Interviews

Essential advice on making your website stand out from the crowd

6 min read

28 June 2016

Former deputy editor

It’s often said that a company website is an online shop window. You wouldn’t expect people to walk into your shop if the windows were stained with bird droppings, so would you expect shoppers to stay on a bad website?

DIGITAL GUIDE: Securing visibility for your business in the competitive online space

The importance of a growing company’s online presence is so key that we’ve made it the subject of our latest essential digital guide. Through interviewing four inspirational SMEs, we touched upon rethinking your online advertising to attract new customers, establishing whether pay-per-click works for your business and working out where ROI comes from in the digital world.

We’ve also put together a handy infographic on the evolution of online sales and marketing, while a jargon buster looks to cut through some of the noise.

But first up, we begin by introducing you to the simple concept of making your website stand out from the crowd. If you like what you read, don’t forget to click through to the full digital guide – the link for which can be found at the top and bottom of this article.

Welsh screening business Complete Background Screening (CBS) recognised it was essential the website looked professional from the start at launch in 2005.

CBS CEO Rachel Bedgood felt the look and ease of use, the latter of which rivals don’t match, would help establish the company within the marketplace. It worked – the firm is Wales’ largest, and the UK’s third largest, provider of background and DBS checks.

She explained the existing colour palette was chosen so customers would automatically recognise CBS, while providing the company with a unique look.

Refusing to become complacent though, Bedgood detailed: “The current site and branding has been with us for over six years, so we are in the process of a project to overhaul both the branding and website in order to future-proof the business and take us forward for the next ten years of growth.”

The nature of the company meant that in-house web developers weren’t required, so development past and present has been outsourced. It’s a different story for gifting website ToxicFox.co.uk, however, where development takes place at headquarters. It’s not a surprise given the ecommerce model of the company, which means staff members need to act quickly should any issues arise.

Matthew Rogers, head of search at ToxicFox, said the key when building an online presence is understanding the variety of traffic streams available.

“Through building our product range and studying the data from analytics we were able to start to identify our demographics,” he said. “This means we can better tailor our marketing efforts on channels e.g. TV, search, social, magazines, reaching the right people with our messages to ensure they will resonate.

“We are always evolving, testing and developing with an aim to deliver the best possible user experience for our customers. This expands from product range, curation to the overall ease of use of the website.”

As a company that operates bricks and mortar locations in London and New York, as well as achieving sales online, luxury watch brand Larsson & Jennings’ CEO Andrew Jennings feels a holistic marketing approach is the answer.

“It is important that we deliver a consistent message through our bricks and mortar stores in London and New York, our trade partner network globally, and our own online channels,” he explained.

The reason for this is that there are far more online channels than there are offline, so as a brand, the communications must be accurate – particularly as digital provides the ability to expand messages at a cost-effective level.

Rogers added his thoughts on the difference between a fixed premises and online. “With a bricks and mortar site you are looking at a more geographical boundary, whereas online your geographic boundary is set by your ability to deliver.

“Meanwhile, for a digital shop, you are only really restricted by the ability to deliver your product to the location in a timely manner. Online you are potentially closer to competition, in that you are only a click away. This means that you need to be able to be much more competitive on price, service and ability to deliver on this.”

Factoring in the luxury status of his business, Jennings said of adopting a uniform approach: “This is the challenge for any luxury brand but we have developed deep relationships with core digital in infuencers and omni-channel trade partners, who both love the quality and the aesthetic of our product, and therefore understand our modern shift on Swiss-made watches.”

Evolving from eBay merchant to branding business, Custom Planet now delivers work attire, event T-shirts, fashion labels and promotional goods. Director Andrew Dark admitted that he and his co-founder were “pretty clueless” about developing an online presence at the start.

“After being approached by a digital marketing agency we quickly learned that we needed to step up our efforts. We worked with experts to develop a strategy and timeline so we could keep track of ROI,” revealed Dark.

“Things don’t always go smoothly when you’re developing a new website and it’s always an ongoing, collaborative process.”

DIGITAL GUIDE: Securing visibility for your business in the competitive online space