How websites really generate sales

How websites really generate sales

Unless you have a business where someone buys your product on impulse (or in an emergency), most of your customers will go through a decision-making process that may take anywhere from a couple of weeks through to several months or even a year to complete.

Below we’ve outlined some of the processes you’ll need to think about.

How does it work?

The mistake people make is thinking that someone just decides they have a need for a product or service, Googles your website and just fills in a form or picks up the phone for a chat. For the vast majority of sales that come through ‘digital’, it just doesn’t happen like that.

Decision-making processes are complicated – especially business to business where historically there are so many options and solutions it’s difficult to assess which ones you actually need – and the higher the value of the sale, the more complicated and drawn-out they get.

When your website identifies someone as having an interest (because they have left their email address in return for a PDF brochure for example) they will likely be right at the start of their decision-making process – they are ‘just browsing’.  Your marketing system has to nurture them through this period, where they are aware they have a need but haven’t come to a trigger point that’s forced them into taking action.

Sometimes it takes a couple of months of seeing your emails drop into their inbox, taking notice of your keeping in touch advertisements and noticing your articles on LinkedIn before someone (even those with a genuine need) starts interacting with what you send them. And even when that happens, you should make the first move to engage with them.

When your marketing system identifies that someone is now connecting with what you send them, it’s time to move from passive to active selling – quick, before they have the chance to start contacting your competition!  Send them a LinkedIn request, send them a direct email asking if they want to chat, pop a brochure in the post and don’t forget you can still pick up the phone.

We’ve put this infographic together to demonstrate, typically, how the process of generating sales through your website actually works.  Digital marketing is a great tool and your website should be the cornerstone of your marketing – but it’s just the tip of the iceberg of your overall sales strategy.

More info – we use SproutSocial for all our Social Media endeavours as we’ve found it to be an invaluable tool to track interactions and ROI, not to mention the amount of time it saves creating and scheduling posts. Keep in mind though that a lot of the material you read online that’s produced by companies in the USA is (believe it or not) USA centred and doesn’t necessarily work here in the UK or other countries. So while the article above is based on an original USA version we’ve tested out the ideas in the UK and updated it so it’s relevant for you with ideas that work.

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Should you upgrade to a ‘responsive’ website?

Should you upgrade to a 'responsive' website?

When smartphones first became popular, people realised that traditional ‘desktop’ websites didn’t work very well on the smaller displays. They were too fiddly for our fat fingers, you had to keep zooming-in and out, which caused lots of frustration, and a heavy site often took an age to load on the early data networks.

Below we share some of the history and reasons why responsive is the way to go.

Mobile Websites

And so a generation of ‘mobile’ websites were born. Lots of companies began building a second website that was stripped-back, simplified and displayed instead of the main website when the server detected someone was using a mobile phone to browse it. People only really went online on their phones when they wanted some simple information about a company, such as their phone number or street address.

Over time though, smartphones and mobile devices became the primary way that people started browsing the Internet. Phone companies launched data networks that were as fast (and in some cases even faster) than people had on their desktop computer, and tablets started taking the place of laptops.

Then in 2014 the number of people using the Internet on a mobile device overtook desktops and laptops, and so the stripped-back ‘mobile’ versions of websites were no longer enough.

We needed websites that were fully functional and displayed all the information regardless of if it was being viewed on a laptop, smartphone, tablet or even Internet-connected TV.  We needed websites that didn’t have a different version for each device it was viewed on, but one site that would adapt its layout and work well across them all.  We needed ‘responsive’.

Responsive websites in practice

The goal of responsive websites is to have one site with a fluid layout which adapts to whatever size it is being viewed at.

On many modern sites you can drag the side of your browser window to make it smaller and see the site responding on the fly to the smaller display area. Elements drop beneath each other and resize to be legible on different sized displays (if you are viewing this page on a desktop computer, try it and watch what happens as the window gets smaller).

Individual ‘jump points’ can also be programmed into responsive sites, meaning that if an element needs a specific amount of width to be usable, it can change how it presents itself for smaller displays.

The most common example of this is a navigation menu that collapses into a menu icon; tapping on this icon then reveals the full menu as a drop-down.

 An example of how a responsive website adapts as the width changes, showing how it would show on a desktop (or landscape tablet), a portrait tablet (or landscape smartphone) or a standard smart-phone.

More complex items can also respond. For example an enquiry form can become more ‘finger-friendly’ when displaying on a smaller display by making the submit button run the full-width of the phone screen.

These fluid layouts have led to websites becoming simpler and are making the Internet a more usable place. However, they cannot be easily retro-fitted to old websites that use static frameworks – this fluidity is built in from the core:

Should I go 'Responsive'?

The short answer is yes. Not just for the convenience to the people who view your website – on whatever device – but also because the statistics back it up.

Visitors who are browsing using a mobile device stay longer and view more pages on a website that adapts its layout for mobile users. Even Google now ranks responsive sites higher to those using its search engine on a smart phone or mobile device.

The percentage of people coming to your site on a device rather than a desktop depends on your industry but it will only continue to increase.

Consumer websites have a higher percentage of mobile visitors than business-to-business sites, but certain industries (such as engineering where many workers are not always tied to a computer) can often prove the exception to the rule.

Responsive Emails

Whereas only a quarter of the visitors to your website may be using a mobile device, up to half will read your emails on one.

The same ‘responsive’ philosophy should apply to the design of your email as well as your website, especially if you are running email marketing campaigns though services like MailChimp that are natively responsive. However, many email software providers have been slow to catch-up with responsive emails and flagship programmes like Microsoft Outlook still don’t support the resizing features of responsive email design.

More info – we use SproutSocial for all our Social Media endeavours as we’ve found it to be an invaluable tool to track interactions and ROI, not to mention the amount of time it saves creating and scheduling posts. Keep in mind though that a lot of the material you read online that’s produced by companies in the USA is (believe it or not) USA centred and doesn’t necessarily work here in the UK or other countries. So while the article above is based on an original USA version we’ve tested out the ideas in the UK and updated it so it’s relevant for you with ideas that work.

Like what you see,
Looking for some help?

We’re on hand and happy to help,
please click enquire and fill out the form