Reduced foot traffic, limited opening times, and social distancing restrictions – the current environment is just not ideal for selling items in a physical storefront. In response, companies of all shapes and sizes are now making their products available online in order to better serve customers in a safe and efficient way.
If you own a physical shop or store but haven’t taken the leap to digital yet, now may be the perfect time to explore your options for online selling and advertising. To help you get started, here are five ways that you can promote your products and drive online sales.
5 Ways to Drive Online Product Sales
Find a selling platform that works for you
Before you can start selling your products online, you must first decide how you want to establish your online storefront. The two most common ways to do this include:
- Building an online shop with WordPress
- Using an online marketplace/ecommerce site such as Amazon, eBay, or Etsy
An online marketplace is a great option if you do not have time to build a website and you need help getting your product in front of buyers. However, marketplaces often come with rules and restrictions, and they also take a percentage of your sales revenue.
Setting up your own webshop with a platform like WordPress is also an option. However, even though WordPress is relatively easy to work with, it may take some extra time and effort on your part to get things up and running.
To learn more about which selling platform might be right for you, check out my previous blog post on moving traditional businesses online.
Build a following on social media
Once you have a platform for selling your product online, you can then use social media to build your digital reputation and grow a following of potential buyers. Social media followers are not only a great way to earn repeat business, but they can also bring in new business through referrals.
As a rule of thumb, always post content on your social media account that is valuable to your audience – i.e. your target buyers. What makes content ‘valuable’? It must be either entertaining or informative.
Even though it seems logical to promote your store and products frequently on social media, bear in mind that your audience gets very tired of seeing advertisements in their newsfeeds. To avoid losing followers, try to create a balance of content that is relevant, entertaining, and interesting for your audience.
Use search engines to pull buyers in
Search engines like Google can be extremely effective at directing potential buyers to your store. For example, when someone googles ‘buy a frisbee’ or ‘the best pizza delivery service near me’, they will be presented with links to websites that may have what they are looking for.
To make sure that your store is there when people search for your product type, there are two digital marketing tools that you can use to improve your chances of being near the top. These tools include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO) and
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
SEO can encompass a range of marketing processes including regular blogging, link building, and keyword ranking. While there are some basic SEO tasks you can do to maintain your online presence organically, you will need to make a serious investment in order to see substantial long-term results.
SEM (such as Google Ads) is typically one of the more competitive and costly forms of online advertising – but still one of the best options. With this option, you can undergo a bidding process and pay to have your website listed in one of the top ‘sponsored’ search results.
Because users are already in the mindset to buy, search engine traffic typically has a higher conversion rate (i.e. chance of people buying) when compared to other forms of online marketing.
Advertise on social media
Advertising on social media is a great way to ‘push’ and promote your products to a new audience. Not to be confused with regular social media posts (see ‘build a following’ above), social media advertising is where you pay for an advertisement to be shown to users, in hopes that they will make a purchase.
When creating your ad, you have a ton of control over who will see it. You can target a specific demographic, and you can even target individuals based on their interests. This gives you a ton of flexibility and power to get your ad in front of the right people.
Just like your regular posts, social media ads need to add value to those who see it. Your ads also need to encourage immediate action, which is known as a ‘call to action’ (CTA). Common CTAs for a social media product ad include:
- Shop Now
- Get Offer
- Check Availability
Social media advertising is usually cheaper than SEM, however, the conversion rate is typically lower.
Engage with existing customers
It can be easy to forget about your customers after they have already made a purchase. However, simply engaging with your existing pool of customers is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to drive sales and referrals.
Some of the easiest ways to do this include:
- Building a newsletter subscription. Again, offer valuable newsletter content to your subscribers. This could be in the form of helpful knowledge articles, coupons, or early access to sales.
- Remarketing on your website. Once a person visits your website, you can use a re-marketing tool to grab their attention again when they visit other website and social media.
- Using contests and giveaways. This is a great way to encourage your audience to sell for you. Have your audience share a post, tag a friend, or refer your newsletter for a special prize.
The internet makes it super easy for anyone to spend money on Google Ads or boost a Facebook post. However, bear in mind that the best online marketing strategy will be different for every business, and how you choose to leverage different tools and techniques may depend on your:
- Product type/niche
- Target buyers
- Geographic location
- And many other factors
Remember, you do not have to tackle your store’s digital marketing strategy alone. A professional with the proper expertise can help guide you and ensure that you get the best return on your advertising budget.
If your company sells a service as opposed to a product, stay tuned for my next article which will explore ways to market your service-based business online.