So you’ve established a website offering products or services for sale. You have a great selection and a good-looking website — but your sales are still flat.
This is a problem for plenty of online businesses. But there are ways to overcome those sales slumps and grow your business online. Gary Shouldis of 3Bug Media shared some of his top online sales tips in an email interview with Small Business Trends. Check out some of the highlights in the list below.
How to Increase Online Sales
Establish a Plan Early
According to Shouldis, not having an actual plan in place for your marketing efforts can be one of the biggest obstacles for small businesses looking to increase sales. There are plenty of marketing tools out there, but they won’t be able to help you if you don’t know exactly what you hope to accomplish with them.
Shouldis says, “Technology won’t be much help if you lack a strategy for generating more online sales.”
Rely on Email Marketing
Though marketing plans can vary from business to business, Shouldis says that email marketing should always be a big part of the plan. Utilizing email can help you keep the lines of communication open and allow you to create personalized messages for customers.
Of course, that means you have to dedicate yourself to creating messages so you can keep your business top of mind with customers when they’re looking to buy.
Use Marketing Automation
In doing so, marketing automation can be a huge help. Shouldis says that automation tools have gotten a lot more affordable for small businesses in recent years. And using them can help you get more ROI for your efforts.
Steer Clear of Generic Marketing Messages
When communicating with customers, don’t lump everyone together in one group and assume that they all want to hear the same generic messages.
Shouldis says, “Most small businesses lump all of their customers and potential customers into a single segment where they run generic marketing campaigns with generic messaging. The problem with this is that the messaging and offers do not resonate with their audience and conversions and sales remain flat.”
Segment Your Customers
Instead, create customer segments to break your customers into groups, allowing you to create more personal messages that are going to be more relevant to those customers specifically. This might mean separating customers who made a purchase from your site from those who downloaded a free ebook or those who simply signed up for your email list.
Create Customer Personas
From there, you can create personas so that you’ll know exactly what types of customers you’re talking to in each segment.
Shouldis says, “To really improve your online sales, create personas for each of the customer types for your business and run separate marketing campaigns that tailor to each of these personas. Creating a personalized experience like this will help improve conversion rates and sales.”
Create Value Propositions for Those Customers
In each of your messages, you’ll want to offer some type of value that’s relevant specifically to the customers you’re talking to. Those who have made purchases might be interested in discounts on future purchases. And those who have downloaded ebooks might be interested in other virtual products you have to offer.
Utilize Special Offers
Of course, everyone loves a special offer too. So if you have any type of free offering or major deal, you’ll want to call attention to those in your marketing messages as well.
Make Unique Landing Pages
Shouldis also recommends the use of custom landing pages to target specific customers. You can use tools like LeadPages to make pages on your website for specific customers, like those who click over from a specific email. Then you can tailor the messaging just to those potential customers.
Retarget Existing Customers
You can also potentially increase sales by targeting past customers and trying to get them to buy from you again. Creating those loyal customers can be a huge boost for any business.
Use Advanced Features
You can also use some advanced features of marketing automation tools like contacting customers who have abandoned shopping carts on your site. This can help you close some of those almost-sales.
Try Out Facebook Advertising
Facebook advertising is another powerful tool for businesses looking to increase online sales. So Shouldis recommends it as a tool to consider.
Target Specific Customers
If you’re going to use Facebook, one of the main advantages it offers is the ability to use custom targeting tools. So you’ll want to be sure you have a really good handle on who your target audience is for any Facebook campaign.
Take Advantage of Facebook Tools
Facebook also has some advanced features you can use to target the exact types of customers you’re looking for.
Shouldis says, “You can also leverage your existing customer list by letting Facebook create Lookalike Audiences for you, which is essentially a huge list of potential customers who closely resemble your current customers.”
Make a Strategy That Works for You
Overall, you’ll need to work hard to determine which channels and methods are going to be relevant to your specific business. There are no one-size-fits-all strategies. So put some thought and research into choosing the best options for your needs.
Create Specific Goals for Campaigns
And while you have goals for your overall marketing strategy, you should also have more specific goals for each component. For example, you might rely on emails to increase sales among past customers but use Facebook ads to bring in new ones.
Shouldis says, “Your online marketing efforts and resulting sales will only improve when you have a plan in place and continually test and measure your results.”
Keep an Eye on Results
So you also need to constantly monitor the results of your marketing efforts to see if you’re on track with your goals. You’ll need some good analytical tools to ensure you have access to the most relevant indicators of success.
Be Open to Change
If you notice that some things just aren’t working, or some things that are working better than expected, that could mean that a change is in order. So you should remain open to new possibilities if you want to jumpstart your sales even more.
But don’t jump ship right away. You have to actually give your initial plan time to work before you just dismiss it.
Shouldis says, “Great marketing doesn’t happen overnight, it happens over time by continually evaluating and improving your marketing efforts.”