Some people go into business to pursue a passion — but if that passion doesn’t pay, the business won’t last. One way to keep a passion going in the modern marketplace is to create a marketing strategy designed to increase online sales.

Whether or not your business has a brick-and-mortar presence, it is critical to focus on enhancing the digital home for your company. It’s the way of commerce these days. In fact, in 2014, global ecommerce sales were around $1.34 billion, according to Statista. By 2026, these online sales are expected to reach nearly $8.15 billion — and that’s likely due to the way people are shopping today more than the realities of inflation.

Regardless of your industry and niche, you’ll be wise to plan and execute a sales strategy that will enhance your online presence and improve your bottom line. When you implement sales techniques that are proven best practices, you’ll be more likely to continue sharing your passion with the world for as long as you wish.

How to increase sales for your business

A comprehensive marketing strategy should be part of any business plan, as the sales process starts with connecting with a potential customer in some way. In today’s sales world, your digital marketing strategies can be one of the most effective ways to make those connections, strengthen relationships, and encourage people to become loyal customers for years.

Selling on the Internet requires substantial planning if you don’t have time or money to waste. To begin, schedule some time with your marketing team (even if you’re the only member).

Learning how to increase online sales — to understand what works specifically for your business — takes time and often requires experimentation. Be realistic with this process; the more time you take to brainstorm and consider the most effective sales tactics, the more success you’ll see.

1. Develop detailed buyer personas to define your target audience

The first step in understanding how to improve sales is to gain a clear vision of who exactly you wish to have as a customer. Do not make the common mistake of having a very broad concept of who you are trying to connect with. The narrower the focus on your ideal customer, the easier it will be to attract that kind of person. 

To develop this definition, create what is known as a buyer persona. Also known as a customer avatar, this starts by imagining a particular person who is your ideal customer. Give this person a name and physical description, list all their personal demographics, and consider aspects of them, like their pain points, habits, and interests.

Once you have this idea of a happy customer, you can speak directly to them with all of your sales prospecting and marketing efforts. Don’t worry about leaving out other potential customers. Once you’ve connected with people who relate to your buyer persona, you can always create a new one and implement a new strategy for a different avatar.

2. Craft a unique selling proposition (USP)

A question I ask all new clients is, “What makes your brand first, better, or different?” When you can clearly answer this, you’re on your way to creating what is known as a unique selling proposition, or USP. Understanding what makes you stand out among the competition is the very heart of an effective sales pitch

Your USP should be focused on two important things: First, you need to understand the problem that your buyer persona is facing, and then you need to provide the best solution to whatever the problem is. When you focus on this end result, you are on your way to creating a clear marketing message that will help you improve sales online and offline.

3. Build strong customer relationships by establishing trust

Once you know who you’re marketing to and how you can help them, it’s time to create marketing materials to connect with them. As you learn how to make sales, you’ll eventually realize that sales are all about relationships. 

Relationships mean forging a connection that is built on trust, respect, and confidence that you can consistently provide the desired product or services. Because trust is so important, it’s important not to endlessly pitch online sales but instead focus on excellent customer service. If your potential buyer thinks all you care about is money, they may look elsewhere — no matter how great your brand is.

4. Optimize your sales funnel to maximize conversion rates

One way to create this relationship is through a method known as a sales funnel. This is a sales marketing automation process that starts with a wide net to attract as many prospects with a free offer, such as an e-book, a discount code, or another lead generation tool. 

One way to create a funnel is by announcing the offer on a social media platform or paid advertisement campaign. Once the person provides their email address, perhaps through a pop-up on a landing page on your website, they are in the funnel. You can create an automatic email campaign that sweetens the offer and keeps your business top of mind until they complete the sale. 

When you optimize this process by focusing on your buyer persona, you’ll improve your sales conversion rate — which is just one metric you can track along the way as you determine if your strategy is successful.

5. Continuously improve and innovate your products or services

Even if you follow all the best sales tips and implement marketing efforts flawlessly, you won’t see results if you aren’t constantly innovating. The reality is that you must also put time and energy into refining your catalog of services and products to continually meet the needs and desires of your target audience. 

This is usually the fun part of having a business you’re passionate about, but constant improvement can also be a challenge. So, it’s worth noting that learning how to improve sales requires a brand that gets better every day.  

6. Develop a strong social media presence

To connect with your target audience, you need to meet them where they are. Today, most people spend time on social media. Statista reports that nearly six billion people worldwide use at least one social media account. Make sure you determine where your buyer persona hangs out online and focus your presence there.

It’s better to have a robust presence on one or two social media accounts than to spread yourself thin by trying to be everywhere all at once. Some businesses naturally make more sense on some platforms — wedding photographers, for example, should show their work on Instagram — but it’s most important to be where your customers are. 

Once you have narrowed your focus, create a plan for regular posting. You can use scheduling tools to post email newsletters automatically to your Facebook or Instagram accounts. And be sure to reply to comments and encourage discussions, to improve relationships over time.

7. Send targeted and personalized email campaigns

One of the best strategies to increase sales is to implement an email marketing campaign. The average return on investment for this type of marketing is $36 for every $1 spent, making it one of the most effective practices. One reason for this is the ability to personalize email campaigns.

Those who sign up for email lists want to stay connected, so create a plan to send regular messages. Here, a yoga retreat I visited sends me enticing offers through direct emails at least once a month with a list of upcoming programs they already know I’m interested in.

As you gather email addresses through your sales funnel campaigns, keep your lists tidy. Email segmentation is a process in which you have various lists rather than one huge one. This makes sales promotion easier because you’ll know how to directly target specific buyers who are interested in what your business has to offer. 

You can use templates to make the process of creating emails easier, so you can send messages frequently. If your messages are targeted to address the specific needs of your target audience, the receivers will appreciate your efforts.

8. Run paid targeted digital marketing campaigns

To speed up the sales process, you can increase your marketing budget and pay for targeted digital ads. Many entrepreneurs struggle to get noticed — especially in the face of huge corporate marketing budgets — so it’s crucial that you narrowly define the potential buyers you want to target with any paid advertising campaign.

With all marketing efforts, start by identifying the goals of your paid ad campaign. You may want to increase the number of prospects in your email list, the number of followers of your social media accounts, or simply a better conversion rate. When you have a goal to measure, you can create a customer journey that drives people to complete the action you desire.

9. Leverage the power of data analytics to refine your marketing strategies

As you implement new, unique ways to increase sales, you’ll want to make sure you’re hitting your targets. The only way to ensure that your efforts are hitting the mark is by tracking the metrics associated with your strategy’s goals. Pick no more than a few quantitative marketing metrics to track at least monthly. Some options are:

  • Email click rate
  • Organic traffic to a web page
  • New followers on social media platforms
  • Total sales
  • Conversion rate
  • Engagement on social media
  • New email subscribers
  • Open rate

10. Implement a customer feedback system to identify areas for improvement

You know the importance of customer service for encouraging your buyers to become lifelong, loyal shoppers of your brand. One way to share this priority with your customers is to ask them to share valuable feedback about their customer experience. 

You can do this by creating a short customer survey emailed directly to their inboxes. Another way is to provide an incentive that encourages them to post testimonials on sites like Google Business or Facebook Business. 

Then, be sure to reply in a constructive, professional manner to each person who took the time to share their thoughts. Always view criticism as constructive and an opportunity to show how much you value the thoughts of everyone — even when you think their opinion isn’t fair. Always look for ways to improve.

11. Continuously invest in the professional development of your sales team

Another way to constantly improve is to support your team’s learning through professional development opportunities. It may not seem like how to drive sales, but a happy, growth-oriented team will have greater motivation and better skills to convert sales.

Instead of requiring your team to attend specific webinars or workshops, consider having an open-door policy of encouraging them to come to you with professional development ideas. Let them know that you have a budget for them to grow within the organization, and you may be surprised by the ideas that interest them — and help your bottom line.

12. Identify strategies to upsell to current customers

Once you have a satisfied customer, you can offer other ways to deepen their relationship with your brand. Instead of simply focusing on getting new prospects, look at how to increase sales with people who already know and love your products and services.

Brainstorm with your sales team new ways to create packages, long-term solutions, and whatever makes sense for your niche. If you’re looking to understand how to increase sales on Shopify, for example, start with people who have already purchased from your online store. Since you already have their email address, you could create a VIP program that offers a special discount for new products or services.

13. Form partnerships with complementary business

While you may think of other businesses as competition, you can enhance your current position in the marketplace by working with others. When you partner with businesses that offer complementary services or products, both you and the other business owners can leverage each other’s customer base. 

Be creative as you consider what businesses you’ll want to partner with, but also be cautious. A crisis with another brand could negatively impact yours, so thoroughly interview whomever you want to work with.

14. Implement a customer loyalty program to reward your clients

You don’t have to own a café with a punch card that offers customers to buy nine coffees to get the 10th one for free. You can have a customer loyalty program no matter your industry. Start once again by figuring out what will most motivate your buyer persona. If you offer something no one actually wants, they won’t feel special — and making them feel special is the point.

I signed up for this reward program when I bought some paint. The craft store, Michael’s, not only sends me coupons via email but also sends reminders to spend my coupons.

One way to find out what matters most to your best customers is to simply ask them. Would they like to learn about new products before everyone else, or would they prefer to get a discount with their purchase? One of the most popular perks for customer loyalty is free shipping on online sales. Be creative — but be strategic, too.

15. Implement a referral program with loyal customers

Finally, ask those loyal customers to share the news about your brand with their friends and family. Referral programs are an excellent strategy when figuring out how to increase sales. These methods are win-win: You offer the customer an incentive as well as provide an incentive to the new customer. 

Send an announcement as part of a content marketing strategy and post the new plan on your social media accounts. Then, when a customer refers a friend, you can thank them publicly, too.

Continuously embrace technology and simplify your sales processes

All of these steps to increase your sales online have something in common: Continuously embracing the newest technology to meet the ever-evolving needs of your current and prospective customers. Even if your business was at one point completely off-grid, the economy is shifting — and you can too.

As a first step in this process to expand your reach and improve your bottom line, take a critical look at your website. After all, much of the marketing work you’ll do will drive traffic to your website. So make sure it functions well on all devices and is designed with your buyer persona in mind. If you find that it doesn’t match these goals, then it may be time to refresh your website and build new landing pages as part of a refined marketing strategy.

Also, there’s no need to make this process a one-person show. Get the opinions of your team members and other stakeholders in your business. Reach out to some of your most loyal customers and trusted business associates. It will help to get a fresh perspective on your current digital presence, which will make it easier to improve your brand in the future.