Every online business owner wants to create web site which is optimised to make money selling online. If you are a large organisation, you can do this by paying expensive agencies to set one up for you.
For most of us, the reality is, we have to learn to do it for ourselves.
The good news is that it is achievable. And in this post, I’m going to explain how. I’ll show you a whole range of proven selling techniques that have helped online sellers make money time and time again for online sellers. So, lets get cracking.
1. Be a company that adds value
After you have chosen the right market niche and your sales channels, the first step towards making money is to identify how your online business can add value for your customers. When it comes to online selling, experience has shown that businesses which add value are hugely more successful.
What do I mean by ‘adding value’?
To appreciate ‘adding value’, ask yourself this question: if a thousand websites all sell an identical product, at the same price and all get an equal share of traffic, why does one of them manages to sell 50% of all the products sold?
This happens a lot with online sales. The best-selling site has no price advantage and doesn’t get more customers than any of the others, so how does it get the lion’s share of online sales?
Simple: It adds value for the customer.
Adding value means going beyond just selling a product. You also sell a solution to a problem, improve a lifestyle, offer expertise they need, reinforce a customer’s status, give advice that they can find helpful.
‘Adding value’ means solving your customers’ problems. And by doing this, you can make more money – much more.
So, how do we add value?
How you add value depends entirely on the nature of your business, but there are countless things you can do to make your business stand out. Here are a few examples.
- If you sell products which a customer is likely to need quickly, ensure you provide same or next day delivery.
- If you sell luxury items, a customer will be buying to reinforce their status. Make sure your branding, packaging and website create a high status, luxury identity.
- Offer a quibble free returns service.
- Have products delivered when a customer is at home, at an arranged time.
- Provide advice on how to use the products you sell – perhaps with a series of how to videos or articles.
- Sell related products so a customer can get everything they need from you. If you sell paint, sell paint brushes too.
- Offer exceptional customer service.
- Make sure your website has detailed product descriptions which highlight your expertise in that niche. If a customer thinks you understand the product better than your competitors, they are more likely to buy.
- Create a brand and a website that makes customers feel good about buying from you – are you environmentally friendly? Do you give up some of your profits for good causes?
Sharing your expertise is perhaps the major component to adding value. If you can solve customers’ problems you become a valuable, respected and trusted resource.
2. Write killer product descriptions
If you go to a store, you can take a good look at a product before deciding whether to buy. When selling online, all you can show is an image, some text and, occasionally, a video – so your product descriptions have to be good. Very good.
Here are some tips for writing great product descriptions.
Write your own product descriptions
Firstly, never use the manufacturer’s description as is, even if it is well written. If you do, you just have the same content as everyone else and that duplicate content won’t do you any favours with Google. Instead, rewrite the description, shaping it for your own customers, but keeping the important, rephrased information from the manufacturer in there. Match the style of your writing to the style of your company’s voice. If you have a friendly website, write a friendly description.
State the benefits
Don’t just describe the product’s features – show your customers the benefits of buying. If a hairdryer has a turbo setting, let customers know it can dry your hair quicker. ‘Save time with this amazing turbo-speed hair dryer.’ It’s the benefit that sells the product, not the feature; nobody needs a turbo setting, lots of people need to save time before leaving for work.
Make sure that the benefits you discuss in your descriptions are aimed at your customers – this can massively improve your conversion rates.
Check your writing
Poor spelling, punctuation and grammar on a website really gives customers a poor impression. At best it makes you look unprofessional, at worst it makes you look like a scamming site. This lack of trust will stop people buying. If you write your own website copy you should always get it checked by a professional copywriter who will not only correct mistakes but give advice on how to improve the quality of your content to improve sales.
You should also make sure that the tone of your written voice is friendly, trustworthy and professional. To achieve this, incorporate positive language that will help people feel happy shopping with you.
Don’t give false impressions
Making your products sound good is one thing, but don’t make statements which are inaccurate or give false promises – you could get into trouble with authorities and get lots of negative feedback.
Provide detailed descriptions
Products with just a few words to describe them don’t give customers much to go on. Think of the questions a potential buyer would ask about the product and then seek to answer them – this way they would feel much better informed. They are more likely to buy if you have these descriptions and they’ll come back again.
Avoid death by adjectives
Stay well away from schoolkid style descriptions that just use a lot of adjectives. So avoid things like, ‘A brilliant, fantastic kettle with enormous capacity and superb water boiling capabilities that will guarantee amazing coffee every time.’
Take your own product photographs
A customer won’t click on your image if they’ve already clicked on the same image on another website. So if you have used the manufacturer’s image like everyone else, you are likely to miss out. Taking your own images will make even identical products look different. And taking your own professional looking product images can be achieved easily and inexpensively.
3. Improve turnover with Upselling, Cross Selling and Bundles
Clever websites know how to maximize the profits on a sale and there are three techniques you can use to achieve this: upselling, cross selling and bundling.
Upselling is the art of getting customers to upgrade from a cheaper product to a more expensive one. If, for example, a customer was about to purchase 42 inch HDTV, you might offer them a deal on a more expensive 42 inch 4K model instead. Only a little more expensive but with all those wonderful extra features and the benefits they bring.
Another upselling strategy for online businesses is to promote add-ons or upgrade features to the existing product. If you were selling a car, you would try to get customers to upgrade to alloy wheels or leather seats.
Upselling is often done at the checkout. Just before customers purchase, take them to a page which says, ‘Wait, have you seen this model yet?’ or ‘How about this fantastic upgrade?’ Some won’t change their minds, but some will.
Cross selling is used to get customers to buy additional products. So, if you sold that 42 inch TV wouldn’t it be great if they left with a Play Station or an Xbox as well? Again, the checkout is the place to offer this temptation to your customer. ‘Thanks for buying the TV, and as a thank you, we’d like to offer you a 10% discount on our games consoles – only available before you check out.’ It’s the same principle as putting candy by the checkout of a supermarket and it works just as effectively.
Bundling is the process of grouping separate products together to sell as a single item. For example, you could put body lotion, a bath bomb, shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner together and sell them as a bath and body collection. Bundling is a great way to sell more stock, provided the bundle means the customer is paying a little less for each individual item.
The bundle can be added to your website as a separate product or it can be offered to customers who have bought one of the single items when they get to checkout.
When setting up your own online business think about how you can increase your sales with upselling, cross selling and bundles.
4. Successful marketing techniques for online selling
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that no-one can sell anything if you don’t get any traffic to your website – that’s why marketing is such an important part of your business. In this next section, I’ve provided some highly successful techniques to promote your website.
Many online businesses use pay per click (PPC) advertising as their number one method of promoting themselves. The most well-known provider of PPC is Google Adwords, which allows you to bid to put an advert on Google search results and on other people’s websites. You are not restricted to Google, you can choose other search engines or you can also advertise on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
With networks like Google and Facebook, you create either a text or image ad with a link to your site and then specify a range of keywords you wish to have your ad appear on. When someone uses those keywords to undertake a search, your ad will appear. If someone clicks on your ad, you will then pay the network for that click.
If you sell tennis gear you could schedule adverts to appear when searchers looked for the term ‘tennis rackets’. You can even fix it to appear only in certain locations. To stay within budget, you can limit your spend per click and per week – though the more you bid per click, the better chance you have of being clicked on.
However, bidding $0.50 per click and having a weekly budget of $25 would still bring you 50 new visitors a week – which for a new business would be a start. However, it’s not the number of visitors that count, but the number of those that convert into buyers. There are no guarantees.
You would also need to weigh up the costs of advertising and decide whether this would impact on the pricing of your products.
If PPC is not for you, then there are many other alternative ways to promote your website.
Tweet your message
Find the most appropriate Twitter hashtag for the products you are selling and issue some regular tweets about your business. “New bath and body pamper bundle. Save 20%. Hurry, selling fast! #beauty”
Make sure you set up a Facebook business page
Facebook is a great way to build an audience that can like and share the posts you publish. Start publishing interesting and sharable content about your products and letting people know about your promotions. You’ll soon have a loyal bunch of followers who you can market too.
Build a Pinterest board
Ideal for products that can be made to look interesting in images, Pinterest is a powerful and effective platform for getting people to visit your website. Like Facebook, it works most effectively when people share or ‘repin’ the images you have put on your board. You need a board that has lots of images – so don’t just put ones of your products on there.
Get blogged about
Influential bloggers can change your business overnight with a single blog post. If they write about your business or products, their many readers will visit you and other bloggers will follow suit. It can be a snowball effect that can have a massive impact on the volume of traffic you receive.
You need to find a high ranking blog in your niche and ask the blogger if they would be interested in writing about your business. Of course, sending them a free sample always helps – as does paying them.
Start an affiliate program
You’d be surprised at the number of companies that use affiliates to market their products – including many top brand names. If you have an affiliate program, then website owners and bloggers will promote you on their sites. If they send a visitor your way and they make a sale, you pay the affiliate a commission. Unlike PPC, you only pay when someone makes a purchase.
The amount of commission you pay will depend on the nature of the product you are selling. Physical items usually have a 5% commission whereas digital products can go as high as 50%. Obviously, you would need to factor commission into your pricing, however, if you managed to get 100 affiliates each selling just a single product a week with a $10 profit, that would result in $52,000 per year in additional profit. Worth it?
You can host your own affiliate program simply by installing a free website plugin, e.g. AffiliateWP (for WordPress sites). A much more profitable solution, however, would be to sign up to one of the managed affiliate programs like Rakuten Affiliate Marketing or Webgains. These provide you with an account manager who searches out relevant websites and bloggers to promote you. Importantly, these companies have thousands of website publishers to choose from, meaning your business could be promoted across a lot of websites in a very short time.
5. Develop your unique selling strategy
Why every online seller needs a Unique Selling Strategy
Competition is huge on the internet. Lots of businesses sell similar products at more or less the same price and do so from near identical websites. What can make the difference is having a unique selling strategy; doing things to make your business stand out from the others.
Curate your product range
Choose your product range carefully and think about how that will impact on your customers. A good restaurant, for example, offers a limited but well considered offering of dishes. Offering a wide selection is not always a good idea if some of those products are not right for your store. Think of yourself as a personal shopper, hand-picking a carefully chosen selection for your customers.
Make shopping easier and more enjoyable
Think about your online shop in the same way you would if it were made from bricks and mortar. How easy is it to find everything? How well presented are the products? Is there clear information available to help customers? Can they see products from different perspectives? Is it easy to locate your basket and pay? Does the store have its own style and it is attractive for the target market? Take these things on board and make them a unique selling point for your business.
Showcase your talents
What can your business offer that no-one else can? Have you won an award? Do you have specific qualifications? Has there been media interest in you that you can showcase? Whether it’s the fastest delivery times, the ability to customise products, an industry leader on your team – if it makes you unique, let your customers know.
6. Know how to pitch your products
This is where you need a little bit of psychology. To pitch your products well, you need to understand what motivates your customer to buy. In this section, I’ll show you the different types of customer and how to pitch to them.
Customers in desperate need
These customers have problems that urgently need solving and they are willing to spend money quickly to solve it. Their impulsive mood also means there is the potential for upselling. For these customers, you need to understand what their problems are and use your product description to show how it will make everything better. ‘Quickly and easily stop pipes leaking with our universal pipe seal kit – no mess, no fuss, no insurance claims.’
If you list the ways your products could help out someone who was in a fix, then you would have the perfect content for how to pitch to them.
Serving the hobbyist
A hobbyist is often an enthusiast or connoisseur who will pay a good price for something they really enjoy and will want the best products they can afford to carry out their hobby. Being passionate about their chosen hobby means they will have a good idea about the value of something, so you won’t get away with over inflated prices, however, you may be able to tempt them to an upgrade or a bundle.
When pitching, try to understand the pleasure their hobby gives them and how your products can increase enhance their enjoyment or make them perform better.
If you already have repeat buyers, you are on the way to success – it means they liked you the first time round and are willing to trust you a second time. As you build a relationship with them, the idea is to get them to slowly expand the range of products they buy from you. You should not be pushy with these customers, instead, try to gradually build up their confidence in buying from you a little at a time.
Often repeat buyers come back for the same product over and over again. For example, someone who uses an electronic cigarette may visit to buy their vaping juice on a monthly basis. To pitch to these kinds of cutomers, you need to tempt them with new products which they might be interested in – in this example, new juice flavours or a new e-cigarette. You will then find that they start doing repeat business for more products.
One of the best ways to pitch to these customers is through email marketing, checkout upsells and by good old fashioned printed material sent with the packaging.
Hopefully, this article will have given you lots of ideas of how to be more successful at online seling. You should now know how to:
- Add value for customers
- Write killer product descriptions
- Know how to upsell, cross sell and bundle
- Market your online business
- Develop a unique selling strategy
- Pitch your products to different users
You may also be interested in our article about finding wholesalers.