If your business makes sales online then you need a plan for making sales that grows with you.
Deciding exactly what to work on and what areas of the site need to be amended is a difficult ongoing challenge that can incorporate analytics data, audience insights, feedback and testing.
But what if this is too slow for your business? What if, in your enthusiastic early stages, just as you start to gain a bit of traction or are positioning ready for more rapid growth, you want an online strategy that will lead to a faster and more efficient increase in sales?
Then you need an inside out strategy – a plan for growth that ensures you optimize the most critical, revenue-generating content first, before focussing on less important issues.
It is so easy to get ‘shiny object syndrome’ on the modern web as new tools and systems come out on a daily basis. How often do you think to yourself ‘should we be on platform X’ or ‘should we use tool Y’?
And sometimes maybe you should be, but not before you’ve properly set yourself up for success, from the inside out. When you build things this way every subsequent growth milestone or success you have brings compound benefits. This article is about how to get them.
The money makers – helping people make buying decisions
Start with your product pages and checkout process – this is where the money is actually made. If you can turn each and every product page into a revenue-generating masterpiece then you’ll see an immediate impact on your bottom line.
OK, a ‘masterpiece’ might be too much to ask with your limited time and marketing budget of course, but even a few basic improvements can cause an increases in sales.
The first job is to start a quick and easy spreadsheet to track your product or sales pages. Make a note of the title, URL and any notes for each of them that you’d like to keep.
Next, take a look at the list of possible improvements below and see if you could implement any of them into your pages:
Better product images – are your pictures doing your products justice? Alongside all of the obvious benefits (first impressions and all that) clear, high quality pictures of your products help readers orient themselves quickly on a page so they know what it is about.
Put more of the best content above the fold – research shows that readers treat content above the point at which they need to scroll down up to 84% better than content below this. So put the best content up at the top of your pages where users focus more on it.
Make a more compelling call to action – encouraging the viewer to purchase is the crucial job of every product page. There are many ways to try and get people to take action, and it is important to experiment to find out what works best for your audience. In general, if your offer is high quality and properly priced (it is right?) then trying to convince customers to buy is a positive thing. Here are three ways that you can use
- Highlight limited nature of the product – if it is on sale, or if there is limited stock then make sure that web visitors understand this,
- Mention your guarantee or warranty – remove some of the perceived risk to the buyer by making sure that money back guarantees and similar information is clearly presented,
- Be urgent – try and encourage the action with commanding call to action words like ‘buy now’ or ‘get yours today’ – it sounds simple but they really can work!
Once you have improved the product pages then next think about the rest of the checkout process.
If customers have any bad experiences while taking the steps needed to purchase a product, they can tend to focus on that instead of the amazing deal or high quality merchandise they’ve just picked up. Some people are just built that way.
It is only when the purchasing process is seamless that customers tend not to think about it, and they will then be more likely to remember the positives. This makes them more likely to purchase again in the future, and share their experience with others.
Go through the entire checkout process as if you were a customer (you may want to use a different computer or browser so that you aren’t affected by being signed in to any systems), look at each stage individually and answer the following questions:
- Are the instructions as clear and simple as possible?
- Is every screen or step absolutely necessary?
- Are you asking for information that you don’t need?
- Does the content at each step reflect your personality or brand?
- Are the systems used fast and efficient?
Try and make the best experience you can for each customer and you add value with every sale. Every business makes sales online only once they have got this right.
After you have launched your website, going back to make improvements to the money making pages, and creating plans to develop them in the future, form the first part of your inside out content strategy. As you work through them note down issues or ideas that apply to multiple pages, or anything that can be used in the future.
When you’re ready to move on, the next step is to get as many suitable visitors as possible to the product pages.
Railroad-building – the business makes sales online when there are better routes to your products
Try and take a step back from how your website looks and feels – you’re probably so close to it right now that your metaphorical eyes are blurring. Think about how you want a prospective customer to arrive at your product pages – what pieces of information do they need to know? What will help get them in an emotional state in which they are more likely to buy? These are the questions that will shape your website.
Remember to work from the inside out. Start by looking at the pages and menus that are designed to send people to the product pages discussed in the previous section. Consider how they are referred to and whether there is any information that it would be useful to add.
You can also use the advice given previously to add better calls to action – but this time try to sell the content a bit more softly by mentioning the benefits and also make sure that the routes to different products reflect your business goals; if you’re trying to sell twice as much of product A than product B then make sure your website linking structure reflects this.
As you work through your website from the inside out and build better routes to your money-making content, try and avoid guesswork wherever possible. Be led by real data that gives insights into the actual quality, popularity and findability of your content – learn from the best performing pages and apply the lessons to the worst.
Step by step you will be able to create a strategy (whether written or spoken) that will help you make better decisions about the future of your website. Whenever you launch new products or campaigns, be guided by this strategy to make better money-making content and build the routes and funnels to it in reverse.
When a business makes sales online you can create a solid and scalable marketing foundation for the future – best of luck building yours!
Also published on Medium.