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Wired

July 30, 2014 View Original Article

4 Tips for Improving Website Engagement Without an IT Department

Posted by Chris Lucas on July 30, 2014 at 12:00pm

Customers arrive at your website ready to take action. They want to make a purchase, gather information, or compare prices. Small businesses know that digital marketing tools are essential to maximize that site traffic, but there never seems to be enough time to learn about them. Luckily, many tools don’t require coding and are easy to use. With a few tricks, you can improve your customers’ web experience and increase your conversions.

1. Capitalize on mobile traffic with responsive web design. A recent study reports that 91 percent of small-business websites are not mobile-optimized. If customers cannot navigate your website, they are likely to abandon it. A simple way to optimize your site is to use a responsive website builder. That way, your site will automatically adapt to any device.

More than half of all web traffic now comes from mobile devices. It’s clear that small businesses that have usable websites will have an advantage over their competitors. If you need to redesign your website, you don’t need to hire a programmer. You can choose a responsive web builder with drag-and-drop tools, such as Weebly or Squarespace.

2. Use an online form builder to embed a form directly into your website. People are visiting your website, but do you know how to follow up with them? Include an online form so you can collect customer data. Offer them an email sign-up for newsletters or coupons. Online form builders such as Formstack let you embed customized forms right into your website. Because their forms are mobile-optimized, your customers can submit them from any device.

Online form builders can integrate with services you already use, such as email marketing clients or CRMs. This means you can act on collected data immediately instead of worrying about manual data entry. In fact, recent research from Formstack revealed that 62 percent of respondents increase their conversions when they embed an online form on their websites. Take advantage of each new visit and provide a form to continue the conversation.

3. Try out landing-page builders. Working in a small business means you wear many hats. You may already be the customer service, marketing, and sales departments. Using online tools can pay off if you use them to manage your marketing efforts. Services such as Unbounce or Instapage let you create unique landing pages so you can track campaigns and collect customer emails.

One of the best features of landing page builders is the ability to A/B test. With A/B testing, you set up variations of landing pages to see which wording or design choices get the most click-throughs. Data collection reveals information about your customer base. When you know what resonates with your customers, it is easier to make decisions.

4. Pay attention to abandonments. Your web analytics might reveal a high bounce rate: a large number of visitors who do not engage with your website. They are “one and done” visitors. (If you have a one-page website, though, a high bounce rate is to be expected.) Try to create a website that encourages actions, such as submitting a form. Make these actions simple to accomplish.

Online form analytics track conversion and abandonment rates so you can compare your website against industry standards. For example, research shows that small business forms average a 13 percent conversion rate. Landing page tools also track conversion rates and allow you to compare pages during an A/B test.

Use the tools of the trade. Improving a small business website can get pushed down on a to-do list. You don’t need a dedicated IT department to increase conversions and sales. Adopt some easy-to-use online tools to streamline the process of turning website visitors into customers.

Chris Lucas is Vice President of business development at Formstack.