Although e-business is currently growing, it is by no means easy to start or expand. The right strategies need to be found and implemented to increase online sales.
COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the transition to digital business. Many companies that had so far missed out on digital opportunities have received a quick “wake-up call” in this direction, while those who had prepared in the past are reaping greater benefits from the changes that have taken place today.
We've put together some relevant tips to help you grow your e-business.
1. Set your sales goals
“If 10-20% of sales people do not achieve their goals, then there is a problem with them. When most salespeople don't achieve their goals, there is a problem with the goals,” wrote Harvard Business Review.
The first and foremost step to increasing online sales is to clearly map out your sales goals. Clearly defining sales goals is very important for your business at every stage. To create a workable strategy, start by focusing on three points:
- Market Research – Know your market, competitors and customer preferences and basic needs.
- Customer Profile – Who is your customer? Create your customer profile as accurately and clearly as possible. It is generally mistaken to think that all people are customers. But if you want to please everyone, you don't really talk clearly about who your customer really is in the end. Knowing who your customer is, what they want, how they behave, etc. will keep you better focused and help you focus on addressing your customers' priorities, wants and needs.
- Marketing Strategy – Once you have a clearer view of the market and who your customer is, you can move on to creating your own marketing strategy. For example, in which channels and with which messages you introduce yourself, attract your customers and talk. Continuous testing must be considered. Successful businesses create core business activities and constantly monitor how their customers and market are changing to adapt accordingly.
2. Focus on clear (sales) messages
What is it that you offer, what value do you create for the customer? The average web visitor will decide if what you have to offer is interesting to him in just 15 seconds. Therefore, creating the right messages and thus speaking to your target audience and creating value for them is crucial.
The clearer and more consistent your messages, the more understandable your image will be to the customer. Your messages should increase your brand awareness, develop customer trust and loyalty.
A clear message highlights the exact value of your products or services to the customer. It should explain how your product solves the customer's problems, what specific benefits it offers and why they should buy from you.
Try to avoid talking about yourself and direct your messages to the customers and what they gain by using your products / services.
You can share / present your sales messages in different ways. For example, in addition to images and text, feel free to use different videos. Visual information has a faster effect than text, and web visitors are better able to grasp the information in videos than just reading the text.
3. Analyze the user experience on your website
Designing an excellent e-store requires a deep understanding of the challenges that visitors face. As websites have become a powerful tool to increase online sales, it is crucial to focus on website design and creating a great user experience.
What to focus on first?
- Make sure your CTA (call-to-action) buttons / banners / calls are clearly and well placed on your page. A well-placed CTA guides your customers to make the necessary actions / purchases on the website.
- Make sure the structure of your page is clear and logical and easy for your customers to navigate. Make it easy for the customer to find your products / services and other necessary information.
- Make sure you are categorized by products / services so that they are also easy to find. It is very difficult for the customer to find a suitable product / service if, for example, the entire selection is presented as a single list. This is time consuming for the customer and a potential reason to stop shopping on your site.
- Keep in mind that most people search for information and shop on their mobile, so your website needs to support a great user experience and be optimized for smartphones as well. According to a recent study, 57% of internet users would not recommend buying from a website that is poor to use on mobile.
4. Use high quality pictures and videos
It is important to use high quality and convincing product images that speak to your potential customers. Keep in mind that 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual and that people get their first impression in half a millisecond.
Also, be creative with pictures. Yes, good product photos are important, but also context and visual examples of the actual uses of the products.
For example, what does an interesting sofa look like in a fully furnished room. Or how big or small is the couch if there is a person(s) using it.
In addition to the pictures, add video materials to the website for a general introduction of the product / service. Short and clear instructional videos on the use of products / services and benefits also work very well. You can also add short videos to individual products to help customers make their purchasing decisions.
Insivia found that websites are 53 times more likely to reach the first page of Google if it contains video.
5. Use live chat to support sales growth
Communicating with a real-time service provider is one of the most demanded and preferred ways of communicating with e-shops for customers today.
95% of consumers prefer real-time chat with real people. Nowadays, the customer no longer wants to waste time getting answers to their quick questions by phone or wait a long time for an answer by e-mail.
A recent survey found that customers want to communicate with real people, not a chat robot who can't really give meaningful answers to real concerns.
Unlike other customer support channels, such as e-mail or telephone, real-time chat provides a quick solution to customers' potential concerns, doubts, and questions, and helps them make immediate purchases.
As many e-shops are becoming more and more international or are planning to do so, you also need to think very carefully about the problems with customer support due to language barriers, especially if you offer a live chat service.
Fortunately, advances in technology have led to new solutions, enabling the provision of multilingual customer support through a live chat service. Thus, regardless of the language of the service provider or customer, the new smart multilingual chat helps to communicate without language barriers, solve problems and complete purchases.
Even if you are a local e-shop and you have a website in just one language, there are also many people who speak different languages in Estonia and would be much more willing to communicate with you in their mother tongue.
6. Be visible online
Paid advertising is an effective way to promote your brand to a large audience and help increase website traffic.
To improve your online sales, you can implement Google Ads or create paid ads on social media channels such as Facebook or Instagram. Social media is a great digital advertising tool for any business that wants to increase their number of customers and increase sales.
In addition, it is very important that you focus on SEO or search engine optimization of your website. Properly chosen strategies will help increase the visibility and traffic of your website as people search for different products / services on search engines such as Google.
Recently, Google launched a free digital skills training program “Learn with Google” in Estonia, which is definitely a good help if you need additional knowledge on how to be more visible, discoverable and focus on customers online when creating or developing your e-business.
7. Use social media to increase traffic
Social media is a valuable tool for businesses. Among other things, it helps drive customers to your websites, increasingly surpassing the capabilities of traditional media.
The Forbes report shows that 25% of social media users follow branded pages, which influences their final purchasing decisions for retail and online stores. Obviously, the potential to increase sales through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is well established.
Nowadays, there are many very good ways to use the media in sales strategies:
- Build relationships with your customers – Be attentive and active in their activities. For example, if your customer shares a picture / video of a delicious cake they bought from your coffee shop and also tags your page in their post, you can also share it. Or, if a customer ordered new clothes from your e-store, made a post about it and also mentioned your brand, you have the opportunity to share it again on your page.
- Provide valuable content – don't always be on the direct selling wave. Provide other content to build trust between you and your customers. Be a channel that creates value and gives good advice. By contributing to building relationships, valuable content, and thus customer engagement, it also directly supports your sales efforts.
- Involve influencers in your campaigns – focus on those who share your and your customers' values and who can speak to your customers. A recent study pointed out that the biggest challenge in finding the right partner is to find those directional moderators who have an authentic track record and values that are suitable for the brand. If you are not sure where to start searching or marketing through direction modifiers at all, then the Estonian direction modifier platform Promoty can be helpful.
8. Offer a free trial (if possible)
If people are unfamiliar with the brand, it can cause customers to be cautious and skeptical when making a purchase. Basically, the biggest fears are sharing their personal information in an unknown place, as well as taking on excessive responsibilities before knowing whether they actually like or benefit from the service / product.
Offering a 10-30 day free trial, free demo or free product is a great strategy to improve online sales. 62% of companies get 10% or more of their profits from free trials.
9. Avoid complex checkout processes
Despite the rapid growth of online sales, leaving shopping carts is still one of the biggest problems for e-shops. It is very important to create a smooth and fast shopping process to avoid potential inconvenience to customers.
E-commerce sellers lose 18 billion dollars in revenue each year due to cart abandonment. 26% of buyers leave if it is too difficult to go to the checkout.
How to reduce e-commerce cart rejection rate and increase online sales:
- Make the journey from the shopping cart to the payment as easy and smooth as possible. Make sure the customer doesn't have to go through too many (complicated or unnecessary) steps to get to the checkout and make paying as easy as possible. For example: If a person does not want to create an account in order to make a purchase, do not ask them to do so; it is very likely that they will abandon the purchase if it becomes unnecessarily complicated or time-consuming for them.
- Provide real-time sales support to customers with real-time chat to help increase customer satisfaction and speed up the sales process.
- Offer a variety of payment solutions, ensuring customer convenience and considering different habits.
10. Collect visitor emails
Regardless of the gender, age or location of the customers, e-mail marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach your customers and increase e-store sales.
Create a database of your customers to whom you can regularly send new offers, information about new products/services or other useful content that might be of interest to them.
There are several ways to collect email:
- asking to subscribe to the newsletter;
- offering a discount on the next purchase through email;
- sharing free games and the like.
NB! Of course, always make sure that the customer has given their consent to receive the information and complies with current laws.
When sending newsletters, it will definitely help if you create a specific system and use a service to make it easier and also more profitable for you. For example, from MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, or Estonian solution Smaily.
A sufficient number of collected customer emails will help you increase sales, repeat purchases, introduce new products, offer gifts and surprises, and more.
To wrap up, there are many ways to increase your online sales and awareness. What works for one may not always work for another. However, all of the above strategies can, under the right circumstances, significantly increase online sales and brand awareness. Combinations must be suitable, tested, consistent while adapting to changing circumstances and customer preferences.
It is important in e-business to be useful, consistent, and searchable, not to wait for “overnight success” and always consider your customers, especially monitoring your communication with customers, be it through online chat or e-mail campaigns or other channels.
Stay up to date with today's online sales trends and make sure it's good for the customer to be with you throughout their purchase.