Improve your online presence

Skimping on costs in the short-term can hurt your company’s online abilities in the long run.

By James Myers, contributor

Tim Hill has been around the online community long enough to know what works and what doesn’t in an Auctioneer’s website.

He was with BidSpotter for seven years and joined Bidpath this year as director of sales, and he’s got an eye for the small things that matter. The statistics back it up.

Few professional Auctioneers can say they don’t have a web presence, especially today knowing that Americans spend an average of 20-plus hours a week online and spend billions of dollars engaged in e-commerce.

However, it takes more than just having a website to be impactful.

What Not to Do

Hill constantly sees examples of what shouldn’t be done on websites.
For instance, when a hobbyist oversees building their company’s website, it’s painfully obvious. Keep in mind that it takes only a couple seconds for a user to recognize they’ve stumbled onto an amateur site, which more than likely has a chaotic and jumbled flow, and click off of it.

“You’re an amateur if you’re not being paid to do it,” Hill said. “Invest in it … work with actual designers.”

Web design trends have gone through many phases as we’ve evolved into a digital world. For example, Adobe Flash, a now deprecated multimedia software platform, was once highly sought after and used in web production, but is now seen mostly as a distraction.

So, too, is music, animation, visual counters and “coming soon” pages.

“‘Under construction?’” Hill asked of areas of the website that haven’t been fully fleshed out. “Nope. That’s just saying it’s not that important to you yet.”

Staying consistent with the design is important, which means font, the specific style and size of the letters you use on your site, matter.

Hill advises Auctioneers to pick one font type that is aesthetically pleasing and stick with it throughout the site. And always ensure that there are no grammatical or spelling errors anywhere on the site.

Catering to the User

For Auctioneers looking to update their websites, mapping out the strategy is easier after running through a checklist of things that buyers and sellers want to see and experience.

For example, Hill said that most buyers want the auctioneer site to include an auction calendar and a chance to receive email notifications of upcoming auctions, photos of the items being sold, detailed individual lot listings, a way to register to bid through the website and to view and pay an invoice.

Even if all the photos for every lot haven’t been taken yet, post what you do have, he said.

“Don’t have them go there and not show them something,” he said.

To generate more interest, Hill advises that Auctioneers feature their biggest attraction on their website. Go into detail about the item and offer plenty of photographs.

Sellers want to see your results – proof that if they hire you, they’re making the right decision. However, Hill said that if you have an auction that doesn’t go so well, and you’ve already made the decision to post your sales results, you have to stay consistent, which can be embarrassing when things go south.

Sellers also want to have easy access to company information, from the “about us” page to how they can contact you. Don’t complicate the process by having them fill out a 35-question document before they can email you, he said.

“Start with small questions and challenges,” Hill said of developing a strategy for improving a website. “Think about your audience. Buyers are looking for auctions, looking for specific items and gathering information.

“Sellers are thinking about having an auction, looking for an Auctioneer and learning about you.”

This article was an excerpt from a presentation given at the 2018 NAA International Auctioneers Conference and Show. Want even more tips regarding this topic? NAA members can access the full audio of this presentation and many others in the NAA Education Portal.