Irrespective of size or sector, all ecommerce businesses have the same primary goal:
To sell more products to more people on a more consistent basis.
Never in the history of commerce has a business sat back and accepted its current performance as ‘good enough’. The the way to remain relevant is to make all possible efforts to stay one step ahead of the competition.
All of which means striving for continuous improvement, rather than resting on your proverbial laurels.
Every business may be unique, but the steps that need to be taken to improve sales are universal. If you have total confidence in the quality and value of the products you sell, the key to selling more of them lies in how you present them.
Not to mention, the efforts you make to engage, retain and leverage every customer you already have.
With this in mind, here’s a brief overview of the essential seven-step process to selling what products – irrespective of what types of products you sell:
Step 1: Profile Your Customers
The first thing you need to do is clearly define your customer, in order to know exactly who it is you are targeting. Who is most likely to buy your products, and why? How old are they? Are they primarily men or women? What kind of income bracket are they in? Do they have children or dependents? What are their main needs and priorities? What are they interested in and what turns them off?
Selling more products begins by identifying the exact problem you’re trying to solve, for the benefit of your target audience. How do their lives stand to be improved by purchasing your products? What can you offer them that nobody else can?
Effectively, you should be looking to get yourself out of the “sell” mindset and approach things from a “help” perspective. Don’t focus too much on how you can make more money from your customers – think of what you can do (or at least tell them) so that they see you as the solution to their problems.
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you create more accurate messaging around your product and target the right audience in your marketing efforts.
Step 2: Capitalise on the Power of Social Proof
In this day and age, you have to assume that 90% of the people you target won’t believe a word you say. Even if what you’re saying is 100% honest and accurate, there’s deep-seated distrust for brands and businesses. This is understandable, given the tendency of mass marketers over the years to deliberately mislead the general public.
These days, the only words that carry weight are those that come from real people. You can sing the praises of your products on till the cows come home, and you can lay bare each and every benefit they bring. But it’s all for nothing, in the absence of verification from those who have actually purchased and experienced them.
Irrespective of where, when and how you sell products online, social proof needs to be embedded in your entire online presence. Examples of which include full product reviews, star ratings, video clips of people using your products, photos of your products in use, snippets from positive write-ups, and any numbers or statistics that confirm just how popular and fantastic you are.
With product pages in particular, social proof can be an absolute game-changer.
Fabricating social proof is never a good idea, because it doesn’t work. Plus, it’s not the kind of thing that’s particularly difficult to accumulate organically. Most people are more than happy to get on their soapboxes and share their thoughts with the world, when requested politely to do so.
Step 3: Ask for Referrals (and Incentivise Them)
Simply asking people to refer you to their own friends, family and colleagues can also work wonders. If they’re genuinely happy with what you do, chances are they’re already spreading the good word.
But what can be even more effective is throwing a little incentive into the mix. Some of the world’s most successful businesses have been doing this for years, where both parties benefit from doing you a favour.
Someone recommends you to a friend, and upon their first purchase they both receive a 50% discount on their next order. Gift vouchers and hard cash payments can also be great for greasing the wheels, just as long as both parties benefit from helping you out.
Putting together a rewards system for referrals can be surprisingly straightforward. It also gives you the perfect opportunity to reach out to your existing customers and your prospects with personalised welcome emails. In the name of building meaningful long-term relationships with customers, nothing works better than personalised outreach coupled with some kind of tangible incentives.
Step 4: Allocate More Money to What’s Working
This involves performing a fairly detailed audit on your current digital strategy and your general marketing activities. If you’ve adopted a multi-dimensional approach to your digital strategy (which you should have), you’ll be reaching out to new and existing customers via a long list of channels.
You’ll be running PPV ads, you’ll be shooting YouTube videos, you’ll be active on countless social media platforms, and you’ll be sending regular e-mails. The question being – which of these are actually getting the job done right?
Unless you occasionally conduct a full audit on your marketing activities, you’ll have no idea what’s working and what isn’t. Consequently, you’ll have no idea whether you’re allocating your marketing spend in entirely the wrong way.
If it becomes abundantly clear that one tactic, approach or platform simply isn’t working, don’t waste time and money trying to turn things around. Instead, pull your marketing capital away from this underperforming activity, and invest it in something that’s delivering the goods.
Step 5: Ensure Your Website’s UX is Flawless
There are two reasons why you need to deliver a flawless UX as an online retailer. The first of which is all about first impressions, which count for a lot. If a consumer lands on an ecommerce site that looks amateurish or shady, they immediately exit, and they never return. The same also applies to a navigation system that’s a nightmare to negotiate, or a site that runs painfully slowly.
Secondly, research suggests that anything from 40% to 80% of all purchases are made on impulse. That’s according to Shopify, which also reports that almost 90% of shoppers engage in impulse buying on a fairly regular basis.
This is something savvy retailers are aware of, and do everything within their power to exploit. In short, the quicker and easier you make it for people to purchase your products, the more likely they are to do so. The longer and more complicated the checkout process, the more time they have to change their mind, and abandon their cart.
Your site’s UX and checkout system should be seen as a race against time. From the moment they take an interest in one of your products, you’re up against the clock. Distractions and complications should therefore be eliminated, and mandatory registration as part of the purchase process is a big no-no.
Step 6: Offer Tiered Purchase Options
This basically means persuading your customers to buy more, by adding additional perks into the mix for bigger spenders.
For example, product A costs £15 and product B £20, but buy them as a bundle and they can both be yours for £30. Or perhaps, throw product C into the mix which retails at £15 and the whole job lot will cost you just £35.
With deals like these, profit margins go down considerably. But at the same time, someone who turned up looking to spend £15 is far more likely to spend £35. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book to boost product sales and average sale values, but it’s still one of the most effective by far.
Step 7: Be Proactive with Lapsed Customers
Last up, some previously active customers may at some point go inactive for a long list of reasons. They may have found a better offer elsewhere, they may be encountering financial difficulties, or they may have simply forgotten you exist.
In all instances, occasionally reaching out to lapsed customers in a friendly and personalised way is never a bad idea. Just as long as you don’t resort to the hard sell (which could terminate the relationship once and for all), occasional outreach emails are usually well-received.
An incentive aligned with their purchase history and interests could be just the thing to get them back on board. Be it a discount on the next purchase, an exclusive BOGOF promo or anything else of a similar nature, anything goes.
Alter often, lapsed customers are simply accepted as lost…gone…never to return. When in reality, getting them back on board and retaining them long-term can be as easy as throwing a personalised e-mail and a special offer their way.
For more information on any of the above or to discuss any aspect of your ecommerce business in more detail, book your obligation-free consultation with Tait Pollack today.