Author: Katelyn Rutland
You’re visiting a city and need to find a restaurant for supper. What’s the first thing you do? If you answered something like, “Google it,” you’re not alone. Smartphones are crucial in connecting people to businesses’ websites. In fact, websites are the new phone book. Don’t believe me? Consider this: Over 50 percent of consumers search online for local businesses at least monthly, and even more read online reviews. Whether they seek products – bows, arrows, targets and accessories – or lessons and range time, customers want to connect with you online to help make informed decisions. Thanks to mobile technology, making informed decisions is easier than ever. But what if you don’t have a website? How will potential customers find you? Let’s consider six reasons having a website is crucial to your archery business.
Consumers want answers, and they want them fast. They want to know everything about you – who you are, what you offer, what your store looks like – before stepping through your door. A website helps meet that demand. Photo Credit: ATA
1. Your customers expect it.
First things first: If you don’t have a website, you’re in the minority. People are connected to their smartphone like it’s an extra appendage. What’s that song on the radio? There’s an app for that. Need directions from Point A to Point B? There’s an app for that. Looking for the closest archery shop? You get the picture. Consumers want answers, and they want them fast. They want to know everything about you – who you are, what you offer, what your store looks like – before stepping through your door. Many small-business owners recognize a website’s potential to connect with customers and provide a service. That’s why most have them. Jessie Smith, owner of Barefoot Archery in Charlotte, North Carolina, had a website but recognized it needed an update when customers had difficulty navigating his site on their smartphones. “Your website has to be mobile-friendly,” Smith said. “That’s the No. 1 thing. People need to be able to look at your website from their phone.” Smith said the greatest benefit to upgrading his website – and having a site, in general – is ensuring people find him. “People come into Charlotte from out of town for a visit,” he said. “If they’re looking for something to do while they’re waiting for their dinner, they can come in here and shoot.” “Searchability” and ease of navigation, coupled with Barefoot Archery’s one-hour “Archery Experience” class, satisfy customer needs while making a great first impression. Those aids help Smith grow his business. People are searching for you. But can they find you? With a website, you’re one step closer to answering, “Yes!”
2. It provides a critical first impression.
Your website, or lack thereof, also helps consumers form an opinion of you before they walk through your door. One ATA retailer launched a new website in July 2016. From that launch through the following April, new visitors comprised about 74 percent of the site’s visits. Those visitors represent potential customers, and the potential to grow bowhunting and archery participation. If you have a bad website – one that’s outdated, hard to navigate and lacks key information – or worse, no website at all, you send a poor message to potential customers. Nicole Nash, ATA’s manager of retail programs, says your website should tell your company’s story and offer services in a user-friendly, visually appealing, and technically sound environment. “Developing a website encompasses more than simply dragging and dropping pictures, filling in some content, and incorporating trendy color schemes,” she said. Customers want the latest, greatest gear and technology. And your website is no exception. “An improved website provides an atmosphere that’s friendly and inviting,” Nash said. “It’s the first place customers gain an understanding of your business. Make that first connection a positive and lasting impression.”
3. We’re driving new customers to your doorstep. But are you?
The Archery Trade Association understands the importance of connecting potential customers to retailers for the best archery experience possible. New archers need to interact with the bow, learn how to use it, and experience firsthand the excitement of arrowing their first target. They can’t get that online. They must visit your shop. The ATA’s Archery 360 and Bowhunting 360 programs bridge the gap between online research and consumer experiences. These sites equip beginning archers and bowhunters with resources to try archery and bowhunting right away. This includes a store locator to help them find the nearest archery store. Each store listing includes the shop’s name, address, services, contact information and – you guessed it! – a link to their website. Archery 360 and Bowhunting 360 receive millions of page views annually. And we send those people straight to your online doorstep. Are you ready to receive visitors?
4. It’s modern-day window shopping.
More than 80 percent of Americans conduct online research before making a purchase. Nearly half of those consumers then purchase the product in a store. In other words, your website is an online window to your physical location and provides a glimpse of what customers can expect when visiting your store. Among 15 ATA-member retailers who recently launched new or redesigned websites, the top-visited pages included bows, ranges and archery gear; followed closely by sections about lessons, services and beginner archery. These pages preview your shop’s offerings and instill confidence in first-time customers to visit your store. Best of all, your website is open 24/7. It’s one of your best employees, working nonstop to promote your business and serve your customers, even when you’re not physically there.
Take inventory of the most common questions you receive via phone and email, and include them on an FAQ page or other appropriate website page. This helps decrease the time you spend on the phone, and increase one-on-one interaction time with your customers. Photo Credit: ATA
5. A thorough website decreases the time you spend on the phone …
… and increases the time you interact one-on-one with your customers. Your website shows who you are and what you offer. It also answers customers’ routine questions. What are your hours? How do I find you? Do you offer range time? What about repairs and maintenance? Do you stock (insert bow name here)? Your website can – and should – answer those questions. Take inventory of the most common questions you receive via phone and email, and include them on an FAQ page or other appropriate landing page. By providing this information upfront, you instill confidence in potential customers, and a comfort level that encourages them to visit your store. Plus, it saves you time in the long run, and lets you focus on other things you need to do – like delivering exceptional customer service.
6. It helps you make informed decisions.
Your website’s online window into your shop also provides a two-way view, which gives you a glimpse of customers standing on the other side. How? Your website tracks your online visitors. It catalogs most-visited pages, how they found your site, and demographic information like age, gender and location. This information helps you stock your shelves and provide services they seek. What are you waiting for? Websites don’t have to be difficult. In fact, the ATA can help. “Don’t feel overwhelmed with the ins and outs of a website,” Nash said. “Website services are part of the ATA’s many member services. Give us a call, and we’ll guide you in deciding the direction your website needs to go, and outline solid steps to get there.” Whether you need help building a website from scratch, or evaluating and updating your current site, the ATA can help. For more information, contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s manager of retail programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 866-266-2776, ext. 116.