Anyone with an income that is totally dependent on online sales has every right to start panicking if those sales suddenly dip, even by a marginal amount. An almost complete stop in sales can be very alarming indeed, especially if you can think of no good reason that might account for this scenario.
Hopefully you haven’t ever experienced this situation, but if you have you will know that devastating feeling when, for no apparent reason, orders suddenly stop arriving in your inbox or even slow down in a mild way. The negative effects of this inexplicable drop in income, especially if you had been sailing along in an upward fashion, can be very disturbing and will often cause loss of sleep or even worse a loss of confidence in your business. You will probably ask yourself over and over again the question what is happening and what should I do?
First of all be aware that all online businesses are affected from time to time by outside influences that are selling dampeners beyond your control. These influences may be due to such events as really warm weather, when no one wants to sit inside on a computer, a depressing political announcement, school or summer holidays, the aftermath of heavy Christmas spending, a restrictive party political budget or a shocking world event – when people can often feel it is morally wrong to spend money.
If you are losing sales and there are no obvious outside influences it may be time to check your website and run a few tests to make sure it is working properly and there is nothing that could be frustrating or seriously amiss to drive customers away and onto competitor’s sites.
Start by checking the download speed of your site. A painfully slow site is guaranteed to kill any online business and if your hosting company is not doing a good job change to a faster server as soon as you can.
Next check your code (or get an expert to do it for you), even a small error in your coding could render your site useless. If there is a noticeable drop in the volume of orders you are getting run a test order on your site and get some friends to do the same. Go through the entire checkout process, including entering valid credit card information, this way you can be sure you haven’t missed an important detail. In fact you should test your site on a regular basis. Also bring in any new site changes with caution making sure that everything is compatible and running smoothly before putting it to the test for real.
Keep a close eye at all times on your website’s traffic, don’t wait until it has dramatically slowed down. You need to watch your traffic pattern closely in order to function successfully as an e-commerce business owner. Use a web analytics package such as Google Analytics and religiously apply to your site it every day. If you notice any kind of traffic dip, determine the leakage and work with the source to get your site back on track.
Look out for viruses. Often sites that have been compromised by the installation of malicious scripts have been reported, which means if Google detects a virus intrusion, it will post a message by your organic search listings, informing the world that the use of your site could harm a visitor’s computer. This is the kiss of death for almost any site and can undo months if not years of hard work.
You should sign up for a Google Webmaster Tools account so that if the worst happens you can follow the suggestions that Google has provided for removing the infection and making your site secure. Once you have followed the corrective steps and notified Google, it will review your site and determine whether to place it back among the search-engine listings. Don’t just leave it and hope for the best!
Finally do you need to redesign your site? Old stale sites can affect traffic and conversion levels. Does your site look cool, modern and inviting or does it look jaded and old hat? Poor design with old fashioned navigation will definitely have a negative effect on your site’s performance. Above all though make sure that your site is search engine compliant or you will drop down the listing along with all those lost sales.