The western genre, and its modern-day equivalent space exploration, captures our imaginations because to be an explorer, adventurer embarking out into the unknown and creating our own path is what many people desire.
Entrepreneurs are these new cowboys and space explorers.
Names like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk are now etched in our history and culture because they created business for things we didn’t even know would benefit our lives.
The last two are even looking to explore the stars – evermore encapsulating the image of space cowboys.
However, few are bold enough to take the first step into the unknown.
A Harvard Business School study found that 75% of venture-backed startups fail.
A high failure rate can seem discouraging, however, rugged outdoorsman Theodore Roosevelt said,
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with dust and sweat; who strives valiantly, who errs and may fall again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, and launching an ecommerce business is not an easy task.
The good news is, you don’t have to embark into the unknown by yourself.
We’ve gathered 53 experts to provide proven tactics and strategies that will help increase your ecommerce sales.
Let’s dive in.
Grow Your Brand and Trust
Brand awareness impacts trust (which impacts sales), repeat purchases, and even SEO.
The more people know (and trust) your brand name, the higher your sales will grow.
To improve brand awareness, focus on quality.
– Bill Widmer, Content Marketing & SEO Consultant
You need to have all of your pages SEO’d with great content and really good images that have been tested.
You have to have a strong presence on Facebook, and depending upon your product, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Work all channels to drive prospects to your ecommerce location.
Build your brand authority & affinity.
Most companies battle for the expensive conversion terms.
Use the full force of digital marketing to get people to your site but then make sure it is VERY easy for people to add to cart – the more buttons or steps it takes to checkout, the more likely people are to abandon their cart.
Build and Effectively Manage Your Email Marketing Strategy
Other channels (i.e. Periscope, Facebook, Instagram) will come and go, but you always own your email list.
Don’t take that responsibility and opportunity lightly.
– Jonathan Anderstrom, President, Creed Interactive
Too many don’t do it, or don’t do it well.
It’s not hard, it’s not SPAM, GDPR didn’t kill it.
Use it to build a relationship with your customers.
My top piece of advice would be to continually look to grow your email list with quality leads.
Ecommerce companies are often at the mercy of Facebook and Google, and if they decide to make changes to their policies you could end up significantly worse off.
In contrast, you actually own your email list, so no amount of policy changes will be able to stop you from being able to directly interact with your customers through email.
Another benefit of having an email list of relevant leads is that it supports repeat purchases.
In a world where competing on price is becoming the norm, being able to directly contact customers to encourage repeat purchases is more important than ever.
Finally, qualified email leads allow for abandoned cart emails to be sent out.
Not only does this reduce the amount of revenue lost due to a purchase not being completed, but it also enables you to take advantage of further upselling opportunities.
Leverage that email list for more than just discounts and sales.
Show life behind the scenes, tell stories, and make customers feel like part of your family.
It may not have immediate ROI, but it’s a long-haul play that always converts.
Grow your email list through organic search efforts, and sell to your email list more often.
Email marketing holds the answer for online brands with a desire to increase their sales.
Right now, most companies possess tangled email systems with stale subscriber lists and poor follow-up sequences.
It’s time to take control of your email marketing to truly nurture your leads and retain more customers.
Start by segmenting your lists to send personalized messages to your audience.
You also want to create workflows that adjust with the subscriber’s behavior.
There’s power in your email list.
Use it to boost your sales.
I’m biased here, but email!
Send relevant email regularly to your customers.
They’ve opted in because they like your products, so use it to engage.
Use a tool like SmartrMail to set up email automation funnels, and custom product emails, and it will create ongoing personalized engagement.
Drive More Traffic With Facebook Advertising
It’s one of the best ways to drive new visitors to your store, convert them into paying customers and re-engage them to buy even more.
According to Adweek, the average return on investment from Facebook Ads in ecommerce is 152%, and it’s the largest social media referrer for ecommerce orders.
Not advertising on this channel is a major missed opportunity for online brands.
The best part: it’s easier than ever with tools like Vantage that specialize in Facebook ads for ecommerce to build and launch campaigns that drive sales.
– Paige Gerber, Head of Marketing, Vantage
Facebook dynamic product ad retargeting is the lowest-hanging fruit most online brands aren’t doing.
Without it, leads with showed intent are disappearing!
But it is crucial that it is properly set up, along with the advertising sets.
Take control of your Facebook Ads.
Use what I call the “ad stacking method,” which is a heavy focus on segmenting every single visitor based on actions they do or don’t take on your ecommerce store and then placing the right message in front of them at the right time based on where they are in the conversation, AKA your marketing funnel.
Instead of leaning on Facebook’s algorithm for advertising success, set up your ads using custom audiences, inclusions, and exclusions, so you can show an ad based on what action they have or haven’t taken yet.
You need to bring back 98% of your prospects.
Many ecommerce owners don’t have their Facebook pixel completely set up in their ecommerce store, let alone installed.
With that said, make sure you have a Facebook pixel installed on your website.
Secondly, make sure that you have the various events like Add to Cart or Purchase Events set up so Facebook knows what actions your visitors to your store have or haven’t taken.
When you have segmented custom audiences following events, you wield a powerful asset that you can use to generate ROI from using Facebook ads, in addition to creating cold audiences from these groups of website visitors by taking advantage of Facebook’s ability to create lookalike audiences.
Test and Test to Avoid complacency.
Be tireless with optimizing your online store and marketing channels for increasing conversion rate.
If you haven’t tried 50+ changes to your approach to see how it impacts your metrics, you haven’t experimented enough.
– Nick Raushenbush, Cofounder, Shogun Landing Page Builder
Always be testing.
If you’re not achieving the goals you set for yourself, dig into your analytics to figure out where people are dropping off.
Then, make a hypothesis about why that part of the process is so conversion-killing.
Next, A/B test different versions of just that one element so that you can truly isolate what’s happening.
Make it a habit to regularly test different aspects of your ecommerce website that you know could be improved.
Use data to make smart future decisions instead and never ever stop trying new things.
Conversion Rate Optimization.
You should constantly be A/B testing the various elements of your website – from button placement and color, to calls to action and product photography.
Test to lift conversion rate in tiny increments over time and you will end up with a whole lot more sales.
Make the purchase and checkout process as easy as possible.
With so many 1-click buy options, such as PayPal, Amazon, and Apple, you need to reduce as much friction as possible.
After that, make sure you offer next-day or 2-day shipping.
For more complex sales, using electronic signature software can boost your average sale price by 18%.
Don’t give people reason to not buy when you can control these factors and don’t give them a reason to start searching elsewhere.
Make your product easy to buy.
Don’t make your customers have to work to buy from you.
Do you really need someone to create an account before they purchase, or can it be a part of the checkout process?
The easier it is for a customer to make a purchase, the more likely they are to buy.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
You can drive all the traffic in the world to your site, but if your conversion rate sucks, it’s all for naught.
Take a hard look at every aspect of your site.
What could be better?
What are your competitors doing?
How does it look on mobile/tablet?
How fast is it?
What do your customers/users think?
Get unbiased opinions.
Not everyone’s going to agree, so test.
Test, test, test.
Keep the process going all the time.
It isn’t good enough to redesign your site every few years.
You must be making improvements all the time.
Know Your Numbers, and Stick to Them
If you have your numbers and the analytics tracking them down to a science, you can scale your business far, far quicker.
– David Jaeger, CEO, Result Kitchen
Having a clear sense of who your target customer is and developing a proper attribution system in place to effectively measure the efficacy of your marketing.
The #1 tactic is to have accurate, regularly-updated unit economics on each product you sell.
This means you need to make sure to include some sort of overhead cost allocation to your overall costs.
You will quickly find you are selling a lot of items that make you no money (or lose you money).
Once you address those items by removing them from your catalog or altering prices, you will find you are making a lot more money by way of doing the same amount of work.
We have repeatedly helped clients remove 40% of their catalog, only to increase profits by 20-40%
My #1 tactic to increase ecommerce sales is deep segmentation.
Today, you can do real-time, dynamic segmentation of your buyers as they click around your site.
For example, as a user visits your site, you can track all of the pages they visit, the products they click, and automatically send targeted offers based on their activity.
Segmentation doesn’t stop with email.
You can do the same deep segmentation across multiple channels, including social ads, Google ads, push messages and more.
By segmenting buyers in real-time, across channels, you can get incredibly personalized with your marketing and drive up conversion rates.
The number one thing that I don’t see a lot of growing brands doing is up-selling and cross-selling.
Both up-selling and cross-selling are more cost-effective than acquiring new customers and have the added benefits of boosting customer lifetime value and overall engagement.
Work on increasing your average order value and lifetime value of your existing customers.
Focus on the ascension process in your ecommerce business.
This process is critical for maximizing sales from customers.
Here are 4 ways that you can do this:
Optimize the uptake of your order bump.
Optimize the conversion of your upsell sequences.
Create and sell continuity programs to your customers, like “subscribe and save” offers.
Consistently send bonding/storytelling emails with soft sells.
When you can get the ascension process optimized and performing well in your business, you can now afford to pay more per customer, making it easier to advertise, scale, and outbid your competition on ads.
Understand Your Customer on a Deep Level
This all starts with communicating more with your customers.
If you can do this, you can consistently win.
When you understand your customer, you can create better ads, launch products they love, and almost “read their mind.”
– Eric Carlson, Co-Founder, 10xFactory
Do. Customer. Research.
There is absolutely no replacement for following up with customers at every stage of the purchase journey (and I don’t mean just by sending a single “Please leave us a review!” email).
Install Hotjar polls on your site.
Do user testing on new products.
Mine your reviews for patterns and sticky phrases.
This should be a constant process, and will yield soooo many useful insights.
Think from the POV of your users.
What are their pain points?
Where do they face friction?
Where do they hang out online?
Finding out the answers to these three questions will allow you to grow sales easily- because now you know what to sell, how to sell, and where to sell.
This is commonly spouted advice but it’s rarely followed: get to know your customers better.
Talk to them, or at least survey them.
Invest in strategic measurement and analysis work.
Find the gaps in your user experience and run experiments to try to fix them.
More generally, become customer-centric (and not just by saying you’re customer-centric, but by making this the cornerstone of any tactic you implement).
I don’t know how you could possibly go wrong with this approach.
Have meaningful conversations with customers about your products.
They literally give you all the answers to the test.
The test, of course, is, “What would it take to get you to buy this?”
Just ask them! It’s that freaking easy.
No one does it though. It’s scary and takes time.
Out of everyone I’ve told this to, I think 1 or 2 have followed through on it.
Go do it!
Invest in Customer Service Technology
Chatbots and engagement automation is something most brands miss because they see chat as “customer service.”
Customer service is the new marketing for many successful brands.
Many shoppers feel more satisfied when they’re able to chat to a staff member and are more likely to convert.
Engagement automation in the form of context chat can help brands push promotional content or invite customers to ask questions.
– David Feng, Co-Founder and Head of Product, Re:amaze
Invest in customer loyalty.
So many online businesses focus on customer acquisition, but what makes you more money, in the end, is your returning customers.
In this day and age you cannot spend enough time reading your own product reviews and improving your products based on that “boots on the ground” feedback.
If you aren’t iterating with every reorder of your product, you’ll never build a brand online.
The days of spending massive amounts of money for brand awareness to push mediocre products is over.
Listen to the customer and improve your products so that your product ratings and sales improve.
Having great products with great service will build your brand.
Our focus is customer service, and fast email and social media response is critical for building brand trust.
We try to keep response times to 24 hours or less for all emails from customers and wholesalers.
With brand trust comes social media tagging between groups and good word of mouth.
Focus on Fostering Repeat, Loyal Customers
That means that your job isn’t done after the consumer clicked ‘purchase’.
Use shipping as a way to surprise and delight customers.
Did you know that shipping confirmation emails are opened 1.5 times on average?
It’s the easiest way to engage with customers right after purchase.
Consider including your brand name in the subject line, since that has a 7 percent increase in unique open rates compared to emails without it.
– Laura Behrens Wu, CEO & Co-founder, Shippo
Free shipping is so much more powerful than a percent off. Even if that percentage is more than shipping.
People have a tendency to buy more when there is free shipping. It gives them that “Amazon Prime” power of satisfaction feel.
And don’t forget to offer it to your international customers as well.
They will purchase two or three times more because they understand how rare it is to have that “free shipping” unicorn.
Again, use shipping as a sales tactic because it’s as important as ever for consumers.
A top-tier tactic is — of course — free shipping; look no further than Amazon to see why.
You can either offer it on your entire product catalog or implement a free shipping threshold that sets a dollar amount as a requirement to access it.
Some low-hanging fruit related to that is kitting: to get more product off the shelves and increase order value, merchants can set up kits that bundle multiple products into a single unit for sale.
Combat cart abandonment in the moment it occurs.
Rather than waiting to engage a shopper until after they abandon their cart, engage them with an exit offer right at the moment of abandonment.
Cart abandonment almost always has to do with price or shipping.
Today’s shopper is looking for a deal and expecting free shipping.
With 79% of total carts being abandoned, clearly shopper needs are not being met.
At the end of the day, if you want a sale, you have to fulfill the needs of your shoppers.
Give them what they’re looking for and provide an easy path to conversion.
Present an exit offer with a promo code to shoppers who have attempted to leave the cart or checkout pages.
What you offer depends on what your shoppers respond to and your profit margins.
This could be for a percentage-off discount, dollar-amount discount, free shipping, or another creative offer.
This tactic engages abandoners at a critical point in the purchasing process, forces the shopper to make a purchasing decision, and fulfills shopper wants/needs.
With nearly ⅘ of all sale opportunities resulting in an abandoned cart, it’s imperative that you engage these shoppers at the point of abandonment.
Using this simple tactic, BigCommerce retailer, The Mountain, was able to decrease cart abandonment by 30%!
Implement Limited Time Offers
Run flash sales on your own site and offer a great price.
Blast that out on paid social channels.
You’ll have some spend on marketing, but the cost will be less than the percentage you’d pay Amazon and you now have a customer that you own, rather than getting a one-time sale.
– Aaron Rubin, CEO, ShipHero
When you leverage deal sites, coupon platforms, and comparison shopping engines that accelerate product launches, you supercharge coupon distribution efforts and increase brand awareness.
This helps you to promote product offers to larger audiences in less time compared to launching these same initiatives solely using their website.
Promote, promote, promote.
Using promotions sounds simple and it really is, but to really leverage the potential of promotions in your ecommerce business, you have to use various types of promotions at different times throughout the year and in different frequencies.
For one, promotions should be used several times each week to get inactive leads and previous customers that haven’t purchased in several months to buy.
Two, promotions should be used quarterly with big themes and events to drive massive floods of sales from your entire community.
The bottom line is that you want to keep making offers to keep leads and previous buyers engaged, continuing to purchase from you. If you don’t, they will go to someone else.
The right offer can quadruple your marketing performance.
The one crucial mistake that ecommerce owners are making is in their offer.
When an offer is great it captures the following:
Dimensionalized/story (what it looks like in the life of the prospect).
Emotional benefit (how will the buyer feel).
Guarantee (change the perceived risk).
The features and benefits are where you can differentiate your product from your competitors.
Every business has differentiators in their products, if you dig deep.
For example, maybe you have a unique process behind the creation of your product. Talk about it. Make that process your unique differentiator in your market.
When you focus on the elements of the offer, that can drastically improve your conversions in your ecommerce store.
Tap Into Influencers & Affiliates Everyday
Structure is Everything
Here are the elements merchant often miss.
Error resolution within site architecture.
URLs: Assess overall structure (e.g., multiple URLs for the same product), maximize readability, and minimize issues like hex code inclusion over-reliance on parameters.
Titles: Minimize duplicates, fix missing titles.
Sitemap and robots.txt: Ensure proper structure.
Unique search opportunities: Assess unique search result opportunities like google knowledge graph cards and site link structure.
Other on-page elements: Optimize descriptions, headers, keywords, images, alt text
– Scott Ginsberg, Head of Content, Metric Digital
The No. 1 tactic to increase sales for online brands is to form a connection with your customers.
So many businesses miss out on this because they are too busy thinking of themselves.
Establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry by providing content that helps your audience to be more efficient and effective at their jobs or in other aspects of their lives.
Provide articles, infographics, videos, etc. that answer their questions in a comprehensive in-depth way no one else is doing.
Because our content provides information that’s in high demand, it establishes trust so that more and more of our online audience members come to us as customers.
Storytelling is at the Heart of Scaling Your Success.
A proper content program, not just the occasional blog post as an afterthought, is really important.
It’s brilliant for SEO, but also for validation and branding.
Longer content can be used as a gift to customers or as a lead magnet on Facebook. It has the best ROI for an ecommerce store owner in my opinion.
Don’t forget to nurture your leads.
Most people do not buy the first time they see an ad or the first time they click.
Make sure you are retargeting, collecting emails and incorporating drip campaigns.
Figure out what you’re good at and push that to the limit.
Then figure out what you’re really bad at, and fix it.
For some that might be ads, for others, it could be SEO, and for others, it’s telling a great story through content.
A coordinated cross-channel marketing strategy is essential to ecommerce success now.
Ensuring your messaging is impactful and coordinated across all of your marketing channels is imperative.
Nurturing a list via Facebook Messenger.
Messenger open rates are 95% vs. 15% for traditional email.
Facebook Messenger is in the top of the 1st inning.
Now is the time to start.
Identify brands that are chasing the same target group.
Either collaborate with them if you have complementing product offerings or target their audience on social if they are a competitor.
The journey of an entrepreneur, an explorer looking to shape his own destiny, can be a perilous one and sometimes fruitless.
However, seek guidance and wisdom from fellow entrepreneurial adventures to better set yourself up for success.
Take the tactics and strategies outlined above from successful entrepreneurs to help you increase your ecommerce sales and keep your business growing so you can succeed.
Be bold and remember Teddy’s words:
[your] place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Matthew Pompa is the Small Business Campaign Manager at BigCommerce. A mechanical engineer, he uses both his analytical and creative talents to develop thorough and thoughtful marketing strategies. Pompa is also an experienced digital director producing videos for BigCommerce, his YouTube Channels, and previous clients. He trains the next generation of digital marketers as an instructor for the Digital Creative Institute. A student of growth, content, and campaign building, Pompa brings 9 years of experience to his role and his apprentices.