Words by Steve Baskerville, Caffeine Injection
When was the last time you tidied your shop, rearranged the bikes on the floor or shuffled the stock on the walls? Within the last few weeks, I bet.
When was the last time you added some fresh content to your website homepage, or posted a news article, or updated your product listings? This month? Last month? Maybe now last year?
Ask yourself, does your web portal honestly reflect your business? Have you put all our efforts into keeping your shop current and on-trend and entirely ignored your site? If so, all that work you’ve put into the store will amount to little.
Why? Because over 80%, in fact, well over 80%, of your new and existing customers will visit your website first, and use this as a determining factor whether to cross your door or not.
With this in mind, we’ve gathered together five tips for using your site to drive footfall to your shop, not an online competitor.
- Your homepage exists to promote your business, not your supplier’s brands
By far the biggest trap most IBDs fall into when it comes to their websites is filling the homepage with rows and rows of pictures of the products they sell.
Unless you’re selling a unique item that is only available from you, this practice does nothing to drive your footfall; it is merely free marketing for the brands, which can be bought from any number of retailers at, let’s be honest, prices that are lower than yours.
From now on, start to think of your homepage as your prime retail space. If a brand wants their products on it, they need to make it worth your while. Otherwise, use it to sell your services, not their products.
- No more white backgrounds
Despite point the opening point, there is a case for occasionally featuring products on the homepage, but don’t be lazy. If you’re promoting Bike X don’t just use the stock side shot with white background. It’s dull, predictable and on many other websites.
No one gets inspired by boring stock images; the brands produce them for product catalogues, not marketing. Photos on your homepage should be exciting and create desire, so go and hunt around the brand’s website until you find something suitable, then ask permission to use it.
Most will agree immediately, but won’t be able to supply it, so just right click on the image on the page and select “Save Image”.
If you’re feeling artistic, throw the image into Photoshop and drop your shop logo into a corner. While you’re at it, add some colour flashes here and there too. Small tricks like this give your site a more corporate professional feel and set it apart from the rest.
- Instagram it, baby!
Now that you have a crisp “lifestyle” image of BikeX with your shop logo and colour scheme added you need to social media the life out of it.
What? You don’t do Instagram because you don’t see the point?
Social networks are not there to sell from; they’re there to keep your brand in front of new and existing customers. You might not see the point in them, but your competitors do. And they are gunning for your customers, so you have to join the party.
Now that you have some sharp images, you’ve got ready-made content to post to them.
One essential key to the social networks is consistency. Don’t have one message on your website and another on Facebook. Keep all your platforms on message; saying the same thing at the same time.
The other essential function of social media is backlinks, which brings us on to point No.4.
There is an old saying the IBD game; it’s easy to be a busy fool. The same can be said in the social network world when it comes to retailers. Too many spend most of their online time reposting content from magazines, brands and suppliers. Often with no additional comments added and almost never with a backlink to their site.
So again, as with the homepage full of your supplier’s products, all your social media activity is doing is driving traffic to someone else’s business. Being that most magazine websites contain adverts from other sellers for the products they’re featuring that moment, you are actively pushing your followers, your customers, into the hands of your competitors.
When you see an engaging post online that you want to share, edit the content to add a link to your website as an absolute minimum.
If you want to ramp things up a bit take the engaging post and rewrite the content, mentioning the initial post, but also promoting your business as a place to try and buy the product or service. Again, add a link to your site.
Finally, if you want to do the job properly, take the concept of the original post and turn it into a news article for your website, then post or repost with a link to it. Obviously, you need to be careful you don’t get accused of plagiarism, but bear in mind that most online magazine articles and social media posts are little more than rehashed press releases themselves, so don’t copy it word for word, but don’t be afraid to include some of the leading points either.
The thing to ask yourself every time you’re about to post or repost to a social network is “to whom will this drive traffic”? Because when it comes to the social networks, website traffic is the name of the game.
- Blog posts & news articles
Back at the start of the website revolution everyone and their dog had a blog. No one knew why they blogged; for some, it was a way of getting their news out there, for others it was a way of being heard, but then the social networks came along. A savvy few soon realised that if they regularly published news articles about the products sold and the services offered they soon started to shoot up the search engine rankings.
You see blog posts, and news articles tend to contain the name of the product or service written about, in context, often with geographical references. If you practice what we talked about in point 4, backlinks are included too. Which means you’ve ticked Google’s main boxes and are on the way to improved search engine rankings.
Blogs, news, call it what you want, your website must have something embedded right in your site on the same domain. Ideally content should come weekly, but as a minimum monthly. As we said in point 4, link to it on social media.