The headlines speak for themselves:
U.S. e-commerce sales grow 16% in 2017, U.S. Commerce Department, 2/18
Cyber Monday becomes largest online shopping day in U.S. History: Online Transactions reached a record of $6.59 billion, CNBC, 12/17
E-Commerce will make up 17% of all U.S. retail sales by 2022, Business Insider, 8/17
Without question, online sales will continue unwavering growth for the foreseeable future. If your business hasn’t already embraced this trend, here are several best practices to promote online sales.
Many companies are missing out on an opportunity to maximize online sales by choosing to keep their websites static. Potential customers are looking for dynamic websites to entice them to purchase your products and services.
Here are some considerations to ensure your website promotes online sales:
Create an Attractive “Look and Feel”
The foundation of any online sales strategy is ensuring that your company’s website adheres to general design principles: the “look and feel” of your website should be user-friendly, visually appealing, easy to navigate, quick loading and customer-focused.
Reduce Clicks to Content
When a potential customer wants to purchase your product or services, minimize the amount of clicks to access their shopping cart. A great example of minimal clicks to content is Amazon’s website. Amazon provides customers with several options to expedite a purchase.
Ensure Your Website is SSL Compliant
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between the web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private.
According to a recent HubSpot study, up to 85% of visitors will not continue to browse your site if it’s not secure. As you’ve seen in the media, consumer sites such as Target have experienced dramatic security breaches, which have significantly impacted sales volumes. When Target’s data breach took place, the company’s profit fell 40% in one quarter. Despite the fact that Target’s data breach occurred in 2014, sales figures show that Target is still experiencing latent effects from the data breach.
An additional benefit of SSL is that it helps your SEO because it’s part of Google’s ranking algorithm.
Provide a Variety of Ways for Your Customers to Reach You
Customers want to have a variety of ways to reach your company, according to their individual preferences. Some customers prefer “chat” functionality, others prefer email or speaking with a live person.
Regardless of your customers’ communication preference, make sure to have a process in place to respond to customer inquiries in a timely basis. If your product or service is complex, such as purchasing health insurance or an automobile, most likely your customers will use your website primarily for informational purposes and will close the deal by talking with a live person. Less complicated products or services can easily be purchased without a live agent.
Additionally, provide customers with a high-level description of your product, and then, for customers who want to do further research, provide them with a link for more detailed information. As one major retailers’ slogan says, “an educated consumer is our best customer.” Not only can they be your best customer, but from a cost per acquisition, you can reduce the sales cycle by educating your prospect from their first online interaction with your company.
Engage Your Target Audience by Using Eye-Catching Visuals and Videos
Video appears in approximately 70% of the top 100 search result listings and viewers are anywhere from 64% - 85% more likely to buy your product after watching your video.
Also, embed social buttons on your site and throughout all of your marketing materials. The more impressions you have on your social networks the more likely it is that you will gain more likes.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO, the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results, should always be implemented to maximize the number of visits to your website.
Here are links to articles that provide great ideas to supplement your SEO efforts:
Analytics. Analytics. Analytics.
There is a tremendous amount of valuable information to support your sales efforts by using tools such as Google Analytics, which provides real-time reporting on what’s working and not working with your online sales.
Among the questions a robust analytics tool should address include:
goals, effective search terms, acquisition reporting (tells you where your visitors originated from such as search engines, social networks or websites referrals), conversions, impressions, demographics, bounce rates, number and length of sessions, A/B testing results, organic vs. pay per click (PPC) traffic, along with other valuable information that will directly impact the effectiveness of your sales campaigns.
Maximize your Social Media Presence
Two of the most important benefits of having a strong social media presence are to build your brand and increase your position on organic search results.
When you look at the statistics, it’s easy to see the lion’s share of clicks are going to the highest ranked search results. Different studies have put the traffic share of the first position at around 33%, with the second position getting around 15% of share, 9% going to the third, and steeper drop-offs after the fifth. At minimum, 75% of clicks go to the first page of search results. For valuable information about what a Google rank is worth, visit: https://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/page-one-whats-google-rank-worth.html
Provide Reviews by Credible Sources
Consumers have become more savvy when it comes to purchasing products and services by “Googling” reviews. Additionally, websites or apps such as Yelp, Consumer Reports and the Better Business Bureau can significantly influence buying behaviors, along with customer testimonials. Monitor your reviews on an ongoing basis to make sure they’re mostly positive to improve your chances of closing the sale.
Make it Easy for Customers to Share and Pin Your Products
Including social sharing buttons is a must for any online store that wants to take advantage of our innate social behavior online. Make sure you include buttons to popular social networks (Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) and that they are not hidden away in your store’s theme.
PPC vs. SEO (Organic)
As you can imagine, there are pros and cons of focusing your energy on Organic Search or PPC. More and more organizations are using a blended approach of both tactics to increase sales. An excellent case study was conducted by Forbes that illustrates the pros and cons of using both tactics when it comes to choosing legal services.
Many variables, such as your industry and competitors should be considered when determining how much your organization should be spending on PPC vs. dedicating person hours to maximizing your organic presence.
In addition to the tactics mentioned in this blog, having designated individuals in your organization who are savvy at digital marketing is just as crucial to increasing your online sales. These marketing professionals need to not only execute the appropriate digital marketing tactics, but also have in place effective digital marketing strategies that keep you ahead of your competition.