By Neil Patel
Your new ecommerce site has finally launched. Congratulations!
Now you have the ability to sell to a huge potential audience. Whether you have a completely new business or an existing brand that just launched an ecommerce site, getting your first few sales can be intimidating.
Existing businesses that expanded to the Internet, using it as an additional sales platform, will have an easier time with this.
That’s because they already have current customers familiar with the brand. For the most part, they’ll just need to let those customers know they’re selling online, and sales should follow.
With that in mind, this guide is designed mostly for those startups that just launched an ecommerce site.
Or maybe you’ve had a website for a while, but you’re just now adding an ecommerce feature to it.
Regardless of your situation, this guide will help anyone looking to increase conversions in their ecommerce stores, ultimately generating more sales.
Once you get that first sale out of the way, others will continue. Here are some tips to get you started in the right direction.
Start a blog
There is a big difference between website traffic and sales.
You may have noticed in the early days of your site launch that you’ve gotten some traffic. That’s great. But nobody is buying anything.
Don’t worry. It’s a game of numbers. No website has a 100% conversion rate.
But the more traffic you can drive to your site, the greater your chances of getting sales will be. It’s all about understanding the customer conversion funnel.
The top of the funnel is the awareness stage. Blog posts help create brand awareness and generate more site traffic.
That’s why blogging is absolutely necessary for all ecommerce sites.
Think of it like this. What are you selling? Is it so important that people are going to shop every day for it? Probably not.
But your blog gives people a reason to visit your site on a regular basis, even if they didn’t plan on buying anything.
Blogging also improves your organic search ranking. When consumers look for products on a search engine, your site will have a greater chance of being a top hit.
Your blog can also serve as a channel for product promotion. Pitch whatever you’re selling within the content of your posts, and add hyperlinks to a landing page where the products can be purchased.
Build a list of email subscribers
Email marketing needs to be a major part of your content strategy.
If you just launched your ecommerce site, chances are you probably don’t have an active list of email subscribers yet. Before you start focusing on getting your first sale, you should learn how to build your first email list from scratch.
Again, starting from scratch can be intimidating. The number zero is tough to look at. But don’t worry, the only way to go from here is up.
I know what some of you might be thinking. Why focus on building an email list instead of working on sales?
It’s simple. Your email list will make it easier for you to generate sales.
Email marketing is the top digital tactic that drives both customer acquisition and retention, according to a recent survey of online retailers.
This means your email list will not only help you drive your first sales but also increase the chances that those customers will continue to buy in the future.
That’s because once people sign up to receive emails, they are already interested in your brand.
Even if they haven’t bought anything yet, you can start to prime them to make a purchase. Create an actionable drip campaign, beginning with a welcome message. Follow that up with promotional emails.
You’ve got direct access to your subscribers’ inboxes, so take advantage of it. Just don’t push your luck by sending too many messages or spam.
Consumers may not visit your website every day, but they will definitely check your emails. Offer them a discount, which I’ll discuss in greater detail shortly.
Send products to social influencers
Influencer marketing has become one of the top trends of the year.
People may not know who you are or that your brand even exists. But they follow influencers on social media.
The reason why working with influencers is so beneficial is because the pay rates are low and the engagement rates are high.
For just a few hundred bucks you could get your product exposed to thousands of prospective buyers. It’s important for you as a new brand to keep your costs low in the early stages.
Without any sales, you won’t be able to survive since you don’t have a steady cash flow.
Look at the way Thompson Tee used this strategy to promote its brand on Instagram by partnering with James Tollefson:
James has nearly 20,000 Instagram followers. So this post is great exposure for the brand.
As you can see, the post includes a purchase link and a discount code. This makes it easier and more enticing for a prospective customer to make a purchase.
It’s a cost-effective strategy. Make sure you’re smart with your marketing budget.
Have influencers wear your product, use it, or demonstrate how it works, just like in the example above.
But do your research before sending your product to just anyone. You want to make sure the influencers you’re partnering with fit your target audience and brand strategy.
As a new brand, you don’t have a reputation yet.
Why should someone be the first person to buy something from your website?
They don’t see any product reviews or anything else from previous customers since there aren’t any. So it’s hard to justify paying full price for something from a brand with no reputation and no sales.
As long as it doesn’t interfere with your brand image, I recommend slashing your prices in the initial stages.
I get it. Some of you may have a luxury brand that doesn’t plan on putting items on sale.
But to get people familiar with your products and generate sales, it’s a viable strategy early on.
Here’s something else to consider. Offering a discount code increases the chances that you’ll make a sale:
That’s because people love getting deals. Mark up your initial prices higher than you initially planned to turn a profit with the discount.
Want to get $40 for an item on your site? It’s simple. Then list it for $60 and make the sale price $40.
It’s an age-old marketing trick.
Market to prospective B2B clients
All too often I see businesses focus strictly on direct to consumer sales.
While there is nothing wrong with this strategy and its higher profit margins, it doesn’t mean you should completely dismiss the idea of targeting other businesses.
Consider selling your products at a wholesale rate to retailers.
For example, let’s say you’ve got a brand new ecommerce company that sells clothing. You don’t have any physical store locations.
To get your products into the public eye, you can reach out to local, national, and international retailers. Try to get your products in their stores.
Sure, you won’t get as much of a profit per item. But bulk orders will be much larger than those from consumers who just want to buy one shirt a time.
Once your product starts selling in one store, other retailers will want it as well. Now that consumers are familiar with your product, they’ll look to buy it on your ecommerce site.
Create social media profiles
This is something that should have been done before your site launched.
But for those of you who haven’t created social media profiles yet, it’s not too late to start. Set up accounts on the most popular platforms:
You need to have active profiles on all these channels. That said, find out which platform your target market uses the most, and prioritize those efforts first.
Once the profiles are up and running, you can leverage social commerce to drive your first sale.
Try to increase your followers and create brand awareness.
Drive traffic to your site through these distribution channels. Once you have an active social media presence, it opens the doors for additional marketing opportunities.
Create a simple website design
Simple websites have higher conversion rates.
Take a look at your ecommerce site. Is it simple?
Yes, you might be selling hundreds or potentially thousands of products. But you can’t try to fit every single item on your homepage.
Reduce clutter. Get rid of ads.
Include a search bar and menu options for easy navigation. It’s okay to have blank space on your site. This will help focus the visitors’ attention on your CTA buttons.
You definitely want product images. But don’t include large pictures on each page – it’ll slow down page loading times.
A simple design translates to a faster loading page. You’ll get fewer page abandonments and increase the chances of getting a sale.
Let me clarify what I mean by this. I’m not saying you should just give your product away with no questions asked.
But now that you have your social media channels set up, you can use them to facilitate contests and similar promotions.
The winners of these contests can get your products free. Here’s an example of this strategy used by Knockaround on its Instagram profile:
In the early stages of your business, you need to be more willing to give things away. It doesn’t have to be your most expensive products, but as long as you’re doing something, it will generate some buzz.
You could consider running weekly giveaways or even daily giveaways to put your name out there. This will accomplish a few things.
First, it puts your products into the hands of the consumer. They’ll be familiar with it and potentially buy something else as a result of their free gift. These people will also share it with their friends and family, who could also become paying customers.
Even those who didn’t win the giveaway now have some interest in your brand. These consumers are also more likely to buy now because your product is on their minds.
Attend a trade show
Many people who have an ecommerce site act as if their business runs strictly online.
Just because you don’t have a physical store doesn’t mean you can’t get out there and sell. Trade shows are a great place for ecommerce brands.
Look for local, regional, and national events to attend. They’re everywhere.
Having a presence at one of these events gives your brand exposure to attendees as well as other vendors.
You could potentially meet a vendor interested in buying products at a wholesale rate, which I previously discussed.
Trade shows aren’t necessarily the place to sell products. But you’ll give away things there to gain exposure.
You could offer some free samples of your products. Or maybe just give away some t-shirts, key chains, stickers, phone cases, and other smaller promotional items with your logo and website to encourage sales.
Give exclusive coupons and promo codes to people who visit your booth at a trade show. It could even be something as drastic as 50% off one item.
Remember, you need to do everything possible to close that first sale.
Reduce friction in your checkout process
So, you’ve been able to draw traffic to your website with the help of other promotions.
But you’re still having trouble getting those visitors to buy something. What’s wrong? Perhaps your checkout process is not optimized.
Get rid of unnecessary steps. Once a visitor decides they want a product, you need them to be able to complete the purchase with just a few clicks.
Take a look at the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment:
Besides cost, which ranked first on the list, the next two top reasons both involve a complicated checkout process.
If you’re forcing visitors to create an account or answer tons of questions, you are crushing your conversions.
Ask only for the essentials. Get their billing information and shipping info. That’s it.
No need to ask them for their mother’s maiden name. The whole process should be a few clicks and done.
Each additional step gives the customer a chance to change their mind and abandon the sale.
Your new ecommerce site doesn’t have any sales yet.
That’s okay. Everyone started from zero at the beginning. The idea is to get your first few sales rolling to pick up some momentum.
Start blogging to create brand awareness, promote your products, and increase traffic to your website.
Focus on building a list of email subscribers. Work with influencers to promote your brand on social media.
Discount your prices. Simplify your website design. Attend trade shows.
Think outside the box. You can look for alternative ways to generate sales. Consider B2B brands that you could sell products to in bulk.
Increase your social media presence. Run contests and giveaways through those marketing channels.
Simplify your checkout process.
If you follow the tips and advice I’ve outlined above, it will sustain your ecommerce site far beyond your first sale.
What type of marketing strategy is your new ecommerce site using to drive your first sales?