Many business owners overlook their website another sales channel for their business. Considering that 81 percent of people (according to Nielsen Online) who shop online do it to save time, not money, the online shopper is an overlooked niche of premium buyers. In addition, those who shop online, like to do anytime; and these buyers hate crowds. Despite the economic slowdown, online shopping continues to grow by more 34% every year. That is 10 times the growth of offline shopping. As a business owner, you can’t ignore it. So here are some ways to capture the online consumer.
Sell What You Already Do
Don’t ignore the obvious; find a way to allow customers to purchase your products and services online. You don’t have to sell everything you have, but at the very least, you should be offering your best sellers online. If your customer must come to you, make it easy for them to buy. For example, if you’re a hair salon, you can allow your customers to establish and manage their own profiles with favorite products and appointment calendars. You can establish automatic reordering of products. Allow your customers to set calendars on their own, online. This is a win for your customers, because your services are very convenient. For you as the owner, you’ve established an automatic, low cost way of connecting with your customers.
Don’t forget about shipping costs, “Free shipping offers drive online sales more than any other promotion, which is why they remain popular,” said Scott Silverman, Executive Director of Shop.org. But the main thing is convenience.
Don’t forget that you have people that stop by your website every day. Who are they? Obviously they’re interested in you; you can capture these prospects’ information to hand off to a live salesman for follow up. If you’re selling custom services, do you have a quote request form on your site? Is it easy to ask questions? Another way to create leads is to offer samples or a free service that will get your prospect to raise his hand asking for you to contact him.
Sell Other People’s Products
A great way to leverage your presence is to offer complimentary products and services or direct visitors to another site for a fee. For example, Amazon.com has a referral program that lets you collect a commission on every book sold to a visitor from your site. Now, you may be thinking, “Well, books are not that big of a sale.” True, but these kinds of programs exist for all kinds of products, even big ticket items like industrial tools or appliances. You can establish your own private referral network as well.
Are you having a sale or some other event? Your web presence is by far, the least expensive way to reach a wide audience of prospects, not to mention your existing customer list. Feature it on your website! Send a press release! A well done online promotion can generate hundreds of new customers and prospects.
The least expensive way to reach your customers is by email. Why wouldn’t you reach out to them? It’s a lot easier to sell something to your existing customer than to find a new one. Email marketing is a great way to build relationships with your customers to turn occasional buyers into regular buyers. Daily, weekly or monthly messages will keep your brand fresh in your customer’s mind. When they’re ready to buy, they’ll think of you first!
Do you have special expertise you can offer your customers? If your content is rich enough, you can sell in the form of special forums or “how to” videos. Have someone write a small book about your business and sell the book online. For example, if you’re a restaurant, you could offer a cookbook or videos on preparation of your signature dishes. If you’re a consultant or accountant, you could offer special products on tax law or tips to reduce your costs. The point is, that your business has a lot to offer that can be sold to eager buyers.
These aren’t the only ways of using your website to make money, but for brick and mortar kind of businesses, these are the six most important. Take advantage of the online consumer and start your website marketing initiative today.