It can’t get more exciting than the first chime on your online store register! An exhilarating moment that arrives after all the hard work to get things up and running, pedantic over the nitty-gritty, getting your first sale takes time, focus and bucket loads of passionate zeal.
It’s so easy to get frantic over the small things, perfecting every little detail, making sure all the plugins are visible at the right places, the themes are functioning properly and the content is thorough. But once you’ve got the basics right, it’s time to start the engine and focus on gaining traction – through traffic that converts and gives you a good ROI ratio, both in terms of time and money!
Here’s the challenge you need to take on to bag a sale within the first 30 days of launch.
1. Free Traffic Sources
The key to getting good traffic is to simply get your website noticed. Here are a few things you can do to rumble up the atmosphere and grab eyes (and clicks):
Offer a discount code
Manually reach out to customers via social media and offer them a special coupon code as a starter gift. You can also put up a survey to collect data of the first 1000 or so customers, and in return provide freebies or offer codes. As a newbie in the marketplace with a generous attitude, you’ll start to build a trustworthy online platform organically. Remember not to spam if you are reaching out in person. Your enthusiasm may not be well received.
Add your store URL to your social profiles
Link your personal Instagram bio, your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles to your website. You can also make use of Disqus, Medium, Behance and other networking platforms related to your field.
Share with friends
Don’t be afraid to reach out to good friends and share it on PM. Your family and friends can also support you by sharing stories with your website URL. It may so happen that you may get your first sale from a well-wisher. It may not be as satisfying as receiving orders from unknown sources, but it’ll always make for a good anecdote at your store anniversary party! Also, traffic is traffic, no matter where it comes from.
Make use of online communities
Actively look out for online groups and forums that may be interested in your products. Join communities online, post a sweet message, open your website tracking screen and note the smile on your face as you watch the trend line go up. Become an active member and share your knowledge and subtly sell your USPs. If you see good responses, don’t be shy about offering a “member’s exclusive” discount code. Here are a few interest groups you could start off with:
- Facebook groups: Facebook has a number of groups dedicated to special interests. A simple search will help you find the right folks. Apart from product/category-specific groups, you can also join the Shopify Entrepreneurs group and Grow and Sell Facebook group.
- Reddit forums – Reddit is an online community that sees the likes of President Obama to micro-influencers use the platform to engage with audiences. There are several forums you can join and post to. You can also get in touch with mods to give you shout outs. Some Reddit threads you can follow include r/Entrepreneur and r/eCommerce.
- Relevant online forums: LinkedIn also has several groups that you can make use of, such as Bright Ideas and Entrepreneurs Group. You can also make your presence be felt on the Shopify Community. There are also several other category-specific as well as general online community platforms apart from popular social media sites, which you can find through a simple Google search
2. Paid Advertising Methods
An age-old saying as it may be, it still makes sense to this digital age. Paid ads get you quality as well as quantity in terms of traffic if you do it well. Every platform has its pros and cons and using a mixture is recommended. As a new entrant, find your sweet spot by giving each medium fair chance. All advertising platforms use a cost-per-click model, meaning you pay only for the clicks you get.
Word of advice: Write a couple of blogs after keyword research, and fill up your social media pages a bit, before you start paying for ads. Otherwise, you won’t have a good reach, and it won’t be an optimal way to spend your money.
Google Adwords is a unique form of paid advertising. An omnipresent answer to all of life’s questions, Google is used by everyone to find what they need. While it is difficult to rank high on Google as a newcomer for your product searches, you can use Google Adwords or Google Shopping ads to place yourself at the top spot.
Google Adwords ad shows up as text ads that appear before the organic results. Google Shopping ads are better suited for eCommerce business as it shows product image and price as well.
Conduct keyword research thoroughly before you pay for Google ads. The effectiveness of your ads depends on how closely you can frame the text in accordance with the words potential customers would likely use to search for products on Google.
Facebook is the most popular social media platform. With over 2.5 billion active users, Facebook has a wide reach and is well received among all demographics. As an advertiser, you can choose your target age, gender, job title, location and interests to ensure that you are reaching the audience that fits your brand.
Facebook trends show that usage among teens and millennials have reduced. Instagram is viewed as the visual format that bodes well for millennials and younger audiences. It also scores very well in terms of engagement stats. If your products require a visual appeal, and you’re targeting the younger crowd, Instagram is the right platform. As a free form of improving brand visibility, using the right hashtags on your posts can help you reach out as well.
Although it often goes amiss in the marketing handbook, Pinterest poses several advantages. Research shows that Pinterest has a largely female user base, with disposable income. For the creative minds, Pinterest is a place for showcasing talent and collecting and refining ideas over time, using the online scrapbook approach. Drive-up traffic to your site by posting content that bodes well with this niche audience.
3. Outreach Methods
Although the online market is a competitive space, the nature of its working has made it a cooperative space at the very least. Forming connections with the right platforms can be mutually beneficial – in much the same way as networking offline. Successful partner programs and collaborations can help you build a universal set of overlapping audience Venn diagrams. But just like any business relationship, reaching a platform who could benefit from you as well is important.
Bloggers are constantly in the need for fresh content that can enthuse audiences. If you have a good enough story to tell or a stellar idea of a post – they may just give you a spot on their blog. You may also be requested to link back to their site on your website blogs, and as a good Samaritan of the online world, you should be willing to do that.
Ask for a product review
If you are not sure about posting blogs with links to other sites yet, you can always send out products for free to YouTubers and bloggers and ask them for a review. Learn how to get product reviews on Amazon.
If you are a niche segment, you can reach out to website owners with similar audiences but complementary products. The key to building a strategic partnership is to approach entrepreneurs of non-competing brands with a similar brand philosophy as your brand. Some ways to kick off marketing campaigns together include:
Run contests with your products as prizes
Social media campaigns that are engaging and build excitement usually perform the best in terms of gaining leads. Launch a contest on Facebook, Instagram and provide giveaways through influencers. Cash in on the latest happenings and trends for contests.
You can run campaigns like “Tell us how you spent your quarantine and if we like your answer we’ll send you XX brand scented sanitizer along with our latest custom printed 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle!”
No matter how you run your contests though, ensure you ask to follow posts, likes, retweets, comments etc. to help build up traffic to your site.
Sponsor an event
Even if you are running a completely online business, there are lots of advantages to taking a couple of marketing strategies offline, especially as a beginner. Build an event like a tasting, a summit or try it before you buy it together with many like-minded entrepreneurs. Create a cool landing page together. You can even have a gift bag for attendees that include samples of all sponsoring partners. This type of marketing is tried and tested and always gets results, especially for FMCG products and off-late, even for digital products. Some great partnership events include partnering with a yoga studio to conduct a workshop about healthy eating that pitches vegan organic products. Get creative and take your time to find the right partners for your business.
Create a product together
A form of co-marketing, this one is a wild idea but it works because of brand equity. Customers who like the new product will place equal trust in both brands. This usually works best if you are a proprietary product owner and can meet half-way with another proprietary product owner. For example, Sriracha hot sauce developed a product with a POP! To create Sriracha flavoured popcorn. There’s much to gain from these types of partnerships if done the right way.
Work with influencers
This one is a no-brainer. Influencer marketing has catapulted over the years, and influencers have been the pillars of success for Instagram, YouTube, and other visual platforms. Download apps on Shopify to find someone who fits your brand model. Much like bloggers, even influencers are always looking to partner with new product owners. Using influencers can help you garner organic following quickly. As a new brand, you can start off with micro-influencers. Working with influencers right from the start also gives you the advantage of posting legitimate testimonials on your landing page/home page from early stages.
Whether you have a brick & mortar store or not, handing out flyers at a nearby café, park or college campus, keeping your business card handy and having a bunch of brochures printed out is always recommended. There’s never a bad time to say “check out this site!”.
Stepping into the online world can seem daunting, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll know exactly what to do to keep your inventory rolling. Anytime you try any task to get traffic to your site, whether online or offline, see how well it has worked out for you. The key to good online marketing is optimization. Happy selling!