Being the proprietor of a business with an online portal (website, blog or social media page), you may have noticed the competition getting a little more aggressive. In these tough economic times, all business owners need to find and keep their customers coming to them. Customers are fickle, competition is fierce – so isn’t it about time to start winning your online customers over with these handy tips.

1) Attractive web design, informative content and easy website navigation are all key points of concern when it comes to your online business presence. An effective effort will attract potential customers to your website pages, without becoming too overwhelming. Your website name is a great tool, as long as it represents the correct image for the business you represent – but even more important is the easy and instant availability of the information the customer is looking for. This means that contact information is vital and maps are helpful for storefront operations. Attention to graphic detail is essential, logos and corporate images must be strategically placed so that they don’t take away from the products or services you provide.

The information you provide on your website should be easy to understand, yet as complete as possible.  When writing your copy, aim for a grade 8 reading level. Your word processor should come with a reading level calculator, it’s usually in the same tab you’d find features like word-count and spell-check. In writing your web copy, the facts need to be accurate while the language needs to flow easily. You’ll want to be succinct. Avoid using two pages when one would have been enough. Online content should be short, sweet and lead to the next step in the sales process.

Layout and navigation are aspects which also need to be as simple as possible. Your clients are going to want to make it from point A to point B without having to click on eight different buttons to get there. Not only it is preferable for you to have direct links to the different areas of your website, but a site map could be the difference between an easy sale and a frustrated client leaving without making a purchase.

2) Regular coupons are attractions which can be effective in keeping your clients coming back for more. Beware of offering bland offers and boring bargains though. The same ones which qualify to each purchase at any time can be monotonous, and possibly result in your customer base looking elsewhere for a little more excitement. In this situation we are talking about coupons with a little bit of pop in their design, with a lot of value to your customer. Buy 2 get 1 free sales, or post-holiday discounts can truly entice your shoppers.

Hold a bring-a-friend day if you have a brick-and-mortar store. If someone from your list brings a friend they can, for example, receive 40% off their purchases for the day. Their friend can receive a lower percentage of a discount for having left her contact information with you.

Of course, you’ll want to create valuable offers that help your bottom line, not eat into it – so make sure your sensational offers make your customers feel treasured without breaking the bank.

3) Advance notice of upcoming product launches and new arrivals are encouraged, but strive to make them even better for your adoring audience. You may consider a pre-sale price cut promotion that is exclusive to active and enthusiastic customers. All you need to do is make sure you let them know this type of special is for list members only.

You could also sweeten the bargain a bit by holding a “members only” after-hours sale. When you hold this type of event, a percentage of the sales could be given to charity, adding a potential publicity opportunity to the event. With this type of occasion, your list of members can not only profit from any sales they might find, but know they are helping a neighborhood charity at the same time.

If you want to learn more about marketing your business online or marketing your business in general, be sure to sign up for our Biz Talk Newsletter or make an appointment for a personal consultation session or to register your interest in a workshop on website building for small business.