You have set up your online store, uploaded products and written product descriptions? Congratulations, your website is now open for business! But how to get your first customer, your first sale? We know that the beginnings are not always easy. Let’s run down an accessible list of marketing ideas that will enable you to make your store known online and offline…
30 ways to make your first sale:
1. Recruit friends and family to promote your online store
Practice your sales pitch with your family and friends. Then, speak about your online store every time you can. Even if they just buy something because they like you – sold is sold.
2. Sell on marketplaces
Displaying your products on marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay will help you sell more products. Your products will be seen by thousands of new customers on a well-known platform, which also helps you to sell internationally.
3. Get active in forums
Participating in forums is a great way to reach the right audience. Engage in the conversation and provide real and valuable solutions. You are then able to tap into a passionate community and to promote your products.
4. Be found on social media
5. Spark connections on social media
You can engage with potential followers and customers on Facebook and Twitter, for example. On Twitter, tweet shareable content, retweet and connect with followers. On Facebook, you can write comments on relevant pages or in Facebook groups.
6. Use LinkedIn to broaden your network
LinkedIn is the most powerful professional network to develop your business. Take advantage of opportunities and expand your network. Start by adding people you know, and don’t forget to add new people you meet. Then complete your profile, join active LinkedIn groups, and start sharing on your profile: links to your products, valuable content, videos, how-tos… Anything relevant to your target audience.
7. Share beautiful pictures on Instagram
Instagram is one of the best platforms for online store businesses and one of the most engaging applications. Share beautiful pictures to drive viral reactions. Use 5-10 appropriate hashtags. Start a contest where your followers can win products from your shop.
8. Make Youtube videos
Use Youtube as a very powerful tool for your business. Share original videos, making-ofs or short videos of your team. You can also display each of your products and link back to your product pages. Produce videos such as buyer’s guides, how-to videos, or interview professionals.
9. Get in touch with influential bloggers
You can reach out to relevant bloggers as an effective word-of-mouth marketing. You can get product reviews from other websites that will help increase your brand awareness. Contact influential bloggers and ask them if they would like to write a review or get sample products.
10. Start your own blog
Running your own blog can be a very good way to attract hundreds of new customers. Write valuable articles such as how-to articles and do not forget to post them on social media.
11. Send out newsletters
Email subscribers are strongly connected with your business. It is a great way to convert customers and make your first sale, by reminding them about your store and sharing new products. Email marketing is highly profitable, and every subscriber counts, no matter if you only get one new contact per week! To get an email list, place strategic opt-in forms on your website. You can also use Exit pop-ups (see below). Send out emails to your personal and professional network. A great app to help you is Justuno.
12. Display Exit pop-ups
This is a very popular marketing technique on ecommerce websites, which has already proven its worth. Exit pop-ups are small windows that appear at the very last moment, when the user wishes to leave the page. Be careful, it’s not about annoying your visitors!
13. Add a link to your online store to your email signature
Easy to do! This way every email you send out promotes your online store and reaches potential customers.
14. Increase your traffic with SEO
A good Google (or other search engines) ranking is very important for your customers to find your online store. Optimize your store by using relevant keywords in the URL, category pages, product descriptions. Write valuable and trustworthy content. Use Google Trends to study the latest trends.
15. Run online ad campaigns
Google Adwords campaigns give fast results and generate targeted traffic to your online store. Go to Google Adwords and subscribe. Then compare with your competitors, choose relevant keywords, use action verbs to make users want to click on your ads. Finally, test your ads to track their performance.
16. Pay for Facebook ads
Your Facebook page can also help you generate the awareness you need for your first sale. You can target sponsored ads by age, interest and so on. To write your Facebook ad or sponsored post, ask yourself these questions: What do I want to sell? What makes my online store unique? Who are my products for?
17. Distribute printed flyers
Flyers are still an effective way to make your first sale. In the age of digital, print advertising is a way to differentiate your online store and to approach your target audience.
18. Promote your online store with outdoor advertising
Outdoor advertising such as billboards can target lots of potential customers. A significant budget is necessary for this. Don’t forget that the most important factor is the location: place your advertisement near a spot of interest for your target audience. For example, if you own a fashion store, you could display your ad next to a shopping mall.
19. Write a press release
Take advantage of the press: write an interesting press release and send it out to local media. If it hits, it could result in a major press launch for your brand.
20. Give out coupons
Coupon codes are a great strategy to attract new customers and to build customer loyalty. Find out what works best for your company and adapt your strategy accordingly. You can, for example, give out coupons on social media or flyers.
21. Target different countries
Here’s an advice that will never get old: think globally. This can bring you huge benefits! Target customers in different countries by translating your online store and adapting your content and shipping methods.
22. Use Google Analytics
Spending time in your analytics account is always a great investment. Learn how to deal with Google Analytics to measure your website’s traffic, to see what works and what doesn’t.
23. Attend events
Local events are made to meet people and build networks with them. Interact with suppliers, competitors, distributors, and promote your business.
24. Take advantage of local networks
Local business networking exists in almost every city. Your local chamber of commerce often organizes events such as networking evenings.
25. Sponsor an event
You can sponsor a blogger event in your area, for example. Pick relevant events where consumers will attend. Bring your products: product demonstrations are a must! You can also give out coupon codes or free goodies.
26. Sell your products at a local market
One-to-one selling is incredibly effective. Even if you only sell your products online, getting a booth at a local market can be interesting to get your first sale and get customer feedback. Do not forget: get people to sign up to your email list or to like your Facebook page!
27. Create buzz
Congratulations: you have launched your online store! Why not celebrate by organizing an opening party? Invite people who have helped you, people from your industry, potential customers… This event will maybe create the buzz for the press. Be sure to post this on social media and to thank your guests.
28. Sell a unique product
Especially if you are in a competitive space, standing out from the crowd is maybe the best way to grow a business. You can create your own line of products, your own concept: something different that will bring powerful word-of-mouth.
29. Use story-telling
Another way to stand out is to utilise special story-telling for your online store. It is about immersing your potential customer in your company’s world. Make your brand more human: tell its story, play with design, nice pictures and the right words.
30. Leverage consumer emotions
Trying to touch your users at an emotional level to trigger sales can be a very good engagement strategy. Establish an emotional connection: you can spread emotions for example through your logo or your design. Colours have a significant meaning: yellow will be used for optimism, blue for trust… You can also use humour to attract sympathy.
Use these 30 ways and let us know which one helps you get your first sale!
Richard Stevenson is Head of Corporate Communications for cloud-driven online shop software provider ePages.com. He has worked in the web hosting, domain name and Software-as-a-Service industries for over 14 years, many of which have seen him working with SMBs and web pros all over the world to drive awareness and adoption of new web technologies.