Online shopping over the years has increasingly evolved and become many peoples preferred way to shop. That was accelerated drastically after COVID-19 stay at home orders, and everyone was forced to adapt. Many businesses were given a forced reality check and haven now begun to focus on how they can shift to the digital landscape. Those who were once reluctant are now trying to catch up to their competitors and increase online sales. On the flip side those businesses who have been online for years have even more competition than ever.
This is forcing everyone to take a look at their e-commerce strategies and try new things to increase online sales. It’s not just about giving your website a refresh and sending out a couple emails. As those who run an online business know there many moving parts when it comes to driving sales online. And there is always room for improvement when it comes to your tactics and business habits.
Let’s take a look at some of the top things we think can really help to increase online sales. Find what works for you, and implement what you think are the missing pieces to your e-commerce strategy.
Tips to Increase Online Sales
1. Understand Your Target Audience
In order to make the right decision when it comes to marketing and your product offerings you need to do more than just know your target audience. You need to really understand them. And this can be a little trickier online than it would be in a physical store. When you have a brick and mortar store you naturally have the opportunity to talk to customers, see their reactions to products and get a feel for how the behave. Online however you have to proactively create these opportunities to build these relationships.
Thankfully there are many tools and tips you can implement to better understand your customer. By using analytics tools for your website and point of sale can help you to understand their online behaviors (we’ll talk about those later). And actively engaging with your audience on social media can help you to build those relationships and a sense of community. The point is if you really want to understand your target audience you have to invest in that process.
2. Improve Your Website’s SEO
A big part of increasing online sales is making sure that your website gets proper exposure. One of the most organic ways you can do that is by having strong search engine optimization (SEO). If you haven’t already heard of this it’s the practice of making your website more discoverable on search engines like Google.
When someones searches for a relevant term, the better your SEO the more likely your website will rank high in the search results. Generally people are more likely to click on the first few search results, meaning the higher you rank the more chances you’ll get website visits. It also helps to build your credibility with not only new customers but existing ones too. If someone searches your business to learn more or show a friend and you appear within the first few results, that only looks better for you.
So how does one improve their SEO? Well there are a few things you can do. But the first thing you should know is your SEO is a forever evolving, and needs constant refreshing. There are some things that you’ll change once and leave as is, say your About or Return Policy pages. However to constantly stay on top you need to make sure you’re updating your website with fresh content. Search engines do scans of the internet to find relevant search results daily. If your website hasn’t been updated with new products or blog posts, eventually you might fall in the rankings.
Here are just some of the many things you can do to improve your SEO:
- Use relevant keywords in your titles, metatags and content throughout your site
- Update your site with fresh content regularly (blogs, products)
- Make sure your website is easy to use and mobile friendly
3. Leverage Social Media
It’s surprising that in 2022 many still underestimate social media, but they do. Social media is important for any business, but for an online business it’s crucial. You don’t have a store that gets the visibility in a mall or on the streets. You need to find creative ways to generate a buzz and increase online sales, social media is perfect for that. Another mistake people make with social media is they think it’s just about posting a few times and the magic happens. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not everyone becomes an overnight success on social media, it really takes a strong strategy and patience.
Find the right platforms for your business and customer. Every social media network has a slightly different target audience of it’s own. For example, the younger generations aren’t really into Facebook and Instagram and instead use TikTok. By concentrating on just a few platform it makes things less overwhelming and allows you to better focus on your content and marketing goals.
4. Use High Quality Content
One of the biggest roadblocks you can create for yourself when it comes to increasing online sales and using low quality content. Product images with bad lighting, inconsistent imagery and spelling mistakes in written content can be hurting your business. Your customers might not have the opportunity to see your products or business in the flesh. They have to rely on the content you share online, be it on your website or social media. By focusing on using high quality content in every aspect of your online business you’re ensuring that you’re putting your best foot forward.
You don’t need to rely on consultants or agencies to achieve this for you. Purchasing affordable tools can really help to take you to the next level. If you need product shots, try investing in a light box and tripod for your camera or phone. This will allow you to create your own mini photo studio and get your product shots looking professional. If you’re having a photoshoot with models, don’t just think of capturing one type of content. Maximize that time and get content for products, social media, website and even email marketing.
5. Review Analytics to Identify Customers
When running any business the goal is to use your time and resources wisely. So if you’re investing in your marketing without using tools like Google Analytics you’re going in blind. Analytics tools for your website and point of sales will give you a better understanding of your customer’s behaviors while using your website. You’ll also be able to get information like where they are from and how they found your website. By having this knowledge you can refocus your efforts on what delivers the most results.
6. Offer Special Promotions and Discounts
Everyone knows a good way to increase sales is to offer a promotion, and the rules are the same online. This can help to encourage customers that were on the fence about making a purchase to go forward. For example many websites have the ability to push a notification to the customer after having items in their cart for a certain time. This can either be on the website itself or come via email, and usually will include a limited time discount code to encourage the sale.
Another great offer you can extend to customers is free shipping after a certain purchase amount. Whatever amount you set it to be sure it’s financially possible so you don’t end up loosing more than you make off the sale.
7. Make Product Returns Easy
Many people hesitate when it comes to online shopping is having to return items. So if you want to increase online sales, you should look at making this process as smooth as you can for your customers. A great way to do this is to include a free return label with every order sent out, or by allowing online sale returns in-store. The more accessible you make the shopping process for your customer the better your odds that they will not only shop with you, but be a return customer.
8. Focus on Customer Service
In a world that is so automated and digital, the opportunities for human connection go a long way. Even more so when you are building an online business. That’s why it’s so important that you make sure that customer service is a priority of yours in your e-commerce strategy.
Setting your website up to ensure your customers feel they have the support during their shopping experience is a must. Make sure your contact page is easy to find, and has accurate information. There your customer should be able to find how they can get in touch with you, as well as your social media handles. How you choose to manage customer services inquiries is completely up to you. Some have a contact form for customers to fill out, or just a contact email. Others add a chat feature directly to their website where customers can connect to a sale advisor or customer service instantly.
You should also make sure your social media messaging is set up to support your customers. Facebook and Instagram have features where you can set up automated replies based on keywords or the time of day. This can help to filter out generic inquiries that might come in, like shipping or return policy information.
It might seem overwhelming to have all this additional administrative work to focus on, especially if you’re a small business. A great way to help support your customer service goals is to create a FAQs page on your website where you can including your most frequently asked questions, or other information that will help your customers. You can then have your automated replies and even sections of your website direct customers to this page for any questions.
9. Utilize Email Marketing Campaigns
Emailing marketing might seem like the modern day junk mail, and in some sense it is. The amount of emails that come from retailers often drowns customers, and usually find their way to the trash bin unopened. But that doesn’t mean that you should shy away from emailing marketing and it fact you should embrace it correctly. If you invest the effort in to creating captivate content in some form you’re sure to get eyes on your email.
Some choose to do more of a newsletter format, where they’ll send a periodical email outlining promotions, new products and other news that might interest customers. Others choose to create email campaigns to promote sales, product launches and other initiatives. Whatever way you choose to go our biggest advice is to keep it light with the emails. The more you bombard inboxes with emails the more likely you are to get unsubscribers. Make sure your emails are visually appealing and easy to read; keep it simple, short and sweet. And finally your email should always be hyperlinked to your website to drive traffic there.
On top of promotional emails you should also consider customer service based emails to help you manage your customer experience. This can be a follow up email after a purchase to see how things went or a friendly reminder email about items left in their cart. You can also set your website out to have customer sign up for product restocks and they’ll be automatically emailed when it becomes available.
10. Invest in Influencer Marketing
It’s not for everyone, but influencer marketing does have its rewards when executed correctly. We recommend going the long term relationship route where you find influencers that fit your brand, and you can work with over time. Unless you have the budget to pay mega influencers to promote your product to go viral, this type of influencer marketing seems to resonate the most with customers. People today feel bombarded by sponsored posts and don’t know what to believe. They know creators are being paid for this new form of advertising and it doesn’t have the same feeling it did years ago. However when you are working with creators who truly love your product over time become more of an ambassador, this encourages their following to trust their voice.