Suppose you’re considering taking control over your job and your growth potential and are unsure what to do. In that case, this guide will walk you through the information and strategies to get you started selling online in 2021.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Americans inspired by entrepreneurship and self-employment are starting home-based, online businesses faster than at any time in the last decade.
While not every business will succeed, how you plan will give you a better chance for success as you are starting out.
This guide will explain the top online selling tips for beginners so that you can avoid the typical pitfalls and position your new business for success.
When considering starting your own business, you need to decide what type of business you plan to operate, how you will find customers and the ways you’ll deliver your products.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is how to do you plan on making your sales.
Are you planning on selling in a traditional brick-and-mortar shop, having online and in-person sales, or only selling online?
While there are benefits to a physical, in-person store, as we saw since the start of 2020, the risks outweigh the benefits, making selling online a lot more attractive than the traditional way of selling.
As you consider the type of business you want to operate, let’s turn our attention to the benefits of selling online and why it offers you the best chance at success.
To begin selling online, identify the type of product you want to sell, how you plan to market it, and the way you plan to deliver to your consumers.
The Truth About Selling
Understanding why someone may be interested in purchasing your product is crucial in your offering’s development and marketing. The majority of the time, people make a purchasing decision based on the following:
- People buy benefits, not products. People want to know what your product will do and how it will help them.
- People want to buy, and they want the “permission” to act. Understanding people’s motivations will help you better target and market to them.
- People like to buy from someone they trust, so how you prospect and treat your customer is essential in how they perceive you and your product.
- People want the satisfaction of a deal. You don’t need to cut the price of your initial product. Still, upselling to include a higher margin product at a reduced price, especially if you use a strategy of a deadline or exclusive offer to make it more attractive to act. The incentive of urgency is critical here.
Benefits Of Selling Online
The first challenge for any business is making sure that your operations and expenditures aren’t more than the revenue you bring in, or are you able to spend less than you earn?
With a traditional storefront, you have a lot of expenses before you even have your first sale. Your costs will include your lease for the store, insurance, business taxes and licensing, merchandise needed to fill the store, labor to set up and sell, utilities, advertising, among others.
With all those expenses before your first sale, is it any surprise then to find out that over 50% of all traditional shops fail within five years?
For those reasons alone, online selling is an attractive option for new startups. Eliminating all the overhead costs is an attractive feature that makes online selling more popular than in-person, but there are many benefits to online selling.
Benefits of selling online include lower expenditures, better access to a broader pool of potential customers, and the ability to work from anywhere, at any time.
Other benefits to selling online are:
- Always Open: With an online store, you can be open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, to receive orders. That means that even while you sleep, someone can access your store and purchase what they may need. Even though you’re open 24-hours a day, you don’t need to provide labor to handle those orders. You can do those during your regularly scheduled office hours.
- Worldwide Reach: With an online business, you have access to shoppers from all around the world, giving you and your products access to a broader target of potential sales that you wouldn’t get with traditional in-person shopping.
- Decentralized Work: With an online business, you can set up the process to allow you to work from wherever you choose, whether at home, at the park, in a cafe, wherever you can have cell or wifi access you can set up your office.
- Choose Your Own Adventure: As a kid, there were these books called “choose your own adventure” where the story began, and as soon as a conflict arose, you have prompted a series of options on how to overcome the obstacle. An online business is much like those stories. You can choose your adventure and path for how best to improve your sales.
- Sell Your Dreams: With an online business, you can choose what you want to sell, from crafts made around the house, old collections of comic books, a digital product that solves a problem, or personalized meals for neighbors that are delivered to their doors.
- Just Get Started: Online businesses have a much lower cost to get started and make them more profitable once you get started.
Now that you know the benefits of selling online, you need to set a strategy to ensure your best chance of success.
Create A Strategy Map
Creating a strategy map of the type of business you want to have, the steps needed to attract customers, receiving their orders, fulfilling the orders, shipping them, and the future growth of sales for your products is necessary to succeed.
A strategy map outlines your organization and the processes to find, nurture, and fulfill any orders to your consumers.
Type of Business Model
As you begin developing your online business strategy, your next step is to decide on the best way to achieve those objectives.
Selling a digital product online is different from selling a physical product that you have to take on inventory, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Choosing the right product to sell will assist you with the logistics needed to make it a possibility.
For example, if you’re selling a physical book, having a publisher with inventory onhand of the book to sell, packaging, and shipping costs are all part of your equation. These factors will increase the number of expenses you have before you can even approach a profit.
If you choose to sell a digital product, having a landing page to direct prospects toward where they can purchase your product and having it as a download that you can link to or email out is most of the work required with the product distribution.
The advantage of having physical inventories is that you know how many units on hand to sell while a digital product is created and can be scaled at any volume of sales.
Another advantage of physical inventory is that your customer may see, touch, and check out the physical item. It may already be familiar to them or similar to something they know.
A digital product may be new to your potential customer and may take some educating them from you about your digital product’s values and benefits.
The major disadvantage of physical inventory is evident. There are storage concerns, shipping costs, and more. The highest profit margins are with digital products, with the hurdle being familiarity with your brand and your product.
Finding Your Tribe
Now that you’ve decided what you’re selling, the next step is to find a potential customer base to target your advertising and promotions.
Finding your tribe, that is, an audience that is supportive and enthusiastic about your brand, is essential.
Before you spend a ton on advertising, figure out what it is about you and your brand that’s unique from your competitors and how it can benefit consumers.
For example, if you’re selling a digital product that is software to help a small business increase its sales, targeting Coca-Cola as a client may not be the best strategy.
Instead, focus on how your product can help a small boutique sell their clothing online more effectively to achieve better results.
This strategy of micro-targeting your consumers and selling them a benefit is crucial in your sales strategy and long-term growth.
So the question to ask is how you will reach your target audience?
Don’t Waste Money On Marketing, Go Social
The next step with your online selling is to figure out how you’re going to attract potential customers.
This step is the most crucial one for any business to succeed and is often the one that most spend too much money on without seeing results.
The key is to create or find customers aware of your brand, familiar with the type of product you’re selling, and are educated on the benefits your products will provide for them.
Marketing a digital product and a physical product have different strategies, especially with in-person versus online sales opportunities.
For a physical product and in-person sale, the trick is to get the customer into your shop, while with a digital product, the goal is to get the prospect aware of your product and download your offerings.
With a digital product, you want to advertise, promote, and make your audience aware of the product in areas your potential customer is hanging out already.
Using social media platforms, blogs, YouTube, and podcasts are great ways to expand your brand’s awareness and find potential leads as well.
Once you find your potential audience, you need to figure out how to message them to motivate them to decide.
Utilizing marketing, nurturing, and selling strategy can be a labor-intensive process, so consider using an app or software that can assist with most, if not all, of this process for you.
Transition Your Audience To Consumers Through A Sales Funnel
The journey a potential customer takes from audience to consumer is often referred to as the sales journey, and how you move them from one stage to another is called a sales funnel.
Utilizing the right sales funnel can help you automate your process and make your efforts more successful as a result.
Marketing Products And Advertising Your Store
As you now have a plan in place of what you’re going to sell, how you plan on the deliverables, and where to find your potential market, your strategy’s next stage is to promote your product aggressively.
There are two traditional ways to promote your product.
Those are paid and unpaid options.
With a little creativity, you can find ways to reach your prospects even if you have minimal resources to devote to your marketing efforts.
When people think about marketing, they think “ads.”
Advertisements are an excellent way to get your brand in front of an audience that you may not otherwise have exposure to, but you need to beware of the potential cost of buying ad space.
Paid Ads can be divided into two categories, traditional and online.
Traditional ads are the types you see in papers and magazines, on billboards, television, and radio. Other forms may be direct mailers, door hangers, and such.
Online Ads can be cheaper than traditional ads and may offer a broader audience reach. With online ads, you decide the type of keyword that you anticipate your audience looking for about your selling type.
Beware that Pay-Per-Click ads can become costly as the keywords you target may be more competitive than others.
There are cheaper options for online ads through social media platforms like Facebook. You can set a small budget, target the audience into very segmented profiles, and Facebook will promote it from there.
These types of ads are highly targeted, cost less per imprint (the metric used to determine ad costs), and you have direct access to the data of who has engaged with your ads than in any other form of online and traditional ads.
Other Out-Of-The-Box Marketing Ideas
By using a little creativity, you can save a ton on marketing expenses. Think outside the box of ways you can reach your audience and transition them to a consumer.
Some of our top suggestions for out-of-the-box marketing ideas that are low cost and effective:
- Guest blogging or podcasting
- Sponsor local events
- Collaboration or affiliate programs
- Referral Programs
- Loyalty Programs
- Live-Stream A Product Launch, Unveiling
- Host A Q&A, Contest, Or Quiz
- Social Media forums like Reddit and Quora
Regardless of your marketing strategy, be sure to include a capture form.
A capture form is something that allows you to get the contact information of your target buyer in exchange for a free or low-cost lead magnet.
Lead magnets are products designed to be given away to create awareness, trust, and authority in exchange for contact information.
This step is so important.
With the target buyer’s contact information, you’re better suited to market to them in the future about updates, improvements, and new product offerings, increasing the chance of future return sales.
If you are a beginner that needs some effective tips for selling, look no further! These are some handy online selling secrets for beginners.