How to use WordPress to your advantage in New Zealand
WordPress for Kiwi Businesses
By Donovan Rucastle
It is no secret that WordPress is by far the most popular web management software on the market. It started as the top choice for bloggers but with the use of plugins quickly expanded into a competitive platform to manage online businesses and sales. Now with many developers and agencies offering packages with this software, WordPress is becoming the sensible choice for most New Zealand businesses.
New Zealand businesses might be limited to their local economy physically but this is not true for their online presence. We have many options such as Shopify, WordPress, Square, Wix, and more. Although it certainly depends on the needs of your business, more often than not WordPress quickly becomes the preferred option due to it’s free to use service as well as the sheer abundance of local developers available for the platform. Even our developers are Rucastle Media have years of experience working on the platform and love it due to its rapid development characteristics. New Zealand businesses are growing quickly and in return, our online economy is growing too. Soon Amazon will be building their warehouses in the South Island to begin what I like to think as the modernisation of the online Kiwi economy. That being said, let us focus on how you as a business, a personality, or even a free service, can use WordPress to its full advantage.
Let’s start in the most sensible place and talk about the cost. WordPress is free to use which is great for startups and small businesses but not really a concern for medium to large corporates. The main element of the cost when managing a website are the developers or agencies. With ongoing maintenance and consistent alterations, handling a website does get costly. But with WordPress, it does not need to. There are many, and I mean many, WordPress developers around the world. There are even a good handful of them in New Zealand, a few of them with multiple years of experience under their belt. Additionally, agencies generally hire developers who at the very least have worked with WordPress for a year. As a business, it is highly beneficial for you to get onto the platform as quickly as possible. Being able to make small changes yourself can help cut down the one-off costs which quickly add up. Additionally, as a business, you should shop around. Agencies often have developers who freelance on the side. You can navigate through an agencies team page and find the local developer elsewhere. Usually, their prices are a bit lower than the agencies and ultimately you are getting the same service and expertise. Obviously, you miss out on the other supporting services of the agency such as a graphics department and marketing but it all depends on what you need.
The second opportunity to take advantage of WordPress is the plugin community. Plugins are extensions which run on the base WordPress system. They extend the functionality of the website and allow you to choose exactly what you need without installing a bunch of unnecessary bloated features that you will never use. Think of the WordPress plugin community as the Apple App Store, without it your iPhone would be pretty limited and all the apps you downloaded after you bought your phone would cease to exist. Now apply that idea to web development. Do you need a booking function to allow users to book time slots for your service, well luckily for you there are 680 plugins for that. Some of them are very good and many if not most of them are free. Do you also need a contact form? Well guess what, there are plugins for that too! Just download the plugin, go through the setup steps and add it to your page. Bang! All of a sudden your customers can contact you via an online form and it took you a whole 30 minutes to get it setup. When compared to custom coding an online form, even with an experienced developer the process can take up to a few hours and even more to set up mail connections to your website. All of this hassle is suddenly gone and the cost to you was simply 30 minutes of searching and learning, exactly $0 spent.
So far we have focused on the cost and opportunity side of things, now we can focus on the benefits for marketing yourself or your business. With other web management platforms, often you are restricted with what you can do. The platforms may allow you to market specifically on their channels or post content to their approved providers. This is not how we believe the flow of content should be managed. As a New Zealand business, you need to be able to get your content to the people that matter to you the most using the platform that is the most effective. WordPress allows you to do this in the easiest way possible. We generally suggest that if a business is going to do email campaign marketing, a well-integrated platform is MailChimp. Many of you have already had some experience with this software. WordPress allows you to link contact forms, online sales and even pop-ups to MailChimp. Allowing you to collect new registrations along multiple steps in the process of interacting with your customers. Another great integration we see New Zealand businesses taking advantage of is the use of their Instagram feeds to feature dynamic content on their site. An example of this is one of our clients, Scarecrow. By showing your latest Instagram posts or even Facebook posts, you are keeping the content on your site fresh and as long as you are posting consistently, it always provides customers with something new to look at during their visit to your site. Similarly, we encourage New Zealand businesses to link their Google and Facebook reviews to their sites. This is very powerful when paired with testimonials and online store reviews. Customers can see validation of your product or service from multiple different sources and therefore tends to be more compelling than a few testimonials placed around the site. Google and Facebook reviews are also not able to be manipulated so easily which increases their trust for consumers.
If you are looking at turning up your marketing efforts up a notch then WordPress(via plugins) can also offer A/B split testing. This is something that most New Zealand businesses will only find in higher-end agency packages. The process involves showing your customers one of two or more variants of your website. The metrics in terms of conversion rates, contact requests, submissions and more are collected and the versions are compared against each other. Whichever version performed the best becomes the new base and the process starts again until the best performing version of the website has been achieved. WordPress makes this process easy and painless due to how quickly and cheaply you can alter pages, change website content and improve the website’s functions. It is not something that is widely common in New Zealand businesses as the industry has not caught up to the latest techniques yet. However overseas all the large companies such as Amazon, Facebook and even Youtube do split testing. We recommend it highly to our clients as it is often the factor that gives you an online competing edge over your competitors.
Lastly, we need to look at growth. With your new and shiny WordPress website and the quickly expanding New Zealand economy, you will see the need to grow your website accordingly. This could be expanding into new services, adding new pages, increasing performance, expanding your hosting or even opening up to international purchases, all of this will require growth and it will require it as soon as possible. What we love about WordPress is its ability to grow into anything you want it to be. A WordPress site can be a small online e-commerce store or a large user forum that manages hundreds of posts a day. WordPress as a base is great, it allows you to swap things out quickly and test out new functions without needing significant investment. Growing your online store inline with your demand is easy and let’s be honest, New Zealand’s online retail economy is growing quickly… very quickly. It is up to you to take advantage of WordPress by using it to its full potential. Choose a host which can expand with your needs and consult with a developer or agency for not only what you need now but where you expect to be in the future. It is easy to think that you will be getting 10 online orders a day now but what happens when you start getting 100 orders or 1000 orders? Sharing this insight with your development team will get you on the right footing for growth. When a website is developed with the future in mind, it allows growth to happen much more effortlessly and thus allows you to grow your business at the pace it needs to.
Above all think about yourself and your needs first then apply it to your website. WordPress is great but it is only as great as you make it. All the opportunity and potential in the world is wasted if you don’t act on them. So why wait? Grab a cup of coffee or tea and spend an hour or two deciding on what you really need on your website. Once you have figured that out get searching to see if WordPress ticks all of your boxes. If it does then great, you will be able to use everything we said above to expand online. If you think you need help, well… we do have a contact page up in the top right of your screen. Ask for help, mention this article and we will discount 15% off our regular price.