What’s the Secret to Increasing Online Sales?
There isn’t a company around that doesn’t want to increase sales. In fact, that’s what most business owners think about from the moment they wake up in the morning until they lay down at night. So, if your numbers are dragging, you’re probably feeling a bit stressed out. What’s the secret to increasing online sales to a sustainable and highly profitable level?
Getting to the Root of the Problem
Before you can take steps to increase your online sales, you have to make every attempt to understand what’s happening at the root of the problem. What’s holding you back? And why do these issues exist in the first place?
- Poor lead generation efforts. “If you build it, they will come,” might have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but it’s not going to work for you. You need a proactive lead generation strategy in place in order to be successful selling online. If you aren’t doing anything on this front, then you shouldn’t be surprised that sales numbers are low.
- Very little trust with shoppers. Once you get visitors to your website, you have to build trust with them in order for them to convert. If you aren’t doing anything to actively establish trust with your audience, then it’s possible that customers are unwilling to make sizeable purchases.
- Points of friction. Is your website making it easy on customers to make purchases? If you put yourself in the shoes of your online shoppers, you might find that there are some obvious factors holding them back. Identifying these points of friction will go a long way towards correcting the problem.
- Ineffective product offering. You might be doing everything you possibly can to generate website traffic, build trust with shoppers, and eliminate points of friction, but none of this matters if your target market doesn’t want the products and services you’re selling. An ineffective product offering will get you every time.
Every issue won’t fit perfectly into one of these categories, but you’ll find that most are related to one of these four issues. Be honest with yourself and you’ll get to the root of the problem much quicker.
5 Tips for Improving Sales Numbers
Once you know what’s going on beneath the surface, you can start to implement changes and create a plan. Here are a few tangible tips to help you improve sales numbers in an efficient and sustainable manner.
#1. Let Your Business Do the Talking
It’s easy to get so caught up in marketing, advertising, and branding that you forget about the core of your business. In other words, you’re so focused on creating a brand image that you end up pushing an artificial representation of your company, rather than the authentic brand itself. Speak with any successful business and you’ll discover that it’s best not to overdo things.
“Over the years, we’ve found that the best thing we can do is let the facts do the talking,” explains Chris Slade of The Driving School in Brisbane, Australia. “We’re fully accredited, have a variety of licensing courses, and have hundreds of past clients who can speak to the quality of our instructors and curriculum. If you want to increase sales, that’s how you do it. Create a business that stands on its own merit.”
#2. Build Stronger Sales Funnels
Sales success doesn’t happen by chance. In order to consistently generate leads and convert those leads into customers, you need a strong sales funnel that clearly and efficiently pushes website visitors along.
Having said that, digital marketer Sherice Jacob warns businesses to avoid getting caught up in reaching the “perfect” conversion rate. “Your ideal conversion rate is the one where your sales funnel brings you more sales, greater customer loyalty and repeat visitors,” she explains. “Those are the metrics (and results!) that any business can get behind.”
#3. Offer Fewer Options
We live in a world where personalization is important and customers like having the ability to tailor products to their needs. However, it’s also clear that more options doesn’t always mean better results. This idea has been proven many times before – most notably in a field study conducted by Sheena Lyengar, a professor at Columbia University.
In the study, Sheena set up a free tasting booth at a supermarket. When 24 flavors of jam were available for testing, 97 percent of people purchased nothing. But when there were just 6 options available, 30 percent of people bought at least one.
Sometimes limiting your options is the best thing you can do. It forces your shoppers to focus and limits the distractions present.
#4. Offer Free Shipping
If your shopping cart abandonment rate is high, then you need to consider why people are failing to follow through with purchases. You might find the cost of shipping to be problematic.
According to one study, 36 percent of online customers cite high shipping and delivery costs as a major culprit for abandonment. In fact, it’s the second biggest point of friction behind the need to see or touch an item (37 percent).
Can you find a way to offer free shipping? Or at least low-cost, flat-rate shipping? It could make a big difference.
#5. Test, Test, and Test Some More
When you look at ecommerce sites and companies with high conversion rates, most of them dedicate considerable resources towards testing. They know what’s happening beneath the surface and are able to make calculated, cost-effective responses. With a commitment to regular testing, you can do the same.
Give Your Sales Numbers a Jolt
There isn’t a textbook formula for what needs to happen in order to maximize online sales. However, if you study what successful brands in your industry are doing, you’ll realize that it isn’t rocket science – not even close.
By following a few basic principles – like those discussed in this article – you can improve lead generation, build trust with shoppers, offer better products that satisfy their needs, and eliminate cumbersome points of friction. Are you ready to put a charge in your sales numbers?
Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedInRead Full Bio