Today's consumers are web-savvy shoppers who increasingly prefer to make their purchases online.
From B2B buyers to average retail customers, the move to online purchasing has impacted nearly corner of the consumer marketplace, transforming the way companies connect with their customers.
Too many small businesses labor under the misconception that selling on the web is an activity reserved for corporate behemoths like Amazon. But just because you can't afford the sophisticated site architecture of a big box retailer doesn't mean that your small business can't sell online. In fact, some of the most effective online sales initiatives carry little or no out-of-pocket expense.
A carefully crafted strategy is the cornerstone of online sales success. Selling on the web is an achievable goal for any business – regardless of the size of your IT department. All it takes is a marketing recipe that makes good use of the right ingredients.
- Website. A first-rate company website is the anchor point of an online sales strategy. Websites that are outdated, under-utilized or clumsy simply aren't capable of delivering the return you need for the time you invest in selling on the web. So before you do anything else, your first step is to update and possible upgrade the quality of your site.
- Online marketing. There are a variety of techniques you can use to conduct online marketing. Although you can (and should) promote online sales vehicles in offline marketing content, selling online means marketing online through email, blogs, link campaigns and online promotions.
- Perform SEO. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) increases the visibility of your website on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other popular search engines. SEO isn't extremely complicated, but if you lack in-house SEO expertise, you may want to consider enlisting the services of a third-party provider.
- Multichannel sales. Online selling requires a multichannel approach to sales. You can't count on the fact that customers will intentionally seek out your site to buy your products because most won't. Instead, you'll need to direct customers to your site by establishing a presence in multiple online vehicles.
- Social networking. Social networking sites like Facebook provide a cost-effective tool for connecting with your customers and creating conversations about your products. You can't sell directly through social networks, but you can generate (hopefully positive) buzz about your business.
- Mobile access. More and more consumers are using mobile devices to purchase products. Consider optimizing your website for mobile viewing or an investment in the creation of a company-based mobile app.