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More Than Just a Sales Portal – 5 Ways to Jazz up Your Online Store

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More Than Just a Sales Portal – 5 Ways to Jazz up Your Online Store

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: April 29, 2013

What does your online storefront look like? How are you attracting customers to purchase a product they can’t touch, feel or try until it arrives on their doorstep?

This is a common, yet often overlooked, problem for small business owners who sell exclusively online through their own site or a third party site like Etsy or eBay. You might sell the most exquisite artisan product, but if you don’t present it effectively, shifting inventory might be harder than you think.

The lynchpin of small business success, whether online or off, often comes down to your differentiators – things like your core values, customer service and responsiveness, unique products, and community involvement.

But without a physical storefront or face-to-face contact with customers, how do you weave all this into your online marketing strategy? Here are five ways to jazz up your online store.

1) Tell Your Story

One of the easiest ways to connect and appeal to online consumers is to tell your story. If you’ve planned your business and marketing strategy, then you should know enough about your target market to know what resonates and from there develop an online content strategy that they will respond to. For example, say you run an online store that sells organic cupcakes, sourced from locally produced ingredients; you could showcase the inspiration behind the business using the “About Us” section. You could also elaborate from there to showcase the vendors that you work with to source your ingredients.

Don’t forget to introduce yourself and the team behind your business. What’s your story/passion? What did you do before this? How did you get started? What are your goals?

Use plenty of images and videos if you can. For example, post a quick video intro or welcome message to virtually greet your customers.

2) Use Polished and Engaging Images

Images are an essential part of any online store. Consider hiring a professional photographer or even a friend who’s good behind the camera to take good quality photos of the products you sell. Spend some time ensuring the photos are user-friendly from a flow and lay-out perspective; that they can be easily shared on social media; and are truly representative of your brand.

What about your logo? What does it say about your brand? Is it memorable? Again, it’s worth spending time and money getting it right.

Check out this quick video from Google and SBA that shows how Harlem, NY-based small business –  Make My Cake – transformed its website and increased sales through the use of stylish imagery.

3) Build Community

Use social media to extend your online presence. Go where your customers are and give them the opportunity to interact directly with you – whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn or online forums and message boards. Promote your social media presence on your website, in emails, etc. You can even branch out and extend your online store to Facebook. Read more in these blogs:

4) Ask for Feedback

Another effective way to engage with your customers beyond the transaction itself is to seek feedback. Online surveys, polls, and social media discussions all afford an opportunity to better get to know your consumers. Consider adding product rating or review options to your online store and keep an eye on your third party review listings (Yelp, OpenTable, Google+ Local, etc.).

5) Blog!

Blogs are incredibly important to online businesses – they improve your search engine rankings, personalize your website, give people a reason to keep coming back, and give you an indirect way to promote all that you do.

What should you write about? How do you get started? These blogs have loads of tips and are some of the most popular blogs on SBA.gov:

More Tips

For more tips for creating an engaging online experience, read guest blogger, SmallBizTrends’ Anita Campbell’s article: 8 Ways to Develop Online Content for Your Business – Even if You Hate to Write.

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

Where much of the information here is gleaned, IT support should support the business, rather than the business support the IT support team.
Social media become more prevalent.They are playing a huge role in promoting online business.We should make the most of it.
We can see our own shortcomings from Feedback .
This is a common, yet often overlooked, problem for small business owners who sell exclusively online through their own site or a third party site like Etsy or eBay. You might sell the most exquisite artisan product, but if you don’t present it effectively, shifting inventory might be harder than you think.
Use social media to extend your online presence. Go where your customers are and give them the opportunity to interact directly with you – whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn or online forums and message boards. i yhink that it is the best method for the business the ccommunity good means your relationsghip comes into the perfection. it is also you always get the attention and the feedback of them
Thanks Caron again for feedback. What we usually like to do to create a good online presence is educate our customers. We have gotten much feedback from them and they love the knowledge that we supply to them. We do exactly what do discuss in this article and it works great. Thanks!
One of the reasons that blogging is such an effective way to promote your business website is that so few small businesses do it. Not only does it tell the search engines that your website is updated on a regular basis, but it also gives you the opportunity to tell your story a little bit at a time whereas if you do so on your website and see like you are blowing your own horn (something which will turn off many potential customers). Of course, promoting your blog will become just as important and perhaps more important is more your online store website so make sure you take time each month to write a new post that's interesting to your existing and potential customers.
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One of the best ways to pump up your site is to add video. It doesn't have to be professionally produced; it can even be shot with your iPhone or your computer's web cam. Lighting and audio is important though. You can purchase lights and mics that are compatible with your phone. Video keeps visitors on your site longer, too.
As a Type 1 online shopper, I I listen to my "Oh, I love that!" response, but I'm more careful now to notice if it ranks as a 10 (out of 10) or just perfect for me. Those I buy right away. Other items I love, but am not so sure they are 10s. Those I bookmark and look at the a day or two later. Do I still feel that "love it" feeling? Is it a 10? If so, then I'll probably buy it. If not, then I may look again a few days later. The more times I look, the less likely I'll buy it.

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