It’s so easy, especially as a creative business owner, to concentrate hard on the design and the product and the customers, and ignore your numbers. I sent an email to our Aeolidia club members last week about how to increase online sales that really surprised some people. Here is a response I received:
“Thank you. Just in this email alone, asking me these questions, has been the biggest moment of realization I’ve had in my business in a long time.
I don’t know why I have never focused on these numbers before. I don’t know why I thought this sort of data didn’t apply to me. That my business was different. What have I been thinking!!??”
Today I have a real chicken and egg problem for you, one you’re probably super familiar with: do you create an awesome website first, or do you work on building your audience and traffic first? Ordinarily, I recommend focusing on the thing that will bring you the most results first. Or maybe there’s one thing that’s a preliminary step before the other. Today’s topic, about getting sales on your online shop, is one area where if it’s possible to make two big changes at once, both projects will pay off better than if you’d done them one at a time.
Get realistic about how many visitors will become customers
First, a story. We are talking to a jewelry business owner about transforming her online business. One of her goals was to get 100 visitors to her site per day, which I told her is an extremely modest goal. I shared with her,
“Let’s talk about what your best next step might be at this point. You’ve been in business about six years, and you’re doing well at in-person events and with wholesale accounts. Online sales have been eluding you – it’s a whole different skill set, for sure.
You know that being able to capture those potential online fans and turn them into customers is going to be huge for your business. You have a proven product that people love. They just haven’t heard of it online yet.”
“After reading some of your links, I realize that my traffic is so low and hence it’s no wonder I’m not selling online! I know I need to be blogging and doing more social media. I just haven’t figured out my “angle” and how to create compelling and engaging content. Maybe I’m overthinking it?”
If this sounds like you, read on!
Increasing your ecommerce sales – on Shopify or any other online store
One area where it makes a lot of sense to tackle two problems at once is retail sales on your ecommerce site. You could just up your marketing game and try to double or triple the amount of people who are visiting your site, but if your conversion rate is low, you’re going to be struggling to push a very heavy rock up a hill.
To explain what I mean, here is a little math experiment I did with a real life business whose sales are lower than they could be. This business has been around for almost ten years and they are quite well known. This shop’s wholesale and brick and mortar sales are thriving, but ecommerce hasn’t been a big part of their business so far. They built their business on Etsy, but when Etsy sales plummeted, they didn’t step up by marketing their own site hard. Instead, they just focused on what was working at the time, letting the online shop stagnate.
Here is what I told them after looking through their stats:
“I’ve taken a quick look at your Shopify stats, and I see that your traffic is low, your sales are low, and your conversion rate (the percentage of visitors that convert into sales) is quite low. An average conversion rate for any old ecommerce website is about 2-3%. Yours is less than 1%, which points to problems with the site. A well-loved brand like yours is capable of seeing a higher conversion rate (I’d love to see 5% for you).
You are currently getting about 30 sales a month from about 3,500 visitors.
Let’s imagine you’d like to get 200 sales per month from your online shop. At your current 1% conversion rate, you’d need 20,000 visitors a month to get that many sales. To get those 200 sales, you’d need to drive almost 6 times the traffic to your site that you are now.
With a well performing site and a healthy 5% conversion rate, you only need 4,000 visitors per month (which you almost have now) to get these 200 sales, not the 20,000 you need at the low conversion rate. That would be much less marketing legwork for you.
And let’s say that at the same time you improved your site, you put a smart marketing strategy into place. You actually get those 20,000 visitors, who will now bring in 1000 sales per month at a 5% conversion rate.”
I share this example to show how great it can be when you can tweak BOTH numbers (amount of visitors and amount of visitors which convert to sales).
Here’s a chart to illustrate:
On a phone? Tap here to see a mobile-friendly version.
The first thing to notice is how small even a 5% rate is. It looks teeny next to the amount of visitors you need to get, right? So that shows you just what a whopping huge amount of traffic you need to get to your site to expect a decent amount of sales. It’s a lot of work.
As you can also see, without that preliminary work on your website’s conversion rate, you’re essentially throwing away a big amount of the visitors who would have purchased from you had your website been more compelling and less confusing. In this example, improving the website without increasing traffic has you missing out on 800 sales a month. Increasing traffic without improving your website has you missing out on those same 800 sales. Only with the great website and heavy flow of traffic do you see those amazing 1000 sales per month.
Is this for real, or just for “big” businesses?
If these numbers sound crazy to you, let me assure you that they’re not. I am viewing one of our past clients’ stats right now, and she gets about 60,000 visitors and 3,000 sales per month. Her conversion rate is about 5%, and that gets her $100,000 – $200,000 in gross sales per month. Just on Shopify! We’re now working on a third aspect of this math puzzle for her: increasing her average order total, to bring the dollar amount up without needing to add more traffic.
A reader told me,
“I’m still interested in staying relatively small. Relying on Etsy less and gaining more sales in general is definitely a goal. But I’m not interested in having the same growth as some of your success stories – warehouses and dozens of employees and $100,000 in sales every month. I like the quiet days and flexible schedule that my business provides me, as well as the ability to work at home as I raise my family. This probably makes me sound so unambitious, but I thought it would be important information for you to have as you think about my next best step.”
This was so interesting to me. At Aeolidia, we’re all about businesses being as big as feels comfortable. There is definitely such a thing as too big. But you can have quiet days and a flexible stay at home schedule with your kids while also making big money and having employees – in fact, the employees make that possible. Aeolidia is a team of 18 and I emailed this reader from my back porch with my feet up and my kids visiting grandpa’s house.
Making more sales and making more money doesn’t mean that you can’t control your life and your day. But it is a valid concern: there has to be a phase of some pretty serious work to get to the other side where it can be calm again.
One way to avoid burnout and feeling too busy is to delegate. Hire experts like Aeolidia to do this for you. Sure, it’s a monetary investment, but when your time is as precious to you as this woman’s rightfully is, you want to make monetary investments whenever possible, rather than time investments.
Best next step: Hire Aeolidia to tackle both sides of this problem for you
If you feel like your online shop is having a little tea party in the sandbox, I invite you over to where the big kids are playing (I don’t know, the zip line?). Let’s improve your website AND drive some serious traffic to it and see what happens for your business.
Aeolidia is now offering marketing and SEO services along with custom ecommerce design. We are working with two agencies who are standouts in their fields, so we can be sure these important aspects of online sales are being taken care of correctly for our clients. I am EXTREMELY excited about this.
Maybe you’ve been delaying contacting me to work on your site because you’re not confident you’ll be able to drive traffic to it yourself? Worry no longer!
Contact us today if you’re ready to take your online sales to the next level. We’ll work on some real results for you.
What about your business?
Not sure if you’re ready? Let’s figure it out together. If your online shop is not getting as many sales as you’d like, you’ll want to check in on these three things:
- Do you have a product that people love? Do you sell something that people are clamoring to buy, or is it possible that your product is the problem, and you’ll never be able to drum up excitement for it? You can validate your product with in person sales (craft fairs, markets, pop up shops), wholesale relationships, or sales on online marketplaces. If your product sells like hotcakes everywhere but on your own site, that tells you that cracking the online sales nut is going to be important for your business.
- Is your website performing well? Calculate your conversion rate by dividing your sales by the number of visitors to your site (this post on our site will help), and see what your percentage is. If it’s much below 3%, your website is letting you down, and it’s time for a change. You don’t necessarily need to hire help with the website design – it could be your photography, your copywriting, your logo, your shipping rates, or something else that’s causing people to leave before buying. It could even be where you’re promoting your site.
- Are you getting enough traffic to your site to achieve the sales numbers you want? You have to do a bit more math here – figure out how many sales would make your business comfortably sustainable, then figure out how many people you need to visit your site at your current conversion rate to make those sales. Now calculate how many visitors you need by taking the number of sales you want and dividing it by your conversion rate (this post will help again). Are you getting enough visitors? How many more do you need to get, and how will you do that?
It really is that simple. When 1, 2, and 3 are taken care of, you can quit focusing on the frustrating work of building a business, and instead enjoy the phase where you’ve gained traction and now you can fine-tune, get creative, and work on the improvements that make your business enjoyable.
All you need to hire Aeolidia and expect a great return on your investment is:
- A product that people love.
- Success in at least one area – are you on track to make at least $100,000 in gross sales this year, but not impressed by your online retail sales? You’re exactly where we can help you.
- A willingness to make a monetary investment now and put in the work needed to see it 5, 10, or 25x your sales.
I am dying to hear about your business – let’s talk!
If your business is not yet at the point where an investment in this kind of help can be made, I suggest you get serious about improving your website, driving traffic to your site, and making a strategy for your business. Shopify also has a thorough post about improving your conversion rate.
You should see your online sales growing, just like a garden, when you put work (or money!) into it. If your work is not bearing fruit, it’s time to reevaluate your strategy.