How to Boost Ecommerce Sales During Slow Seasons
When you get into the business of selling products online, you have to expect that you’re likely going to experience both busy seasons and slow seasons throughout the year. Sales activity rarely remains constant for ecommerce businesses of all sizes, and this is especially true for those ecommerce businesses that sell products that consumers are more interested in purchasing and using at different times of the year, like running shoes or winter coats.
As an ecommerce business owner, it’s important to understand that these peaks and valleys are a natural part of growing and running your business, but that being said, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should stand idly by whenever sales start to slump for an extended period of time.
If you’re entering or about to enter what has historically been for your business a slow time of year for sales, it’s a great opportunity to be more proactive and creative about driving sales for your business. Instead of slowing down and waiting for sales to naturally pick back up, make it your mission to end your slow season early this year by developing new ideas, launching new campaigns, and testing new tactics that could drive more people to buy now.
Here are 6 ideas you can try to boost ecommerce sales during your next slow season:
1. Launch a Giveaway
If you’re experiencing a sales slump, one of the best ways to try to drive more sales is by launching a giveaway on your blog your social media pages. A well-executed giveaway contest can help you:
- Boost brand awareness. Giveaways help you reach and connect with new people within your target audience that you otherwise might not have been able to access.
- Differentiate from competitors. Giveaways help show people what makes your brand and your products different than the ones offered by your competitors.
- Leverage loyal fans and customers. Giveaways allow you to leverage the praise and positive feelings your existing fan base and customer base have about your business and products.
- Drive more traffic to your online store. Giveaways make it easier for you to drive targeted, qualified traffic to your store and product pages.
- Grow your email list. Giveaways make it possible for you to capture email addresses from people who might be likely to buy products from you in the future.
- Drive sales. Giveaways help convince people that they need to buy your products, otherwise they risk missing out.
To build an effective giveaway for your audience, follow these recommendations:
- Use a management tool. Invest in a tool like Gleam to build and manage your contest. It will help you write your contest rules and guidelines, build a beautiful campaign that can be embedded into your blog post or shared as a stand-alone landing page, and pick a winner at random.
- Think about your goals. Before launching your giveaway, think about what you’re trying to achieve. Obviously you’d like to drive more sales, but what do you need in order to make it happen? More social followers? More traffic to your website? More email addresses? Set some goals that you can work and track against so you can determine how successful you were when your giveaway ends.
- Create an amazing prize. Think about what your target audience would be most excited about getting for free. Don’t just offer a free product — think bigger. Create a themed prize package that includes your product plus a handful of others from other companies that you know they’d love. Or go really big and offer something like a free weekend getaway or airline tickets.
- Promote ahead of time. As you build your giveaway campaign, spend time telling people about it ahead of time. Email your loyal customers. Drop a hint on Facebook or Instagram. Mention it on your next Facebook Live. Provide a countdown in your email signature or in your Cover photos on Facebook and Twitter.
- Make it super simple. Don’t over-complicate things. Make sure that it’s incredibly easy for your audience to understand what you’re giving away, and what they need to do to enter your contest. A management tool like Gleam can help you create a simple experience for participants.
- Provide real-time updates. Don’t stop promoting just because you launched your giveaway! Keep the excitement going by providing your followers with updates on how many people have entered, how many days are remaining, and what prize is being offered.
Want more ideas on how to leverage contests and giveaways to boost sales? Read through this great blog post from Shopify.
2. Write an Ebook
Another great way to boost sales during a slow season is by taking the time to create some new content for your target audience.
As I’ve written before many times on this blog, online consumers aren’t just looking for products — they’re seeking people and companies who can help solve their problems and answer their questions. Think about it: people usually aren’t using Google to search for specific products or brands — instead, they use it to ask questions.
As an ecommerce owner, it’s up to you to leverage yourself as a resource that people can trust and turn to when they need help. When you’re in the thick of your busy season, writing an ebook about a subject that relates to your industry or product category might be the last thing on your mind. But when sales are sluggish, you have much more free time to spend on these types of initiatives. It’s up to you to take advantage of it.
Creating and publishing an original ebook for your audience can help you:
- Get your business and products in front of new people
- Position yourself as a knowledgeable resource in your industry
- Establish relationships and build trust with new leads and prospective customers
- Drive more traffic to your website
- Boost social media engagement
- Capture more email addresses from people who are interested in the solutions you offer
To make a successful ebook for your audience, keep the following best practices in mind:
- Pick the right topic. Think about the specific knowledge you can share with your audience. What questions do they have that you could help answer? Where are there gaps in the information currently available to them? What are your competitors not spending time teaching them? For example, if you sell running shoes, you could write an ebook about how to train for a marathon. Or you could write about the importance of stretching. Or diet. Keep in mind: your goal is to not write an ebook that focuses on selling your product. Instead, your goal is simply to offer valuable information to people for free.
- Hire a designer. If you’re going to ask your audience to provide you with their email address in exchange for a free copy of your ebook, you better deliver something great. The easiest way to ensure you do this right is by hiring a designer. A designer can help take the words you write and package them into a visually-compelling ebook that your audience won’t soon forget. Your designer can also help you design components of your landing page.
- Build a landing page. Create a compelling landing page that you can send people to when you’re ready to launch and promote your ebook. Your landing page is where you try to make the sale. It’s where you spend time helping visitors understand what you’re offering, why they should care, what they can expect, what they’d be missing out on, and how to get access to your ebook. To build a landing page, use a template provided by your ecommerce software tool, or leverage a tool like Leadpages.
- Promote, promote, promote. Create a promotion plan for your ebook. Include how you intend to leverage email, social media, paid advertising, and any other channels you’re currently using to engage with customers and prospects.
Want to create an ebook fast? Check out this helpful guide from ConvertKit.
3. Connect with Influencers
Another great way to spend your time during a slower season is by reaching out to influencers who could help you connect to new audiences who haven’t seen or purchased your products before.
In 2017, influencer marketing was big business. In 2018, more brands and businesses are going to leverage influencers to connect with their target audiences than ever before.
As an ecommerce owner, you have the opportunity to connect with YouTube celebrities, Facebook influencers, and industry bloggers as a way to boost sales. It’s up to you to find the right people to help get the word out about your products and your brand.
There are a number of ways you can go about finding and reaching out to influencers who might be interested in partnering with you. Here are a few options to consider:
- Option 1: You can manually search for bloggers in your industry and reach out to them to gauge interest. In most cases if they are popular enough bloggers/influencers, they will already have an idea of how much they charge for these types of influencer marketing partnerships. All you need to do is decide if they are a good fit for your needs, and if they fit within the budget you’ve decided to allocate for influencer marketing.
- Option 2: You can also find influencers through networking sites like Tribe, ifluenz, and Famebit. These services will connect you directly to a pool of influencers that match your needs. Pricing varies among the tools mentioned. This tends to be a more expensive option, so if you’re new to influencer marketing, you might consider testing option 1 first to decide if it’s a channel worth investing in to achieve your sales goals.
Want more information on this topic? Read How to Find, Reach Out To, and Work With Influencers (Without Breaking the Bank) from our blog.
4. Create Your Own Holiday
The most obvious recommended tip for getting out of a sales slump is to launch a discount on products for a period of time. It’s a tactic that can work, but yo make it a little more compelling for your audience, I’d like to recommend that you take it one step further: instead of just introducing a new discount on your website or offering free shipping on all products for a week, consider going all in and creating your own “Cyber Monday” holiday, exclusive only to your business. In other words, don’t just push a discount live on your site — design, develop, and launch an entire themed campaign to draw interest and push more people to purchase when they land on your site.
The most famous example of this is from Amazon, who created Prime Day as a way to drum up more sales and excitement during the summer months.
This tactic will definitely require a bit more creativity from you, but here are a few recommendations for getting started:
- Think about your audience and how they use your products. What day can you create that relates to the experiences your customers have when they use your products? Could you create a Running Day? A Healthy Eating Day? A Get Back to Productive Day? What kind of day could you create and align with compelling discounts for your products?
- Think about the discounts you want to offer. What discounts could you create for only one or two days that would compel anyone who landed on your website to act immediately?
- Create your marketing material. Once you have your plan in place, work with designers and copywriters to create new graphics and language for your website, email campaigns, Facebook advertisements, and blog posts.
Remember: your ultimate goal is to be as creative and memorable as possible with the themed campaign that you develop for your audience. Have fun with it!
5. Interview a Customer
If you know you’re about to enter a historically slow period of time for your business, another great way to use the downtime is to schedule interviews with your most loyal customers. There are a few types of interviews you should consider:
- The Customer Feedback Interview: these are 1-on-1 interviews that you schedule with customers to learn more about their overall experience with your brand and products. You should ask them questions about their perception of your brand, their experience interacting with you online, their thoughts about your products (what they like and don’t like about them), and their experience ordering and receiving products from you.
- The Facebook Live Interview: these are 1-on-1 interviews that you have publicly on Facebook Live with your happiest and most loyal customers. The goal of these interviews is to really let your customers do the talking (and the selling). Ask questions that help your prospective customers understand why they should buy products from you, and what they can expect.
- The Beta Product Interview: these are 1-on-1 interviews that you have with customers who are or could be testing beta products that you aren’t yet selling on your store. The goal of these interviews is to get feedback on how to improve or position new products that you’re currently working on.
- The Product Roadmap Interview: these are 1-on-1 interviews that you have with your elite customers about where you should take your business next. What products should you work on? What collaborations should you consider? Where are the gaps that you could be filling? These are questions that your best customers could help you answer.
Although some of these interview sessions may not impact sales immediately like the other tactics recommended throughout this blog post might, they can be incredibly useful exercises to go through in order to strengthen and improve your business and products over time.
6. Work on a New Product
A final way to boost sales during a slump is to start working on a new product. Use the downtime you have during a slow season to think about the next product you could be introducing in your store. While you’re planning and working on your product, share updates with your customers and followers along the way — it may create the awareness and attention needed in order to get people to support your business again (or for the very first time) with a new purchase.
Over to You
What do you do to boost sales during slow seasons? Tell me in the comments below.
William Harris is the CEO and ecommerce consultant at Elumynt and outsourced VP of marketing and growth for several large ecommerce and SaaS brands. He’s also an author for Entrepreneur, Fast Company, The Next Web, Search Engine Journal, and many other leading publications. Follow him on Twitter at @wmharris101, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.
Originally published at www.sellbrite.com.