The garment decorating industry is a complex one (as you’re all probably more than aware of!) there are many challenges ahead for garment decorators alike, however big or small your business is. The industry has seasonal peaks and troughs which most garment decorators simply accept - calling it the nature of the industry.

BUT the quiet period isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are ways to make the most of the downturn and prepare your garment business for what your customers and the industry throw at you next. The key to doing this successfully involves developing skills and smart practices that will allow your business to remain profitable during off-seasons and periodic slowdowns.

Here are some of our key hints & tips to help you and your business during these times:

Gain an understanding of the cycles in the garment decorating industry: The industry has a natural yearly cycle which is pretty universal meaning seasonality is inevitableThe challenge for decorators alike is to understand each season, what it means for you, your business, your online performance and how to best utilise each season to maximise profit.

Work on your planning/management skills: A key tool in making the most of the downturn is foresight. As an owner of a garment decorating business, the focus is on profit not planning. However, much research shows planning is key in making this profit. Plan rigorously, leaving no stone unturned – consider all situations and scenarios for your embroidery or printing business and how to best prepare for these. Manage your resources and people as effectively as possible to fit into this plan and your overall strategy.

Generate new ideas and fill the service gap: The printing & embroidery industry is a highly adaptable sector; you can transform simple garments into anything you like; with flexible e-commerce systems (such as our eTrader websites) offering opportunities to branch into other areas/markets. You don’t have to build up expensive new businesses branching off your core business. Simply, test your products in new markets, tailor your new printed/embroidered products for certain industries and play about with ideas (In a cost effective manner of course).

Stay in touch with your customers: Become pragmatic, find your customers. Don’t wait for them to come back to you. A proactive approach to business in the quiet periods is much more likely to yield results than that of sitting around accepting the situation. The key is constant communication with your customers, simply send out soft email campaigns, engaging in social media campaigns or simply just make a courtesy call. Your prerogative will always be sales, but just simply let them know you and your business are still there to meet their needs.

In conclusion, these simple hints & tips show your printing and embroidery business does not have to come to an abrupt halt. There are many areas within your garment decoration business that can be used to increase sales and defeat the downturn.

The logic is simple: Build up your solid foundations for your core garment decorating business - but when the going gets tough, be smart,innovative and pragmatic in your approach to managing your business effectively.

Don’t just settle for following the normal industry cycles, set your own!          

It’s that time of year where garment decorators alike start to pull their hair out, the volume of sales has decreased - the school uniforms have been fulfilled, sports teams simply don’t order once their seasons underway and businesses are simply being constrained by tight budgets. The key for garment decorators is to somehow not just survive but thrive.

The answers simple! – Develop your online presence; reaching new levels with your business. Here are a few simple pieces of advice to help you improve your business online and enhance your customer’s online experience & increase sales:

Homepage

1. Arouse interest and create demand: Exciting and emotional images and texts with call to action can whet your customer’s appetite.

2. Sales appeal: Position your top selling products in highly visible areas along with featured products. Make products highly desirable and eye catching using the tools at your disposal.

3. Consistency: Be clear and consistent throughout your homepage, using clear concise eye- catching content sticking to your brand guidelines and aimed at your target audience and key customers.

Product Pages

1. Present your product appealingly: Make it eye catching, something to remember! Display big images and offer the possibility to zoom in.

2. Information about product features: Clearly show the most important product details. Many don’t do this on sites but by showing the customer your attention to detail, you’ll reap the rewards.

Purchasing

1. Stick to the basic ordering/invoicing: Remove all website elements which are not necessary to display to keep the focus on the actual products.

2. Create safety and trust: Keep on displaying important trust elements such as customer reviews.

3. Communicate effectively: Offer the customer the latest updates regarding their order as soon as possible (Generating that previously mentioned trust).

4. Quick and customer-friendly process: Stick to the user friendly experience, offer customers what they want, customers often require a speedy easy to order process (like the eTrader way). Stick to this and you can’t go wrong!

 Final thought, it’s important to see things from the customers’ perspective. From main page to check out, always be self-critical and ask yourself what you can do to improve your customer’s experience. 

With so many facets of online marketing to choose from, it can be hard to know whether to use local organic or paid methods to bring search engine traffic to your website.

Ultimately the importance of local SEO depends on the size and type of your business, but it’s hard to dispute that it has a huge role to play in most optimisation campaigns. If your service people and business that are local to you, then the latest Google updates make it easier to show up on the results pages. 

Searches that contain place names (such as “Printed Clothing in Bristol”) now receive more attention than they did before, and with the right optimisation, you can take advantage of some very relevant traffic.

Venice Update- a move towards universal results 

The Google update codenamed ‘Venice’ was rolled out back in March and targeted local search results, meaning a big impact on all business owners. Unlike previous Google updates, Venice made local search results more prominent. Presuming users are allowing Google access to their location, the Venice update serves up the results it deems most relevant to their query and where they are.

Prior to this update, searches that did not involve place names (such as “printed clothing”) would return a page full of traditional organic results. Post-Venice searches now often return a first page dominated by Google Plus Local listings or with the websites of businesses local to the user. What this ultimately means is that, mean a Google search is performed, the user will receive results based on their location rather than general results about the industry in question.

So what can you do to rank better locally?

In this annual compilation of the opinions of the leading minds of Local SEO, David Mihm set out what are currently accepted to be the major dos and don’ts of ranking well in the local results

The five most important factors based on this survey are:

1.Having a physical address in citu of search;

2.Proper category associations;

3.Proximity of address to centroid (the central point of a city);

4.Domain authority of website, and

5.Quantity of structured citations (Internet Yellow Pages, data aggregators)

While these points may seem fairly self-explanatory, points 1 and 3 have the potential to cause problems if they’re not considered before embarking on a Local SEO campaign. For example, a business that provides services across all of Scotland but is based in the Outer Hebrides will need a well-structured local SEO campaign to also rank well in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

In this instance, the company website will need to have references to the areas served, either on their contract page or on unique, keyword rich pages devoted to each separate area, and they will also need to arrange some kind of representation in each of the other locations and put a Google Plus Local listing in each one.

Potential pitfalls in local SEO 

In the same article, the most important negative ranking factors were also collated and the two most common mistakes were multiple listings and inconsistencies in the name, address and postcode (NAP) across the internet. Duplicate business listings are a problem as they can result in Google overlooking both entries entirely when retrieving localised results.

To avoid this, ensure that your business only has one listing, and that all the information contained on it is correct and mirrored on your website. When verifying a local page, Google seeks to corroborate the submitted contact information by crawling external websites to determine both the validity and importance of a page. Inconsistent citations across the web confuse the Google spiders and will be detrimental to a local SEO campaign.

Make sure there is a consistent message across the internet and that Google can easily see you are a genuine business at a specific address, as that’s what they are trying to find out.

 

According to Google, 95% of all online searchers never go past the first page of results.

Ask yourself these two questions:

1. Is my website on the first page of results for my industry’s major keywords?

If not…

2. What can I do about it?

If your website is not showing up on the first page of Google, Yahoo! or Bing for your industry’s major keywords then your website is not receiving the traffic that it should be and your business is not acquiring as many leads as it needs to be.

As far as online searchers are concerned, if they don’t see your website on the first page of results then it might as well not even exist.

Now, I’m sure that isn’t the kind of news you want to hear after you invested all that time and money into your website. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to improve your website’s rankings. Keep in mind that some of the things we will talk about in this article take time and patience.

The following information is free advice on how to improve your search engine rankings.

SEO Beginner Tip 1: Title Tags

Title Tags are one of, if not, the most important on-site SEO component. A webpage’s title tag is located at the top of your internet browser.

A webpage’s title tag tells the search engines, and the public, what they can expect to find on that page. Without proper title tags the odds of your page being ranked high for your industry’s keywords are extremely low.

What you want to do is place your keywords in the title tags of your site’s pages. Make sure that each page on your site has a unique title tag relating to the content on the page.

SEO Beginner Tip 2: Meta Data

Meta data is information that is hidden in the code of your site and that the search engines use to find out more information about each page on your site. This data, while not as important to search rankings as it once was, is still useful and should be added to each page of your website.

The first piece of meta information that you want to add to each page is called the “meta description.”

The meta description is literally a description of what can be found on the corresponding page.

Your meta description should not only describe what can be found on the page, but also include a call to action. Being ranked high in the search engines is good, but if people are not clicking on your link then it doesn’t matter how high you are ranked. You want to give people a good reason to visit your site.

Also, make sure that your meta description contains the keywords that you are optimizing that particular page for.

The next piece of meta information is your “meta keywords.” Meta keywords are not used by Google anymore in regards to how they rank your site. There is some indication that Bing and Yahoo! still use them, but the weight that they give them in their search algorithm is very low. We still suggest placing these keywords in the code of your site because things change so much with the three major search engines that it is better to be safe than sorry. We may wake up tomorrow to find out that meta keywords are now important again and having to go through all your website’s pages again to add them could take a lot of time. It’s better to add them now and not have to worry about it later.

Your meta keywords should contain all the keywords related to your SEO campaign and all industry keywords that are related to that particular page regardless if you are optimizing for them or not.

 

SEO Beginner Tip 3: Internal Linking

Internal linking is not only helpful for search engine rankings, but it also allows your visitors to find other pages on your site that may not be reachable through your main navigation or easily found. Internal linking can also pass along link juice from one page to another on your site, which can help with rankings.

You want to link the pages of your site together using anchor text links. An anchor text link is a link that uses a keyword instead of, for example, “click here.”

Anchor text links tell the search engines what the page that the link leads to is about. You want to make sure that you use this technique to link the pages of your sites together. For example, if you were to write a blog post talking about link building techniques, you may link the phrase “link building techniques” to a corresponding page because you would want that page to be found for the keyword phrase “link building techniques.”

 SEO Beginner Tip 4: Content

Content is extremely important. Search engines love content. The content on your site needs to be unique, well written and contain useful information. It also needs to contain the keywords which you are optimizing for, and which are relevant to each particular page. Your should also be adding to the content of your site on a consistent basis. Stagnant sites, ones that never add content, for the most part, will not rank high. The easiest way to continually add content to your site is by adding a blog and posting at least once a month. The more often you post the better.

SEO Beginner Tip 5: Back Links

Back links, at this point, are still the most important off-site factor when it comes to where your site ranks. Gaining back links, however, is a time-consuming process and something that needs to constantly be done in order to not only achieve high rankings, but also to maintain the rankings you have already achieved.

A few of the many different ways to gain back links are blogging, business directory submissions, article marketing, press releases, commenting in forums and on other blogs, creating content on your site that people want to link to as well as simply asking other webmasters for links. The one thing you should never do is pay for links. All three major search engines frown upon that and doing so will get your site penalized in the rankings.

The above tips are very basic and meant for beginners.

If your company has separate departments or suppliers for marketing and web design, the responsibility for turning website visits into conversions (sales and enquiries) can tend to fall between two camps. This can be bad news for any business hoping to turn their online investments into real profitability.

So who is responsible for ensuring the website leads to a conversion? And how do you make sure the right people, in the right departments, take the right steps to make your website convert? In this article I look at the problem and offer some tips to help you turn your website views into conversions.

You may assume that the optimisation of conversions is part of the web designer’s role (they’re the technical experts after all). However, as marketing managers delve deeper into the world of online marketing, conversion optimisation becomes much more of a collaborative effort between the two teams.

Marketers have a unique understanding of the needs and wants of their customers, this gives them valuable insight into what will convert visitors into clients or customers, and what won’t. These sorts of Insights may not be available to many web designers. Meanwhile, many marketers may not realise how important their customer knowledge is to conversion optimisation and how crucial their understanding is to successful web marketing.

I will now suggest some key points that when applied can improve website conversions, the points are summarised on a format that both marketers and web designers can use:

Delivery Relevance

Clear headlines and suitable images reassure potential customers they are on the right page to find the information they need, this ensures they continue their ‘journey’ on your site and are much more likely to convert in the long run.

Integration

As a marketer you work hard to entice customers to visit the website. Keeping your message consistent from offline to online will improve conversions by keeping visitors on site for the same reasons they visited in the first place (the messages in your offline material).

Details

Whilst short sharp points will attract attention, visitors are also likely to be looking for informative text which helps them to make buying decisions. Give them all the facts they need to make the decision to buy/ enquire.

User Journey

This is where the web design department becomes a part of the optimisation process. Every page should be designed to take users on a journey, whilst minimising the number of clicks to reach their destination.

Page Length

Part of conversion optimisation is about thesting out which approach is most effective. Longer pages with lots of information or shorter, more impactful pages. Try both and test which is the most effective at converting

Graphics

Through experience with offline brochures and advertisements, marketers will have gained useful insight into the images that illicit the strongest response from the target market. These should be incorporated into your web design to improve conversions.

Menu Options

Reducing the number of menu options on a page also reduces the number of possible clicks, often resulting in improved conversions

Call to Action

Marketers should be adept at writing persuasive copy, and strategically placed calls to action could be the difference between a conversion and a lost customer

Whilst the web department will have an expert understanding of what looks the most appealing, website design should be guided by the expertise of marketers. By working together and analysing the data, conversion optimisation becomes a lot easier.

There is no single solution to website conversion optimisation. Only testing and in house knowledge and expertise can help to provide your customers with the ultimate online experience.