Business exploits the web to become increasingly customer focused

The business

In the two decades since it launched its first ground-breaking product in 1994, Gloucestershire company Postsaver Europe has become one of the UK’s leading specialists in ground-line rot and decay prevention for timber fence posts and structural building supports.

Following the initial success of its Postsaver barrier sleeves, the company developed a heavy-duty version of the product – Polesaver – which targets the utility market and can be found protecting telegraph and power poles and other timber supports all around the country. Today it offers a 12-size range of its market-leading bitumen liners

Postsaver has built a strong domestic and export customer base in the wake of EU legislation which prohibits the use of traditional wood preservatives that are not environmentally friendly – creating great demand for alternative methods of preventing rot.

Founders and company directors Richard and Jim George caused a stir when they rejected four cash offers for a share in their business on Dragon’s Den. Their appearance on the TV programme led to a 75% rise in sales. Network Rail recently specified Postsaver for use on all replacement trackside fencing.

The opportunity

The business has enjoyed a healthy period of growth during the last two years. Working with UKTI, it has capitalised on its success in the export market, building a network of global distributors and agents.

Much of this growth was achieved through meeting commercial officers from foreign embassies. But there has been a growing sense that Postsaver could make more of its web presence to build on these foundations internationally, and to improve its customers’ buying experience at home and abroad.

“The website was something which we really only attended to as and when we had the time,” says Richard George.

“We would go in and meddle with it occasionally but there was no strategy. So when UKTI South-West alerted us to the Superfast Business programme and the opportunity to get support on the benefits of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO),  it seemed the perfect time to explore ways in which we could put our two sites – for Postsaver and Polesaver – on a more professional footing.”

A Superfast Business adviser visited the company armed with a report on the Postsaver website which, as Richard recalls, revealed clear problems about its effectiveness in SEO terms.

“Our adviser asked a lot of pertinent questions and the initial meeting showed just how timely it was to be having this conversation,” he says. “She was very well-prepared, and  listened closely to our aims and really showed an understanding of our business – and how much room for improvement there was in our web strategy!”

Having established Postsaver’s  eligibility for funded support, the Superfast Business adviser completed a support plan. This included attending a four-hour  session  on SEO, with a web design specialist who provided lots of information about the latest developments in SEO, along with guidance on the best ways to use the latest tools and techniques.

“The chance to have our website assessed by an independent expert was fantastic,” says Richard. “He made a search engine crawl all over it, exposing its strength and weaknesses, and there was lots of interaction and feedback from the other business owners at the session, which was incredibly helpful.”

Following the session, Postsaver received a formulated report from the web design specialist, which included a number of recommendations for how the company could improve its web presence, make it easier to use and boost its search engine ranking.

The solution

The report gave Postsaver the foundation for taking a more holistic approach to its web strategy, from the design and SEO to creating proper online shops for trade and retail customers, and using it to streamline the business from a functional point of view through tighter integration with the accounts and order systems.

“The most obvious solution was to merge our two sites into a single dynamic web presence,” says Richard. “We realised that we needed to make it as easy and intuitive as possible for customers to log in and place their order. The recommendations were very practical and straightforward, and really opened our eyes up to what we should be doing.”

One of the immediate consequences was Postsaver’s decision to reassess its service provider.

“We realised that we’d been dictating to them what we wanted, without really knowing what we were doing, and that perhaps they weren’t the right service provider for us,” says Richard. “This seminar and independent review was a revelation. We learned what a complex field SEO is, and decided that we really needed to use a firm with all the coding and digital marketing expertise under one roof.”

Postsaver has now signed up with a specialist provider who is building a new website from the bottom up, rather than taking a page-by-page approach.

“We’ve worked with them to identify our keywords, and they have built the site around those requirements,” says Richard. “The whole process took around four weeks. We are not fumbling on in a relatively amateur way anymore, making ad hoc changes!”

Business benefits

Postsaver expects the new site’s user-friendliness to offer a much-improved experience for its retail, trade and export customers. The online shop, which Richard admits was previously poor and basic, has been streamlined and modernised – and he anticipates a rising number of hits per day.

Despite its previously piecemeal approach to the evolution of its website, Postsaver’s online trade has always shown promise.

“We know the site generates good sales for us, from between 50 to 80 hits per day,” says Richard. “We anticipate this will increase substantially as our investment in SEO kicks in, and that will translate into even higher conversion rates.

“The whole experience of the Superfast Business review of our web strategy has led us to take a more structured approach to the design, build and optimisation of our site. And the great thing is that with a new partner in place, we now have on-going support and full keyword analysis so we know we will constantly be on top of new developments.”

What next?

The new website is still a work in progress, as Richard explains.

“Our main aim is to get the current project up and running, but in the longer term we want to be more responsive to new technologies – optimising the site to work on portable and mobile devices, for example,” he says.

“That’s one of the most significant benefits to emerge from this process. It’s helped us to take a fresh approach to our online business, see things from a different perspective and make some important changes that will enable us to continue growing, at home and abroad.”

 

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