web sales
Rachel Alexander01 Dec 2020

Doubling sales: web design case study

How we doubled sales enquiries, & turned around an underperforming website, without requiring an expensive re-build.

Alexanders Digital Marketing in Christchurch were approached by a regional hire company to quote on a Google Ads campaign. But rather than starting Google Ads straight away, we recommended there were a few things that should be adjusted on the client’s website first, so their promotional spend wouldn’t be wasted.

The client had an enthusiastic sales team member who was keen to implement what they could themselves, with guidance from us.

Our initial review of their site revealed that the WordPress theme was not too old, and the general design was presentable, but we could see a number of obvious and easy layout changes that would improve enquiry rates and the user experience.

Although the client did not have keywords properly put in the site, they were accidentally ranking quite well for a few, but I suspected we could improve traffic by at least 25-30% by being more focused.

If a platform is too old to get looking good on mobile phones, a rebuild in a more modern template can be the first step. But in this case, we felt the money would be better spent on renovation so we could get onto marketing and bringing in results sooner.

  1. Analysis of customer behaviour
    Firstly, there was no Analytics set up, so we created some tracking. We were interested to know the most visited categories and popular hire products.  Our aim was to make it easier for people to get straight to what they were looking for or show the more popular sections more prominently.
    I asked the client also to check sales figures (this was not an e-commerce site) and give me a list of the top ten items hired by volume, and also by profit.
    We also noted that one of the most commonly visited pages was the search feature. So we added a big search field overlaying the top of the banner on the home page.
  2. Making it easy for people to get to the popular items
    The website had rotating banners on the home page, showcasing popular items.  There were some quick links from the bottom of the banner to categories, but these were not the most visited categories.  With the client data, we changed these out to the most popular four categories.  There was also room for an extra row of four categories below the banner that we added.


  3. Legibility
    Some of the writing overlaying the home page banners was difficult to read.  That was a simple fix – we added some fuzz shadow behind the text so that if there was a white part on the photo, the text was still readable.
    Also when you clicked on a category, the grid of products presented had dark black View More buttons. The spacing between the rows was tight, so it was confusing to see if the black buttons were for the product above, or the one below.  That was a simple quick fix – we added more spacing between the rows in the default settings, and changed the default button colour to yellow.  Much more appealing!



  4. Navigation
    Below the categories, the client had two rows of featured products and another menu.  Then some two rows of blog posts.  It was too much!  Our focus was sales enquiries, so though blogs were helpful, they were distracting away from helping people to get to the right category. We took out one row of featured products, and made the menu list a bit shorter so as not to be overwhelming.  We also helped the client to set up blog categories, and edited the site so that only relevant blogs would populate on the category pages. Who wants to read about wedding marquees in the farm equipment section?
  5. Product page enquiries
    The product pages were built using a fairly standard catalogue page layout with a product name, photo and description, then tabs for detail below.  However, the client had not filled out any of the long descriptions, and some of the short descriptions were too lengthy and technical.  I recommended they add common uses into the short description, to help customers be sure that what they were getting was ideal for their purpose, and to move the more technical details into the long description gradually over time as they were editing products.
  6. Improving the call to action
    The major opportunity on the individual product pages was that there was no obvious enquiry form for each product. Our WordPress programmer noted that the easiest place to make this happen was actually on one of the existing product detail tabs.   So we added an enquiry form to show on the first tab.  We were not sure at this stage if more people would make contact by phone or by email, so we put a phone number at the top of the email form.  These days we like to add Live Chat too, but first things first. The shorter description would also hold attention and ensure the contact enquiry form was not buried too far down the page.


  7. Supporting people who were unsure of which item best suited their needs
    Only about 3% of people on a website are ready to order or buy right now, but I knew if we could get a dialogue going, we could convert many of the other 97% to bookings. Thinking of people like myself – I do hire some seasonal gardening gear but I’m not an expert about these things – I noted that a competitor said “Not sure if this is the right item for your job? Our experienced sales team can guide you” so we added a similar line in above the enquiry form, to try and get more enquiries from those who were sitting on the fence.
  8. Providing trust and reasons to choose
    There was a small module half way down the product page, on the right hand side that showed “related products” but this module was out of date, hadn’t worked for eons, and in fact showed product that was completely irrelevant to the user’s behaviour.  Yes we could update the module.  But in provincial areas, local ownership is a strong point of difference.  So we replaced this with some icons and text encouraging people to “shop local”.


  9. Improving speed on mobile
    The existing host was pinning our client down to renew their hosting contract.  Our speed tests showed that the site was slow to download, but the images weren’t too big (large image sizes that are too high in resolution is a common cause of slow websites).
    We duplicated the site and did a dummy trial on our Amazon server.  You’re supposed to get most pages downloading in under 3 seconds as it improves enquiry by 15%.  The other host must have had an older server, because we managed to get pages downloading in 3 seconds, when on the competitor’s old server, it was taking 10 seconds.  It was going to cost the customer a little more, but every mobile user gets frustrated these days with slow sites, and every lead counts, so the client was happy to switch to our set up.
  10. Campaigns to drive traffic
    Now that the site was set up to convert better, we were ready to start bringing more traffic to it. We started a Google Ads Search campaign, for the 12 most popular items/categories based on the client’s own sales data.

    Within a week, I noticed a search phrase for a category that the client didn’t have listed, yet they supplied a whole lot of hire equipment that delivered on this need.  I asked the client to add a new category to their website – and bingo, within days, this was one of the most popular categories.  Hire for one significant item in this category was booked out four months in advance when it had usually only been booked up for two months in advance.

    We ran the geo-targetted Google Ads campaign for three months to get some good data, identifying variations of phrases.  For example, would toilet hire or portaloo hire work better?

    I then made a keyword plan for these top pages, and trained the client how to seed the keywords into their pages, doing the first one as an example.  The client (who is so much fun to work with) made a bold effort.  Granted, it did take a few hours of extra twiddling by us afterwards, but the team effort was worth it because the client wrote with humour and a knowledge of what clients were looking for.  Our job was to make sure Google would know what to rank the pages for.

    The client’s manager wanted to stop Google Ads.  So we did, though we would still recommend an ongoing maintenance budget. However, as they were organically ranking really well – due to being in a regional area with only two main competitors – neither of whom had done seo – we were happy to let this lapse for a period to check if organic sales would replace the paid leads. The sales volume had jumped markedly but naturally the traffic dropped a little once the Adwords campaign was paused.

The result?

The client has doubled their website emails/quotes for the year ended March 2020 (and there are still three more weeks to go before March ends) compared to last year


The client reached 84% of last year’s entire inbound email quotes in just the first two months of this year – and there are still 10 months of the year to go:


Value of inbound email quotes 10 weeks into the year at Mar 4 2020 – already achieved 84% of whole year last year

Hires of the highest priced item had already exceeded last year’s 12 month total by 8% at month 9.

The sales team were busier than ever.  Of course, this created another issue: the sales team want to address some automation for quoting!

The client was overjoyed and referred us to a key supplier.  The only downside for the client is that the enthusiastic sales team member is asking for a pay rise.  Well deserved if you ask me!

The cost? 

All up this cost around NZD$10,000 over 5 months to implement the changes and run the pilot Google Ads campaign, with a lot of regular work being done by the client’s website administrator, who was enthusiastic with content loading (and got training from us on how to do a few things along the way).

What would a new site have cost? Probably $25-30k excluding the 3 month Google Ads campaign.

This was a clear case where a web renovation was a better choice than a web rebuild.

Now that the website is working harder to generate leads, another clear opportunity is to guide their social media calendar and customer email strategy, to increase bookings and awareness among existing customers of seasonal hire items.  It’s not all about new leads – there are many opportunities to grow repeat orders from existing customers.

We have really enjoyed working with this client and are looking forward to working on another of their businesses shortly.  Creating better results is what we love and do best.  If you’d like to discuss getting better results from your site, we’d love to chat.  Live chat with us on, call Rachel 03 3488 477 ext 1, text 021 556 560 or email me on r.*********@al********.nz

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