With the rush of holiday shopping and returns firmly in the rearview, it’s time to focus on hitting sales goals for 2017. Easy to say, right? To make things easier, think about the following ten things that will really send conversions into stratosphere. Hopefully you’re already doing some of them, but now is a great time to think about what to add to your sales arsenal — and what you can improve upon.
Get personal with marketing automation
One thing we know about consumers is they actually want to engage with the brands that matter to them; but they’re also quick to unsubscribe to anything that comes even remotely close to spam. Walking the line is difficult, but you most likely already have all the data you need to optimize your marketing automation. It’s in your CRM, and by using that intelligence to stratify customers into segments, you can craft personalized email campaigns that get attention and convert.
Create sustainable SEO
Despite what hundreds of SEO specialists are likely trying to sell you on, there are no shortcuts when it comes to boosting your page rankings. Do you really think that agency with the big promises is going to outsmart Google? Instead of wasting your resources on trying to game the system, invest in content that deserves to be ranked highly. That way, no matter how search engine algorithms change, you’ll always be on top.
Bring your vendors on board
No matter how great your vendors are, you can lose considerable business by not selling their entire product lines. That doesn’t have to be an inventory nightmare when you integrate their live inventory feeds into your site and allow them to drop ship directly to your customers. If you do want to keep control of your inventory, integrate with their catalogs and set up your management software to send automated purchase orders when you reach minimum and maximum inventory thresholds.
Partner with other online retailers
Stop worrying about the big boys swiping your sales and partner up with Amazon, Walmart, eBay and others. Become a marketplace retailer and piggyback off their market research while boosting your own online sales. You can fully integrate with Amazon and let it take care of fulfillment, payment processing and customer service for any SKU it sells — and tapping the Amazon Prime market by offering free 2-day shipping is a great way to get in with attractive consumer segments.
Optimize online order fulfillment
Consumers have spoken: They love fast, free shipping and it is here to stay. If you have stores in multiple regions, you have a tremendous advantage over most online retailers. Treat each location as a fulfillment center and route orders to the best store. It’s easy to get packages to most domestic customers in two days without incurring additional shipping costs if you have locations in a few key hub cities.
Empower your customers to evangelize on your behalf
Any message you have for consumers is inherently viewed as marketing…but conversations they have with each other are seen as authentic and trustworthy. Encourage your customers to share pictures, reviews, and stories about the products they buy on their favorite social media channels. A few brand ambassadors can do more for awareness and sales than a massive marketing budget.
Show, don’t tell
Do you know what the second largest search engine in the world is? It’s YouTube. Online videos aren’t just wildly popular, they skew to audiences that are highly sought after for many retailers. Millennials watch 50% more time watching videos online than other internet users. Video is a great way to showcase products and educate consumers — and you don’t need expensive gear to do it. A steady hand, a smart phone, and free editing software are all you need to start a mini-production studio.
Connect with mobile customers
Today’s customers use mobile phones for everything. They will comparison shop on other sites while in your store (and on your site while in competing stores), read reviews for newly discovered products, and even pay using their phones. Is your site optimized for mobile conversions? We’ve advanced well beyond the showrooming of a few years ago; today, consumers will convert on their phones whenever the mood strikes, even from inside a competitor’s store. Be ready to capture intent and turn it into conversion at any time.
Win confidence with reviews
Harness the voices and wisdom of your customers by building a robust database of reviews for the products on your site. Attracting consumers that are conducting research with honest and informative reviews increases the chances they will buy from you. Send automated emails to customers after a purchase that invite them to return and review it with a single click. Not only does it boost your review volume, it also gives them another opportunity to shop. You can also showcase your own expertise by responding to reviews, answering questions that may have been raised (but never argue with opinions).
Incentivize loyalty with reward programs
Airlines are pros at rewarding loyalty with upgrades, and you can do the same thing. Reward and VIP programs incentivize repeat purchases and also provide valuable customer data. They can also provide recurring streams of revenue if you create benefits worth enough to warrant monthly or annual membership fees. Remember to integrate reward programs with online and offline purchases and offer rewards that incentivize and are attainable.
If you don’t know where to start from this list, a great launch pad is with your retail management software provider. By partnering with your technology supplier, you can discover what functionality is already available to you just waiting to be tapped and what will require an upgrade or additional investment.
Don’t get left behind. Start laying the groundwork now to end 2017 with record profits.
Ian Goldman is CEO of Celerant Technology Corp