In an ever-evolving digital retail landscape, it seems as though the number of new "storefronts"--and the pioneering entrepreneurs who man them--is increasing exponentially each day. Not only is competition stiffer, but everyone is vying for the eyes and wallets of potential customers--including you. So, to help get your products and/or service offerings out ahead of the pack, here's our comprehensive primer on how to increase your online sales in the direct-to-consumer (D2C) age.
Before building your first catalog, you have to establish not only who you're selling to, but also why you think your product or service is going to be important to that person. For some, this means creating "buyer personas" which are essentially personality/behavioral templates that can be used to get an approximation of what potential customers would be most likely to buy, use and promote among their peers. Establishing your target audience is arguably the most important step in building brand presence and credibility, which ultimately leads to increased sales. It's simply not enough to say, "Oh, well our audience is anyone who'd want to use what we provide," as each potential customer will have their own preferred method of doing business with your brand, and not everyone is going to automatically pick up what you're trying to put down. Some key points to keep in mind when creating accurate buyer personas include:
Once you've established a firm set of buyer personas, you'll need to start familiarizing yourself with their journey. As mentioned before, every potential customer is different and will have different ways in which they'll interact with your brand. Taking the time to curate a streamlined, yet authentic, customer journey will pay off in spades once it comes time to start selling. Traditionally, the customer journey is comprised of three stages:
With all of these tips in mind, now you can start to concept another important aspect of your online sales strategy: your content marketing plan.
We've briefly discussed some of the steps necessary toward creating an ironclad content marketing plan, but there's far more to it than a few well-timed blog posts. Let's revisit the three major steps of the customer journey and explore how to approach each one thoughtfully:
Again, the awareness stage of the journey is all about keeping your brand at the top of peoples' minds, and the opportunities to do so are virtually endless. Remember: potential customers are looking to find out as much information about your brand and the alternatives, so you need to make sure you're providing relevant, easy-to-find, top-of-the-funnel content to help answer even the most pressing questions. This can include:
This is also the stage where customers are most likely to find your brand via search, so it's imperative you utilize relevant keywords and phrases throughout your content to attract more qualified leads by providing answers to specific pain points.
Google Search is a big fan of well-organized, highly searchable content with low bounce rates, so the more effort you put toward driving quality traffic to your sites, landing pages, and e-commerce portals, the higher your chances are of converting leads into sales.
This stage in the journey is all about making informed comparisons between competing brands, so your content needs to further drive your product's usefulness home. Examples of some effective middle-of-the-funnel content pieces include:
These content pieces need to be richer than the Awareness ones, but not too robust, as it could overwhelm buyers who've yet to settle on a top choice. It's still recommended you use relevant keywords and phrases and make sure your content pieces address specific pain points that directly affect your target audience.
In this stage, you can breathe a little easier, as the heaviest lifting is mostly done at this point. Hard sales points aren't needed here, so your content needs to focus on free trials, vendor comparisons, testimonials, and existing product reviews.
Essentially, the less complicated you make the journey for your customers, the more likely they are to move further down the funnel faster, leading to a higher likelihood of more sales.
Before getting into the pros and cons of launching paid media campaigns, know that paid advertising isn't for everyone, and your business objectives can greatly affect the types of campaigns (and budgets) you use.
Paid advertising, when done correctly, can really help boost your brand's visibility, credibility and overall viability in the digital space. Whether you decide to launch a Facebook conversion ad campaign or a multi-level paid search campaign, consider these:
Although organic traffic tends to have a longer shelf life, the tradeoff is a much slower build toward achieving your overall traffic goals, so it's best to employ paid and organic content strategies, concurrently, to yield the best results.
Once you've got your content strategies in sync, you'll start to see your business gain some traction in the form of sales. Now there's a whole new set of e-commerce hurdles you'll have to consider, right? Once customers start investing in your product or service, your new objective is to make the checkout process--and anything that happens after that--as quick and painless as possible. Keep these aspects in mind:
There you have it! Not only does creating comprehensive business and marketing plans help save you huge amounts of time in the long run, but they also help you to avoid the headaches and pitfalls that some online storefronts can run into when breaking into the market. With a little planning and a lot of due diligence, you can increase traffic to your site, boost your brand's stake in the industry, and, above all, help increase your online sales.
Eniture Technology specializes in helping e-Commerce merchants grow by providing useful information, digital marketing services, off-the-shelf apps that solve common problems, and custom programming services. Please contact us if you need help growing your online business or implementing the concepts presented in this blog post.
Interested in learning more? Start with our free guide on how to increase online sales, and subscribe to our blog!
© 2015 Eniture LLC. All rights reserved.