Selling online is not as easy as you had anticipated. You’re frustrated by the lack of sales, the additional explaining, the expense of maintaining your online presence. And digital marketing; don’t even get us started on the dead-end streets you’ve found there!
We get it. We sell services too, and it’s taken years to grow our business. Let us repeat that, YEARS.
Service-based eCommerce is vastly different from product-based eCommerce, and honestly, very few platforms are tailored to the service-based experience. To help guide your digital marketing efforts and drive service sales, we’ve compiled some of our best practices for selling online.
What Is Service-Based eCommerce?
The service-based model is centered around people, not products. You are selling your service features and working to build trust and relationships, not just completing transactions. Most of these businesses offer professional services like web design, therapy, home repair, etc.
Selling your service online comes with the term “eCommerce,” which can scare many people. And quite frankly, it should. It’s an enormous undertaking for a new business and needs constant maintenance, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming with the right partner.
Solutions have popped up all over the web, from Etsy to Shopify, to help people sell online. But what about people like you selling services? It’s hard to find a solution designed specifically for services. Not only do you need to process transactions, but you also collect registration information, maybe process scheduling, and how do you even begin to handle service changes?
The not so simple answer is something tailor-made to your business. The cost of eCommerce can vary upon how many services you offer and each of the customizations needed. Our advice: reach out to an expert. All too often, we see business owners tackling their websites through a free service. They spend hours crafting the perfect design but seriously lack the functionality to process sales. Don’t waste your time and money! Consult with a digital marketing agency. We recommend reaching out to a few agencies to find one that values your business and is willing to explain the process to you.
Digital Marketing For Services
Now onto the “selling” part, or should we say, the marketing of your soon-to-be selling. Startup expense for a service-based business is often much lower due to the absence of inventory and lack of physical location. Instead, there’s a greater focus on your time and experience. Invest your money in doing your initial research and truly understand how to satisfy your customers best.
You must understand the path to purchasing your service is much longer than that of a product and often requires a tailored approach. These best practices will help guide your business to successful online sales:
Solidify Your Service(s) Definition
Sure, you can use features to sell your service, but you may need to adjust these to meet your customer’s needs. Remember in your persona work when you defined your customer’s roles, goals, and challenges? Put them to work here! An exercise we like to use includes creating an ultimate list of questions regarding your service. For example, say your service is Window Repair. Now list all the possible questions from prospective customers that you have or may receive.
Do you repair screens too?
What if my window needs to be replaced entirely?
How long does a window repair take?
Do you repair custom-shaped windows?
Is the window frame included in the repair?
As you can see…there are a few. And hopefully, you’re starting to recognize that “window repair” doesn’t solidify your service definition. A well-defined service explains its function but also sets boundaries.
Make sure you have your services clearly defined before you attempt to sell them.
Improve Your Path To Trust
Products are tangible while services are not, and this simple fact creates risk with every purchase. One way to counter this risk is by building trust, a crucial element to online sales. With a clearly defined service, improve your path to trust by offering multiple ways for your customer to learn about your service.
This is where your digital marketing efforts will pay off. Here are a few ways you can improve trust:
Obtain service reviews and client testimonials
- Create blog posts showcasing your knowledge of the industry
- Offer free downloads related to your service
- Send an email newsletter with tips and tricks to get the most out of your service
- Provide video demonstrations or tutorials for those who learn visually
Remember, it’s a long winding path to your service. Offering as much support and guidance along the way builds trust and ultimately a relationship with your customer before they even make a purchase.
Last but not least, reviews. Especially bad ones. Bad reviews can take a severe toll on a service-based business because you can’t exchange or return services. Using customer feedback and reviews, you should continually be evaluating your services. If a bad review appears, the best thing you can do is face it head-on. Your response to an upset or unsatisfied customer can often help seal the deal for your next client. So take a breath and put your customer service smile on. Your response can help eliminate future risks.
These best practices stack on top of one another. With a clear service definition and your digital marketing efforts helping to build trust, now it is time to remove that last bit of hesitation before the customer is ready to purchase. That hesitation is usually due to some sort of risk your consumer feels.
One of the most common ways to remove risk is by offering a guarantee. Unlike products, services can’t be returned or exchanged but instead can guarantee performance or satisfaction. It’s like lawyers saying, “We don’t get paid until you get paid.” Helping you believe they’ll fight harder to win for you because their paycheck is on the line too.
Sometimes guarantees don’t fit your business model, and that’s ok, don’t force it. Instead, look for other low-risk ways to allow a prospect to experience your service. This can come in the form of “introductory offers” or complimentary services. Offers like these can get that client in the door and allow them to see how your business operates, building – you guessed it – trust!
A great example of this is GreenCup Digital’s SEO Audit. SEO is a long-term game, and results are anything but instantaneous. The investment into SEO is a hard sell, even though it truly pays off in the long run. To help our clients understand its impact, we typically suggest they start with an audit. The result is a comprehensive report and action plan to show them how their website is performing, where they rank amongst the competition and allows them to take action on their own or continue working with us. These audits build trust and open up a new dialogue with business owners.
Get Selling Online!
We hope these digital marketing tips provide you with a better understanding of eCommerce and help you solidify your services, improve trust in your business, and reduce customer risk. With these items thoroughly thought out, it can make a move to selling your services online less overwhelming.
And don’t be fooled by eCommerce platforms selling you an all-in-one solution. Your business is unique, and the time and expertise you put into each service should be featured. Find a partner in your digital marketing efforts, whether it’s GreenCup Digital or another agency that fits you best.
If you’re looking to take your brick and mortar online or turn your website into an eCommerce powerhouse, check out our Easy eCommerce Solution. Offered for a limited time, we can help get your website up and running just in time for holiday sales!