The widespread popularity of online shopping and product research has unveiled opportunities for businesses of all sizes to offer their services nationally - even globally. However, though the playing field may be leveling out, small businesses must be proactive when pursuing online sales lest they get left behind.
Take a step back and look at your marketing campaign from a potential customer's point of view. Do you have an overall strategy for your business? Have you taken the time to properly brand and differentiate your company? Have you highlighted the benefits of your products and services? Without an identifiable, trustworthy brand at the base of your marketing campaign, your online sales won't be successful.
Establish a Baseline and Set Goals
Once you've established your branding strategy, it's time to establish a baseline. Take stock of how your company is doing right now. What did your sales look like in the last quarter? How fast are you growing your clientele? Determine where your company is at right now before you begin any new online marketing or sales initiatives. Be sure to pinpoint exactly where you started so you can accurately measure growth.
Once you know where you're at, determine where you want to go. Set realistic goals and determine benchmarks of success. Decide how you're going to measure your online sales success and map out different goals along the way. Work with your team to create a short term and long term plan to grow your business online.
Highlight the Advantages and Rewards
One of the easiest ways to succeed online is to educate visitors on the benefits of shopping with your company. Illustrate the benefits of your products and services without sounding like a used car salesman. Give people the facts, let them know what sets you apart from the competition, and establish your company as an industry resource. Successful online marketing revolves around information and education and steers clear of tactless, obnoxious sales techniques.
Include a Prominent Call to Action
Once you've made it clear to consumers why your brand deserves their business, be sure you include a clear call to action. Let people know exactly what they need to do in order to complete an online sale. Online sales are all about turning Website visitors into buyers. Whether you want them to click on the buy button or add items to their shopping cart, you have to make it easy for them. Make your Website easy to navigate and easy to shop from without overloading visitors with sales pitches and spam.
Highlight your Contact Information
If customers have a problem somewhere in the sales process, you want them to contact you instead of giving up and buying from a competitor, right? Make it easy for customers to find your contact information, including email addresses and phone numbers. Make sure this information is up to date and includes all of the contacts customers could need.
Assess Your Online Sales Technology
If you want to improve online sales, make sure the technology facilitating the purchase is functional. Too many businesses waste time and resources by losing sales in the final step of the buying cycle. Too often, companies trust that their online sales technology is working as it should, and don't test it out for themselves. Are customers' options clear? Is it easy to update your shopping carts and orders? Is your shipping and return policy clearly stated and accessible? Your online sales technology should make it easy for people to buy from your company. Make sure you understand the process you want your customers to complete. Is it as easy and uncomplicated as it could be?
Get Familiar with your Online Reputation
The Internet makes it easier than ever for consumers to research companies long before they make a purchase. Include customer testimonials on your Website so people get an idea of how you've treated past customers. Pay attention to Rating and Review Websites like Yelp and Merchant Circle. Find out what people are saying about you online, so you have a better understanding of what potential customers are reading too. Check out your listings on Local Search Engines like Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Local. User ratings and customer reviews are often included on those listings as well. Take this one step further by claiming your listings on these Websites for more control over your online reputation!
Hop on the Social Media Train
Social Media Websites continue to grow in popularity and offer countless opportunities for businesses to connect with potential customers! Social Media Marketing isn't going anywhere, and when used correctly, can help businesses succeed online in new and innovative ways. Businesses need to research the different Social Media Websites to establish which channels will be most useful for connecting with their target audiences, and how to best use each site to create a positive brand reputation and increase their online presence. Websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer different opportunities for brands. The key to flourishing on Social Media Websites is interaction. Connect with potential customers. Start discussions and respond to questions. Social Media is a two way street, don't just push advertisements, commit to regularly updating and interacting with the public on these channels.
Put Everything Together
The key to developing and implementing effective online sales strategies is to incorporate all the components with your offline marketing as well. Tailor your entire marketing plan to your brand and your target market, but be sure to address every area of communication that will have an effect on sales. Picking and choosing only the easy or cheap strategies isn't going to make the impact you need to reach your sales goals.
Test and Retest
Though you may have done your research and implemented the proper strategies, your online marketing plan probably won't be perfect on the first try. Evaluate your Website analytics, determine if you've met your goals and assess the efficacy of your marketing strategies. The ecommerce landscape is changing quickly, so what once was a promising tactic may not be effective in the long term. Regularly look at how your campaign is doing. Watch for new technologies and opportunities to succeed online. Commit to long term success for your brand, online and off and take the right steps to outshine your competition and grow your business.
Labels: Business Tips