Due to the nature of the business, many apparel decorators with an online presence aren’t trying to drive visitors to a shopping cart, but rather giving them the incentive to make contact. Whether you’re a small home-based operation or a full-scale shop with a dedicated sales team, your website should by all means be producing leads and generating sales. But what are the key elements in persuading your site visitors to contact you? Let’s go through a few suggestions for obtaining qualified leads from your website.
Make sure actions are clear and easy to use
In most cases your primary landing page is your home page. Does it have a clear and eye-catching call to action for contacting you? Do you offer an incentive such as “call for a free consultation” or “tell a friend and receive x-percent off your next order?” In addition to making the call-to-action easy to find, would it be easier to find if there were actually less information or graphics on your home page?
In e-commerce I’ve always gone by this rule: Design the website in a manner that allows users to find what they want and get it into a shopping cart within three clicks or less. That rule can easily be applied to a call-to-action. Make sure each page on the site that provides visitors with information about products and services includes one-click access to a contact form and phone number that is clear and easy to view amidst the other content on the page. In regards to your home page, resist the temptation to overwhelm the visitor with every facet of your business. Consider that sometimes less is more. A short welcome message with some keyword-friendly copy inviting visitors to consider your business and leading them directly to some form of communication (a contact form or telephone number) can be much more effective than a landing page with too many images and too much text for a site visitor to sort through.
Add benefits to your actions
While a “contact us” button clearly does the trick, does it really invite the visitor to press it and move forward with contacting you? Consider including the benefits your visitor has to gain by contacting your business. For example, copy such as “we are the community’s choice for embroidered apparel, let us provide you with the quality you deserve” followed by the contact button is far more inviting. “Contact us today and receive a free gift with your first order” may be even better.
This process is a little bit like fishing. The contact button provides a hook for catching that lead, but what exactly are you using for bait? Let the visitors know why pressing that button and contacting you is a great idea and you’ll see more contacts rolling into your inbox in no time.
Include some pricing reference
By nature, website visitors will hesitate to contact you if they don’t know whether or not your products and services fit their budget. While it is difficult to maintain or even include exact pricing in many cases—particularly in the realm of custom orders—a simple reference or ballpark figure can make a world of difference. “Set up fees starting at” or a general price range can, at the very least, provide potential customers a general idea of what their end-costs may be.
Continually provide information
Many online shoppers take a few steps during their review of a website and company. In this research phase, consumers are looking to find out where is a business is located, whether major credit cards are accepted and the timeline for receiving an order, to name a few. Anticipate the questions they may have and be a resource by providing the answers.
A frequently asked questions (FAQ) page can provide visitors with everything they may want to know during the research phase, giving them the confidence that contacting you is their next step. (Editors note: See Printwear April 2010, p. 36 for more on creating a FAQ page.)
Next is the comparison step, where potential customers compare what you have to offer to what they have discovered about your competition. For this reason, include small testimonials from customers or success stories throughout your website. Perhaps even offer highlights from a press release or accolades your business has received.
Finally, we come to the decision step. Lead customers to make their decision by assuring value and confidence, luring them with benefits or even offering online specials throughout the year.
Make it personal
One thing that can turn a site visitor away quickly is if it’s unclear who’s behind the computer, so to speak. If a customer were to walk into your shop, clearly you’d greet them with a smile and ask what you could do for them. Make sure your website does the same thing by establishing credibility.
Post a staff page and include pictures of yourself, your shop and your staff. The staff page could even include a small biography for each individual that highlights their experience, qualities and the benefits of doing business with them. Offer an “about us” page so visitors can learn the history of your company and the success you’ve had since the beginning. By making your site visitors comfortable and providing them some sort of identification of who they will be working with, they’ll naturally be more at ease when time comes to make that phone call or submit a contact form.
Respond to contacts in a timely manner
Quick responses establish trust and confidence in a business. Whether the contact comes through email, social networks or by telephone, a rapid response can make or break a sale coming from that lead. Remember, that visitor may have also contacted your competition.
If your schedule allows, be sure and stay on top of online leads during the business day as much as possible. Using today’s technology, much of this can be done through a mobile device, allowing you to be away from the shop when necessary, yet still provide a fast response.
You’re great at what you do. Make sure potential clients know it by fine-tuning your site to offer them ease of use, value and benefits. You’ll see much more success in your online efforts.