You’ve honed your product niche, tested website design, and started marketing your first few products. But in spite of all of this investment and dedication, your new platform’s conversion rate just isn’t where you thought it would be—why is this happening?
The answer is: it’s complicated. You might be tempted to start slashing prices or doubting the quality of your product, but there’s a number of reasons why you might be experiencing low sales. The best way to start sorting out the problems and finding solutions is to start looking for the real reasons your products aren’t selling, and that can be difficult, but sometimes there are simple solutions to low sales. Read more to learn about the common problems.
You’re not marketing to the right audience
There’s a difference between launching an e-commerce store and curating it to reflect the specific needs and demands of your target audience. While it may seem best to market to a broad audience to reach more people, it’s better to narrow your focus on a precise demographic.
If you haven’t identified the customers and target demographics your products will connect with, you can be generic. Something for everybody can often become nothing for nobody. Specificity gives you the opportunity to connect emotionally with potential customers. In order to attract the right audience, you need to consider these initial questions:
- “What am I actually selling?” At first glance, the answer might seem obvious, but if you look deeper, you’ll find it’s not just the tangible product for sale—it’s he promise of a particular set of experiences or emotions. For example, if you own an ethical clothing brand, you’re changing the world—along with your customers—not selling t-shirts.
- “Who will the product serve, connect with, and appeal to?” This relates to demographic factors including race or ethnicity, gender, subculture, hobbies or interests, life-stage, area of residence, and economic status. Compiling the statistics of your target audience and distilling them down into actionable marketing focus areas allows you to connect with them on a relevant, authentic, and human level.
- “How will the product be used?” Another way of phrasing this might be, “How can the product’s function benefit my customers?” For example, if you’re selling artisan repurposed home décor to a quirky Millennial crowd, accentuate how the design elements will add a unique, creative feel to their decorating scheme. That can’t be found in a generic housewares store. Better yet, connect with influencers in this space to show how it’s used in real life by people of the target demographic, creating that human factor.
You’re not driving repeat business
Of course, the objective of owning a business is to increase brand recognition and expand the audience reach. But as you pursue new leads, don’t forget those who already support the business and create fresh incentives to keep them coming back. The guide for selling products online from Selz explains:
“Existing customers are the most profitable. Encourage customers to regularly visit your site by updating content regularly, building an email list, and consistently sending out relevant information, and freshening the areas of your site that you feel are under-performing (you can see this using Google Analytics).”
The easiest way to stay in touch with your past customers is to add them to a drip email campaign that includes sales emails, value-add emails, announcements, and deals, and discounts. Your campaign can last as long as you want, allowing you to engage the customers you’ve already won over.
You’re not focused on quality UX
Your product could be the most cutting-edge innovation on the market, but if your platform is not accessible or convenient for the public, it won’t get noticed. This often is the result of issues like poor website design, browser issues, low SEO ranking, confusing navigation, or even a laborious checkout page.
A website that’s confusing to access is bound to lose traffic over time which causes the number of sales to diminish in the process. This is especially true with mobile traffic, which is less patient.
For example, Google reported that as page load time goes on, users are more and more likely to leave. The probability of users bouncing for a page that takes 3 seconds to load is 32 percent—that jumps to 123 percent at 10 seconds.
To determine how the content, features, and usability of the website is performing, conduct a user flow analysis. You can use different tools for this, but Google Analytics offers it. The analysis gives you details on the journey that customers take through your website. It will give you a real sense of what causes customers to leave and where they’re leaving.
You’re not listening to customer feedback
A major reason that customers might not be returning to your brand or business can be the result of bad or worse, no feedback. Customer feedback serves three purposes: it gives you a sense of how your business is performing, it creates a link between you and customers, and it provides proof of trust.
Customer feedback gives you a sense of how you and your employees are serving your customers. Were their orders received in a timely manner? How did they feel about the quality of products? You can make many inferences about your products and how they might be serving your customers, but getting the hard truth straight from them is very useful.
Good customer service also gives you the opportunity to keep customers coming back. Following up with customers after they receive and item and asking their opinions or giving them coupons for future purchases can be part of making a potentially dissatisfied customer into a long-term subscriber.
Finally, customer feedback gives proof of trust and trustworthiness to other customers. When you have your business listed on common review sites, and you have an active presence on them and social media, it shows that you are accountable and present for your customers. Having fifty 5-star reviews doesn’t hurt either. It’s a huge step in addressing low sales.
You’re not giving your audience consistent content
Customers want to know your brand before they buy from you—especially if you’re new to the e-commerce scene, with little brand equity or trust. To build that relationship, give your customers something of value first: awesome content.
Blog posts not only allow you to connect with potential customers before they’re ready to buy. Consistently creating great content also boosts SEO and therefore can drive more traffic to your site.
A blog also allows you to build authority in your industry: “One of the things people don’t often consider about a blog is that it helps to establish you as a resource or an authority in a particular niche or area. This helps expose you to a whole new part of your target market: the people who are still seeking information,” explains Jock Purtle, entrepreneur, and business owner.
You’re ignoring data
Ultimately, however, the data you gather over the lifespan of your business will tell you the truth behind your sales. If you’re seeing underperformance in any of these categories, or you continuously are seeing areas that are receiving little to no pageviews, that’s likely a sign that customers are uninterested in those aspects of your business, or that they need to be enlivened to be more enticing.
If you’re not sure how to start understanding the analytics data you’re getting about your business, use the Analytics Academy. It can give you valuable insight into how your business might be able to improve.
Address your selling challenges head on
Bottom line: just because your products aren’t selling, doesn’t mean the products are to blame. Your lack of transactions could be the result of backend oversights that, once detected, are easy to solve. Don’t forget about the value of starting your e-commerce blog and staying in touch with past customers, as well, all of which will allow you to provide value and build trust.
Most importantly, don’t overreact. Most businesses are not profitable in their first 18 to 24 months. Remaining laser focused on the bottom line can sometimes create unnecessary stress in the early stages of running a business (which is completely understandable). Remembering that there are many opportunities for addressing low sales. Consider discovering ways to expand and connect with your customers before you start lowering prices, but that might not hurt in the long run either. Keep working, and before you know it, the work will pay off.e-commerce marketing