How to start selling online

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Some businesses that are switching online with difficulties, for example, offline retail stores. The website’s development isn’t necessary for offline retail, so it’s typically postponed as long as possible. Now, when the quarantine covers the planet due to the coronavirus pandemic, more people stay home and buy goods online. Each business must be ready for online sales to stay profitable. We have prepared a guide for you to launch your business online and attract new customers quickly.

Remember that the coronavirus epidemic will end, but customers who come to the online store will remain with you afterward.

Table of contents

How your business changes during the quarantine

Due to the spread of coronavirus, many industries (tourism, transport, manufacturing, etc.) lost a lot, and those changes also touched small and medium-sized businesses.

The first thing to know: all forecasts and development plans for 2020 are no longer relevant. Due to the pandemic, the economic situation, priorities in consumption, and the way of consumption have changed.

Secondly, people keep buying. More and more buyers appear online. It means that new opportunities are open for business, and it’s time to use them. According to Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst at eMarketer, “But their household needs don’t simply go away and may even increase with many looking to stockpile resources."

To make the right decisions, you need to understand how customer behavior has changed. There are some features of customer behavior you should pay attention to:

  1. People go out less and visit offline stores rarely.
  2. Pandemic stimulates customers to buy more items at once.
  3. People concentrate on necessity goods.
  4. The online sales increased in volumes and frequency.
  5. Home delivery becomes a must-have feature of the online service.
  6. People choose carefully each product they buy.
  7. Customers postpone all expensive purchases.
  8. People reduce the number of trips, work remotely, invest in self-development.

How do companies consider all this news? For example, most businesses launched home delivery (even contactless delivery) and online shopping apps or online services.

If your customers prefer online stores now, advertising budgets should be redistributed to online. At the same time, advertising budgets were reduced because all businesses try to reduce expenses during the crisis. And to make it smart, you need to apply marketing analytics. It’s a high time for beginners to start studying and implementing the basics of analytics and for experienced specialists — to confidently optimize the marketing based on the possessed data.

Without high-quality digital analytics, your business is “blind” in the online ocean. Without offline sales and the possibility to communicate directly with your customers, your online actions must rely on the analytics data to avoid an “iceberg” of wrong assumptions and worthless expenses. With data analytics, you’ll understand how to reduce ad costs and improve advertising efficiency by comparing the cost data from your advertising services with the revenue from the CRM-system.

What is business intelligence, and why is it essential for any online business? Find out what business tasks can be solved with business intelligence and how to implement it.

Building blocks for online sales

Website

To launch an online store, you don’t have to hire a development team and write code from scratch. There are many website builders, both paid and free. Free builders haven’t a variety of templates and blocks. But now it’s more critical to launching your store with essential purchase and service options quickly. Later you’ll have time to think over the sophisticated design.

The most popular builders are:

  • WIX — is the market leader among website builders. It has an extensive collection of templates conveniently divided into categories (business, online stores, landing pages, etc.). The websites by WIX are optimized for mobile devices and have a comprehensive help center.
  • Tilda Publishing — is excellent for fast and easy creation of landing pages and online stores. In the free version, you can create one website with basic modules. You have to pay for the rest of the features. The service also has its mobile app for website management.
  • WordPress — is a free platform running well-known companies such as Spotify, CNN, TED, IBM, and others.

Considering paid website builders, you should try Shopify, uKit, Squarespace.

Call tracking

Most people who used to buy offline now are forced to switch to online shopping. It means that they want more communication with the actual person, more attention as they have less experience and reliance on Internet services. Therefore, you should also connect a call tracking system to the website that helps you improve your customer support and determine popular sources of your website traffic. The most popular services are Ringostat, CloudTalk, Clixtell, EngageBay, and others.

Automate data collection from the call-tracking system with OWOX BI:

CRM system

To collect even more data about your clients, use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to store data about all customers who use both your website and the store. This system saves all the necessary information in one place.

There are many different versions of CRM systems on the market, including the possibility of free use for small companies. Here are some of the most popular solutions:

  • Bitrix24 — helps control all channels of communication with customers and automate sales. The service also has built-in IP telephony and mail integration.
  • Pipedrive — is used by over 90,000 companies. It tracks your communications with customers and easily integrates with your favorite sale-boosting apps.
  • Salesflare — is a simple but powerful CRM for small businesses selling B2B.

Video call services for your team

To contact your employees, you should choose a video calls provider. Sometimes it’s more effective to make a short call with your colleagues than to spend a day checking and responding to emails

The most popular services are Skype and Google Hangouts. If you have a big team, you need other options. For example, you can get free access to video conferencing services such as Zoom and Trueconf.

Advertising

After launching the website, you need to inform your customers that your goods or services are available online now:

Step 1. Before running an ad, consider what you’re pursuing. A goal that is easy to track and measure is, for example, “N customers received for N money." Too abstract goals are challenging to estimate.

Step 2. Run your ads to get the traffic to your website.

Step 3. Adjust a remarketing. Returning old customers who are already familiar with your company is always easier (and cheaper) than attracting new ones.

Step 4. Measure key figures in the dynamics and for the same periods (month compared to month, quarter to quarter).

All companies become more active online than before. Thus, the information noise increases and confuses potential customers. Use your advertising budget wisely to save positions among competitors and measure all advertising. It helps you to:

  1. Understand quickly whether your advertising brings sales.
  2. Change your promotion strategy in time, if your campaigns aren’t efficient.

Read our detailed instructions on how to measure the effectiveness of online advertising: CTR, CPC, CPA, CR, sessions, bounce rate, RPC, and ROAS. For small businesses with a few advertising channels, it’s quite enough.

How to measure the effectiveness of online ads with Google Analytics

Step 1. You need to track and measure your ads to understand which products and advertising sources make a profit. If you don’t have much data yet, and you’ve just launched your online store, then Google Analytics suits you perfectly. We recommend you read our detailed instructions on how to set up Google Analytics.

Step 2. You need to add a unique code to your website for Google Analytics to start working on it. The good news is — you don’t need to hire a web developer team to do that. The Google Tag Manager, abbreviated as GTM, helps you with adding code snippets.

Using GTM helps you to avoid possible errors and breakdowns. Once you set the Tag Manager code to the site, you can implement all other settings in the service.

Step 3. To track advertising campaigns, you must configure UTM tags. With them, you can find out which ad attracts customers and which advertising campaign is or isn’t effective.

Learn what UTM tags are, how they combine data from different sources, and what errors you should avoid when creating tags.

Step 4. Import cost data from advertising services. Google Analytics automatically transfers data from Google Ads only, but data from FacebookInstagramTwitter, and others, have to be uploaded separately. Why do you need this data? To discover which advertising campaign is most effective and which campaign should be disabled.

In the beginning, you can easily download data manually if you have only a couple of ad sources. But as the number of advertising channels and campaigns increases, it’s worth thinking about the automation of the process. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself under the rubble of routine and boring data transfer work. To save time and avoid human errors, you should automate your marketing.

OWOX BI allows you to easily and quickly set up automatic cost data collection from different advertising services. Besides, OWOX BI checks the UTM tags and converts the currency. You can try the service for free!

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How to get the ROAS report with Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides two options:

Google Analytics Help Center — Set up Ecommerce Tracking.

To get information about each advertising source or channel, you need the Acquisition — All Traffic — Source/Medium report:

Source/Medium report

The report presents different behavioral metrics (number of sessions that users have done on your site, average session duration, the average number of pages viewed by users within one session, and others). The higher values are (except for the bounce rate, of course), the better website is for visitors.

It means that people stay on the website and interact with it (e.g., buy goods).

When you want to measure your ad's profitability, you need the Acquisition - Campaigns - Cost Analysis report:

Cost Analysis report

Important: if you use different advertising services (Google Ads and others like Facebook), you need to set up cost data import in Google Analytics. Otherwise, your data is incorrect.

The easiest way to import cost data is to use the OWOX BI Pipeline service. Read more about importing cost data, and try OWOX BI for free.

The most important thing is to find out whether advertising pays off and brings income or not. For this, you need to compare costs and revenue on advertising campaigns. Pay special attention to the ROAS indicator!

Important: you should monitor ROAS at least once a week. If you spent big budgets on advertising, check it daily.

Monitor ROAS

Different businesses have different ROAS indicators; some of them can earn profit even with the low ROAS, whereas others need a very high indicator. The main thing is that the return on investment is:

  • Positive.
  • Higher than 100%.

If ROAS is about 100%, then the money invested has paid off. If it’s above 100%, you have made a profit.

GET ROAS REPORT FROM OWOX BI

How to use marketing channels to communicate with customers

Digital is the only available channel for the business to grow and make revenue, and after quarantine, this channel will continue to grow.

Communicating with customers through online marketing channels helps your business stay afloat. Let people know what you’re doing during quarantine:

  • Tell them about your work schedule.
  • Report shipping opportunities (including no-contact delivery).
  • Show your website and mobile app for orders.

And, above all, show that you understand the difficulties your customers have faced and that you have a solution to their problems.

Social networks

People stay at home, but people need communication. Therefore, it’s impossible to compete with social networks in terms of coverage. Use social media to promote your store and merchandise. Plus, your social media page is a great platform to support your customers.

Email Marketing

Emails are one of the most effective advertising tools that shows a personalized approach to customers. Especially now, when people are limited to online communication, reminder emails remind them about your company. You can inform customers about promotions, tell them about the new shipping service, or offer a personal discount on specific items.

You can use free email builders, such as Stripo, to create mass mailing lists. With it, you can customize your email templates quickly and without HTML knowledge. Besides, Stripo allows you to preview the layout of the email in 90+ popular environments.

Other popular services for email marketing:

  • Mailchimp offers segmentation and behavioral targeting, it’s also free if you send 10,000 letters a month. A/B tests are also available for paid plans.
  • SendPulse creates adaptive letters and offers over 130 email templates. Also, the service sends auto-replies using chatbots on Facebook pages.
  • eSputnik is a ready-to-use solution for small and large businesses. For small companies: email-, SMS-, Viber-messages, Web Push notifications, and mobile Push notifications.

Key takeaways

  • As the experience of past crises shows, you have to adjust your business quickly to win during the hard times.
  • People choose brands that are easy to remember and find. If customers go online, companies should be there as well.
  • Import ad costs into a single service to measure the balance of costs and revenue, track changes in almost real-time, and disable inefficient campaigns before they drain your budget.
  • A crisis is a time for optimization, and analytics is the very best tool to help you with it.

If you still have questions, ask in the comments below:)

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