We’ll assume you’ve already read up on the basics of running an online store. In this article, we’ll cover strategies you can implement within your e-commerce store that are proven to increase revenue. These tips are applicable whether you’re just starting up an e-commerce store, or if you have a pre-existing brand.
With that in mind, here are seven proven ways to generate fresh leads for your e-commerce company.
The secret to developing a sales-driven content strategy
There is a lot more to content marketing than just writing a blog post and hitting publish.
If you want to generate sales from your content, you need to understand the customer journey. This journey follows the path that an individual takes from first encountering your company to (if you’re lucky) becoming a long-term customer.
In order to engage the maximum number of potential customers possible, you need to create content that covers each stage of the customer journey.
It helps to think of the customer journey as a funnel.
The content you create for the top of the funnel should cover topics that your ideal customer might search for online when they are browsing. These should be broad search terms that have high search volumes.
For example, if your e-commerce store sells flowers, you might want to write an article like:
- 12 Types of Flowers That Will Make Your Girlfriend Fall In Love With You Again, for the keyword “flowers for your girlfriend”
- 15 Tips For Flower Arranging That Will Make You The Envy of Your Neighbors, for the keyword “flower arranging”
The search volume for these keywords is approximately 3,600 monthly searches and 13,300 monthly searches, respectively.
In the screenshot below, you can see how to use the Chrome Extension Keywords Everywhere to access this information. Alternatively, there’s a good guide on how to find keywords here.
While these broad terms won’t generate a lot of sales for your business, they are good at creating awareness about your company. They are also easier to rank for, as there is generally less competition for them.
At the bottom of your funnel, focus on selling terms. These keywords will be difficult to rank for but have a high conversion rate. Continuing with the example above, you might want to create content on your site around some of the keywords below.
Your SEO strategy should focus on ranking for pages and content that hit each stage of the customer journey. You can also apply this same approach to deciding on the type of content to promote through your social channels.
Optimize user flow across your site
Once you’ve drawn people to your site, you want to funnel them to the products that you are selling. You can maximize the revenue per customer at the bottom end of the funnel by adding upsells and cross-sells on product category pages and sales pages.
There are a range of commonly used strategies to do this, which include:
- Frequently bought together recommendations that feature logical add on purchases a customer could make
- Recently viewed section in the sidebar or featured recommendations that introduces a customer to products that they might be interested in based on their interests
- Recommended for you that suggests purchases based on a customer’s buying history. To implement this, you will need cookie tracking of a membership area in place on your e-commerce store
- Featured best selling items across your different product lines, which helps you guide visitors to your highest converting products
It can be harder to funnel people to products within content at the top of the funnel. Logical product recommendations as links within the post are the most obvious way of doing this. Not only does it funnel people to content, but it also has SEO benefits by spreading the page authority across your site.
Another tactic is to prominently highlight products at the end of an article.
Elle is a good example of a website that logically does this. For example, they end their post on the “10 Of the Best Sun Creams to Prevent Sunburn” with several product recommendations for sunscreen that you can purchase, as pictured below.
More general sitewide strategies for funneling visitors to products include product auto-complete on the site search bar. This is a strategy used by e-commerce stores like Amazon. You can also improve user flow across by optimizing your menu.
Big Chill has created a custom menu designed to help its users find products on their site. You can see how they did this in the screenshot below.
This design could so easily have been an eyesore. However, they have created a nice eye-catching design that fits with the brand’s retro-chic style branding.
Proven tips to quickly grow your email list
Email marketing is a medium for quickly building up trust with your audience and providing incentives to make a customer take action.
The fundamentals of building your email list quickly are pretty simple. You want to use an opt-in form, and pop ups are great at this. Pop ups are effective because they are unavoidable. They take over the screen and interrupt the user experience, which is why (at the same time) a lot of users dislike them.
Below are a couple of things you can do to reduce this problem while collecting the maximum number of leads possible:
- Let users enjoy your content: Visitors don’t want to be shown a pop up the moment they arrive on your website. Let people settle into the content they came for, then show them an offer as they’re about to click away.
- Make sure your offer is relevant: Make your pop up more relevant by creating various pop up forms with different offers for each section of your site.
- Target people leaving your site: Use exit intent to target people who have finished consuming content on your site.
Most opt-in forms allow you to use a combination of different targeting rules to set when your pop up appears. Make sure to play around with these settings, then measure and optimize the conversion rate.
Use free or cheap samples to generate more sales
People are more likely to buy something from you when you give them something for free, or get them to buy something very cheap first.
According to a Cornell University study, customers that receive a free sample are 93 percent more likely to spend more in the store and become repeat customers.
While this study was conducted at a winery, the underlying benefits of offering free samples still work online. Amazon is using free products to increase sales in a range of different ways.
Examples of this include:
- Randomly sending product samples to their best customers based on when they are most likely to make a purchase
- Offering customers the chance to buy product samples, and then receive credit toward a later purchase
Another way that you can generate sales by offering something for free is launching a “try it at home” program. This is particularly effective for clothing websites with high product margins.
A good example of a company implementing this approach is Warby Parker.
The company offers a home try-on service for glasses. They ship prospective customers five pairs of glasses for free to try before they buy. This is an effective way of dealing with a common pain point for buying online; not knowing if the product will look good on you.
Break up large payments into installments
Many customers don’t have the money to purchase expensive items in a single down payment. If your price point is higher, you can address this issue by breaking a payment down into a more financially manageable plan.
Online platforms like SplitIt or Affirm provide e-commerce store owners with the ability to easily break up payments into monthly installments. According to claims made on their respective websites, breaking a payment down into installments can increase sales at an e-commerce store by up to 12 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
The advantage of a payment plan goes beyond simply increasing upfront conversions. According to Harvard Business Review, companies can use their pricing policies to actively encourage consumption, which can increase the lifetime value of the customer.
An interesting study cited in the above article concerns the habits of 200 health club members in Colorado. The study analyzed how members used the facilities based on what payment plan they used.
You can see the direct correlation between when people make a payment and how often they used the facilities. This is an important insight for the company, as the more a customer uses their facilities, the higher the chance that they extend their membership for another year.
If you are selling a service through your e-commerce store, you could apply this same strategy to increase lifetime customer value. Alternatively, you could use the point of payment as an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell to a customer with a special offer when your company is top of mind.
Recommend products with a quiz
Quizzes offer an interactive way of segmenting your customers. You can use them to profile a customer so you can understand their needs, preferences or habits.
By getting people to engage with your content, you can provide personalized product recommendations that stand a higher chance of being purchased.
Allure has a nice example of this, below. They have an interactive quiz with a series of four questions covering skincare needs. At the end of the short quiz, you are provided with a customized selection of products based on your answers.
You can also utilize quizzes to segment your readers onto an email list. A nice example of a company that has perfected this model is Wild Audience. They utilize quizzes to funnel leads onto their email list, then sell them high ticket items. This article provides a nice overview of how they do this.
Another way you can use quizzes to drive leads to your business is with engaging quizzes that were created to be shared. The best example of a company that does this is Buzzfeed.
Create personalized retargeting ads
Most visitors to your website will visit once and never return. Many others will make a purchase and fail to do so again. Meanwhile, the percentage of abandoned carts probably stand somewhere between 50 percent and 80 percent.
You have the opportunity to re-engage all of these people who visited your site with retargeting ads.
This graph from a case study on Wordstream by Larry Kim nicely illustrates the impact that retargeting can have on bringing visitors back to your website. You can see how the number of direct visitors significantly increased after they implemented retargeting campaigns.
You can increase the effectiveness of your retargeting campaigns with customer profiling and a full understanding of your customer journey. Spearmint Love, an e-commerce store that sells goods for toddlers, is a great example of how you can go about doing this.
They looked at things like:
- Frequency of purchases: When did their most engaged customers make repeat purchases?
- Buying patterns: Were there any patterns regarding what repeat customers purchased?
They no doubt analyzed demographic data, as well.
Through this research, they were able to identify trends regarding when customers made repeat purchases and what kind of products they purchased. This formed the basis of their segmented retargeting campaigns.
After a lot of testing, Spearmint Love perfected their retargeting, which resulted in 12x year-over-year growth. You can find out more about how they developed and then implemented their campaign here.
To grow your e-commerce store, you need to acquire more customers and generate additional sales from your existing customer base. In order to achieve this, you need to make it as easy as possible for customers to find your content, and then naturally funnel users to products that they desire.
The strategies I’ve outlined can help you do this. You are no doubt applying some of these strategies to your e-commerce store already, in which case, I hope this article has provided you with some ideas about how you could do things a little differently. Alternatively, there could be some strategies on this list that you’ve never thought of before, and can take your startup to new heights.