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

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

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: April 29, 2013 Updated: September 27, 2016

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
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