Wednesday, June 13, 2012

7 strategies to boost your online sales

7 strategies to boost your online sales

By Joanna L. Krotz

There's really no deep secret about increasing sales through the Internet. You drive traffic by creating more sales leads. When these newbie shoppers show up, you engage them and convert their interest into a transaction. Presto: Better sales.

But all that's much easier said than done. Here are specific ways to build sales momentum and to make your online store crackle and then pop.

1. Seek out strategic partners. Question: What's the online retail equivalent of "location, location, location?" Answer: Links to your site in all the right places. You want to create awareness of your wares among customers. So the first step is to truly define your target buyer. Thoroughly research your customer's profile and preferences. Next, develop come-hither offerings, teasers, interactive ads and must-read content for as many appropriate sites as you can manage and afford. "Small businesses can develop relevant content for other sites that drives traffic on a very low-cost basis," says Andrew Restivo, founder of, a New Orleans-based online shopping mall for more than 150 specialty food companies. In considering sites as partners or affiliates, don't forget professional organizations and associations, especially when you market services or business products. Try trading or paying for links with other small or midsize e-commerce marketers. But before making any deals, verify that your links add value on those sites. For instance, links to your boutique hotel might bring in business from local restaurant sites or a car rental agency or even a local chamber of commerce. But it would make no sense at all on a site selling computers.

2. Keep customers clicking toward the checkout page. Customers won't wade through faulty, bulky or clunky architecture. Broken links or haphazard navigation will only squander your hard-earned sales opportunities. Streamline all site paths and continually check that every click works. Rely on plain, instant gratification (HTML) text links to all products, services, and registration forms. "Graphics and Flash make your site look cool, but without text to encourage search results, customers may never even make it to your home page," says Michelle Jackson, spokesperson for Range Online Media, a Fort Worth, Texas, search marketing company. Also, consider easy ways to get to the shopping cart and reliable site-wide product search functionality. When a shopper arrives with product specifics already in mind, you do not want to make that buyer work or wait.

3. Cross-promote like crazy. Don't make your online store a stand-alone orphan; make it work with other sales channels. Successful sellers have figured out that the Web is just one sales channel, like mail-order catalogs, phone orders, or face-to-face contact. Everything must work together. That means customers being able to research one of your products online, buying it by phone, and picking it up at the offline store. If you only sell online, you must make sure your branded URL is seen far and wide. That includes using it in every e-mail signature of every employee you have. Print the store URL on all brochures, catalogs, packing material, shipping boxes, shopping bags, delivery trucks, posters, and postcard notices. If you attend trade shows or conferences, make sure your booth signage and promotional material also have a big, bold printed URL stamped on them. Don't miss an opportunity. Also, register variants and misspellings of your domain name so customers who get it wrong will find you anyway. For instance, a company named "Baskets R Us" should also register "Baskets Are Us." Think about it: For a few hundred dollars in registration fees, you might net one return customer who buys thousands of dollars worth of wares over time.

4. Keep it personal. Customers will feel more valued and comfortable about buying online if you establish a bond. The more you're in touch and display a personal tone, the more your customer will relax.

5. Be specific (and honest) about your product offerings. "The more detail you include, the better. People like to know the histories of what you're selling and who you are," advises Lynne Dralle, an eBay Power Seller who has sold thousands of items at online auctions. "Always describe exactly what the buyer is getting. Be honest," she says. When selling her collectibles, Dralle mentions any chips or flaws, but she also tells stories, like how her Aunt Mary brought an item over from England. High-quality photographs of products also are a must. If you don't have a digital camera, consider investing in one so you can upload images to your PC.

6. Set delivery policies that work for your business model. The great debate about whether free shipping boosts online sales is finally fading into individual solutions. While you still find advocates pro and con, it's now boiling down to a matter of your product pricing. "Free shipping costs can kill you if you can't include them in the price of the product," says's Restivo, whose company regularly surveys online consumers on such issues. But if you jack up your price to accommodate free shipping on commodity items that only sell at the lowest price possible, you lose. In those cases, customers expect to pay a reasonable amount for shipping, Restivo says. On the other hand, high shipping prices are a big detriment to sales of perishable or premium products, presumably because it's easy to forgo those items when they don't feel like a "bargain." Restivo's tip: Rely on second-day-air shipping. Costs are much cheaper than overnight and customers are satisfied.

7. Spruce up your site and service. The goal is to get customers to return and to spread the word among friends and family that your online shop is worth a visit. So do everything you can to make the experience fast, fun and fabulously better than your competitors. Explain all your policies, upfront. Promise 100% money-back guarantees with no strings attached. Offer free samples. Quickly respond to every query or comment. Invest in a live chat function so that customers can get answers to product questions immediately. Create reasons to return to your site with a loyalty club or contests or email games and discounts. Make connections with customers and don't let go.

One last point: Don't forget that having well-written content and product descriptions are important—because you want the search engines to find you. Learn how to optimize your site for search engines.

Next thing you know, the sales will start rolling in.

This article was submitted by MCC Silver Partner Microsoft.


  1. This blog of yours is very helpful to the people who are planning to be in online business. It gives so much information on how to start a effective and successful online business operations.

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  2. Good.the strategies was really nice.all the points about how to build a sales is very nice thanks for sharing this.

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