Selling products through the internet has several advantages and disadvantages when compared to traditional shopfronts. While an online shop can potentially have far more visibility, it can be harder to prompt a buying decision in consumers.
This is especially true as the internet is filled with so many competitors that are trying to capture the same audience, sticking out to a consumer is its own art form.
Therefore boosting online sales has to come from a clever combination of tactics ranging from digital marketing strategies like search engine optimisation to advanced methods of product page design.
The great thing about the internet is that the purchase journey of consumers can be tracked and broken down into analytical information that will inform future strategy. Keeping these things in mind, let’s look at some clever ways in which you can increase the sales on your online store.
Optimise your product range
The internet is already a crowed place, so simplification is always going to win out against bombarding users with an overly diverse range of similar products. Optimisation of your product matrix is not just a strategy limited to online sales, but the theory is nonetheless very applicable here.
It’s true that providing a smaller range of high quality products with good copy written about them is always going to perform better for online sales than a crowded storefront. Focused products with focused marketing will always generate higher sales online.
The focus should not be to appease every visitor to the website. The focus should be to instead please as many people as possible with the same product, and perhaps diversify that product if necessary.
A single product or a single, specified range of products can communicate its feature benefits much more clearly. This will keep the customer focused on a single buying decision that can be highly targeted with well written copy, videos or images.
This is not to say that other products cannot be sold, but they should be offered in a different way to the main seller. Follow up offers that are displayed after a purchase is made can generate some bonus sales of backend products. The most important thing is not to jeopardise the main sale by offering too many competing options.
This can be easily tested by re-organising the home page to feature the main product you want to push and surrounding it with detailed copy. You will likely find that this will boost sales.
Redesign and reposition subscription offers
Opt-in offers like email sign ups and newsletters are good ways to build up a client base that you can continue to market products to. It allows you to foster a continued relationship with customers that will generate loyalty and ultimately more purchases.
If the copy of the subscription offer is not long, then it should be placed somewhere on the homepage where a customer will easily see it. If it is long then it should be included somewhere behind product details and testimonials, usually on a second or third page.
It’s also prudent to place a subscription offer on every page of your site, usually in the form of a sidebar or even a dynamic advertisement. While it sounds simple, it’s true that the more times the offer is made; the more subscriptions will be recorded.
Capturing users who have shown interest in your product and building trust with them is one of the best ways to boost sales in the long term.
Use pop-up alternatives
Pop-up advertisements have somewhat become a recurring meme in internet culture as being annoying or invasive. While this can be true on websites where users aren’t looking to buy, it is a different story on a product website.
While pop-ups are routinely blocked by services like Google, “hover ads” are a workaround that are functionally similar to them. However the hover ads, if used correctly, can be a powerful addition to on-page elements that encourage a purchase decision.
The hover ads are so effective because they foster further engagement with an audience that is already ready to hear an advertising message. They are on your site to shop, so opportunities to deliver further information to them while they are in this mindset should not be wasted.
Analytic tools will let you monitor the hover ads that are performing best and help inform how you will continue to use them.
Refine the headline and copy
A headline will have a major effect on overall online sales. It is the first piece of copy that users will read so it needs to be attention-grabbing and persuasive. Just like any piece of advertising, the headline needs to identify a need or desire in the target audience and then offer a solution.
For example, a cleaning product with a headline that says “High quality cleaning chemical for your bathroom” is only describing what the product is and what it does. However a headline stating “You can finally keep your bathroom healthy, fresh and clean with our easy-to-use cleaning solution” is a better example.
The second example is superior because it outlines the benefit to the consumer than meets the needs they are looking for. Deep down, people want clean and fresh bathrooms because they want a relaxing, sanitary space. They don’t just want a cleaning product; they want the benefits the cleaning product gives.
This is advertising 101 but it can be easy to forget that this kind of copy needs to be used at every stage of the purchase journey, reminding the target audience what the key set of benefits is.
This lesson should also be applied to the copy attached to the product itself. Before talking about how great the product is, you need to add detail about the problem or desire it’s solving.
Doing this shows that you understand and relate with customers about what they want or need. After this is established, then you can go into detail about why the product is so special.
The only way to add to quality copy is to prove that it is not just slick advertising speak, but that the product was a genuine solution for customers. This is done primarily via the inclusion of customer testimonials and reviews on the product page.
These testimonials and ratings need to be from genuine customers using their natural language. This adds a profound sense of credibility to the product as real people used and benefited from it. Credibility can also be enhanced by small amounts of copy detailing your credentials, history and motivation for serving the product.
Small changes like converting the tense of copy from “we” and “I” to “you” are useful in facilitating a better connection with the target audience. This personal address of the customers is much more effective in generating online sales than speaking purely from the business perspective.
Re-format the copy
In the age of the internet, people are very impatient. This means that the most of the time the target audience is unlikely to read every word of the copy, no matter how carefully written it is.
People who “skim” or “scan” page content will go through a webpage very quickly, only taking in the words or phrases that capture their eye. This is why it’s important to use text tools to place emphasis on the parts of the copy you want these readers to see.
Elements like bold, highlighting and italics can bring attention to certain parts of the copy. Formatting tricks like short paragraphs that are spaced out and under relevant subheadings help to break up otherwise blocky copy.
Bulleted lists are also a useful tool in highlighting the key benefits of a product without getting bogged down in sentence structuring.
Imply a sense of urgency
As good as the copy may be if the audience does not have some kind of pressure on them to buy then you may lose some of them. A core part of advertising is convincing the audience they have no time to lose when purchasing a product. These tactics might be considered cheeky, but they are incredibly effective at boosting sales numbers.
The best ways to implement these urgency factors is near the end of the product copy where the offer to purchase is displayed. The audience has read all of your amazing copy and is at the critical decision making point of the purchase, so this is the best time to give them a little nudge.
Limited time offers, discount codes, limited product stock and bonuses if they buy within a certain timeframe are all great examples of urgency factors applied to the audiences’ purchase decision.
Don’t ask for a purchase too early
Removing elements of copy that encourage a purchase decision from the top parts of a web page is a good way to improve sales. While this may sound counter-intuitive, there’s a good reason for it.
Usually when someone navigates to a product page they are looking for information such as product features. The last thing they want is to be bombarded with calls to action before they even know if they want the product yet.
For this reason, calls to action should be restricted to the bottom areas of the page, after the audience has had a chance to read and be convinced by the copy. This also lends a sense of credibility as the audience appreciates not being aggressively sold to right from the outset.
The internet is a great place to sell products because the technology allows for multimedia elements to be used in conjunction with copy. Images, videos and graphics are all great ways to make the audience more familiar with what they are considering to buy.
A professional video with a product description or even a “how to use” infomercial is an awesome addition to a product page. The user will not only see the product used by another human being but understand its full range of applications, improving their chances of buying.
Images and graphical elements can give users the time they need to examine the product in detail. 360 degree graphics that let users see a product from every angle are incredibly effective in this regard.
Re-target successful purchases
After someone buys one of your products, their relationship with your business shouldn’t end there. This person is now part of a new target audience, the audience that is proven to be convinced by your messaging.
Follow-up emails are easy to distribute because a customer will usually have supplied their email in the ordering process. These automated emails are a great way to remind the customer of where they bought the product and why they should take another look at the website.
A large percentage of customers will make another purchase when prompted to again; this is why it’s so important to follow up with every one of them.
Customers who return after making an initial purchase can targeted with other products that weren’t primarily featured on the storefront, giving an opportunity to sell any backend products.
While the methods that have been discussed so far relate primarily to product copy and advertising tricks, they are only useful if the target audience is actually being subjected to them.
SEO is the digital marketing discipline that works to refine the on and off-page elements of the website in order to make it more visible to search engines like Google. Since a large portion of internet sales come from shoppers doing a Google search for a product, it’s crucial for your website to appear in those search results.
The proper use of SEO will allow your product website to gain its best organic visibility. This lends itself to your credibility because a top ranking in search results always implies an authoritative and sincere solution to the audience’s search query.
SEO when combined with all the other advertising methods creates a profitable cycle of audiences organically discovering a product page and then being convinced by its copy. This harmony of SEO and on-page advertising is the crux of successful digital marketing.
Boost your online sales by combining these methods
Online or digital marketing is, at least fundamentally, very similar in principle to marketing in any other format. Maximising sales in the online world comes not only from the successful implementation of tried and true advertising theory but from utilising all of the digital advantages inherent to the platform.
The clever synergy of well-written copy, formatting, multimedia, content marketing and SEO is by far the most effective tool in boosting online sales.
What do you think about these clever tactics to help boost your sales? Will you try any of them for your business? Let us know in the comments section below, we would love to get your opinion.
Read ➡ Why Does SEO Take So Long?
Lucas is the Managing Director and the Head of SEO Strategy at SEO Shark. He has over 15 years of experience in achieving SEO results for small and medium businesses as well as multinational and ASX-listed brands. He is also an author of multiple publications about digital marketing.