For anyone that’s tried to sell products online (whether successfully or unsuccessfully), they’ll tell you it’s no walk in the park. It requires patience, a good product, a great offer, fine-tuned targeting and an enticing message that makes people want to click and buy. That’s why I’ve created this article. I want to show you how to get more sales online using straightforward and easy-to-implement digital advertising strategies.

Outline

  1. Effective Targeting
  2. Product & Market Research
  3. Your Unique, Irresistible Offer
  4. Engagement: Creatives & Unique Angles
  5. Testing
  6. Retargeting
    1. Plus a step-by-step tutorial to get quick results!
      1. *Note: This method requires that you have existing customers/data/email list
  7. Optimization & Best Practice Strategies
  8. Traffic Strategies – Paid VS Free

Even though the methods below are presented with social media advertising in mind, the core concepts easily transfer over into other methods (including free promotional strategies). As such, I’ve included a discussion at the end of this post for the various channels you can explore as a business owner to get more traffic, prospects and sales online.

OK let’s dive in and kick things off with the first step to successfully selling online: Effective targeting!

*This post contains affiliate links, which I may receive compensation from. This is at no cost to you and lets me keep the lights on. Read more here…

1. Effective Targeting

This is the marketer’s elephant in the room. It’s no surprise that effective targeting is the backbone for any successful marketing campaign. 

Your offer, messaging and creatives should all be created with a specific, niche audience in mind. It’s good practice to also try layering your interests as a way to niche down and segment with greater precision.

For example, let’s imagine you’re selling backpacks. You could broadly target a variety of audiences, such as university students, young professionals or travelers (and you should target these different groups individually and with different campaigns). 

However, these groups are way too general, so we should niche down with more targeted specifications.

Niche Down

Let’s imagine you’re targeting travelers with a well-designed traveler bag, which is perfectly sized as a carry-on, durable and culturally influenced.

You could niche-down by focusing on travelers that also like Japan and Japanese culture. The bag could then have some type of Japanese component attached to it. 

Or you could have some special Japanese related bonus to offer anyone that purchases the bag.

As another segmenting example, you could also niche-down by targeting travelers that also like technology. Your traveler bag offer would then highlight some technological component to it, such as a built-in phone charger or some sort of smart technology. 

You could also highlight the pain of a low battery while flying or during a rushed layover and how the bag’s tech solves that problem.

Either way, you want to explore and test different targeting and customer segmenting. This will increase the attractiveness, uniqueness and overall success of your marketing campaigns.

Know Your Market & Define Your Sales Funnel

what is Facebook retargeting

What if you don’t have extensive knowledge about your market? Or perhaps you don’t have an existing customer list from which to gain insights from. 

This is where product and market research comes into play and this is something that should be carried out regardless of existing customers, market experience and previous campaign successes. 

Researching a new potential market or audience is vital to expand a business. This topic is discussed in more detail below, but I’ll note here that these will be prospects will be at the top end of your sales funnel. 

That is, they won’t know you or trust you yet and you must therefore spend time earning their trust and building a relationship first before selling anything.

So when marketing, it’s important to consider the stage that your target audience is on in the buying process. It’s vital that you match your offer, messaging, objectives and campaigns to suit the stage that your target prospect is on.

To do this, you should clearly map out your sales funnel (the process of turning a new prospect into a customer) for your particular product, service or offer.

For example, you wouldn’t send a new, cold traffic prospect the same advertisement, messaging and offer as someone who’s previously engaged with an ad or post of yours (or perhaps even visited your website or viewed your product offer before). 

So remember your targeting and where your prospects are in the buyer journey.

$$ Tip Jar  

If you’re running first-time ads to cold traffic, focus on just giving free value, introducing yourself and your brand and starting a relationship. 

Don’t expect to make any sales after a first point of contact. So your messaging, offer and creatives should be giving value first.

2. Product & Market Research

It’s surprisingly easy to get out of touch with our prospects, customers and market. Too often, we “go with our gut” and intuition, believing our product, offer and messaging will resonate with our target audience, when in fact it just doesn’t.

Ignoring proper market research or data-based information greatly hinders our objectivity, campaign effectiveness and profit potential. 

So it’s a critical step to consistently analyze your market and create/adjust your campaigns around the current problems, trends and interests you observe within your target audience.

Here are some simple ways to conduct market research quickly and for free:

  • Create a Survey & Just Ask
    • This would be easiest if you have an existing customer/email list
  • Create An Ideal Customer Avatar (or Use a Real Customer if You Can)
    • Find out (or analyze) things they’re having issues with that could relate to your product/service offer
    • Try to imagine and write down the interests, hobbies, lifestyle habits, values and fears of an ideal customer 
    • Remember, if you try to target everyone, you’ll be spread too thin and essentially target no one, so hone in on one specific profile
    • Here’s a free downloadable customer avatar sheet to help get you started!
  • Look to Amazon or Other Online Marketplaces
    • What are people complaining about?
    • What products and offers are getting the best reviews and why?
    • Create an offer that highlights or focuses on a specific, common problem you see people complaining about often
  • Use Your Competitors & Others’ Successful Campaigns for Inspiration
    • Of course, don’t copy, just use them as inspiration!
  • Join & Engage in Online Group Boards
    • Head over to Facebook and see what people are talking or complaining about and craft an offer around this
    • Start a genuine discussion, gain valuable insights and provide real value to people
    • Ask people for reviews of your product/offer
      • You could conveniently leave out that you’re the merchant and simply ask people for their feedback and whether they think it’s a good offer or not
      • This could potentially result in a few sales (if it’s a good offer)!
  • Use Your Data
    • What has historically worked best for you? 
    • Do you notice any trends in your customer’s engagement and/or purchasing behavior?
  • The Skyscraper Technique
    • Find your top competitor
    • Look at one of their top offers or content pieces
    • Create something similar – but make it better and more enticing by adding more value on top of it

3. Your Unique, Irresistible Offer

I’ve lightly hinted at this aspect of your campaign within this article (with the Skyscraper technique and bonus offers). But it deserves a whole section because it can truly make or break your campaign. 

Customers today have an almost overwhelming amount of options, substitute products and vendors to choose from.

Therefore, it’s in your best interest to create a unique offer that not only differentiates you from your top competitors but also excites your prospects in a way that, at the very least, they remember you. 

This can make your marketing followups way more effective and higher converting (see the retargeting section below for more on this!).

Here are some ways you can make a unique and irresistible offer:

  • Offer Free Bonuses
  • Create A “Package Product” Offer
    • Group related items together under one discounted price and boost overall perceived value
  • Create Urgency
    • Use deadlines, countdowns, one-time offers & limited time sales/offers
  • Try the Free + Shipping Model
    • Basically, you offer something for free and the person only has to pay for the shipping
    • You want to at least break-even here
    • But during checkout, you offer 1-3 complimentary offers, “order bumps”, one-time offers and/or one-click up-sells
    • Very powerful method that will increase your average cart value – but you need to set up this checkout system
    • A software tool like ClickFunnels gives you Free + Shipping templates and can make this process very simple
  • Make It A No-Brainer
    • Make your offer so good and competitive that not showing interest would be more difficult than just ignoring it
    • Use a powerful Lead Magnet to capture emails and build a subscriber list
  • Use Donations & Charity-Based Components in Your Sales Model
    • Giving value is not only the backbone to successful business and marketing, but it’s a common feel-good human trait that you can offer to your consumers
    • People will feel happier buying such ethical products, feeling as though they’ve “done their part”
  • Create & Attach Strong Emotional Elements
    • People buy on emotion, so take advantage of that
    • For example, you could target people who also care about the environment and create an emotionally charged video (using a free platform like Renderforest) about the current negative state of the environment and how your product helps solve or lessen the damage to that global problem
    • This branches off of targeting and segmenting, but can be a powerful way to entice people to buy from you
    • Of course, don’t inflate the truth – be honest and true to your brand, mission and product/service

4. Engagement:
Creatives & Unique Angles

I’ve been dancing around the topic of unique angles – with segmenting and unique targeting – so let’s shine a spotlight on it. 

This is something that should be ingrained in your campaign’s messaging and main objective. It should relate to your core offer and your specific target audience. 

Unique angles can be something that represents your brand image, your specific segmenting or a special detail of your offer. 

Regardless, focusing on a unique angle can help keep you organized and niche.

Aside from considering any potential unique angles, you can also create ads and content with engagement in mind. Fostering communication between you, your brand and your customers establishes a deeper, more meaningful connection. 

A connection that’s not based on just sales and taking your prospects money.

This engagement can be developed through your unique angles, messaging, offer(s) and creatives. 

Let’s take a look at some brief suggestions for increasing engagement:

  • Always Use Professional Video & High Quality Images
  • Explore Using Animated Video
    • Renderforest offers a free way to create animated video
    • Some research suggests that animated videos convert more engagement and higher conversions
  • Create Memes
    • You can piggyback off of existing trends or try creating your own memes for your existing followers
  • Use Quizzes, Calculators & Polls
    • These are inherently engaging and can create a secondary viral effect, especially if the quizzes or assessments reveal some interesting detail about the prospect or customer that they could share with their friends and family
    • If you can tie it back to your business or core offer, then bonus points!
  • Use Altruism
    • Similar to the donations, charity and giving back idea above, showing how your product, business or brand gives back can incentivize people to purchase from you and become a fan – especially if you’re targeting is dialed in and you’re promoting your ideas to suit your audience’s values
    • CSR (corporate social responsibility), B-Corps (benefit corporations) and the like are only expanding as competition increases and transparency expands – and this holds true for businesses and stores of all sizes and industries

5. Testing

Even if every other aspect of your marketing and sales funnel is strategically aligned, without testing you’ll never truly optimize or find the best performing campaign with the highest returns. 

Beyond your core offer, you’ll want to test different audiences, different images and videos and even different messaging, landing pages and retargeting ads.

However, if you’re new to online marketing, this can seem a little overwhelming. So I’m here to tell you not to worry too much. 

Although in a perfect world, we could test every single variable and be fully optimized, it’s just not possible.

So yes, the more variables you can test and gather data from the better, but don’t stress about testing every single thing – just remember that anything is better than nothing!

My recommendation is to at least test different audiences and creatives (videos and images) in the beginning.

From here you can really dial in on your target audience and find what type of ad resonates most with them. 

This alone can be a fantastic start to optimizing your campaign, testing what works (and what doesn’t) and boosting your ROI.

How to Test:

  • Manual Duplication
    • You can duplicate your campaigns, ad sets and ads to keep everything the same, then going in and only changing the variables you want to alter and test for
    • Duplicate the ad sets to change/test a different audience while keeping the ad itself the same
    • Duplicate the ads to change the actual ad creatives, text or headlines and URLs/landing page destinations
  • Dynamic Creatives & Variations
    • Dynamic Creatives – Basically Facebook will let you add different text, images and videos and audience combinations and will automatically go out and optimize your campaign to the best performing variation(s)
      • Be sure to set this feature before publishing, otherwise you need to duplicate the campaign and turn on dynamic creative testing before launching

    • Variations – You can text different text and headlines by selecting “Add Another Option” on the ad level
    • If you run an ECommerce store and have created a catalog, you can also toggle on “Use dynamic formats and ad creative” on the ad set to automatically send ads and product offers to the most relevant audiences based on data

And finally, if you really don’t have the budget or skills to start testing right out the gate, then circle back to market research and look at your competitors (and other popular/successful brands) to see what they’re doing that’s working. 

Look for ads and posts that are getting a lot of engagement and likes. Use these campaigns examples as inspiration (never copy directly) and mimic their formula. 

Look for patterns, scroll through your Facebook or Instagram and save well performing ads to use as references when you’re creating your campaigns.

Here are some general rules of thumb to keep in mind for a good ad:

  • Video Tends to Outperform Other Creatives
  • Use Text Overlay With Videos
    • People more often watch video without the sound on!
  • Keep It Simple & Customize the Content or Messaging Whenever Possible
  • Talk About the Customer Transformation & Give Value
    • Make it enticing and interesting

Recommended Read: How to Use Facebook Dynamic Creative Ads (Social Media Examiner)

6. Retargeting

Although retargeting is at the bottom of this list, it’s the bread and butter of modern digital marketing. It’s your ninja move for creating profitable campaigns.

Without retargeting, you’re simply not going to be making sales at any competitive level. It’s therefore instrumental that you learn how to retarget and start implementing this strategy as soon as possible.

Want to Put Your Retargeting On Autopilot? Check Out How This Innovative Automation Tool Is Getting Insane Results For Businesses!

Retargeting is rather straightforward in theory, but there are multiple methods and many clever gymnastics can be used to take full advantage of this critical marketing technique. 

Here is a short list of some common retargeting strategies:

  • Retargeting Based On Video Views
  • Retargeting Based On Website Page Visited
  • Retargeting Based On Website Pages Not Visited
    • Retarget people that visited the first page of your product purchasing funnel but have not visited the thank you page
    • This is retargeting cart-abandoners (see below) and is actually quite common
  • Retargeting Cart-Abandoners
    • As mentioned above, send specific followup ads to people who added a product to their cart (or started the checkout process) but never finished
    • You do this by simply excluding the appropriate pages within your checkout process that are only seen after purchasing or continuing forward to the next step in the buying process
    • This is an important strategy with a high potential ROI!
  • Retargeting Based On Specific Events
    • Event Retargeting
  • Retargeting For On-Site Behavior
    • Time Spent, Actions Taken, etc.
  • Retargeting Email Subscriber Lists
  • Retargetiing Based On Engagement
    • People Who Clicked On Or Engaged With Previous Posts Or Ads

Step-By-Step Retargeting Guide For Quick Results

The following steps take advantage of the power of retargeting and leveraging the trust of your existing customers and prospects. 

This is a highly effective campaign to start getting results quickly with Facebook ads.

  1. Create A Simple Facebook Ad Retargeting:
    1. Email List Subscribers
      1. You can upload your email list as a custom audience
    2. Website Visitors
      1. Requires you have your Facebook pixel installed with data to use
    3. Cart Abandoners
      1. This should be a separate ad
      2. You’ll also need the Facebook pixel installed
      3. These are people that added a product to their cart, but never completed a purchase
      4. You can even offer an additional discount to further persuade them to make the purchase
      5. Very effective strategy!
  2. Decide On An Enticing Offer
    1. Something free (or heavily discounted) 
    2. A great bonus to show appreciation
  3. Send Your Traffic to a Simple Landing Page
    1. This will be the place where they can claim your offer and/or complete their purchase
    2. If you’re targeting cart-abandoners, then you’ll send them back to the appropriate page in the checkout process

Recommended Read: Creative Solutions – How to Retarget For Video Views

7. Optimization & Best Practice Strategies

Implementing the above techniques can propel your business and marketing forward. But there are still some additional long-term growth strategies that every brand should be developing. 

This section won’t go into too much detail for each of these bonus tips, but leave a comment below if you want to see more content related to these topics!

  • Start Creating More Value-Adding Content
    • Aim for high quality, longer-form, SEO optimized content and keyword rich material
  • Build A Brand & Tell A Story
    • What makes you unique?
    • Why would anyone buy from you? Why would you buy from you?
    • What image are your customers buying into with your product and brand?
  • Create Community & Invite Discussion
    • This echoes the engagement point above, but remember to respond to your customers online and engage with them by asking followup questions and inviting deeper discussions
  • Be Adaptable, Listen to Feedback & Adjust Accordingly
    • Feedback can be difficult to hear, especially if it’s overly critical, but this type of information can be instrumental in your marketing and business development strategy
    • Novices are motivated by positive reviews; Experts prefer negative feedback for growth (Journal of Consumer Research)
  • Have Great Landing Pages
    • Traditional websites do not convert well
    • Landing pages are specific sales pages with one and only one offer and objective
    • Learn more here!
  • Offer One-Click Up-Sells & Special One-Time Offers During Checkout

Recommended Read: 12 Ways to Optimize Your Landing Pages For Conversions

8. Traffic Strategies:
Paid VS Free

As a final section for this post, I want to briefly explore some traffic strategies for running a business and selling products online. This list is not exhaustive and will not go into great detail on how to implement these strategies. 

As such, I will leave a few links to any relevant content.

Please let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more information about a particular area!

Paid Traffic Strategies

Paid traffic solutions are more available, enticing and measurable than ever before. Anyone can create an online store and run highly targeted ads to a specific segment of customers. 

However, doing it strategically requires a more refined approach. 

Still, paid (online) traffic is something any business can implement and can yield impressive results (*with the right strategy and budget).

  • Social Media Ads & Search Engine Marketing
    • Facebook & Instagram
    • YouTube
    • Google & Bing
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Pinterest
    • Snapchat
    • Google, Bing & Yahoo!
    • etc.
  • Influencer Marketing
    • Consider micro-influencers for cheaper solutions (see below)

Free Traffic Strategies

Implementing free traffic strategies (Such as content creation and SEO best practices) is something that every business, large or small, should be doing – regardless of other marketing efforts. 

It’s highly valuable and will enable you to stand out and create your brand image. You will stay relevant in this saturated market of selling products and services online.

  • SEO
    • Google
    • Bing & Yahoo!
    • YouTube
    • Pinterest (see below)
  • Influencer Marketing
    • Go after influencers that have smaller audiences (less than 10,000 even) and you can get cheap or heavily discounted pricing
    • Go after blogs or social media accounts and offer your product/service for free in exchange for a review
    • When pitching to these people, focus on how your product can give value to them and their audience/following
  • Pinterest
    •  Check out this video from Create & Go to learn more!
  • Email Marketing
    • This is perfect if you have an existing email list 
    • Growing an email list is definitely something every business and website owner should add to their business strategy
  • Social Media & Content Creation
    • Create value, entertainment or interesting and engaging content and video and share it
    • Build a following organically
    • This is coupled with SEO and is a long-term strategy, but highly effective and great for brand building and fostering strong, loyal relationships

Conclusion

This post has covered many topics and provided a variety of useful tips and strategies for getting more sales online.

My intention is not overwhelm, but rather present you with the most common and effective strategies that modern marketers and businesses are using to drive sales.

Ultimately, you want to choose a strategy that aligns best with your brand, skills and audience. 

You then want to focus only on that one strategy and develop it thoroughly before adding any additional moving parts. 

This will ensure you give each method a fair chance and learn its applications completely before giving up or moving on to something that’s perceptibly better. 

The reality is that each of these strategies can work wonderfully, if implemented correctly and tested sufficiently. So don’t just try out a method once and move on to another technique if it didn’t pan out as planned or promised. 

Keep testing, learning and improving and know when to pivot and adjust – not quit. 

Well that’s all I’ve got for you today – thanks for reading! 

Comment Below: What’s your biggest obstacle right now for getting more sales online?

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