Updated website strategy increases traffic by 35% and more than triples new orders for Seattle area small business
Home-based businesses have an advantage right now, but that doesn’t mean growing one is easy. Here’s how a small business located in Bonney Lake, WA, continues to increase orders and revenue while the rest of the world seems at a relative standstill.
Tom Watson runs Watson’s Wooden Words from his home studio and workshop. It wasn’t always the case. He was a retail manager for Office Depot for 30 years before starting his custom sign business. The idea of doing this for a living started way before his retail days. As a boy, he helped his Dad create trail signs for the California State Parks Department. He knows his way around wood and CNC equipment, and works with a team for painting and finishing.
Rather than punching out cookie-cutter signs, he enjoys the creative side the most, working with clients to translate everything from old photos to napkin sketches into works of art.
Using Google Analytics to Identify the Problem
A couple of years ago, Tom decided to learn more about how to grow the business. I met him at a class of mine he attended at the Bellevue Library. A few months later he contacted me to ask how we could work together.
His website was my first stop. After a look at the site and review of the data, it became clear Tom was getting a decent amount of organic traffic. It was supplemented with Google Ads, referrals, and just a bit from Facebook, but the website was a dinosaur, resulting in very low visitor quality and conversion. Leads were just dribbling in, 2-3 a week.
How We Decided to Move to a New Website Platform
From the beginning, I wanted to update his website to increase conversions from the traffic he was already getting, while driving more organic traffic with the idea that they would be more qualified and engaged (to lead to higher conversions).
Tom wasn’t excited about building a completely new website. He had spent quite a lot of money on the old one (and a couple of others before that), and he was leery of throwing more money at the problem. So as a first step, we cleaned up and edited the content and added keywords. The traffic increased somewhat, but we were still experiencing low quality visitor participation, and poor conversion.
We needed a much better way to show his portfolio, and the whole website needed to be more visually appealing and branded. After about a year, I finally persuaded Tom to do the site overhaul and a thorough on-site search engine optimization.
6 Changes Increase Traffic and Conversion
Content that converts: We added what I like to call “Decision Helpers” and “Money Pages.”
Decision helpers, as the name suggests, build trust and remove the confusion buyers experience when purchasing high involvement products, like creative services. For this site, we added pages demonstrating the sign making process. We’ll use this “bucket” to add more content later, like photos and video. This type of content is also valuable for generating organic traffic.
Money pages provide a key signal in the buyer journey, indicating a visitor is on the verge of making a purchase (or generating a lead). It’s important for measuring value, especially if a site isn’t set up for ecommerce. The “How to Order” page in this case is a good example, so a key strategy is to direct visitors to it and to understand which source is sending that valuable traffic. It’s not surprising that Google organic is driving more than 50% of the visitors who end up on that page, because we know that organic has higher purchase intent.
Social proof: We used a third party tool to embed Google reviews, and added a “Latest Creations” page with feeds from Facebook and Instagram. It allows Tom to keep the site fresh without a lot of effort.
SEO: We made improvements to all the site’s optimization (titles, descriptions, H1’s, etc.), while keeping the URL’s of the pages that had decent traffic. Position has remained relatively the same for key search terms, yet there’s been a tremendous improvement in impressions, click through and actual clicks.
Operational improvements: Selling custom, creative products can be a challenge. So beyond driving more traffic and increasing conversions, we wanted to use the website to help Tom be more efficient when working with clients. We built in functionality on the Contact page that allowed visitors to upload their artwork, added a design resources page, and built a “catalog” for sign hanging hardware to assist added value sales. As Watson’s gets busier, we’ll be introducing other website strategies to reduce labor, while continuing to increase revenue.
More than 35% Increase in Qualified Traffic — Conversions and Sales Way Up
All indicators are positive, and we’re ticking all the right boxes (year over year data):
Tom couldn’t be happier. While walking his dog Rambo the other day, he called me to say, jokingly, he’s got too much work now. In fact, we’ve had to turn off his ads until he can catch up with all the orders. That’s a problem most small businesses would love to have.
About Watson's Wooden Words
Watson’s Wooden Words, located in Bonney Lake, WA, creates custom wood signs for homes and businesses using old world craftsmanship and modern technology.
About Robbin Block
Robbin Block is the Owner and Creative Marketing Strategist at Blockbeta Marketing located in Seattle, WA. She takes a big picture approach to help expanding businesses strengthen their brand and amplify results. Robbin specializes in working with complex, often high ticket/lower volume manufacturers, makers, services, consultants or online publishers.
Google offers a free tool called Google Trends (originally called "Insights for Research") which is a great help with keyword research, necessary for optimizing your website and online presence. It can also help you figure out where your customers are located and indicate when they may be ready to buy.
Based on aggregated search data, Google Trends allows you to plug in terms, then look at patterns across a number of filters. You can narrow your search by Web, image, news or product. Select geographies from worldwide to city. Search as far back as 2004 to as recent as a specific date. Filters are also available by industry and interest. The tool allows you to compare results by search term, location and time ranges.
I gave it a try with skiing (sport) as a search term. The results were as expected, with interest peaking (yes, intentional) between January and April. Granted, this data is based on what people are searching for; there may be no direct correlation between those searches and actual purchases. But the resulting data, graphs and maps are pretty interesting. It just depends on how you interpret it.
In a recent search for keywords for a photography client, one that specializes in candid images, I thought it might be fun to compare "selfie" to the more common terms. The leap in the graph is a clear indicator of it's popularity. Whether it makes a good keyword for my client or not remains to be seen. That is, the common terms "candid photographer" or "profile pictures" are more directly correlated with her small business. Yet, I thought it couldn't hurt to try to get some spillover from a term that's just hot.
Every business owner wants to know how to get more website visitors. I'm sure you're no exception. After teaching hundreds of classes on the topic, I've boiled it down to these 10. If you have an ecommerce business, stick around until #9 for your key ingredient.
1. Keywords — the DNA of Digital Marketing
When it comes to digital marketing, keywords are the life blood of the Internet. They're the words people use to find businesses when they’re searching. These are not your words; not your jargon. But literally what people use. On one hand, think about the types of questions your audience may have and what words they may be using to search. You can use our FAQ worksheet as a starting point. On the other hand, research commonly searched terms using Google's Keyword Planner.
2. Optimized Website — Increase Your Site's Visibility with SEO
Search engine optimization or SEO is about building keywords into the content of your website (and ultimately, all your content). This means titles, headlines, subheadlines, body copy and more. If you’ve built your own website, you should be able to place the keywords yourself. Or have your webmaster help you. That’s not to say you should leave it completely up to them. Knowing how to position your keywords is art and science. It's about understanding how your customers think and using the keywords in such a way as to help Google recognize your site as the place to send people to. The point is to make your website as attractive, and therefore as visible as possible, to search engines.
3. High Affinity Community or Group — Amplify Your Marketing through Others
Connecting with a high affinity community can help amplify your marketing effort — it's online word of mouth.
High affinity communities are groups of people that have a relationship. They share information — it’s the secret sauce of social media marketing. People in these groups are also more likely to accept referrals from the group, because they share common knowledge. They feel comfortable speaking about common interests. They trust each other, because they know other people in their group are more knowledgeable than those outside it. So having a high affinity group, what some call a “tribe” can be a big boost to driving traffic to your site.
Some types of businesses can take advantage of this more easily than others. Consider bicycle enthusiasts, solo travelers, dog owners or local foodies. We often see this in groups on Facebook, so see if you can find groups related to what you do, join and participate (don't sell!).
4. Mobile Responsiveness, because Everyone's on Mobile
A mobile responsive website allows visitors to view your site from any device — from smartphone to desktop computer. It is a Google requirement. You'll be demoted in rank if it's not.
More and more people are searching via mobile. Take Moms. They're always out and about, and shop via phone while their kids are at soccer. So, make sure your site is built on a mobile-responsive template. Most website builder tools offer them. While you're at it, make sure your email marketing tool offers mobile templates too (most do).
5. Marketing Efficiency and Effectiveness — the Biggest Bang for Your Buck
Every business, very small or very large, has limited resources, so marketing needs to be efficient. All you have is time, purchased labor, money and skill. These resources need to be allocated in such a way to maximize your results for the biggest return.
You can’t do everything at once either, which means you have to prioritize — what you’re going to do first, second, third in terms of effort and results. Having a strategy will help you determine allocation, priorities and everything else that makes marketing effective. It will get you to where you need to go with as little wasted effort as possible.
And then, you need to measure so you know what's effective. That means tracking results to see if what you’re doing is working — driving the traffic you want and converting to paying customers. This typically means using website analytics, because any marketing you do online (even offline) will ultimately lead back to your website. Tracking website visitors with a tool like Google Analytics will give you the insights you need to improve your marketing. You can even set it up to track from the source to the sale.
6. Timing Increases Impact
Promoting at the right time will help your resources go further. It’s about communicating with people as close as possible to the time they’re making their buying decisions. Think about point of purchase when you go shopping. The end of aisle special that shouts “buy me now.” If you have a need right then, and you see that promotion, there’s a good chance you’re going to pick it up.
Another way to think about timing is seasonality — like holidays. You want to be out there when people are looking. Figure out what timing makes sense for your business. You could use a tool like Google Trends to figure out when people are using certain keywords to search. That should give you an idea about when people are shopping.
7. Email List — Nurture and Grow Your Pot of Gold
There are all sorts of articles online that show email as being one of the most effective ways to market a business. Of course it is. Email marketing is completely different than, say, running an ad. When people sign up for your email, they already know you. More than that, they’re probably more than interested in what you have to offer. The people who have signed up for your list are already qualified, and therefore more likely to convert.
When you put new content out there or a new product offering, they’re more likely to be the ones to read or buy that new thing, versus someone who has never heard of you before. You're starting from the beginning of the purchase path (some would say, sales funnel). That means you have to take them from a point of not knowing you, to knowing you, trusting you, then actually taking an action. The people that know you already trust you, and that makes your email list your lowest hanging fruit. It’s something you really need to pay attention to, nurture and grow.
8. Content — Why You?
What you say about your business (demonstrate, show, storytell, however you want to describe "content") can be the difference between indifference and purchase, caring and moving on. From images to text, icons and even user experience, how you present yourself is critical. We created Homepage Homeruns to explain what it takes to create the right content for your site.
This is particularly true for service businesses or professional experts who need to sell themselves, rather than tangible products. Of course, most businesses have some kind of service component or brand story to tell. You have to put out your point of view. People need to know why they should hire you. What benefits they'll get. Why they should care, read your blog or anything. You’ll want to put out information that’s differentiated from everyone else, so be sure to check out your competition.
9. Ecommerce — Make it Personal
More than a simple greeting by name on a website, personalization means delivering specific content and an experience to a particular visitor. It has become essential for ecommerce businesses to compete against more recognized brands and large shopping sites. Adding more products to your catalog isn't always better. People want to shop quickly. They need freedom from choice, and one way to do that is to provide a selection of products just for them. Barilliance does a good job of explaining all the ways you can personalize the buyer's journey on your site.
Once you've acquired a customer, make sure you show them extra attention. Treat them special, because no matter how much people think marketing has changed, it's always been easier to keep a customer than find a new one.
10. Media List — Be Where Your Customers Are
Acquiring inbound links from high authority websites is a strong signal to Google that your site is worth linking to. The major social media sites is one way to do it, but there are all types of niche social sites and directories for creating a profile, adding content and providing links back to your site. Our media guide explains how to find where your customers are hanging out online.