A subtle emotional shift enters as we begin the month of December and start counting down the days remaining before Hanukkah, Christmas Eve/Day, and Kwanzaa. Gift giving, holiday cooking, family gatherings, and those holiday lights that start to brighten neighborhood streets all help us realize it's that time of year again.
The season of cheer might be here, but uncertain economic times also bring many holiday frowns for all business owners. Increasing material costs means that all jewelry, not just gold, is on the rise. Do your customers prefer leather and beads this year, or will they add a new 18kt charm to their bracelet?
What we know for sure is that many retail jewelers are having a tough time choosing between changes in product lines, paying bills, stock balancing, and if some new marketing strategy will actually bring customers in the door.
We know that many jewelers, large and small, have chosen to let their website go out of date because it seems like a never ending money pit of programming costs. We're always going to recommend continual updates to your website as well as all online marketing, even if it makes us look biased.
On the other hand, we are also quite practical. We'd like to give you some basic strategies that will work on the oldest, worst looking websites, as well as any new or routinely updated websites.
First of all, you don't need a nice, new website by tomorrow, but you at least NEED a website. It doesn't have to look fancy and you could even use Google's free Site service as a starting point. Out of style or just plain ugly websites can still attract clients and create sales if they are done right.
How do you do it right, even when you have an ugly and old site? The answer is to have a purpose.
If you only have time or money for a simple 2 or 3 page website then stick with the absolute basics. Here are our recommended basics:
1. Services you offer - buying gold, watch battery repair, jewelry repair, engagement rings, etc.
2. Contact information - including store hours, driving directions, landmarks, phone numbers and your email address. A contact form would help prevent spam, but that form might not be an option if you're on a budget of time or money. At the very least, do not directly link to your email address as a text or image link or you will get loads of spam.
If you have an older website, you should read it over and ask yourself if every page is useful for a customer. In the past many web programmers would create random pages for a site just for the sake of making the website look larger, but these pages didn't really add value to the site. Page value gives your visitors a reason to do something, or take the next step--preferably into your store, or online catalog pages.
Do you want your visitor to read the next page? Then give them a reason, like "click here to find out more information," or "go here toread the rest of the jewelry home cleaning instructions." Can they view a larger image of that engagement ring if they click to the next page? Try to figure out what it take to get that next click.
Clicking to the next page is not always the best next action. Many older websites still show 4 year old photos of rings with advertised prices when gold was still $839. To remedy this, you could edit those pages and simply say call us at (212) 555-1212 for the most up to date price. With this little modification you're telling the visitor that their next action is to make a phone call.
Another example to solve a Ugly Old Site problem might be your custom design page. Maybe you've created award winning jewelry designs, but the website doesn't even capture a glimmer of your design skills. For this, your best bet is to show your initial sketches, the CAD design, and then the final item. To round out the page you could include a form or email address for someone to submit details of what they are looking for. Include text that tells the customers why you made the design choices you did; the person who requested that piece had a reason--explain how you made that dream come true, or that memory made real. Since your customers don't have an emotional connection to someone else's custom design request, you have to paint the proper picture so they can relate to it, or at least understand what they are looking at.
The bottom line of today's Daily Golden Nugget is to not worry about the design of your website. New or old does not matter as long as every page has a purpose and a method of leading your visitor one step closer to a sale or walking in your store.