Here at SecuraCart, we specialize in helping small businesses sell more online. We have the unique privilege of seeing exactly what works and what doesn’t. In order to sell your product online successfully, you need a plan and the right mindset for success. And that’s exactly what today’s post is all about.
Today, I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from starting multiple businesses, which led to selling millions of dollars worth of SaaS services, eBooks, and digital courses. We’re going to cover everything from having the right attitude, to getting our promotions running, to creating a superior customer experience.
All of these factors, when done right can lead to more revenue, better-informed customers, and higher lifetime values.
One of the dirtiest secrets of selling your products or services online? Having the ability to actually get the amount of work done. But don’t stop reading just yet.
The reason I bring this up is not to scare you or intimidate you, but to remind you that while creating an online business can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll do with your life, it will also come with a huge amount of hard work and consistent dedication.
You’re going to be in charge of creating your product, managing and driving traffic to your website, and also making sure you have a high converting checkout page. All of this, especially when just getting started, can feel very overwhelming. The easiest way I’ve found to make significant progress towards my business goals is to have a plan. But in order to have a plan, we first need to decide on our goal.
Before we jump into figuring out our target metrics, and what exactly it will take to start selling our products online, we need to hammer down our personal reasons for going on this journey.
The answers to these questions can help provide the motivation and ambition it takes to consistently drive the traffic and growth required to grow your business and successfully sell your products online. You’re going to have great days and bad days, fast days, and slow days.
If you keep your goals in mind, you can actually determine if you’re heading towards them. So, with that being said: If you’re 100% sure you’re ready to create a business to sell things online, let’s continue!
It’s very common for new (and old) entrepreneurs to get really excited about their amazing, shiny business idea. We get so worked up about the idea that we just want to “hop in” and start working on everything all at once.
Most initial business growth plans sound a lot like this:
Want to know what will happen if you follow this plan all at once?
You’ll get a whole lot of stuff done, but have little to no results to show for it.
“Shotgun marketing” is dangerous because it feels like you’re being very productive, but at the same time, you’re not truly focused. This makes it harder and harder to determine if the inputs you’re putting into your business are providing the desired outputs (traffic, revenue, conversions). Which leads to poor results, feeling drained, and more perceived effort.
Instead, focus on ONE thing for 30-45 days and work your HARDEST to improve the metrics you define for yourself, then move onto your next “mini-goal” and repeat the process. This continues over and over as your business grows.
Firstly, with your focus only on doing one thing, chances are you’ll be much better at performing that task by the time your mini-goal is complete. This leads to unique insights, a voice in your industry, and a platform for sharing your brand’s opinions.
Secondly, when you do something repeatedly, you become an expert at that thing. This allows you to more easily outsource it (to an employee for example) while being able to create a firm process for how it actually gets done.
Thirdly, focusing on one thing makes it super simple to figure out what your target metric is. Write a number that you want to hit, and go get it. It really is that simple. Whatever your number is, write it down and put it on the wall above your desk. Stare at it every day and watch your progress grow.
Learn more about creating quantitative goals for your business in this fantastic article by Nat Eliason
When we break down our big goals (BHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goals) into bite-size pieces, we’re much more likely to follow through, and avoid burnout. We have a reasonable metric that we want to improve, and we focus exclusively on improving that metric.
Want to grow the traffic to your blog?
Great, make it your goal to write 30 helpful blog posts in your industry BEFORE you ever start building your product.
Want to grow your presence on social media?
Great, make it your goal to post helpful information 10 times a day for 1-1.5 months, then try and sell your product. Want to sell 10 more of your product?
Make it your goal to make 30 cold calls a day until you reach your goal.
Whatever you decide for your first goal, make sure you commit to it. The best way to make sure that happens is to hold yourself accountable on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. This means every time you take action towards your goal, you document it along with any informative metrics. This will help you feel good about completing your personal goals, while also facilitating the goals of the business with hard numbers.
Further Reading: Ecommerce Marketing Plan (With Real World Case Studies)
If you already have a business that is up and running, you can skip this section and continue ahead. But if you’re just getting started, this is one of the most important decisions you will make for your business. That’s right, we’re trying to find our target niche to sell to.
A niche market is a segment of the market that focuses on a specific topic. Oftentimes in B2B (business to business), the niches will involve a career path like real estate, marketing, creators, etc. We want to identify WHO exactly we’re writing content for, and will eventually be creating a product for.
These are our people - our community! We want to understand them, know exactly what their needs are, and even more importantly - what their problems are. When you focus on targeting a niche audience, it makes it much easier to figure out what to talk about as a brand, and also what to sell.
One of the biggest misconceptions about picking a niche is that bigger is always better. For example, targeting “Marketers” as a whole versus “Bloggers”. Marketers and Bloggers do many of the same things but read and respond to very different messages.
For example, a Marketer might be interested in content about Facebook advertising, but a Blogger might prefer to learn about creating better posts or selling more from their blog.
Do you see how narrowing down your niche makes it much more clear who you’re making products for? When we focus on a single smaller niche, we can make more educated decisions about the content they prefer, the ads they would respond best to, and the products that they’re most likely to purchase.
Ok, so you have goals, a niche, and some traffic on your website. Now what? First, I want to say congratulations if you’ve made it this far! Starting a business is hard work and you’ve managed to get yours off the ground. Let’s focus on selling some product.
Now we want to take a hard look at our site, through the eyes of our visitors, and see how easy it is to actually pay us. While this may sound a bit trivial, you’d be surprised how complicated it can be to pay for various products/stores/services. We want to make it as easy as possible for our visitors to pay us while being informed along the way.
As you look through your website, try to find anything that is unclear or may bring doubt into the mind of someone looking to purchase. Obvious things like typos, or poor design, will create friction during the checkout process.
If your product is expensive, consider offering a money-back guarantee. The main point here is to note anything that you think could have a negative impact on sales and then either remove it or add it to your todo list of improvements.
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Further Reading: How To Build An Amazing Online Checkout Experience (Step-By-Step)
I know when I was first starting out, I thought of customer service as something that while important, was mostly about being kind and courteous to paying customers after purchase. But this assumption is very very wrong, and let me tell you why.
Customer service starts the moment someone is introduced to your brand. This often happens when they see one of your ads, a post on social media, or find you in Google search results.
You know this person is interested in the messaging that your brand is putting out, and could be a great potential customer. So treat them like gold.
How do we do that?
Start with something as small as adding Free Hubspot Chat to your website to start engaging with any questions they may have. This helps you solve the needs of this customer at this moment, while also providing feedback as to how you can add more clarity to the messaging on your website.
Great customer service never stops and is a cyclical cycle. If you actually take the time to nerd out and track the first time someone was interested in your brand, you’ll often see conversion to sale times like 4 months, 9 months, or even 18 months! That means someone has been following your brand for a very long time before ever making a purchase.
My main point here is: keep in mind that every interaction your customers or visitors have with your brand is an opportunity to extend your customer service experience. Offering helpful information and answers to tough problems builds trust in you and your company, which leads to higher revenues down the road.
Now there are 1297+ ways you can promote your products and services online, but all of these methods essentially accomplish two things. They drive traffic and create conversions.
Successfully promoting your online product is all about driving traffic from somewhere (social media, Google, sponsorships, guest posting) to an offer on your website. Where a lot of businesses go wrong with this idea, is that they confuse promotion with sales. There is a big difference.
When promoting your business and products online, you don’t necessarily have to be “selling” something. In fact, it’s been shown to be much more cost-effective when advertising, to instead focus on creating valuable content that collects email addresses. When you try to sell something really fast to someone who’s not ready, it can be very off-putting.
A better alternative would be to explore the content that resonates most with your audience, and promote that instead. Things like free eBooks, guides, video lessons, etc make it much easier for you to get conversions (since there is no payment) and empowers you to follow up via email, phone, or ads with the actual promotion of your product. Over time, this allows you to generate revenue from people who know your brand but weren’t quite ready to make a purchase the first time they were marketed to.
Further Reading: How To Write A Perfect Blog Post In One Hour (Really Fast!)
Selling products online successfully is all about making a plan, doing the right actions to take steps towards your goal, and repeating this process as you scale. The challenges and obstacles you’ll face will vary through the different lifecycles of your business, but the one thing that won’t change is the necessity to have a goal and a plan to get there.
Being available to your customers, through chat, email, or social media will allow you to have feedback, ways to improve, and also signs that you’re doing something right. Talk to as many customers as you can, and remember that customer service starts the moment someone is introduced to your brand. Someone who knows, likes, and trusts you is the ultimate indicator for a customer with high lifetime value.
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