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Posts Tagged ‘website’

What Customers Want On Your Website

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

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Does your company's website look like this?

To this day, I am still surprised when companies don’t have a website. In the latest issue of Welding & Gases Today, nexAir’s Patrick Galphin makes the case for e-commerce, but that assumes that your business already has a website. Certainly, I understand that the gases and welding industry has traditionally been and continues to be a “local” sort of business. But even when it comes to local buying, customers enjoy the ease of a website.

Almost as bad as having no website is having a poorly made website that is confusing or out of date. I came across a great article recently that questions what is it that local customers want from business websites. Whether you have a bad website or no website at all, this article offers some food for thought.

One of the best things the article offers is a series of statistics. What information is the most valuable to customers on a website? Customers in the survey ranked their wants as follows:

1.      List of prices
2.      List of services
3.      Easy to find contact details
4.      Physical address
5.      Driving directions
6.      Customer testimonials
7.      Clear photos of business
8.      Personal message from manager
9.      Links to social media profiles

Of course, how your customers rank these items may differ slightly based on your business. This is a great starting point; but to know if you’re really on key, why not ask your own customers: “What information would be most valuable to you on our website?” It’s better than guessing.

The article offers some other surprising insights, such as the fact that 40% of survey respondents say they are less likely to do business with a company if they don’t have a physical address on their website. Other offenders that repel customers are slow websites (22%) and ugly websites (21%). “No website” wasn’t one of the questions, but I know it’s a deterrent for me.

As article author Myles Anderson points out, some companies put a lot of effort into external actions when it comes to their website, i.e. search engine ranking and social media. These are important marketing activities, but they cannot stand alone; all that effort can be wasted if your own site is not optimized for your customers and the search engines.

So the question is, do you know what your customers want, and are you giving it to them?

Some Major Changes

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

You may have noticed a few changes around here lately. The GAWDA Edge blog is now the GAWDA Media blog, and it has moved to a new home on the brand new Welding & Gases Today website. If you haven’t checked out the WGT site yet (and it may take several days to fully discover the wealth of information within the website), please take a minute to look at the new interactive format and let us know what you think.

In case you were wondering, after 48 amazing issues, GAWDA Edge is retiring. The Edge has always worked to stay ahead of the curve in digital magazine publishing. In working toward this goal, we recognized an opportunity to deliver a better online magazine in conjunction with Welding & Gases Today, one that is highly interactive, searchable, and easy to navigate. With this change, it only made sense to relocate this blog.

While the address has changed, what hasn’t changed is the content. On my blog, I will continue to work to deliver interesting news, innovative ideas, industry relevant videos and more. From the WGT website you have easy access to all of the GAWDA blogs. We are all over social media, and it’s easy to follow on the new WGT site. A twitter feed on the home page shows the latest posts from myself (@GasWeldEdge), my colleague Dan Vest (@WeldGasToday) and all of you, as you tweet about the publications and the industry.

One of my favorite features of the new website is called “On the Edge,” where we try to highlight hot topics and controversial topics that are surrounding the industry. The current topic is the saga between Airgas and Air Products. We put this online exclusive out there for your consideration, and we hope you will leave your comments.

In order for this to be the best resource it can, I ask for your help. If you have opinions or thoughts on our “On the Edge” topic, leave a comment on the article. If you have an idea for another controversial topic, let me know, via e-mail or twitter. You know better than I do what are the immediate concerns of distributors in the gases and welding industry, so I encourage you to share them with me. What’s the discussion around your water cooler? What keeps you up at night?

How To Take Your Gas & Welding Supplies Online

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

These days, a company website is an important part of marketing for a gases and welding distributor. How does your company’s website look? Where are you in the search engine rankings? Maybe it’s time for a face-lift.

For the June issue of GAWDA Edge, I had some great conversations with young IT professionals in the gases and welding industry about their companies’ Web ventures. Allison Earlbeck, corporate development and Earlbeck Gases & Technologies, is currently planning the design for an overhaul of the company’s website. Rodney Huber, production manager and Internet sales at Huber Supply Company, took on the challenge of creating an e-commerce site for Huber Supply.

Huber Supply's WeldingOutfitter.comBeginning in November 2009, Huber has sold to customers in 32 different states. One customer even purchased welding supplies to send to our troops overseas. (Talk about global reach!)

Here are some of the tips they shared for planning a website.

Embrace the Competition
When Huber set out to create a website, one of the best resources he found was the competition. “I talked to the owner of a welding company that has a successful e-commerce site,” Huber says. “He steered me in the right direction and gave me some pointers. He was happy to help me.” Earlbeck also uses the competition for inspiration. “I look at other companies’ websites to see what works and what doesn’t,” she says. “It’s good to find out what other people in the industry are doing.” As Earlbeck draws up plans for the company’s new site, she incorporates those features that are most effective.

What’s in a Name?
When planning a website, an important aspect to consider is a website name/URL. When it came to the company’s e-commerce site, Huber was concerned that the name Huber Supply might not be easily associated with gases and welding supplies. Instead, he chose the name WeldingOutfitter.com as a more search engine-friendly option. To customers, the website’s purpose is self-evident, attracting a wider audience. Earlbeck Gases & Technologies also has an e-commerce site, called Hypermax.org. They chose the name to reflect the fact that they carry Hypertherm products.

Instant Gratification
One of the biggest challenges for an e-commerce website is inventory. “Customers on the Internet want to get their orders fast,” says Huber. “They want to see their order shipped within a day, and they want to see it within 3-5 business days.” That kind of turnaround does not leave time to order products that are not in stock. “I pay attention to what customers are ordering and try to keep it in stock so that we can get it out the door right away,” says Huber.

Of all the tips the young IT professionals offered, one of the most important is to understand that every site is different. By letting go of expectations and getting your company out there, you can—with a little tweaking here and there—get the most out of your company’s Web presence.

What is your company doing to improve its Web presence? I want to hear from you.