As we slip our Ugg boots on to sit down at the desk parked awkwardly in the living room, another Zoom meeting loads up and it seems as normal as making toast. We’re all now starting to feel more at ease and productive running our businesses from home and even excited about the path to selling online.
In our last blog From Bricks to Clicks … we shared tips on the key areas your business needs to succeed when making the move to selling online. Benefits like 24/7 trading, increasing reach to a global market and gaining invaluable customer insights were some of the main reasons to move to your selling efforts online. We also explored three main areas to get right to ensure your online selling is a big success:
- determining your online business model
- deciding where to sell and setup the platform
- providing excellent customer service.
With some new options, steps taken, and decisions made about selling online, we can now look at some powerful digital marketing tips to get your online sales soaring.
Why understanding your audience matters
Creating a clear and defined target market is an essential task before getting too far along the selling journey.
It’s a foundational activity in marketing because your audience isn’t ‘everyone’. Imagine trying to promote and appeal to everyone with your particular offering, it does not work. Over time your market segments may expand or change, but it is best to choose one or two target markets only and understand them well.
The trick is to identify and understand your particular forte, so you can dominate it. This makes your precious marketing budget go much further too.
Ways to find out more about your audience
Not sure what search engine friendly keywords to use for your business or ad to get in front of the right customers? These research tools are a fun and easy way to help you out.
By searching for words or terms associated with your products or services, keyword research tools help you find the keywords most relevant for your business.
Google’s Keyword Planner as part of GoogleAdwords can also give you a bid estimate for each keyword, so you can determine your advertising budget. Semrush is another popular keyword tool which offers a free trial and ongoing paid option.
Google Keyword Trends
Data tells a story and the major benefit of Google Keyword Trends for your business is that you can identify seasonal trends then create and promote the right content at the right time to increase visibility of your offering. It also allows you to avoid overnight sensations by looking at data popularity spikes and finding relevant topics trending right now you can capitalise on within your website content and advertising. They also help to plan your social media content calendar more powerfully!
Google Analytics is a biggie, so strap in! This tool is essential to have linked to your business’s website as it provides excellent reports about the kind people visiting your website, how they got their and what they do to help build a better picture of your audience.
More about this one later.
Facebook Audience Insights – using Ads Manager
Like Google Analytics, the more customer insights you can review, the better placed you are to deliver meaningful messages to people, which is the rationale behind Facebook’s Audience Insights. This tool allows business owners to learn more about their target audiences, including information about geography, demographics, purchase behaviour and more.
For instance you can look at buyer behaviour around purchasing activity. For example, heavy buyers of men’s shoes instore vs. online. You can view that information for different groups of people such people on Facebook (your general audience), people connected to your page or event and other audiences you may have customised in the past. Handy!
Free online reports on media consumption
Free online reports on media consumption provide a thorough view of how people are consuming media and entertainment, particularly in digital forms. They examine the behaviours, preferences, and trends impacting the industry and how they are changing. Knowing the popularity of the video medium, or whether certain audiences hate ads for example are useful insights for you to consider as part of your online selling tactics mix.
Surveying existing customers
Satisfied customers become loyal, repeat customers that are more likely to repurchase and share their experience with others. A crucial step in meeting the needs of your customers is asking how they feel about your company. You should survey them to find out how they feel about your products, services and prices and company itself.
It’s a powerful way to tune into what they like, dislike and also spot any areas for improvement. Survey Monkey is a popular easy to use tool to get the job done.
Promotional Channels and Tips
Google Search (unpaid and paid)
People are searching for your products right now, make sure you’re visible! Google dominates the search engine use with 98% market share so focus on that. Here are some top tips for doing search well:
SEO – Unpaid Search
Start with these core areas to maximise your visibility and sales online:
- Keyword research: It’s necessary to figure out what people are typing into Google, compare the data, and then optimise our pages based on that.
- Beautiful backlinks: Backlinks are links pointing to your website, from other websites. Think of it like a behind the scenes referral to your site. It’s one of the top three ranking factors in the eyes of Google (they do still matter. Don’t believe the hype).
- Optimise content: Those are the first places Google is going to look at to get a feel for what your page is about are the page title, the URL and the H1 tag and subheadings. Be sure to place your researched keywords there liberally so long as the customer experience is front of mind, that it is appealing for the user.
- Write more: Google’s goal is to give users the best possible result that can solve their query. Most of the time, longer, high-quality content does that better so put the effort into providing SUPER USEFUL information without waffling on too much!
Moz create a free SEO 101 guide to get your head around the in’s and out’s of SEO
Google Ads – Paid Search
Digital Advertising (paid search) is an efficient way to drive more traffic to your site, rather than via organic content. While organic search pays off big time in the long run, it can take time to be recognised by the Google bots. Paid Search pays off fast, helps you generate more qualified (ready to buy) leads, provides measurable results (data is so handy!) and improves brand recognition. Like unpaid search it is important to know what your customers are searching for and what problem their trying to solve to target and write your ads.
There’s a lot going for Google Ads and it can be easy on your business’s back pocket!
The basics of search engine promotions is easy to get started though the learning curve gets pretty steep and technical the further you go, though luckily there’s plenty of local marketing businesses on the Sunshine Coast who can help you get setup and get results in google.
Build your own website
Creating your own website is an essential part of your digital marketing mix as it’s your shop front and the central point for which a lot of the other marketing efforts covered here point to. You might be getting great traffic from search and social media marketing though if you’re website isn’t doing it’s job you’re pouring money down the drain. Once you’re up and running with your website there’s a range of additional promotional strategies you can use such as:
- Creating regular, fresh and engaging content which you’re potential buyers and existing customers and search engines LOVE
- Time limited offers and pricing to drive a sense of urgency to buy now
- Value-add promotions like free downloads about the item or service. Free guidebooks for PDF download or ‘how to’ videos make customers feel they are getting some great free value.
- Collecting buyer data so you can remarket to them later when you have new or different offers by using tracking codes from google and facebook
- We’ve all clicked on something to buy then left it in the cart just to be sure we reeeeally want it. Ensure your website can generate automated abandoned cart communications to seal the deal.
- Live chat to service your customers and nail that sale while they are on the page!
Which channels are you using? Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, Youtube, Twitter are all channels which provide significant opportunities to build a tribe around your brand and act as a magnet to draw people to your online business.
Unpaid content and paid advertisements have big pulling power to skyrocket your sales over time. The big ones right now are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and private messaging apps. Does your brand have a presence there? Good chances are your audience is using one or both of these platforms. And the good new is that Facebook owns Instagram, Facebook Messenger and you can connect these platforms and manage promotions from the one platform Facebook Business Manager.
Unpaid vs. paid content opportunities
Social media helps you engage with your customers, allowing you to find out what people are saying about your business. Think of social media as a tribe creating magnet rather than a sledgehammer, like the noisy ads on TV. You can also use unpaid and paid social media for advertising, competitions and giveaways and mobile apps.
Social media help businesses with online selling by:
- increasing traffic to your website which improve its search engine ranking (visibility online)
- developing your brand
- attracting customers, getting customer feedback and building customer loyalty
- keeping an eye on your competitors
- increasing your market reach, including international markets
- doing market research at reduced costs
- increasing revenue by building customer networks and advertising
Email marketing is still one of the best marketing channels available to build an authentic connection with the people that keep our businesses. Email generates $38 for every dollar spent on average, which is a 3,800% return on investment. Not too shabby. It relies heavily on developing a clear acquisition plan to build a database of people who want to hear from you and ensuring they get the right message at the right time.
Your planning need to cover the basics like defining an audience (tick you got that), establishing some goals, creating a way for people to sign up to a list such as via free value-add downloads on your website, choosing an email campaign type like eNews or new product announcement and making a schedule for sending such as once a month. Programs like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor are easy to use programs for email marketing packed full with templates and analytics to see how people are interacting with your email.
Outreach – engage, engage, engage
Don’t be afraid to partner with others to sell your product and share the news via your social channels and traditional media like online newspapers, TV and radio.
Say you’re a sock seller and you know a great online shoe shop that seems to be a kindred spirit. Collaboration can be magical and foster new and unpredictable revenue streams (… think of the backlinks and social media fun too)
You can also reach out to prominent bloggers and influencers to sample your product or service too. Their public advocacy and trial of your brand could see your sales going through the roof with just one mention. Be mindful to align with those who’s values, style and tone fit with your brand. Tribe and Scrunch are two useful online platforms to connect brands with online influencers.
Taking the time to understand your company’s data is one of the most vital components in selling online. It helps you compare expected results to actual results and can influence and the direction you take next.
To answer questions about improving sales, to tweak marketing strategies, and customer acquisition tactics these areas must be measured in some form or another. Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and customer surveys or customer research are all powerful and simple methods to know your business well and to thrive in the online selling environment. You can also configure them to specifically track your sales results and promotional efforts.
Google Analytics can be quite complex due to the massive scope of information available to understand your audience and site’s activity, so we’ll focus on four of the most important areas to gain a good insight into your audience.
Gender and age
Knowing who makes up the main proportion of your site visitors is gold in terms of making sure how you market to them is appropriate. For instance has your site attracted 75% 40-60 year old males, or 18 to 25 year old females? Marketing to those two demographics would be done completely differently so it’s vital to understand the age and gender of your visitors.
While many countries can share the same common language like English or Spanish, there are a number of different cultural aspects to take into consideration.
Visual content and writing that works well in converting to a sale in one country may not have the same outcome in others. It’s worth knowing where your primary purchasers are located so you know how best to customise your writing.
If you use the Interests insights with a GoogleAds Pay Per Click advertising spend, you’ll be able to better customize your advertisement writing to appeal to the right demographic. For content creators, you’ll know what content your users want to see better.
Acquisition, referral traffic
Looking into the primary sources of referral traffic is an exercise that pays off. This is because you can find out who’s mentioning your website and it tells you a lot about the audience.
If someone is referring their people to you, they’ve noticed something worthwhile and their website visitors (‘traffic’) trusts their judgement. It’s a strong endorsement of your business.
We hope you’ve taken one or two tips and resources from this article to help you succeed in selling online.
If you’re looking for some additional resources to help you succeed with online selling, check out the Sunshine Coast Council’s Level Up Program website for further resources and ongoing training opportunities. http://levelupsunshinecoast.org.au/