6 tips for a website that will make customers stay and spend


How well does your website bring in sales? Are there tweaks you could make that would drive up those conversion rates? The answer is likely yes. And when it comes to your website, you should go in 100%.

While it can be challenging to do, take a minute to look at your website from the perspective of someone who has no idea what your business is or does.

Could they quickly tell what you have to offer? Is there an easy route they could take to complete a transaction? Is your website up to date and eye-catching?

You know your website is important, so here are six things you can do to be sure that your online visitors not only continue to browse your site but complete purchases and become frequent customers.


1. Build a navigation that informs and guides customers

You know where to find everything on your website, but your customers haven’t spent hours setting it up like you have. Make sure your navigation is intuitive and easy to follow. Avoid common website navigation mistakes by:

  • Putting your navigation where it is expected, at the top of the page.
  • Using no more than seven items in your navigation—short term memory can only hold seven items, after all. Then challenge yourself to use five.
  • Using descriptive words for your navigation. For example, rather than “products” or “services,” use something that explains what you do such as “outdoor wear,” “handmade watches,” or “residential landscaping.” Bonus: Search engines love this.
  • Placing navigation items in order from most important to least important. “Contact us” should be last in the upper right-hand corner.

Once you set up your navigation the way you like, get some feedback from colleagues, family members, and friends. They can provide a good sample of how easy your navigation really is.


2. Boost load times to keep customers

Website load times have always been important. But now that most shoppers use their mobile devices to browse online, it is absolutely crucial to your online success. According to Google Analytics data, 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.

That’s huge!

So how do you increase load time?

One way is to be sure image file sizes are as small as possible without sacrificing quality. You’ll also want to reduce the number of plugins on your site, as plugins can increase load times.

If you are still looking for ways to cut down on time, talk to your website provider to see how they can help. There are some technical solutions where code-familiar folks can come in handy.


3. Provide a smooth mobile experience

In addition to ensuring that your website is quick to load, you’ll also want to be sure that your website is mobile-friendly in other ways because 57% of all U.S. online traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets. This isn’t surprising, and that number will surely grow.

To keep up with mobile growth, ask yourself: Does my site automatically resize to fit a screen? Are buttons easy to tap? Is text easy to read?

Regularly visit your website via mobile device to ensure an exceptional experience.


4. Create a consistent experience between your online and offline store

If you want to give customers the experience they’re looking for, you need to have all of your inventory available for purchase online. Most customers begin their journey online, find a product, and then go to the store to see the product and purchase it.

To make an omnichannel experience possible, your inventory needs to be consistent online and offline. The easiest way to manage it is to use a system that manages your online and in-store inventory in the same place. By making products available online and keeping inventory up to date, you give customers insight into the great things they can find in your store.


5. Use emails to lock in ways to reconnect with potential customers

My No. 1 piece of advice to all retailers is invest in great email marketing. Why?

Depending on the sophistication of a campaign, email marketing can deliver a 44:1, 40:1, and 38:1 ROI. “By most measures, the ROI for email marketing is roughly twice that of other digital channels—if not better—and blows away the returns seen with traditional media channels like TV, radio, and direct mail,” according to Litmus Research Director Chad S. White.

With those figures in mind, be sure that you have an email sign-up in a prominent place on your homepage and other relevant pages. Incentivize your visitors by offering an instant coupon or exclusive info on upcoming sales. Capturing someone’s email is a surefire way to give yourself an in to market to them with bounce-back coupons, new product info, etc. According to Convince and Convert,  “People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people that do not receive email offers.” Don’t miss the opportunity!


6. Remember the importance of a secure shopping cart

We all try to be careful with our money. So we are only willing to use it on websites we trust will keep it safe. Make sure your website always has an up-to-date SSL certificate. You’ll also want to show customers your site is trustworthy. Trusted logos can help with this. 42% of online shoppers are familiar with the Visa-Mastercard logo, followed by Norton Secured at 15% and Google Trusted Store at 6%.

In addition to trusted logos, you are more likely to have customers complete purchases if you have a guest checkout option and offer free shipping.


Bottom line: A great online experience drives sales

As a small retailer, you absolutely need a website. But not just any website. You need one that will make you sales by providing customers with a great experience that will encourage them to return again and again. Create loyal customers with a fast-loading website that is mobile-friendly, secure, well-organized, and focused on providing an excellent customer experience. For many people, your website is the first interaction they will have with your business. Make a great first impression.


Holly Wade is a Rain Retail Blog Editor. Since 2010, she has been helping small businesses succeed by providing them with guidance on best practices in all things retail. She gets a little too excited when she sees well-done advertising and great customer service in action. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find her smiling as she reads or enjoying the beautiful outdoors of New England with her family.