Paul Maietta, managing director of ‘Fitzies’ was the first international member to sign up to the IPI (Independent Photo Imagers) Group, via local partners, Independent Photographic Supplies (iPhoto) back in 2011 and has been a big supporter and IPIC participant ever since. Paul, along with Ryan Fleury, web advisor with Fitzgerald’s Canadian lab and retail software developer, Dakis, ran through a list of measures to maximise the value of a photo business’ investment in their website. While the presentation was to an audience of photo labs and retailers, the measures are applicable for all small business websites.
‘Fitzie’s online presence has helped solidify themselves in Western Australia and beyond,’ said Ryan Fleury. ‘Together, we’re going to take a look at how Fitzgerald Photo has managed to not only generate a
ton of online sales, but also how they used their web presence to showcase their in-store services, utilising the website to generate revenue from multiple channels.’
The new website, ‘incarnation number three or four’ went live earlier this year with the overarching brief from Paul Maietta being: ‘We needed to have a website which reflected our personality and identity and focussed in on a level of expectation we wanted to project for our customers.’
Claim your identity
The website, logo and bricks and mortar location should all work together to establish a clear identity for the business. Ryan Fleury emphasised the importance of using a Google Business account to extend that identity.
‘Whenever people search on Google for Fitzgerald Photo they are going to find relevant information about store hours, phone numbers etc. I know it sounds basic but it’s important. These things need to be taken care of and the information needs to be correct.’
Build Your Audience
Most businesses will have some kind of a customer list even if they aren’t yet selling online. ‘So we can utilise that and look outwards as well,’ said Ryan Fleury. He said it was up to the business owner to decide whether to focus on a specific demographic or ‘carpet bomb’ – go all out. In Fitzgerald Photo’s case, the website, store design and colour scheme have been chosen with a particular group in mind:
‘While we cast a fairly wide net, we realised when we analysed our customers that we needed a female-oriented website. They are a significant demographic with us and spend a lot of money,’ said Paul Maietta.
He said that Fitzgerald Photo benefits from referrals from professional photographers and that in turn sends a lot of women into the lab.
‘Even wedding portrait photographers are giving USBs and digital downloads away. They don’t want to partake in the sales process so they are actually sending their customers to us,’ he said. ‘If it’s a wedding client it’s invariably the bride, sometimes with their mother.’
He added that he makes a point of spending time on the front counter at the store and talking to customers. He said that once customers come into the store, in his experience they are very likely to later order something online, even if they are ‘just browsing’ at the time.
‘The look of our store is very similar to online. We want it to be seamless. So we will demonstrate on one of the computers at the front counter. We will literally show them – this is how you navigate the website, this is how you find more information, and this is how you order.’ He called it a ‘photo concierge’ service.
‘We have a couple of kiosks so they may do it that way. Sure it’s a one-on-one, but invariably once they come in to see us they will order online,’ he said
Plant your flag
– Or in other words, define your territory. Fitzgerald has consolidated itself as a major player in the WA market and is reaching out to win customers in other parts of Australia. Paul Maietta says that being online makes distance almost irrelevant.
‘If they are online, if they have images, they don’t care where you are. They don’t have to come into your store. If we’ve got enough info online to give them an idea of what we are selling, we are really only two feet [the distance to a device] away from them.’
Be available everywhere all the time
‘It’s really important to have a device agnostic website. If people feel inspired and want to order in the moment then it’s important they can do this on the phone, on their laptop, everywhere,’ said Ryan. He added that this was also critical as people might start a project on one device, complete it on another and then send the order through on their smartphone.
More specifically, it’s critical to have a mobile-friendly, ‘responsive’ website – which is likely to make any sites developed more than a few years ago pretty well obsolete. And even if you feel that your customers don’t tend to browse on their smartphones, Google Search penalises websites which don’t work well on phones.
Your homepage tells a story
Your homepage is your portal, it’s your opportunity to make a first impression and to rapidly generate a sale. Get
right to the point! Don’t lose your customers in long romantic notions, keep the good stuff ‘above the fold’. If customers want to find out more about your mission statement they’ll find it elsewhere.
Homepages should ideally link to landing pages with text expanding on the product or service on offer (‘the Google gods will smile on you’) and also direct to an Order Now option.
Paul explained there is always an Order Now option close at hand on the Fitzgeralds website. ‘We get lots of repeat business so they can access Order literally from under the main banner on the homepage.’ But there are also plenty of text-rich ‘More Information’ landing pages. ‘I want customers to feel reassured that what we offer is what they want. But we don’t want it to be three clicks away.
Ryan suggested that most websites would benefit from adding more landing pages with extra information on products and services. ‘Not all of them – that’s a lot of work. But maybe gradually add them here and there – about canvasses, about greeting cards. Just think about what makes the most money for you and start there.’
Stack the deck
These days, Search Engine Optimisation is effectively having your website running smoothly and securely, with proper tags, proper keywords and linking properly. Many of the ‘black hat’ SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing, have been eliminated as Google has refined its search algorithms.
Search Engine Marketing is ad spending with Google Adwords, etc, used to increase the visibility of a website in search engine results pages. It’s also alternately referred to as paid search or pay per click.
Paul volunteered that Fitzgeralds spends around $100/week on Google Adwords, and also maintains a social media presence through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Focus on your strengths
‘Our strength is professional services,’ said Paul. ‘So if we keep reinforcing the fact that we are professionals, we are specialists, we know we will get a higher dollar sale.’
Take out the guesswork
Don’t leave you customers hanging. Smart, well thought out navigation and compelling calls to actions will help drive consumers through to the cart.
‘I’ve seen one too many websites offering services but then it’s – “cool, so how do I get there”,’ said Ryan. ‘You’ve got to make that stuff easy. You’ve got to take out the guesswork out of ordering and it should only be two or three clicks away.’
He added that an often-overlooked feature was making it easy to contact the business from any page on the website.
Provide real content
Content should be related to products, describing services etc. ‘The website is a sales tool but also a research tool, explained Paul.
More than just online sales
Paint a pretty picture of your unique line-up of in-store services to drive foot traffic into your store. Maximise your website’s potential and let your audience know what you are capable of.
– Is your website Mobile Friendly?
– Can consumers easily purchase a product online?
– Is your site SSL compliant (HTTPS)?
– Does your site include information (landing pages) for your main products and services?
– Have you maximized your selling potential?
– Have you reached out to your online audience recently?
What To Do:
– Invest in a website that adheres to today’s strict standards and best practices, be compatible on all devices and get secure! (‘If you have an old website chances are you are not doing so hot.’)
– Invest in marketing, don’t expect it to shine on it’s own;
– Establish a selling strategy ‘Through e-blasts, Facebooks posts, hero banners, building specific pages about events – Christmas, Valentines Day, sports photography…Massage you content’;
– Facilitate and massage the user experience;
– Have fresh and relevant content ‘If you have content on your website that’s old maybe it’s time to revisit it. add a paragraph, take one out.
– Focus on your strengths ‘If wraps is your big deal, focus on that. On what you want to be known as.
Speak to your audience, keep them engaged.’
– Claim your identity!
– Thanks to Fitzgerald Photos and Dakis