Q: My site has been up and running for a couple of years, and I think I get a pretty good amount of traffic. However, my sales volume has stayed the same for months and doesn't seem to be growing. What can I do to get more people buying?
A: When entrepreneurs start online businesses, many focus their energies on two tasks-increasing traffic to their Web sites and refining their sales processes. After all, before you can make any sales, you need to get visitors, and you need convert those visitors to customers.
So if you can increase the traffic to your site or improve your visitor-to-customer conversion ratio, you'll get more people buying. But if you've already put a lot of work into these areas, maybe it's time to make sure you're not missing out on one of the cheapest, easiest techniques out there for increasing your sales: follow-up promotions.
The beauty of a follow-up promotion is that it doesn't get more people buying; it gets people buying more. It's a little-recognized fact that at least 30 percent of people who have purchased from you once will buy from you again if you follow up with them. When a person trusts you and likes your product or service enough to buy from you once, he or she will often buy from you again and again. Think about it: Nearly one-third of your customer base is just waiting for you to offer them something new!
In fact, your existing customer base is four or five times more likely to buy from you than a "cold" market-and the lifetime value of these customers is one of your business's greatest assets.
So how can you make the most of the relationship you've created with your existing customers? A great way to approach follow-up promotions is to reward your customers for their business-and this approach has the added benefit of increasing customer loyalty even while it generates new sales! You might send "thank you for your purchase" messages, special "preferred customer" offers or even free information.
Here are a few ideas for effective follow-up promotions:
Send confirmation messages. When someone signs up for your newsletter, downloads a report or otherwise leaves his contact information with you, he generally expects to get some sort of reply from you to let him know that you've received his request.
Many companies send out a message saying "Thank you for subscribing," but this is also an excellent opportunity to get a brief promotional message in front of your new subscribers. You might try something like this:
Thank you for subscribing to the "Ballroom Dancing Newsletter." You'll be receiving the next issue shortly, but in the meantime, please feel free to browse through our back issues at www.ballroomdancinglessons.com/newsletter.
As a brand-new member of our ballroom dancing community, we'd also like to offer you 15 percent off any one of our bestselling instructional videotapes. This offer is available only to new subscribers, and if you want to take advantage of it, you'll need to visit the following page:
Again, thanks for subscribing, and keep on dancing!
Send regular follow-up messages. Another great opportunity for follow-up sales is shortly after a customer has made a purchase. It is always a good customer service practice to follow up with your customers at a predetermined interval after they have made a purchase from you, just to make sure they are happy with their purchase and to see if they have any questions.
Of course, this is also the perfect time to present your customers with a follow-up offer. For example, if you offer a 30-day free trial of a software product, then there is a natural opportunity to contact people when their free trial is about to expire, reminding them of the benefits of the full version. Similarly, you might try offering customers an extended warranty plan, an upgrade to the product they purchased or even a brand-new product they might use with their original purchase.
The key to this approach is to emphasize in your message that you are simply following up with customers to make sure they are happy with their purchases. The sales offer should be secondary to the customer service inquiry. You'll be surprised how well this type of low-key approach can work!
And for a real one-two punch, look into setting up an e-mail autoresponder series that will automatically schedule and send each follow-up offer you create to your customers. This way, you don't have to worry about scheduling these promotions yourself-you can simply sit back and watch the orders come rolling in.
Corey Rudl, president and founder of the Internet Marketing Center, is the author of the best-selling course Insider Secrets to Marketing Your Business on the Internet. An internationally sought-after Internet business consultant and speaker, Corey focuses his energy on the research and development of practical, cost-effective Internet marketing strategies and software for the small and homebased business owner.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.