Effectively selling products online requires much more than just creating a product listing page and sharing it on Twitter, hoping for the sales to come flooding in.
From creating compelling item listings, to utilizing only high quality product photography, and consistently blogging about solutions for your customers, selling products online can appear overwhelming.
Through my work as a content and community manager at Selz, a solution for selling online and from your social channels, I hear from hundreds of entrepreneurs each week. From what’s going well, to what’s definitely not.
Although every business is unique and requires a different approach to finding new customers, I’ve found there are a handful of foundational tips that most sellers incorporate into their online businesses. From creating product listings that are designed to sell, to increasing conversions, and creating a happy community, there’s something here for everyone, no matter your business or product.
Here are 23 essential tips and resources for effectively selling products online.
1. Create clear product titles and descriptions: What is your buyer receiving? What type of value does your product provide? Make sure to list out everything a buyer would receive from purchasing your product, whether it’s a digital guide to photography or a whole foods recipe ebook. Need help with naming your thing? Alexandra Franzen has your back.
2. Write clear and concise copy: Unless it’s a core competency of your brand, don’t try to be clever in your product description, sales page, or product title. Clarity goes a long way here. Be clear in your writing so customers know exactly what they’re paying for.
3. Use high quality product designs or photography: Create product designs that are unique to your business by incorporating your logo, branding colors, and voice. Use Canva as a free way to create your designs and use free stock images from sites like Death to Stock Photo, Pexels, and Unsplash. If you sell physical products, a simple backdrop, bright lighting, and high quality photography (even with your iPhone) is key to showing off your item in all its glory.
4. Be clear about what you want customers to do: Add on-brand buttons and calls to action to encourage the sale on your store or website. ‘Get it now’, ‘Buy it now’, and ‘Buy now’ are three surefire ways to communicate the call-to-action effectively. Never underestimate the power of split testing your buttons either, you never know how a simple color or copy change can make a difference in your online sales figures.
5. Blog about your products: Educating your customers is only one step in your sales funnel, and doing it with conversion-optimized blog content is a great way to make it happen. Employ a content marketing plan that educates your customers on your product. At the end of each post, always include a call-to-action, like checking out the product listing page, downloading a free ebook related to your product, or liking your business on social media.
6. Add customer reviews to the sales page: Social proof is huge. Add positive testimonials from previous customers to your product page to encourage a potential customer to click that ‘Buy’ button.
7. Align your online store’s design with your website: Make the transition between your website and online store seamless. Consider embedding your online store directly into your website, too. Be sure to customize the colors for your buy buttons and checkout process for a consistent look. SmugMug for example allows photographers to sell their photos right within the photo-viewing experience. This integration helps facilitate online sales.
8. Maintain consistent product designs: If you offer more than one product, ensure that your product images include consistent branding and design. The easiest way to do this is to use the same font across your product listings and customize each product with your business’ branding colors.
9. Personalize email communication post-purchase: Invite your new customers back with a discount and other suggested products. This is one of the most simple ways to increase sales.
10. Make it easy to contact you: Always include a contact page on your website, blog, or online store. Make it easy for your customers to contact you and increase buyer confidence. Contact Form 7 is a free contact page solution for WordPress users. Check your ecommerce site or blog for a Contact page template, too.
11. Set up an about page: Buyers want to know more about you as a business. How did you start your business? What’s been your journey? Why should we care? Buyers want to connect on an emotional level with your brand, so give them something to work with.
12. Watch out for those abandoned carts! Buyers may not be ready to purchase from you. Set up an automated email campaign that encourages those buyers to come back to their cart. With Selz, we automatically send these for you according to your store’s settings. It’s a super simple way to double your sales.
13. Collect email addresses: Start collecting email addresses, even from readers who have yet to purchase something from you. Create an opt-in for your website that gives away a free eBook or a discount for newsletter subscribers only. Use email campaigns to educate your readers, then ask for the sale. As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.” Give, give, give, then ask. Email marketing makes this easy.
14. Give your buyers different ways to pay: Not every customer has a PayPal account, and not every customer is comfortable paying with a credit card online. Give your buyers as many possible options to purchase from you, so that you don’t lose out on sales because of a simple reason like not taking PayPal.
15. Show behind the scenes: Use Instagram, email marketing, and your blog to document the process behind your newest product, book, or course. Customers love seeing what goes into the product creation process. It’s also a simple way to do a soft product launch. Take notes from Austin Kleon, who is a master at showing daily progress.
16. Add social sharing buttons to product page: Encourage your customers to share your product with their groups of friends. The easiest way to do this is to add sharing buttons directly to your item listing or to your sales page. Make it super easy with the ‘Click to Tweet’ plugin from Coschedule.
17. Get social: Engage on the social media platform where your ideal customers hang out the most. Share your behind the scenes, blog posts, and latest discounts and products. If your target market hangs out on Pinterest the most, focus on sharing your content and products there. Create a free Buffer account to manage your social accounts in one place, and optimize the type of content you share on your social channels.
18. State your brand’s values: Share with people why you do what you do. As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” Create a brand statement and add it to your online store and blog. Create a manifesto that your customers can relate with. Live and breathe your values in everything you do for your business from your item listings to your social media posts. The Holstee Manifesto is probably one of the most popular company manifestos written recently.
19. Be genuine: Customers can feel if your business is authentic or not. Personalize the copy in every email sent to your customers from order confirmations to email marketing campaigns, to abandoned cart reminders. Make sure the words and phrases used on your website align with your brand’s values, too. If you need help with developing your voice and tone, check out Mailchimp’s public guide for help.
20. Build community: A business is nothing without its customers. Encourage your customers to engage with your business on social media. Start a conversation with them. Gratitude goes a long way, so consider doing shoutouts or retweets to your customers who buy your products to say thank you.
21. Provide excellent customer support: Buyers expect a quick response. The faster you respond, the better able you are to secure a sale. Consider it one of the ways you live your brand values. No one needs a messy Gmail account, so consider using Help Scout to manage your email support, and Hootsuite for your social media (and look super professional while you do it.)
22. Experiment with apps and additional features in your online store: As you build confidence in your online sales, start adding more functionality to your online store and watch your sales increase. If you have a standalone ecommerce store, consider using a custom domain to look even more professional.
23. Before building your product, ask questions: The worst thing that can happen in business is that you fail by creating something nobody wants. To reduce the chances of blind failure, talk to your ideal customers. What do they most need help with? How can you best help them? Listen to their problems and you’ve got a clear cut path to providing a product with immense value.
Sure, selling online requires creating a captivating product listing that gets your potential customers excited. But, it also requires thoughtful engagement with your community through social media and email marketing, while creating a consistent online experience through your brand values and tone.
Remember, effectively selling products online is all about the customer. Find out what your customers need the most help with, then build a product that serves their needs. You can never go wrong with a genuine strategy like that.
What are some of your favorite tips and resources for selling online? Leave a comment below.