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How to Sell Products Online

How to Sell Products Online

Digital marketing has transformed how to sell products online. Selling products from home and making money from selling online is now a huge and increasingly sophisticated business. The good news is that you can learn what you need to know without a huge amount of effort and you can learn by doing, refining your marketing as you figure out what works best for you. Using digital marketing can turn a side business into a real money maker.

The Benefits of Using Digital Marketing to Sell Products Online

  • Start Immediately. In most cases, you can be on your way to earning in just a few clicks. With a computer, internet connection and a bank account, you are in business.
  • Low cost to get started. You can start selling products from home and start earning money online without needing startup money. Many of your options are free or low cost.
  • Extend your reach. Selling is a game of numbers. The more people you can reach, the faster you will find customers. And most people don’t buy at the first opportunity. Digital marketing lets you stay in touch as customers take their time deciding and ensure that you are there when they are ready.
  • Target a specialized niche. Trying to sell to everyone is a waste of effort and resources. You are better off in focusing on those people most likely to buy. With digital marketing tools you can fine tune targeting your message.
  • Customers buy online more and more. People are buying more things online more often than ever before. If you want to make money selling products from home, online is where to be.
Choosing What to Sell Online - Ecommerce Marketing

Deciding What to Sell

You have many options for deciding what to sell online and how to go to market. The five most common ways to sell products online are:

  • Associate marketing: Select items to advertise and promote on your website. Networks like Amazon Affiliate or Google AdSense set it up so that when someone clicks a link to a product that you place on your site, you earn money.
  • Direct selling: You can rep brands like dōTERRA, Mary Kay, and Pampered Chef. As an individual seller or someone running a network of representatives, you earn money on what you sell and a commission on sales in your downline.
  • Drop shipping: You can focus on digital marketing, and leave it to the manufacturer or importer to do the paperwork and ship the product.
  • Make and sell your own products. You can set up shop for free on sites like Shopify, Etsy, eBay, Zibbet, and Amazon.
  • Sell services. You can freelance on dozens of sites from Craigsist to Upwork.

Put Outbound Marketing to Work Selling Products from Home

Whatever you decide to sell, you will need to make outbound marketing work for you. Outbound marketing is how you find potential customers, get their attention, and motivate them to make a purchase. Outbound marketing was time-consuming and expensive when it meant advertising, manning tables at fairs, and hitting the phones. And you never really knew what was working. Digital marketing is the best way to reach more customers with the least time or effort. You can easily measure what works and keep refining, getting more efficient all the time. The Digital Marketing School is ready to help you master these key skills and best learn how to sell products online.

Put Outbound Marketing to Work Selling Products from Home

Your website functions as your storefront as well as a place where you can interact with and help customers with articles and multi-media that answers their questions, gives them tips and ideas, provides advice and overall enhances their experiences.

Your first step is to choose a platform. Old-fashioned HTML websites built from scratch by coders have been replaced by easy, nearly do-it-yourself “content management system” options like WordPress. With the use of ecommerce “plug-ins” like Magento and WooCommerce, you have the ability to customize your store. You can also create sites on ecommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and Squarespace.

You next big decision is to figure out how you will accept payment. The easiest way to handle this is with a third-party payment processor. PayPal is one of the best known examples, where customers go to PayPal to complete the transaction. If you want to take payment directly, you need to set up a merchant account and a payment gateway. Things to consider are the fees your payment provider charges, how long it takes to get the money, how easy it is to integrate their solution into your web site, and if the solution meets security standards that safeguard you and your customer’s  identities and financial information.

When designing your site, you need to make it super easy for customers to find what they want and pay you. You also may want the ability to suggest other things they can purchase, evaluate options, and learn more. The experience matters, so ensure that shoppers enjoy the process equally well on a desktop, tablet and phone.

Use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to Sell Products from Home

Search engine optimization—SEO basics

Search engine optimization has evolved since the days of filling a website with keywords and farming links on list websites. Search engines use complex algorithms to find to most relevant results. Some of the factors that Google and competitors use to track and rank sites are:

  • Value of content. Content that is often cited, has inbound links, and generates engagement is considered more valuable to web searchers.
  • Trustworthiness. Search engines rank content from publishers and authors with expertise higher.
  • Quality. Well-written content with proper grammar, a high readability score, and correct spelling counts for more.
  • Relevance. Search engines use keywords to figure out what content best matches searches. Modern search engines use context and concept families for a more accurate and subtle understanding of what is on any given page.
  • Richness. Substantial, lengthy content, multimedia photos, graphs, video, and interactive features are given more weight.
  • SEO best practices. Your content will rank higher if you properly use keywords in text, metadata, headlines, the first sentence, subheads, anchor text, and sprinkled throughout the page.
  • Technical/functional issues. Visitor experience is taken into consideration. Use of responsive design, load speed, structured data, HTTPS, a site map, and solid coding help.
  • Site usage. Stats like bounce rate, time on site, pages visited, and repeat visits are figured in.

Social Media: Marketing, Advertising and Social Selling

Social media marketing is using social media to find and engage potential customers. Creating an account on one of the popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter is all it takes to get started. Resist the temptation of opening accounts everywhere. Social media only works if you are social on it. You have to start and maintain conversations. It is not a place to constantly push product. If you do that, people will avoid you like the plague. Focus instead on the needs and interests of your audience and use pictures. Look for likes, comments, and shares. If all you are doing is posting, you are wasting your time. Pick one platform and do it well before opening another account somewhere else.

Social media advertising is much more obviously commercial. The average post on Facebook is only seen by 2% of your followers—assuming you have followers! To actually reach people in volume on any of the social media platforms, you have to pay. All of the social media platforms offer different kinds of programs in a range of prices and payment structures. Hootsuite has an excellent overview of social media advertising options here.

Social Selling is a new buzzword for using social media to sell—finding, connecting with, understanding, and selling prospects. Social selling is a set of relationship-building strategies used on one or several social media accounts. Pushing product is counter-productive. They key part of social selling is listening to your prospects and providing solutions, tips, and ideas at the right time. You need to be personally, actually involved. If your social media program is a bunch of robots just posting content, you are just a spam machine. Listen to what people are saying about problems your product addresses and pay particular attention to requests for help and recommendations. Then provide value—something personal and relevant that directly answers their question.

How to Sell Online with Email Marketing

Here we are going to cover the essentials of how to sell online with email marketing. Using email to develop relationships with customers and sell products is a proven tactic. It is one place where you can finely target your audience and provide highly relevant content to them.

It all begins with the list. You need a pool of people to send email to. Regulations meant to curb spam mean you can’t email total strangers. You need people to “opt in” and give you permission to send them email. Your initial list is likely small; friends, family and early customers are the best place to start. Going for big numbers by sending to people who haven’t given you permission will get you in a world of hurt, from being kicked off an email platform to getting fined. You can build your list by asking people to sign up on your web site and by asking customers if they would like to get email. You can also ask people to sign up on social media. Give people a specific reason and incentive to sign up.

When you have a list, then you need to create emails to send. Start with your audience. What are their needs and interests that you can address in an email? Then figure out what you want to achieve with each mailing. What are your goals? With these two things in mind, you are ready to write. The key components are:

  • Subject line: This is the most important part of your email. It is what makes your mail stand out in the inbox and what inspires the recipient to open it.
  • From name: Make sure that your recipients will recognize who is doing the sending.
  • Preheader: This is a short summary of the email at the very top—it is what people see in their preview panes. It works with the subject line to inspire people to open.
  • Call to action: This is what you want the recipient to do when they open and read your email. Make it compelling and easy.

Make sure your messages work on mobile devices—over 55% of email is now read on mobile devices. Check how your email looks on different devices and email platforms with Litmus or Email on Acid. Don’t overload them with design, which makes them slow to load—and they look spammy to email filters. Put the most important information in the top left quadrant of the email and arrange content in the order you want it read. The call to action should be in the preview window, not the very bottom of a long email. Consider several calls to action spread throughout the email copy. And always remember to include an easy unsubscribe link.

Segment your list and send the most targeted messages possible. Test an A and B version at least (and maybe a C and D version) to see which messages, designs, and calls to action work best. Personalizing email is one easy way to dramatically impact success.

Sending the email is only the first step. Watch performance statistics like a hawk and follow up when warranted. If you find a recipient who has opened the email, especially if they opened it more than once, you might want to follow up with a call. You can also track if people share the email with others—call them as well. And if people respond to the call to action, answer back as quickly as possible.

Gain backlinks to Rank Higher on Search Engines

Link Building—Establishing Credibility and Attracting Relevant Visitors

One of the best ways to get traffic to your site is by earning links to your content from influential personalities and brands online. They mention you and link to your content. Those links help you in two ways:

  • They bring highly interested visitors to your site.
  • Search engines recognize the authority of the links and give you “link juice,” that is value in the search algorithm that helps your content rank higher—again bringing you more and higher quality visitors.

To learn more about the value of links, read Google’s article Search Quality Rater Guidelines. They cover the concept of E-A-T: Expert, Authoritative, Trustworthy content. When you are writing, creating infographics, adding photos, or hosting video, think of these ideas for creating worthy, linkable, high ranking material.

Not all links are good links. When a quality site or person links to you, you get value in terms of your content being seen as worthwhile—that’s “link juice.” If the site linking to you is of low quality, such as pages of lists of links called a link farm, you get zero link juice, and in fact may be penalized. It is about the company you keep. Good sites have subject matter worth in terms of Domain Authority, specific content value as Page Authority, and integrity as measured by their Spam Score. You have several ways to get links:

  • Create them yourself. When you create a social media page, you can link to your web site. You can also create a Yelp profile, post how-tos on how-to advice sites like eHow, and post on sites like SlideShare and Medium. Self-created links don’t have very much link juice, but they do collect visitors and funnel them to your site. They help get your content noticed so that you can go after better links.
  • Guest blog: You’ll have to be invited or ask to be invited, but reaching out to influential sites and offering content is a great way to get links. Offer to write something extremely relevant to a specific site and make sure it serves their audience. Most sites will not run a thinly disguised commercial message. Search for influential sites in your particular niche and reach out to them one by one.
  • Get mentioned by major media and influencers. First, if you have been active and have been creating great content, you might already be mentioned. Not all mentions are linked, however. Use Fresh Web Explorer from Moz to find out where you are mentioned, then reach out and ask them to link to your content.
  • Connect to fans, customers, and partners. Give content to partner organizations they can use on their web sites and social media. Reach out to fans and customers who are active online to encourage them to mention your site.
  • Court influencers. Seek out thought leaders in your niche and ask them to review your products, mention your tips, and link to your site. Called “influencer marketing,” the right shout out from the right person is incredibly valuable.
  • Get involved. When you sponsor something, the site hosting the event will link to you. When you speak or give a seminar or workshop, you’ll get a link on the program. When you think about it, you’ll come up with lots of ways to be active in your niche and earn grateful links.
Black Hat SEO - It is not good for Digital Marketing your Business

Because links are so important, it is natural that people have tried to manipulate them. Some bad practices are out there that will actually hurt your site and ranking. Avoid these “black hat” link practices:

  • Never purchase a link. Search engines know who is selling links and will punish you for trying to buy your way into rankings. Your site could even get blacklisted.
  • Don’t exchange links simply for reciprocity. Links work only when they are genuine and relevant. Search engine algorithms can discover irrelevant and manipulative reciprocity in an instant. The penalties are as severe as those for buying links.
  • Don’t sign up for directories and link farms. Search engines know huge lists are useless to searchers and that they are primarily a way to try to manipulate search engines. They do you no good and will put you at risk for search penalties.
  • Here is a more comprehensive list of manipulative link building tactics.

Inbound links—links from other sites—are not the only links worth your attention. Sending your visitors to quality, relevant material from links on your site is also valued by search engines and readers. You can do this through embedded links in content. You’ll see we have done this right in this article. You can also create resource pages and curated lists. If you want to find quality, relevant content, you can discover options to link to through the advanced Google operators tool.

Engage the Power of Digital Marketing

When exploring how to sell products online, digital marketing cannot be beat. We hope these tips inspire you to raising your game when selling products from home and making money from selling online. We’ve just scratched the surface, and there is quite a bit you’ll need to know about each tactic. The important thing is to get started. Learning by doing is not only more effective, you can earn money while doing it. Stay connected to the Digital Marketing School to perfect your skills and ramp up your results.

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