5 tricks to successfully selling online

Published: 19/02/2020

In recent years the growth of online sales has been astronomical, in fact, the stats show in 2019 £1 of every £5 spent in the UK was spent online. What does that add up to?

  • UK e-commerce sales equate to a whopping £586 billion a year
  • Online retail alone accounts for £76 billion annually
  • It’s predicted by next year 93% of British internet users will shop online.

It’s pretty safe to assume then that business owners who operate online want a piece of the action, so we’re here to help. Whether you’re an online-only operation or you’ve got your finger in multiple pies, read on to discover our five top tips for successfully selling online. 

1. Have a great website 

Here’s a fun fact for you, the average online browser has an attention span of just eight seconds when they land on a new website. Yep, eight seconds. So it’s absolutely crucial your website is user-friendly, offers a great experience, and is effortless to navigate. 

In fact, 57% of consumers admit they wouldn’t recommend a business to friends and family if they had a poorly designed site. So, here’s what you need to be doing:

Make it mobile-friendly

For internet shoppers, there’s no distinction between browsing on a smartphone, tablet or desktop PC, so your website should reflect that. 

According to Google, as many as 61% of users wouldn’t return to a site that wasn’t mobile-friendly, so while you might think you’ve developed a top-notch site, if it’s not optimised for mobile, chances are you’ll lose sales. 

Remember readability

Anyone who lands on your site should be able to painlessly skim for keywords and phrases that answer their questions and show them what they’re looking for. Here’s how to achieve that level of readability:

  • Keep your copy short and simple
  • Use bullet points to break things up
  • Ensure there’s plenty of white space on every page
  • Use a font that’s plain and easy to read (avoid serif or cursive options)
  • Break paragraphs up and use subheadings regularly
  • Use text colours that are easily distinguished from the background
  • Organise your content into categories that users can easily navigate

Remember: the rule of thumb is that a user should be able to navigate to any page on your site within two clicks. Research shows any more than two and you’ll lose their attention. 

Look at load time

How long does it take the elements of your site to load? Between four and six seconds is the optimum load time, any longer and it’s more than just an irritant for consumers, it will drive them elsewhere. 

Lost custom is enough to induce cold sweats as it is, but the nightmares don’t end there. A less-than-optimum load time will also negatively impact your Google ranking, making it harder for future shoppers to find your site when searching. In a nutshell, it can be crippling for online business, so if you want to sell well online, work on your site’s loading time.

2. Always put the customer first 

Don’t be fooled into thinking customer service is reserved for face-to-face purchases only. More often than not when it comes to buying online, consumers are looking for a bit of reassurance first and that doesn’t have to come via any direct contact, but through their experience as a whole. 

The customer experience

The customer experience refers to not only their contact with your website but at every stage of their interaction with your business. That includes your marketing efforts, social media pages, emails, and of course website. Make all these interactions positive and you’ll boost your chances of an online sale. 

How? Ensure all your channels promote a consistent brand image through tone of voice, iconography, fonts, etc. For a more detailed guide and info on how to get it right head here.

Make yourself available

When you operate in the online world it can be tricky to develop the same personal connection as your bricks and mortar counterparts. But for consumers, it’s important they can reach someone to ask questions, find out more info or make a complaint. 

To do this, you could pop a contact form, email address, or links to your social pages on your site, but just remember to keep on top of responses to avoid frustration and feelings of abandonment. 

Did you know? A customer who feels they’ve been subjected to poor customer service will tell twice as many people as they might if it’d been positive. 

Tip: to take your customer experience to the next level, consider adding something like a live chatbot to your site so people can quickly and conveniently get the answers they need.

The rise of social media has made customer complaints more visible than ever, with Twitter and Facebook being particular hotspots, so remember to reply to any feedback whether it’s good or bad to show anyone who’s looking that you care, and avoid it costing you sales. 

Make payments simple

Keep the buying process simple - consumers are all about convenience and can be turned off by a lack of it. Adopting a straightforward payment gateway that doesn’t involve much faffing from their end (like entering loads of details), and letting them pay using the latest methods (think ApplePay and E-wallets) will do the trick. 

A top tip for ensuring your systems offer a convenient service is to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Imagine yourself trying to make a snappy purchase during a busy commute and ask yourself:

  • Is this quick and easy?
  • Are there any hurdles or snagging points?
  • Can I make it simpler?

Need a hand? We’re here to help with online payments and can support you with everything from installing payment gateways to offering developer support

3. Encourage repeat custom

Marketing and attracting first-time customers is no mean feat, it takes time, effort and money, but once that first purchase is made it’s much cheaper to encourage further buys. 

So, selling to existing customers is a cost-effective way of boosting sales, but how? Of course, you’ll need to be delivering the aforementioned grade A customer experience, but the first sale will also give you access to super useful information you can use to your advantage.

To complete a purchase, consumers will need to enter their email address, so a great strategy to elicit further spending at your disposal is the follow-up email. Something like this:

‘Hello! We just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for choosing to shop with us! We hope you’re super happy with your goodies and to really show our gratitude, we’d like to offer you 10% off your next purchase with us. Just pop the discount code in below at check out and treat yourself on us :)’

Offering an incentive is a nifty way to encourage another sale and it’ll help build loyalty too. 

Remember: offering existing customers a tempting discount doesn’t need to be restricted to post-sale emails but can be used at any time on your mailing list - providing they’ve opted in, of course. It’s also a great way to highlight any new products or get rid of excess stock.

4. Advertising and SEO

So your website’s great and people who land on it are loving it, but how do you get more people to find you in the first place? One of the big bonuses of selling online is you’re not restricted by geography, so you want consumers from all over to discover your business. How? With these top two hacks:

Google

Ever heard of it? Of course you have, we search on it 3.5 billion times every day and you need to be using it to boost your sales. When consumers are in the market for an item, the first thing they’ll generally do is open Google and browse their options, and you want them to come across your site. 

Only 6% of searchers make it to page two on Google, so to boost your position in the search results you need to be using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which is essentially optimising the content on your site to boost your ranking. 

Getting to grips with SEO and making it work for your business is key, but there’s a lot more to it than we can fit in a brief paragraph here, so head to our handy guide for everything you need to know. 

Social media

The new giant of online marketing is social media - it boasts 2.77 billion active users, so if you’re not on it already, what are you waiting for?

Using it well will lead to more sales, in fact, 95.8% of social media marketers listed Facebook alone as a great return on investment. Social also gives you the opportunity to: 

  • Share all your latest products, offers and promotions, 
  • Build brand awareness,
  • Boost loyalty,
  • Engage with your followers,
  • Interact with your customers,
  • Drive website traffic, and
  • Boost sales.

Sold? Then get the ball rolling with our in-depth guide on which social media platform is best for your business. 

5. Analyse and improve

Last but certainly not least, don’t rest on your laurels. Implement all of the above tips and continually monitor their performance. 

Once you’ve put the time and effort into creating a fabulous website, you’ll no doubt want to make sure it’s performing and that’s where Google Analytics comes in. 

Using the platform you can access heaps of invaluable data like:

  • Sales conversions
  • Email list sign-ups
  • Lead form submissions
  • Audience demographics, interests, behaviour, and language
  • Where your audience found your site

… and loads more! By putting the time into analysing your website’s performance you’ll be able to rectify any snags, do more of what’s working and improve on what’s not, and that will all add up to more sales and healthier profits. 

Not sure where to start? Head to our how-to-guide on Google Analytics.

Once you’ve implemented our five top tips you should see your online sales skyrocket, but are your payment systems up to the task? If your online payments need bringing up to scratch we’re here to offer a helping hand, so reach out to our experts today on 08082 393254. 

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce

Copywriter

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