Converting visitors into customers is about more than just supplying great product information. It’s about more than a great design, simple navigation and customer service links. The basics–such as page design and content presentation are certainly necessary. But if you want to grow a loyal customer base for the long term, you have to reach even further.
Here are six ways to engage visitors and turn more of them into actual customers, bringing friends with them.
- Serve up the ideal newsletter. Contrary to what some social media “experts” say, people still like to receive email from companies they love and from stores that carry items or product lines to which they’re devoted. By integrating useful tips and links to articles or invites to forums, you’re opening up a channel for conversation, of which customers will take advantage.
- Encourage customers to rate and comment on products. Customer ratings and reviews help sell products better than any description. This is because people trust other people more than they do a business that writes copy specifically to sell merchandise. And let the not-so-good ones in, too, because this keeps it all real.
- Take a poll. Thinking about changing the home page? Wondering which product line your customers really want? Ask them. Simple polls that use images instead of lengthy text questionnaires will garner the most responses, and shoppers appreciate being asked for input.
- Host a gallery. If you sell products that people love to show off, let them do just that. Sell model kits? Invite customers to show off how they put it all together. Home decor? Prompt them to share photos of their new living room. You can even take it a step further by hosting contests where the users vote, and the winner receives a store gift certificate or specialty item.
- Run a blog. A blog is a suitable add-on for most online stores because there’s always something to talk about, show off or review. From electronic gadgets to wall art to craft stores, people love content which revolves around their own passions. By mixing “feel good” stories, new product announcements and thought-provoking ideas, a blog gives you the flexibility to be more creative and more personal. You should invite and encourage comments, because it is user responses that truly drive the traffic and ranking of a blog, not just the content.
- Host a real contest. The web is riddled with useless contests, especially across social media. The problem is, most of these provide little value to the retailer or the visitor. A campaign designed to increase Twitter followers doesn’t necessarily bring you people who will visit your website. So, while giving away an iPad to a random new face on Facebook or Twitter sounds like a big deal, small, lesser known businesses are better off reaching a more dedicated audience by giving away store-related prizes for real shopper engagement. Remember, it only takes a handful of loyal shoppers to bring you hordes of new customers.
Whichever way you go, keep this one directive in mind: Ask questions. Questions inspire people to respond, whether it concerns new products they’d love to see you carry, or insight on features they wish they could use at your store. It’s all about getting people communicating. The more people communicate, the more incoming links you’ll get. The more people talk positively about a product, the more likely they are to share their experience, not just at your site, but across the web via social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The more people talk, the more time new visitors will spend checking out what they have to say and, in turn, the faster you’ll grow your base audience and your business.