Congratulations on starting your own e-commerce website! You’ve already done lots of work just to get it running, and your brain cells probably couldn’t think of one more improvement to make even if you bribed them with extra coffee. Fortunately, all that’s left to make your site even more awesome can be built off of what you already have.
Bring Them In
When you need advice on an important decision, you prefer to seek out an expert. Where people spend their money is an important decision for them. If you are already an expert on what they’re looking to buy in your field, it will help your business. The way to build this reputation of expertise is to produce great content. Write articles and blog posts on a consistent basis and on topics relevant to what you sell. Make sure you include social media sharing options and targeted keywords in every post! The more content you produce, the better your SEO (search engine optimization), which means even more people will discover you in their related Internet searches.
In addition to your on-site blog, pitch your articles to related blogs and industry news sources. The more avenues that carry your content, the more likely you are to show up in front of potential customers. Check out some other tricks of the trade that make readers more likely to share your articles.
If you’re not on top of this already, make sure you have a logo to feature both on and off your website, in addition to your name. Using it as the profile picture for all of your business’s social media accounts will multiply your brand recognizability. While you’re on social media, feature specials and discount codes specifically for your followers on one platform. This will bring traffic to your e-store in droves. If you notice that you have top promoters — they like and share a lot of your posts, and they’ve spent some money on your site — consider offering them a personal discount or a free item to say thanks.
Keep Them Coming Back for More
You notice that you’ve been getting some hits. That still isn’t turning into a remarkable increase in revenue, though. How do you get people to stop giving your site the once-over and bouncing off to other things?
Try mixing it up every so often. While you need to keep some core essentials consistent — like your URL and brand voice — you should also bring in new elements on a regular basis. This could mean updating your slogan, adding a falling snow background for Christmas, or creating a loyalty rewards program. ThinkGeek’s Geek Points are a great example of this. The loyalty program could even be an immediate opt-in if they create an account with your site for faster shopping in the future. If you don’t want to create an elaborate rewards system, one great perk is simply to offer your members free shipping.
Use your homepage to highlight new additions, current deals, and items that are about to go out of stock. Creating a subtle sense of urgency makes customers more likely to come back and buy what they’ve been eyeing as soon as possible. It also helps to make your website extremely search-friendly. Get inspired by the techniques of e-commerce sites whose navigation you found particularly fun and easy.
Be sparing with your emails — only send them out when you have something to say that’s worth their time. Good reasons to send a newsletter could include a streamlined checkout feature, a business anniversary, a personalized birthday greeting, or a discount code for a customer who hasn’t made a purchase in a while. Keeping emails to a minimum lets customers know that you aren’t going to spam them, which makes them trust you more.
There are other important ways to build trust with your clients: Get accredited by a third-party verification service like TRUSTe, BBB, or VeriSign. Show shipping costs up front in the checkout process — don’t make shoppers hand over their credit card numbers first. Display the forms of payment that you accept before they even add an item to their cart. Arranging all of this information in the footer of each page is a quiet way to let people know about it without having it intrude on the shopping process.
Help Them Decide to Buy
Now your web traffic is roaring, and, unlike Black Widow, you don’t have red in your ledger. The group you want to focus on now is the cost-conscious segment that tends to abandon items in their cart — possibly forever. This article and infographic explains some of the reasons why they do this. Here’s how to guide them gently toward purchase.
Be specific with the wording during the product selection process. Tell your customers, “Add to Cart,” instead of “Buy Now,” which suggests too much commitment too early. Just as bad as “Buy Now” is redirecting them to their shopping cart before they go to it themselves. Once they do make it to checkout on their own, make the process as short and smooth as possible. You can do this by not asking customers to fill in the same info over and over again (such as billing vs. shipping addresses).
A lot of customers go through the process of adding objects to their shopping carts, for price comparison or related reasons. This can lead to the dreaded “abandoned cart.” Add a wish list option (or “save for later”) for these folks, or set up an email program that lets them know if an item they left in their cart has dropped in price. That way, your customers and their friends are up to date on the products they want to buy. Other customers will decide not to buy if they think the price isn’t just right. For the budget-conscious, show them how much they saved via coupon, current sale, or a competitor’s higher price, just by checking out today.
To create the kind of loyalty among your customers that you feel toward your own favorite stores, you have to be amazing. Ship orders in a timely manner, respond instantly to customer service inquiries, and offer promotions and discounts to new and frequent shoppers. Combine all of the above tips and you’ve got one incredible e-commerce site. Happy selling!
Images sources: Lucro Technologies feedgrids