There are two parts to increasing online sales. One is the part where you attract customers to your website. The other part relates to keeping them there so that a sale can be made. Not so long ago, things used to be simple, people came to your website looked at the products and if they were impressed, the sale was successful. Fast forward a couple of years and the overall process has changed a lot. Due to the increase in competition and decrease in overall reliability, people are more wary of buying online and like to look at a range of factors before buying.
Regardless, the most important thing in any business is to understand the target market and the customer. Then this information needs to be used to optimize all marketing activities to that target for generating more sales leads. Businesses need to be aware of the channels that their customer is coming from and optimize them for maximum benefit.
Part 1: Bringing in the Customer
This means increasing the traffic to your website. Although, it does not automatically guarantee sales, nevertheless, it is the first step. The more the traffic comes into your website, the more will be the chances of a successful sale. There are many paid and free methods for increasing traffic.
Customer service has always been a heart winner for the customers and it is even more so in online businesses. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are an ideal way to interact with your customers. They can be used to provide more information about the products, campaigns, future ventures, and anything which will affect the customers. Each person who uses your product and “likes” your page on, say, Facebook, is not only a satisfied customer but is a potential free promoter to everyone present in his circle.
These social media sites also offer paid advertisements, which will display on the pages of people chosen by you.
Even though you conduct your business online, it is important that you hold physical events in your target market. It is especially important when you are launching something new. People love to test products before they buy them. And when they go back, the will be likely posting about their experience, which will enhance the overall exposure of your product.
Introducing a referral system will also generate traffic to your website as your satisfied customers can convince others to buy the product.
SEO and SEM
These two are great, but may cost you a bit. When posting content to attract customers, you should optimize it for the search engines. This will rank you higher in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Some of the steps in SEO can be done easily by anyone while others require professionals to implement successfully. For example, if you have a blog attached to your website, then choosing the topics and optimizing the articles according to current SEO standards is not a very difficult job. On the other hand, creating backlinks can take time and requires some professional experience.
SEM is a paid category, as in this, you can buy advertisements on major sites such as YouTube and even directly on the SERP for specific search queries. This can include Native advertising, Pay-per-click ads, etc.
Part 2: Keeping the Customer and Sales
Suppose you have been successful in driving a considerable amount of traffic to your website, now what? We have to move to the next steps. Your customers will likely land on the product page and quickly skim through the information. If they find what they are looking for, they will buy; otherwise, they will leave for a competitor. So, what can you do to retain him? To answer this, you need to know what was he looking for in the first place. Like we said before, people are no longer interested in just the product and a simple statement of information. The following things affect your customer’s decisions:
The Overall Outlook
The first thing most people do on coming to a page is to scroll through it quickly and form a general first impression. If they do not like it, then they will move to another search result, without reading anything about your product. They look for things such as the overall arrangement, the content, and aesthetics of the page. Most people aren’t even aware of this factor consciously, but it is there nonetheless. Whether you have used Web 2.0 or HTML, the overall outlook should be refined, balanced, organized and appealing in the first instance.
Recommended reading: Learn How to Get Professional Web Layout to Increase Online Sales.
After looking at the page, the first thing that your potential customer will focus on is the product picture displayed and the accompanying content. It helps if you have a set of pictures taken from different angles of the product, as it gives more information to the user.
The content needs to be small and informational, rather than starting with an aggressive sales pitch. It needs to inform the customer about what they are buying, and how it will fulfill their needs. Despite this, the whole thing needs to be concise, as anything longer tends to discourage the reader. It is a better practice to write an in-depth blog post and then place the link in the sales page for easy reference.
If you are selling something very specific, then it is always a good idea to add a concise video demonstration of the actual product.
Depending on what you are offering, different customers may require different content. It is only natural that some may just want to read the information. Others may want to look at different photographs of the product while others still may only be interested in a video demonstration. It is better to cater to all three types, to increase the chances of a sale. Still others may be interested in discounts, so if there is any discount then it needs to be clear and simple. When displaying coupons and discounts, it is best to use KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).
Product reviews are an absolutely important part of the sales page. They not only provide potential customers, information about how the previous users fared, but also provide them with a sense of security.
The best reviews to feature are not one-liners, but detailed descriptions about how the customer found the product useful. Sometimes, the comments even contain additional uses, which the company may not have thought of. All in all, a very important feature, which has the potential to affect sales.
The Buying Process
This is possibly the last part where the customer can turn back. The whole process to purchase the product needs to be simple, efficient and secure. If at any point the customer feels that the process is not secure enough, then the sale will be lost.
This pretty much concludes the overview of our two part process; however, there is another effective way to increase your sales.
Sales via Groupon
If you are unaware of it, then it is a site which features deals of other businesses, grouping them by categories and localities. This is a sure way to generate more sales. Whether you are a startup or a local business trying to get more exposure, Groupon coupons can send its loyal customer base running to your door, both online and offline. Of course, this will come with a price. You will have to offer a special deal, sacrificing some of your profits. But, it is still worth it, as you will get many customers and if you are sure of your services and products, then the revenue from repeat customers will account for any opportunity costs with respect to your original sales price. It can generate a lot of sales, so we suggest that if you are a small company, then you should consider limiting the number of products that are available for sale in your deal.
We hope that we have been able to give a general overview of what it takes to have a successful online business nowadays. There are many specific strategies for different sectors, and only time and effort will give you the perfect combination. However, quality will always win over short term gain. So, aim for quality; and whether you plan on generating traffic to your business organically or use sites such as Groupon, do tell us what you think about our points in the comments.