. A small business web design with attention paid to such details can dramatically increase online sales.

Easily to find and prominent product category links

It’s good if you have the most popular product category links displayed right on the home page. The easier you make it on your potential customers to find what they're looking for, and having fewer navigational steps to getting to where they want to go, will increase your online customer conversion rate. A good custom web design company understands this and knows how to use it to your advantage to convert sales. Compelling visuals can also dramatically increase product and service sales.

Accurate search results

Not having search buttons in your Small Business eCommerce website design could be a big mistake. Not just having them but them yielding the accurate results is also utmost importance. A query or search result should ideally yield the desired product, and these results will also be utilized in Search Engine indexing. By improving your database with updated and accurate search words and photos, you are actually helping customers narrow down their search of what they are looking for.

Providing a clear product description and photos

Every vendor wants a maximum conversion rate. This is only possible if the customers’ online experience is quick and hassle free. If they have to click too many times for essential product information, they will lose interest and go elsewhere.

 

If you're interested in creating an online web store for your business, or if you already have one that you'd like Panther Marketing to review for you, please contact us today.


Selecting a Website Design and Development Company

Websites are the calling cards of your companies online brand. Yours needs to provide relevant, targeted information in an easy-to-use, attractive manner that's true to your corporate brand. With constantly-changing user habits, technology advancements and best practices, the selection of a good web designing company can be a tricky task. Consider these following points before selecting the web design company who will deliver the best online presence for your business:

EXPERIENCE – The internet can be a tricky place. An experienced web design company will know how to navigate SEO concerns, e-commerce and communication security issues, monitor for potential breaches in security and downtime, as well as understand customer browsing trends, needs and conversion techniques. Website design and development experience helps in honing expertise that directly impacts the productivity of your website.

PORTFOLIO- Always make sure to check a web design company’s portfolio. Even if they haven't done a website specifically in the particular niche market of your company, look for general style, website structure, flow, social media integration, etc. that appeal to you. Make sure the company has a thorough understanding of website structure, coding and conversion techniques. Additionally go through the range of service packages provided by the company and make sure that they can help your company grow as your needs increase and change. The richer the service portfolio of the company, the better the chances of receiving multifarious web design solutions under a single roof.

RESPONSIVE/MOBILE-FRIENDLY - The world of technology, and how potential customers access their online material has been radically changing in recent years. make sure to pick a web development company who knows and understands the dynamic nature of an effective and long-lasting website.  At Panther Marketing, we utilize the latest in modular website development, selecting plugins and expandable modules which can be added on as your companies needs change and you grow into different services and areas of customer service. Ask co about their working methods and go with systematic and simplified one. This will save your time and money, ensuring timely submission of assigned projects.

PROCESS - Ask how their website development process takes. Be specific on what it is you're looking for. Do you just want an online brochure? That shouldn't take more than a few weeks, provided you have content for them to work with. Do you want a full-blown social media campaign and an online store built? Depending on how many products you have, and how complicated they are to purchase (think purchasing a simple widgit, verses enrolling in an online class with a secure forum, instructor feedback portal, etc.)  it can take months to complete.

How does their workflow occur? At Panther Marketing, we will stage an initial intake conference call to discuss the general objectives of the website, gather the necessary content, create a to-do list for you to get us the materials or information we will need, etc. After that initial conference call, our designers will go to work developing a design in keeping with your established branding, or assisting in developing your branding as we go. Once we receive feedback on the initial design, we will make any necessary changes to the layout and aesthetics, and then present a revised design to the client. Once the design is approved, we'll go ahead and build out the rest of the website following the approved design. We find that this process is efficient and works well for our developers as well as for our clients. We encourage your participation and feedback in the overall website development. And we trust that our clients hire us for our expertise and experience, and generally they take our suggestions and advice when it comes to the technicalities of the website. Make sure, whatever website design firm you choose, you are comfortable with their workflow, timeline and development process.

BUDGET - Budget is another important factor that goes into selecting the best web development company. Custom websites can be expensive to design, and it's vital to measure the cost effectiveness of the company’s web design solutions. Generally speaking, like most things in life, you get what you pay for. If you have a small company with no ambitions to grow your online presence/business then a very inexpensive, out-of-the-box design may be right for you. But even if your needs are modest now, if you plan on growing your online business as your business grows, and leveraging the immense reach that a strong online presence can give you, then it is probably worth it in the long run to invest a little more in an expandable website that can grow with you. From an overall marketing standpoint, it's vital that your website also reflect positively and strengthen your corporate branding.

At Panther, our websites generally start at $2,500, with most clients spending between $5000-$12,000 on their websites and establishing their social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).


Use WordPress Blogging to increase website SEO traffic

Use WordPress Blogging to increase website SEO traffic

The WordPress platform is a powerful website development tool. It can be used to build stunning, highly functional static websites, membership forums and robust online e-commerce stores. But arguably it’s most powerful built-in feature is the WordPress Blog functionality. It can be implemented easily in any WordPress powered website and it is a powerful tool to drive traffic and attract targeted customers. Writing relevant posts that contain useful information and SEO enhancing key phrases can dramatically drive business to the site. While most people use a blog in their business website to update their prospective and existing customers about their products and services, you can also use it strategically to enhance traffic to your website.

Because we utilize WordPress to build most of the websites we design, activating the blog functionality is easy to do, even after your site has been up and running for a while.

Getting started blogging is fairly quick and easy too, and shouldn’t be intimidating. Even if we didn’t set up your initial website, if you have a WordPress site Panther can help set everything up and activate the blogging functionality. Once set up, every new post you generate through the WordPress admin must be done strategically as search engines consider it as a new page on your website with a distinct link. Hence, it is vital to understand the importance of the title you select for your blog posts. Focus on including business key phrases in the title of the posts. This will help optimize your site’s content for Search Engine Rankings and maximize your sites exposure.

Regularly writing and publishing blog posts containing key words and content relevant to your business, industry, client base, products or services will dramatically increase your Search Engine Rankings over time, and consequently drive more viewers and potential customers to your site.

In addition to the obvious SEO benefits to regularly publishing relevant blog posts, if someone is considering purchasing goods or services from you, the more content you have, the more an expert in your field you appear, and this is a proven method to converting potential clients into actual customers. Furthermore, Panther-built websites are built to easily share posts through social media, even further amplifying your website’s presence among your target market.

If writing industry related blog posts is intimidating or overwhelming to you, ask Panther to help. We’d be happy to set up a content procurement plan as part of your online marketing strategy. We can help provide key-word rich blog posts targeted to your desired industry or client needs. That would leave you to write just company-specific posts, such as the launch or expansion of product lines, hiring announcements, store openings, etc.

All this content development serves a dual purpose. Firstly, you help your customers to know more about the services and products you provide. Secondly, Search Engines recognize the appropriate interlinking with targeted keywords on your website thereby capitalizing in organic Search Engine traffic. You can also target long tail keywords through blog posts as it is not easy to target these keywords through main pages of your website.

Couple this strategy with effective calls to action, and you’ve got a website designed to drive business to your bottom line.

Contact Panther Marketing today to discuss how we can help you develop a blog-based website and start driving more targeted clients to your website.


Social Media in Marketing

Social media has established itself as a prominent form of marketing used by companies in countless industries worldwide. There are a variety of factors that can significantly increase a company’s brand equity and visibility, or sometimes compromise a company’s reputation if not used carefully. The way in which a social media strategy is implemented and monitored can go a long way in determining its overall effectiveness. Social media savvy consumers are awaiting any opportunity to voice their opinions, both good and bad, via their Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels. This makes it even more vital for a company to thoroughly research and consider what methods of social media are most improtant to their brand's needs.

blog-social-media-marketing-az-7-7-16There are a number of safeguards companies can take in order to avoid social media problems that occur frequently in today’s online marketplace. The first involves having an active social media presence and properly understanding the relationship between conversations on social networks and other types of customer interactions. The next safeguard includes utilizing a multi-channel strategy for customer communication, sales and service. While social media is quite effective, interactions taking place at brick and mortar locations, on toll-free lines, and during online customer service chats are also very important in providing a comprehensive view of consumers’ opinions.

For a startup, or a company that lacks a strong social media presence there are a number of low cost options to make the leap into social media marketing. Revamping your existing website or building a new one with an active blog platform which includes articles with relevant industry news, trends, or intriguing applications of your product line is an excellent way to launch a social media marketing campaign. Creating a LinkedIn group, Facebook page, Twitter account, a customers-only discussion forum, or a YouTube channel can provide unique opportunities to present and inform users and fans alike of current company highlights and information. Also, make sure your website utilizes the latest in social media sharing capabilities. Panther Marketing can help assess your current blog platform to make sure it's up to date with social media sharing and SEO friendly best practices.

The key to a company’s successful use of social media is all about the results and the ability to properly measure them. There are a number of best-practices that can be employed in order to measure social media effectiveness. Mapping out marketing process flow that will best transform prospects into quality sales leads is a good starting point. Another practice involves determining the online marketing initiatives and campaigns that will be implemented to attract and engage prospects.

Selection of the appropriate social media outlets to use is critically important in ensuring the effectiveness of a social media campaign, and all of these practices help increase overall SEO and brand exposure. Continuing an active online presence, targeting the desired client base, and realistically monitoring and fine tuning the social media campaign will ensure its overall success and increased brand awareness and sales.

Contact Panther Marketing today to see how we can help you improve your companies Social Media Marketing.


Integrating Viral Marketing into your Marketing Plan

Viral marketing is a promotional strategy that has been in use for quite some time and has transitioned over onto the internet quite successfully. The strength behind this particular advertising technique is in its ability to help businesses spread their marketing message a whole lot faster and with less effort. In this way it helps to not only boost your exposure but also your ability to work much more efficiently as well!

Here are 3 significant ways in which any online business can expect to benefit by using this particular promotional strategy.

Time Efficient

Typically this advertising technique involves little more than sharing your marketing message with a relatively smaller crowd who then spread the word. Working online offers the advantage in many cases of automating your efforts even further resulting in greater savings of time! As any entrepreneur will tell you time is money and therefore a precious commodity that should be used wisely!

Cost Efficient

In most cases advertising in a viral manner online involves distributing free reports or leaving business links at social site, forums, bookmarking sites or even blogging. In every case there is little or no out of pocket expenses making this advertising technique very cost efficient!

Energy Efficient

By leveraging the efforts of others you are able to channel the energy you have saved into other areas of your business. As an entrepreneur this is extremely important since most functions and/or business tasks are left up to you to complete. Avoiding fatigue in this way helps you maintain a mental alertness that can be use in more constructive and creative ways. Your mistakes will be minimized and your ability to produce more and stay motivated will benefit as well!

Remember when fatigue does set in your ambition will naturally decrease and as mentioned above and you will be more prone to making mistakes. What happens here is that not only do your miscues create business inefficiencies but they also require more time and effort later on to fix!

The biggest advantage viral marketing offers a business or person is its ability to leverage the efforts of others to spread your marketing message. When this advertising technique is put to use online the benefits it offers magnify due to the automation and global audience the internet can supply! The single biggest advantage this promotional strategy offers is the increase efficiencies a business can experience as reviewed above. It therefore stands to reason that if you can increase efficiency you will also boost productivity thereby leading to greater sales and profits. With that said there seems to be little reason as to why you would not want to include this very effective promotional strategy into your online marketing mix!