Agosh Baranwal | Aug 7, 2021 12:00:00 AM |

Complete guide to reach your first online sale

Are you at a point in your eCommerce journey where your first sale is proving to be a major obstacle rather than a milestone that you hoped to achieve easily? If yes, then you are at the right place because by the time we walk you through this comprehensive guide, you will be well-prepared for getting your first sale. Irrespective of whether you already have a store or planning to set up one, these 20 hacks will help you reach your current goals and beyond. But before you start selling, it is important that your store has all the necessary ingredients to make it successful. You can check out this blog on how to set up your own store just like you have in mind.

After you have spent time finding the perfect platform for your online store, getting the on-demand products, sourcing beautiful images for them, going through multiple themes to find the right one for your store, and setting everything up perfectly, the time comes to get that first sale. And yes, we are well familiar with the cravings of reaching that checkpoint. It might not be a big turning point in your overall eCommerce journey, but definitely a necessary one. Even if you are not getting your first sale for quite a long time, don’t be discouraged - if you adopt more than half of the hacks in this guide, you will be fine. So let’s start!

1. Get the word out

An online business keeps you behind the curtain, which could be addictive and take the edge away from your motivation to take actions aggressively. This significantly reflects when you are required to ‘get the word out’. Your eCommerce store is like a brick-and-mortar store and just like you would need to do promotional campaigns for the latter, you are required to pitch your online store. This can be done by being heavily indulgent in your brand’s promotions online by integrating your business’s social accounts in your store. Now you can post about your new products and other special announcements. You can even connect your inventory with Instagram and Facebook to allow your followers to buy directly from your social accounts.

Remember, ‘Getting the word out’ also includes, personally sharing about your store with your friends and family. Ask them to blast your store’s address among their contacts and people that trust them.

2. Add a discount

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Yes, this niche trick always works. Even more so when people are not aware of your brand and unfamiliar with your standard pricing. If you are promising quality products and are able to reflect the same through your product images, packaging and description, your customers will accept your discounted prices like hotcakes. But remember, although it is easy to lure in customers with lower prices, it is easier to make them accustomed to it. So you may want to try offering these discounts only to the new customers visiting your website. We suggest setting up a flashy promotional banner that sticks to your brand and encourages your website visitors to take advantage of your offer. A pop-up that welcoming your store visitors with a discount and encouraging them to sign up for your mailing list works as well! 

3. Start building an email list

According to DMA 2019, email marketing has an average ROI of $42 per $1 spent — probably the best among all other marketing tools. This effectiveness is mostly because of how targeted email marketing is, which is rare in these times when content is always flooding from everywhere. Building your email list costs very little if you are patient and consistent enough in building it.

You can start by including a subscription form on your website that collects visitor emails. Don’t forget to use a custom email id to send out emails like hello@yourcompanyname.com so that your digital correspondence looks even more professional. First, send an introductory email to welcome new customers to your store. Gradually you can build powerful email marketing content around your existing products, blog posts, and important festivals. The key is to keep your messages consistent and effective. Once you have a decent number of website visitors on your list, you can communicate with them about sales, discounts, special offers, and new products.

4. Pull a PR Stunt

Pulling a PR stunt would be the fastest way to get started with your sales. If executed well, your PR campaign could trump the conventional time-consuming brand marketing via instant publicity. This would also help you gain loyal followers and customers in the process.

A PR stunt consists of doing something extravagant yet remarkable enough to be worthy of the media’s attention. Yes, that’s what you are aiming for, a place in those media columns admiring a budding brand like your marking its footprint in the eCommerce industry. A positive mention in the media goes a long way in improving both traffic in the short term and SEO in the long term of your store.

5. Publish a Press Release

Who needs a time-consuming PR stunt when your brand can speak for itself through the press. Lots of new online stores push out press releases in order to attract media attention (but fail). Why do you ask? Because not only will it be heavy on your pockets, but also could look like a paid advertisement where your product is still far away from your potential customers’ reach.

So why are we recommending it? Well, there’s always a silver lining! The secret to getting noticed in a positive light is simple, pour your heart out into creating the press release, communicate with your potential customers using your brand identity. Also remember, media caters to a different audience than social media - you have the potential to reach a more intellectual customer base. If your product is something that speaks through quality and purpose, this could be the way to get your first customer! Give the public something interesting to read about, present concisely and professionally without being monotonous.

6. Network on Social Media Groups or Forums

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Online discussion forums and social media groups are great places to share your knowledge of your industry and give valuable advice. You can also answer questions that will establish your credibility, in turn promoting your store’s brand.

Use platforms like Google or Facebook to find active forums and groups that directly relate to your store’s niche. Twitter has proved to be an effective home to discussion groups and valuable feedback sources. Note that every group and platform has its rules and regulations. What might be a little edgy for you could offend others. So get to know the restrictions of the forum and groups that you target. It goes without saying that you should also maintain your brand face and tone via your profile, posts and comments.

Generally, credible groups don’t’ tolerate constant promotion or posts full of links to your website. Besides, it makes you look spammy. So, keep it simple by posting just enough for people to notice your activity, but not enough to constitute spam. Explore how Facebook can help you immensely with sales in this article.

7. Offer a Contest or Giveaway

Everybody loves free products, and if you are genuinely looking to build up some customer base while launching your sales efforts, a contest or giveaway could help you do just that. These go a long way in helping you build valuable inbound links while showing potential customers that you can be trusted and that your brand means business. And it never hurts to flaunt how good your product is, which you wouldn’t get to do with occasional paid sales.

Remember, you don’t have to start big to reach your goals. Baby steps help you build a foundation that sustains.

8. Grow and promote on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the professional platform for the Internet, far apart from the content flooding we mentioned earlier. You will find professionals and executives of all types, talking about their abilities, connecting with others and looking for new opportunities.

After you set up your e-commerce business profile on LinkedIn, you can begin doing the same for yourself. You will discover an array of opportunities with other companies, suppliers, and related websites that will definitely take you much further in your quest for that first few sales.

LinkedIn Groups also are a stellar way to engage with other business owners in your industry. We have found that our customers have gone above and beyond with making fruitful connections on this platform that have benefitted them greatly in the form of amazing opportunities.

9. Sell on Instagram

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With one billion users, Instagram has proved to be an effective place to start for some quick first sales. In fact, many eCommerce enthusiasts start selling their products on Instagram first, then move to own their online store. We don’t recommend that strategy. Primarily because starting up a business is not something that you do half-heartedly, and selling on any platform that isn’t yours is exactly that. There will always be a doubt lingering that whether you would do better or worse on your platform since the stakes of selling on Instagram are so low.

Still, this is a fine platform for building an audience, getting early attention for your products, and leveraging influencers to build buzz around your brand. Fill out your profile completely; if there’s a form available, you should be using that real estate to build your brand and drive users to your site. Here we have a complete guide that you can follow to set up an effective Instagram profile.

Since Instagram is immensely crowded, it is important to target your audience, which can be done by using the best hashtags that relate to your posts. What hashtags is your ideal audience following? Use those to get your posts in front of them. Post regularly with attractive images that feature your products. Instagram is a visual platform, so make sure that the visuals you’re using are good ones.

10. Ask Friends to Write a Review

Now that we are almost halfway through this guide, let’s accept it. Friends and family are often your first customers. But then, of course, this article wants to get you your first organic customer. Someone who doesn’t know you yet spends their hard-earned money on your products. Building this trust isn’t easy, leverage your close relationships by asking them to spread the word about your products on social media, in person, and especially on popular review sites. Even a few of your friends dropping a positive review and promoting your products on their social channels can be enough to win those first sales.

Sometimes, this isn’t so easy. You can find yourself in a moral and social dilemma when asking your close ones for favours, in that case, feel free to offer them free products in exchange for detailed reviews and promotions.

11. Share a Great Story

Online competition is heavy, and the average attention span of internet users is falling. So, to engage your audience, you’ll first have to win their interest. And that’s where your brand story comes in.

Why should someone buy from you? What makes your business different? What are your company’s values? Your brand story is how you differentiate yourself from the pack. It’s who you are as a company — and that’s something shoppers are interested to know.

You might not have the resources to build a robust brand identity out of the gate, but there are several steps you can take to get your brand headed in the right direction:

12. Create a strong value proposition

Earlier in ‘Ask your Friends to write a Review’ we talked about building trust for gaining your first customers. You can complement this by focusing on your “About Us” page. Your store is as credible as the value it delivers. This can be reflected by using consistent, high-quality photographs for your products. Present them in quality packaging (even if it’s simple). As you begin to develop your brand, don’t be scared to showcase your strengths. A well-developed brand always has an amazing story behind it that tells customers exactly what it stands for.

13. Offer Free Returns

Usually, 1 in 3 purchases are returned, the reason being quality or size issues. This is worse than an Abandoned cart because of the efforts and money you put in delivering the product in the first place. But while many shop owners see this as a problem, you should take it as an opportunity. If you manage returns well, you can win the customer’s loyalty for future purchases. Offer easy free returns for your customers because then the gap between trusting a physical shop and an online one closes down.

What’s more, free returns give new customers the confidence to buy by enabling them to test your products risk-free. This is especially valuable for a new business with limited reviews. If free returns are out of the question, consider offering gift certificates in exchange for returned items. You will be able to recover the sale and offer your customers an opportunity to get the product they want.

Note: Don’t forget to mention a clear return policy along with your product description or homepage of your store. If you need help writing good descriptions for your product page, here is a quick article to help you with the same.

14. Offer Cash on Delivery

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Did you know, there’s a rising wave of abandoned carts that is baffling store owners? Check this blog out, where we cover abandoned cart in detail and how to avoid it. 

Offering Cash on Delivery is as important as offering easy returns, or even more. Whether your customer completes their purchase depends — at least in part — on how convenient your payment options are at the time. If your products are more expensive, customers may hesitate to complete their purchase, particularly if your store is new without considerable reviews to back up your credibility. Want more insights on advantages and disadvantages of COD? Check this out!

15. Drive traffic to your website

One way to increase the number of visitors to your online store is by running advertisements. When you sign up for a Squarespace Online Store, you get a free $100 Google Ads credit when you spend $25 or more. You can use this credit to create online ads that appear in search results and other places on the Google Network.

You can also use Facebook Dynamic Ads to help you target new customers by promoting products in your inventory relevant to their interests. Facebook Dynamic Ads uses the Facebook Pixel to track visitors’ activity, and based on its insights, automatically shows them personalized ads for your products they are more likely to purchase.

16. Use analytics to gain insights

To continue to grow your audience, it’s important to understand where your current traffic is coming from. With Squarespace Analytics, you can get a clear picture of your visitors and their behaviour through visual reports on statistics like page views, conversion, sales, referrers, and popular content. You can also download the Squarespace app to gain access to all of your data from anywhere. For your online store, your Analytics panel is designed to help you understand customer behaviour with the help of some of these features:

17. Paid advertising: Spending money to make money

The best way to get targeted traffic quickly is through paid advertising. The good news is that many paid advertising channels to allow you to pay per click. In some instances, you can start with a budget as low as $10.

Each advertising platform is different, and you should choose these channels based on who you’re targeting and how the tools allow you to reach potential buyers. If you're targeting specific countries, you might even want to check out which social networks are popular in certain markets.

Before exploring paid social media marketing, populate your main profile's feed with several posts (curating content is an easy way to go). Then it won’t be completely barren of activity when visitors check it out. Here's some insights into Google Display Advertising if you would like to read more about paid promotional options.

18. Send Free Samples to Influencers

The internet is packed with influential bloggers, journalists, entrepreneurs, and vloggers from a wide range of industries and niches. You just need to find the right ones.

Many of them have large followings on social media and loyal audiences on their websites. Sending a free sample of your product to influencers within your industry or related to it in some way allows you to let them know you appreciate their work with a small gift. Hopefully, you will get a mention on one of their sites or platforms.

This can result in a spike in traffic and social media followers, but you’ll also have a seal of approval from industry experts.

19. Start Blogging

If you aren’t already running a blog associated with your store or product, then you’re missing out on the limitless potential of content marketing.

By producing free, valuable content, you create trust in your brand and keep people informed. Blogging also gives you content to share on social media and helps you rank in search engines.

To get started, think of all the starting-point queries people have about your products and industry. Use your blog to answer these questions as individual articles.

20. Optimize Your Site for Search Engines

Last but not the least, having your online store full of rich keywords that are relevant to your products is an excellent way to setup your website's SEO (Search Engine Optimization). There are an excruciatingly high number of results for a thanything that we search online. You need to make sure your site is ranked higher on relevant keywords. This will help you bring in traffic through search engines like Google.

People who search for relevant keywords will end up on your online store and most probably will make a purchase as well. It also provides you with more opportunities to be discovered by new people. You can also focus on local SEO, which is when you target keywords that are localized to where your business is based. For some interesting SEO tips, visit our well-researched article here.

Wrapping Up

We understand that when you start your first eCommerce store, things can be very overwhelming for you and if you don’t have a concrete plan in place, operational expenses alone might quickly burn you out. But it is not as grim as they say, make sure that you understand how networking works. Work hard on adapting your store to turn those social media visitors into paying customers. Keep a consistent blog and newsletter. These efforts will ensure that customers keep coming back to your store for more purchases. There are a lot more things than what we talked about that you can do to get your first sale, just get creative!

Now go and make your first online sale!

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Headings: Tips, How to start, discount, Marketing, Features