Four New Year’s Resolutions to Boost Your Online Sales

Friday, January 13th, 2012
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The beginning of the year is a great time to be introspective.  Look both at what’s going right, and also how to adjust one’s course in life.  You can do this both personally and professionally.  Following are four resolutions that can help you with the latter.

  1. Fine Tune Your Website

With the holiday rush over and extra cash in the bank, it’s a great time to take a thorough look at your website and make minor adjustments or even major changes.  Schedule a day in January to enter your website from the perspective of a prospective customer.  Pay attention to the first impression the site makes on you.

a. Does it inspire confidence that this is a legitimate business that will quickly fulfill your order and provide good customer service?  Consider adding confidence inspiring statements such as “Orders ship within 24 hours” and “Easy Return Policy”.  Of course, don’t make any false promises.
b. Is your website easy and intuitive to navigate?  How many clicks does it take to land on a product page, and is it obvious how to get there?  Good web design does not make your visitors think!
c. Does your web design look professional and reflect the style of your company?  Consider your customer base and the impression your site’s design will make on them.  If you don’t like what you see, January is a great time to initiate a redesign.  Keep in mind, great websites usually evolve to become great, so you don’t have to get everything right the first time.  You just need to plan on periodic improvements.  Set a reminder to evaluate your site again in 6 months.
d. Is the copy on each page well written?  If you were a customer, would the text on each page make you more or less likely to purchase a product?  Are there any grammatical errors that could undermine your company’s credibility?  If you don’t know the difference between login and log in or customer’s and customers’ then consider that you might not be qualified to proof read and find someone who is.  There are many great copy writing and editing services available for this purpose, or you might have a grammar guru already working for you.

Whether your website is large or small, it’s a great idea to involve your team in this process.  Solicit feedback from your employees and ask if they have any ideas to make your website more effective

  1. Set a Reminder to look at Your Analytics Once Per Week.

If you aren’t tracking your website visitors, you’re missing out on potentially valuable information.  Google Analytics is free website tracking software that’s easy to install on your website and in your Nexternal store.  Assuming you’ve already done this, January is a great time to dive into your Analytics data and reflect on the past year.  Once you’ve got a handle on the past year’s data, pick a convenient time to spend an hour every week reviewing this data, and set yourself an electronic reminder on your calendar to do so.

a. Look at your bounce rate.  Determine if people are exiting your site due to poorly targeted ads, broken links, or uninteresting content, and fix these issues.
b. Examine your conversion rate.  As an ecommerce business, you should have set up a conversion tracking code on your order confirmation page to track the percentage of visitors who buy a product.  In ecommerce, low conversion rates are normal – even 3% is considered good for many businesses.  If your conversion rate is low, you can set up a funnel to determine where visitors are exiting your site.

c. Determine where visitors are coming from.  If you look at the sources of your traffic, you might be surprised.  Sometimes a simple link from a blog post to one of your product pages can result in a major boost in traffic and even sales.  Your best sources of revenue may be Google AdWords campaigns, banner ads, email marketing, or links from other websites.  Determine what is working well and do more of it.

d. Evaluate your landing pages.  If you are running online marketing campaigns, then you should have created targeted landing pages for each campaign.  Look at the conversion rates for these pages.  Boost your advertising budget for the ones that are converting, and try out new versions of the ones that are not.  You can use Google Website Optimizer to conduct an A/B test to see which version of a landing page is most effective.  Science is fun!

  1. Acknowledge your team members for Things They Did Well in the Previous Year

If your business saw improvement last year due to the good ideas or superior efforts of your employees, let them know that you noticed and thank them for their contributions.  Positive acknowledgment goes and long way and it is super important to keep the A Players happy.  Schedule an afternoon in January just for this.

  1. Send your Customers a Survey (Free Coupon Inside)

When you have a bad customer experience, do you always contact the management directly to explain what went wrong?  Probably not.  However, even great businesses need to find out what they’re doing wrong (and right!).  Set aside time in January to write a short and simple customer survey.  Limit it to 5 – 10 short questions, be sure to solicit negative as well as positive feedback (what are we doing right and now can we serve you better?), and make anonymity an option.  Be sure to ask whether you can use their responses on your website.  This can be a great source of positive testimonials which can do a lot to boost your visitors’ trust.  There are many great online survey tools to choose from, both free and paid.

To get the most useful feedback, it’s best to give your customers time to run into issues.  Send them a survey 1 month after they place an order.  If you utilize Nexternal’s ecommerce platform, you can use the automated Review Reminders feature for this.  Just add some text and a survey link to the Review Reminders Email Addendum and your customers will automatically receive your survey request.  Of course, it’s best to include some enticement.  Consider including an eCoupon code in your survey request, but don’t require the customer to fill out the survey in order to use the coupon.

New Year’s resolutions can be tough to keep.  Take a little time right now to add each of these things to your calendar, and then put them off until later!

Craig is the VP of Sales at Nexternal and is known in the industry as an expert in eCommerce, systems integrations, and online marketing. Craig has been with Nexternal since 2000 and his passion and experience are apparent to all who work with him.