3 things small businesses should know to successfully sell online

To help businesses that have launched over the past year, GoDaddy has a masterclass on reaching customers and selling your products online

Over the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a significant shift in businesses selling online to meet an increased demand from customers.

However, it takes more than just posting a few products in a small corner of the internet. To help small businesses attract visitors and turn them into customers, their latest webinar, Back to Business Masterclass 3: Selling Online, helped businesses learn how to target customers and close the deal.

Joining the GoDaddy team were Cheavon Clarke, entrepreneur and heavyweight Olympic boxing hopeful, along with Daniel Walton, founder and director of OLPRO.

We’re going to be looking at three tips to help you when selling online, as explained by GoDaddy’s customer care guide, Louis Brightman.

Understand your online customer

Part of understanding your customer is knowing where to find them. Certain demographics will be in different places online – for example, younger people are more likely to be on TikTok than they are on other social media platforms.

Then you need to start thinking about how you can help them. Brightman uses the example of Lovely Little Treats, a family pyjama company, offering discounts on Facebook in exchange for sharing a post.

What other value could you give? Brightman suggests a blog page. “One post could make a difference to somebody,” he said. “That info will turn into trust and earn you a reputation which could turn into revenue. The more value you give away, the more of a following you’re going to get.” It’s also an idea to think about what happens after they see that value. This could be a call to action or a link to your product page.

Another example is a sustainability business letting its customers know how sustainable it is. This could be talking about the materials you use, certifications you have or who you’re partnered with.

Helping customers find you

Marketing is crucial for selling online. ‘Google is best place for people to find your business,’ said Brightman. A good place to start is Google My Business, where you can include business details like opening hours and contact number for free. It also displays Google Reviews which can help you attract customers.

Within Google Ads, you can set a budget to target certain areas and keywords. There are even tools within Google to find what people searching for and what keywords are searching for. For example, you can broaden a short-tail keyword like ‘hypnotherapy’ into a long-tail keyword like ‘hypnotherapy in Glasgow’ or ‘hypnotherapy for addiction’.

It’s also possible to set your own budget on Facebook and Instagram. It’s also important to review the performance of ads and make changes to fit, such as the demographics of who you’re targeting. “Start off slow, improve as you go,” said Brightman.

Looking at creating your funnel for people coming to your site. Take your presence on Google plus social media platforms and assess the roles they play in getting traffic to your product and site. Keep your messaging consistent to boost your brand identity too.

When posting about products on social media, keep it simple. “Think of bullet point effect – what are key features you’re offering?” said Brightman. He also suggests using emojis instead of bullet points. Keep consistent with the frequency of posting and include a strong image to accompany it.

Videos are best kept short – under a minute long – and they should lay out a problem and how to solve that problem. “The most important videos are when you’re answering somebody’s questions,” said Daniel Walton. He also talked about the importance of social media for answering questions, especially when they’re out of hours, as are blogs. ‘[Blogs] used to be nice to have, but they’re really important now,’ he added.

Closing the deal

Once people are visiting your site, getting a few details right can be enough to make a sale.

Start with how you present yourself. “Successful people have a really cool story,” said Brightman. “Often, they’re solving a problem they’ve had themselves.” When telling your story and selling your products, you want to keep the tone consistent. ‘I don’t want people to just buy stuff – I want people to know my journey,’ said Clarke.

Coming back to the sustainable goods business example, it’s wise to give as much information in your product descriptions and tell a story. If it’s niche, it’s helpful to explain how to use products. Try and make it personal and include anecdotes where you can – this builds up trust and respect. People may be more inclined to share your product or website on their social media channels and other blog posts. It’s worth taking high quality images of the products engaging images could be key to landing sales too.

When looking at your site holistically, make sure you streamline your navigation and sale process so that it’s easy for your customer. Go through the process yourself and try to spot any gaps which could lose you sales.

Your product pages are crucial here. Firstly, include customer testimonials on these pages to show the site visitors why previous customers have liked the product. Being able to see other recommended products alongside the product they’re looking at may offer them a better option. If it’s a sale item, having the discounted price next to the full price shows visitors what kind of bargain they could be grabbing if they shop with you.

Tell customers everything about shipping so they don’t have to click off the product page to find the information. Your shipping times and prices can be the difference between a shopper buying with you or going elsewhere. You can also offer free shipping for a certain spend or to certain countries. If you offer free shipping, put it on the home or product pages so that it’s clear to visitors.

Finally, make sure your customers outside the UK are accommodated for. “Don’t ever restrict yourself to the UK,” said Walton. Make sure your language, currency and domain are appropriate for countries that you’re selling to. Also be aware that key terms may be different in other parts of the world. For example, if you’ve got recipes on your site, include ‘zucchini’ as well as courgette if that’s what the recipe includes.

When building a website and selling online, it’s important to be your true self to truly reflect your product and story. Or as Clarke says: “Be authentic, be consistent and be persistent”.

GoDaddy has a range of products and services to help you build a website and sell online. Find out more at GoDaddy’s UK website.

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.