As each day passes, online sales get closer and closer to outdriving those from brick and mortar. In 2013 alone, consumers spent more than $1.2 trillion shopping online, placing a high demand for businesses to adopt this strategy. Between marketplaces, social media channels, forums, and a business website, the web offers a vast array of sales channels for business owners to add to their portfolio. Among the many benefits that come from a successful online sales channel, an improved brand position, promotional opportunities and international reach rank the highest.
Making that leap online is the first step. However, just because you offer the functionality to accept credit card and PayPal payments online does not mean the work is over yet. Try applying these three techniques to your overall online strategy.
Once the most popular Internet activity, email is now being trumped by social media when it comes to what people are spending the most time doing online, according to BI Intelligence. Leverage this movement and show transparency between your website and social media profiles. Cross promotion between your Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter accounts, for example, will improve visibility and drive traffic. Integrating like/follow buttons and social newsfeeds are great strategies for encouraging those that visit your website to engage with you on social media, as well.
Timing is everything when it comes to being active on social networks. If you post news or a promotion when your target market is not present, the efforts will be wasted. As a general rule of thumb, consider sharing updates on Facebook weekdays from 6-8 am and 2-5 pm but Tweet on the weekends 1-3 pm for the most visibility. However, every target audience is different so be sure to also experiment with posts at different times and use analytics tools to determine when your audience is most likely to be online and receptive to your messages.
A big concern for many business owners is the fact that they are often not available during these high-priority times. Juggling various jobs and appointments, it is ideal to use a tool that helps to schedule posts and synchronize communication across the various channels. Check to see if your current online solution offers this functionality.
Be Mobile Ready
Today, everyone is on-the-go. In fact, comScore recently found that mobile devices (like tablets and smartphones) are now contributing to 60% of all online traffic. Fewer and fewer people are relying on PCs to conduct research, communicate, and shop. Contrary to what many believe, not all screens are created equal. Due to the various screen sizes and resolutions, how a website looks on a desktop computer will be completely different than on a smartphone. Often, a site shown on a smaller screen will be distorted and require the visitor to pan, zoom, and scroll extensively.
Investigate your current Web host to see if they offer responsive design functionality. Proven to be a favorite of Google, not only can this option boost SEO value, but it automatically detects the device on which the site is being viewed and adjusts the page accordingly. By employing this mobile strategy, there is no need for a separate mobile site or app.
Don’t Forget About Marketplaces
eBay, Etsy, and Amazon are just a few of the big players for retailers online. Presenting your products on these marketplaces can expand your reach tremendously. However, when a consumer purchases from you on these sites, they never see your professional website or learn about your business. Integrate these reputable marketplaces within your website so visitors can access your Amazon store, for example, without leaving your website.
Launching a simple eCommerce website is not the only ingredient to drive sales. You need to take the extra step to ensure that your shop is gaining the most visibility and traffic possible so it can attract new customers.
Author: Kelly Meeneghan Peters is a manager for 1&1 Internet, Inc., and is an industry specialist providing expert advice on how SMBs can thrive online. With a passion for helping SMBs to get off the ground and become profitable, her goal is to eliminate hesitations of getting online and encourage SMBs to embrace all the web has to offer. For more information visit www.1and1.com or blog.1and1.com.
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