If you strongly engage in an online retail revenue stream, you will inevitably engage in trial and error. Some things will work, others won’t…it is just the way of the online world. Furthermore, depending on how you market your products and the overall brand identity you’ve established for your company, some trials will be to your benefit while they might not work for a similar company, albeit with a different overall identity.

You really have to try new things to see if they work. Nothing in business is fruitless if you decide to learn from everything you do. If you try something new and it doesn’t work out, you didn’t fail…you simply learned what not to do.

One quick disclaimer before we begin…if all you have is an Etsy site (or similar) right now, that is perfectly fine, but some of these trials below you will not be able to logistically engage in. That said, I would still look into these experiments and modify to the best of your ability depending on your online selling platform.

Let’s look at some website sales experiments (trials) to see how you can change things up from time to time and track your success (or lack of):

Trial #1

Offer just one product on your home page. I’m going to assume that you sell a number of products on your website, and I’m more than positive that they are all awesome. That said, I’d strongly recommend you test whether or not showcasing all of them on a home page is the best strategy for you. Marketing evidence has found that offering fewer products in one place with more awesome copy describing those products almost always translates into higher sales. People love a “featured” product or aspect to your story, your business.

It’s all about focus. Instead of trying to please everyone who visits your site by offering a large range of products with minimal detail about each one, if you offer just one product, or one set of related products (at least on your landing page) you can really focus on one key set of benefits and answer all the possible questions and doubts your visitors might have about your product. And you don’t have to stop selling your other products–you can always offer them to your customers from other web pages.

Of course, the only way to find out for sure if this will work with your target audience is to test it! Write great copy for your lead product, and put it on your home page. Then run the test for a week or two to see how it increases your sales.

Trial #2

Establish an opt-in offer to build a bigger list of loyal subscribers. Your opt-in offer is your tool for gathering your customers’ e-mail addresses and building your e-mail list, which allows you to regularly keep in touch with your subscribers, build relationships of trust and loyalty, and sell them your products or services.

If you aren’t familiar with opt-ins, please check out Mail Chimp or Aweber to not only see the importance of doing this in the first place (email lists are the lifeblood of your online platform), but how to create opt-in offers to garner emails.

The easiest example of an opt-in is a “pop-up” or “hover ad.” I’m sure you’ve been to a website where, after landing on the home page for a few seconds, a pop-up box will appear, asking for your email address to find out more about the company, be updated on sales, deals and coupons, etc. If you don’t currently have this type of set-up on your website, you are missing out on a golden opportunity to establish a loyal following.

Personally, I don’t consider this a “trial” at all…I believe this to be mandatory for a strong online following. Here is Juniper Ridge’s (www.juniperridge.com) pop-up…they’ve even branded it as “The Wildcrafter”:

Trial #3

Feature different benefits in your headline. A landing page headline has a huge impact on your sales. It’s obviously the first thing visitors to your site see so it must grab their attention and compel them to read your marketing copy.

A successful headline should either highlight a problem your target audience faces and stress the main benefit of your product in solving this problem, or just simply be an attention-grabber. Let’s look at an example that illustrates how a headline can be changed for maximum impact.

Beardbrand (www.beardbrand.com):

Directly on their landing page is, in big bold letters, is the profound yet simple statement, “Keep on Growing.” They’ve even trademarked it!

Here is another playful example from Indigo Wild (www.indigowild.com):

Trial #4

Establish a problem in your copy and show how you can solve it. In the first few paragraphs that appear on your home page, go into descriptive detail about the problem (perhaps introduced in your headline), which shows your audience that you relate to them. Only when your audience feels you understand their problem will they feel confident that you can solve it.

You don’t have to fret over making claims…think bigger and more creative than making claims. Think outside the box. Here are some examples off the top of my head…notice that the website headline is asking a question in the form of a problem, and the copy underneath solves the problem.

Website Headline: Does your soap suck?

Copy: Does your current soap smell like your Grandmother? We know you love your Gram-Gram, but it’s okay if you don’t want to smell just like her! Here at ‘OurCompanyName,’ we only utilize the natural abundance of pure essential plant oils like Lavender, Spearmint and even Patchouli!

Website Headline: Dry winter skin?

Copy: Our soap is chocked-full of creamy shea butter, silky coconut oil and rich cocoa butter. Notice that I have not made a claim here…Instead, I use descriptive words, such as “creamy,” “silky” and “rich” to entice the customer. And, each of these descriptions and ingredients could be a link to a different product in your site.

Website Headline: Need a quality gift that is actually useful?

Copy: The best part about our products is not the premium ingredients or the diligence we use in sourcing our ingredients. No, the best part about our products is their usefulness. Your loved ones will appreciate a gift that is consumable in the form of repeated showers and/or baths. 

Trial #5

Add credibility to your copy to enhance your visitors’ trust in you. It’s vital that your sales copy establishes your credibility: It’s through this process that your visitors come to trust you and feel comfortable enough to buy from you. There are several ways you can do this effectively and we’ll talk about two of the quickest and easiest ones here. If you’re not already using these techniques, revamp your copy and test it against what you’re using now. You’ll be surprised by the difference.

One of the best ways to establish your credibility is to include customer testimonials. These should be excerpts from genuine e-mails or letters from customers expressing how your product helped solve the particular problem they faced. This last point is important: A customer testimonial that states how your product benefited them is much more effective than one that just says something like, “Your product is great!”

You can also enhance your credibility by adding a section to your copy that outlines your credentials, experience and any background information that makes you qualified to solve your target audience’s problem. Your aim should be to effectively convince readers that your company is the best option to offer them a solution to their problem. And remember, think bigger than making claims…you can solve problems in a variety of ways that doesn’t include health claims.

Trial #6

It’s about them, not you. The most successful copy focuses on the reader. Too often, soap and skin care business owners neglect this simple golden rule. Look carefully at your copy. Look at all of the written material you’ve comprised in your business so far. Is it filled with references to “I,” “me” and “we?” Instead of using sentences like, “I designed my first batch of soap back in 1997 in my very own kitchen because my son has eczema,” try “Your new, beautiful bar of soap will create a more natural cleansing experience in the shower or bath.”

Look at your current copy and search for “I,” “me” and “our” and try replacing them with “you” and “your.”

Trial #7

Instill urgency in your copy and convince readers they need to buy now! It’s very important that your copy instill a sense of urgency in your visitors, compelling them to purchase now. The best place to do this is toward the end of your copy, near the call to action (when you ask for the sale). Here are a few of the most effective ways to create a sense of urgency:

  • Offer a limited-time price discount where visitors must buy before a certain date in order to qualify for the discount.
  • Offer additional bonuses for free (free bar of soap, etc.) if visitors buy within a certain time frame.
  • Offer only a limited quantity on certain products.
  • Offer a quantity-purchased bonus for a limited time.

Some of our industry’s suppliers offer flash sales…why not you?

Try them all

A static, unchanging website is generally not a successful one. Your website should be alive and ever-changing. New banners and headlines should be recurrently changing, as you offer new product deals, giveaways, sponsorship campaigns…any and all components to create intrigue and enticement.

Much of this post had to do with writing effective copy. This is concept is extremely under-utilized in our industry. You must have quality, dynamic and inventive copy on all aspects of your website and other marketing materials. If you need help, please feel free to sign me up for some work hours for you, or research the depths of great copy writing for businesses.

~ Benjamin