In Friday's Nugget we gave you 5 ways you can get customers to your website and 1 very easy way to lose them. The bottom line of Friday's Golden Nugget was our commandment to not link to designer websites. Instead you should do whatever it takes to keep customers on your own site and avoid all "off-site" linking.
Jewelers who do use off-site linking to a designer usually do not have the time or perhaps the ability to include that designer's product catalog on their own site. It seems to make sense to link to the designer, but really, it's bad news.
Our primary concern with all off-site linking is that run the risk of losing your customer to another jewelry store or e-commerce website. But there's also a usability factor to worry about.
When you send someone away from your jewelry website you will disjoint their user experience. You can't control the other website and they will suddenly have to contend with a new navigation area, unfamiliar pages, and possibly even flash or automatic video loading that you, having read these nuggets, have already learned to avoid.
As long as your customer is told to go to, and then stays on a designer's website, you have no control over what they see, whether the content displaying in a manner suitable for your store, if it fails to make promises or declarations you want to stand by to ensure quality service.
Another important factor to worry about is broken links from your site to the designer. If that designer drops the ball and kills a page, your customer will lose immediate interest and leave that vendor website--and you right along in their browser history. They'll jump back to Facebook, but look at their wall to see what's new, or see what movie's opening this weekend, or check their email. They left you in the dust long ago.
We've seen situations where a jeweler has opted to "skip the intro" of a vendor's Flash front page and links directly to an interior page, such as "index2.html" or if they don't carry all five collections for the vendor, they go right to "collection4.html." Without fail, that vendor will change his marketing and branding the same as any other business and suddenly that page content is different... or moved to a different page. Suddenly you're sending your client to a dead page and they've lost interest--and won't hit the "back" button to go to you again.
Hopefully you can see how strongly we disagree with off-site linking, so do whatever it takes to keep your visitors under your control.
Some designers offer small stand-alone websites that you can install on your own website. These stand alone sites are called "micro-sites." And that's the topic for tomorrow's Daily Golden Nugget