Improving sales is the primary goal of every retailer. Of course, this is easier said than done with all the factors involved in getting people to hand over their hard-earned cash. This is especially true in the online space and your eCommerce sales. With stiff competition in just about every niche and the low brand loyalty with online shopping, an online eCommerce store needs to be on top of its game to maintain a steady pace of sales growth.
Increasing eCommerce sales goes far beyond building an attractive website and fulfilling orders. Carefully crafted branding and marketing strategies will get you noticed, but you also need to project value, build trust, offer rewarding user experiences, and continuously nurture relationships to achieve sustained growth.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your sales figures, there are several best practices that you can’t go wrong with. Here are a few that you can apply right away:
1. Focus on the Best Customer Acquisition Channels
One of the great things about online retail is the fact that you know exactly what marketing channels are driving the best results. Tools such as Google Analytics can tell you if sign-ups and sales are coming from direct visits, search engines, social media, or referring sites. This allows you to see which marketing investments are paying off and which ones need improvement.
For most eCommerce sites, organic search driven by a good SEO program is critical to the acquisition of qualified leads. Once they’ve signed up and started making purchases, email marketing nurtures them and keeps them engaged. However, other online retailers have had tremendous success using paid search and social media. Different channels can work in varying degrees for different sites in different markets. The best way to find out is to give each one a shot and go where the data leads you.
2. Invest in Your Email Marketing Program to Improve Your eCommerce Sales
In the world of eCommerce, the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” strongly applies. Having a customer makes a purchase in your store once and never come back isn’t the way to drive meaningful growth for your business. Having customers coming back and making additional purchases allows you to generate cumulative profits that fuel sustained growth.
Email marketing is the best channel to generate sales from existing customers. Though it may sound old-school, email is still the perfect way to reach people and generate sales. They may not always open your messages, but they’ll always see your brand name. This keeps your business top of mind, putting you in a better position for repeat purchases over time.
The great thing about email as a marketing channel is the fact that it’s as simple as it is effective. It doesn’t have a steep learning curve like SEO and it is forgiving to mistakes unlike channels like paid search. All you need to start is an email platform like MailChimp or Aweber. Go through the basic configuration process, segment your emails according to type, and start writing messages that will encourage your audience’s buying instincts.
3. Leverage the Power of Retargeting to Increase Your eCommerce Sales
Have you seen those ads on Facebook that display products you viewed on Amazon or other eCommerce sites? That’s the result of retargeting. This newer form of marketing is designed to keep products that people have shown interest in fresh in their minds. For a lot of people, it gives them the final push necessary when they’re on the fence about making a purchase. This is the online equivalent of speaking to a salesman, saying no, but having to keep seeing him in other places you frequently visit. He only says hi and doesn’t push the issue, but he’s always flashing the product that you’re trying so hard to resist.
Retargeting is still in its early stages and is not ubiquitous, but don’t let that scare you off. That makes it a prime advertising channel that you should start using and profiting from before everyone in your industry does. Much like email marketing, retargeting allows you to constantly maintain a mental presence in the minds of your target audience, allowing you to push people all the way through your eCommerce sales funnel in situations when a lead would have been lost.
4. Boost Your Trust Signals
One of the toughest things to do in eCommerce is to build enough trust in the minds of your visitors that they’ll be willing to hand over their credit card and billing information. A lot has to be done for that magical first purchase to happen and you can help them get to that point by demonstrating that you’re a legitimate and responsible company that won’t take their money and run.
Displaying your company’s physical address and phone number is a good start. Putting your customer support system on display also helps. If you can show off badges from the Better Business Bureau, antivirus software, PayPal, and credit card companies, all the better.
You can also put testimonials and reviews from your customers on display. If your eCommerce site has a blog, writing a few articles about satisfied customers also helps.
5. Simplify Registration and Checkout Processes if You Want More eCommerce Sales
Nothing wastes opportunities to convert visitors into paying customers more than tedious registration and checkout processes. Never let unnecessarily long forms get in the way of customer acquisition. Only include fields that are necessary and allow visitors to finish with a few clicks and keystrokes as possible.
Getting the customer’s name, shipping address and a few other preferences are usually enough. After that, let them verify their account via a link that’s emailed to them. Afterward, allow them to log in easily and just ask them for their billing info when they’re checking out. The simpler the process, the fewer abandoned carts you’ll see in your CMS backend.
6. Upsell Tastefully
Upselling is an easy way to increase the average order values (AOVs) of your online store. It basically works by offering a customer who’s about to make a purchase another item or service that’s related to what he or she is buying. For instance, if a person is buying an iPhone, it would make sense to try and sell them protective accessories. If a person is booking a flight, you might as well let them know that you also offer flight insurance.
However, don’t go overboard with upsells. Aggressive upselling can annoy potential buyers and you might lose out on their original purchase intention if you try to get in their faces incessantly. Displaying items that people usually buy along with a product is a nice, subtle touch. Inserting one upsell pop-up or page between checkout pages is also fine.
If you offer discounts or freebies when a person purchases an item you’re upselling, that could help boost your sales even more. Make sure to test different upsell schemes and monitor customer responses with web analytics.
7. Have Constant Deals and Promos as a Part of Your eCommerce Sales Process
Nothing excites people more about making a purchase than the idea that they are getting great value for money. Offering incentives to people with periodic eCommerce sales, rebate programs, and freebies is a proven way to catch their attention. Similarly, you can offer big incentives to first-time buyers just to get them started. You may cut down profits or just break even, but getting them into the habit of buying from you and banking on return purchases more than justifies the investment.
Make sure your visitors are well aware of your incentives by using banners and lightboxes on your site to draw attention to them. Supplement this by having a “Deals” page that people can check when they’re looking for smart purchases. Use your email list to tell people who don’t regularly visit your site for your offers and make similar announcements on your social media channels.
There are plenty of other creative ways to boost sales but these are by far the most consistent tactics. As your familiarity with your target audience grows, you’ll notice that you’ll develop a greater sense of what will make your audience buy more. As long as you always look out for the benefit of your target market, you should be able to grow the number of people who are loyal customers.