Selling online – part two

Selling online – part two

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We continue to look at ways to significantly increase your sales, from utilising powerful search engines, gaining trust and brand loyalty and reconsidering customer registration.

Think Google

When you provide a lot of information on your products, this also has major search engine benefits. Search engines love content and if the content is constantly evolving, they will rank you even better. People do see optimising their site for search engines as a bit of a black art, and they are partly right. SEO is covered elsewhere in more detail, but some of the simple basics are well worth saying more than once. When people search, they type a “keyword” or “key phrase”(collectively referred to as “keywords) into the search box. Identifying the most popular keywords for your product range is the most important step. You can find this out by taking a free trial with Wordtracker

You can also identify keywords that are well-used, but have fewer than average relevant pages on the web. These are your best opportunities – they represent niches where there are plenty of potential customers, but not too much competition. As a simple example that illustrates the benefit of careful keyword analysis, there are numerous pages on Google listing content and adverts for “Flowers”, but only three ads for “Bunch of roses”. Tools such as Google search analyzer (part of Adwords) can help identify unique search terms. Even if you’re not planning to use a pay-per-click (PPC) scheme it’s worth signing up as it will save a lot of time. Once you know your keywords, you should make sure these appear regularly on your site. The keywords should appear in text, product names, page names and titles, and even image names.

Make sure people trust you

To buy a bouquet from your site, people must trust you. There are a number of ways of gaining that trust, and you may be able to come up with your own ideas. As a starter for ten though, here are some thoughts. Provide your contact details throughout the site, including a telephone number and physical address (it’s a legal requirement anyway). Promote confidence by responding fast to emails, and answering the telephone quickly and professionally. Display logos showing your membership of trade bodies such as the IMRG or FSB, and join at least one of the merchant accreditation schemes like SafeBuy. A photograph of your staff or premises can also do wonders.

Simplify address input

Asking customers to just type in their post code when checking out and then using software to look up the full address automatically not only streamlines the process, but also reduces the risk of cart abandonment. And because delivery addresses will be more accurate you will definitely reduce costs by having fewer failed deliveries. Your follow up mail shots will receive a similar benefit.

Give a break on customer registration

Sometimes obvious points can be missed. We all know how annoying it is to have to remember lots of passwords and I resent being made to create another account on a site I’ll use once. In fact I won’t buy from a store that takes this tack, and I am sure I’m not alone. People don’t know if they’ll return to buy again before they complete their first order so why force them to register? Give them the option to register later.

Understand that “free” can backfire

Trying different changes to your site and measuring the results may be dull, but the two examples below illustrate that massive and unexpected gains can result from small changes. In one documented case sales doubled simply by removing the discount code field from the checkout. The verdict was that buyers without discount codes felt ripped off if they didn’t have a code. In another case sign-ups increased by 200% after “Free trial” was changed to “See plans and pricing.”

Use multiple niche sites

You can use multiple sites each addressing a segment of your overall market. This enables you to make the site more relevant to your audience and can also improve search engine rankings.

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