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E-commerce: How to increase sales by getting to know your customers

I don’t know how many times I have already talked about how to increase sales on your online stores.

I sound like a broken record at times, but this is the strength of online sales: there is no miracle solution to reach to success with your store, but there are hundreds that allow you to reach this result little by little.

If you are reading this article, you are probably interested in increasing your sales, your conversion rate, how to increase the average customer value… so, basically: how to gain more money with your store.

Which is the most basic issue for your sales? Well, the main problem is to get thousands of views and just a few sales.

Researches show that on 1000 customers that reach your website, only 8% of them adds an item to their cart, so 80 of them. But of these 80, only 32% of them will complete their transaction, meaning about 24 effective customers.

From 1000 to 24, it’s easy to understand that the problem lies in these numbers.

This is the reason why the internet is full of guides aimed to how to increase the conversion rate on your store… so is this one of those?

Yes and no: rather than suggesting a miracle method, I would like to focus on the issue, since by analyzing this issue, we can get to a solution.

Usually there isn’t just one cause that causes this high abandonment rate. So how should we find them out and fix them? The easiest way would be to ask directly to your customers!

Surveys and questions to users are one of the most powerful tools a vendor can use to find out several things, among which:

  • Identify possible issues with your sales.
  • Offer targeted items aimed to your customers’ needs.
  • Identify the most effective marketing tools to spread the word about your store.

Just like any other tool, surveys as well need to be used wisely in order to increase their effectiveness, starting from the reason why they are being used.
Let’s take for instance the situation we have discussed about above: I own a store with a great number of views but very low conversion rate, so I need to know why can’t I turn these views into a higher profit.

In this case let’s focus on that 68% that adds an item to the cart and then leaves it behind.

We know there are people interested in our products, so we don’t run the risk of wasting time with casual viewers who just came to our store. So what happened? What brought these potential customers to abandon their cart?

Sometimes that’s due to events out of our controll, such as lack of funds, connection issues, distractions etc. But even in these cases sending them a survey via email can encourage them to come back, since they might simply have forgotten about their purchase after being distracted by something (Amazon integrated a similar system on their platform).

Other than being an effective “call” for these users, a survey can help us understand if there are any issue with our checkout process.

Some of the most common answers are:

  • I didn’t expect such a high shipping cost/ I noticed there were extra costs – Watch out for unexpected costs, they are the higher cause of cart abandonment.
  • I couldn’t browse/ I had issues opening pages – Always make sure the navigation through your pages is functional or you might risk losing customers.

There might be an endless list of causes according to specific stores, which is why directly questioning your customers is the most direct way to fix any possible issue.

Pro tip: if you use WooCommerce, you can easily integrate a survey system for incompete orders thanks to the WooCommerce Pending Order Survey plugin.

So this is a way to use a survey system in order to fix issues on your store… is that the only one use we can make of it?

No, this tool could also be a good way to optimize your store and making it more performing.

How? Well, consider introducing a question right in the spot where every customer will eventually find themselves before purchasing a product: the checkout process.

Why right here? For two reasons:

  • We are only going to get answers from actual customers who are interested in our products.
  • It’s proven that there’s a high chance that customers will answer an optional question during the checkout.

What to ask? Even in this case the choice falls on you and the kind of store you are offering, some of the most common questions are:

  • How did you find out about our store? – A good way to identify which marketing tool works for you and focus on it.
  • Which product would you like to see in our store? – In order to find out your customers’ taste and offer targeted products.

Pro tip: if you use WooCommerce, you can easily introduce this function using the WooCommerce Surveys plugin.

Any customer can become a statistical tool able to help your store.

Before we conclude, I want to give you a couple of tips concerning surveys on your store:

  1. Show a direct objective – When asking a question, it’s a good idea to show why it’s being asked. For instance: “We are renewing the winter catalog, is there some specific product you wish to see?” so that customers are going to feel more motivated to provide an answer.
  2. Ask your question clearly – The question must be as quick and clear as possible, complex and long questions will alienate customers.
  3. Try and try again – Don’t just make one questions: experiment. Try every other month and check out your customers’ response.

Now it’s your turn! You have a powerful tool and you are free to choose how and where to use it, just give it a try!

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