Every man and his dog has a website today. Or at least, it seems like it.
Getting a website is getting easier and easier. You can buy a theme and use WordPress. You can do-it-yourself with Squarespace or Wix. Heck, you could even spend tens of thousands of dollars on a custom-designed site that looks exactly as you imagined.
Like this one:
But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Just because you built it, it doesn’t mean anyone is going to come. Worse, just because you have a website it doesn’t mean you’ll make sales. You need more than just a great product.
You’ve got to:
1) Make it easy for customers to find your website and buy your products.
2) Make the experience so great they come back to buy, again and again.
Explain your products well
From the guy who convinced the world to ship glitter to our enemies to the marketing team at Dollar Shave Club. They nailed their product descriptions.
You’ve got to do the same. Take the time to write appealing content that explains who you are, and more importantly, the benefits your customers will get from your products. I tell my clients to write their descriptions in the same language they’d use to explain their product to a friend.
Take decent photos
Go take a look at a couple of your competitors. Like right now. Pay attention to those obvious stock pictures that every seller is using. You know the ones I mean. They were provided by your random supplier in China and are only a smidge better than potato quality.
All these types of photos do is communicate to a customer the products are exactly the same. So they’ll shop around until they find who is offering the lowest price.
Instead, take your own. Good quality photos help a potential customer form a good first impression of your website, which drives up your conversion rate. If you feel up to it, video content is even better, as it allows you to demonstrate how a particular product works, in the real world.
Establish your credibility
You need testimonials. Period. Hustle and get a few products out, so you can start getting actual feedback and reviews from real people. Customers are far more likely to trust a fellow shopper than the pitch you’re giving as the business owner.
I’d recommend making it easy to leave reviews on your site, Facebook page, Google + profile, or wherever it is you’re engaging with your fans. Unbiased feedback can be the kick a potential customer needs to make a purchase.
It’s a given that you’ve got a SSL certificate installed and you’re serving pages over https with your store. I also recommend reaching out to third-party providers who will scan your site and declare it free from any malware or malicious software, and wear their badge with pride.
Don’t have a maze of clicks
The easiest way to lose customers is to make the purchase process difficult. From finding a product, to filling in the order details and making a payment, try to simplify it as much as possible. Things like a search functionality and the ability to save (and remember) any details they entered for next time all help to reduce the amount of clicks a customer needs to make. Remember, if they can’t find what they’re looking for on your site, they’ll go with the competition.
Make checkout a breeze
One of my pet peeves is how difficult it still is to make a purchase on many online stores. Your goal should be to make it simple. Use a cart that allows history and products to be saved across devices, and allows a shopper to register and save all their details for next time. But don’t force them to. Some people will never want to create an account, so give them the option to make a purchase as a “guest” and they can always sign up later.
Your site must work on a mobile
One of the biggest mistakes we see with our clients websites is they weren’t designed to be responsive. Today, customers demand well-functioning websites that work across browsers and devices. If you’ve not yet got your site working responsively, just know you’re agitating about half of all internet users. Right now 53 percent of internet traffic is coming from mobile devices.
You need to promote it
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the best website in the world, if no one is talking about it, it may as well not exist. Set aside a budget for promotion, and start getting the word out.
- Run targeted ads on Facebook or Google
- Pay an influencer to promote your products
- Start writing and sharing content from your blog
- Sponsor a community event or local charity
- Reach out to local press with an idea for a story
- Join groups in your niche and add value to the discussion
There’s a ton of options. The only thing I’d recommend here is to start with a single channel, and master this before you try to do too much at once. Staying active on one channel also helps you connect with your fans, because you can build relationships and create loyal customers.
Be awesome at customer service
Now a website is great because it’s like a sales rep who never sleeps. But it also means you’ll have questions and comments coming in at all hours of the day. Maybe a customer needs help with a purchase, or they have a couple of questions about your range, or they may just want to speak to a real person before clicking “buy.” It happens.
Live chat is a great tool for customer service, especially if you’re selling an expensive product or one that needs a little explaining. It enables customers to start a conversation in real time with a real person, which can do wonders for increasing your conversion rate. It’s a must have at this point.
But before you get a potential client all in a tiff because they can’t reach you, set up clear expectations for response times and availability. Let them know how long it’ll take for you to reply, and don’t forget to setup the internal processes you need to ensure questions are tracked, managed and responded to. Oh, and don’t forget to include an easy-to-understand returns and refund policy.
Starting a business doesn’t need to be hard, but you’ve got to nail a few fundamentals if you want your online store to actually make money. Get the basics sorted, then double down on what’s working to drive even more customers and get more sales. There’s never been a greater time to take advantage of the internet age, so what are you waiting for?