Chances are you mostly see headlines centered around the peaks and valleys of business life, because let’s face it — those make for the most interesting stories. But there’s a lesser-discussed, yet just as common state of operations that can be extremely troublesome and downright annoying for business owners across industries: The dreaded sales plateau.
Sure, experiencing a sales plateau is not the worst thing that could happen to your business. But even if sales are stable, most business owners want more. They want growth. Of course, earning more revenue is easier said than done. Maybe you don’t know where to begin finding areas for growth, or maybe the tactics you’ve tried for growing sales haven’t worked so far.
Don’t fear — this article may just contain the advice and inspiration you need to start the upward climb once again.
Assessing The Issues
In order to overcome your sales plateau you must first figure out where the issue stems from. That means taking a deep dive into your analytics to determine the answer to two questions: are you simply not driving enough traffic to your site or are you driving traffic but failing to convert visitors into customers?
Rest assured that both are common eCommerce business afflictions and both are completely curable. Once you’ve determined the issue you want to target (or have decided there’s room for improvement on both fronts), there are a few key approaches that will help you overcome your sales plateau and see growth once again.
If you’re failing to drive traffic you simply aren’t pushing enough prospective customers to your store, so it won’t matter how unique your products are or how compelling your site experience is. Your opportunity for sales will be limited. Try upping your efforts in three key areas: SEO, Multi-channel selling, and Content marketing SEO. Think about the last time you used Google’s search function.
For most of us, it was within the last couple hours. Now, think about how many times you’ve ventured past the first page of search results to find what you need — probably not often. This is why search engine optimization (SEO) is important. In an increasingly saturated online marketplace, consumers don’t have time — or need — to scroll through pages of results. So your business needs an SEO strategy to have a fighting chance at appearing in the first page of search results.
The first page of search results is the holy grail for your products, and you won’t get there without SEO. To get your SEO strategy up to speed, first test yourself and your site’s current SEO health with these four questions:
Can Google find my site?
Don’t assume that Google knows your site exists. Create a sitemap, implement microdata to improve search results and use Google’s Search Console to highlight key elements of your site.
Can Google crawl my site?
What’s the number one rule of the Internet? Play nice with Google. If Google’s bots have issues crawling your page due to technical difficulties or numerous reroutes, you will suffer by ranking lower in search results due to the bots’ inability to find valuable content related to the searcher’s query. Find out if you have errors by using Google’s Crawl Error reporting tool.
Can Google index my site?
Ever wondered how a search engine works? Once Google crawls pages, it then indexes pages that are deemed valuable by containing content related to what online visitors are searching for. Use Google’s Index report to ensure your pages can be found and is indexed for the appropriate keywords.
Can Google rank my site?
Once your pages have been crawled and indexed, Google will rank your site based on more than 200 factors. This includes: keyword volume, search intent, and how many sites you’re competing with for various keywords. If the idea of incorporating SEO into your marketing strategy intimidates you, you’re not alone. Google constantly changes its algorithm, making SEO a hard nut to crack even for professionals. But what doesn’t change is that an informative, clear, and well-organized site is always good for SEO.
You may have noticed that when you search for products on Google, you’re presented first with thumbnails of Google Shopping results. If your business is having trouble reaching enough eyeballs, posting your products on Google Shopping can be a great way to stand out from the search results and drive more sales.
Peter Baseio (founder and CEO of baby product company Organic Munchkin) connected his BigCommerce account to Google Shopping to reach new customers with rich, visual ads. “Google Shopping allows our products to be listed in a visual format, increasing brand awareness for our niche market, as well as revenue,” said Baseio. “It has tripled our revenue stream, bringing in customers we never knew we had access to.” Selling on online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and even Facebook can also help you increase the size of your audience pool.
While these platforms take a cut of your profits, they bring in enough extra revenue to quickly pay for themselves. Once a visitor has purchased from you on one of these marketplaces, you can add them to your email list. Now you can reach out directly to drive future purchases. If adding more channels sounds like a lot of work, make sure your ecommerce business platform supports multi-channel management. If it does, you can upload your products at the click of a button and sync inventory automatically across channels.
Content Marketing SEO
It’s no secret content marketing is helping even the smallest of brands reach audiences around the world. Sharing blogs, videos, customer stories, infographics and other content that’s relevant to your visitors. This can instill and build trust in your brand, expand brand awareness and drive traffic to your site. You can rely on a mix of creating your own original pieces and sharing others’ content. The key is to ensure it’s relevant to your audience, interesting enough to be shared and on-brand for your store.
Here are a few tips for creating content that boosts traffic:
– Determine the highest-value topics
Try to find your niche or long-tail keywords that will make it easier for consumers to find your content.
– Use Google to search
Search for terms related to your products to find what people are interested in. Then work to find a new, unique angle you can present to your readers.
– Seek out the competition
While searching for related content on Google, you will also be able to identify your toughest competitors. Once you’ve written a list of your top competitors, use Buzzsumo.com to keep tabs on their content and promotion strategies.
– Share (and reshare) your content
Writing a great piece of content takes time and so does getting it into the right hands. Make the most of your efforts by sharing your content on social media and in email campaigns.
– Get more backlinks with guest blogging
Find sites who share the same audience and ask to write a guest blog for their site. This offers you the chance to link to your own site within the post, diverting some of that site’s readers to your own site. This will help you look more “legitimate” to Google, who factors in reputable referral traffic into your SEO ranking.
– Extend your content with PPC
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising leverages a platform like Facebook or Google. It delivers targeted ads to specific audience members, certain demographics or people who have visited your site.
Once you’ve worked hard to create your content, don’t let it go to waste. Check out this blog for more ideas on driving sustained traffic to your content and this post for 30 ways to drive more traffic to your site.
If you’re failing to convert traffic or create return customers:
For most businesses, return customers should be the bread and butter of your revenue stream. There are a variety of tools to help you track your web visitors’ actions. You will be able to: determine how they are coming to your site, how often they return to your site, and where they are falling off in the buyer’s journey.
Here are a few ways to turn web visitors into repeat customers and keep them coming back to your site — and converting — again and again:
What better way to bring a visitor back to your site than by offering them a deal? Email marketing is the most effective channel for eCommerce sites. Automation tools makes it easy to customize and send campaigns with little work on your end. Set up transactional messages and promotional offers to trigger when someone: visits your site, fills their cart without checking out, or a host of other actions.
Let customers know you can meet their specific needs by creating niche landing pages. Landing pages can be the destination point from a variety of mediums, such as ads, emails or social media posts. Here’s a great example of a landing page done right by My Magic Mud:
Your existing customers can be one of your best marketing resources. Today’s online shoppers are overwhelmed with choices, and 92% rely on online reviews and testimonials to help guide their purchasing decisions. Testimonials and reviews not only help drive conversions, they are also useful in cross-selling, up-selling and driving up the average order value (AOV) per purchase due to added brand trust. They can also serve as content.
A customer quote could be placed on a graphic and posted across social media platforms. Learn more about the other ways customer testimonials can be utilized to grow your customer base and revenue.
Checkout Page Optimization
After all of your efforts to increase traffic to your site, don’t lose your hard-earned visitor at the final step of conversion. The checkout page is a frequently overlooked and undervalued marketing tool. After all, you’re asking customers to entrust you with their payment and personal information, as well as their cash. It is imperative to continue building the trust you began to instill through your ads, landing pages, content and website by nailing the checkout page.
Here are a few common barriers that cause customers to abandon their cart on the checkout page:
Additional fees, such as shipping and taxes, were too costly when added to final price They didn’t want to create an account The checkout process was lengthy or complex The website had errors or crashed They didn’t trust the store with their personal and payment information Many of these barriers causing cart abandonment are easily avoidable by creating a user-friendly, simple and transparent check out experience — this blog has tips for optimizing your checkout page. If your revenue growth has gone stale, there’s no need to panic. As you can see, there are quite literally hundreds of marketing tactics you can employ to reach new visitors and attract old customers once again.
Once you pick a new approach, test, test and test again until you find what works best for your brand, and remember to celebrate every little bit of success along the way.
Author: Amanda Farmer
Amanda Farmer is a BigCommerce researcher and copywriter. She is also the principal at Dreamtown Creative, a marketing firm working with Fortune 500 companies to grow revenue through online initiatives and campaigns. Her deep understanding of branding, content marketing and storytelling across a wide variety of platforms has won her multiple awards, including placement as a Screenplay Competition Finalist at the Austin Film Festival.