Brand New Website, but No Sales

hi jennifer!
i just launched my brand new fancy website!
i paid 3 months rent to have fancy web designers make it for me.
and i have not had one sale. not one.
im dying over here! DYING.

i was hoping you had some advice? i know you are super successful and just rolling in press clippings.
i would really appreciate any sort of tips or tricks.

It seems as of late more than one person has emailed me looking for some business advice about promoting their brand spankin’ new websites. I’m gonna kill several birds with one stone and do a little bloggy-blog about my feelings on the matter. Hopefully anyone else experiencing similar problems will find this helpful. Given I am not the all knowing seer of the western world and a lot of this is a matter of opinion. However, I have been running Naughty Secretary Club as my full time job for several years now and these are just a few things that have worked for me. A friend on the West Coast sent me the above email and I went through her new adorable website with a fine tooth comb looking for issues that might be the culprit as to why her new website is not getting any sales.

Naughty Secretary Club got a major facelift last fall if you recall and it definitely affected sales. This was the third version of the website to date. There was the fact that the new site was delayed for several months and I did not add any new product so that everything would sync up. Big mistake, customers got bored and quit checking back in. A new site is just slightly disconcerting to some people as well. Regular customers are used to the old site and how things work there. Have you ever had to shop at a new grocery store? It is very irritating and time consuming until you know the lay of the land. Once people got used to my new site and saw that I was again updating regularly things got better. The general newness is one thing, but below are a few other thoughts.

SEARCH ENGINES – When I searched for your company name, which is what I typically do rather than type in the URL the top two links that pulled up for me were broken. Have you designer make sure all the old links within your website redirect to your new front page rather than give you an error message. I was adamant about this when I had Naughty Secretary Club redone. Many times bloggers that write about a site will link to a specific product page with a distinct URL rather than Those links may no longer be valid since my website has been redesigned, but at least when people click that link they will get to my website and not an error page. I just checked with your write up on Modish, the link Jena has for you was to your old site and now goes to an error page rather than your new front page. You don’t want to null and void all past press exposure.

Also did you check to make sure your programmer added meta tags to your new website. Mine had forgotten and I had to go back in and add them myself. Needless to say this effected my search engine rating.

LOG IN – I noticed in the top right hand corner you have a button that says log in. When I had my new website built this was the kiss of death. My sales all but stopped and some of that was people just getting used to the new site but I also think a big part of it was people don’t want to feel like they are signing up for an account. The minute I had this feature taken off my website where you could make a purchase without having to log in, create a password, enter in a bunch of random personal information sales picked up. There were some pitfalls for me. With OS Commerce which is what I use I can’t sell gift certificates without this component, but I weighed my options and decided I could live without selling gift certificates.

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE ON – If you are selling clothing or accessories people want to see what the item looks like on an actual person. Not just to see how others styled it, but also to get an idea of size. On Naughty Secretary Club I don’t go to great lengths to style a photo of a necklace on an actual neck. I am just trying to show the shopper how big the earring is, how long a necklace hangs or the drop on a purse strap. The more stylelized your photos are the better, but for me and selling mostly one of a kind items it does not make a lot of sense for me to spend a ton of time on this. Sure customer galleries on a website are great, but shoppers want to see the picture right there next to the product and not have to search for it.

HAVE A SALE – Well you are having a sale, 15% off as a matter of fact. Everyone loves a good sale and there is no better way to get people to do some shopping. The only problem is unless I had read about the sale on your blog which is not linked on your new website I would have never known. Put that hot sale gossip on the front page of your website lady. Email bloggers and let them know. Twitter it for the world to see! It’s a recession, people love saving a buck or two.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION – I am a gal who prefers a wordy description on a product when buying and selling. I want to read a little story about the product and find out what it is made of, if any parts of it are vintage, what the inspiration behind the piece was. I try and write a small baby paragraph about each product. I noticed that you had just one sentence. This could be something. Individual product descriptions gives each product individuality, it gives bloggers and magazines looking for editorial content a jumping off point for their story, it makes a product more interesting. Each product having it’s own name is in the same vein and equally important. If you notice on these earrings first thing I have the words “These Earrings are Handmade and Supplies are Limited*. If they were one of a kind I would say that instead. If your product is handmade say it again and again, handmade is hot selling buzz word don’t be afraid to toss it around. If supplies are limited or something is one of a kind let the buyer know, it creates a sense of urgency. If the buyer thinks they could come back and buy your product at anytime because you have the mother load then they are always going to talk themselves out of hitting the “buy” button because they are thinking they can always just get it later. Another important feature is to tell the size of your product, especially if you don’t have a picture of the product on a person. Even if you just say about the same size as a quarter.

I have covered some other ideas for spreading the gospel here on the Naughty Secretary Club blog. If you belong to any social networking groups let them all know about your new website. You have an amazing product don’t be shy about it. Whip yourself up a press kit and send it off to a few magazine editors. At the very least send out some emails to the bazillion shopping blogs out there and let them know. I like that you have a link to your mailing list in the tool bar, that means you should have a good sized newsletter group. Be sure and send out a newsletter to let all your subscribers know about the new site and sale. I know you just spent a boatload of money on the new website but maybe you should consider a few ads. Bust is my favorite for print, but you need to run an ad like 5 issues for it to get noticed and that can cost as much as the new site did. Lots of blogs have really reasonable rates (Modish, Funky Finds, Fred Flare) and are a great way to get some exposure to your new website. Have the ad say something about “come check out our new site”, show your most adorable product picture and maybe even advertise the sale in the ad.

Again these are all a matter of opinion. You might be the type of a person who does not want to read a wordy product description or hates getting a newsletter. These are just the things that have worked for Naughty Secretary Club when I have changed up my website. A new design always means slower sales for a bit, but don’t fret it just takes some getting used to. Also remember sales are always slower in the summer because people are outside enjoying the sun and not shopping online. The economy is not super hot right now and that affects everyone and their discretionary income. Take these things into consideration and remember that if with your old site you were selling things like hot cakes then sales will pick up again.

13 Responses to “Brand New Website, but No Sales”

  1. Knit 1 for the Road

    you are so awesomely right on! i caught you on twitter this morning and had to come over to read your post. i know for myself the more user friendly the better – i’m sure this will help a lot of smaller businesses stay on track. marg

  2. Marilyn

    I’m still trying to figure out the whole “Press Kit” issue and how to submit stuff to magazines. I have a whole list of contacts (if it’s even updated) but i still feel stuck.

    As far as modeling the jewelry is concerned, I’ve heard mixed feelings about it. I’ve read on other messageboards that some folks are turned off by seeing someone wearing the item. This doesn’t bother me that much

  3. Jennifer Perkins - Naughty Secretary Club

    Hey Marilyn,

    I am having my new press kit redone and will blog about it with pictures when it is finished. It is hard when you sell one of a kind items. I think of my press kit as a way to give people an idea of what I do. Very few magazines have ever asked me for a specific piece of jewelry they have seenin my press kit. Its more like they are doing a shoot that they think I would

  4. Ruby Khan

    On behalf of catalog copywriters everywhere, thanks for highlighting how helpful good product descriptions, names, and stories can be for sales. 🙂

    Great product photography will grab people’s attention, but once they’re interested, the words will make or break the deal.

    I’ve seen so many Etsy listings and crafty sites where there are no materials listed, no dimensions, no

  5. Megan

    Thank you!! This is super helpful and have really not thought of some of these things before– truly will be making some changes based on this!

  6. Lisa

    Hey, everyone needs to know about your website! Get started with 1,000,000 real visitors for free – (no joke!). Use my permalink for the full details on this powerful FREEWARE.

  7. Vee

    This blog was fantastic! Now I know why I have so many hits and no sales! Thanks for the info!!!

  8. Anonymous

    Excellent write-up. I definitely love this website. Continue the good work!

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