Everyone with an e-commerce product to sell has the same question: How can I acquire more customers?

Plenty of sources will offer you tricked-out strategies to manipulate SEO, create a viral YouTube campaign, and so on. It's easy to get so caught up in these tips that we overlook the basics. But in truth, a solid foundation will do more for your conversions than any fancy tricks. Here's how to lay the groundwork necessary for convincing customers to purchase your e-commerce product.

Write an enticing summary.

The importance of detailed, well-written, and compelling product descriptions can't be overstated. Today's online consumers are used to learning anything they want from the internet in as much detail as they want it. And they don't want to buy unless they're convinced they're getting one of (if not the) best products around. So if your product descriptions are lacking, they're going to take their business elsewhere.

In clear and simple language, include rich descriptions of each of the product features. Leave no stone unturned--be sure to include sizing charts, specs such as measurements, weight, and materials, and so on. (Use bullet points or grids to make this information easily digestible.) Just as important, make sure to articulate why your products' features provide superior value and can enhance customers' lives.

Utilize visuals.

While the words you write about your product are incredibly important, it's still true that "a picture is worth a thousand words." Just as with written product descriptions, quality is the name of the game when it comes to product visuals.

Aim to produce large, high-resolution, and (ideally) zoom-able images that are well-lit, free of clutter, and feature the product from different angles. In addition to these up-close shots, try to include a few images of the product in "lifestyle settings"--i.e., places where a consumer might use the product in their everyday life. These can be especially convincing, as they help shoppers visualize using the product in their own lives. If you have the budget for videos, these can also be particularly effective for showing off 360-degree views of the product and providing value-based descriptions in a more visual format.

Provide social proof.

If you're inclined to dismiss the value of social proof, consider this: A whopping 70 percent of online shoppers report trusting online reviews. What's more, at least 63 percent of consumers report that positive reviews can motivate them to buy.

For best results, go above and beyond simple star ratings and invite your customers to leave written reviews. While it might be tempting to weed out any negative reviews, you're actually better off leaving them on the page: Consumers can become suspicious if they only see positive reviews on a product's site. If you do receive negative reviews, make sure to respond publicly to them in a constructive way so it's clear your brand cares about its users' experiences.

In addition to curating reviews on your site, it's also important to pay attention to what's being said about your brand elsewhere on the web. Some sites now exist explicitly to review products in a certain industry. (For example, Mattress Clarity reviews mattresses, PC Mag devotes a whole section of its site to reviewing electronics, and Outdoor Gear Lab reviews outdoor adventure products.) Thus, it's important to be aware of how your products are being reviewed beyond your own site and respond promptly to any valid complaints.

Generate buzz.

No product gets sold without some kind of advertising--and products that benefit from high-quality marketing campaigns often sell the best. Proven ways to generate excitement around your product include content marketing, influencer shares, publishing press releases, email marketing, and even pulling a PR stunt. (For proof that PR stunts can be effective, look no further than Red Bull.) 

Provide free shipping, hassle-free returns, and other incentives.

When it comes to making a sale, sweetening the pot is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Purchasing incentives such as free shipping, time-sensitive discounts, bonus samples, additional free features, and hassle-free returns can all reduce buying friction and entice customers into seeing their purchases through.

Sweet-talk existing customers.

In the quest for more conversions, don't overlook your most valuable asset. Research consistently finds that it's significantly more expensive to attract new customers than it is to convince existing customers to keep utilizing your products or services. That's why it's so important to follow up with customers after they've made a purchase. Thank them for buying, and add them to an autoresponder sales funnel that provides them with opportunities to take advantage of past product offers, buy upgrades for products they've already purchased, enjoy discounts, join a rewards-based referral program, and so on.

These strategies encompass the very basics of e-commerce conversions. But that doesn't mean they're unimportant. In fact, these basics can make or break your ability to gain momentum and grow your business. Before moving on to fancier conversion tricks, make sure you've invested the time and resources in each of these steps. Doing so will provide a powerful foundation for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.

Published on: Apr 8, 2017