When you’re setting up an ecommerce website, there are so many tasks that have to be done. Often, the hardest of them all is to actually make your first sale.
So we spoke to a range of established businesses to find out what advice, tips, and techniques they’d recommend for small businesses who wanted to boost sales.
The main thing that retailers have to remember is that their site needs to be a sales tool, not just a product catalog, easily available to visitors who have questions or objections. That, in turn, means making contact options easy to access, (not hidden away in a tab or the site footer) and fast (not just email). Closing that loop means closing more sales since visitors who talk to a
human being are more likely to convert to buyers. - Baruch Kogan bontact.com
Email marketing is often overlooked. At the beginning of the journey, most retailers heavily focus on things like SEO and social media marketing for customer acquisition. Email collection should really begin at pre-launch the phrase and to be integrated at the post-launch phase; It is an ongoing process. Email addresses collected can be used for targeted and personalised campaigns based on purchase, intent, and behavioural data for sales uplifts.
They can help building Custom Audiences on Facebook and Customer Match on Google. - Samuel Wong
eCommerce is a tough business, where many are often competing against Amazon while also working with them as sellers on the marketplace. One way to differentiate from the big ecommerce players is with video. Create original YouTube videos, with a link back to your specific product page on your site. Also, don’t forget to optimise the video, with YouTube cards. Youtube is the 2nd largest search engine yet, it is not utilised enough by e-commerce players. - Pete Abilla findtutorsnearme.com
Find a way to build up a strong community of customers — you could offer free products, create brilliant and entertaining content, offer advice and training, or anything else that has value. Put time and effort into building a strong network of buyers and evangelists. This will help grow your reach and get your message out there far more effectively than relying on advertising or hoping for organic search traffic. - David Mercer smepals.com
I see a lot of small e-commerce retailers completely ignore the building blocks of a successful business, which are:
- Creating sales funnels
- Understanding their “numbers” (e.g. how much a customer is worth to them, what is their average customer value, what is their lifetime customer value)
- Automation where effective for scale
With this in mind, small eCommerce businesses should start with a funnel, providing value at each step of the customer buying cycle.
Blog posts are perfect if you’re able to embed a ‘buy now’ button seamlessly. It’s the next logical step after a buyer has gone through their ‘research’ phase — and is an easy sale for you! By knowing their numbers, business owners will be able to provide better offers, which will increase sales.
Using automation ties all this together, saving you time with repetitive manual tasks. Not everyone has time to buy straight away, so if you’ve got automated advertising for people who visit but don’t buy, you’re much more likely to pick up that ‘lost’ buyer and plug up a leaky funnel! - James Steadman jcsteadman.com
Small eCommerce retailers overlook their existing customers as a source of increased sales. Those who have already purchased are very likely to buy again. Your shopping cart probably has their email and credit card information saved. Promote some related products to these customers! Look up users with incomplete checkouts also and send them a follow-up email. Lastly, take a detailed look at your analytics to see where people exit midway through the order process. Fix this and you can almost guarantee more orders from your existing visitors. - Chad Kimball chaddo.com
Your biggest struggle when trying to increase sales through digital marketing is focus. Our team is small and we need to make sure that we are working on the most important marketing initiatives and not just projects we find interesting. For example, we love the idea of making a commercial and spending some of our budget to push the campaign on YouTube. It is a good marketing idea but how does our Pay Per Click and email marketing suffer as a result? Is our small team dedicating too much time to something new and unknown? Sometimes, the appeal of a sexy new way of marketing has our team making decisions with our gut and not through data & research. New ideas, of course, are great but they cannot come at the cost of losing momentum and focus on the marketing that already works. - Shawn Limata RugSale.com
Small ecommerce retailers are often guilty of ignoring online partnership opportunities. We spend a lot of time perfecting paid, email and social campaigns because it is easy to analyse the data, spit out ROI, and make changes along the way. Online partnerships with other businesses, publications or even online celebrities or personalities take time to create and often harder to track, so we end up sticking with the channels we understand and control. - Kari Daffron oneclickventures.com
One point I can weigh in is of the added importance of Rich Snippets for companies. A lot of people don’t understand how powerful these are in SEO and how valuable they truly can be in search to online merchants by simply integrating them into something as easy as reviews in Google Product Listing Ads (PLA). This seamlessly increases relevant traffic to a site as Rich Snippets provide higher visibility to bring more visitors to your product pages.
The result: increased long-term sales and revenue. Additionally, Google Seller Ratings will also continue to play an even bigger role in SEO, an integral element of any digital marketing strategy. Last year Google rolled out new PLA programs in UK, Germany, and France and this is only the beginning. Google itself states:
“On average, ads with Seller Ratings get a 17% higher CTR than the same ads without ratings.“
Source: Official Google AdWords Blog
Product Listing Ads are all about the display format in Google Search. The advertised products are displayed with a picture and price and thus receive more attention in search results which lead to more sales. - Carrie Wick ekomi-group.com
1 — Upsell before the sale. Do your products list more expensive alternatives or accessories next to them that the user would probably need?
2 — Cross sell after the sale. Use the confirmation page and post-purchase emails to garner additional sales by listing out other items the user would want
3 — Use your order confirmation emails to sell more! Unlike other emails, most people open confirmation emails (according to a colleague of mine)
Michael Bower sellry.com
Retargeting is a huge opportunity for eCommerce retailers. So many retailers spend a significant amount of marketing dollars on PPC and growing client base but ignore the opportunity to retarget those customers they have already reached. Remarketing/retargeting is a great way to stay top-of-mind with potential and recent customers. - Deborah Sweeney mycorporation.com
So one thing that I never hear talked about with small ecommerce sites and something that we didn’t think about for quite some time as well: conversion rates. For us, we’ve started testing small tweaks and changes on the site and seeing how they affect conversions has been rather eye opening. Sure, 1/10 of 1% isn’t groundbreaking in terms of increases, but it’s easy to see how after 10 of those changes, you might actually have something to really be proud of. - Mark Aselstine Uncorked Ventures
Many small eCommerce companies don’t focus enough on long tail keywords through blogging. They need to get away with trying to beat Amazon for the #1 position with a singular keyword such as clothing, and dive in and look for long tail keyword opportunities to get them to their site and sell them from there. - Christopher Pontine Creating A Website Today
Small eCommerce retailers are competing with the big box stores without big budgets or staff. Proper implementation can help small companies appear larger to first-time users, who are likely to help audience growth via word-of-mouth and social sharing.
Web analytic tools are a must to learn about visitors, their activity, and improving purchasing experiences. Data gets the right products in front of the right customers at the right time!
Phone call tracking connects sales generated by phone to your analytics software and website. Sales staff training and the assignment of tracking numbers to each ad campaign are additional benefits of this essential, affordable tool. - Nina K. Glaser JRDunn.com
How disposable is your content?
eCommerce shops may have heard of the notion that they need to blog, but the problem is that increasingly they just blog about anything, for the sake of getting “something up”. It is usually a misguided notion that more content is better for SEO, better for keeping people engaged, etc. The reality is that there is very much a diminished marginal return by doing this for a few reasons. Google is reported to dislike this practice, your audience can get annoyed by it, and for all the work your team does to gain traction, you could likely spend the same amount of time on fewer, better posts. When you are going to put out content, increasingly aim to have your content be something that will still be relevant down the road, and that is so good, people will come back to it as a resource in the future. - BRAD HINES BradfordHines.com & YumDomains.com
Not getting feedback from two groups: existing customers, and people who have never seen an e-commerce retailers website, is a fatal flaw that is all too common. Instead of assuming you know what existing customers value, or how new visitors view your site, actually talk to them and ask them.
Get their feedback by following up with customers via email, asking them how they felt about their purchase, and also spend the time to solicit feedback from real people (either in person or by using an online service) about your website.
You’ll uncover opportunities you wouldn’t have found otherwise. - John Turner Users Think
Remember that even though we’re in a digital world and selling online, we can’t take the personal touch out of it or people will feel indifferent and have no loyalty.
Create a follow-up process for your products. When someone buys your “Widget” send them 2–3 follow-up emails over the next week with links to articles or videos on how to use it better. NOT newsletters but something from salesperson or customer service person that feels personalised. No fancy headers or graphics. Just a “Hey, how’s it going? Thought you might find this useful…” email. Simple and clean.
There are several platforms out there to help automate this, but the goal is to make it “feel” personal. This opens the door for a follow-up phone call, or the opportunity to offer additional products as well without sounding like all you want is their money. - Ely Delaney YourMarketingUniversity.com
Don’t forget that not all of your website visitors will buy from you immediately, but many will be ready to do so in the future. Capture and nurture these leads with an opt-in and email autoresponder series designed to educate, entertain and inform. As Hubspot tells us, “Companies using email to nurture leads generate 50% more sales-ready leads and at 33% lower cost. And nurtured leads, on average, produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities compared to non-nurtured leads.” - Lauren Pawell Bixa Media
I think an important factor that many small e-commerce retailers are overlooking when it comes to digital marketing is the data. Until recently I was guilty of this myself. There is an enormous amount of data that can be accessed via multiple campaigns on multiple platforms. A lot of this data can overlap. An example of this is the expansion of keyword targeting based on social ads that are working. We just started promoting visual images via Google Product Placements and have now decided to in turn use the most popular images on our Facebook targeted ad campaigns. I think small e-commerce business owners really need to focus on metrics. You can run digital ads on multiple platforms but if you fail to understand how
many new customers you are acquiring and the cost of that customer acquisition via the channel that you are using then you are missing critical information that can guide you to the most cost-effective and efficient choices for your business. - Nicola Ford HAUTEheadquarters.com
“The UX of your online marketplace can be more important than you would think for the first time. To sell, you will also need a tested and well-designed conversion funnel, but here comes the question: how can you track the effectiveness of it? A simple Google Analytics integration won’t make it alone. It has become essential to record the usage of your website, create click and scroll heatmaps or work together with UX agencies to answer this question and run a successful e-commerce site. Traditional analytics tools will give you numbers, but can never give you this level of insight: actions speak louder than numbers.” - Akos Boros Capturly
Thanks for reading! If you have any advice or recommendations, please do let us know below or on social media!