Once an e-commerce store has been created, the next step is, of course, to focus on driving sales.
Successful e-commerce retailers don’t just launch their store and hope for the best; they implement multiple marketing initiatives to help their stores reach new audiences and ultimately drive sales every time.
If you’re short on ideas for making your first online sale, we’ve compiled a list of thirty methods you can try right away. Let’s jump right in.
1. Sell on Instagram
With a billion users, Instagram is not a bad place to start when it comes to securing quick first sales.
Instagram is a prime channel for building an audience, getting early attention for your products, and leveraging influencers to create buzz around your brand. But there are a few things you need to do to make Instagram work for your store.
- First, fill out your profile completely; if there’s a form available, you should use that space to build your brand and drive users to your site.
- Second, determine the best hashtags for your audience – what hashtag(s) does your ideal audience follow? Use them to get your posts in front of them.
- Lastly, post regularly with engaging images that showcase your products. Instagram is a visual platform, so make sure the images you use are good.
To speed up your sales, you can also connect Instagram ads. Shoppable posts allow you to tag products in your images with specialized links to buy directly from Instagram.
Thinking about Instagram? It’s best to create your Instagram profile early, even before you launch your store. The sooner you can get your Instagram up and running with engaging content, the faster your first sales will be. That said, it’s never too late to get started!
2. Explore Pinterest
50% of people bought a product after seeing a promoted pin and 93% of users use Pinterest to plan their purchases. So don’t miss the opportunity to expand your audience. First, open a business account (it’s free), customize your profile with covers and board titles, and make sure your bio is SEO-friendly.
Pay attention to Rich Pins: they offer more information directly on a pin. There are four types of them, and your choice is a Product Pin. Show the price and where to buy your product.
3. Add your products to Facebook
To increase the visibility of your new store, add your products to your company page on Facebook. With Website Payments Now, all it takes is a few clicks.
Once you have connected your Payment Now store with your Facebook business page, a new “Shop” tab will allow the two billion active Facebook users to discover your products:
This will also allow you to quickly advertise your products on Facebook using Facebook’s powerful audience targeting tools.
4. Ask your friends to write a review.
Family and friends are often your first customers. Leverage those relationships by asking your personal network to spread the word about your products on social media, in person and even on popular review sites. All it takes is five friends promoting your products on their social channels to get those elusive first sales.
You can also offer your friends free products in exchange for detailed reviews. When it comes to free products, you may be surprised at how helpful those friends can be.
5. Try Facebook and Instagram ads
Facebook (which owns Instagram) makes advertising simple and allows you to determine the budget, run time, target audience and ad design. Not many other ads allow so much customization, and the nice thing about ads here is that you can stop them at any time.
Plus, with Facebook’s built-in analytics, you can see real, tangible results from your efforts to discover what makes an ad effective. And since Instagram is now dependent on Facebook, including your ads on Facebook is just a matter of clicking a box, as seen below.
Create Facebook ads that speak to your target audience and have a compelling CTA for customers, and then watch the sales roll in.
6. Organize a contest
Contests are great for promoting your business. You can capture the interest of potential customers and gain new subscribers. Choose a prize that is worth entering the contest for, for example, a gift card or a collection of products. Make sure the rules are clear and simple to follow. Promote your contest or sweepstakes on all your social platforms, even if it’s only on Instagram, for example.
Explain or show your subscribers how you chose the winner. If it’s a contest, explain the criteria you based it on. If you’re using a random app, make a video of the process. This will ensure the trust of your followers.
Giveaways are very popular on Instagram: you can launch them for any occasion you want (Image: @insidecrochet).
7. Selling on Facebook Messenger
Once shoppers start discovering your new store, they’ll probably have a few questions before they’re ready to make a purchase. And if you want those sales to get over the line, you’ll need to be able to answer those questions quickly and efficiently.
Email is reliable, but response times are often slow, and too many phone calls will likely frustrate both you and your millennial customers. That’s why we’ve added our Facebook Messenger integration for PagoYa storefronts.
Around 1.3 billion Facebook users already use Facebook Messenger to communicate with friends and brands, so chances are your future customers do too.
8. Working with Google Shopping Ads
Google Shopping Ads uses targeting, bidding and keywords to help you expand your audience and create ad campaigns.
The good news is that Google Shopping is integrated with Checkout Now. You can automatically run optimized Google Shopping Ads even if you’ve never dealt with it before. All you have to do is follow three simple steps: choose your target audience, choose your products and start your campaign.
9. Consider Affiliate Marketing
81% of brands use affiliate marketing. It allows you to earn commissions for marketing another company’s products. In other words, you pay someone for each visitor or customer brought to your website by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.
You can partner with bloggers or other companies in your industry. For example, you can provide your partners with special banners that link to your store. They can even place your entire store on their websites. The advantage is that you promote your products only to interested people and you pay only when you get results.
GiftIdeaGeek is an Amazon affiliate website. It uses humorous descriptions and focuses on geeky and pop culture products that match its niche
10. Partner with an influential person
Think about who your audience is looking to for advice on your type of product: is it a blogger, a podcaster, a media outlet or something/someone else? Outline some potential partners and come up with a contest, sweepstakes or product highlight that can get your online store in front of a new and interested audience.
Not only is this a form of social proof that helps validate your online offerings, but it takes some of the slimy-feeling sales pitch out of the customer acquisition equation. Essentially, you’re letting someone else sing your praises, and that’s a great way to make sales online.
Bloggers Emma and Elsie, of A Beautiful Mess, partner with clothing stores to do “Sister Style” posts, in which they showcase products they’ve been given as part of a paid advertisement. In these posts, they link to the stores that have provided the items, making it easy for their blog readers to buy them as well.
Send free samples to influencers in your industry or a related industry. When they review your product, you’ll get more traffic and followers, as well as approval from experts in your industry.
You can also ask industry influencers for an interview. This way, you can get content for your blog and gain new followers.
11. Participate in a collective raffle
Brands often collaborate with bloggers and influencers to create buzz with prizes and sweepstakes. Participation often requires the public to interact with social media partners in a specific way in order to qualify for a prize. This gives new stores the opportunity to gain new followers, “likes” and even make sales as a prerequisite to participation. And they may even stick around afterwards to continue interacting with your brand if their profile has valuable content to offer.
To get started, you can devise your own group sweepstakes or join an existing sweepstakes. If you opt to join a sweepstakes that already has some momentum, look for sweepstakes united by a specific theme (e.g., “green sweepstakes”) so that any prizes are relevant to the target audience.
12. Support a charity
Charitable donations are a great public relations opportunity and a chance to make your first sale, especially if you are a small business that relies on your local community.
To make your donations beneficial to your business, choose the organization you are donating to wisely. You can choose a local organization or something larger, but make sure the organization’s values match those of your brand.
La Mer donates to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation
13. Promote your products in a local market
Artisanal, handmade, local, organic… if any of these words describe your business, you may want to consider trying your luck at a local market. Farmers markets and craft fairs are a perfect opportunity to get your products in front of potential customers and secure a few easy sales.
To attract online market customers, print flyers with discounts and a link to your store, have business cards or QR codes on hand, and remember to create an experience your customers will want to share.
14. Create a Youtube channel
Getting famous on YouTube isn’t exactly easy, but if you understand the trends (and put in the hours), you can – at the very least – leverage its power for your first sale.
Unboxing videos are a popular trend on YouTube and a perfect approach for e-commerce stores.
If you have a friend with a powerful YouTube channel, ask them to record an unboxing video of your product. Or (if you have money to spare), hire an influencer to create a sponsored video of your product.
And don’t limit yourself to unboxing videos either: there’s a wide variety of YouTube trends you can tap into based on the types of products you sell, from makeup tutorials and recipes to how-to’s. Search Google, Google Trends and your competition to find out what’s working on YouTube for similar brands.
If you’re fairly new to YouTube, you’ll want to do some research before jumping in. Start with resources like this one: YouTube for e-commerce: how to sell without selling.
15. Participate in the spaces where your customers spend their time.
This tip is very important because it’s how you’ll organically build relationships with customers. Find out where your target market hangs out (is it a Reddit thread? A Twitter chat?) and engage there without making a sales pitch. Be witty, be friendly and strive to make friends in those spaces.
That’s what Gary Vaynerchuk did to grow his online wine business, which is now a multi-million dollar enterprise. He spent time sharing his expertise and people came to trust him as a resource within his niche.
Over time, people will come to know who you are and what you do, and will act without you having to ask them to. You’ll gain sales and referrals, which is good news for your e-commerce business.
Also, go to trade shows or even local flea markets and farmers markets. This way you can sell directly to your potential customers. Prepare discount coupons or stickers to give away for subscribing to your email newsletter or social media pages.
16. Master your networking skills
Business networking is vital to attract new customers or partners and understand the market. It helps to make your business more visible and gain valuable contacts. You can network both offline (at conferences, business meetings, coworking spaces) and online. Social networking is called “social” for a reason: join Facebook groups related to your niche or participate in forum discussions.
However, networking is not about handing out your business cards at events and subscribing to experts in your industry. It’s about cultivating long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with people who can be helpful to your business.
Check out our in-depth guide to business networking and take the first step, or listen to this episode of the Pago Ya E-Commerce Show, in which two Pago Ya merchants share how contacts helped them build their unique product from the ground up:
17. Find distributors for your products
Having trouble getting your first sale? Let someone else do it for you.
Distributors are third-party professionals who work with retailers to get your products into their stores. The right distribution partner can dramatically increase your sales by helping you reach untapped markets and create new sales and promotional channels.
Keep in mind, however, that adding more middlemen can also detract from your profits, so it’s best not to consider it as a long-term strategy. But when you are starting out, distributors can be a good way to raise awareness of your products and create a loyal customer base to grow your operations.
18. Open a Popup Store
Who says you can’t build a face-to-face online audience? If you sell locally, a temporary pop-up store at a fancy venue like a flea market or festival can be a quick way to boost your sales.
Having a physical interaction with your customers offers more than just an opportunity to interact with your products. Someone who has met you in person is more likely to create a buzz about your store by sharing the experience with their friends (provided the experience was positive). According to a survey of Pago Ya merchants, word-of-mouth marketing (one customer sharing their experience with another) was the second most common way to promote a small business.
19. Start an e-mail newsletter.
Collecting email addresses for your newsletter allows you to stay in touch with potential or past customers on an ongoing basis. In addition, the ROI is significant: According to Campaign Monitor data, an email is 6 times more likely to be clicked than a tweet.
How can you start collecting email addresses? Think about:
- Include an opt-in on your e-commerce site.
- Ask customers to sign up during the checkout process.
- Use a lead generator (such as a 10% off coupon) for those who sign up
- Include a subscription link in your email signature
Motivate people to subscribe to your newsletter: offer some kind of value for subscribing. For example, it could be a chance to win a free product every month or every week.
These are just a few ways to get started, but as your subscriber list starts to grow, you can stay top of mind with shoppers who end up coming back to your online store again and again.
20. Create a Blog
A blog is a place where you can not only promote new products and share sales information, but it can help you build a relationship with customers by giving your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your online activity. Create a blog to showcase your order shipping processes, talk about how you come up with new product ideas, and let customers get to know you as the face behind the business.
Need an example? Online retailer Ugmonk wrote a blog showing the manufacturing of a product from start to finish.
21. Become a source of hay
HARO, also known as Help a Reporter Out, is a place where journalists and writers go to find sources for their articles. If you become a source, you can find opportunities not only to be quoted online and in print, but also to share your knowledge and gain authority as an expert in your field.
HARO sends queries three times a day to source inboxes, and you have the opportunity to respond with your best pitch. Over time, your successful responses will help you get your brand in front of new audiences, and you’ll also have some SEO benefits.
22. Share a great story
Online competition is fierce and the average attention span of Internet users is decreasing. 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 company different? What are your company’s values? Your brand story is how you differentiate yourself from the rest. It’s who you are as a company, and that’s something buyers are interested in knowing.
You may not have the resources to create a strong brand identity from scratch, but there are several steps you can take to get your brand going in the right direction:
- Create a strong value proposition.
- Tell your story on your “About Us” page.
- Use consistent, high-quality photography.
- Present your products with consistent (albeit simple) packaging.
As you begin to develop your brand, don’t be afraid to showcase your strengths. A well-developed brand story that tells customers exactly who you are and what you’re about can mean the difference between winning your first sale or getting lost in the noise.
23. Add links to your store
For a shopper to make a purchase, they will first have to find your store. And one of the most obvious ways to increase your store’s visibility is to create links.
Here are some of the best places to add links to your store:
- Your personal email signature
- Social media profiles (including personal ones)
- Guest blogs you have written for other websites
- In a QR code that you can print out and place in your car or other visible places
- In comments in forums and groups
24. Prepare a Lookbook
If you have a physical product associated with a lifestyle brand (think clothing, accessories, shoes, etc.), a lookbook that shows your product in an aesthetically pleasing context helps shoppers imagine owning and using your products.
It’s a step beyond the standard product photo, and also gives shoppers the opportunity to see your products in action. Need an example? Check out L.K. Bennett’s online catalog.
25. Organize a live event
We’ve already mentioned how social media can create early buzz around your products, and a great way to do this is through live video. Both Facebook and Instagram offer live video tools that can be used to create brand experiences that connect with your customers.
To get the most out of live video, think of a fun activity, such as a sweepstakes, contest, conference, etc., for which your audience would be happy to tune into a live stream. Then announce your live streaming event in advance and promote it every day leading up to the event to drive interest and participation.
If you use your live stream to drive sales, create a unique coupon code that you can share with your audience at the end of your live event. Remember to keep your stream short and fun, and get audience feedback to improve future events.
26. Prepare gifts
In e-commerce, discounts are commonplace. So what happens if you change your strategy and offer a free gift instead of a cash equivalent discount? In one study, researchers selling lotions found that they sold 73% more bottles by offering a bundle instead of a discount of equal value.
Most of the time, customers will be more attracted to an offer that offers an extra item for free than an offer that simply offers a partial cash discount, even if it is monetarily equivalent. So take some time before your store’s grand opening to consider what kind of offer will be best for your new customers. Is it a free extra product? An exclusive gift? What offer can you make that is relevant to your store and brings significant value to your customers?
27. Offer free shipping
Once a shopper lands on your website, you should do everything you can to convince them to make a purchase. Checkout is already optimized to encourage conversions, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some additional tricks you can use to help window shoppers get through the buying process. And that’s where “free shipping” comes in.
Approximately 84% of shoppers are more likely to complete a purchase from a store that offers free shipping. In fact, shipping costs are the number one cart abandonment factor.
Promoting free shipping on your website allows customers to add products to their carts and complete their purchases without friction, knowing they won’t be surprised with any additional charges during the checkout process. When they see the price, they can make a purchase decision right then and there.
And free shipping doesn’t have to mean less profit, either. Check out some of our guides, such as the six free shipping strategies for help, and learn how to market your free shipping offer for maximum results.
28. Offer free returns
According to recent reports, as many as 1 in 3 purchases will be returned. But that’s no reason to give up the fight. In fact, if you manage returns well, you have the opportunity not only to save that sale, but to build customer loyalty for future purchases. And, of course, one of the best ways to manage returns well is to offer your customers free and easy returns.
In addition, free returns give new customers the confidence to buy by allowing them to try your products risk-free. This is especially valuable for a new business with few reviews.
If free returns are not possible, consider offering gift certificates in exchange for returned items. You’ll be able to recoup the sale and offer your customers the opportunity to get the product they want.
And don’t forget to offer a clear and easy-to-find return policy in your online store.
29. Offer “buy now, pay later” service.
Whether or not a shopper 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 be hesitant to complete their purchase, especially if you are a new store with a short history.
Fortunately, Website Payments Now offers the ability to “buy now, pay later” through Afterpay. Connect your Payment Now store to Afterpay so your customers can pay for their orders in four two-week payments with no additional fees when you pay on time.
Learn more about Afterpay and the 50+ other payment options built into Website Pago Ya.
30. Publish a frequently asked questions page
Sometimes customers have questions. And most of the time, they’ll want answers to those questions before they’re ready to complete a purchase. The easier it is for customers to find appropriate answers to their questions, the more likely they are to convert. By creating a resource with answers to frequently asked questions, you can help shoppers quickly find important information and get back to the buying activity in your store.
Not sure what to include on a FAQ page? No worries. Check out our guide to creating an FAQ page for e-commerce stores.
Make your first online sale: Try new methods
If you are not already executing some of the strategies described here, today is the day to start. In no time, you will have passed your first online sale and will be busy packing orders.
If you’re past this point in your business, what are some of the ways you made your first sale?