Online commerce is no longer a secondary source of revenue for many businesses. ComScore reported that online spending for Black Friday this year alone amounted to $1.2 billion, a 15 percent increase over last year’s numbers! Coinciding with the boom in online sales is a boom in online advertising. Online advertising is more effective than ever at reaching online consumers, particularly the coveted 18-to-49 demographic.
Those figures are sending a strong message not only to retailers, but to independent sales outfits as well: the digital consumer cannot be ignored. Sales professionals resisting new technologies and online marketing tools are more than likely leaving tons of money on the table, and their strategies are growing more outdated by the minute. Traditional sales strategies like cold-calling and referrals systems still have their place, but they need to be complemented by a modern strategy that embraces new sales opportunities found online. If you’ve been avoiding online sales work, it’s time to catch up with the times. Here are some tips to get you started:
Deliver a newsletter via email
Email is a tried-and-true method of generating business and retaining customers for future sales. It’s worth your time to build an list of email subscribers to whom you can send a regular email newsletter. You can promote your business, share recent news and encourage consumers to contact you if they have any questions or current sales needs. You can continue using this email list time and time again to generate business and increase revenues. As Velaro.com notes, it’s easy, low maintenance, and effective.
Set up social media accounts — and use them
Social media is highly effective and highly essential. As MediaPost.com notes, the true value of social media can be hard to quantify, especially with such great variance in how these profiles are utilized. It’s safe to say, though, that online sales efforts need to use social outlets. According to Nielsen, 44 percent of all smartphone owners access social networks while consuming other media, and 29 percent also use their phone for commerce-related activities. Establishing these social accounts can be a daunting task for business owners that aren’t particularly tech-savvy, but all of the major social networks have easy start-up processes that explain themselves to users in very simple, easy-to-follow terms.
Set up Facebook, Twitter and other social accounts, connect with customers and engage with them. Share useful information as well as your own original content. This establishes both your brand recognition and your personal reputation as an expert in your field. As your social media following grows, so will your revenues. And once you have these profiles set up, the day-to-day maintenance can be very minimal — as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day to keep yourself visible while expanding your brand’s social reach.
Offering industry-relevant info through a blog
Blogs are a great way of not just generating traffic, but demonstrating your expertise to prospective consumers. The primary rule with blog posts is that you make them relevant to the consumers you are targeting. If you sell mortgages, then you’ll want to have a blog that offers tips on home ownership — financing, house-hunting and other aspects related to your business and your services.
You can promote your blog through established social media channels, but as ZDNet notes, it also pays to target specific keywords that customers will probably use in online searches when trying to find your business. Integrating those keywords into your blog posts will increase their odds of being highly valued by search engines, which will lead to organic traffic you might not find anywhere else.
Set up a website geared toward lead generation
The insurance industry depends heavily on lead generation to drive continued sales, and the internet has become a key source of these leads. Automotive insurance salespersons, for example use a wide range of online resources, including QuoteWizard car insurance leads and other online lead generation tools, to find online clients searching the web for an affordable solution. Depending on your sales industry, similar lead generation tools might already exist, but you can also supplement existing channels by setting up a business website geared toward creating new lead opportunities.
If you already have a blog, this is a very simple process. The best way to set yourself up for leads is to end each blog article with a call to action — in other words, encourage the consumer to contact you for no-pressure, no strings attached information. Each call to action should include a link to a separate page where basic contact info can be filled out and submitted.
Only ask for the basics like name, phone number and email — this way you increase their odds of filling out the form. When they do, you have yourself a lead you can pursue for a potential sale. Once set up, this process is easy to maintain, as your website and blog will continue to generate new leads in addition to your existing resources.