Though we are behind many other retail segments, more invitation businesses I have spoken to have web sites than not. The perception that a business is lost without a web site has finally sunk in. The problem is that you can also be lost with a web site if your web site is not being found. You can also be lost when local customers are searching for your products and you are told to get lost when a customer clicks off your site within seconds because your site is outdated or not visually appealing.

The first thing you need to think about is what is the intention of your web site and does your web site match that intention? The answer for most invitation retailers is to provide enough compelling information and visual appeal for their web site to act as an attractive display window to inspire the visitor to want to call or visit your store. Another intention for some retailers is to give customers a chance to view products so they can begin the selection process and come in with product preferences that can save considerable time in the sales process. That is where suppliers that offer branded web sites or links that have images and pricing is perfect. Without interfering with the aesthetics and the look of your web site, you can establish a page of links to various brands which when clicked on, open in a separate window for the customer to browse at. After looking through the brand, the customer clicks off the page and is back on your web site to at other links or contact you.

On your home page you must make immediate visual impact to show products that differentiate you from the typical web site that places high on the search engines which are most lower end products being sold online at discount prices. This can most effectively be done with a slide show of rotating images that any professional web designer can easily do. Since almost every consumer uses the web for research but under 30% buy online, it is also very important to make it clear that you are a local business and have your address and contact information prominently displayed on every page. Use wording on the home page that talks to the customer incorporating the words “you” and “your” in sentences rather than “we”, “I”, “us” or “our.”

On your “about us” page you must concisely define why they should contact you by spotlighting service, quality, experience, expertise, convenience and selection. While doing that, include terms in your content that relate to how a customer would search for you such as “upscale or unique invitations” or “letterpress designs” etc. While for some businesses the store and company could be spotlighted while for other businesses it could be the owner which many customers will establish a connection to. My wife is a retailer and has a storefront but much of the site shows her unique and approachable personality. Many customers who have seen her web site have commented they feel like they already know her when coming in for the first time. She jokes when people call saying “you know what I look like and still want to come in?”

Testimonials of actual satisfied customers who make positive comments are helpful. However just saying “Donna and Sam and the wedding date” is as good as those testimonials you think are fictitious when an ad in a magazine advertising a health product lists a testimonial as “AR from Skokie, IL says this product changed my life”. Use last names, the town they live in and the reception or ceremony site, first getting the customer’s permission.

Another section of your web site that is beneficial to establish is a link to a blog that you create for yourself. This can easily be done on WordPress. The blog is an opportunity for you to post helpful hints and other non-competing helpful resources. Also, write about special events you serviced as well as anything else that is educational and interesting for your readers that is not directly self-serving. This takes time and consistent effort but helps you get found in the search engines and is more apt to posture yourself as an expert than a web site that is strictly promotional.

I mentioned earlier about links to branded sites but also think some additional tasteful imagery needs to be housed on your web site other than the home page, so gallery pages are also beneficial.

I will give you quick comments on any one that emails me their web site. Click here to visit my web site and email me.

Coming soon Part 2 – Getting Found