I talk to many people who are investing a lot of resources in their websites. Since you cannot sell anything without a good website, this is a good thing. What many people don't embrace, however, is the fact that e-commerce at a website happens after a sale is made. In other words, a sale is consummated at a website, but it's actually made long before anyone lands on your home page.
Since I hate seeing people invest in one good thing to the exclusion of other things that are also good and helpful, I shared my thoughts on this topic here at our FaceBook Page. It generated so many questions, comments and ideas that it prompted me to share in more detail here. This video explains it, with additional important points below.
People gather information before they make a purchase. Before most people buy anything online, they use the Internet to collect information needed to help them make good purchasing decisions. Once they collect the information they need, they narrow down their options and decide where to go to make the purchase. Only then do they log onto a site with credit card in hand.
People filter information through the lens of their friends. To narrow down their options, people turn to their friends. While there's plenty of good information online to enable everyone to make informed buying decisions, the data is far more valuable when it is filtered through the lens of a trusted friend. This is where social networking comes in.
As a small business owner, you must interconnect your blog, email newsletter and other branded media outlets (more about this here) with the social networking sites used by your customers and their friends. When you do this, you put yourself at the heart of their important conversations and buying decisions. And if you are helpful to them, they will welcome you.
As you inform and participate in a non-sales-y manner, you will by default be enhancing their lives by helping them make wise buying decisions.
The return on this investment comes when the people who choose to do so you end up at your shopping cart with a debit card in their hand.
You have to earn the sale. Gone are the days (if they ever existed) when you can show up online with a good product and enjoy enough sales to make your business profitable. No matter how good your website is, you have to do the work to get people there. This means connecting with and engaging your target customers in ways that make a contribution to their lives on a regular basis.
It cannot be hit or miss. You can't show up at your FaceBook Page or your blog whenever you feel like it. You have to appear regularly to reach out to the people there and demonstrate that you are making an investment in them.
If you don't invest in them, why should they invest in you? Especially when they can go somewhere else to get the same or similar products and services?
Question: How do you stimulate sales before people get to your website?