10 Tips For Your Online Store: How To Make Your First 10 Sales
When you launch a new e-commerce website, the first sales are especially important. It’s these sales that start the positive momentum that will help you refine your marketing strategy and overcome business hurdles. Stupidly, those first sales are also the hardest to make.
In this article, we’ll show you ten tips on how to get your first customers. This will put you on the right track and – more importantly – teach you what works and what doesn’t for your online store.
Your goal is to make ten sales using each of the methods listed below. Proceed chronologically and don’t skip any point until you have received an order from the previous tip. Apart from making the first sales, this way you can analyze how each approach works for you and your brand and how difficult (or not) it is to implement.
1. send a message to your email list
We’ve discussed it several times on this blog: building “buzz,” or initial awareness, as well as a (small) email list, is an important first step in starting a business. If you have a pre-launch list, email those contacts as the very first thing. These contacts are likely to be your most qualified leads in the beginning, since they’ve already expressed interest and given you their email address to learn more.
Use a service like Smart or another one of those great email apps on the App Store to send people on your mailing list an email announcing your business opening.
If you don’t have an email list yet, skip this point.
2. sell directly to friends and family
The most basic strategy for a first sale: let friends and family shop with you normally. This doesn’t mean persuading your mom to buy a product she doesn’t even need. Think about which acquaintances or family members would appreciate and use your product. Contact them directly and ask for a few minutes to introduce your product.
Reading tip: Success stories of Shopify merchants in Germany, Austria and Switzerland who have already made hundreds of sales can be found here.
3. host contests or giveaways
Let’s face it, giveaways have always been a popular way to draw attention to a new product. Some may say that giveaways mainly attract people who are looking for a deal. But if done right, viral contests can drive tremendous initial traffic and referrals among friends. This helps you expand presence and knowledge about your store and products.
There are some really good apps you can use to improve and expand your giveaways by giving entrants better chances to win if they mention your products or store on social media.
Organize your own contest or try ViralSweep and Gleam to get started.
4. sell strategically to friends in the social networks
So you’ve already been able to convince friends or family to buy directly from you. Maybe you did something together or you specifically approached the person about the sale at a meeting or party. Now it’s time to work on a social media strategy. I’m sure you’re on Facebook, right? So how do you sell to friends on Facebook?
Start smart with a strategic approach before introducing your business and product to the general public. Through Facebook’s powerful social graph search, you’ll find people who will most likely be strongly interested in your product and come to buy through product-related keyword searches.
That’s exactly how Noah Kagan went about testing his business idea for a beef jerky subscription.
“I scoured my Facebook graph for people who like Paleo or health or jerky. Among them were a few friends, and I sent them a message.”
So once you find those on your friends list with possible product interest, contact them personally.
In addition to this targeted approach, you can try the watering can approach: Post some status updates to introduce your Facebook friends to your new store. Since you’re talking to friends and family, consider whether a “friends and family discount” makes sense.
5. sell on eBay and other marketplaces
To succeed as an online entrepreneur, you need to try everything, including other channels like marketplaces. Sites like eBay and Craigslist can be great places for initial sales. In the beginning, they are optimal because these marketplaces already have traffic and product searches. This will give you an initial boost while you build your SEO and organic traffic on Google.
6. become part of the Reddit community
We’ve mentioned Reddit several times before, and for good reason. Reddit is a huge community of smart people, divided into specific niches or subreddits depending on their interests. Among thousands of subreddits, you will definitely find the right niche community that, in all expectation, has a high interest in your product.
However, please note that you can’t just start selling your products through these subreddits. That would be like showing up at a party you weren’t invited to and trying to sell people wristwatches from your coat pocket. To make Reddit work for you, you have to become part of the community and get involved. What you gain is not only potential sales, but also a community of like-minded people with whom you can build good relationships.
7. book ads on Facebook
Your number seven sales challenge is to make sales through Facebook’s own advertising platform. Facebook has some of the most accurate ad features to set up among all platforms and is a channel all ecommerce entrepreneurs should try. But even though Facebook has some really great targeting options, you need to take some time to think about your targeted market, its lifestyle and what people like or dislike.
That’s how you’ll find the exact fit for your ads. When you start with Facebook Ads, you’ll pay quite a bit initially to reach your first customers. Keep that in mind while you refine your campaign for a while and watch the results.
Remember, your first sales shouldn’t necessarily be about maximizing profits, but about finding the right market and the first customers for your product, then optimizing advertising, shipping, order fulfillment, and your customer service strategy and experience.
8. use Instagram Paid Shoutouts
Instagram is a visual marketing channel where you can target potentially interested people. Brands are increasingly using Instagram for sponsored product posts to reach a huge number of people. The key is to identify large accounts (with 50,000 to 500,000 followers) and pay them to post an image you select with a caption.
Prices depend on the account and the number of followers, but Instagram is priced well below other advertising channels.
9. set up Google Ads
Google Ads is one of the most common online advertising networks. It is search (intent) based advertising, so if you have a new product that no one has ever heard of, Ads may not be a sales channel for you. For everyone else, Google Ads may be a little too complicated at first, though there are plenty of online guides that can help.
The key to success with Google Ads (blog post in English) is regular monitoring and adjustment of your campaign. Simply running any campaign is more likely to not lead to success. Remember, and this is also true for Facebook Ads, that you will have to invest quite a bit of money in acquiring your first customer, possibly even more than the product costs. So again, your goal at this point should be to learn more about each channel, not operate profitably.
10. Write an Outreach Blog Post
A so-called “outreach blog post” is usually a post that introduces, quotes or profiles influential people in your field. This type of blog post is a popular strategy for building relationships with influential people who attract attention in your niche. By doing so, you’ll (hopefully) get them to share your blog post with their audience.
Make absolutely sure that you word your article in a purpose-driven way so that you actually contribute value. To achieve this, your blog post should reference your product or niche and include links, as well as quotes or profiles of influential people related to your niche.
When quoting or linking to influencers, please remember to start humbly, you are new to the business after all. Look for influencers with impactful blogs, but not so big that your post and Twitter messages get drowned out.
Once you have the post ready, send a personal email to the people you feature in your post. Let them know that you appreciate their work and that you are referencing them in your current post. Better not ask for a favor (e.g. share something), but let the influencer decide for themselves. If your post is good, chances are good that the mentioned will share it.
An added benefit is that your post becomes part of your SEO. That’s because the more you write, the more Google and other search engines will find to list your posts as a possible result of a search.
Bonus: A referral
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably already made some sales. Your final add-on challenge is to make a sale via referral. How? Well, your previous sales should have led to some word of mouth for your store thanks to happy customers. That’s good.
For the next task, though, you’ll have to really go the extra mile.
Email or call each of your previous buyers yourself and ask them about their experience with your store. Ask for feedback on the customer experience and the product. Finally, ask if they can recommend you to someone else who might also be interested in your product.
Send each referral an email with the subject line: “Recommended by (name of person who made the contact)”.
Your first sales are especially important. They start the engine and get your business going. Keep in mind that your first sales are some of the hardest, as you’re still getting your bearings and searching for the marketing recipe that works for your specific business and niche. Don’t be afraid to spend some money and offer a little discount to gain more traction. Profits will only come to your online store over time as you refine your approach, your offering, your product-market fit, and your marketing efforts.