It's been almost 25 years since the first online transaction was processed. In that time, ecommerce has exploded into a multi-trillion dollar industry with a dizzying array of options available for purchase. But while we've come a long way since the early days of ecommerce, there remains a lot of room for improvement when it comes to selling online. This is especially true when it comes to software.
To help you sell more, here are the top 11 mistakes I come across most frequently when working with software companies and a few suggestions on how to avoid them.
Many companies seem to use a "spray and pray" method to attract customers. Usually, these don't get much, if any, traction. Even if you do attract interest this way, not all customers are created equal. Your customer acquisition cost is wasted if you end up getting the wrong customers and they quickly cancel or return their purchase.
There is a lot of noise online and it can be difficult to nail down the exact places to find your ideal customers at the exact time they happen to be in a receptive mood. Needless to say, finding and convincing the right customers to purchase your product online takes a lot of research, a clear plan, channel and message testing and perseverance.
For faster and possibly better results, you can try using a partner program where performance marketing experts take over the responsibility of attracting the right customers to your site in exchange for a monetary incentive for every sale or lead they generate.
The great thing about digital products is that they can be sold and instantly downloaded around the world. The weird thing is that there are still many companies that don't offer localized ecommerce experiences to international shoppers. By that, I mean having customers' checkouts display in their native language and prices in their local currency. A significant 13% of shoppers abandon their cart because the price is in a foreign currency.
It also necessary to allow people to use their preferred method of payment to pay for goods and services online. In China, for example, one of the most popular ways to pay online is using Union Pay, and data suggests that 1 in 6 shoppers will abandon a cart if their preferred payment option is not available.
If you really want to expand globally, you need to accept much more than just credit cards online. Your checkout needs to automatically detect and display a fully localized experience with the payment choices that customers expect. Ecommerce platforms can provide varying degrees of support for your localization efforts so you need to explore which has the most global payment processing options for your international expansion. Think global, act local.
Many software merchants offer discounts in the hope of enticing shoppers to take the plunge. But that may not be the best way to incentivize the people who need extra convincing. Discounts not only cost you revenue, they can lower the perceived value of your product which in turn can have long-lasting consequences.
I'm not saying that discounts are the wrong way to go. I just think it's dangerous to assume that they're the answer to growing your business. There are other options that may work better and will not have such a negative impact on revenue. Examples you could explore include trials, a freemium model or a discount as part of a bundle so that you lower the perceived risk and anxiety while not eating into your margins so deeply. These also help you retain the perceived value of your brand.
There are a number of things that can cause shoppers to hesitate and bounce before they buy. A full 18% of people say that they abandoned a cart because they had concerns about the security of their payment information.
If a customer is proceeding with your product, they may be interested in a complementary product as part of a bundle or as a stand-alone. It could be one of your own products or it could be a product of another company that you partner with through a revenue-sharing agreement. If you can increase your average order value, it can be a great way to increase your revenue while also improving the perceived and real value you provide to your customers.
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You could be leaving a lot of money on the table by only offering one level of your service. Customers will have different needs and if you can offer different tiers, they'll be better able to match the value that they are looking for with what you offer. If you only offer either more or less than they need, they may just pass altogether. Here's more on tiers and other ecommerce pricing strategies.
No amount of ecommerce advice can definitively tell you if everything about your setup is the best for your business. There are some common and widely accepted best practices for sure, but they aren't universal rules. When everyone is doing one thing because it's accepted best practice it's sometimes an opportunity to stand out by doing something different.
You need to continually test what works best to attract, convert and retain your customers. There are a number of A/B testing options for websites and landing pages. Additionally, many ecommerce platforms will include features to A/B test your checkout to see what set up works best for your target customers.
License keys prevent the illegal use of your downloadable software which can quickly eat into your revenue. If you're worried about managing a bunch of license keys, many ecommerce platforms provide easy tools to handle them from bulk tom real-time on-demand license key provisioning to ensure that your product is only used by paying customers.
Ensuring your customers experience success with your software is your most important task if you want to minimize returns and maximize word-of mouth referrals, positive reviews and retention.
In this sense, your job only gets started once the sale is completed. You need to make sure your customers start (and continue) to see success as soon as possible post-purchase. Consistently promoting the value the software provides, facilitating their use of the product and engaging with them based on their usage is critical. You can do this with recurring emails or dashboard messages with ideas on how else they can get value from your product.
Too often, companies ride on the success they're experiencing and think they can continue to count on it indefinitely. Instead, you need to be constantly looking to the future and listening about how value in your customers' eyes is evolving, and how that evolution will impact their expectations and perceived value of your offering.
So check in with them. Use surveys, follow-me-homes and feedback forums to understand what success looks like to them, how happy they are, what they like, what they would change and what they don’t like. Track your net promoter score, monitor social media, check what your competitors are doing and bake soliciting feedback into your processes.
Is everything displaying properly? Is it easy to check out? Twenty-two percent of shoppers report that they abandoned an online purchase because an ecommerce site had errors or crashed. This can be extremely costly not only in terms of lost revenue, but with respect to generating bad reviews or ratings.
Go through your entire ecommerce experience regularly and make sure it is working and easy to get through. You can also check your analytics to see if there is a spot in your process that is particularly holding people up and causing them to bounce. Use click maps to visualize where your visitors click or where they don't on your pages. Dig into top exit and bounce pages, optimize your funnel and ensure you have a configurable cart that enables A/B testing.
With more and more of our time being spent online, software is taking a bigger and bigger role in our lives. The value it can bring to customers is huge. But it is also an opportunity for businesses to grow revenue if they can avoid many of the most common pitfalls.