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Before co-founding Oars + Alps, I helped Fortune 100 brands drive online sales and retention in roles at Facebook, Digitas, and OgilvyOne. In my work, I’ve met so many amazing entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas, but many are overwhelmed with questions on website optimization. 

While it’s not as simple as putting up some pretty photos and praying someone finds your site, it’s also not as complicated as needing a full agency team that includes experts on user experience, user interface, design, photography, copywriting, etc. That comes later! The beauty of the digital space is that with a quick tutorial, anyone can do the basics and do them well.  Here are five tips on building a website that actually drives results.

Think Mobile

While many people still purchase on desktop, most people browse and explore on mobile, so design your website thinking about the mobile experience FIRST. Images kill load time, so be mindful of the size and dimensions of your imagery to keep you website fast and effective. While image specs vary, my rule of thumb is sticking to PNG formats that are below 1 GB. I typically use 500 kb. For desktop full images, my specs are 1600 x 1000 pixels. For mobile full images, stick to 800 x 1200 pixels. 1 in 4 visitors will leave a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load. Worried? Test your website speed here.

Don’t let your mobile-friendly site go to waste! Integrate technology like Apple Pay and Amazon Payments to make sure your mobile experience allows potential customers to purchase easily.

Keep It Human

Most people will give a website 3 seconds, tops. If they don’t immediately see a clear reason to stay, they will leave. In digital language, that means bounce rates and exit rates! Always think about the digital journey a potential customer took to find you. If someone were to land on your site for the very first time, ask yourself what’s the one thing you want them to know or do.

Too many companies like to talk about themselves, but just like no one likes that person at the cocktail party, no one likes that in a company’s website. When customers land on your page, make it easy for them to find the 2 or 3 reasons your product or service will help THEM. Keep it under 5 words.

Sometimes, this can be difficult to do with our own brands because we’re too close. Take a step back with this exercise: go to your favorite brand’s website. Notice how their messaging is constructed. Repeat this process on a few of your favorite brands’ websites. Check out Casper. Bombas. And of course, Oars + Alps!

The All-Important Call-to-Action

Make the call to action button (i.e., Learn More, Shop Now) super clear so your customers know exactly where to click to sign up for the newsletter, learn more about a product, or make a purchase. Ensure the button is above the fold! A user should never need to scroll down to find that button. Make sure the desired action (i.e. place product in basket) is no more than 3 clicks away. Assume that every time a potential customer needs to click though, you’ll lose roughly 30-40% of them. Ouch!

Test your website with someone that knows NOTHING about your business. Ask them to browse around or try to buy something. Don’t say anything. Just watch them. Where do they click? Does the next action feel intuitive for them? Pro tip: mock up two landing pages. If you are in the beginning stages, simply show each one to at least 20 people and get feedback. If your site is up and running, drive Facebook ads or emails to the two different pages and see which one drives a higher conversion rate.

Collect Email Addresses!

From day one, email marketing is a critical channel deserving of time and attention. Most people (97% of site visitors) are not ready to buy when they first come to a web page, so send them emails on a weekly basis educating them on  why your brand rocks. I’ve found that enabling a pop-up encouraging new visitors to share their email with you is one of the most effective ways to collect email addresses. Incentives also help!

Of course, having the right tools goes a long way. Just Uno is a great plugin that allows you to test different message to increase opt in rate. The email platform Klaviyo is a big step up from Mailchimp and not much more expensive.

Install basic pixels

Google Analytic holds an enormously valuable trove of information, if you know how to access it. With the skills to use it properly, you’ll understand your customer much better. You’ll find insights into how and where they’re finding you are they coming from that great press you landed in Vogue, via Instagram, or through email? You’ll see their exit rate and conversion rate, your website’s conversion rate, and how it compares to the industry. Get a crash course on the basics here.

If you do one thing, make sure to install the Facebook pixel. Retargeting is the simplest and most efficient form of digital marketing. Learn how to implement the Facebook pixel here.

With the suggestions above in place, your website will be easy to navigate and you’ll understand your customer better with every bit of data that comes your way.

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