Even before COVID-19, physical storefronts were struggling to keep up with the convenience and variety that online shopping gives to customers. 

In order to thrive then, businesses need all the help they can get to increase their online sales. 

And that’s exactly what we’re here to do, by sharing 10 ways to increase online sales, including:

1) Understand your customers

2) Analyse your traffic

3) Prioritise customer experience

4) Search engine optimization (SEO)

5) Encourage customer reviews

6) Don’t underestimate email marketing

7) Build your social media presence

8) Choose the right e-commerce platform

9) Ditch unnecessary landing pages

10) Have a smooth checkout process

  1. Understand your customers

The first step to getting customers anywhere is understanding your target audience. If you know exactly who you’re trying to reach, where to find them, and what they need from you, you can make the right marketing decisions

Online sales present an interesting challenge, in this regard. You can’t just walk up and ask them questions so you’ll have to gather information in other ways. 

Use analytics tools on your website to record and study the behaviour of your visitors. You can look at their spending habits to see what they are drawn to and what seems to get less attention. 

There are also more direct ways you can get information. You can always do surveys and questionnaires over email, chatbot, and phone.

  1. Analyse your traffic

To continue your market research, you can also analyse the behaviour of website traffic to see how most people are finding your site, and how often them reaching your site actually leads to a sale.

For example, you might find that you’re online store is receiving a lot of traffic via your Facebook blogs. That would suggest that you’re doing something right in that area, and you might want to focus more on it.

The other ways you can measure your website traffic are:

  • New vs returning traffic
  • Number of sessions
  • Length of sessions
  • Pageviews

Each of these metrics will tell you something different about the way people are finding and using your online store. For more information about web traffic and what it means, check out our article, “How to measure the success of a marketing campaign.”

  1. Prioritise customer experience

Customers are more likely to buy something from your online store if the store itself is well-made, easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing. All these things contribute to the customer experience. 

A few must-haves for any online store include:

  • A search bar.
  • Good looking product photos.
  • Clear pricing.
  • Contact information.
  • Customer assistance, either through phone, email, online chat, or FAQs. The important part is to respond quickly and effectively. 

For more information about website design in general, check out our article,  “What makes a good website?

  1. Search engine optimization (SEO)

You wouldn’t want your physical store in some dark alley where nobody can find it. Well, the same rules apply to online stores. You want it to be as visible as possible to divert traffic.

The way to do that online is with search engine optimization (SEO). 

SEO involves a number of strategies you can use to help your store appear higher on search engine rankings when people search for something related to you. 

For example, when you Google search for “horses”, Google’s AI will scour the web for any and all content related to horses, ranking it from most to least relevant. 

There are a number of factors that can affect your search engine rankings. These are some of the big ones:

  • Sitemapping: the way Google reads the information on your website.
  • Authority: how credible your site is. Authority is based on factual information, reviews, web traffic, and links to other reputable websites. 
  • Backlinks: links that take you to other relevant content on your website.
  • Date: Google will rank newer content over older content, particularly when it comes to facts and studies. 
  • Content: sites that frequently produce content like blog posts and articles will have better authority on search engine rankings. 

These are just the basics, there’s a lot more to SEO strategy than we’ve mentioned here. If you’d like more information on how to improve your online store’s SEO then check out our article, “The beginner’s guide to small business SEO”.

  1. Encourage customer reviews

Online reviews can have a huge impact on how you’re perceived by the general public. Google reviews, in particular, will have a huge impact on your search engine rankings. 

But also, you should try to get reviews straight on to your website. Make it as easy as possible for customers to leave a review. You can programme a prompt that will ask them to leave one after they’ve made a purchase. Most people are happy to do it. 

  1. Don’t underestimate email marketing

A lot of people overlook email as a form of marketing. But it has a lot of advantages. First of all, it’s cheap compared to other marketing strategies, so it has the potential for a huge return on investment. 

Also, it’s targeted. When you have email addresses, you have a direct line to people’s inboxes, as opposed to social media posts that you hope will catch their attention. 

Try offering customers a discount code for signing up to your mailing list. Once they’ve signed up, you can send them information about new products, special offers, and newsletters. 

You can even automate your email system to send emails en masse at different times or on certain triggers. 

A lot of online stores are also seeing success from “abandoned cart” emails. It’s an automated email service that will trigger if a customer has left your store with items still in their cart. 

  1. Build your social media presence

Social media is a huge source of potential customers, so it’s essential for your online store to have a strong presence across most of the main channels. 

Posting regular, good-quality content on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, and Reddit is a surefire way to attract people to your online store. You can write blog posts, share content, display new products, announce sales, do surveys, and just about anything else you can think of. 

Just make sure you actually provide links to your store with every post, otherwise what’s the point?

  1. Choose the right e-commerce platform

When it comes to the store itself, some are a lot better than others and it can make all the difference. How often have you been put off by an online store because it looks a bit dodgy, it’s frustrating to navigate, or it doesn’t quite work on your mobile and tablet?

But it’s not just about user experience. Different e-commerce platforms perform in different ways, so you need to think about what your online store needs in order to succeed. 

These are some of the main things to think about when choosing an e-commerce platform:

  • Does it work across different devices?
  • Does it charge you transaction fees?
  • Is it self-hosted?
  • Will it easily scale up with increased traffic?
  • Does it integrate well with other platforms?
  • Can it be customised, updated, and maintained easily?
  • Does it accept different payment methods?

You can get more information about building the right e-commerce website in our article, ”What is the best website builder for a small business?

  1. Ditch unnecessary landing pages

Have you ever clicked on a link for a product, only to be brought to the home page of the website itself? If you want to actually find that product, you’ll then have to search the whole website, and that’s often enough to put people off entirely.

To prevent this from happening, make sure the product link leads to the actual product page. It’s a small change that can have a huge impact on online sales. 

  1. Have a smooth checkout process

The checkout is the final part of the customer journey, so you want to make it as smooth as possible. A clunky checkout process is enough to dissuade customers from returning, or it may even stop their purchase completely. 

These are a few essentials for a smooth checkout:

  • Have a guest checkout for those who don’t’ want to waste time signing up. 
  • Break up the customer information parts into smaller chunks to prevent people from getting overwhelmed. 
  • Don’t use strange or complicated language and symbols. Stick to things everybody will recognise like shopping cart icons, and a nice clear “buy” button. 
  • Try to facilitate as many different payment methods as possible

Measure your online sales with Countingup

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.