Edit – Before you start your generating online leads for your startup, you may want to submit it to the following 100 websites for initial traction, feedback, early users, and visibility.
For many of us just beginning in startups, sales and marketing can be confusing and unknown. Especially online sales because it’s a growing platform as well.
So one must know what exactly are online sales, before learning about how to start online sales for startups.
What are Online Sales?
If a company goes online, it services become available on the Internet, and this, in turn, gives the company it’s online sales. This way, the company is spread even better than previously.
Basically, online trading provides a huge range of opportunities that did not exist prior to the internet revolution. Hence, this section delivers all you need to know about the world of e-commerce, giving information on legal issues, accepting online payments and advice on how to boost your online sales figures.
How to Start Online Sales for your Startup?
As mentioned earlier, in order to grow a business or company, one must need to start online sales. So, here are few tips in order to get the perfect start for your business’ online sales.
Tip #1 – Start with your Market
Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second. Hence, to boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding any results. The internet makes this kind of market research easy:
- Visit online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they’re trying to solve.
- Do keyword research to find keywords that a lot of people are searching, but for which, not many sites are competing.
- Check out your potential competitors by visiting their sites and taking note of what they’re doing to fill the demand. Then you can use what you’ve learned and created a product for a market that already exists–and does it better than the competition.
Tip #2 – It’s about product, not technology
This has to be one of the main tips or steps. Many would have heard about this tip that it’s only about the product and not much about technology.
Internet technology enabled the e-commerce revolution to happen, but focussing on technology will never bring commercial success. Normal business rules still apply when you sell online.
So, you must provide things that customers want to buy online, at a price they are prepared to pay. Then tell them about it. Hence, it’s as simple as that.
Tip #3 – Create a formula that sells
There’s a proven sales copy formula that takes visitors through the selling process from the moment they arrive at the moment they make a purchase :
- Arouse interest with a compelling headline.
- Describe the problem your product solves.
- Establish your credibility as a solver of this problem.
- Add testimonials from people who have used your product.
- Talk about the product and how it benefits the user.
- Make an offer.
- Make a strong guarantee.
- Create urgency.
- Ask for the sale.
Basically, think like a customer and ask “What’s in it for me?”
Tip #4 – Design and build your website
Once you’ve got your market and product, and you’ve nailed down your selling process, now you’re ready for your small-business web design. Remember to keep it simple. You have fewer than five seconds to grab someone’s attention–otherwise, they’re gone, never to be seen again. Some important tips to keep in mind:
- Choose one or two plain fonts on a white background.
- Make your navigation clear and simple, and the same on every page.
- Only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message.
- Include an opt-in offer so you can collect e-mail addresses.
- Make it easy to buy–no more than two clicks between potential customer and checkout.
- Your website is your online storefront, so make it customer-friendly.
Tip #5 – Marketing, marketing and more marketing (Online + Offline)
To help customers find you, you need to know how they search.
What are the key phrases they use to search for your type of product? Use them when writing your web pages. What other ways do customers search? Talk to people and try to find out. Sites such as www.searchenginewatch.com can help you.
It’s true that all of your prospects are online, but they spend more time offline. You need to consider whether traditional marketing such as PR or direct mail can help. Sometimes the answer will be no, but you can’t afford to assume that.
Tip #6 – Build trust
Buying online is impersonal and involves a lot of faith. How does a visitor know that the goods they ordered will arrive? Reassure them as much as possible, for example, by having clear terms and conditions and a returns policy on your e-commerce site. Include a good photograph of you, your staff or your office on the ‘About Us‘ page, and join at least one merchant accreditation scheme, such as ISIS, Safer Online Shopping or SafeBuy.
Once your online shop is up and running, remember that existing customers are your best customers. Use special offers to encourage them to visit your e-commerce site – keep them informed of what you are doing. And try a loyalty or affiliate scheme.
Tip #7 – The Power of Search Engines
Use search engines to drive targeted buyers to your site. For example, for AeroLeads, we get 50% inbound leads from search engines only. For b2b software, organic traffic can be a huge lead generation source.
Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a brand-new site. It has two advantages over waiting for the traffic to come to you organically.
First, PPC ads show up on the search pages immediately, and second, PPC ads allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches. Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.
Tip #8 – Use Proven Technology and Sell Immediately when they Arrive
Use technology that works, not something that’s a work in progress. As an e-commerce vendor, you must admit to a degree of bias, but why bother debugging software from a start-up or paying thousands for a bespoke solution that leaves you reliant on the designer?
So, use a package that is already working on thousands of online stores, one that is in constant development.
Once someone arrives at your site, the selling should begin. Leave the smooth talk out, and show them your products. Don’t ask them to register before they can browse. There will be time to get their name and address once they decide to buy.
Tip #9 – Establish an expert reputation for yourself
People use the internet to find information. Provide that information for free to other sites, and you’ll see more traffic and better search engine rankings. The secret is to always include a link to your site with each tidbit of information.
- Give away free, expert content. Create articles, videos or any other content that people will find useful. Distribute that content through online article directories or social media sites.
- Include “send to a friend” links on valuable content on your website.
- Become an active expert in industry forums and social networking sites where your target market hangs out.
You’ll reach new readers. But even better, every site that posts your content will link back to yours. Search engines love links from relevant sites and will reward you in the rankings.
Tip #10 – Get a good online payment provider
You need to be able to take payments online, and it makes sense to team up with a good one. There is a list of good UK payment providers here. Check out who offers a service to spot fraudulent payments.
Also, it is of utmost importance to sign up with a good hosting company.
Your online store needs to be hosted somewhere, and there are plenty of great deals for good, low-cost web hosting. Type “Web Hosting” into Google to get a list. Personally, I’d recommend using a hosting specialist, rather than a jack of all trades.
Tip #11 – Use the power of email marketing to turn visitors into buyers
When you build an opt-in list, you’re creating one of the most valuable assets of your online business. Your customers and subscribers have given you permission to send them an email. That means :
- You’re giving them something they’ve asked for.
- You’re developing lifetime relationships with them.
- The response is 100 percent measurable.
- Email marketing is cheaper and more effective than print, TV or radio because it’s highly targeted.
Anyone who visits your site and opts into your list is a very hot lead. And there’s no better tool than email for following up with those leads.
Tip #12 – Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling
One of the most important internet marketing strategies is to develop every customer’s lifetime value.
At least 36 percent of people who have purchased from you once will buy from you again if you follow up with them. Closing that the first sale is by far the most difficult part–not to mention the most expensive. So use back-end selling and upselling to get them to buy again :
- Offer products that complement their original purchase.
- Send out electronic loyalty coupons they can redeem on their next visit.
- Offer related products on your “Thank You” page after they purchase.
Basically, reward your customers for their loyalty and they’ll become even more loyal.
Tip #13 – Make sure your site works for you, not your designer
It must be the last tip but surely not the least.
The Direct Line red telephone continues to be used because it works – however irritating it is. The same principle applies online. Don’t let a fantastic design spoil your business because, for instance, it takes so long to load that people just click away.
Make everything the servant of the business objective – to make online sales.
Do check out this post in order to know more about how to start sales for your startups, by clicking here.
We all know that the internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven’t changed at all.
Hence, if you’re just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. Also, if you’ve been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there’s a step you’re neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place.
Feel free to put your tips and suggestions in the comments.