The ecommerce landscape continues to grow and evolve as more consumers turn to computers and mobile devices as their primary go-to tools for searching, finding and purchasing products of every kind.
If you're an ecommerce business owner or marketer seeking to convert visitors into customers, there's no shortage of information on how to ramp up your online business. As technology marches on, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information out there, which makes in nearly impossible to sift through it all and determine what would work best for you.
While all ecommerce businesses are different, there are certain strategies that work for every type of operation, regardless of what you sell in your online store.
So, here are five tips to help you grow your online business.
Leverage social media
Globally, more than 2.5 billion people use social media, and that number is expected to grow as mobile digital use expands and more people join social networks.
The problem is, taking advantage of social media's reach can be challenging for ecommerce business owners and marketers because of the time commitment and level of knowledge it requires.
To be successful on social media, ecommerce outfits must think beyond hashtags and emojis and embrace a holistic marketing strategy aimed at increasing brand awareness, engaging followers and driving new business. The world's most successful social media marketers know how to make a strong presence on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat work for them 24/7.
That said, while you don't have to be active on every major social media network, you should try do at least one of them extremely well.
For example, maybe you've decided to ramp up your Instagram activity to capitalize on its inherently visually-focused nature and fast-growing user base. In such a case, your company's success would be dependent on creating the type of unique, stunning visual content Instagrammers crave. No matter your skill level, focus on producing and editing images and video to give them professional presentation, even if you're a rank amateur.
Having at least one solid social media presence will go a long way in helping you to develop a loyal following.
Offer shipping incentives
According to a Walker Sands study, 9 out of 10 survey participants said free shipping was the leading incentive that would prompt them to shop online more often. Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed said same-day shipping would make them more likely to shop online, while having the option of one-day shipping would encourage 69% to buy on the Web. Some ecommerce businesses offer free shipping on every purchase; some do so on orders over a certain amount, or for a limited time. Regardless of your specific policy, the value of shipping incentives (free shipping, in particular) is clear: it entices would-be shoppers to buy from you.
Beyond building relationships with your customers and encourage business, shipping incentives can also help reduce the abandoned shopping carts, since customers would be less likely to be put off by shipping costs at the checkout phase. Over the long haul, shipping incentives can turn one-time shoppers into loyal customers.
Share user-generated content
Since you're in the business of ecommerce, customers don't have the option of seeing, touching and trying your products in person. Instead, they must rely on photos, descriptions and reviews to make their purchase decisions. So, it's important to share other customers' photos and experiences on both your website and social media accounts to give prospective customers unique insight into your products.
Not only does sharing photos give would-be customers the confidence to buy from you, it also makes past customers feel as though they're part of your brand community. And when customers see themselves featured on your site or social media feed, they'll likely share the post or information about your online store with their network of followers.
Unlike the vast majority of brick-and-mortar retail stores, ecommerce shops are open 24/7. This round-the-clock accessibility is a two-way street: It allows customers to conveniently shop anytime, but it also opens the door for them to share feedback, reviews and comments, good and bad, anytime.
What your customers think about you reflects the state of your business. By taking the time to collect, read and respond to your customers' feedback, you’ll better understand what they like and dislike about you. Given the fact that 84% of people trust online reviews and testimonials as much as they do personal recommendations, customer feedback is a gold mine for research insight into how to shape your branding and marketing. With the right feedback in hand, you'll be in a better position to adapt to exactly what your customers want (and don't want).
Whether you use the WooCommerce plugin to gather and display customer reviews, an app like Yotpo to integrate testimonials onto your product pages or a questionnaire tool such as Typeform to get customer perspective, feedback will allow you to build relationships, improve your products and services and use valuable word-of-mouth marketing.
Ecommerce business owners often wear many hats (sometimes all of them). But in truth, it's impossible to be everything at once.
Achieving long-term success means recognizing when you need help, whether it's with tedious tasks or things that require a specific expertise. Knowing when to seek outside assistance can save time and money, help you to avoid burnout, and allow you to focus on the things that you do best—like running the day-to-day operations of your business.
Outsourcing things like Web design, social media management, content marketing or search engine optimization (SEO) will also allow you to stay nimble and concentrate on the things that matter most. Besides, if the expected results or the scope of the project changes, it's much easier to shift gears with an outside agency than a full-time employee.
Using these tips will put you in a better position to grow your ecommerce business, while paying dividends in the long-term, as you scale up and manage growth and the evolution, partnerships and success that comes.