It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling a digital product or something out of a brick-and-mortar store. If you want to succeed in today’s business environment, you need to have a powerful online presence that consistently attracts new customers.
With the right techniques, you can significantly increase traffic to your online store and get the sales you need for lasting success. But which tactics will have the greatest impact?
To gather further insights on this, I recently interviewed Preston Lee, founder of Millo, a rapidly growing blog and community hub that helps freelancers grow their careers. No matter what type of product you plan on selling, these proven strategies will help build a strong customer base.
The Power Of Sponsorships
We readily associate sponsorships with sporting events and television shows, but smaller businesses aren’t likely to have that kind of budget available. That doesn’t mean sponsorships are completely out of the question, though.
As Lee explains during our conversation, even sponsoring the right smaller blog or podcast can draw new customers to your business, if the sponsor can back up their claims with real results they’ve achieved for past advertisers.
“In my experience, what sponsors are looking for is solid metrics you can promise, and that you’re willing to work hard to fulfill on them,” Lee adds.
Generally speaking, these partnerships will be most successful when there is a clear connection between your product and the sponsorship. Consider how a particular sponsorship will help you reach your business goals or assist the larger community involved in your industry. Be mindful that not all exposure is created equal—a smaller, closely aligned audience will likely prove more valuable than a big, broad group.
Never Overlook Social Proof
Social media has become a major influence in purchasing decisions—particularly for younger consumers. In fact, one study found that 72 percent of millennials base fashion purchasing decisions on Instagram posts.
For further insight into this trend, I reached out to Emma Watkinson, co-founder and CEO of women’s online clothing store SilkFred. “We leverage the visual power of social media to sell products and to also start conversations with our customers,” she explains.
“When social media users see you interacting and building engagement with your fans, it creates a positive perception of the brand. When you combine exciting visual content and social proof, you’ll dramatically increase traffic.”
This commitment to social selling can be seen on Watkinson’s website, which allows users to search for products that were featured on social media, as well as items that have received the highest number of likes on the site itself. This helps visitors understand what’s trending, thus streamlining the buying process.
Tap Into The Power Of Subscriptions
A one-time purchase is great, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get more revenue from that customer in the future. During our interview, Lee noted that at that time, a full 60% of Millo’s revenue was coming from product sales and subscriptions, with the remaining 40 percent coming from site sponsorships.
Previously, the numbers had tilted more heavily toward sponsorships—but after the introduction of a subscription service, their revenue sources started to shift and grow.
When you only sell a product, there’s no guarantee that customers will come back. With a subscription, you’ll have recurring revenue that generates new sales each month. An analysis by AdWeek noted that subscription models help businesses scale and predict revenue, while many customers view these services as a convenient, budget-friendly shopping model.
This isn’t to say that you should completely shift to a subscription-based service. However, the success of digital software applications and monthly subscription boxes for products as diverse as makeup and food, highlights the significant potential of this business model.
Do Your Own Outreach
It’s one thing to slap your name on a podcast as a sponsor. But when you reach out to form other mutually beneficial partnerships (like scoring guest posts or hosting joint webinars to promote your company), you can drive even more traffic as you harness the power of well-known brands.
This proactive outreach has been huge for Lee as he’s sought major promotional partnerships for his own site.
“If we want a full-season sponsor for our podcast, for example, I’ll first reach out to a few people who’ve advertised with us in the past or who I’m familiar with. I’ve also made a lot of progress with sending friendly, well-crafted cold emails to companies I feel would complement our mission well.”
You’ll likely face a fair amount of rejection as you send cold emails and reach out to establish these potential partnerships. But whether you snag a sponsorship from a social media influencer or a popular blog in your niche, these promotions can prove a highly effective way of introducing your products to new relevant audiences.
As Lee adds, “closely integrated, really genuine sponsorships have proven key to driving results without spamming an audience.”
Add Value With Content Marketing
“Your store has to be more than just the products,” Watkinson explains.
“The most successful brick-and-mortar stores are still around because they’ve created an experience for their customers. You need to find ways to do the same on your own site, whether that’s through blog posts, video tutorials or otherwise. When you consistently generate interesting content, you’ll have more avenues for new customers to discover your store.”
Yes, we’re talking about content marketing. It continues to be a powerful tool that helps build a community around your brand. SilkFred’s blog focuses on the fashion industry. Millo’s blog creates content to help freelancers. These content marketing efforts serve as great ways to generate inbound leads, find new sponsorship opportunities or simply create new conversation starters on social media.
The key, however, is that they all provide additional value to your target audience. News, facts and tips help you form real connections with current and potential customers—a surefire way to keep them coming back for more.
As you use these tactics to attract more customers—including the high-value customers who can become loyal brand advocates—you’ll be able to grow your sales.