Your website has less than half a second to make an impression on a new visitor. Around 94% of that first impression will be based on the quality of the design of your site.
Those are slightly terrifying stats, if you haven't been really, really intentional about your website. If you have, well, it was obviously time and money well spent, right?
What's so important about a website that performs well? While brides LOVE social media to connect with stores and designers, it is a tricky arena. Algorithms shift, trends change, and different target markets pick different platforms to fall in love with. But the biggest bottom line fact? You have no control on any social media platform. You don't own it. You can't change anything about it. You're tied to their rules. They own every follower, heart, and message you earn. And they could shut you down tonight.
Here at Wed Altered, we believe in starting on your own turf and making your website something you're proud of and that does a fantastic job.
Then you can take that amazing content you've pulled together and use all your social media to connect with potential brides and direct them back to your site. That's where there aren't a million notifications to distract the reader, you're in control, and no one can take that away from you. (That's also why you should build and use an email list! We'll talk about that soon, too.)
So while we could talk about websites and content marketing every day (and do!), we thought we'd boil it down to 5 huge mistakes you can't afford to make.
You Have Bad, Boring, or Off Brand Design
Your design and layout need to take visitors on a very quick and accurate journey to see what your business is like and whether you'll be a good fit for them. Especially in an industry that relies so heavily on visuals and is all based around a purchase that brides are often (understandably) uneasy and very particular about, brides want to know what to expect from you.
If your layout is poorly set up, they won't notice the important parts. If it looks out of style or cheap, they'll assume your business and dresses are too. We are a luxury industry, no matter what end of the price range you fall on. You need a presence that reflects that. I know that's kind of harsh or shallow, but think about it. They are paying you more than they have ever paid someone before to have a great eye for style, design, and quality. Your online presence is the first place you have to give them proof of that.
Not Establishing a Reason to Like and Trust You
On our in-depth Website Scorecard, this really falls under the "Authority" and "Tone and Text" sections. But what you say and the way you say it is really important. I know that sounds really basic. The crazy thing is how frequently businesses fail to do this well! It's a really common shortcoming we find when we're doing website audits and it's one of the last to get fixed because it's more about thinking and writing and less about design and pictures. Let's be honest...which sounds more fun to you? A new styled shoot to update your pictures or rewriting all of your copy and planning your upcoming blog posts to match up with your messaging calendar?
The problem with that is that it's a huge loss. Sure, a bride can find you, like your dresses, and book an appointment. That's great and completely worth having a beautiful website! We just said how important design is to immediate impressions.
But it's just the beginning of what your website could be doing to help you actually sell, not just get traffic through the door. When you take the time to really plan out your messaging and then assess what you have or what you come up with, then you can give them reason after reason to both like and trust you. You tell them stories, you give them information, you reassure and guide them...basically, you set the stage for a great impression of the kind of business you are and how fantastic it's going to be to work with you.
Those impressions are made on the first website visit and they'll stick with the brides. Having people rooting for you to sell them something is a pretty wonderful thing. Why would you pass it up?
They can't easily get ahold of you or schedule
People who can't find a quick solution to a problem will often give up. That includes contacting you to make an appointment and possibly spend money. Easy customer experience is a top driving factor in increased customer satisfaction AND in a 10%+ increase in revenue [https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2015/01/13/want-a-powerful-customer-experience-make-it-easy-for-the-customer/#94ef9cb69854].
You should make contacting you, following you, and any other action you want brides to take incredibly easy. If you haven't given them lots of quick places to get ahold of you, you will be missing out on high quality leads who are already warm enough to be on your site. That's a lot of potential money to leave on the table!
Visuals are processed and remembered at a very high rate. While you need written storytelling to really elaborate on your message, the pictures set the stage. If you don't feature your best sellers, brides won't be tempted to come see them. If you don't feature your team, brides won't perceive you as a personal small business setting (which is one of your strengths, right? Why not sell it that way?). If you have blurry or out of date pictures, brides will assume you are a struggling business, are behind the times, or don't do basic business maintenance.
Pictures are a huge part of the first impression and important for drawing the brides through your website so that they get a chance to read and absorb your story. It puts a face on your business and makes them more likely to want to work with you. It lets them visualize themselves in your samples before they even make it through the door. It's powerful. Don't skip it.
Not Using a Blog The Right Way
Blogs are free, simple, are completely underutilized. They're a powerful tool for your business and you should be using them. You could be doing all the other website things perfectly, and still not be doing what it takes for the most possible leads to see it or interested brides to come back and make a purchase.
A blog lets you touch on all kinds of topics that set up great expectations around what brides will experience. Educate them, share inspiration that's on brand for your styles, show them the behind the scenes stuff. Basically, keep them up to date with the story that makes up your business and mission. Why is this important? Because. The internet moves quickly. Things need to stay current. Your blog is how your website does that. We don't change the main pages all that often. Your blog is like a newsfeed on social media, but with more depth and completely under your control.
It helps search engines find you better, which is a huge deal and directly relates to more qualified leads coming across your site and through your doors.
THE BIG PICTURE
Your website is a collection of pieces that work together. The design grabs a visitors' attention right away and directs their eye to what you want them to see, read, hear, and do. Your pictures keep them engaged and give them a great idea of your overall business style and products. Will you have something they'll actually love?
Then what you have to say lets them know that you're the store whom can be trusted to get it and have the process go well. Your blog is part of that message, while also being a key tool for getting the tech to show all of this to as many potential brides as possible.
How do you know if your website measures up to all that?
By taking the time to look through all of it and be really honest with yourself about the results. Every website needs tweaks now and then. And ask your past or potential clients for feedback! Don't just say "whatdya think?". Know what you want the site to accomplish and ask them questions so you can see if it is and where it may be falling short from an outside point of view.
Once you have an to-tweak list, be consistent and change things as quickly as you can without upsetting your business. You need to get it done. Get a buddy, find an expert (we can help!), make a bunch of calendar reminders...whatever it takes. But don't ignore the shifts to the one platform that's 100% in your control that could make a big difference in your appointment rates, sales, and conversions.