Four ways to sell more online

By: Dale Cook

Date: 28 July 2011

More and more people are making purchases online but not all businesses are making the most of their ecommerce sites. And if you're not making the most of your site, you're not making as much money as you could be. Here are my four tips for creating a more effective ecommerce site so customers buy from you and keep coming back…

1 Let customers know your site is secure

Customers will only buy from you if they trust you. So, if your site is 100 per cent secure, you need to make your customers are aware of it.

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is great way to do this. It prevents information entered on your site from being seen by third parties and shields it when it's transmitted online.

When you're viewing a site with an SSL certificate, most web browsers display a padlock so you know the connection is secure. Also, the address of the web page will normally start with https:// instead of http://.

The certificate can be obtained from SSL providers such as VeriSign™ and most web hosts. If you want your customers to trust you with their credit card numbers, addresses and other sensitive data, get an SSL certificate.

2 Write compelling sales copy

The copy on your website is your chance to communicate with customers and it will either influence people to buy from you or make them go elsewhere.

More often than not, readers will scan your site and only take notice of your headings (and sub-headings) so you need to make them informative as well as enticing. Use phrases such as 'Lose weight in seven days!' or 'How to get free PR – it's easier than you think'. They promise useful information and tell the reader what is in the body copy.

In the body copy, don't just describe what the product or service does, tell customers how it can benefit them. Keep it short and concise – using bullet points can make benefits easier and quicker for customers to digest, too.

For body copy and headlines, be sure to use key phrases that are relevant to your site, products or services to help your search engine rankings. Whether you're allowing popular search engines to rank your site organically or paying for online marketing campaigns, your body text and headline phrases need to be clear and consistent – without repeating yourself too often or filling a site with similar keywords.

3 Make it easy for customers to buy from your store

Convincing visitors to buy is hard enough, so the last thing you want to do is deter them with anything that might get in their way, such as a lengthy checkout process.

Focus on making your site as professional and simple to navigate as possible. You need to make it clear what your customers need to do and where they should click next. Don't be afraid to use big buttons, arrows, text or anything else – as long as they look nice.

Don't ask for unnecessary details from new customers, and returning customers should benefit from having most of the form fields filled out already. They should only need to put in the payment details at most – Amazon has introduced one-click purchasing to make it super-easy to buy from the site.

4 Provide great customer service

Looking after your customers should start before they make a purchase. It should be easy for customers to find the information they want. Forcing a visitor to register just to see shipping charges is likely to put them off, and you should clearly state whether your prices include VAT, just so there are no surprises at the checkout.

Post-purchase contact is always important, too. People hate it when sellers take their money and seemingly disappear. A simple “thank you” email with support details is always a nice touch and if you include a discount for the next purchase (or some other benefit), it's even better.

Start improving your ecommerce site now

More and more consumers are turning to ecommerce because it's safe, quick and (hopefully) easy. This makes it more important than ever to create an ecommerce site that work for both your business and your customers. Use the tips above to improve your ecommerce site and start making more sales now.

Dale Cook, Serif