7 Best Online Strategies to Boost Sales
Marketing experts know that a potential customer must encounter a product or brand several times before making a purchase. It is difficult to know how much exposure is necessary to drive a sale, but repetition is clearly the key.
- Studies show that a huge majority of consumers research companies and products online before making a purchase. A 2014 study revealed that 89% of consumers used Google or an alternate search engine to do online research before buying. Other studies reveal similar results for smartphone users.
- Online marketing tends to yield a higher return on investment than other types of marketing, perhaps because it is so easy to target your efforts based on demographics and psychographics.
- 71% of consumers expect to be able to view information about a retailer’s products online even if they can’t buy them there.
As you can see, it is probable that most of the customers who walk into your store have already checked you out online. You can translate that behaviour into bigger sales if you make the most of online marketing.
How to Drive Sales Online
Now that you understand why online marketing is so crucial for your local business, let’s talk about some specific ways you can use online tools to increase your sales.
1. Use social media.
Social media usage is growing daily. Regardless of your industry or product, it’s safe to assume that most of your customers have at least one social media account. Many small businesses fail to use social media effectively. Here are some suggestions:
- Start with Facebook. It is still the largest and most popular social media site, and its versatility allows you to interact with customers in a variety of ways. Two great options are using Facebook Offers, or Local Awareness ads to reach more locals in your area.
- Don’t rule out other sites. Pinterest users are more likely to make purchases based on what they see people share than users on any other social media site. They also tend to spend more money than people on other sites – something to keep in mind.
- Integrate your marketing efforts with customer service to maximize customer engagement. Answering customer questions can go a long way toward building brand loyalty.
- Don’t forget the “social” in social media. People want social media content to be fun and informative.
2. Use coupons and promotions.
One of the primary reasons people give for following companies on social media (or subscribing to their email lists) is that they want to get special deals.
Traditional retail stores can and should use coupons to encourage customers to visit. However, even businesses who don’t normally use coupons can find ways to offer them. For example:
- Service-based industries can offer a free consultation or evaluation.
- Restaurants can offer a free appetizer or beverage with the purchase of one (or more) entrees.
- Offer a time-specific promotion to drive sales at slow times. For example, if you own a garage and Monday is your slow day for oil changes, you might offer 10% off to people who come in on Monday.
- Not all coupons need to be online. A lot of stores give out a coupon with a purchase to entice customers to come back to the store.
3. Sponsor a contest or giveaway.
Everybody loves the idea of winning a free product or service, and online marketing lends itself to such things. Consider running a contest that encourages people to share your information with their social media followers.
For example, you might offer one entry in a raffle to people who share information about the contest on Facebook, and a second entry if they also Tweet about it. Contests are a very effective way to get customers to share information about your company – and to get your products in front of new customers without having to spend any money.
4. Start a “Refer a Friend” program.
This type of promotion won’t work for every business, but for service-based businesses, it is a very effective marketing tool. Instead of giving out coupons, tell existing customers that you will give them a freebie or discount if they refer a friend and the friend makes a purchase.
It’s a way of increasing customer loyalty and attracting new customers at the same time – and it doesn’t cost you anything up front.
5. Don’t forget about mobile customers.
If your website isn’t mobile-adaptive, it might be time to think about revamping it. More people access the internet on smartphones today than ever before, and the numbers are still rising. In addition to updating your website, here are some other things to consider:
- Text messages have a 99% open rate (much higher than email) and they’re a great way to reach local customers when they are out running errands.
- Consider offering mobile customers a special mobile-only coupon.
- Time text messages to coincide with subscribers’ activities. For example, you might send out a coupon for a free appetizer during Happy Hour, and time it to go out right when most people are leaving work on a Thursday or Friday.
6. Start a blog.
Blogging is easy and inexpensive, and it is a great way to engage your customers on an ongoing basis. With a blog, you can highlight new products as they arrive in your store, feature customer reviews, and even offer video demonstrations with ideas for how to use products.
You can also:
- Share blog posts on social media.
- Include links to blog posts in text messages or emails.
- Invite customer comments and feedback.
7: Use the power of Affiliates.
How about a traffic source which is:
- Targeted to your niche, as it comes from websites within your niche.
- Pre-qualified, so when they arrive on your website, you know they are obviously at least interested in what you’re selling.
- Pre-warmed, as your product will already be familiar to them.
- Extremely cost effective . . . you don’t pay for the traffic, you only pay when a sale is made.
The problem with most traffic sources is they are none of these things and you have to pay up front without knowing what your return will be. And that’s not good. Affiliate traffic however is the exact opposite and can add a quantum shift to your business, as the results can be huge.
Affiliates build out your product landscape in the search engines, meaning when people search for your product they’ll find positive reviews regarding your product, right next to a link. This is important because people interested in your product will search for reviews and proof that they are about to spend their money wisely.
These are just a few of the most effective ways to use online marketing to increase your in-store sales.
Thanks to the popularity and versatility of social media and other online tools, the possibilities are endless – so use your imagination, and watch your sales go through the roof.