Selling online has grown tremendously the past few years and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. And with over 1.7 billion online shoppers, it’s no wonder why many businesses have transitioned into selling online.
Unfortunately, not all of them are doing it the right way. In fact, many brands commit this big mistake when selling online. Today, we’ll uncover what this mistake is and what you can do to avoid it.
Selling Online: What’s the Big Mistake?
Here it is:
A lot of brands focus purely on selling and not on providing value, which has to come first in order to build trust and authority.
Understandably, brands get online and think, “Sell, sell, sell!” And yes, selling is of course important. You have to make money in order to keep the lights on.
However, when businesses prioritize promoting or making sales, they turn off potential customers and miss the chance to influence people to make a purchase. This is because customers often want to know what’s in it for them and how a purchase can directly benefit them.
You have to remember that your target customers don’t care about you making money. They care about you helping them solve their problems. That’s their priority. Therefore, it should also be your priority. Prioritize problem-solving and the money will follow.
Let’s get into this in a little more detail.
Why is Providing Value Before Selling Important?
1. It Builds Trust
Providing value shows that you’re not simply after people’s money. Rather, you’re genuine and authentic, thus building trust among your customers.
Social media is a great place to provide free value. By creating relevant content and posting consistently, people will want to learn more about you. Similarly, actively engaging with your followers – asking questions, sharing relevant tagged posts, replying to comments – shows that you want to establish relationships with them and not just sell to them.
Email marketing campaigns can also help bring in customers. But again, focus on providing value before you go in for the sale. Consider sending emails that exist purely to help them. Offer tips and guidance, direct their attention to free resources, and ask for their feedback and insight. (People love knowing that they’re being heard.)
After you’ve made a habit of that, yes, you can send emails about upcoming sales and promos, similar products based on their purchases, or DIY tips related to your offerings. You can even send discount coupons to those who haven’t visited your online store in a while.
Finally, providing excellent customer experience goes a long way in building trust between you and your audience. It shows that you’re happy to go the extra mile, beyond getting their money.
How can you do this? Optimize your site speed and make it mobile-friendly. Recommend products visitors might like, add a designated “sale” page, have an easy check-out process. And always respond to comments or inquiries in a helpful and timely manner.
Doing these will show people that you’re focused on offering solutions and worthwhile brand experience. You should commit to these habits even after someone’s already shopped with you. Their experience doesn’t end once they’ve entered their credit card information. You’re going for longevity — customers who stick with you. This means that you need to stick with them.
2. It Establishes You as an Expert/Authority in Your Field
Clearly defining what you’re selling, who it’s for, how it’s beneficial, and why you stand out makes it easier to attract customers. When you provide value without focusing solely on selling, you automatically do this.
An effective way to demonstrate your value is through live webinars or product videos where you can showcase the features of your products and services. These are great for informing people what they can expect or why it’s a good buy — without being overly promotional.
You can also write authoritative and targeted blog posts about important news and updates related to your industry. This shows that you do research and stay updated, thus bringing new customers to your site and encouraging visitors to share your content. Bear in mind that just because your content doesn’t focus specifically on your product or service doesn’t mean that it’s not helping your brand grow.
Remember, showing that you’re credible and knowledgeable about your brand and other important topics related to your industry establishes your position as an industry leader. As an added bonus, this further helps establish trust, which you now know is immensely important.
3. It Gives You an Extra Touchpoint
People are going to look at different resources before deciding to make a purchase or spend on your brand. So, your task is to provide all the relevant information they might need in order to make informed decisions. This means that you need to communicate with them consistently over time. One touchpoint — meaning, connecting with them once – isn’t going to cut it. While the numbers vary, marketing experts generally agree that you need a minimum of approximately seven touchpoints before someone will consider spending money with you.
You need to connect with them at least seven times, slowly building trust and establishing your authority, always providing exceptional value.
Here are a few ways you can provide value and also establish more touchpoints with your target audience.
Create a landing page where people can learn more about you and your product/service and also enter their email address to receive more information or some sort of freebie. Make sure this landing page is both informative and interesting so that it doesn’t only direct incoming traffic and generate leads, but also gives clear reasons why and how visitors can benefit from your offerings.
The cherry on top is that in collecting their email addresses, you can provide further value and easily increase the number of touchpoints.
Posting testimonials of satisfied and happy customers is also a great way to provide value and connect with potential customers. From thank-you tweets, Instagram and Facebook comments to Pinterest pins, show your following that you’re transparent in sharing what your current customers have to say about it. You can even dedicate a page of user-generated posts featuring your products to showcase your items to new visitors, increase social media engagement, and build a community of loyal fans.
Lastly, consider building an FAQ page where you respond to questions page visitors may have. This will help people find the answers they need, minimize possible dissatisfactions, and establish yourself as a helpful resource.
4. It Gives You a Chance to Listen and Get Feedback
While you’re not always sure about what they’ll say, it’s essential that you ask and consider your customers’ feedback. This will show that you value their input (which they’ll greatly appreciate) and help you continuously improve your brand.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. Conduct phone interviews with your existing customers. Send surveys to your email list. Host live Q&As, run polls, or ask questions on social media. Have a review and rating system on your online shop where people can leave comments. You’d be surprised how happy people are to share their thoughts and experiences. Your customers want you to care about their feelings.
All of these things can help build credibility and transparency around your brand. Also, regardless of what they’ll say, customer feedback is always valuable in connecting with them and enhancing your brand image. Furthermore, this is an excellent learning opportunity for you. This information is pure gold. Instead of needing to guess how your target customers feel, they can flat-out tell you. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Listen more than you talk and you’ll find out what your audience truly wants. Then, you can deliver and take your strategy for selling online to the next level.
5. It Enables You to Get Creative
Selling can get old. Talking only about your product/service over and over again is not only boring for your audience, but it’ll get boring for you, too.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little more wiggle room to try new things? You do!
Providing value is an opportunity for you to show the fun and creative side of your brand – while offering customers what they want.
Here are some ideas to get customers excited:
- Feature user-generated content.
- Run social media competitions.
- Give away freebies – free samples, returns, shipping, surprise gifts.
- Start referral or loyalty programs.
- Share videos of happy customers using your product.
You’ll notice that as a byproduct, these ideas for providing value while getting creative also help in — ta-da! — selling. It’s just not nearly as direct or in-your-face as hard-selling, which is exactly what you want. People know when they’re being sold to, and they don’t typically enjoy it when it’s obnoxious or harsh.
Remember what we told you earlier. Your audience doesn’t care about making you money. They want to know what’s in it for them. By providing value — without directly asking for the sale — you answer that question.
Having an online business is not all about selling online and making money. In fact, it’s primarily about the customers – connecting with them, listening to them, and catering to their needs. And, as you now understand, this automatically leads to sales. It’s a win-win. You’re not putting sales on the back burner. Instead, you’re focusing on the thing that’ll get you more sales in the long run: providing value.
That’s why providing value enhances your brand image, gives people reasons to choose you, and sets you apart from the competition. It helps build trusting and healthy relationships with your customers. Additionally, it establishes your position as an expert in your field. It allows you to provide extra touchpoints for consumers to consider. Furthermore, it enables you to listen to people’s feedback. Above all, it gives you an opportunity to showcase your brand’s creativity.
We know it can feel scary to do less selling in favor of something like merely providing value. But when you have the right strategy, goals, and processes, providing value turns into endless sales.
How are you providing value to your customers? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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