16 Steps Manual to Go Virtual and Drastically Increase Online Sales
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our everyday life is undeniable. Being forced to stay at home, we have grown to appreciate the perks of online shopping. It’s fast, comfortable, and does not require standing in line. When you can purchase everything from your favorite pizza to a new couch within a couple of clicks without the necessity to change your pajamas, it might be hard to switch back to going to the actual stores.
As reported by eMarketer, the e-commerce sphere flourishes like cherry blossoms in spring. Online retail exhibited 27.6% growth and exceeded the $4 trillion mark over the year 2020. A lot of major industry players, including Amazon, Walmart, and Target, managed to anticipate customers’ expectations and collected a huge reward (TechCrunch indicated that their revenues incremented by 40%, 97%, and 237% respectively).
Retrieved from eMarketer.
Naturally, some people are reluctant to embrace modern technology and inevitable changes because they miss the good old days when life was simple. Still, a vast percentage of merchants hesitate to enhance their online presence because they do not know where to start. If you are eager to jump on this bandwagon but need guidance, here are 16 ways to increase online sales that will not fail you, whether you are a complete newbie or a reputable business owner who is struggling to step up the game.
Steps to Boost Online Sales
- See the Target Clearly
- Don’t Try to Sell Nuts to Squirrels
- Identify Your Strong and Weak Points
- Investigate Customers’ Behavior Patterns
- Develop Consumer Empathy
- Balance the Site’s Appearance and Content
- Check Out the Checkout Process
- Don’t Turn Delivery and Refund Procedures into Quests
- Be Inclusive to All Devices and Platforms
- Make the Shopping Experience Personal
- Actively Listen and Respond
- Spare No Effort to Build Trust
- Choose Marketing Channels Carefully
- Don’t Underestimate Social Media and Messengers
- Offer a Free Bite to Make People Crave the Whole Cake
- Reward the Buyers for Making Up Their Minds Quickly
16 Pivotal Points on Your Journey to Boost Online Sales
Of course, you will need all of your luck and serendipity if you want to hit the jackpot. Yet, these two qualities are advantageous from the long-term perspective only if they are paired with a smart, loyal team and a viable action plan. So, here are the most effective principles to apply while brainstorming your strategy on how to get more online sales.
1. See the Target Clearly
Even the most skillful shooter in the Wild West will miss if he shoots in the dark. How can you evaluate the extent of your success when you do not even know what results you were longing for? So, you might want to stick to these basic rules to create a vision that will become your road map to increase online sales:
- Be realistic about your prospects. Your goals should match your potential. Failure to achieve the expected numbers often demotivates people immensely, while even a small win can be turned into a powerful incentive to proceed with more effort.
- Divide the process into stages. If you implement the project gradually, it will allow you to avert the hustle and mistakes associated with it. Plus, you will be able to monitor the outcomes of your actions and see how they affect your performance.
- Make peace with the unavoidable alterations. Your objectives should not be set in stone. You have to modify them when you witness that they are not feasible at the moment. You will also need to adjust them as the circumstances change.
2. Don’t Try to Sell Nuts to Squirrels
Nowadays, trading is more complex than a simple exchange between those who can hunt, craft, or grow something and those who have money. However, the fundamental principle is the same: your goods or services must make customers’ lives better.
Thus, if you want to know how to boost online sales, you have to answer these questions first:
- What problem does my product solve for potential clients? There is no need to generate artificial demand, you can just provide a supply for the one that already exists.
- Which traits of my product are exclusive? In other words, what advantages do you have that the competitors do not? It might be innovative features, quality materials, speed delivery, or even an intriguing concept behind the product. As soon as you comprehend which traits are your strong suit, you will be able to explain coherently and explicitly to your target audience why they should pick you.
3. Identify Your Strong and Weak Points
Before you start to come up with various ideas on how to improve online sales, you should use data analysis software and common sense to objectively assess KPI and other important parts of your business. You can also compare these parameters to your major competitors to determine the aspects that lack something. Pay special attention to:
- cart abandonment and conversion rates;
- checkout process;
- refund and shipping policies;
- the quality of your goods and services;
- websites layout;
- page-load and execution speed;
- the performance of your sales, marketing, support, and technical teams.
Composing the list of advantages and shortcomings in these areas will enable you to distinguish potential obstructions that require improvement or optimization from the selling points that can be utilized for advertisement.
4. Investigate Customers’ Behavior Patterns
Forecasts can be very misleading. Anyone, who was headed to the beach anticipating a sunny day and ended up seeking shelter from pouring rain, knows it. Essentially, you cannot predict users’ behavior precisely. Still, if you notice a common trend among your visitors, you need to either support it or prevent it from escalating, depending on the influence it has on your online sales.
Use reports from Google Analytics or other programs to:
- Monitor users’ activities (visited, added to cart, went to checkout, placed an order).
- Spot the pages where most of the dropouts happen and the ones the visitors are most enthusiastic about.
5. Develop Consumer Empathy
If you want to know how to increase sales online, an attempt to see your platform from the buyers’ perspective is the ultimate way to do it. Casting aside your presumptions as a merchant and reliving the experience as a shopper can open your eyes to both advantages and flaws of your product that you, otherwise, would not notice. In addition, it can save you from producing some cringeworthy content when you try to appeal to the target demographic using the wrong means.
So, what tactics can you practice getting into character?
- Reminiscence of your personal shopping experience combined with your imagination can permit you to take a walk in the customer’s shoes.
- Active search for reviews on other platforms, forums, and social media.
- Surveys to collect feedback and get an insight into incentives behind people’s behavior. Friendly, functional, and anonymous pop-up forms created with Claspo are perfect tools to politely ask visitors about their experience.
6. Balance the Site’s Appearance and Content
Generally, you will return to the restaurant with delicious food, even when the interior was hideous. But if the meal was average at best, the fancy decor will not be enough to bring you back. Unfortunately, this rule does not apply to e-commerce. Due to the lack of tangible objects and face-to-face interactions, user-friendly interface, intuitive design, and exciting content become essential to conquer people’s hearts.
Here are some of the takes on how you can make shoppers fall in love with your platform from first sight:
- Keep all the elements in harmony, do not overwhelm users with excessive fields, categories, items, details, and text.
- Highlight the crucial information, such as contacts, prices, payment & shipping options, and make it easily accessible.
- Make a call to action the centerpiece of your main page, and place CTA on other pages where people can see it.
- Remember that the content of your site should be engaging, informative, understandable, and SEO optimized.
- Conduct usability and A/B testings to detect problematic areas.
7. Check Out the Checkout Process
Online shopping might be incredibly convenient in many ways, but its virtual nature makes form completion essentially ineluctable. However, when the world is moving at an insanely fast pace, you might not have the luxury of testing the longevity of your customers' attention span.
Surely, it can be challenging to simplify the checkout process when it comes to travel, automobile, hotel, or insurance industries without deteriorating the gravity of the deal. Yet, certain maneuvers can help users stay focused:
- Permit people to place orders without account registration.
- Try to reduce the checkout to 12-14 elements (the findings of Baymard Institute indicate that this number is the most adequate).
- Place one element or a small section per page, if possible.
- Add a progress bar, so people would not feel like this is an endless procedure.
- Install a chatbot or a live chat to guide shoppers through the process and cheer them up.
- Display snippets of their purchases, so users could confirm that they are buying the correct items.
Retrieved from Baymard Institute.
8. Don’t Turn Delivery and Refund Procedures into Quests
Internet shopping allows us to buy almost anything from any place. You make just a couple of clicks, and those warm ethnically decorated socks from Norway will be delivered to your doorstep within days.
Unfortunately, it is both a blessing and a curse because it generates a lot of anxiety among buyers. Will the company manage to deliver the birthday present on time? What should you do if the shoes do not fit?
There is no wonder that more than a half of the respondents from the research published by Marketing Charts expressed their dissatisfaction with the existing shipping & refund policies of online stores.
Retrieved from Marketing Charts
So, what can you do to provide a stress-free shopping experience for your potential clients?
- Make all the information on return and delivery processes explicit, easy to follow and understand, and effortlessly accessible.
- Show the total cost of the purchase before the checkout.
- Present users with a multitude of shipping (free, economy, and speed delivery) and return options (automated refund, easy-to-print return label, etc.).
- Provide estimated/guaranteed delivery date.
- IMB recently reported that as a result of the pandemic, at least 27% of customers now perceive hybrid shopping as their first choice when it comes to acquiring things. Thus, it might be a good idea to incorporate a buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS) option.
Retrieved from IMB.
9. Be Inclusive to All Devices and Platforms
Of course, there is no real discrimination here. However, when due to some technical or software issues certain users cannot effortlessly browse your platform, you inadvertently deny or significantly complicate access to your store.
Hence, do not limit the flow of customers with the issues that are relatively easy to address:
- Ensure that key parameters like usability, page-load, and execution speed are equally high in desktop, mobile, and tablet versions of your site.
- If you decide to create an application, develop it for both App Store and Google Play.
- Regularly maintain, upgrade, and test your software for bugs or errors.
10. Make the Shopping Experience Personal
There is nothing more effective than an individual approach if you want to charm a person. When someone spends time and effort to memorize your preferences or give you special gifts, sparks instantly start to fly.
Thus, here are some tips on how to mesmerize your customers and facilitate the growth of your online sales:
- Greet visitors with a welcoming discount. It might not convince them to buy, but it will certainly make a good first impression.
- Offer special coupons and discounts, especially when people express the intent to close the site.
- Adjust the algorithms’ settings for better recommendations.
- Display popular trends.
- Collect their contact information to start all interactions with their names.
- Gather feedback.
- Ask to save the items that they added to the cart, but did not purchase.
- Remind them about the items they viewed.
Pop-up messages can be an ideal instrument to approach shoppers delicately. Claspo can help you construct the one that will match your requirements and will not disturb the site’s visitors.
A pop-up feedback form on a NOVASOL’s website.
11. Actively Listen and Respond
Learning about consumer empathy is barren without practicing it. You have to make visitors feel heard, supported, and guided. If buyers are left unattended, it can often lead to misunderstanding, disappointment, and frustration, whereas compassion and willingness to assist can convert them into genuine devotees of your brand.
Due to the distance between shoppers and your store’s staff, you will need to incorporate certain features to serve as a mediator:
- FAQ section to equip users with the means to solve their issues without your interference.
- Live chats to consult, help, and work with people’s objections.
- Chatbots to guide visitors when your sales and support teams are absent.
- Customer service to address shoppers’ concerns and problems, or console them in case they are upset with the company.
Feedback, reviews, and testimonials can also help you gain a better understanding of your audience. Read them to discover the areas where you succeed and the aspects that call for improvement. In addition, you can use them as a chance to show that you value people’s opinions by leaving a thanking, soothing, or reassuring response.
12. Spare No Effort to Build Trust
Because online trading implies that customers pay in advance and receive the goods later, purchasing things on the Internet can often feel like jumping from a height without a safety net. Marketing Charts reveals that 28% of buyers investigate customers’ reviews and retailer’s reputations.
You might produce an exceptional product or service, but if you struggle to get people to trust you, all of your efforts will be in vain. It might be a tricky task to accomplish when you have only digital tools at your disposal. So, here are some helpful tips and hacks to gain social proof:
- Be upfront and honest with your customers. Tell them about your company, product, staff members, or even the manufacturing process through photos, videos, and stories.
- Upload high-quality visuals of your items.
- Display trust seals.
- Allow users to channel their emotions through testimonials and reviews.
- Offer a money-back guarantee.
- Support a social or ecological cause because more than 44% of shoppers are now purpose-driven (as stated by IMB), so sharing the same values will make you their ally.
13. Choose Marketing Channels Carefully
Marketing campaigns usually consume a vast number of finances. In case you want to eliminate some redundant expenditures from your budget, you might consider installing software to analyze traffic (e.g., Google Analytics) and single out the most impactful sources in terms of clicks, views, and conversions on your website.
However, before initiating the selection process, you need to make a list of promotion channels. Here are the most recommendable ones:
- Traditional advertising on platforms with a high amount of traffic, such as Facebook or Google (Facebook Ads Manager/Google Ads).
- SEO-optimized posts on your blog page about issues that concern people and can be addressed using your product.
- Follow-up e-mails & retargeting to remind people about your store even after they quit the platform.
14. Don’t Underestimate Social Media and Messengers
Humans are social creatures. That is why, with the absence of face-to-face communication, we switched to social media to keep in touch in the COVID-19 era. As eMarketer noted in its report, Instagram reached a milestone of 1 billion users in 2020. Ignoring a potential audience this large is a tactical fiasco, to say the least.
Instagram knows almost everything about people, from their daily routine and favorite books to social circles and embarrassing TGIF moments. Therefore, its instruments and algorithms can be easily transformed into promotion and advertising tools. Plus, with new features, you have an opportunity to sell items directly from Instagram or add a link to your website’s checkout page on Facebook or Twitter. Furthermore, the fact that many TikTok stars get major parts in movies, launch music careers, and attend Met Gala, is more than enough to prove that this platform can propel your popularity immeasurably.
Hence, how can you use this social media obsession to your advantage?
- You might feature your product while participating in a viral trend/challenge, or simply tell more about your company. Do not be afraid to post something cute or funny. There is always a risk of crossing the line, but sometimes being relatable can significantly enlarge your fan base.
- It’s a great way to connect with your audience. You can also search for mentions of your product, and share or comment on these posts.
- Asking influencers or other renowned social media figures to promote your company can bring you an insurmountable number of visitors.
Messengers might also be utilized as a convenient channel that shoppers can use when they need to reach out to you. Customers can receive updates and notifications about their orders, get promo codes, and ask questions without any delay or unnecessary complications.
15. Offer a Free Bite to Make People Crave the Whole Cake
Love does not always strike at the first sight. Sometimes your visitors need time before they are willing to commit, and providing them with a tangible experience can make this time significantly shorter.
Free trials and samples are the simplest, yet the most effective means to allow customers to test your product or service. This method is viable in terms of boosting online sales because it proves that you supply quality goods that can serve consumers’ needs.
16. Reward the Buyers for Making Up Their Minds Quickly
Baymard Institute points out that 58.6% of online shoppers failed to finish the purchase because they were not ready to buy. Thus, dealing with indecisive customers online is a real struggle for entrepreneurs.
Aggressive marketing might worsen the situation, while a subtle, short, and friendly pop-up message with a limited-time offer of free shipping, a coupon, or a discount can induce users to stop hesitating and order now. With Claspo pop-up builder, you can craft a design that would suit this purpose perfectly.
So, how to increase online sales? You can start cracking this tough nut by drawing a clear trajectory of your potential development and exerting effort to learn more about your target audience. When you see a vivid picture of your current state of affairs, you can proceed with working on aspects that require adjustment or upgrade, like:
- technical solutions (design, software, layout, etc.);
- shopping experience (checkout process, shipping, return, and payment options);
- marketing tools (discounts, offers, coupons, etc.);
- communication (live chats, customer support, emails, pop-up messages).
Anyway, all evidence points to e-commerce coming here to stay. Thus, it is time to accept the new reality and adapt.