Are you starting an online vape shop or panicking because your current eCommerce traffic has plummeted? This blog post addresses both the new vape shop enterprise as well as the established, but panicked eCommerce site.
Does this sound like you? Last year was great, traffic and sales were booming on your online vape shop. The year 2018 saw a slow drop at the beginning of the year that didn’t concern you too much, but suddenly in mid-year, your traffic began its plummet. You tried some stopgap measures and a few of you managed to recuperate, but most of you by Christmastime 2018, the traffic is somewhere at 30% -or less- of what it was year-on-year. This has been a trend this year across most vape stores… except for a few newbies whose traffic charts skyrocketed from very low traffic at the beginning of the year.
The first half of this blog is dedicated to dissecting the differences with what the competition’s website looks like and secondly, for companies that are building their site from the ground-up.
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Fundamentally, most of the top websites have similar layouts and are rather up to date in their systems. But three things stand out on the websites that are doing extremely well in the past months or whose traffic has recuperated very well.
Sales 101. You speak with a person, if they are likable there is a much higher probability that you will actually buy something. Full stop. It’s no wonder then, that a website that highlights their “LiveChat” button on the home page will get many questions, contacts and, therefore, sales. Invest.
These high-traffic sites suddenly started seeing a huge upswing coming up to the holiday shopping season, and their offers are extremely simple. One of the websites that had seen reduced traffic listed three different codes with three different offers that would force the client to have to make calculations every time they considered buying something.
Contrast these unnecessarily complicated offers to a high-traffic site that had one extremely simple offer: up to 70% Holiday Discounts. When the client clicks on the offer, it brings them to a page that has all of the red slashed discounted items and the calculation was done for them. This is why 50% sales work in a brick-and-mortar store. Because it is simple.
Even online marketplaces like Amazon don’t offer complicated discount codes on their home page (they make offers on other pages to bring traffic to their site) but rather feature discounted items with pictures and the discounted price so that the client does not have to calculate anything.
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One simple, cosmetic difference between the sites which reaped all of the attention this year and the ones who are gaining speed this year is: a simplified menu. If you can replace text with an icon and not confuse the potential client, do it. Eliminate boxes and backgrounds where possible. Minimalism is modern, clean and effective. Effective because if you reduce the boxes and keep things simple, you can bring the customer’s eye where you want them to go: to your LiveChat, Discount or Tutorial.
Holy bejeezus. How is a novice or someone buying a gift for someone supposed to understand all of the gadgets that exist in the vaping world? If you already have a 101 blog, put it in your menu at the top. Do not hide it at the bottom where potential clients cannot find it. If you have videos, even better. Call them “tutorial videos” or “101 vaping vids” and, again, place them somewhere in the top half of the homepage where your potential customer can see them.
One weakness I’ve noticed among top-performing tutorial blogs is that information is still too technical and leaves the reader more confused than ever.
Get a jump on the competition and break it down in layman’s terms, using infographics, images, video etc. Start with someone from your staff or invest in a good copywriter who has a gift for simplifying technical information, and a graphic designer or video producer who can give it some life.
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Take a cue on website design tactics that have made the sale on hookah sites for ages. Keep in mind, of course, that your vaping customer demographic is going to be much younger and hipper than hookah customers.
Vapers will expect your website to run with the most up-to-date technology and look very “today.” Yesterday isn’t good enough. As mentioned above, in place of old school navigation menus with lots of words and backgrounds, employ the newest conventions, using icons and intuitive prompts that match the apps that the younger generations are used to.
Even the imaging you use should not be limited to conservative, glossy images of products; remember that photos of people grab more attention than objects do and in today’s Instagram-world, filters give a very fresh look to images. VaporDNA does a great job with this. Misthub has great, custom close-up photos of products on their homepage.
Basic elements that work for Hookah sites:
Good structure is good structure and can help any website. If clients can navigate your page easily because it is organized and the structure intuitively makes sense, you’ve done a great job as it is.
However, Search Engine Optimization tactics, including categorizing and fully describing each category will go a long ways to help your site rank.
All of the vape shops have organized their site by types of products, accessories, devices, brands, etc. Something that most sites do not do and you can get an advantage by doing is breaking down your blog into categories, as well!
Who doesn’t love a bargain? This works for any and all eCommerce sites. Discounts are usually where you get your first customers. Later on when they’ve trusted your website, products and have gotten into the vaping groove they might start splurging.
This is another major entry point for you to set up a relationship with a client. Hookah sites have long used this tactic. While the water pipe is a relatively simple contraption, it still requires several pieces: the water pipe itself, extra pipes if applicable, the tobacco, carbon, forceps and, additionally, maybe a carrying case, extra gaskets and disposable mouthpieces. You not only might make a larger sale, even if the markup isn’t as high as individual sales, but you also have a chance to show them via “related items” items that will boost their starter experience.
Kind of hard to argue with this. If all of your competition is doing it, a potential client will not likely consider you. Your competition is writing it very clearly on their home page in a static part of the website: Free U.S. shipping on orders over $65, for instance. Figure out your minimum where you are still turning a profit and can still offer free shipping. Make any exclusions very clear.
Once you find that price point, you won’t have to do further math by hand for each client, of course. Today there are various plugins that you can use to calculate taxes and shipping costs.
Oftentimes sites will sort by very limited characteristics, such as price: low to high, high to low, and description.
Suggestion: add a sort by Customer Reviews. And, yes, while there are many websites who will have their own staff write customer reviews, it’s a terrible choice. Firstly, because there are usually glaring telltale signs that the reviews are false, such as 5 star, one-sided gushing reviews with no real analysis or pros or cons. Second, they create a vague-sounding username for a fake client and write several fake reviews that all sound the same. Third, they are not “verified purchases.”
How do I get legit customer reviews, then?
Incentivize your clients to write reviews. Psychology will tell you that any time that you give someone something for free, such as when the waiter whispers “we’re supposed to charge you for the extra sauce, but don’t worry about it,” or if you give your vaping client a sticker or a free pouch, that’s creating a positive feeling that may make them want to thank you through a nicely-worded comment. Or at the very least tame their tongue if they have had a negative experience.
Optimum7’s tried and proven web design strategies have helped eCommerce business grow online for over 15 years. Reach out to us today to find out how we can build the website your business deserves.Speak to an Expert