4 Ways to Increase Online Sales

"Test everything; assume nothing!" That's because we know that after all these years on the internet, you just never know what strategy or angle is going to work best for you...until you test it. This applies even to your star-performing strategies, because there's always room for improvement.

The bottom line is, testing is the only way to discover what works--and what doesn't--on your website, and it's the best way to start increasing your sales exponentially. And if you take the plunge and use just one of the following tests, you'll learn just how true this is, especially when you start seeing a dramatic improvement to your bottom line.

Test #1: 

Offer just one product or service on your home page. Do you sell a number of products or services on your website? If so, I'd strongly recommend you test whether or not this is the best strategy for you. We've found that offering fewer products in one place with more copy describing those products always translates into higher sales.

It's all about focus. Instead of trying to please everyone who visits your site by offering a large range of products with minimal detail about each one, if you offer just one product--or one set of related products--you can really focus on one key set of benefits and answer all the possible questions and doubts your visitors might have about your product. And you don't have to stop selling your other products--you can always offer them to your customers from other web pages or by using follow-up offers.

Of course, the only way to find out for sure if this will work with your target audience is to test it! Design a sharp banner for your lead product, and put it on your home page. Then run the test for a week or two to see how it increases your sales.

Test #2

Add impact to your promotions with hover ads. I'm sure everyone's familiar with pop-ups: They're the small windows containing a special offer or other information that sometimes "pop up" when you visit a website. Love 'em or hate 'em, pop-ups have been a very useful, online marketing tool for years. However, because a percentage of internet users disliked them, Google, AOL, Netscape and others developed pop-up blocking software to combat them.

Of course, internet users should be able to choose whether or not they want to view pop-ups. However, much of this software automatically blocked pop-ups, meaning visitors to a site started missing out on valuable information that could benefit them.

But that was before we discovered a very impressive technology that actually lets you use ads that behave like pop-ups but that aren't pop-ups--so they don't get blocked. They're called hover ads, and they're well worth testing on your site.

In fact, when we tested adding a hover ad to our site, sales increased by 162 percent! These ads are effective because they put important information, such as your opt-in offer or a special limited-time promotion, right in front of your targeted visitors.

You can test placing your opt-in offer in your hover ad to see if that boosts subscription numbers. When we did this, 86 percent more people subscribed to our newsletter. You can also test how many more people click through to a special offer page on your site through a hover ad vs. through a regular link on your home page.

Test #3

Add credibility to your landing page--and enhance your visitors' trust in you. It's vital that your landing page establishes your credibility: It's through this process that your visitors come to trust you and feel comfortable enough to buy from you. There are several ways you can do this effectively and we'll talk about two of the quickest and easiest ones here. If you're not already using these techniques, revamp your copy and test it against what you're using now. You'll be surprised by the difference.

One of the best ways to establish your credibility is to include customer testimonials on your homepage or landing page. These should be excerpts from genuine e-mails or letters from customers expressing how your product or service helped solve the particular problem they faced. This last point is important: A customer testimonial that states how your product benefited them is much more effective than one that just says something like, "Your product is great!"

You can also enhance your credibility by adding a section to your website that outlines your credentials, experience and any background information that makes you qualified to solve your target audience's problem. Your aim should be to effectively convince readers that you are the best person to offer them a solution to their problem.

Test #4: 

Instill urgency--and convince visitors they need to buy now!

  •     Offer a limited-time price discount where visitors must buy before a certain date in order to qualify for the discount.
  •     Offer additional bonuses for free if visitors buy within a certain time frame.
  •     Offer only a limited quantity of your products or services.
  •     Offer a limited quantity bonus.

When testing your site, it's vital to test just one thing at a time so you know exactly which change influenced the results. A method of testing known as "split testing" does just that. It allows you to split your audience into two groups and test, for example, one headline with one group and another headline with the second group--both at exactly the same time.

It's an ideal testing strategy for any online business, but especially for newer websites with less traffic, as it provides an excellent method for generating accurate test results no matter your level of traffic. By trying different strategies out you have a big chance to improve the sales effectiveness of your site with one of these guaranteed ways to turn visitors into buyers. See what works for you.
from http://www.entrepreneur.com

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Local Marketing Demystified

It’s not surprising that local business operators can lack knowledge about online marketing, or that they can get exposed to misapprehensions about how local marketing should be conducted. Google’s CEO has been quoted as saying that the world is now generating 5 exabytes of information every two days, so it’s little wonder when local business owners are too overwhelmed to keep up with the marketing end, in addition to all of the details specific to their own industry.

It’s not just the ever-increasing amount of information that can overwhelm businesses — it’s also the fact that the search engines are now making changes to their algorithms every single day.

Perhaps it’s due to the fact that it takes ongoing attention and experience to keep up with the changes over time, or maybe it’s because many people are conditioned into attempting to perform search marketing DIY style by Googling for answers, and they can’t tell that the web page they’ve found is woefully out of date.

Whatever the case, the result is there are a number of myths about online local marketing out there, and if you’re not careful, buying into one of these can hamstring your business.

#1 Twitter And/Or Facebook Are Worthless For My Type Of Business

It’s altogether true that some types of businesses have an easier time attracting consumers that wish to interact with them on social media. Yet, even if you operate in a category of business where people don’t want to connect with you as much in social media, you probably need to be doing social media, anyway.
Social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook pages provide you with assets to help proactively manage your online reputation, and they may help you outrank your competition.

If you’re in an industry where customers don’t want to connect much online (I bet plumbers, funeral homes, attorneys and doctors can relate), you might be able to help position yourself as an industry expert by focusing on networking with colleagues and commenting upon topics related to your field and curating related content.

#2 We Don’t Need To Optimize For Mobile For Our Type Of Business

I hate to tell you, but if you don’t understand how much mobile usage has been increasing for the past ten years, chances are you’re still using a buggy whip with your transportation, a Victrola for your music and are maybe even churning your own butter.
Around 40% of time spent online is on mobile devices now, and this percentage is only likely to grow. So, make sure your site is optimal for those devices. Google has stated that failure to optimize for mobile can now impact your rankings, so this is one myth you had better lose pretty quickly.

#3 We Have To Have Great Ratings/Reviews!

Averaged ratings are not a ranking factor in Google (except in cases where users are allowed to filter/reorder results based on rating values, and for those business types that appear in the Local Carousel, which may factor in reviews slightly more). Thus, if you think this is a requirement for rankings, you’re probably off.
Obviously, people everywhere often take criticism very seriously, and it can be a gut-punch when you pour your heart into your work and aren’t met with glowing admiration in return. Chefs have been known to commit suicide over the loss of a Michelin star, for instance (an obviously maladaptive response), and there have been lawsuits over reviews. There are repeated stories of businesses claiming to be unfairly damaged by TripAdvisor reviews and other online review sites.
It’s true that ratings and reviews can have an impact on your business, but they’re not affecting rankings. To play it safe, follow tips to get more reviews, make reviews work for you and respond effectively to bad reviews.
If you’re doing a number of the other promotional activities you should be conducting, these should influence reviews positively, and also reduce your vulnerability to any one review site (and to reviews in general). Good social media work and other content development can help ensure that review sites are not the only things ranking for your name searches.

Finally, having all positive reviews may actually reduce consumers’ trust that your reviews are real — having a few negative reviews is realistic for a business, and I’ve seen some owners who respond professionally and effectively to those, transforming lemons into lemonade!

text from Search Engine Land

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Social Marketing: How to Take the Local Approach

We tend to keep tabs on the huge companies out there who are really killing it on social media. Campaigns like localbusiness-circle 3those put forth by the likes of Oreo or Ford stay on our radar because they set the trends. What you may not know is that social media marketing can extend into the local market as well.
In fact, a report put together by BIA/Kelsey for Surefire Social showed that 60% of franchise businesses use their Facebook pages for local promotions. This well surpasses the percentage of national brands that use other promotional efforts to target the local space, with 43.2% saying they use newspapers and just 36.8% indicating they use email marketing.
So how can you get in on this rising trend? We’ve put together some helpful tips for targeting the local market with your social media efforts. The good news here is you’ll find it doesn’t differ that dramatically from nationwide campaigns. You just–as you’d might expect–have to be more focused.

Step 1: Claim Your Local Profiles

There are many social sites dedicated to providing information about local businesses. It’s important you have control over your profiles on these sites to ensure the information there is correct and up-to-date. It also has a tremendous impact on your SEO, since these sites tend to rank high and having a profile on them increases the likelihood people will be able to find you using “city name + industry” search queries.
A few sites you need to sign up for and/or claim your profiles on include:
You’ll also want to make sure you have profiles on all of the major social media sites that apply to your industry. Regardless, Facebook and Twitter are a must.

Step 2: Take Full Advantage of Google

We already mentioned that you need to claim your Google Places listing but there’s a bit more to it than that. You see, having a Google+ page for your business and utilizing Google Maps can increase search traffic to your site. The more complete your profile is, the more likely it is it will appear at the top of personalized search results for your local demographic. In case you need more convincing, nearly 40% of national brands utilize Google site services to increase brand recognition in search, especially in local search. So, you would be remiss if you didn’t follow suit. 

Step 3: Optimize Your Facebook Page

If you don’t have one already, now is the time to create a Facebook Page for your business. Just select “Local Business or Place” and you’ll be off to the races. Fill out all of your details. While you can update your Page at any time, it’s a good idea to fill out every section of the Page when first setting it up. Why put it off? And the more complete your information is, the more it will appeal to your target audience. It also increases the likelihood your Page will appear within the site’s internal search results. 

Step 4: Don’t Forget About LinkedIn

You have a LinkedIn profile already, right? What about a LinkedIn Company page? While they’re not exactly known for being hubs of activity, it’s still important to have a page for your business on the site. It’s yet another place online where people can find out about your company and another place where you can include the location information for your business. Making the effort here makes your business more findable. And that’s essential in the competitive local business landscape.

Step 5: Promote Wisely

Once all of your profiles are set up, you can start actually, you know, using them. This means posting about promotions you’re running at your store or local events you’ll be attending. It means posting the occasional coupon or discount and interacting with your fans and followers. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Be mindful of how often you post. And don’t make it all about yourself all the time. Showing an authentic side is always appealing, regardless of industry.

Step 6: Keep Your Ear to the Ground

Social media marketing isn’t something you can schedule and walk away from. Well, it technically is in that you can schedule your posts and promotions well in advance. But you need to stick around to interact with people as they comment, share, like, mention, and so forth. You need to show your human side to make the most out of your efforts. If all you do is schedule posts and don’t engage with your followers, your local campaign will be doomed from the start.
Local marketing more so than any other approach is personal. People patronize local businesses because they genuinely like them. If you seem robotic, how can you ever expect people to like you? Keep that in mind as you develop your own local campaign.

Text and Image from Social Media Today

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