How to Increase Online Sales

To increase online sales, the first step is diagnosing why our prospects are NOT taking the actions that lead to a sale.

Luckily for us, digital marketing tools make this possible.

As Einstein said; “half the solution is in understanding the problem”.

If we can understand why it is falling apart, we have a chance to fix it. Makes sense, right? Great! Here’s how we do that…

Step 1 – Identify Where the Sales Funnel is breaking down

The ‘where’ is the page or spot on your website where prospects are NOT taking the action you need them to take. I’ll show you exactly how to do this.

Begin by identifying the very last confirmation in your sales funnel.

For an eCommerce site, this last confirmation will be the ‘thank you’ page after a purchase is made.

For a service business, the last confirmation might be the thank you page the prospect sees after booking their appointment.

Once you have identified the last confirmation, use a spreadsheet to document every step the prospect had to take to get there.

Sales funnel example

  1. Visit Landing page
  2. Scroll down to bottom (so they can see the add to cart button)
  3. Click add to cart button
  4. Enter their shipping details
  5. Enter their payment details
  6. Click ‘checkout’ button
  7. Click ‘confirm’ button

We call the above steps a ‘funnel definition’.

Your sales funnel will probably look different than this example, and the key is to identify all (but only) the mandatory steps that must be taken before they arrive at the final confirmation.

Together, these steps make up the mandatory journey of the prospect towards the conversion.

Once you have the funnel definition, you can use Google Analytics and  other tools to identify at which step in their mandatory journey the prospects are falling off. This is the ‘where’. Take a look at the graphic below with the green arrows. This is actual data from a real sales funnel. That data and graph were generated in Google Analytics, using the feature called Funnel Visualization.

Once you know the ‘where’, you can then try to figure out the ‘why’. Without the where, you’ll never get to why, which is why we must begin with an accurate funnel definition and a funnel visualization.

This data is the foundation of conversion rate optimization (CRO). Without it, you’ll be like a blind man stumbling around in the dark, groping hopelessly for a light switch.

With this data you have a chance of success. And it still is only a chance. Not all conversion problems can be solved. But without the where and the why, conversions problems most certainly can never be solved.

Got it? Let’s move on…

Make sure these three tracking tools are working correctly on your site

Here are three essential three tracking tools you’ll need:

  • Google Tag Manager. Install GTM, then configure it to track the steps in your sales funnel. You’ll need to integrate this with Google Analytics.
  • Google Analytics. Before you begin, be sure to create two additional ‘Views’. You’ll need a CLEAN view to filter out your own visits to the website. You’ll also need a TEST view so you can test your configurations before unleashing them on your CLEAN view. Once you have all that setup, under the Conversions section, setup a Funnel Visualization (see sample below). A visualization of your sales funnel will track each step a prospect must take in their journey to a successful outcome. It is helpful to document this journey in a spreadsheet first, then use that spreadsheet as the map to configure GTM and GA.
  • User Engagement Recording. There are several choices on the market to choose from. We have a special agency account at Hotjar, and Smartlook, but you can pick any tool you like which records video of the users’s screens, as they navigate your site. These recordings will give you the ability to watch over their shoulder and see what they click on and how long they linger on various components of your page. These recordings will help you discover the ‘why’.

Step 2 – Identify where the online sales funnel is breaking down

The above tracking tools will supply you with information that can help identify the problem. Here are two methods for reviewing your data:

  1. Review screen recordings. By watching videos of your visitor’s journey through your site, you can often spot interface problems.
  2. Review drop-offs in your funnel visualization. Once Google Analytics has collected enough data, you’ll begin to see a pattern emerge.

As you can see in the above example, the majority of site visitors are bailing out after they view your product. If you could just get a small number of additional people clicking the Add to Cart button, your entire sales will improve with big impact on your revenue. Of the 231 lost visitors, if you could just get 14 additional people clicking the button, your sales would theoretically double. Your next step is to examine your product page and start coming up with hypothesis as to why them might be dropping off. The reasons will usually fall into one of these categories:

  • Price point is too high (or too low)
  • Images are not appealing
  • Descriptions are not appealing
  • Too much perceived risk
  • Genuinely not interested in the product. Could not see the relevance to their lives.

How do you know what the real issue is? This is where screen recordings can be very revealing. What components of the page did they dwell on or click? How much time did they spend? Did their behavior resemble someone who has true interest in the product?

Step 3 – Create the fix and test

Once you understand the problem better, and have a hypothesis on how to fix it, you’ll then need to test it. Unless the problem is obvious, (such a broken link), you should conduct AB testing to prove or disprove your hypothesis. Never trust your assumptions. Always AB test to prove them.

Summary

Not all conversion problems can be solved, but they are impossible to solve without first identifying where the problem is in the first place. Once you think you have identified the problem(s), you must test to confirm.


Benny Traub
Benny Traub

Benny is the lead instructor at MarketingEducation.org. He founded the Student Marketing Agency to give small businesses the ability to delegate marketing tasks to experienced students at a discount to typical agency rates. This arrangement also gives students and graduates the opportunity to practice their skills and stay on top of their chosen field, even while seeking other employment, and as a way to earn extra money.