Practical Ecommerce

Ten Ways to Grow Your Online Store Sales, Part 2

We covered the importance of keywords and content in last week’s installment. Today, let’s take a look at four more important ways to grow your online sales: customer testimonials, offering multiple payment options, diversifying sales channels and conducting pay-per-click campaigns.

Customer Testimonials

Customer testimonials are another way to add content to your site while building trust and overcoming skepticism with potential buyers, as long as they are done right. A good buyer testimonial will make a buyer feel more comfortable with you and substantiate some of the claims made on your site.

How do you get them? Ask people! A satisfied customer will usually be happy to provide you with a testimonial. All you need is a sentence or two — something brief that outlines what it is that has made them a satisfied customer. Did you provide great customer service? Did they love your product? You can set up an auto-responder to ask your customers whether they enjoyed their experience with your business and whether they’d like to be included as a customer reference on your website.

Including their first name, hometown and sometimes age can add credibility to your testimonials. Once you have them, you can add them to a customer testimonial section on your website, or add one to the bottom of every page. This way people are reminded wherever they go how great it is to do business with you.

Just remember — your testimonials must be real. People will be able to detect a fake, no matter how good a fake it may be.

Offer Multiple Payment Options

This may seem obvious to some, but offering multiple payment options ensures you will be able to do business with just about anybody. Many people are still afraid to give their credit card numbers online. PayPal is an option many people are comfortable with, because it allows people to use their credit cards or their debit accounts without giving you, the business owner, their personal information.

Another method is offering people an e-bill. This could be a simple email you set up to send someone after they check out, with an order confirmation and a shipping address where they can send you a check or money order. Let them know that you’ll ship their order as soon as you receive payment, and list an expiration date to ensure you aren’t waiting for months on unfulfilled orders.

Diversify Your Sales Channels

The best way to get in front of as many potential customers as possible is to sell through multiple channels. Having your own store is one way to attract customers, but people regularly look for products in many other marketplaces, as well. One such example is eBay.com, which is one of many online communities. Some online storefront technology, like ProStores, allow you to manage sales in your own store as well as on other platforms, such as Shopping.com, BizRate and Yahoo! Shopping. You can view and rearrange products in your store, on eBay and on other online shopping sites to maximize your exposure and revenues by targeting different buyers in different places. You may find that your T-shirts sell well on eBay, while buyers coming to your website are more interested in boots and cowboy hats. You can adjust your inventory according to what sells faster in each place.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

This is one of the fastest and most effective ways to get in front of your target audience, but it does require some investment. Most of the major search engines offer pay-per-click advertising, which involves bidding on keywords in order to have a link to your website show up at the top of the paid search list when a user types in that keyword. You only pay for the users that click through to your site, so it is a great way to reach potential buyers that already are looking for products you have for sale. Each keyword is priced differently, based on how many businesses are bidding for that keyword.

Some things to keep in mind when launching a pay-per-click advertising campaign are:

  1. targeting your keywords to the most relevant search terms, and
  2. making sure you can afford the keywords you’ve selected.

To the first point, using more general keywords may generate more traffic, but they won’t necessarily bring in visitors that are looking to buy your products. Using more specific keywords will narrow your traffic to potential buyers more likely to purchase. To the second point, it’s easy to get carried away bidding on certain keywords, but you want to make sure those paid clicks are bringing in enough sales to cover the expense.

A simple way to figure this out is to calculate the value of each visitor to your site. You can do this by carrying out the following calculation:

  • Divide the number of unique visitors to your site (per week or month) by the number of sales during that same time to get your visitor conversion rate.

  • Then divide your net profits by your total number of sales to get your net profit per sale,

  • Finally, divide your net profit per sale by the visitor conversion rate to get the value of each individual user.
  • Once you know the value of an individual visitor, you’ll know how much you can pay per click, or pay per visitor, to earn a profit.

A less competitive (and less costly) option may be to purchase local pay-per-click ads — ads that will only show up when searchers in your local area enter your keywords. Some major search engines offer this type of service. Be sure to do your research to see which engines offer your keywords at the best prices.

Next week’s installment will include tips on starting an affiliate program, becoming an affiliate for someone else, conducting email marketing campaigns and creating a blog.

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. Legacy User September 14, 2007 Reply

    I'd have to disagree on the PPC campaign strategy. The only one making money on those is the host, or person collecting the PPC payments!

    Many times, competitors will click on the words just to increase your costs, without ever buying anything.

    It is VERY RARE to find a profitable combination in a PPC campaign for the average online seller. Perhaps Wal Mart can afford it, but the average small business owner finds it a financial drain.

    — *Beth*

  2. Legacy User March 5, 2008 Reply

    I tend to agree with Beth. It seems to me you have to have deep pockets to make PPC work for you.

    Brad
    http://www.TheCovet.com

    — *Brad*