Tag Archive: ecommerce

6 Ways to Increase Your Business Online Sales

6 Ways to Increase Your Business Online Sales

When small businesses rely on their ecommerce sites or online operations to generate a healthy revenue stream, it can be frustrating when sales slow to a crawl or reach an impasse. If the slump is temporary, attributable to a sluggish economy or bad weather, for instance, then small business owners need only to stay the course until customers start buying again.

 

However, if the slowdown in sales has been happening for a while, then it makes sense to look at the entire online sales process. Remember, it’s not just content but context that can help drive customers to your site.

 

Following are five tips that can help small business owners increase their online sales.

 

Leverage SEO for your content
You could have the greatest product in the world, but if few people know about your site then your hopes of increasing online sales are severely limited. To drive traffic to your site, you will need to broaden audience awareness of your business and product.

A great way to do that is to make your site, specifically the content on it, as search friendly as possible. This way when customers are using a search engine, such as Google, to look for online sites that sell a desired product, they will easily find out about yours via high search result rankings.

 

Brian Forrester, owner of Dynamic Web Solutions, a digital marketing business in Richmond, Virginia, works with small businesses and is a staunch proponent of this tactic. In fact, his firm has used targeted paid search, which is the practice of increasing web traffic by purchasing ads on search engines, for a local client, which boards pets. Not only did it double traffic to the site but the client ended up with numerous leads.

 

Paid search such as Google AdWords, tends to capture traffic further along the buying cycle,” explains Forrester. “This often results in higher conversion rates than other website traffic sources.”

 

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And for those with a tight budget, Anna Lundberg, owner of Crocus Communications, a digital marketing consulting firm that works with small to medium-sized businesses, recommends making a paid search campaign as specifically targeted as possible. This includes putting the limits that you can set within Google Adwords, to define the maximum amount to spend per day.

 

Says Lundberg: “This means that you can make sure that you don’t go over the budget you have available. It’s very flexible and you’re never charged more than what you’ve specified; you can start as low as you like and increase as you learn from the results which keywords and which ads are working best as your business grows.”

 

To illustrate her point, Lundberg says that for one client, Grace & Wilde, a new luxury shapewear brand, her firm optimized their website so that it ranked on Google for select keywords. They also launched a paid search campaign that matched ad copy to the specific keywords.

 

“We also ran targeted Facebook and Twitter campaigns to go from zero up to over 2,000 fans and 500 followers respectively in just a few months,” she continues. “And these were real fans, not just fake or non-interested accounts,” as evidenced by their level of engagement and purchasing interest they showed in the product.

 

Build up social media presence

This might sound like a given for most business owners but the question needs to be asked: Do you have an active Facebook page? Do you post regular updates, which might include photos of items, special discounts, and even giveaways? Do you even have a Facebook page? If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, then it’s time to establish a better social media profile. The same applies to Twitter and YouTube. The more you can use these tools to actively promote your brand, the more you will be able to attract prospective customers to visit your site and buy your products.

 

At the same time, be careful not to oversell. Balance the sales pitches with content relevant to your target audience, such as how-to articles or whitepapers.

 

Says Forrester: “Creating content that resonates with the small business audience can drive targeted traffic via organic search. These visitors can convert into leads for service-based businesses and sales for ecommerce businesses.

 

Study dropout results in your analytics

Another way to boost your online sales is to see if there are any bottlenecks in your checkout process. Check your analytics to see if customers are not completing purchases and if not, when in the sales cycle that is occurring. Perhaps the fault isn’t with your actual products or digital advertising efforts as much as it is your online checkout procedure. Review the steps: Is the navigation complicated, full of superfluous steps? Does the customer have to click through too many pages? If so, you might want to tweak your checkout process to help convert these dropouts to sales.

 

Offer loyalty rewards

Regardless of the nature of your business, all customers like to feel special. Offering loyalty programs, such as cards or points that will award customers discounts or other rewards for their continued purchases is not just an effective way to increase sales but a best practice when it comes to customer retention.

 

Digital marketing consultant Lundberg agrees, noting that loyalty options can be done via e-mails that target customers based on specific purchases or information on their profile. “For example, this can be done via exclusive offers to reward Facebook fans,” she explains.

 

And once the customer signs up, he or she will receive regular news alerts, free shipping offers, and even birthday wishes, according to Lundberg.

 

Solicit customer feedback

Perhaps the best way to find out what you can do to boost your sales conversion rate is to go directly to the source—your customers. Ask for their feedback on your site. Poll them on their level of satisfaction with your business. What kinds of products would they like to see added to your offerings? Has your price point ever been an issue with them? (And to encourage free and unfettered disclosures, allow customers the option of remaining anonymous or cloaking their identity).

 

Sure, you may hear some cold hard truths about your business and your selling practices. But at the same time, the information gleaned could jolt you from complacency to begin the steps you need to take to increase your online sales.

How to win when you’re the underdog

How to win when you're the underdogHow to win when you’re the underdog.

by Mayra Jimenez

 How to win when you’re the underdog.. Yes, size matters. But it’s not the only thing. An ecommerce entrepreneur shows how to compete when you’re outmanned and out-spent.

If your competitors have a head start in your industry, they have the upper hand. Not fair, maybe, but true. Despite what may be an average product or service, seasoned competitors have a simple leg up when it comes to branding and recognition: age.

In internet commerce, for example, age gives you extra ‘cookie points’ with search engines, as seniority is a factor in page rank, authority, link building, and more. Perhaps your senior competitors had it easier when there was less competition, ranking at the top without much effort, and reaping the benefits of limited options.

You might feel you got the short end of the stick because your company was founded in an era of massive competition in your industry. Here are a few tips to position your company among the top players:

Separate “professional” from “robotic”

Larger companies tend to present themselves in a rather corporate manner. Their frosty approach gives you a chance to charm the market with your personalized company story. Clients want to feel they are shopping with a company that cherry-picks their products or personalizes their services in some manner. Casualness and customization are not your enemy! Take advantage of the fact that your ideas don’t have to go through a string of departments to get approved, and make it as personal as you can.

React quickly to industry trends

The most important advantage that you have over your competitor is your ability to react quickly. The bureaucracy of large teams and approval processes are tedious and time-consuming. While your senior competitor moves like an elephant, you’re a vibrant cheetah running rapidly towards your next milestone. Stay abreast of innovative strategies and implement them. This is especially important in ecommerce, as blogging, videos, and social media have changed the rules of converting browsers to customers.

Push the boundaries of your industry playbook

Let yourself think outside the box. Way outside the box. Be bold. As long as the end goal is increasing profit or branding, go for those ideas that sound crazy. Monitor the results closely, and if it’s not working, change it, cheetah.

Bottom line: you have more going for you than you think. Your competitors have paid researchers looking for the next big thing in the industry, and watching what new strategies are out there. They know you exist. So outsmart them. Give them a run for their money.

3 Tips For Choosing A Payment Gateway: Collecting Money Online

3 Tips For Choosing A Payment Gateway: Collecting Money Online

3 Tips For Choosing A Payment Gateway: Collecting Money Online.
As a consumer, when you check out of your local convenience store, you may swipe your credit card through a point-of-sale device and your gas, coffee, and donut are paid. But what if you are the retailer and your business is online? It’s not like you have a card-swiping device at every customer’s PC! There must be a way for you to process that information. Essentially, that is the job that a payment gateway does for online retailers. Roy Banks, president of http://Authorize.net, a leader in the payment gateway industry, describes his company’s function as “the digital version of a hardware point of sale terminal.”

What is a Payment Gateway?
Payment gateways allow online merchants such as eStore owners or auction sellers to accept credit card payments over the internet. They authorize the cardholder’s credit—that is, they check to ensure that the customer has enough money on their credit card to cover the charges. They then place a hold on that amount so the buyer can’t turn around and spend that same money elsewhere before it gets transferred to the retailer’s merchant account. Banks describes this as “the technology…necessary to consummate a payment transaction.”

A Payment Gateway is NOT a Merchant Account.
Many people confuse merchant accounts with payment gateways but they are not the same. Merchant account services act, for the most part, as a liaison between your business bank account and the payment gateway. When a customer orders a product from your online business their card is processed via the payment gateway. The money is then moved over to the merchant account service. The merchant account service then moves those newly captured funds to your business bank account.

3 Tips for choosing a Payment Gateway:

1. Is it PCI-compliant? That means that the company’s security has been audited by a third party and found to be up to industry standards. Since payment gateways store all your customers’ credit card information (sparing you the stress), it also means you can sleep better at night, knowing your customers’ valuable information is safe and sound.

2. Good customer support. ‘Nuf said.

3.Lastly, it is important that the payment gateway you choose be integrated to the third-party solutions you are planning to use. That means things like store front platforms and shopping carts—you want them to be compatible with your gateway.

Payment gateways will not only allow you to collect the monies from your sales, many also offer an array of security features, some of which will help you avoid becoming a victim of fraudulent orders! In the end, they will make your ecommerce business a less-stressful, more pleasant experience—for both you and your customers.