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7 ideas to increase sales and finish Q1 on a high note

Written by Spencer Durrant on March 2, 2016 in Strategies & Tips

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We're officially in the last month of Q1 for 2016. Remember all those New Year's resolutions and goals you set for your online store? Well, with Q1 winding down, now is a perfect time to reflect on those goals and see how well your plans and strategies have aligned with your objectives. 

An objective that probably every single online retailer made at the beginning of 2016 was to increase sales. So, in order to help you finish Q1 on a high note and be more in line with at least one of your yearly goals, here at 7 ideas to increase sales to give your online store the boost it needs heading into the second quarter of 2016.

Focus on loyal customers first

A mistake that many online retailers make when trying to boost sales is that they often only look to bring in new revenue. As I've mentioned previously on this blog, 40% of online revenue is generated from a small 8% of your customers! 8%!! That tiny group of people represents your repeat-purchasers, or in other words, your loyal customers. 

It is important to market and try to bring new customers into your brand, but why not show your loyal 8% some love? Shift your strategy to focus on retaining your current customers instead of spending all of your time chasing the 92% who will only be one-time buyers.  As Bain & Company has reportedit costs a business 6-7 times more money to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Marketing Metrics backs that up with research that says you have a 60-70% chance to sell to an existing customer. 

Your chances of selling to a new customer? 5-20%. 

Your current customers are the bread and butter of your online business - so when generating ideas to increase sales, think of ways to reward the people who have kept you in business. Some reward tactics to consider are exclusive customer-only sales, free shipping, discount coupons, or referral account credits.

Sell to the most recent customers

Another great way to increase sales is to target your most recent customers. Your store is still top-of-mind for them, seeing as they just bought something from you, and if you turn around and offer them free shipping or 15% off their next order, it's highly likely they'll take advantage of the offer and go right back to your store.

Run a photo contest

I recently became part-owner of an apparel company based out of Colorado, and part of my duties include running our social media pages. As of this writing, our best-performing Facebook post (in terms of organic performance; other paid posts have far exceeded this) in regards to both organic reach and engagement was a Throwback Thursday post we ran, asking our followers to submit photos to be featured in an upcoming blog post. 

The post reached 617 people off one single share - and our Facebook audience was a paltry 535 people when the post went live. 

However, the post did receive 113 post clicks, along with 54 likes, comments, or shares. In other words, the engagement rate for the post was spectacular. 

You can easily do the same thing with your online store's Facebook page - come up with an idea for a photo contest, run it, and see what results pour in. 

As WordStream says,

Photo contests are great for a number for reasons – they’re relatively easy to enter (anyone with Instagram and a few spare seconds can submit), and they also provide sponsors with a great form of user-generated content that can be reused and implemented elsewhere.

I ended up using the photos from the aforementioned photo contest I ran for a blog post the next week - and that blog post saw above average interaction and reach. I have no doubt that is due in large part to the content of the post being largely user-generated.

Photo contests will stimulate interaction with your brand on social media, improve likes to your pages, and should eventually translate into sales. Running a photo contest where the prize is a free item or free shipping will only increase the efficacy of this tactic. 

Related content: 4 tips for standing out in online marketplaces.

Feature bestselling products on your homepage

This is another simple tactic. If your shop has an image slider on the home page, you should use it to highlight your products that are being bought more than others. 

Look at the homepage for Howler Brothers for a good example: Screenshot_2016-03-01_at_2.08.26_PM-1.png

Howler Brothers take advantage of a beautiful large image slider to highlight a few of their bestselling products. The key here is that they're only highlighting a few products. When it comes to product promotion, the approach of "less is more" is often the best tactic.

Take what Derek Gehl, CEO of the Internet Marketing Center, wrote for Entrepreneur:

"I'd strongly recommend you test whether or not this is the best strategy for you. We've found that offering fewer products in one place with more copy describing those products always translates into higher sales."

Take your best products, describe them in great detail, slap them on your homepage, see if this tactic translates into more sales than if you just stuff your homepage with products.

Reposition your opt-in button

Another great tip from Gehl's article discusses the importance of the location of your opt-in button (for opting into email subscriptions) and how it can affect your conversion rates.

"Your opt-in offer is your tool for gathering your customers' e-mail addresses and building your e-mail list, which allows you to regularly keep in touch with your subscribers, build relationships of trust and loyalty, and sell them your products or services.
"But did you know that where your opt-in offer appears on your site can have a huge impact on how many subscribers you attract?
"If you don't use a long sales letter, test placing your opt-in offer in as prominent a position as possible on your home page--the top left of a page is where visitors' eyes are often drawn first. At the very least, test placing your opt-in in the "top fold" of your home page--the area of screen first visible to a visitor before they scroll down the page."

Take a look at where your opt-in button is located and if it’s in a low visibility area, position it according to Gehl's advice. If you don't have an opt-in button on your homepage?... Fix that immediately.

Gather as many reviews as possible

In addition to my work here at Doba, I'm part-owner of a fly fishing apparel startup based in Colorado. I was brought on to help out on the marketing side of things, and one of the biggest problems we've identified so far that contributes to our lack of sales is the fact that we don't have any product reviews on the site.

When a customer shops at a brick-and-mortar store, they have the advantage of being able to see and feel a product before buying it. Online? They don't have that luxury.

That's where product reviews come in - they act as a bridge between a consumer and an online product. Reviews give candid feedback that other potential customers can use to make their own decision regarding your product.

If you need more reviews, start by sending an email to everyone who's purchased a product in the past two months and ask him or her to write a review about their experience or what they purchased. In exchange, offer them an incentive (free shipping, 10% off their next purchase, etc.). This not only brings in more sales from past customers, but it fleshes out your site with more content that will compel new customers to buy (that is, if your past customers had a good experience).

Update your product descriptions

This advice goes along with one of the other tips I've mentioned, but it's worth bringing up. 

Your product descriptions (including product photos) play a large part in whether or not a customer will choose to buy from you. 

As Mark Macdonald wrote for Shopify,

"It’s an easy mistake.
"Even professional copywriters make it sometimes: Writing product descriptions that simply describe your products.
"Why is it wrong? Because product descriptions need to sell your products."

Your product descriptions need to sing. It's not enough to simply tell your customers what your products are - you have a finite opportunity to make a consumer buy what you're selling, and your product descriptions are an integral part to that success.

Coming up with unique, creative sales ideas isn't always easy. However, if you want your store to stay competitive, you need to be constantly thinking of ideas to increase sales, and how to position your store above the rest in your niche.

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Photo courtesy Kevin Dooley.

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