How To Sell Online
eCommerce and online business is a huge growth industry worldwide. As more and more people go online (especially since the growth of mobile phone and tablet use) annual online sales are up year on year.
As a retailer it’s never been more important to not only be online, but to be found by potential customers.
While business owners are told that they can’t afford not to be online, many build a website (often at huge cost) only to find that it receives no traffic, and thus makes no sales.
There are some important steps you need to work through if you are going to be successful online.
Success isn’t an accident, it’s an ‘on purpose’ and you can control the outcome if you know how.
eCommerce is all about presenting your goods or services clearly and attractively, and then getting in front of an audience that is likely to buy from you.
Decide Who You Want To Target
Do you know who your ideal customer is? Do you know where they hang out online?
These questions are an important part of your online strategy. With so many ‘routes to market’ (in marketing speak called ‘verticals’) you need to identify which will be most cost effective for you.
Verticals / Routes to Market
- Search Engines
- Social Media
- Banner Advertising
- Smart Phone App’s
- Aggregators / Niche Industry Advertisers
Whichever route you choose, they each have their pro’s and con’s as well as costs involved.
There are two basic search engine options, organic search listings and paid ad listings.
Organic listings are earned on merit based on the power, authority, and trust metrics that your website carries. Organic rankings take time to achieve (get started at SEO³ & begin improving your rankings), but are trusted by users and tend to convert to sales quite effectively.
Paid listings in search engines are a more instant option, giving instant exposure to your target market, but you pay every time someone clicks on your Ad.
Paid ads are a great way to drive traffic quickly to get some sales through your door, and is often used while waiting for organic rankings to achieve top ten positions.
Social media is gaining a lot of ground as a selling tool, but bear in mind that most people don’t go onto Facebook or Twitter to buy anything.
Facebook is a good Brand building tool, to grow a following and for some businesses it can be very effective especially if you have giveaways, competitions etc.
Email marketing is a tough sell these days because so many highly effective spam filters remove emails from view before your prospects even see your message.
Email is however a great way to stay in touch with past customers, with offers and newsletters.
Just look at how Amazon, Groupon etc. used emails effectively.
Less useful to make initial sales though.
Collect email addresses of as many customers and prospects as possible by getting them to sign up for your newsletter, free download etc.
Brand exposure via banner Ads can help your business to gain valuable exposure online.
Banner Ads are often used as an effect marketing tool to show your Ads to people who have already visited your website.
This remarketing process is all about increasing your conversion rate, after all, online is no different to the high street in that it’s common for you to get a lot of window shoppers in the first instance, who plan to return and make a purchase in the future.
Your job is to remind them to come back and make that purchase and remarketing is a good way to do this.
A smart phone or tablet App can work well as a sales tool if you can make it popular. For new businesses this can be expensive. A good, useful App can help to cultivate Brand loyalty if used wisely and also allows you to message your customers easily and cheaply.
Aggregators / Niche industry Advertisers
For many businesses such as hotels, restaurants, guest houses etc, niche industry advertisers can be a very effective route to market. If you have a hotel or B & B it’s going to be an expensive proposition to advertise ahead of the aggregators that domain organic search listings.
Instead, sign up with the top ranking sites and leverage their advertising budgets to get in front of your target audience.
Once you have attracted customers you should stay in touch with them so that you can get them to buy again without the higher costs associated with finding new customers.