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31 August 2021 • Grow Your Sales

15 Best ways to make your first online sale and be successful in ecommerce

15 Best ways to make your first online sale and be successful in ecommerce

When you become an online retailer, getting the first sale from your ecommerce website is an event worth celebrating. However, achieving that milestone is easier said than done. 

Many entrepreneurs spend far more time tweaking their website design to perfection than on focusing on what it takes to achieve that initial sale. They then grow frustrated because they’re having trouble getting customers for their ecommerce business and making a sale.

The bottom line is that without visitors to your site, you simply won’t be able to sell your products. 

Whether you’re preparing to launch your website or your ecommerce store has been open for a while with minimal traffic, now’s the time to act. 

This action begins with the development of a thoughtful marketing strategy that’s focused on driving targeted traffic to your ecommerce site.

The importance of driving targeted traffic to your e-store

Your website may need to be tweaked further before it’s as effective as it could be. However, the only way to know with certainty which adjustments are needed is by launching the site and analyzing the results. 

When you offer your products to your targeted customers, you can determine if there’s true interest in your goods and if your pricing strategy is effective.

Of course, not all online traffic is equivalent. 

Your time, efforts and money are best spent focusing on an audience that has a true need or desire for your products. Keep in mind that a typical ecommerce website may have a fairly low conversion rate. To help you start receiving a solid stream of steady sales, a strong flow of traffic is essential.

Effective strategies to make your first sale

Your business will likely face stiff competition, and this is understandably intimidating. The good news is that there are numerous powerful ways to garner your target customers’ attention! 

Each business model is unique, so this list may contain a few strategies that aren’t necessarily applicable to your brand. Simply focus on the methods that are relevant to your situation, or test a few strategies simultaneously to determine their effectiveness.

With the right strategies in place, you’re sure to earn your first online sale in no time. What’s more, you’ll soon find that there’s no limit to how much you can make with your ecommerce store!

1. Use your personal network

Before reaching out to those who are unfamiliar with you and your products, start by connecting with your personal network. This includes friends, family, professional colleagues, and those who you connect with on social media networks. 

Spread the word that your ecommerce store is open for business. Fill your contacts in on the exciting details about your products and their features.

Take this a step further to maximize the reach of your network. Ask your connections to share your ecommerce website’s link with their own network. 

While not everyone will honor the request, this is an excellent way to reach potentially thousands of additional people. Plus, trust and authority may be easier to build through leads generated by referrals.

If you’re fortunate enough to garner your first few sales quickly through this strategy, take two important measures. Request that your customers review your products online. In addition, ask them for feedback so that you can improve before you market your products to the masses.

2. Join relevant online communities

Your next goal is to start to tout your products and your ecommerce site outside of your circle. Numerous online groups are easy to access and can produce many quality selling leads at no cost to you. 

Some people will simply drop a link on these platforms. However, a better approach is to spend time building a positive reputation as an authority figure before posting links.

Note that several of these online communities, such as Reddit, Quora, LinkedIn, and various Facebook groups, may specifically forbid such direct advertising as blatant link-dropping. 

You must instead craft quality posts that offer true value to the readers. Your links can be placed purposefully within the posts as long as they are relevant to the topic.

Focus your attention on online communities relevant to your brand. These aren’t communities filled with users who do the same thing as you. 

In contrast, these should be communities with users who are your target audience and who could have a strong interest in your product.

3. Create a blog

A blog has several essential functions, and these functions make it a vital component to your ecommerce business’s marketing strategy. 

First, posting regular content that’s optimized for targeted keywords can boost your website’s placement on search engine result pages. Content can also be eloquently created to market key features, new products, promotions, and other valuable tidbits that may be difficult to spread to your consumers otherwise. 

Finally, your blog’s content can establish you as an authority in your field. This in turn can play a positive role in converting leads more easily.

As you prepare blog posts, understand that the goal of a blog is not to execute sales. It’s instead to drive traffic to a specific landing page where the conversion magic happens. 

Create content that’s beneficial to your audience and inspires them to check back in with you later for additional valuable content.

4. Send free samples to influencers

Influencers generally have tens of thousands of followers or more on various social media platforms. They’re trusted and respected by their followers, so their recommendations carry heavy weight. A quick, well-designed shout-out about your product from the right influencers can have powerful results.

Choosing the right influencers is essential for success with this strategy. Consider the demographics of those who follow specific influencers before you connect with them. Then, you need to convince the influencers to support your ecommerce website and products. 

This often begins by giving the influencer a free sample so that they can experience the product’s quality and features personally.

Keep in mind that influencers have spent a long time building up their following. Most will only tout products that they believe in and that are meaningful to their audience. 

Once you strike a deal with an influencer, consider incorporating a special offer code into the influencer’s post. This could garner even more attention for your brand.

5. Offer first-time customers a discount

A new ecommerce site will initially have little or no clout. Reviews about your products and your business in general are not available. Because of this, if your online store store isn’t selling, you need to give your target audience an extra push to visit your site and to make a purchase. 

This is where discount codes come into play.

A discount creates the perception that the customer is getting more value from the item a business is selling. Limited-time offers also establish a sense of urgency to act quickly. 

Keep in mind that it’s usually much easier to get future sales from an established customer than it is to get that first sale. For this reason, incentivizing the first purchase with a discount can yield dividends.

Are you concerned about losing money that your startup urgently needs by selling products at a discounted price? 

There’s an effective way around this dilemma. Consider marking up select products that are being promoted for the time being. This provides the feeling of value to the customer without impacting your business’s bottom line.

6. Compile a list of email subscribers

Email marketing is a powerful strategy that deserves a place in most online marketing campaigns. As many as 60% of marketers who were polled by MarketingSherpa stated that the return on investment from email marketing was positive.

Email subscribers are those who are interested in keeping in touch with you. This may be because they enjoy your blog content. Perhaps they want to learn about new products and promotions as soon as possible. 

There are two optimal moments to ask customers to opt in to your email marketing messages and newsletters. They include at the time of purchase and when shoppers are perusing your website.

Your subscriber list gives you the incredible opportunity to connect with interested parties directly in their inbox. Your messages to subscribers should offer valuable or beneficial content. 

They should be delivered in reasonable time periods rather than all at once. In addition, the messages should have true substance and should not be spammy.

7. Administer a customer survey

Asking your customers to complete an online survey has multiple benefits. For example, your thoughtful questions help you to start to get to know your target audience better.

In addition, you can use the survey as an opportunity to grow your email subscription contact list. When your survey is marketed on social media and other platforms, it drives traffic directly to your ecommerce website.

Many people love to complete surveys because they enjoy giving their opinion and being heard. The most effective surveys for ecommerce websites may ask leading questions related to the need for your products. 

You may also offer a discount or promotion to those who take the time to complete the survey fully. This encourages their participation and inspires them to make a purchase.

8. Hold a contest

Contests are fun events that generally can attract ample, engaged attention from a business’s target audience. While your business will be giving away free merchandise through the contest, the benefits may far outweigh the cost. 

Consider that a contest can create an incredible and potentially viral buzz that may be hard to achieve using other methods. Contest entrants will be led to your website and may need to provide their contact information to join the contest.

People love free merchandise in general, so don’t feel inclined to give away big-ticket items. Smaller and more affordable items that are desired by your target audience can be just as effective. 

If you intend to run frequent contests, such as weekly or daily events, ensure that the interest and return is commensurate with the value of the gift offered.

9. Create social media accounts for your business

Because social media marketing is free and effective, it should be a major component in your ecommerce store’s online marketing efforts. 

The primary platforms to focus on for ecommerce businesses are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Some platforms may be far more effective than others based on the demographics of your target customers.

While having a large following on various networks is important, there are ways to reach out to others while you build your following. For example, adding selective hashtags to tweets on Twitter can expand your reach.

Social media marketing can help draw attention to your blog posts or to specific products and features. They may raise awareness about promotions, contests, and surveys. Because this type of content can easily be shared, your reach can be extensive.

Keep in mind that these platforms are designed to be social. To maximize the benefits of these platforms, avoid simply dropping a link. 

Interact with your followers, and comment on posts and groups that are relevant to your business. Developing connections with your followers can often help lead to selling more of your products.

10. Use paid advertising methods

Across many social media platforms, you have the option to promote specific content. For example, Facebook allows you to “boost” a post to a targeted group defined by you. You’ll set the ad’s run date, your budget, and other relevant factors so that you can be sure that your efforts are effective.

Other paid advertising methods could be effective as well. For example, you can create a pay-per-click campaign or purchase banner ad space. 

The return on various types of paid advertising varies dramatically. Consider getting your feet wet slowly and analyzing each campaign carefully to maximize the reach of your marketing funds.

11. Sponsor an event

Depending on the type of products that you sell, your target customers may flock to various events. You can establish a presence at those events through sponsorship. 

Because you’re running an ecommerce business, the best events may be those that are held virtually. These could include everything from educational seminars to live-streaming interviews and other special events.

If this sounds like an avenue that you’d like to explore, you can start by identifying the events that your consumers are most likely to attend. Major events often will publish demographics for advertisers to review, and this takes the guesswork out of your event selection process. 

When you sponsor an online event, your advertisement can directly link to your ecommerce website. Even if people don’t click on those links, your brand will still be associated with the event and will gain positive exposure.

Live events aren’t out of the question, and there are even a few benefits of live events over online events. For example, your consumers can meet with you personally. They can also see the quality of your products or analyze specific product features in person.

12. Hold a pop-up store

Your online store doesn’t need to stay tucked away in cyberspace. Consider bringing your products directly to your customers through a pop-up store! 

This is a temporary, physical store, such as a booth at a trade show or a farmers’ market. Fairs, galleries, and other prime spots where your customers may be in high numbers are also great venues to consider.

Your presence at a pop-up location can be used to help your business in various strategic ways. For example, you could physically sell some of your products to your customers in person and offer samples or coupons. 

What’s more, this is a great opportunity to expand your email subscription list or social media following. Consider offering a discount to those who subscribe to encourage maximum participation!

13. Experiment with guerrilla marketing

Guerrilla marketing is a cost-effective way to reach a large number of people. It involves a business employing surprise and/or non-traditional interactions to build brand awareness. 

It’s most effective when the target audience is broad. This is because it can be difficult to niche down to a specific group with guerrilla marketing.

There are several types of guerrilla marketing to consider. For instance, the outdoor version may involve the use of sidewalk chalk art or other types of temporary artwork that grabs attention and makes a statement. Likewise, indoor guerrilla marketing and special event guerrilla marketing introduce your message inside an environment.

The best guerrilla marketing efforts are creative and immediately attract attention. When they are photo-worthy occurrences, they may even go viral online for magnified results!

14. Create a buzz with a press release

The launch of your ecommerce website is a newsworthy event, so the development of a press release is a smart marketing move. Unfortunately, however, some press releases won’t be picked up by any news outlets. 

The primary reasons for this are that they aren’t newsworthy to the outlet’s target audience or that they’re not well written.

A press release may announce your grand opening, tout your sponsorship of a special event, or show off a new product that you sell. No matter the reason, the press release must be attention-grabbing and relevant. 

Furthermore, it should be well written and properly formatted. Given the importance of content when writing a press release, hiring a contract writer with experience preparing engaging press releases could be worthwhile.

15. Target B2B customers in your marketing strategy

Your first sale off of your ecommerce website doesn’t need to be directly to a consumer. Some products are specifically well suited for direct consumer sales. 

However, you could be leaving money on the table in the form of an untapped market if your products have broad appeal extending to businesses.

There are different approaches to hit the B2B market. For example, you can sell products at wholesale prices when they are purchased in bulk. 

While wholesale prices will reduce your per-unit profit, you’ll be selling many more units at a time than you otherwise would. In addition, your products are getting out into the world where others can see them.

Get your first ecommerce sale today!

Your ecommerce website’s first few sales may come at a painfully slow pace. The right combination of strategies pulled from these ideas will get the momentum moving in the right direction. 

At the same time, your efforts now to establish a solid marketing campaign will continue to pay off going forward.

Before executing a full ecommerce marketing campaign, identify who your target audience is and how you are most likely to connect with them. Be prepared to deeply analyze the results of your campaigns so that you can fine-tune your efforts and your ecommerce website as needed going forward.

Let us know in the comments below what strategies were most beneficial to you to help you to make your first ecommerce sale!

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