A business that’s online exclusively faces a few challenges that those with physical locations don’t. Attracting the right customers is only one element of the battle to run a successful store online.
E-commerce sales in the United States are around $389.1 billion a year for physical retail sales alone. There are also additional e-commerce sales for services and wholesale goods. E-commerce is big business and growing each year.
There’s also a lot of competition for a slice of that revenue pie though, so improving your business strategy is one step toward improving your online sales. Here are eight key methods toward better business in 2019.
1. Rethink Your Target Audience
You’ve likely done a lot of research on your target audience, and maybe you already have an age group and specific demographic in mind. However, rethinking your target audience may provide just the boost your online store needs. Generation X does more online shopping than either millennials or baby boomers, with an average of about 19 transactions each year per person. Targeting a new buyer persona may be just what your business needs this year.
2. Integrate Social Media Marketing
About 77 percent of people use social media, so marketing your online business on at least the most popular platforms is a must. However, on social media, people care about interactions, not being promoted to. Invest in engaging with your social media followers and educating them on your product or industry for the best results.
3. Pay Attention to Packaging
Shipping is the lifeblood of an online-only business. Pay particular attention to packing so that you can avoid any damage during shipping. Invest in package testing to make sure items get from Point A to Point B in the best shape possible and as efficiently as possible.
The speed of shipping makes a difference in how customers perceive you as well. Do your products arrive within a few days of being ordered, or are customers waiting weeks for these items? The faster the shipping, the happier your customers.
4. Understand the Importance of Mobile
Mobile access will continue to grow into the foreseeable future, meaning your site’s mobile experience is one of the most important you can focus on. On Cyber Monday 2017, mobile orders hit $2 billion, and that number will only rise as more and more people access the internet from their mobile devices and use apps like Apple Pay.
If your site isn’t already mobile-first or mobile responsive, make the necessary changes so that users see the best version of your site no matter what type of device they use.
5. Add Email Marketing
Email marketing is still a useful tool for promoting your products and brand. One of the key goals of many online business owners is driving traffic to their website. However, not everyone who lands on your page makes a purchase. There may be some slight interest there, and if you can entice them to sign up for your newsletter, you’ll have a direct and highly targeted marketing avenue.
In a survey of 254 smaller retailers in the United States, researchers found that 81 percent used email marketing for customer acquisitions. A customer might not want your current products, but a new release in the future could spark interest.
6. Cultivate a Personality
The one thing making your brand stand out from the competition is your unique personality and views. Stay away from controversial topics — such as politics and religion — so that you don’t alienate half of your customer base, but embrace the things that make your company unique, such as your passion for bringing clean water to the world or your love of everything outdoors.
Whatever personality you show as a brand, it needs to be authentic and based on what you genuinely care about and not just what you think customers want to hear. Consumers see right through fakeness, so always stay true to yourself.
7. Ramp up Your Content Marketing
Content is still one of the most effective ways of marketing your e-commerce site. In a recent B2B content marketing report, experts discovered that 58 percent of marketers spent more on content creation in 2018 and plan to spend even more in 2019. Content marketing is another way of promoting your e-commerce site without spamming your target audience.
Adding a blog to your e-commerce site gives site visitors insider information they can’t get anywhere else. Unique content also provides a marketing tool, giving you material for social media posts and information for email campaigns.
8. Improve Customer Service
The experience your customer has with your site is one that determines if they’ll become lifelong customers or walk away from your company forever. Small changes can have a significant impact on customer experience, such as adding live chat features or hiring additional customer service reps so that response times are shorter.
Start with a robust customer-centered service policy so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to handling customer complaints and questions. Think about how you want companies to treat you as a consumer and go from there.
Keeping Current Customers
While gaining new customers improves revenue, your current customers are your best chance of growing your brand. Focus on making the experience for existing customers the best possible, and new customers will follow via word-of-mouth and natural marketing channels. Focusing on both current and new customers allows business growth upward and outward for the best chance of success.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner