24 May 2024, 14:38
By Dan Jones Sept 30, 2020

How to stand out online

Digital marketing expert Dan Jones offers his top tips to help furniture businesses stand out online and ensure customers return time after time.

Ecommerce is a rapidly growing industry, and as such it is becoming increasingly difficult for furniture retailers to stand out online. As business booms for many businesses, under the current circumstances it has never been more important to cut through the noise. 

If a consumer can’t easily navigate your site to find what they want, they will simply leave to visit a competitor site. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) helps you to diagnose which elements of your retail site are a barrier to engagement and conversion, and then scientifically test solutions to fix these barriers, improving user experience and uplifting revenue.  

1. Become a design-oriented business 

Thanks to the rise of affordable digital technology, more consumers than ever are engaging with the online world, and the public has come to expect websites which are aesthetically pleasing, fully functional and quick to load. As a result, usable design is essential for businesses who want to gain an advantage over their competitors and grow online revenue. 

A 2018 report on the Business Value of Design by McKinsey & Company found that businesses with a strong design ethos had +32% higher revenue growth and 56% total returns for shareholders. These results support a similar 2014 study covering a 10-year period which found that design-led companies maintained a significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P (Standard & Poor’s 500 Index) by +228%.

To replicate this for your own business and become more design led, you should: set objective design targets for the output of your web design teams; create a clear picture of exactly who your customer is and how you will meet their needs; and design prototypes and trial them on real customers before spending time coding.

2. Develop an advanced marketing funnel strategy

A basic marketing funnel will attempt to meet prospects’ needs at different stages of the buying cycle, which traditionally includes the awareness, consideration and conversion phases. Nowadays, consumers are exposed to hundreds of marketing messages across multiple platforms every day, so businesses need to go above and beyond in their approach if they want to stand out.  

Developing an advanced marketing funnel which includes a top layer of engaging and valuable content that keeps users coming back to the site time and time again will help brands stand out. Examples of content which would be suitable include informative blog posts, downloadable resources or on-site quizzes.  

Providing consumers with real meaningful value ensures that, when they are ready to move down the sales funnel, your brand is the first that comes to mind. 

If you’re a furniture retailer, think about what content at each stage might look like, and how it would differ. For example: Awareness – features such as ‘the essential guide to buying the perfect bed’, or ‘what wardrobes would work in a loft room’ might interest your audience; Consideration – a free webinar on ‘trendy furniture to style your new home this year’ or a free catalogue and pattern sample will provide further value to the audience; and Conversion – use a discount of 10% off when you spend £50 or more, set up a personal shopper consultation, or offer a free trial membership of an ‘interiors club’ to convince visitors to spend with you.

3. Offer flexible financial solutions 

Advancements in technology means it is much easier for websites to offer integrated financial solutions that allow customers to spread the cost of their purchase. Flexible payment options such as Klarna and Clearpay remove one of the biggest barriers to conversion – price – and encourage consumers to purchase goods they may not otherwise have been able to afford. 

4. Optimise your site for mobile users 

With over 30 million Brits using smart devices to shop this year alone, online furniture retailers need to ensure their sites are optimised for the mobile experience to avoid frustrating and losing customers. Mobile optimisation can be as big as a full website redesign, or as small as prioritising key content on a page.   

Adopting mobile payments such as Apple or Google Pay is one way to improve and optimise the checkout experience for mobile users – mobile payments make it easier for consumers to purchase goods online, and therefore reduce checkout abandonment, while increasing sales and repeat custom.

5. Trial innovative changes, even if they won’t scale easily

Automation and scalability are now seen as crucial elements in marketing, as they improve efficiency. However, some businesses are ignoring trialling changes to their website which are harder or more time consuming to implement – many of which may be the key to unlocking new growth potential for their brand.  

A great example of this is how the owners of AirBnB, who were struggling to gain traction for their service, flew to New York and hired a camera for $5000 to photograph apartments. The time and financial cost of this was unscalable, but the risk paid off and rentals in New York took off, with bookings doubling within a month. The same growth happened across other cities, which grew the business to a $31b valuation in 2019. 

When applying this concept to your own business, look for solutions in your industry that no-one else is doing due to inconvenience or cost, and build small-scale tests to see if they are worth implementing at scale. 

Dan Jones is head of CRO at digital marketing agency Search Laboratory.

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