Whether you have a digital product, physical product or service, making sales online is both an art and science. The best and challenging part about selling online is that there is no “one size fits all” formula to plug right into your business. Clearly, there are techniques that you can use to create a successful online business, but out of the box thinking and creativity play a major role in your online sale success. That’s why not all online businesses survive, but also have the potential to absolutely thrive.
Running an online sales machine may not be for the faint of heart, but once you find what works for your unique business and brand, the possibilities can be endless – monetarily and in your lifestyle. Imagine being able to run a business from anywhere in the world or be able to have your website make money for you while you sleep while serving the people who need you most.
If you’re new to selling online, I am going to break down 6 steps for you to get you on your way to next-level selling in your online business.
Step 1 for a Successful Online Business – Define your ideal customer
Trying to sell to an audience you haven’t taken the time to get to know is like arbitrarily talking to a busy crowd and expecting that one special person so far away to hear you. Trying to sell to a potential customer or client that you’ve taken the time to get to know makes all the difference in your online selling success.
You want your potential customer to have “me too” moments when they see your product or marketing content. What I mean is that you want to get on your ideal customer’s level so they can completely relate to your brand and the solution you are providing them with via your product. Getting to this point means that you must get up close and personal with who your ideal customer is.
The initial step to selling online and serving your ideal audience is defining exactly who they are. From there, you can get to know them on a more intimate level so you can truly connect with them. This will serve as a way to build a relationship with them instead of speaking in general terms to everyone.
When you get to know your audience and potential customers on a more intimate level, you can speak directly to them and they’ll wonder where you and your product have been their whole life. Then they will thank you endlessly for finally finding you.
Connection is the key to selling online. When you take the time to understand and get to know your audience it comes through in your initial product creation, marketing techniques, and social media content you create to build your audience. It is how you can connect with your audience offline and online.
It is especially important to understand your customer in your online business when you are writing your copy. Since you are selling online and not face-to-face, your typed language and communication is the avenue that creates a connection to your customer. When you try to connect with everyone, you really don’t connect with anyone.
Your brand style and graphics should also be used to connect with your audience. You want to choose a style to attracts your ideal customers so that when they stumble upon your website they are immediately drawn in. Visuals are the first things your potential customers will see and you have about 2 seconds to make an impression online. You are able to build and design a brand your customers love once you’ve researched who they are and what visuals turn them on. We’ll be discussing this more in detail in part 2 of this series so stay tuned!
Here’s exactly how you can define your ideal customer in two key areas.
Ideal Customer Demographics – Get clear about their basic information – age, occupation, income level, gender, marital status etc. Where do they hang out online and offline? I see many businesses stop here and this does a major disservice to their business and the customers that need them the most so list out as much information here as you can.
Ideal Customer Psychology – What personality traits does your ideal customer have? What life philosophies do they live by? What keeps them up at night? What excites your ideal customer to buy your product? What fears does your ideal customer have about buying your product? What roadblocks does your ideal customer need to overcome in order to buy your product?
If you want to take this a bit further, try visualizing yourself as your ideal customer. Then write a journal entry as them. This will help you step inside their mind so you can get to know them on a more intimate level. Write about their typical day, their struggles, or anything that comes to you.
After you’ve done this work and answered the above questions and written as your ideal customer, it’s best to picture your ideal customer as only one person. This one person will represent your audience as a whole, but will help you get specific with your language. This will also alleviate you from connecting with them in more general terms in your marketing efforts.
This may seem silly at first, but give your ideal client a name or even have a photo of them. If you can visualize them as someone you actually know in real life then that’s even better. Whenever you write copy refer back to this one person and speak to only them. This will help you use a more defined way of communication so that when your ideal customer stumbles upon your product or content they will feel the effort you took to understand them and get inside their world. They will also feel like you are speaking directly to them.
Here are a couple more ways to get even more insight on your ideal customer…
If you have customers already, get in contact with them, build a relationship with them, ask them questions that will give you more helpful information into their world.
If there’s a forum or facebook group you know your ideal customers are active and present in, get in there and check out their common questions, comments, and concerns.
Make a list of every characteristic you can think of that represents your ideal customer. What is their favorite food, favorite places, where do they travel, etc.? List everything you can, no matter how random it feels. The more information the better.
This entire process of getting to know your ideal customer doesn’t have to be permanently written in stone. You can continually finesse this exercise as you, your products, and your business grow and evolve. Never stay bound to your ideal customer profile if you see your business changing.
Also, when you speak to a group of people in your online sales pitch, you have to remember that your customer isn’t reading this with a group of people. They are most likely reading this solo so speak to them directly instead of your audience as a whole or group.
Step 2 for a Successful Online Business – See your product through your customer’s eyes
Now that you have the first step mastered, seeing your product through your potential customer’s eyes will take you to the next level.
Something that I see over and over with new online businesses is getting too close to your product that you lose touch with outside perspective at which your potential customer’s view of your products. You can also get too attached to the process in which you sell it. This applies to both physical products like makeup, clothing, furniture or a digital product like an ebook, online course, or digital download.
In theory, stepping away from your product and putting yourself in your potential customer’s eyes and shoes is a piece of cake. Going through this the right way can really take your product and sales techniques to a whole new level. Also, doing this can give you a deeper insight into why your customer would want your offering and how you can make it more appealing and clear in the process.
Here’s an example – Company x sells these genius backpacks made specifically for travelers. These backpacks can convert into a larger backpack for longer trips and a smaller pack for day trips. There are amazing features like hidden inside pockets, extremely durable material, and comes in 10 colors. If you’ve created this backpack then you know how awesome it is and how your ideal customers absolutely need this product to solve their most vital challenges as a seasoned traveler. But just because you know how incredible it is, doesn’t mean your potential customers know this.
Now company x can put themselves in their customer’s shoes and pretend they are seeing their product with the freshest eyes. Since their product has so many interesting, attractive features they need a way to educate and showcase this to their potential buyers. This can be an intriguing video right smack on their homepage that describes their product in detail. It can show someone wearing it, how they use it, and all of the various colors it comes in.
If you have a digital product like an online course you can do this technique by actually going through and taking your course in the mindset of your potential customer. Would they understand these concepts clearly? How can you translate what your potential customer will get out of the course via your marketing techniques and sales page?
In order to do this in an effective way, you have to reach the level of your potential customers which is a level at which they’ve never seen your product before. You need to step inside their world and get to know your own product through their eyes so you can have the right language to reach them and provide effective educational techniques to perfectly describe your brilliant product.
Step 3 for a Successful Online Business – Build an audience by giving them a reason to follow you
Now you know who your ideal customer is and you’re on your way to knowing how they see your product. When you launch your product or start with your marketing efforts, you need an audience via social media or your email list. If you’re wondering how the heck you are going to do that, then I’m going to walk you through how to gather the people who will be interested in your product.
Building an audience takes time and patience. Every single successful business or brand once started with 1 follower. Yes, some grow faster than others, but I want you to focus on quality over quantity when you are first building your audience. Having a large number of followers for the sake of having them doesn’t get you anywhere if they aren’t even interested in your business or won’t convert into customers.
In order to attract that audience that will truly serve your business, you need to give your audience a reason to follow to you and provide value. You have to think in terms of what you audience will get out of it. This might seem harsh, but your audience isn’t interested so much in you and your business, but they are interested in the value that you can give them. I know, it may seem selfish but once you are aware of this you can create value that gives your audience a reason to follow you and continually stick around for more.
Think about the reasons you follow some of your favorite accounts. Go through some of your favorite Instagram accounts and take note of why you follow them. It’s almost always because they provide you with some sort of value.
Here are the 3 different value categories you can provide your audience via social media, email marketing, other forms of consistent content.
Education – This is about providing extremely valuable information that can assist your audience in learning something new + related to your industry and product you provide. Example – If you sell online courses on DIY copywriting, then providing insanely valuable tips on writing on Instagram, Twitter, your blog, etc. will be helpful for your audience.
Inspiration – Inspiration can be both visual or written. If you have a visual business, providing visual inspiration for your work or something similar gives your audience a go-to hub when they need a visual pick-me-up. You can also provide inspiration via motivational quotes. Some of my favorite social media accounts are a curation of mind-blowing visual and written inspirational content. Example – If you are a photographer, you can use your photographs as visual inspiration to inspire your audience and show off your brilliant skills.
Entertainment – This can be through stories, making people laugh, or an epic video that entertains your audience. Obviously, this is great for entertainers, but you can use this in your own business to add another piece of value to your content. Use your own personality and your brand’s personality to entertain or make someone laugh. Example – If you are doing a promotional video, put your unique personality in it and use it as a way to not only promote your product but entertain as well. Some videos or pieces of marketing content that go viral lead with entertainment.
You can focus on one if it relates most to your business and brand, but don’t feel obliged to stick to one as you can provide all three if it makes sense for you and serving your audience. When you are creating content to grow your audience, lead with value. By doing this you will attract an audience who falls head over heel in love with you and your products and offerings.
Step 4 for a Successful Online Business – Create insanely amazing, valuable, and consistent free content
Building trust is key to selling online. Creating consistent free content lets your customer know you and your business before they buy. You can create free consistent content via your blog, videos, or anything else you can come up with that would serve your audience weekly or daily. This is a hugely important part of the selling online process as you want to lead with heart and value in how you can truly serve your potential customers.
You want to give your audience a window into your genius and showcase your expertise in the best light. By doing this the right customers won’t be able to resist your product because they’ll already know the massive value they are about to get their hands and minds on.
Another reason to make this content so value-packed is the share-worthy factor. They will also absolutely share this with their friends if they know it will be of some value to them as well. There is nothing more powerful than a recommendation and a “you must check this out” message from a friend or colleague.
Always make your free content irresistible. Don’t create filler content because then you are losing the entire goal of creating this content in the first place. When you feel like you are starting to create content just for the sake of being consistent than it’s time to stop. It always is better to create inspired epic content than forced mediocre content.
You need to find a type of content that works for both you and your audience. Don’t feel pressured to stick to weekly blog posts if you hate blogging. If you completely jive and love being on camera, try videos. I want you to take into account what you love doing so you don’t get burned out. Also, take into account what type of content or medium will be best for your audience to absorb.
Is your audience already hanging out on youtube daily? Then do videos! If your audience is all about reading blogs and articles then take this into account too. This will take some experimenting and testing but once you find what type of free content you can deliver you’ll be able to build an even deeper relationship with your potential customers.
You wouldn’t jump into a serious dating relationship without knowing someone, right? It’s the same with your customers. They want to get to know you and trust you before they buy. Create content that is so epic and useful for them. Always, always lead with value and you can never go wrong here. Once they have seen and experienced you via this content then you have more of an in to ask for the sale than ever before.
Step 5 for a Successful Online Business – Ask for the sale!
You won’t get any sales unless you ask for it. Sometimes this step can get overlooked as we spend a lot of our time and effort in the pre-selling process before actually asking for the sale. I’ll cover two ways you can ask for sales if you have an online offering that you sell via a sales page and if you have an ecommerce store of either digital or physical goods.
If you have an e-course that you are selling online, e-book, or another type of digital offering then a well designed and well-written sales page is key to asking for the sale. Taking all the previous steps into account will take your sales page to the next level. Now is the time to inform your audience about your product and ask for the sale. You can use your sales page as genuine guidance to lead your ideal customer to buy your offering.
Don’t get lost in the flashy copy and graphics on your sales page, remember the true purpose of your sales page is to inform, explain, and then ask for the sale.
If you have an ecommerce store of many products together (either digital or physical goods) then make sure you “add to cart” or “buy buttons” are designed well and are clear and concise on what your customers should do if they decide to buy. Make the process easy for them. And as always, try going through the process as if you were your ideal customer.
Step 6 for a Successful Online Business – Celebrate and keep going
Online business success often doesn’t happen overnight. Having a good mindset can truly help with getting overwhelmed and burning out. Celebrating the success not only gets you in a good mindset but allows you to have fun while you do it. Get that champagne when you make a sale, have that long-needed dance break, or simply celebrate with your friends and family when you reach a milestone or have some kind of win.
I know you’ll never forget the first sale that comes through that is not from your friends and family. Celebrate the heck out of it. Then celebrate all the successes no matter how small or big. By doing this, you are inviting more success in and this does wonders for your mindset. Trust me, this makes all the difference in online business.
Keep your eye on the prize and always lead with the value you can provide your customers. Keep building your tribe, create your heart out, and continue serving your audience. In no time, you will take your online business to major success and have fun along the way.