Selling online can no longer be ignored. The relentless march of the Internet continues unabated and digital methods have disrupted virtually every industry and market. The online path to selling your photography and services is no different. Basic rules still apply and the checklist of how to represent yourself remains true. Fundamentally you won’t survive long-term unless you offer customer the ability to buy from your web site.
So what’s different in selling online in 2016? The things that move fast and change tend to be social media fashions. Facebook remains the strongest hub of all, whilst SnapChat is perhaps the most interesting for everyone currently. How does this affect your sales strategy online? Not a great deal actually, with Facebook being your most powerful tool alongside Instagram.
The customer experience on your site has to be as frictionless as possible. A frustrated user, because they cannot find what they’re looking for, will not buy.
- First impressions count. Putting your best foot forward is crucial because people spend so little time on one thing online. Capturing their attention with an incredible image or something they have not seen before (very hard we know!) creates that dwell-time in which to sell them into visiting your site or physical store.
- The power of sharing. With the dominance of social media, sharing has to be the most influential route to gaining more awareness of both your business and photography skill. Providing photography to clients to share via their networks and ensuring you are tagged or mentioned, or even recommended, has to be the most powerful approach.
- Live chat. This is a non-invasive, quick way to garner feedback and enable customers to get what they need. The ultimate goal has to be a physical meeting if the enquiry is of a significant size budget-wise. It acts like a physical store and enables you to react instantly to someone ‘in your shop.’
- Newsletters. These tools have really made a comeback in the last year or so. Primarily because the companies who broadcast them are making the content interesting and useful. Providing information around a local event, tips for photography, discounts and a random quirk of a story or film that may not be related to anything in particular, is very worthwhile. The frequency is just as important. Gradually people will look out for it if it’s something they love. Then it becomes a valuable community-building tool from which sales are made.
- Be mobile. Stats are increasingly leaning towards blanket mobile access. Having a site that is not mobile responsive won’t help you in the long term. It’s a no-no. Keep it simple, beautiful and useful, and mobile friendly of course.
- Stress-free browsing. The customer experience on your site has to be as frictionless as possible. A frustrated user, because they cannot find what they’re looking for, will not buy. Try not to leave old products front-and-centre. Keep the navigation as light and fresh as possible. Provide as much inspiration as you can.
- To blog or not to blog? Tricky one, because it can be time-consuming but worthwhile because people will trust good content, making more likely to buy. Perhaps outsource this task? Google love fresh content on your website which helps with your rankings. A halfway house is to curate content from other places, picking the best and marking yourself out as having an eye for quality sources. Trust will also radiate from that simple action. If you can blog, do so.