I love buying things from you. I get a real thrill looking at your websites and deciding whether you’re selling something I want to purchase. And selling things online – when done right – can be very profitable.
Which is why one of my favourite parts of my job, that we happily do a lot of, is working with businesses who specialise in the area of ecommerce or have an online store. However, one of the not-so-favourite parts is seeing so many people making the same mistakes over and over again. They set up a website and then get frustrated that they aren’t getting the sales they thought they would – sound familiar?
So this blog is to take you through, step-by-step, all the various things you should look at to improve the sales from your online store, so you can be well on your way to earn the money you hoped you would when you first set it all up.
STEP ONE: An ECommerce Website Needs to Create Sales
We typically recommend that your website is on a platform that integrates really well with websites and marketing automation platforms and for this reason, we don’t generally advocate for a custom build. Our favourite three are Shopify, WooCommerce and Big Commerce, but there are many others that you can also use, for example we have customers who have happily set themselves up with Wix, Squarespace with a Shopify integration or Ecwid.
USE A PLATFORM THAT WILL INTEGRATE WITH A GOOD EMAIL MARKETING AUTOMATION SOLUTION
We prefer using ones that integrate with marketing automation that is beyond Mailchimp, so do check those things out before you choose a platform. This is because it is easier to grow if you start with a website that can accommodate other applications and software as your business grows.
IMAGES AND DESCRIPTIONS
Then there are a few things to think about when it comes to photos and because this is ultimately what will sell your products, it’s crucial to pay a lot of attention to getting them right. Make sure you have more than one angle and if you’re selling clothes, ensure they are on a person with front, back and side photos. Don’t forget measurements of not only the person wearing the clothes but the size measurements of the item too (also applicable for products/objects). And it’s important that descriptions are informative and detailed. Talk about textures, the feel, the weight of the fabric or product, whether it is heavy, cold or soft to touch. Use adjectives to describe every item to make us feel like we are really there with the product – remember that you’re trying to make us fall in love with it so we buy then and there.
Make sure you have Alt Tags on every photo. When you upload the picture, there will be space for the name of your website, name of the product and a brief description of the product. And this is crucial for SEO as it makes your item easier to find it on Google.
IN-DEPTH PRODUCT INFORMATION
The product detail side of things is something we see a lot of people miss out on. Don’t skimp on information, because the more you have, the more likely someone is going to be like ‘this is the thing I have to have’. This includes things like – is it a stretchy fabric, does it have good space around a certain part, is it true to size (especially important for clothes)? The smell and the scent – if it is a fragrance, then get really evocative with that. I find descriptions often go into the technical stuff, but I want to know how it feels and how it smells.
KEEP YOUR ABOUT US PAGE PERSONAL AND RELATABLE
Also for your website, have a really personal ‘about us’ page, because we all buy from people we like and we trust. So show your face, talk about yourself and why you started the store – this all helps to encourage customers to purchase from a small, local person that they feel connected to.
THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE NEEDS TO BE EASY
When it comes to the technical side of your website, your shopping experience needs to be really straight forward. We recommend getting someone who has never used your website to go through and test it, check everything works and provide honest feedback. I do this with all of our clients and quite often we find things that they hadn’t even thought about that are actually significant roadblocks that stop people from buying. And speaking of roadblocks – shipping information. You need to be really clear about whether a customer is going to have to pay for it, before they start adding things to their cart. Otherwise, they may get to the cart and go ‘what, I have to pay for shipping as well?’ And then they get the hell out of there. So ensure this is nice and clear from the get-go.
CONSIDER GET NOW, PAY LATER PLATFORMS
If you have an eCommerce site, Oxipay, Afterpay and Laybuy are really important because even if you don’t use them, New Zealanders love using those applications to buy with. We also recommend having a chat option. For this you can use Facebook, a marketing automation platform or sometimes the web platform has a plug-in or an app. People quite often like to chat about what they are going to buy and ask you questions, so this is really quite useful.
GET A PINTEREST PIN
We also always recommend having all of your products connected to Pinterest – which I will talk about later – but basically this means people can pin an item to their board and save it for later, or other people might see it on there and buy from you.
That is quite a list of things to work on, but the above points are all ‘easy wins’ that can really help your website to perform better and be more engaging.
STEP TWO: Online Shopping Websites need great SEO (Search engine optimisation)
This is all about how easy it is for Google to find you when people are searching for you or a product you sell. So the first thing we suggest is listing yourself in free business directories. We have a list for our clients, but if you Google free business directories, it will come up with all of the New Zealand online directories that you can load your business on to help increase your SEO ranking (getting you closer to that number one spot!)
PINTEREST IS POWERFUL FOR ONLINE RETAILERS
Now lean in a little bit closer because here is one of our secret sauce ingredients. Pinterest – we highly recommend having a page and boards for your products that link back to your website. It is absolutely amazing how effective this is to increase your SEO.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS PAGE
If you are targeting a local market, having a Google My Business page is also beneficial. This is good mainly for local marketing, as opposed to national – so just be aware of its limitations – which is why those free, national directories are great.
STEP THREE: You need strong organic activity on Facebook and Instagram
Organic social media is incredibly powerful. In fact, we won’t work with clients on their paid or automated marketing until this area is really sorted – because it is so important. It’s an area people often leave out or don’t invest adequate time into because it feels too hard, or it’s hard to measure return on. But it’s ESSENTIAL.
These days, if you want an effective, profitable online store (and you do, don’t you?), you must become skilled in using Facebook and Instagram well. Show different posts on each platform, as people will often follow you on both, and don’t do the same post on the same day – respect your followers and share different things to keep them more engaged.
Make sure you are set up for both Instagram and Facebook shopping. You can do this easily via business.facebook.com – you just load up your catalogue. And from here you can tag products in a post and if people like it, they can click on it and go directly through to your website to buy!
Captions for your posts need to be personable and interesting. Use personality and relate to the personality of your clients you are selling to and try to get them to interact with you by asking questions, or encourage them to tag friends/family. Show behind the scenes of your business – facts and around how you work – talk about your team and have real humans in your shots, not just product images. People love hands, feet and faces (where appropriate) to help them see how a real person engages with the product, it’s almost like bringing the items to life.
USER GENERATED CONTENT
Another great tip is making the most of ‘User Generated Content’. So if someone has used your product or is wearing it, and has done a post talking about it (in a positive way of course) share it and credit them on your posts and stories – as often this is what people want when they tag your business. This approach is so effective because it shows that other people like your product, and third party referrals help potential new customers to feel connected to you and that it’s safe to buy from you.
When it comes to Instagram stories, we recommend you do them every day. This is about talking to your audience, not just sharing things, because it will help you connect and build relationships and trust. People are more likely to ask questions if they feel like they know you, and those questions might help them with their decision to buy something. I actually buy a lot from Instagram stories because I will have a conversation with the ‘shop’ about what might fit me or suit me, ask about the colour or heaviness of a product and what it is used for – as these are all things that help me to feel more comfortable and sure about buying the product. And of course, if someone talks about your product in their story, share it in yours.
REPLY TO ALL COMMENTS
Social Media 101 is about creating posts that increase engagement, so make sure you reply to all comments, even the not-so-nice ones. However – you need to always be nice back! This is really important. Retail and online shopping/marketing can be really tricky on the ego sometimes, but it is crucial that you are always pleasant and helpful in your engagement. If you are in a crabby mood, step away, calm down and then come back to your reply.
STEP FOUR: Create a Facebook Ad Funnel to bring in those sales
Dynamic Facebook ads is where your website is connected to your Facebook ad account. So then it feeds through your catalogue/products from your website to Facebook. And here’s the cool part – it is possible to track if someone goes to your website, adds something to their cart but doesn’t complete the sale. An ad on Facebook will then show them that particular item to remind and encourage them to return to the site and buy it. They are called Dynamic Ads because they depend on what someone has already seen on your website.
So further to this we recommend a Facebook funnel, which includes ads to a cold audience who have never seen you before, then a series to people who have been to your website on occasion, then as mentioned, hot ads for those who have added to cart but didn’t buy. Every one of these are slightly different, due to the target audience.
This is something we do a lot and are really passionate about. But – we will only do it once you have really good organic marketing in place with SEO, social media and improving your website (as detailed in Step 1). Otherwise, Facebook funnel ads just don’t work.
STEP FIVE: Emails & Marketing Automation for ECommerce
One of the other things we recommend is having good marketing automation in place, with engaging emails, to help you sell your product. We actually don’t endorse Mailchimp for this process, because there are quite a few limitations around how it works.
With marketing automation you can segment audiences and email different groups of people using deep data – like what people are buying – and then retarget them depending on what they have bought previously. So if someone likes a particular brand of clothing, when you have a new release of that brand, you can email them to let them know! In fact, good email marketing enables you to send emails far more than you may think you can. You can email old customers, new customers, your best customers and you can automate a sequence to help with things like abandoned carts, reminding people to come back and buy. You can do upsells and cross sells and a really cool new welcome nurture sequence for anyone who is a new subscriber and perhaps want to get to know you a little better.
Email marketing is also great for getting reviews – whether on Facebook, Google My Business, or just a direct review that you can use in your marketing. All of these help you to build up collateral and third party referrals to help more people feel confident and relaxed when it comes to buying from you.
Phew! Made it this far? Awesome. It’s pretty detailed, but what we have just gone through are all highly-effective ways of increasing sales from your online store. We’ve seen them all in action and when used collectively, I’m confident they will make an impact.
So why not try some of these action points for your website today, and let us know in 3-6 months time what difference you have seen? Don’t forget to track your results and analyse any data you capture – it’s crucial in understanding how people get to your website and what actions they take on the path to purchasing.