Online sales starting to slow? It can happen with any eCommerce business. Sales are going along steadily, then new competition arrives or your competitors start spending more on their digital marketing.
Before you know it, your sales have flatlined and your profits are under threat.
You need to raise your game.
Regardless of the specifics of your current situation, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve listed 15 tactics that you can action to increase online sales.
How to use this guide
Start with the quick wins – these are things you can do today that require little strategy or investment.
Most of them are slight adjustments to your website – they might seem insignificant, but they can drive a massive shift in results.
Next move onto the long-term tactics. These require more strategy and marketing budget. But they are the must-dos if you are going to not only increase online sales but drive sustainable sales growth for your eCommerce site.
The number one thing to remember is that it’s critical to make as many first sales as you can.
Then keep improving your funnel to sell to as many new and old customers as possible, and grow your customer lifetime value.
Whatever you use, test, test and test again. Digital marketing is all about testing, refining and testing again. If it increases online sales, keep it! If it doesn’t, try something else.
So, without further ado, let’s get straight into the good stuff.
Here’s everything you need to increase online sales...
The Quick Wins
1. Point out which plan or product is most popular
Humans are simple creatures – we like doing things that other people like doing. We like to buy things that other people buy.
It’s called the “bandwagon effect.”
The way you can use this on your site is to show new customers what other people are buying and using.
This adds social proof to the product or service and influences the decisions your customers make.
On a service pricing page, show the most popular plan or product option.
Online course provider Teachable states which plan is most popular on their pricing page, which is designed to drive business sales online:
This adventure gear retailer shows testimonials and Trustpilot reviews across its product pages to maximize social proof:
You could also show the popularity of products like this adventure gear retailer, which shows when a product was last purchased or viewed:
Or add a small pop-up that shows when someone has bought a product:
2. Offer free shipping
Okay, this is probably the most expensive option in this quick win list, but it is a sure-fire way to increase online sales fast.
A recent report by National Retail Federation (NRF) found that 75% of consumers surveyed expect delivery to be free even on orders under $50, up from 68% a year ago.
More than half of shoppers (55%) would even abandon a cart if they get to the checkout and find that free shipping isn’t included, according to research by The Baymard .
If you do choose to offer free shipping – shout it loud and proud.
This could be the single thing that keeps people on your site ready to buy, rather than checking out your competition.
ASOS displays its free shipping offer on its home page:
We’re not saying you should offer free shipping to everyone and risk going broke.
Run the numbers to see if you can cover the cost of shipping when the total order is over a certain amount.
The advantage of this is that people will often buy more just to reach that limit and get free shipping!
The NRF research showed that 65% of consumers look up free shipping thresholds before adding items to their online shopping carts.
Another option is to discreetly include shipping in the price of the product or service, and still offer it for free.
3. Build trust from the minute a customer lands on your eCommerce site using trust icons
How important are trust icons?
One study revealed a shocking 61% of online shoppers decided not to purchase because a site lacked a trust seal.
You probably already use trust icons on your checkout page, with a description of your security measures.
Look at ways to extend these throughout your site, starting with your homepage, like Amazon:
The safe checkout or secure payment badge is one of the most important badges, as it indicates that your checkout process can be trusted, information is encrypted, and your customer’s credit card information is safe and secure.
This is exactly the way to make sure you build trust and start increasing sales.
Another trust signal is a money back guarantee. When you use a money back guarantee, you are showing customers that you back your products, and that builds trust.
4. Remove steps from your checkout process
Increasing sales is about relieving pain points and that means making your checkout process seamless.
Nothing will see customers leave your site faster than a long, complicated checkout process.
Every step you add to your process adds more time and frustration to your customer's experience.
Optimizing your checkout process to be streamlined with flexible options can dramatically reduce shopping cart abandonment and is a great way to increase online sales.
Look at Amazon.
The online shopping behemoth has earned untold dollars from its 1-Click Ordering option.
Research by the Baymard Institute revealed that 27% of cart abandonments are due to a complicated or extended checkout process.
A massive 35% are because the site wanted them to create an account.
How can you streamline your online checkout?
Go through this checklist:
Shorten checkout forms to only essential information
Reveal the form bit by bit, so the customer isn’t overwhelmed
Include the whole checkout process on one page
Don’t force customers to create an account – offer a guest check-out option
We love this simple checkout page by 2XU:
This checkout process by Serengetee is targets millennials who are shopping on their mobile phones, with a one-page checkout for mobile shopping:
5. Add lots of payment options
This is an extension of the previous point, because the more payment options you offer, the easier the checkout will be for customers.
Remember, it’s all about removing hurdles so customers find it easy to spend money with you.
If you only accept Visa and MasterCard, you’re alienating lots of potential buyers.
Make sure you have the capability to accept debit cards as well as PayPal and Apple Pay.
6. Use incredible product images
Beautiful product images are vital to your eCommerce site. They provide the first impression of the product and can help the customer make a rapid purchase decision.
But one good image isn’t enough to win over customers. Remember, web visitors can’t touch your products, hold them or try them on.
That’s why you need multiple incredible product images showing your product in different ways. Design your website with sales at the core, and it won't matter if you're a small business or big brand - you will increase online sales.
Use these best practice tips:
Display the product from multiple angles
Use a neutral backdrop for at least one image
Add lifestyle images to show the product being used or worn
Make it easy for customers to zoom in and magnify
Use close-up images of product features and special details (such as zips, shoe grip).
This example from Serengetee ticks all the boxes with a neutral backdrop, lots of beautiful lifestyle images, and a close up:
(Note the pop-up in the bottom left corner too – social proof at work!)
These are images that are sure to get shared on social media too, another way to help increase sales.
Now you have ticked off the quick wins, let’s dig deeper into the long-term strategies you absolutely must do to drive sustainable online sales growth.
The Must-do Big Wins
Before you delve into any of these strategies to increase online sales, you need to two very important things.
First, each of the strategies below relies on you knowing your customer and what lies behind the buying decision.
The way to do this is to build a buyer persona.
This is a tool that helps you dig deep into what your buyer thinks, how they behave and why.
There are lots of ways to build a buyer persona, but the number one technique is to go straight to the source. Interview your customers and find out who they are.
Once you have a detailed picture of your customer, use it to inform every decision you make around your web design, SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media posts, content, social media advertising and much more.
Second, your biggest increase in sales will come when you focus on repeat customers.
Online stores typically get 43% of their revenue from their existing customer base.
This figure rises to a massive 75% percent when online stores spend time and effort cultivating sales from repeat customers.
That means showing your repeat customers some love.
Not just special discounts and sales invitations.
You need to show them that you get them. Leverage your customer insights – everything you know about them – to suggest products they will like, to provide a web experience they engage with and content that inspires them to buy from you.
Now we have focused your mind well and truly on your customers, let’s focus on the big win strategies to grow sales online:
7. Get long-term search visibility with SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) has the highest ROI of any eCommerce marketing tactic. So, if you’re not investing in SEO for your online store, you’re missing out on huge potential to increase online sales.
SEO is hands-down the best way to get a sustainable stream of high-converting leads.
Look at the facts:
85% of people use Google to research products when making shopping decisions
37.5% of all traffic to eCommerce sites comes from search engines
1 in 4 of eCommerce orders are directly tied to organic traffic
Most importantly, around 75% of people don’t go past the first page of search results.
This means if you want to get in front of shoppers when they’re looking to buy, you must improve your visibility on search engines using SEO.
How do you do that?
The quick answer is this:
Start by doing keyword research to find the types of keywords potential customers are searching.
Then build a site architecture based on what you find.
Do on-page and technical SEO to ensure search engine bots can crawl your site efficiently.
Write unique product descriptions, optimise images, and provide social proof through reviews.
And deliver a seamless user experience using a fast site, better mobile experience and intuitive design.
To summarise that into one overarching strategy: you need to focus on creating an incredible user experience.
That’s what OMG did for activewear brand Ryderwear. We created and implemented a custom strategy tailored to their goals, which included:
Authority-building SEO strategy with quality and targeted link building
Optimization of website and content structure, involving technical and onsite SEO
Gap analysis of competitors to identify even more strategic opportunities
The results were incredible: we increased qualified traffic by 140%!
But this didn’t happen overnight. Remember, SEO is a long game. You can’t expect results overnight. It takes a rock-solid SEO strategy crafted for your target audience, and a dedication to monitoring and optimising this strategy time and time again.
8. Invest in high quality content
Google’s mission is to deliver “useful and relevant results in a fraction of a second.”
The answer lies in CONTENT.
The more useful and relevant your content is, the better your eCommerce site will rank on search engine results pages, and the more potential customers you will attract to your site.
It goes the other way too. Poor content turns away customers from your site and sends warning signs to search engines that people aren’t getting what they need from your content.
The result? Your pages rank lower.
The bottom line is clear: invest in high quality content if you want to increase sales.
For an eCommerce site, this comes down to a few critical tactics:
9. Use keyword research to create highly relevant page URLs and categories
Find out the search terms your ideal customers type into Google Search, and break this down to different stages of their journey. This will help you find the short and long tail keywords.
People use different search phrases depending on where they’re at in their buying journey.
Searchers tend to use long-tail keywords (longer, more detailed search phrases or questions) when they are deeper into the journey because they have a better idea of what they’re looking for.
For example, if your customers are searching “summer dress”, they are most likely looking for ideas and inspiration:
This more detailed search shows the searcher has narrowed down what they are looking for:
Then, at a category and page level, the most SEO friendly pages have keywords in the right places.
Now add those keywords and phrases into meta titles, meta descriptions, product descriptions and alt tags.
This ensures Google knows what each page is about, so it can show it to searchers when they type in your keyword or phrase.
Focus on your category pages first, because if someone finds your category pages in the search engine results, they have access to all the products within that category.
10. Tailor your content for each stage of the buying journey
The second part is to ensure your content shows up on search results pages at every stage of the buying journey.
For Awareness, focus on creating eye-catching, entertaining content that grabs your audience’s attention and holds it. Provide inspiration and ideas.
For Consideration, educate your audience on problems and challenges they can overcome with your product. Add comparisons between products.
For Decision, open up conversations before a sale and help the sales team seal the deal.
There are tonnes of tools out there to help your content rank in search engines and they are a great way to refine your strategy. Some of them are free, some require a subscription.
Buzzsumo is at the top of our list.
Use the tool to search your keywords and find out who’s writing about what in your niche and how consumers are engaging with that content.
This will help you work out what’s trending and publish your content at the exact right time for maximum engagement.
11. Google Shopping
We know what you’re thinking: is Google Shopping really necessary to increase online sales?
The answer is YES. Here’s why:
Shopping ads account for roughly 75% of clicks from non-branded product searches, according to Search Engine Land.
All queries considered (branded and non-branded), Shopping ads drive around 52% of eCommerce advertisers’ clicks.
And a study by Searchmetrics shows that Google Shopping Ads account for 80% of all search spend.
This percentage of search spend generated more than 85% of all clicks.
The truth is, failing to do Google Shopping could actually be losing you online sales. Because if your competitors are visible, and you’re not, where do you think your customers will shop?
Here’s how it works.
As with Google Ads, Google Shopping is a pay per click (PPC) process. You’re bidding for the top spots.
When a potential customer searches in Google for products, they’re served Shopping ads. Take a look at the “summer dress” search again:
They can also click on the Shopping tab to see the full results. This is where they can filter the results and narrow down the products, until they find one to click on.
To become a Shopping advertiser, link your Google Ads account to Google Merchant Center.
This is the important bit:
You need to set up your product data feed, which is a spreadsheet that describes and organizes every product in your catalogue so Google can easily understand it.
This is critical because you don’t create your own ads – Google indexes your product data and creates a digital profile for your store.
When a user searches for a product, Google uses this information to automatically generate the most relevant Shopping ads and show these to the user.
This means you can advertise your products to potential customers who’ve shown interest in buying them.
But you still need to consider that every buyer will have a different level of intent.
That’s why the success of using Google Shopping lies in how you adjust your bid to match the likelihood of a consumer actually buying your product.
Use these top tips:
Bid at the SKU level and focus on your top performing products, spend less on those that are obviously struggling to bring in customers.
Start with mobile ads then add desktop shopping ads to find the optimal placement.
Add negative keywords to your product groups to control when your ads do NOT show.
Use remarketing lists to customize bids to previous visitor audiences, such as cart abandoners, returning visitors and previous customers.
Achieving great results with Google Shopping comes down to putting in the time and effort to manage, test and optimize your campaign.
It’s not a set and forget tactic – use data to drive your actions and you’ll see incredible results with your online sales.
11. Design irresistible email sequences
Sell more even when customers have left your site.
Email marketing is an old-school tactic, but when it comes to growing online sales, you cannot afford to ignore it.
In fact, email marketing accounts for approximately 23% of online sales.
But here’s the catch – you need to get personal.
Use personalized email automation sequences to follow up with customers based on their engagement and interaction with your site.
If you’re sending inspiration, product suggestions and content based on what you know they want and need, they are far more likely to click through and purchase when the time comes.
How do you get them to give you their email address in the first place?
Add a newsletter sign up on your home page with an incentive and clear calls to action for them to provide their email address.
2XU offers a 10% discount on the visitor’s first purchase. They also ask whether the visitor is male or female, which will help them tailor the content immediately:
Another online store sends the discount in an email with inspirational product ideas based on what the visitor was searching on the website:
See how the offer is only valid for 7 days? A sense of urgency in your calls to action are very effective in driving sales online.
Once you have your email list, use your customer data to send emails that nurture them through the buying process and keep you front of mind, like this one:
The best email sequences should include a good mix of free, relevant content to keep people opening and clicking through:
Special offers and discounts
Case studies and testimonials
Quick tips and videos
Answers to FAQs
12. Chase down your abandoned carts
Set up your email marketing campaigns to follow up cart abandoners. Cart abandonment emails are triggered when customers leave the website without completing the checkout, but have items in their cart.
These emails are insanely effective at driving sales online as they remind and lead customers back to the site to complete their order.
According to a Salescycle report, 46.1% of all cart abandonment emails are opened.
And you shouldn’t stop at just one email.
A cart abandonment email campaign can be more than one email to follow up customers until the cart is recovered.
13. Invest in PPC campaigns
Not all of the best tactics to increase sales are free. Sometimes you’ve got to spend money to make money. That’s the case with pay per click advertising.
We could write a whole book about PPC here, but instead let’s focus on the key tactics proven to improve eCommerce sales.
The first one is simple: create PPC campaigns based on your product category keywords.
This will drive traffic directly to your category pages, or the “aisle” shoppers are looking for.
You save the user time, reduce your bounce rate, and increase your conversion rate.
Better still, create a campaign for each category with ad groups for each subcategory. You’ll soon be able to pinpoint exactly where you’re making the best returns, and where you can improve.
Your second must-have tactic is to create ad groups for specific products you know are good sellers and have a decent amount of search volume.
Bid on product specific keywords and write a compelling ad with the exact product name in the headline, then send the traffic directly to that product page.
The volume of clicks and impressions won’t be as high as your general search terms. But you’ll be amazed at how the conversion rate compares. Those people who type in the specific keywords and click on your ad will have far higher intent to purchase.
Another thing many eCommerce site owners don’t consider is how landing pages match the paid ads.
This is where you can really increase skyrocket your online sales.
Here’s where to focus your attention:
Make sure your landing pages closely resemble the layout and color scheme of the ad used to promote that landing page.
Pay attention to the message match. The landing page should have the same copy (or at least the same message) as your ad.
14. Double down on retargeting
If you aren’t retargeting your ads, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
When a visitor comes to your site, develop a targeted ad campaign to reach them as soon as they leave.
Retargeting ads are proven to have much higher click-through rates and conversion rates than typical display ads.
This research by Wordstream even shows conversion rates increase the more time the user sees the ad.
If the customer abandoned their shopping cart, your retargeting campaign can also be set to remind them to come back and complete the purchase.
How can you get the most bang for your retargeting buck?
Google Display Network and Facebook offer the greatest reach for your remarketing campaigns when used together.
GDN reaches 90% of Internet users worldwide, across millions of websites, news pages, blogs, and Google sites.
Meanwhile, social media giant Facebook has more than 1.6 billion users.
The upshot is that running your retargeting ads on both GDN and Facebook will maximise your success.
Our advice? Make it easier to manage retargeting campaigns on different platforms with a tool like AdRoll.
15. Perform A/B Testing
With everything above, the one thing you must do to improve your results is A/B testing.
Some things will work better than others. Some things won’t work at all. But you can only know for sure by A/B testing.
Here are a few tests you can perform across your eCommerce site right now:
Change the text in your call to action buttons. This simple change could result in an immediate increase in online conversions for free!
Test different hero shots on your category pages.
Try different headlines on your home page.
Test using fewer fields in your forms.
Longer term, make sure you’re A/B testing on a bigger scale with landing pages, offers and social media ads, to name a few.
Ready to put these strategies to work?
Now the real work starts. But where should you begin? We’ve made it easy to get started with our free digital audit. Claim yours today to get a free 30-minute strategy call with one of our Growth Gurus, a comprehensive free audit of your online marketing AND a free 6-month multichannel game plan.