5 Quick Tips on Selling More Through Your Business Website

When lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were first being put into place, savvy business owners moved to institute ecommerce features on to their websites. They recognized that if buyers couldn’t visit them in person, they’d have to find new ways to generate revenue. That forethought has paid off, with some estimates suggesting online sales have doubled compared to the same quarter last year.

However, while some business owners took immediate action, others decided to take a wait-and-see approach. That was understandable, but customers are largely deciding to stay home. That means that this is the perfect time to upgrade the ecommerce features on your website.

If you don’t currently have the ability to sell online, this should be your cue to start. Alternatively, if you can already make money through your web pages you might want to expand your capabilities and attract more revenue.

No matter which of those categories your business falls into, we want to give you some actionable advice that will help. Let’s look at five ways you can start to sell more through your business website starting today

1. Add a Shopping Cart

You can’t sell anything through your website without some mechanism to process transactions and collect money. In most instances, that’s going to mean installing some kind of shopping cart that pairs with a merchant account.

These solutions are easy to find and implementing them is not complex from a technical or programming standpoint. At the same time, just deciding to sell things online isn’t necessarily as simple as it might seem. You definitely want to take care in choosing the right shopping cart and merchant solution for your business. Getting things wrong could cost you a lot of money, create a great deal of hassle for your customers, and even lead to other disruptions in your business or website.

For example, it goes without saying that you want your shopping cart software to be as secure as possible. You’ll also want to know that it’s easy to use, both for yourself and your customers. It has to be compatible with the content management system you’re using, and it always helps if the product is inexpensive. 

On top of that, there may be certain features you require, like custom specifications or discounts for various order sizes. You might not find those in the simplest shopping cart solutions, or you might need a web developer to help you put the right settings into place.

As a rule of thumb, we always recommend you work with an experienced web team when choosing and installing merchant features on your small business website. It’s not an expensive or time-consuming process, but it’s one you can’t afford to get wrong.

2. Create Online Demos Customers Can View

It’s one thing to have the ability to sell products and services online, and another thing to actually generate orders. Often, what’s truly important to a small business isn’t the technical tools needed to accept payments but the skill and expertise of a master salesperson.

You’re never going to be able to completely duplicate face-to-face contact online, but you can get a lot closer with online demo videos or interactive presentations. These allow you, or a member of your team, to walk a potential buyer through the features and benefits of a product before making a decision.

In some ways an online video presentation can be even better than a live demo. In person you might forget to mention something crucial or struggle with a difficult question. When you’re working from a script, and with ideal lighting and backdrops, you can put your very best foot forward. Even better, you can film a presentation once and then have it seen by dozens or hundreds of buyers. You can even share it on your social profiles and in an email newsletter.

Putting together online sales presentations does take a bit of work, but most of our clients can batch the task into a single day. Then, they not only have the tools they need to sell more products and services online, but also a way to pre-qualify buyers and reduce complaints or returns.

The cost of video production and editing has gone down steadily over the past decade as broadband-speed connections have come to rural areas and mobile devices. Video is much more powerful as a sales tool than plain text and images, so why not make the most of it?

3. Integrate Live Chat Features

While you can use online video to intrigue and motivate buyers, your business might be one where customers are going to have lots of questions. They might need to consider specific use cases, or simply get more information before making a final decision.

In those cases, having live chat features on your website can be a game-changer. When you or your employees are standing by, ready to address specific issues as needed, a major obstacle to closing the sale is removed. Prospects no longer have to go without the details or interaction they might need to make them feel comfortable taking the next step.

Online chat features are easy to install, although (as in shopping carts) you’ll want to make sure they are safe, compatible, and convenient. Some will allow customers to contact you or a team member directly; others can be programmed to automatically answer simple and frequent queries.

No matter how straightforward or complex you want to go, however, there is a lot of value in letting a potential buyer see that someone is standing by to assist them with their order or to tackle a quick question. That’s especially true when you consider that someone who is interested right now might not necessarily return to your website to get the answer they need later.

4. Create Upsell Opportunities

In the real world, you and your employees probably look for upsell and add-on opportunities so often it has become second nature. From asking someone “do you want fries with that?” to suggesting a maintenance plan, businesses are always finding ways to increase revenueand value for their customers—by putting more into each sale.

If you have a simple shopping cart on your website, though, you might not be able to do the same. That would mean you’re probably missing out on huge amounts of revenue because your average sale price is going to be a lot lower than normal. It could also mean buyers aren’t getting the little “extras” that would make them happier with their decision later.

The answer, of course, is to integrate smart ecommerce features into your business website that correlate certain products and services with one another. As an example, if someone were purchasing a shirt from you, they might be interested in another similar item the same size. Or, if they were booking a service to clean up leaves in the Fall, they might also be interested in snow removal this Winter.

These are just simple examples, but you get the idea. If there is something you would normally sell to a customer at the time you check them out or write up an invoice, they need to be offered the same product or service (at a minimum) when they finish a transaction on your website. That’s not hard to set up with your web design team, and you’ll definitely see the difference in your bottom line.

5. Don’t Forget About Inventory and Fulfillment  

To this point we’ve looked at a few tools and solutions that can increase your sales, but don’t forget about everything that happens after an order has been placed.

Buyers are always impatient to know when their items will be shipped and delivered, but that’s particularly true this year when so many industries and supply lines have been disrupted. If you’re going to add merchant features to your website, or improve the ones you have, it makes sense to address inventory and fulfillment.

You can put automated systems in place that notify customers about the status of their orders and help them keep track of shipping. You can even combine inventory and ecommerce platforms so shoppers can see what’s available on your website in real time.

These sorts of add-ons can increase sales, but more importantly they lower your customer service burden. When buyers can get the information they need about their transactions directly from your website, they don’t have to call or email your team.

As with the other improvements we suggested, adding inventory and fulfillment tools to your website doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive project. If you’re already thinking about raising your ecommerce capabilities this might be a good time to consider it.

7 Urgent Steps for Marketers in the Covid Economy

As the coronavirus has taken over first the news, then our attention, and finally the economy, clients have come to us again and again with one question: “what now?”

The answer depends of course on the situation a business owner or executive is facing. For some, a Covid recession is a major event. For others, it’s a sad reality but not a huge business concern.

If you have the kind of company that is relatively unaffected by the current pandemic, then you might not be concerned with changing strategies or tactics. For all the rest of us, though, here are seven urgent steps you might want to take today if you haven’t already:

1. Don’t Panic or Make Rash Decisions You Might Regret

One of the worst things you can do, in this crisis or any other, is complicate matters by enacting quick decisions that compound the issue. This is a time to think clearly about what’s possible, what’s likely, and which opportunities or obstacles lie ahead. Take some time to get clear about what you’re facing and what you want to accomplish. Only then should you make strategic decisions.

2. Start Using Your Email Newsletter to Communicate

This is no time to be quiet or leave your customers wondering what you can or can’t do for them. While we would encourage you to reuse any outreach tools you have at your disposal; email is particularly well-suited for fast and effective communication. Let buyers know what’s happening with your business, even if nothing has changed. That way you won’t miss out on business because they have assumed you are cutting back.

3. Reach Out to Your Best Customers through Social Media

While email will probably be the preferred method of communication for the moment, don’t overlook the power of social media to connect with your best customers, clients, vendors, or partners. Some of them may prefer to communicate through these channels. And, sending a note through Facebook or LinkedIn (as examples) is more personal than reaching them through an email blast.

4. Look for Opportunities to Sell and Serve Your Market

Don’t assume there isn’t any business to be found in your industry, or that you know exactly what your customers want. Reach out to some of them and see if there are new opportunities to make your company a more valuable partner or resource. It might be that there are lots of ways you can serve buyers, or the community, that aren’t immediately obvious.

5. Investigate New Customers and Sales Opportunities

If your customers and clients are slowing down, don’t simply take it as a given that you will have to do the same. It may be that you are able to serve other markets (for instance, hospitals or delivery companies) who are doing a thriving business right now. Often, it just takes a bit of creative thinking and investigation to identify new sales opportunities, even in a downturn.

6. Cut Off Any Non-Performing Ads or Campaigns

We started our tips by advising you not to make any rash decisions. However, that’s not the same as saying you should stay still. If there are marketing campaigns or activities that just aren’t going to work in the current economy, then this is the time to pause or discontinue them. Don’t let your money go towards projects that aren’t going to benefit your business for many months to come.

7. Take Advantage of the Downtime to Get Better

One of the things that makes marketing hard is that most business owners and executives don’t have time to read books, take courses, or think about projects like a website overhaul. If there is any small silver lining to what’s going on in the world it’s that we have the opportunity to step back and be more intentional about our plans. Where do you want to be in a few months, and what can you do to make it happen?

Are Online Reviews Helping or Hurting Your Sales?

Business owners often scrutinize every corner of their websites. They look for anything that can give them an advantage over their online competitors. However, they often overlook a crucial part of the online marketing mix. One that makes a huge difference between new sales and missed opportunities. This “hidden” component of the online marketing puzzle is a company’s online reviews(reputation).

Surveys show that 90% of all buyers will check a business’s online reviews before they ever convert into a customer. If what they find on Google, Yelp, and industry websites is positive, they can move forward confidently. However, if they see lots of complaints and bad reviews they may take their business elsewhere. Then, you’ll have lost the opportunity to win a customer without ever knowing why.

With stakes so high, let’s dive into three stages to make online reviews a positive part of your selling strategy.

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Online Tactics that Support Offline Sales and Marketing

Within web design companies, there are discussions that off-line sales and online marketing tactics are no longer effective. Or at least, that they are inefficient and unnecessary. However, millions of small business owners would disagree. Small businesses use tools like direct mail, telemarketing, and billboard ads to find new customers every day. In some cases, with less effort and expense compared to some online marketing campaigns.

Does that mean businesses should be divided into those who use the web to acquire customers and those who don’t? Absolutely not. There are numerous ways you could combine your approaches to save time and money and boost sales all around.

Let’s look at some ways you can use online tactics to further off-line sales and online marketing campaigns.

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Is SEO Actually Worth the Time and Effort?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

All business owners and marketing executives love the idea of social media marketing. It’s common sense: Google is currently processing somewhere around 5 billion searches per day. Who wouldn’t want a healthy slice of that traffic headed towards their own landing pages?

However, what stops them from following through on new search engine optimization campaigns is the reality that it can be difficult to bring traffic in from Google if you’re starting from a low initial search position. If you haven’t put time, money, and effort towards SEO in the past, it can seem daunting to even begin.

It’s not surprising, then, that we often hear different versions of the question: “Is SEO really worth the time and effort it will take?” To get at the right answer, here are a few things you have to remember…

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Don’t Let a Negative Online Review Kill Your Sales

One of the best and worst things about the digital age comes down to the fact that customers have more power over businesses than ever before. If buyers say good things about a company, that positive feedback will show up on search engines, social media sites, and review platforms like Yelp. Then, more customers will come flocking and the cycle will go on and on.

On the other hand, a bad review can dissuade new customers from even investigating a business, particularly if the feedback is recent and sharp. That means you always need to be ready to protect your online reputation.

Knowing how important customer feedback is, and how hard it can be to recover from an online complaint or criticism, let’s look at what you can do to keep a negative online review from killing your sales and marketing efforts…

Read the Review Like a Customer

It can be easy, when you’re reading feedback from someone who is critical of your business, to immediately get defensive. Try to resist that urge and look at things from the buyer’s perspective.

Specifically, you want to see if their complaint or poor review has any merit. What is it specifically they were upset about? Is there some chance other customers feel the same way but haven’t expressed their frustration or disappointment? If so, that’s a bigger problem than the review itself.

Look at Your Business First

After you have thought things through, consider making changes or improvements to the way you work. Talk to staff members. Adjust your pricing and policies. Or explain details to customers more thoroughly.

This is important because one bad online review can turn into dozens if you make the same mistakes again and again. It’s never fun to read something bad about your company, but it can be a good thing if it alerts you to a bigger problem.

Respond or Refute

After you deal with any issues in your company—or decide there isn’t a problem you have to worry about—it’s time to think about the review itself. You essentially have three options: to ignore the review, write a response, or refute it altogether.

Believe it or not, simply ignoring a bad review can be your best choice sometimes. You can’t please everyone, and other customers are going to know that, particularly if the review seems off-base or irrationally negative.

In many situations, the smart move is to simply respond to the review politely. Tell your side of the story. Apologize to the customer. Or promise to provide better service in the future. Any of these show that you care, and that you’re paying attention to customer satisfaction. For all of those reasons, you can even decide to respond to positive reviews in the same way.

And finally, if you think the reviewer was mistaken, or if the negative review is somehow fraudulent or aimed at you personally, you could always request that it be removed from your page on a specific platform. Negative reviews won’t be deleted by administrators very often unless you can somehow prove they are unhelpful to other customers. Still, it’s something you can try if you think there is a chance to have it taken down.

Monitor and Grow Your Online Reputation

There are several tools you can use to monitor your online reputation and encourage your best customers to say good things about you online. They cost you very little, and can make a huge difference in your online reputation over time.

That’s important because the best way to deal with a negative review is to simply get lots of better ones that show up beside it. Anyone who uses the internet knows that even the best products and companies occasionally get complaints. And buyers will largely ignore the occasional piece of bad feedback if it’s next to lots of testimonials from happy customers.

Are You Getting All You Could Get from Your Business Website?

If you feel like your website and online marketing campaigns aren’t as profitable as they could be, it might be time for a change in creative direction. At the Marcom Group, we can help you make the most of your time, budgets, and websites.

The X Factor in Web Design ROI

When business owners come to us for web design and Internet marketing, they generally want to know two things: first, will my site look great? And second, will it help me make more money?

The answer to the first question is easy. If you work with a talented creative team (and like their samples) you are very likely to get a beautiful web presence. The second question is a little trickier, however.

That’s because a lot of things go into the ROI you’ll get from a new website. There is the quality of the site itself, and the size of your market and the competition you’re facing, not to mention the strength of the marketing plan your team comes up with. Most importantly, though, there is a big X factor: how much work will you put into your own website?

If you expect to launch your new website and just have customers magically arrive, then you are likely to be disappointed. The launch of a new website is the start of your Internet marketing campaigns, not the end. To make your pages stand out, and to grow your bottom line, you have to pay attention to things like…

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How to Attract Leads With Your Website

Now more than ever, business owners are obsessed with attracting inbound leads from their websites. That’s a good thing—if your web presence isn’t generating sales opportunities, then what’s the point of having it in the first place?

At the same time, though, a lot of marketers seem to think that the process will take care of itself if they just put up a nice enough layout and some content that’s free of obvious typos. Unfortunately, it takes a little more than that to find business on the web. In fact, if you want to attract leads with your business website, there are a few steps you’re going to have to follow every time…

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