It’s 2020, the world is in the grip of the pandemic. Some New Zealand businesses are finding life challenging, but just as many are finding the move to online a glorious silver lining – they can still talk to customers locked away at home, take orders and for a chosen few, life has never been so busy!
As someone who is passionate about the digital world, I can honestly say it was truly exciting to see people embracing its value and recognising the potential for their business to flourish online.
Fast-forward to now, and we seem to have slipped back into our old ways of PC (pre-Covid), where the ‘real world’ dominates and all the possibilities that digital space held for a lot of businesses has been long forgotten. The focus has shifted back to ‘all those other things’ needed to keep businesses running day-to-day.
And I understand. It can feel overwhelming to try and keep up with changes in technology – there’s always some new you just HAVE to have to meet consumer demand. So the easier option is to go back to what you know, with ‘winging it’ online.
But the very real truth is – you could be losing customers. And if you’re okay with that, then there’s no need to read on.
Is it easy to ‘buy’ from you?
Last week my husband and I were trying to find a menu for a local restaurant. They had an ‘online ordering’ system that they put in place last year, but there was no up to date menu and no way to book a table. And we did what most people probably do – we simply looked for another place that made it easier for us to book.
Competition has gone up, because there are more people online. To get attention, your website needs to look good (and function properly) – in just the same way a physical storefront needs street appeal. It’s about building trust, because people need to give you their email address, or even use their credit card. And that’s a big deal.
You also need to make your website easy to use, create ways to ‘capture’ those who aren’t going to buy today (but may in the future) and also help people feel good about becoming your customer.
You need to do more than just ‘put up a sign’
The above points are absolutely crucial when it comes to eCommerce websites.
I belong to a lot of Facebook groups, and if I could get a dollar for everytime I saw people ask ‘how do I get more people to buy from my website online’ – well, let’s just say I could spend the rest of my days laying on a tropical beach somewhere.
The fact is – there is more to selling online than simply putting up a website. And I know it is often a shock to many small business owners that there is not only a lot of work to get people to your site, but then there is even more to get them to buy. It’s normal to have a conversion rate of anywhere from one to three percent of your visitors. So if you get one hundred new people a day to your site, you’d expect to get one to three sales a day. (If you have a lot of repeat visitors it can be higher.)
It just so happens we have a special love for retail and eCommerce here at Identify. We help both independent retailers, and online stores, to get more sales. And where do we start with every single one of them? With their websites.
Recently I interviewed Tracey Smith from our team on my podcast MAP IT Marketing, and she shared some of her top tips on how to improve your sales. Because while my heart belongs to content creation (like writing this column), Tracey loves analysis. She also has her own eCommerce store where she tests out ideas before we recommend them to our clients.
And collectively, here’s our eight top tips to help your website get more sales:
- Make it personal
Did you know that on nearly every website we work with (including our own), the about us page is one of the most common pages visited? For me personally, I won’t work with a company that doesn’t show who is behind the business and this is especially true when it comes to ecommerce businesses.
That’s because I want to spend my money with artisans and small businesses who can offer me that real personal, human touch. And so I want to hear your story, see your face and know why this business is important to you.
- Express Yourself
Senses matter when buying certain products, but of course if we can’t physically pick them up, then your words and images online need to do the selling.
It is not enough to add a product and say ‘Royal blue duck figurine – 20cm.’
Add in descriptions that evoke emotion, describe the smell or the feel – that they are carefully crafted, lovely to hold or that the scent is like Grandma’s rose garden.
Also make sure the photos are really clear and if the images are less than perfect from the suppliers, invest in product photography to make sure they own the look and feel of each product on their page. It’s also amazing what you can create using a little bit of magic from the graphic design platform canva.com
- Keep it chatty
Many websites today have chat pop-ups, because it adds another way for people to connect with you and your business. I personally resisted adding it to our website as I was worried it would mean we had to be online all the time, but I have found that people actually use it like an email and most seem to be happy to wait for a response if you aren’t online.
What’s key is that people using the chat feature are often highly engaged and that often they might be looking for quick clarification on something before hitting buy now, so this provides a great opportunity to get them over the line.
We’re ZOHO partners, so use the ZOHO chat, but you can use the Facebook chat on most websites and it’s easy to set up and use.
- Find your hot spots
Being able to see what actions people take when they visit your website is actually really handy when it comes to understanding what is and isn’t working, in terms of functionality.
HOT JAR is a cool tool, which is free to most businesses. (We use a ZOHO tool called pagesense but it works the same way).
We’ve used it to discover broken links, and it’s incredibly helpful to test the best place to put forms and call to actions on our website.
I will warn you, it can be a little addictive to watch when you first get it set up. But once you’ve gotten the hang of it, we recommend checking it about once a month to see what improvements you could make on your website.
For example – just by changing the position of one form on our website we doubled our conversion rate overnight!
- The un pop-ular pop-up!
Yes, most people say they don’t like them. But popup forms are actually highly effective on websites – when used in the right way.
The ones that get the best type of results use some sort of incentive to help extract an email from the visitor. This could be a discount on first purchase, a free download, or being able to join a club (a far better way to describe a mailing list).
So even if it’s something you’re not too fond of, we still say it’s a good idea to give them a go. Tracey has increased her mailing list by two thousand in the last year, and eighty percent of that growth came from a popup!
- Be subscribable
But if you’re not quite ready for popups, Tracey advises placing sign up forms in your footer on every page (not just the home page). It’s a simple ‘call to action’ that feels less invasive than a popup.
- An easy buy is a good buy
Make it easy, oh so easy, for people to buy from you. One of the most dangerous (but best parts) of the wallet features of Shopify is that they make purchasing something very straightforward and simple. Everything is designed to make it easy, including quick checkouts if you have bought from another Shopify website before.
Because while people may very well want to buy something from you, if it is too hard, or there are too many steps. They’ll move on. Effective selling online is about removing as much effort as possible for the potential purchaser.
The best way to check that buying something from your website is easy is by getting someone to sit down in front of you (that hasn’t used your website before) and ask them to walk through buying a product. Do they get ‘lost’ anywhere? Do they find anything confusing?
- Buy now, pay later
By using Laybuy, Afterpay, Omni, Humm or any other type of ‘payment plan’ is extremely enticing for many people – paying something off on a weekly/fortnightly basis is the preferred method of many today, so make sure you offer it this option.
I do understand that some retailers don’t offer these because either they personally don’t use them, or they don’t like the idea of their customers using them. But Tracey added a great perspective to this because she talked about overcoming a similar battle in her own business.
“I realised it’s not my job to decide how people want to pay. It’s just my job to make sure I’ve made it easy for people to use the methods they use to pay.”
And it’s true – if you want to increase sales on your website, it’s something you need to carefully consider.
Selling online is powerful – especially if the last 18 months are anything to go by. But you can’t simply ‘set and forget’ your website. Just like you would refresh merchandise and displays in a bricks and mortar business, you need to constantly work at making your website attractive and inviting to potential customers. And while it may feel like an effort at times, it will thank you in sales. Which afterall, is the whole point of your business, right?
Learn more by listening to our podcast!