By Chris Barling of ecommerce software supplier, Actinic

It’s much easier to carry out marketing activities in an online store than in a physical store – there are no labels to put out and everything can be automated. The well established ecommerce packages provide a bewildering array of marketing features, but it’s important to get the business framework sorted out first.

In fact, getting your average order value up is a crucial component of moving your business from good to great. At the same time, you can grow customer loyalty, as long as you give them a good experience.

You can download the full e-book for free at www.actinic.co.uk/top-tips

Always offer more for slightly more money.

Never discount something that a lot of people will buy anyway, it is just giving money away unnecessarily. Offer them a great deal if they buy something else at the same time. This will please them and encourage them to come back, and it will increase the value of each sale that you make.

Provide the ability to buy accessories.
If accessories are required for a product, for example batteries with a hand-held GPS, paper and toner with printers and so on, make sure they can buy them from you. Promoting the fact that you sell these is also a way of encouraging them back to your site in the future.

Use vouchers or coupons.

A person with a voucher or coupon feels that they have a special deal. It also ties them in to buying from you, because they cannot redeem your vouchers anywhere else.

Email electronic coupons.

That way they are exclusive to your email group and you reward your loyal customers without losing out on potential revenue from one-time buyers.

Understand how customers behave in your market.

Watch the trends in pricing and promotions among your competitors and in related markets to determine which tactics could work. Learn from them, try things out, and see what works for your business.

Try to find ways of reducing the price for those who are very price conscious, at a cost to them.

Airlines do this by discounting seats booked way in advance and sometimes at the very last minute, both of which are less convenient and popular than booking a few weeks in advance. You might do this by discounting returned goods or end-of-lines. Provided that it’s not loss making, it’s better to sell to price conscious customers at a discount than to lose the business to the competition.

Get customers to return to your online store.

Analysing customers’ sales patterns and making a special offer if they haven’t come for a while can personalise the experience and increase sales. The section of the book on email marketing can be consulted for more ideas.

If you make a special offer, make sure that it really is special.

Have you been put off by companies that say that something is special, but it’s hardly worth having? Or by offers made under a ’loyalty scheme’ -and badge it as such - that turn out to be the same as offers being made to everyone else?

Analyse the value of your offering to customers.

Make sure the actual value (to a business) or perceived value (to consumers) exceeds what you will charge them. Otherwise you will always be trying to sweep water uphill.

Don’t under-price.

The quickest way that you can destroy a business is to engage in a price war where no-one makes any money. Make your offering the best overall value, not necessarily the cheapest - unless you have clear cost advantages which mean that you can sell low and still make a good profit.

Upsell in your cart and after they have ordered.

Once people have placed items in the cart, offer further items at a discount. You could offer the extra items post-free as an incentive; you may want to identify your best selling lines, or to look at linkages between items (e.g. batteries with toys or a case with a laptop).With good software, you can do this easily.

A customer who has just decided to buy is generally feeling favourable towards you – so it’s an ideal time to sell them something else. Alternatively, you could contact the customer post-sale to check everything is OK and to suggest some more possibilities.

This gives a personal touch to your operation as well as generating additional revenue. However, beware as sometimes distracting buyers during the buying process can actually reduce sales. So any changes should be tested before the decision is taken to make them permanent.