Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How to increase your online sales - analytics, social media

Sometime back I had written a post on "How to sell your products online" and a lot of people asked me if there was anything else they could do after that, to further increase sales. As I had mentioned at the end of the post "There is a lot more that can be done to further increase sales, but then, that would be a topic by itself ." So here is the first one on the next steps to increase sales of your products online.

First let me begin by saying that the basics covered in my last post are not a onetime activity. In fact it is a continuous activity. Hence this is the first step to further increase sales.

Use Analytics. Marketplaces such as Amazon, provide analytics on your listings. Use those. Continuously monitor page views, clicks and sales of one's products and modify the Product Title, Images, Description, Keywords, and price based on what's working and what's not. Take the learning from one similar product and apply it to another. If something is not working try something different and again observe the data. Keep analyzing data, keep a track of changes made and progress and keep fine tuning till you have a winner. How?

Think like a customer while analyzing the data. Start by asking "is my product visible in search?" If not then tweak the Keywords and title. If Yes but clicks are less, then modify the Image, Title OR Price or all three. If Clicks are good and so are the page views of the Product detail page but sales are low, then check and work on the description, features and price. Keep an eye on the competition while doing these. Who are you competing against, how are their images, do they describe the product better? or are the cheaper? Follow the same process for products that may have sold well earlier but may not be selling well now. Also check customer reviews. Has someone written a negative review of your product? why? what can you do about it?

The reason this comes as a first step to increasing online sales is that this is basic. First sell to customers who are searching as they have the highest intent to buy. Then look at doing things to attract other customers. It's like having a shop in a mall. If your location, sign board, display and pricing are not enticing customers who are already at the mall, to buy, then it does not make too much sense in trying to get customers who are outside to the mall. Does it?

There are also a lot of tools available online to manage your listings, inventory, customer feedback and response & sales and get better data to help you increase sales. If your product categories and items are multiple and/or you sell on multiple platforms then these tools can really help you manage your process, your time and pricing strategy better and thus increase sales. So do look at them and choose what suits your current and future needs the best.

Once you have set systems in place to list products and then analyse data to tweak your listings then look at the next steps. Key ones here would be Social Media presence, Blogs, and online advertising, in that order. Let's start with Social media.

What Social media to choose and what to do there would depend upon your target audience, your products and what you want to achieve. The objective here is to increase sales so that is sorted. However, whether to use Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram or Google plus or Pinterest and what you do there will depend on your target audience - where they frequent? what they do there? and your products. My post "Does Social media Work" covers most of the basics for making social media work. So do refer to that. But keep in mind that social media is for engagement so don't sell too hard. Which means please do not just post your title of the product with the image and price and a link to where they can buy it from.  Here talk about your product category, its advantage to the user, its uniqueness, similar products or items, the people behind it, etc etc. Engagement is the key. Think what a prospective customer would be interested in and engage with them on that. Here the fact that you are selling xyz product is secondary. The user and their interest comes first. Engage with them and then also let them know that if they are interested in buying they could so from xyz place. Also this is place to talk to your users to gauge their interests and concerns. This is the place to get feedback and act upon the same. This is the place to offer discounts, hold contests and build a community of current and prospective customers. And if you do this well sales will happen.

You may want to build a social media community from scratch over a period of time organically or if you have the budgets you could use social media advertising to ramp up fast. Which advertising options to use on a particular social media channel would again depend on what you are doing there. You may want to promote your posts or just build likes (FB) to your channel depending upon your short term or long term goals. My suggestion always is to first go the organic route and use your own networks to propagate the page, see what kind of posts and activity drives your desired goal and then decide on how to spend your money and do what to further your goals. Social media channels too, provide analytics on how your page is doing and what is working and what is not. use that data to tweak your posts and activity. Remember social media does take time to do it well so don't expect a jump in sales immediately. Work at it, analyze, tweak, change, see what others are doing, talk to your audience and you will see an impact over a period of time.  

Blogs and online advertising come next. But will cover these in another post. So get started on using analytics to increase sales and start you social media channel pages. If you have questions or want to know something in more detail or just share your experiences, please feel free to comment below.

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