Looking for an effective but affordable way to boost your sales? How about 12? Increasing sales for a small business doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. I have compiled this list of 12 tips to help you get more sales without straining your budget. Naturally, you must apply them with an eye to your unique niche and be in tune with your business. Regardless of their size or products, all businesses are looking to increase sales. So, to get an edge over the competition, you should take marketing seriously and use all the tools at your disposal. For now, let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for ensuring more sales.
Content, Content, Content
Some small business owners don’t really feel the need for content creation beyond the occasional blog post or website copy. That’s actually a good thing because you can gain an immediate edge over almost half the competition by committing to content. Instead of thinking of content as a luxury, you should start to think of it as an investment. By providing informative, helpful content, you add value to your potential customers. That information will help them see your products or services for the gems that they are. It will also make you seem like an authority in the field (which, of course, you are).
Make sure to create content for different platforms, including your social media. You can do it by repurposing the same content you had written for your blog, for example. That way, you won’t have to spend extra time or money on platform-specific content. You should also try to optimize your content for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which will make Google like you better, giving your website a higher rank. Speaking of Google, an excellent place to put your content creation to use is the FAQ section on your Google Business Profile. You know that section where people can ask and answer questions about businesses? You can (and should) write that section yourself. That way, people will know what to expect. When they visit your website with some prior knowledge, it’s easier to convert them to paying customers.
So, don’t be intimidated by content creation. Whenever you think you’re providing too much content, do even more! You can always reuse that content to create lead magnets, newsletters, and more. To know more about that, you can read my article on using lead magnets in your marketing.
Make It Easier and Less Risky to Buy from You
Many businesses find that many potential customers back out during the payment process. That’s actually easy to understand. Overly complicated or lengthy payment rituals can be a hassle, and they can turn anyone off. Statistics show that almost 70% of online shopping carts are simply abandoned on the way to checkout. And it’s not like you don’t have to worry about it just because you don’t use checkouts and carts. If you don’t want to lose prospects at the last minute, simplifying your payment is critical. How can you do that? Here are some of the more straightforward methods to reducing “payment friction:”
- Avoid unnecessary forms
- Make more fields optional on forms you do include
- Don’t use time-outs
Of course, a simpler, faster payment is not the only measure you should take. Another way to prevent prospects from leaking through your sales funnel at the very end is to provide as many payment methods as possible. Most small businesses just settle for the age-old credit card payment option. That won’t do. Try to include PayPal, Skrill, and other online payment services. You can also jump on the crypto wagon and offer a cryptocurrency payment method. You can use payment gateway services to set that up, so there is no need to think about the technical aspect. You’ll be surprised how many people will prefer to use these methods.
I should mention one more point here: try to make purchasing less risky for your potential customers. Your prospects shouldn’t feel like they’ll be locked in or trapped once they finalize their purchase. By giving them some ways out, you can reduce the risk they think they have to take, increasing their chances of buying your products or services. For example, you can add a 7-day money-back guarantee (doesn’t have to be 7, naturally). That will put the prospects’ minds at ease. If your business offers products instead of services, you can provide a reasonable return policy.
Boost Sales Using a Well-Designed Marketing Funnel
Sales (or marketing) funnels are priceless to any business, especially if designed and implemented correctly. Taking things as they come and case by case may work for the first three or four customers. Any further than that and you should start thinking about how visitors can turn into prospects and customers. A sales funnel can help you increase your conversion rates and boost sales. How? By determining the steps you must take at each stage and for each visitor and prospect. So, with the correct sales funnel, you’ll know what lead magnets to use, when to send emails, what to include in them, and how to get the prospects ready to say yes. If you’ve not set up your sales funnel yet or want to improve it, take the time to read my article on sales funnels and how to create the right one for your business.
Offer Deals for Opt-In and Closing the Sale
Deals are the best tie-breakers. When a visitor is just browsing your website, thinking about your products, offering an opt-in deal will get them over the edge and into your email list. For example, you can provide a minor discount on their first order or include free shipping. This may seem like you’re reducing your profit margin, but actually, you’ll soon see more sales and conversions. An opt-in deal can be presented to people visiting your website as a pop-up or notification. However, you have to make sure it’s not annoying or too distracting — that will definitely backfire.
Some of your visitors are likely to sign-up because of the lead magnet. Using an opt-in deal will give your business a chance of reaching the rest. Some may not give out their contact info just to get a slim ebook, but they may act otherwise when a real money-saving deal is on the line.
The same thing also works toward the end of your funnel. When prospects have been in your email nurture long enough, you will need them to decide. One way to tip the scales in favor of purchasing is to offer a deal. Give them a discount or something else that will help them save money. Provided at the right time, a deal can finalize the purchase, increasing sales and conversion rates.
Make your Value Obvious
Okay, this one looks more than a bit obvious itself. But you’d be surprised by how many small businesses fail to communicate their value proposition correctly. It sounds too simple, but customers don’t know what you know about your business. You need to make them see how fantastic you are, what excellent offerings you have, etc.
Your website and landing pages are perfect for communicating your value proposition. However, sometimes they end up so cluttered that no one can see the forest for the trees. So, when creating your landing page, focus on making your value proposition more visible. The same goes for phone calls or sales meetings. You (or your sales rep) must remember to emphasize the primary value your product or service will add to the customer. You should also show how your business does this better than the competition.
Of course, providing a clear value proposition goes beyond the presentation. Sometimes, the problem is more fundamental. You won’t be able to convince anyone of the value you’ll provide if you’re not even sure what it is. This usually happens because many small business owners don’t make time for marketing at the start. Naturally, there are ways you can put that right. First, it’s never too late to develop a marketing strategy. I have discussed that in one of the following sections. More immediately, however, you have to discover your unique value proposition. You can start by making a mind map or listing the features and advantages of your product or service. It boils down to finding the essential advantage your business brings to customers. You have to ask yourself, “what is the main problem that my products solve for my customers?” The answer to that is usually your value proposition.
Focus on Retaining Customers
Data shows that about 60% of your sales will be to existing customers. That’s a surprising statistic if ever there was one. It means you’re better off focusing on your existing customers than attracting new ones. This fact is even more interesting because most businesses have the opposite strategy. Unfortunately, many companies don’t invest in retaining customers, just forgetting about them once they’ve paid. That’s a huge mistake, and if you want to increase sales and grow your business, you will need to keep a strong relationship with your existing customers.
Follow-up emails after the purchase are a great way to start down this path. You will also need to add a new email nurture list that targets current customers. You can keep them informed of any improvements to the products or new offerings. Data also suggests that your existing customers are more likely to try your new products or services. Of course, you should also consider using a CRM if you haven’t gotten one already. A good CRM and marketing tool like RunSensible can make customer retainment much more straightforward and affordable. Keeping track of all the different email nurture lists and their content is just one of the tasks you can automate or improve using RunSensible.
Develop and Maintain a Marketing Strategy
I’ve already mentioned how essential marketing strategy is, but now I’ll tell you the why and how in more detail. First, the definition of marketing strategy is the general direction all your campaigns and ads will take through time. Your marketing strategy will keep your sales and marketing efforts on track, making sure you stay on message and consistent in your communication. That may not seem vital to increasing your sales but, ask any successful business owner, and they’ll tell you how setting a marketing strategy as soon as possible is indispensable if you want to do better.
Your marketing strategy will help you understand and connect to your customers better, but it will also help you realize what your weaknesses are. That can be ideal if you plan to increase sales. Knowing where the gaps in your products or services are can be priceless; the correct marketing strategy can give you that and much more. It can also organize other parts of your business. For example, you can get a better budget assessment with your marketing strategy in hand. So, if you’ve not developed a solid marketing strategy yet, now is the time to get it done.
Don’t Be Afraid of Direct, Clear CTAs
With all the blogs and books on marketing and business mentioning how crucial CTAs are, you’re sure to know what they are and why they matter. A Call to Action (CTA) is a piece of text, usually designed as a banner or a pop-up. It asks visitors or email recipients to perform a specific action. Now, that action can be many things — you can invite a visitor to your blog to read more of your articles or visit one of your landing pages to learn more about your offerings. In recent years, experts have increasingly argued in favor of soft CTAs. That would mean using “Take a Look” instead of saying something like “Buy Now!”
Naturally, the data backs up their claims, and so does commonsense. People don’t like to feel pressured into doing something. But there are cases where a direct CTA can actually work in your favor. Sometimes you’ll get prospects who’ve been in your email nurture program for some time and gone to a few demos but are still undecided. One way to get them over the edge and convert them to customers is to offer them great deals, which I explained above. Whether or not you want to use discounts or deals as an incentive, a direct and clear CTA can make prospects decide one way or another. So, if you’re using email marketing as your primary means of communication, try to include a well-worded CTA that just asks the prospect to buy your product. Don’t hesitate to do the same in your second or third sales meeting. Just go ahead and get them to clarify their position. That way, you can get your priorities straight, spending more time on the prospects more likely to convert into paying customers. That’s not to say you should just abandon the ones who say no. Often, “no” in business can mean “not right now.” You should continue with sending them newsletters and deals, only less frequently. You can read a section I wrote on email frequency and priorities in my article on sales funnels.
Understand and Address Customer Needs and Pains
You may be surprised at this item being on this list. After all, isn’t understanding the needs and pain points of your potential buyer one of the very first things you do? You’re right. It isn’t a tip unique to increasing sales. But it does belong on the list, and here’s why.
When you first start your business, you use any available data and experience to create buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional but accurate representation of your customers. Depending on what and why your customers buy from you, you can have one or more personas. For most businesses, the persona is over and done with at the start. They reach some conclusions, design some marketing campaigns, and continue with the same personas for years. That’s the last thing you want to do. Sure, constantly researching and updating your personas may not be very practical for a small business, but there are ways to reach a solution halfway.
To increase sales and customer retention, you will need to update your personas periodically. With how fast things change these days, it should be obvious that your customers will also change their buying patterns. They may even have different pains and needs compared to when you started your business. A quarterly effort at refreshing your understanding of your customers will go a long way toward achieving more conversion and retention rates. But how do you do that without spending considerable time and money on research? First, you can use a CRM and marketing tool like RunSensible to collect and make sense of all the data you get from your buyers. RunSensible is tailor-made for small businesses, so it’s affordable but offers all the necessary features. Plugging in the information you get from a CRM into your personas is an excellent way of keeping them updated.
Another inexpensive but effective way is to use short, pleasant customer surveys every quarter. Nothing will tell you more about your potential and existing customers than the customers themselves. Of course, you should consider that nobody likes filling out questionnaires and long forms of multiple-choice questions. So, make sure to keep your questions to a minimum, make them exciting, and add an incentive.
Integrate your Social Media into your Sales Funnel
Social media channels are like a marketing shortcut in your sales funnel. First of all, these platforms provide the opportunity to expand your branding and get more people to know you. Secondly, with the right content and sales strategy, there are many options on social media platforms to turn your audience into buyers. Facebook and Instagram ads can help you reach out to more people interested in your products, and Twitter can be a great platform to promote your brand voice and share retweets of your customers. You can also link your website shop to Instagram shop and make a direct path for your customers on social media. Your marketing can bloom with campaigns and promotions. You can also use affiliate marketing with influencers on social media platforms to increase sales. These are a few examples of how social media channels can speed things up in your sales funnel.
Give them a Taste: Giveaways and Trials
If only your prospects could see how good your products and services are, they wouldn’t hesitate to buy them. That’s what copywriting, and marketing is all about, right? Well, there is an affordable, simple way to actually get your prospects to experience the value you can add first-hand. You must only remember that increasing sales may sometimes mean accepting a slightly lower profit margin at the beginning. I’m talking about giveaways and trials, of course.
Suppose you have a small business designing and selling accessories made with leather alternatives. You can, and should, invest in content and email marketing to showcase your fine work and quality material. But what works like a charm is organizing a giveaway event. Giveaways are like free trials for businesses dealing in physical products. By giving a few items away, you can get considerable exposure on social media as well as excellent social proof. Naturally, you need to take some measures to ensure getting the most out of the event. For starters, you should run a social media campaign declaring your giveaway. You’ll also need a dedicated landing where you can countdown to the event and then list the winners’ names. You can pick the candidates from your followers on social media or ask people to sign up for a chance to win free merch (which doubles as a lead magnet). Here’s something else to think about: when you do give out the products, ask the lucky winners to offer their comments. You can also ask them to share the prize and their comments on it on their social media if they’re satisfied with the product. That’s an excellent way of getting quality social proof (see next section to learn more).
The same principle applies to free trial licenses or even trial versions if you’re offering apps or services. Needless to say, there are some differences. You can’t provide trials only to a lucky few. Free trials are instead a way to get as many people as possible to try your apps or services. Some software companies create a free or trial version of their apps, which comes with limited functionality. If the user wants the more attractive features, they need to pay for the full, commercial version. Of course, that can be a bit hard to pull off without straining your budget and time-to-market. So, my recommendation is to go with a free trial valid for 7 or 14 days. Data shows these to ideal lengths for maximizing eventual sales.
Don’t Forget Social Proof
In the previous section, I briefly spoke about giveaways as a way to get social proof. But what is social proof? And how does it help you increase sales? Social proof can be defined as integrating what customers have said about you into your marketing efforts. For example, testimonials (or reviews) are one of the tried-and-true methods for adding social proof to your landing. A testimonial usually includes a couple of sentences your customer has written to thank you or tell you why they liked what you had to offer. Some customers write something like this spontaneously, whether in an email to you or on their social media page. But it also makes sense to ask your customers for any kind but honest words they may have to say about your business. Naturally, testimonials should also contain the name of the customer and a link to their social media profile. That will show new visitors that they’re written by real people instead of a content creator.
Another aspect of social proof is how active you are on social media. That may seem irrelevant, but people tend to trust businesses with active social media pages more easily. That works even better if you take the time to answer any comments or complaints your customers or prospects may voice on social media. It shows people how committed you are to satisfying your customers, that you’re not just about making a quick buck. So, try to put in the time, or put some budget aside to hire a social media officer or administrator to keep your social media accounts going. That may be a bit challenging for small businesses, so wherever possible, try to take over yourself. Even if you can’t be constantly present, it’s better to be there part of the time than not at all.
That’s it — you just finished (hopefully) reading through all 12 tips for increasing sales for your small business. Now, is there anything else you can do? If you have already implemented as many of these tips as you can, it may be time to start with deeper, more fundamental solutions. You could, for example, try to create or improve your sales funnel or automate your sales process. To ensure more sales and conversion rates, you will also need the right tools. I’ve mentioned this a few times in this article and I’ll mention it here again. Even if you run a very small business with a handful of employees, you’re the right size for a CRM and marketing tool like RunSensible, which is optimized for small businesses. With RunSensible, you can get more out of every one of these tips, turning them into an edge over the competition. With our cloud-based SaaS CRM, you’ll be up and running without needing to spend time and money implementing the software. Try RunSensible for free and discover for yourself how it streamlines your entire sales process, helping you sell better while saving time.