I’ll go over non-traditional and traditional ways to make your online store successful that no one is talking about today! While all other advice that is given lists off having a website, social media, SEO, and paid ads. While those are all essential things, but just saying to have those things won’t make your online store successful.
What Makes a Store Successful
Success is measured in many different ways. My measurement of success is if the store is making a profit of $1,000,000+ per year. Chances are if you’re reading this, you haven’t made that yet, or you are just starting. This will help lay down a good foundation for your business. What truly makes your online store successful is being different and I’ll cover how you can do that. It’s the step that everyone overlooks. Even if you are selling something that everyone else is selling, you can still blow out the competition.
First things first- This will take time and a ton of energy and hard work. There is no get rich quick with these processes. Most get rich quick schemes always end in bankruptcy, and you want to be successful with years and years of success for your online store.
The process of which business owners have earned that success has never changed over the years. How you implement and get your product to customers has altered, and everyone is so quick to turn to the next new cool item or social platform. That will make a little more sense as we get into it.
What Is Your Offering?
This will be the foundation for which one will do to build a successful online store. Too many people are trying to offer everything and anything. You can see it when you go to any online store.
Store owners are quick to add 10 -100 products online when they haven’t even perfected selling one item. The workload becomes too overbearing, and the content shows on your website/ e-commerce store. This is caused by what I call FOMO ( fear of missing out). Too many people have FOMO because they don’t understand what they are selling. It’s completely okay to have multiple products to sell as long as you know the offering and who that offer is for. It is simplest to start with just one product and build off of that—perfect one merchandise before moving onto the next. I’ve come to that conclusion from studying all the brands that have made a killing and helping all the other e-commerce stores online.
You may still have your doubts like so many others so, let’s take a look at Coca Cola. One soda/pop ( however you say it in your part of the US). Started with just one flavor, and now after that flavor became a hit moved onto making 3,900 beverage choices. Nike started with only one pair of running shoes. Better yet, Google with just a directory. The list goes on and on. So even if you have 20 products, keep those up and pick the crowd favorite and focus on that product until it’s successful.
So what are you offering?
Is it a product that will change someone’s life for the better?
Change someone’s social status?
Makes life easier for them?
Look cute for that special someone?
Will people need your product or want it?
What will your product do for your consumers?
The more that the offer is detailed to your customer, the more the customer will say this is for me, and that leads us into the next but just equally important step.
Knowing Your Customer
Now I’m not talking about just knowing the overall customer. I’m talking about knowing what customers will buy your product without any thought. As soon as they see your product, they would scream that it is for me!
How would you go about finding that customer? You’ve probably already thought about it when figuring out what you were going to sell online. Still, it goes back to knowing what you are offering. I’ll give an example of what that would be.
You have a product that will vacuum the home automatically (Roomba). Not everyone is going to justify spending $300-$800 on something that will clean the house when they can get the vacuum out and do it themselves, right? – It’s important to understand that your product is not for everyone.
What does the vacuum cleaner offer?
- Clean floors 24/7
- Don’t have to waste time cleaning
- Get to spend more time with family and friends
- Longer carpet life from clean carpets
So what customers would say they have to have this without being convinced they need it?
Some that come to mind are:
- Mothers/ families that have a job and kids, who want to keep their place clean.
- Clean freaks who are to busy to clean up themselves
- Pet owners who have pets come in and out of the house but love having a clean floor.
- Middle-class families that don’t want to spend the money on a maid.
Your offer needs to be tailor to a person that would just buy it without hesitation. Don’t let FOMO control you here. I get you feel the need to sell to everyone, but by doing that, everyone starts to say that’s not for me. Make sure, and I say again, make sure the offer (product) is tailored to your ideal customer.
Now you have an understanding of your customer, let’s dive into the product listing.
The Product Listing
Once again, this ties into knowing who your offer and Ideal customers are. Are you going to put up the product with the specs and talk about things people don’t understand about the product, but you do because you’re an expert in the product? Most likely, but it’s not the right way. For some reason, everyone has agreed that this is the universal way to show off your product. Yes, have the details there for those who are interested in that while having information on how that product will solve your customers’ problems and issues.
One of the biggest complaints about shopping online is the customer can not feel the product and answer the question, yes this will work for me. How do you overcome this problem?
By making sure you answer their questions before they arise with your offer while having plenty of pictures and a video showing off the product.
Now you have your offer, ideal customer, and product listing set up. It’s time to find the customers.
Where are your customers hanging out, and how do you reach them online?
We know everyone uses the internet to find information. So, where on the internet is your ideal customer hanging out? Chances are they are everywhere. They are across all social media platforms and spread across the web. You want to find the area that has the most condense users of your ideal customers.
It can be tricky, and it’s why so many companies jump to ads with targeting options. If you don’t have a large budget, you need to get a little more creative than just running some ads. Find where they are hanging out and have them fall in love with your offer. This is where marketing tools come into place. A tool is only as good as its handler. Those tools are:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Ads
- Search Engine Ads
- YouTube / Ads
- Online Groups / Reddit/ Facebook/ Forums
- Amazon, eBay, etc.
- Google Shopping
I’ll give a brief overview of the marketing tool and what it is suitable for. If you understand the marketing side, you can click here to skip.
Search Engine Optimization
Also known as SEO is a great marketing tool and my favorite by far. You can capture the customers that are looking at Google, Bing, and Yahoo. SEO tends to have the highest ROI (return on investment) as the customer has expressed they have a need, researching the product, or have made it up in their mind that they are ready to buy.
Social Media Marketing / And Ads
Everyone is on their phone and connecting with brands, friends, and other pages that interest them. It’s a great place to hang out and talk to customers, but you have to pay to play as organic reach isn’t quite there. You can be very detailed with ads, and that’s why they make you pay to play.
Building a list can take time, but the reward is worth the time. Be able to update customers on new and exciting products without having to show an ad. Direct the customer from their email back to your store and inspire them to make a purchase. The customer has already expressed they are interested in your brand. Just don’t be spammy with your emails and be regular even if you only have one subscriber.
Search Engine Marketing / SEM / Ads on Search Engines
SEM is pretty straightforward; pay to have an ad show up at the top or bottom of the page related to search terms customers are looking up. They can be expensive. You only pay for the click and have been referred to as PPC ( pay per click). If the user doesn’t find what they are looking for and leave, you are still charged—a great tool to use while you are performing SEO.
YouTube / Ads
We’ve all seen them while we wait to watch our how-to video on YouTube. I’ve never been a fan of these as I always hit-skip the ad. They are useful to get your brand info out there, but you have 5 seconds to capture the attention of the user before they hit skip. YouTube also falls under social media. With it being the number 2 most visited site on the web minus Google, it’s worth checking out.
Don’t want to pay for ads you can create your own channel talking about your product and offer to help people to make their minds up on buying your product.
Blogging is an excellent tool if used right. People need to find your blog, or you can pay someone else who has your ideal customer, all ready to blog about your product. This is tied into Seo as well. It’s simply putting out content on the internet for others to enjoy and read.
Marketers have tried this over and over again, and people will be able to fish you out. So, if you join a group, bring value to the group before offering your product. Groups are one of my favorite places to inspire customers to buy your product as it has the most like-minded people in one spot.
Having a website
The website is the most critical item to have. Its where you can capture sales, emails, data on customers, and market everything. Think of it as your online platform that ties all the marketing tools together.
Amazon, Google Shopping, eBay, etc
List your product on their store platforms and pay for ads or a monthly fee for listing your products.
The idea is to find the biggest pool of your ideal customer and start there, then slowly branch out to other areas.
What to do after the sale?
The process doesn’t stop after the sale is completed. Excellent customer service goes a long way with customers. Also, if they loved your product, they are happy to tell others about that experience. Send a follow-up email asking for their input and to give a review on the product.
Have them send in a picture of their purchases and post them on social media. It’s proof that they love it. Even a thank you card in the package goes a long way. If your product is something they purchase over and over again it will go a long way. If it’s a one time purchase they are more likely to recommend friends and family. Chances are they are close to your ideal customer. So take care of them and make them happy. It doesn’t mean they are always right. Don’t be afraid to get negative feedback. Kindly respond and move past. You want people to know they will be taken care of when they shop online at your store.
Success is up to you to never give up and keep going. You can never buy success, it’s not given but earned by hard work!
I hope you enjoyed the foundations on how to have a successful online store. If you liked this, please share and leave a comment.
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About the Author
Caleb Grant is the founder of Blanc Ideas, a digital marketing firm founded in 2015. For the past 5 years, he has been deeply involved with the business owners and is shifting the way his clients think about their online presence as not only a cost-effective platform to reach their audience but also a system engineered to drive measurable business-oriented results.