You’ve just set up your online store and got some awesome products to sell. Congratulations! That was the easy part, though. Now the real work begins. Getting the first customers is a crucial milestone on the journey to a successful eCommerce business. At the same time, the first sale you make for your new business usually brings more satisfaction than any other sale you gain in the future. And we really envy you for that, in a good way.
First action, then perfection
First and foremost, try to keep yourself away from what we call the “endless improvement trap”. Changing colors and styles, thinking too much about prices and generally devoting a lot of time to details that have not been tested on customers — it’s a mind trap that holds you from taking actions and moving on. Improvements are okay and very welcome... but later. Now you should focus on getting your first customers — in other words, on generating traffic.
You will know how to improve your online store when you get customer feedback. By the way, getting valuable feedback is one of the reasons why traffic is so important from the very beginning. Without traffic, you do not know if there is a real interest in your products or not. You do not know exactly who your customer is, what they like and where they come from. So just open your virtual door and invite people inside!
Low-hanging fruits (or free traffic sources)
With hundreds of channels and tactics for online promotion and traffic generation, it may take some time to find the right strategy that will provide the maximum result. Let's start with the most popular free traffic sources to warm up a little:
Start with small moves and look around
The first source of traffic that you should consider is your nearest offline environment: family, colleagues, and friends. Keep in mind the following tips when working with the first and most close to you groups of visitors:
- You may offer a small discount for people who visited your store.
- Try on them some of your marketing ideas and tactics (but do not spam your audience, please, be patient).
- Get the first feedback (and inspiration).
When that is done, go to your online communities. At this stage, please don’t forget to link the new website to your social profiles and email signatures. Thus, it will accompany all your online communications.
One of your next points towards online expansion — Q&A websites such as Quora. Here people often ask questions like "Where can I buy a Segway?” or "What’s your favorite online store?", and so on. By answering a relevant question, you will help people and, at the same time, get a chance to let them know about your new business.
Forums and social media groups
Such communities usually allow all members to post on the group wall. Everyone can ask a question, tell about interesting service, or mention a good online store, for example. You need to find online groups and forums with your potential target audience.
Let’s say, if you sell newborn clothes then go to a forum for young mothers and look through their discussions. If you can unobtrusively tell people why they should visit your online store to solve their problems, you will get more than just one purchase.
Create your own blog
Having a successful blog with useful information for your target audience is one of the best and sure ways to attract and engage customers on a regular basis. All it comes down to is how well you can produce valuable content.
Spend money to make more money
The best way to get targeted traffic is paid advertising. The good news is that almost all advertising platforms and services on the Web allow you Pay per Click, so you can start with a minimal budget. However, all platforms are different. Choose the one that suits you most based on two factors:
Relevance to your target audience
Specific promotional tools (photos, videos, etc.)
Here is a brief overview of paid traffic services you can use:
This is the most popular social network on the planet. It provides flexible promotional tools and allows you to target users by age, sex, position, interests and so on. The interests of users are especially important to online shopping.
If you sell visually representative goods, such as clothes, shoes, or pictures, advertising on Instagram is your first choice. It offers visual format, one of the biggest databases of involved users and the possibility to get even more exposure by using #hashtags. It’s a great way to attract people to products and your online store including those Instagram users who aren’t your followers… yet. The key to “hashtagging” though is to use a mixture of broad and specific terms. Keep using 5-10 appropriate hashtags and you’ll notice that people increasingly like your photos.
Google AdWords and Bing Ads
The first thing we usually do when we want to buy something is going to Google for checking up some basic information or feedback. Google AdWords is waiting for us there. It offers several advertising options you can choose from, including text ads in the search results, banner ads with prices, and more. Before you start advertising there though, do a keyword research to find out the most relevant words and phrases to promote your products.
Google AdWords has become a very popular place for online businesses to spend their advertising budgets. And that’s why we are now directing you towards a slightly less competitive and cheaper network — try Bing Ads as an alternative to Google and you may get sales results much cheaper.
Other means in between
Find companies and website that are willing to help you promote your store — there are different ways to do that, including free, not free and barter. You may want to consider the following tactics:
Partnerships with bloggers
Bloggers are always looking for something to write about. If your store has a cool story or an interesting implementation of traditional practices — consider half the battle won. Some other ways of working with bloggers:
Guest posts. Can you write an interesting content yourself? Brilliant! Share your experience, along with the link to your website.
Your product in exchange for a review. The deal is simple: you give them goods for free, they write about you.
The key to success here is to find services or online stores that are not your competitors yet they target the same audience. Ways to work together:
Online contests with your products as a prize,
Test probes delivered for free with your partner’s goods,
Mutual promotions and advertising,
Joint online and offline events, etc.
Networking with influencers
You do not have to be a big brand to communicate and work with celebrities. And we are talking here not about Britney Spears but influencers in narrow circles and niches. There is something similar to bloggers.
Visitors are not customers
Traffic, generally speaking, is your visitors, but visitors are not customers yet. Knowing why visitors are purchasing or not purchasing your products sometimes means all the difference between growing as a business or dying a slow death. Real-time analytics gives you a bird’s eye view of the online store, helping you identify possible trouble zones visitors may have when navigating across pages or selecting goods.
We hope that by the time you try all of the techniques mentioned above, you will already make more than one sale. Before you begin massively generate traffic, add Google Analytics and Convead to your online store so that you can monitor and understand your visitors’ behavior and website performance. It will help you a lot with your marketing activities later on.