E-commerce 101: How to Sell More Online

By Nick Veneris

Chances are, even if you’re brand-new to the world of online selling, you’ve got a pretty solid grasp on e-tail. After all, e-commerce sales accounted for $390 billion in 2017 and that number is growing at an impressive clip year over year. Good shoppers don’t always make good salespeople, so we’re here to help you hone some high-value e-commerce sales tactics to help you gain traction from the minute your store goes live.

1)–Upgrade and Sharpen Your Toolkit – With more sales comes more competition, but also more fantastic tools and resources that you can use to help give your sales a much-needed jump-start. From impressive plug-ins that help you track, analyze and grow to the built-in marketing tools that come with your e-commerce platform, you need to make sure you’re using all of the available resources as you scale. Some of the basic tools you’ll need are:

Google Analytics to help you track and analyze sales funnels

Google Keyword Planner for keyword research

Shopify free tools for everything from generating a business name to helping you build out terms and conditions on your website

Heatmap to see where users are getting hung up on your page

2)–Modernize Your Marketing – If you’re new to the world of e-commerce, you’re going to want to get really familiar with phrases like search engine optimization (SEO), affiliate marketing, and user-generated content. You have to be leveraging all three of these marketing strategies at once in order to see massive gains on your web store.

3)–Search Engine Optimization – Before you even hit the launch button, you’re going to need to put some SEO practices in place. Make sure your website is well-optimized with relevant keywords and that your site is being indexed by Google. To make sure your site is being crawled by the search engine, type in “site:” before the URL in the search bar.

For example, search “site:www.mywebsite.com.” If it comes up, you’re good to go. If it doesn’t, you need to ask Google to recrawl it.

4)–Affiliate Marketing – You can give your digital marketing strategy a head start by implementing an affiliate marking program, which takes a fraction of the time, money, and effort to implement compared with some of the other methods on this list. Affiliate marketing is where bloggers, influencers, and publishers are paid to promote your product through affiliate links. Because it relies on a performance-based payment model—i.e., you only pay for the gains—it’s great for new and small businesses.

5)–User-Generated Content – Similar to affiliate marketing, user-generated content, or UGC, serves as the digital version of word of mouth advertising and relies on real users to provide feedback and testimonials to entice others. UGC is a particularly powerful tool in modern marketing where authenticity is non-negotiable.

Some examples of good UGC include long-form reviews and blog posts, unboxing videos, and tagged social media posts. To encourage this type of content creation, you can offer incentives for people to post photos of your product or host giveaways.

6)–Conduct Market Research – Even though it brings tons of value, market research is low on the priorities list for many companies because it can be costly and because it requires sets of data, which may take months or years to collect. With that being said, spending the time and investment to delve deep into your audience and create a target consumer profile can pay back handsomely in the end. The result is that you know exactly who, where, and how to target so that you only attract the consumers who are the most likely to convert.

7)–Improve the User Experience – A huge chunk of cart abandonments relate to poor user experience (UX) or an issue with the site. According to one study, 34 percent of users jump ship because the site wanted them to create an account, 26 percent because the checkout process was too long or too complicated, and 17 percent because the website had errors or crashed. You don’t want these entirely preventable issues to hold you back from closing deals, so make sure you polish up your UX—and test, test, test—before you launch.

8)–Make Your Site Attractive – By the same token, you want to spend some time designing your website so that it looks great and functions well. Make sure you build out every category and product page with accurate, detailed information. Not only will this answer many user questions, but it will also help boost your SEO performance. At the same time, you know that users want a visual experience, so don’t skimp on the photos. If you’re selling your own product or service, always hire a professional photographer for the best results.

9)–Maintain and Improve Your Reputation – Given the trend toward authenticity and transparency, it’s clear that you won’t want the same old tired ads. Unsurprisingly, 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews and 84 percent of people say they trust them as much as personal recommendations. Make sure you’ve got a very solid strategy for handling negative feedback, but don’t try to manipulate reviews. There are lots of tools you can use to monitor your company’s reputation and ensure that it’s always in good standing with your customer base.

Know What Your Buyer Wants

The best piece of advice for any ambitious online seller is this: Pay close attention to consumer behavior research and learn how to adapt. At the end of the day, if you can stay in the favor of the consumer—triggering positive reviews and user-generated content—you’ll be well on your way to doubling or tripling your annual sales. Adopting a consumer-first approach is always the best route to take for businesses of all sizes, online or off!

Nick Veneris is a digital strategist with over twelve years’ experience in planning and executing marketing plans for B2C/B2B brands. Currently, he’s the Marketing Manager for Refersion, the advanced affiliate marketing platform that helps brands manage, track, and grow their affiliate network. @refersion

E-commerce stock photo y PopTika/Shutterstock