Most companies experience a temporary slump during their existence. But don’t panic.
Take practical steps to move your company forward. When sales start declining, be mindful of what’s going right and what needs improvement.
As an ecommerce business, it may be time to upgrade your website. Research shows that “63% of marketers optimize websites based on intuition and best practices.”
Work with your team to enhance the customer experience. From changing calls-to-action to adding trust verifications, run experiments to correct your challenges.
Start earning more sales today. Keep reading to learn your next steps.
Find the Underlying Cause
When your conversions are heading downward, it’s easy for teams to immediately go into “let’s fix it mode.” However, the more effective response is to take a step back to find the underlying cause.
It’s very unlikely that the decline is related to a mysterious reason. For most businesses, it’s possible to figure out why your conversions took a permanent dip—one that lasts at least four months.
Gather your team for some company introspection. Review your customer behavioral data, churn reports, website analytics, and past sales conversations together.
Is the decline due to an internal factor? Maybe your business made product updates that customers didn’t like. Or the new marketing campaigns didn’t resonate with the target audience.
Did an external force cause the problem? Maybe consumer tastes shifted to another trend. Or market fluctuations occurred because of currency devaluations or the political climate.
After your team discovers the issue, that’s when the real work begins. You’ll want to create a company-wide strategy to tackle the decline from every department.
It’s not enough for the sales team to only execute tactics; everyone from product development to customer support must assist with the situation.
Perform daily and weekly check-ins to ensure all teams are moving in the right direction. And possess the flexibility to make quick adjustments.
Avoid the frustrations associated with a sales decline. Instead, stay calm, develop a plan, and take action.
Create Urgency to Buy Now
If your sales downturn is an internal issue, employ a new strategy. Focus on creating urgency for potential buyers who are hesitant about completing a purchase.
Urgency forces humans into a dilemma. Either we can take action at this very second or risk losing out on something we desire.
“Nothing increases activity like creating urgency around a purchase decision. Simply adding a countdown clock to your online shopping cart or telling people a sale ends today is enough to spike conversions,” says Forbes contributor Drew Hendricks.
Moreover, artificial time-constraints establish your product as a “need to have” versus a “nice to have.” That change of perspective makes your product more valuable to the consumer.
Hotels.com uses fear to tempt consumers to buy now. When guests are booking a hotel, the website displays a message telling the person how many other people are also interested in a particular hotel. With limited space, these popups encourage consumers to hit ‘Book Now’ sooner, rather than later.
Show customers that you value their business. Give them a small incentive to purchase your products. Add a bonus ebook or access to a VIP event to the transaction.
Sometimes, consumers need an extra push. Give them a reason to purchase in the moment.
Remove All Distractions
Creative website designs are made every single day. From parallax scrolling to themed widgets, it’s appealing to want to add new features to your site.
But are all these features really necessary? You might be distracting visitors from buying. Instead of moving to the shopping cart, they get lost in cluttered site templates.
“If your visitors are distracted by too much content or are not taking notice right away, especially on mobile, then psychologically they will seek a more appealing design. This can include poor quality images or not enough visual content,” states Susan Gilbert, an online marketing strategist.
Design a straightforward path from your homepage to the checkout process. Display visible calls-to-action to ensure consumers know how to complete the purchase. And invest in live chat software to answer buyers’ questions as they shop.
By the end of 2015, mobile ecommerce transactions exceeded 40% globally. Smartphones lead in mobile purchases in the U.S., accounting for 60% of transactions. So, it’s important to update the mobile shopping experience.
Develop consumer-friendly forms that adapt to the buyer’s behavior. Form fields shouldn’t be obstructed from view by interface elements, like the keyboard. Mobile shoppers also enjoy other efficiencies, such as auto-populate, auto-capitalization, and credit card scanning. See the example below.
Distractions keep consumers away from your checkout carts. Get rid of them to earn more sales.
Gain Consumer Trust
Buyers crave an authentic connection with your brand. It gives them peace of mind that they are receiving a quality product.
Integrity is essential in business, and consumers need to know that you’re standing by your promise to deliver a high-caliber experience.
Garner consumer trust by creating an open dialogue with buyers. Share your business successes and failures. Then, give customers the chance to offer your team feedback.
Building credibility in your industry helps, too. Book your employees at major events to share their knowledge. Or host a small workshop within your local community. Your brand expertise might be a solution to a potential customer’s problem.
“Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide. Do you have experts on your team? Are your contributors or service providers authorities? Be sure to give their credentials,” writes Peep Laja, founder of ConversionXL.
The London School of Economics analyzed the revenue gains of increased positive word-of-mouth and reduced negative word-of-mouth. The researchers found that “reducing negative buzz pays off 300% over improving positive buzz.”
If your business is suffering from a negative perception, work with your public relations team to stop the cycle. You may need to seek assistance from an outside crisis management firm.
It takes time and consistency to build genuine relationships. Focus on both these qualities to attain long-term sales goals.
Retarget Your Consumers
Customers won’t buy your products after one brand interaction. You must persuade them to take a second look.
Retargeting serves as an opportunity to engage with visitors after they leave your site. Create specific ad campaigns to lure consumers browsing on other sites back to your shopping cart.
“By advertising across a display network, you can invest in ads that will attract the attention of those consumers, remind them of their past interest and, ideally, cause them to reconsider your brand and its offerings,” says Zuri Stanback, digital products director at Cox Media Group.
And retargeting offers significant results. The percentage of consumers who return and complete the checkout process increases by 26%.
Master your retargeting ads by adding a visual voice to your campaigns. Use images and video to capture the audience’s attention. In a site retargeting ad, Freshdesk uses a girl dressed in a superhero costume to represent how its software helps businesses rescue customers with support issues.
Also, practice the power of free. Drive online consumers back to your site with a free shipping offer or a free trial of your product.
Most sales won’t happen during the first customer conversation. Bring buyers back through retargeting.
Optimize for More Conversions
Your sales may be declining, but there’s always an opportunity to improve.
Examine the actual causes for the decline. Move customers down your funnel by creating urgency in your marketing messages. And remove any distractions affecting buyers from completing transactions.
Stop the shrinkage. Take action to secure more sales.
About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.