Every online store faces the same challenge when it first opens. You’ve already invested a good chunk of time and money into getting your website running, but it all counts for nothing until you start selling products.
In many ways, those first few hundred sales are the hardest ones to get, but once you build that initial traction, things start clicking into place. The key is reaching that first landmark as soon as possible. Aside from bringing in some vital revenue, those early sales (and the marketing you conduct to get them) will lead to your next batch of customers and beyond.
So let’s take a look at the marketing essentials to get your store selling products in 30 days.
The challenge: Selling products in 30 days
Back in November, Shopify published an article on how to get your first sale in 30 days and this partly inspired out blog post for today. I’ll be covering a number of the same points but I wanted to expand on some of them and make a few bold assertions about where to invest your time and money in those first 30 days (and first few months really).
So have a read of both articles and take what you can from both of them.
The point is you absolutely can start selling products in the first 30 days and this should be the target you set yourself. It’ll take some work and capital to get things moving but it’s better to invest these resources early on so your site can start paying for itself (and more) as soon as possible.
So let’s get cracking!
Start with Google AdWords
The Shopify article I mentioned earlier also recommends paid advertising, but it talks about getting organic/free traffic first. However, I want to talk about PPC first – and specifically Google AdWords – because it’s the best way to guarantee traffic from day one and opportunities to sell.
Meanwhile, organic traffic takes more time to generate and turn into sales. So my recommendation is to start paid advertising and organic search marketing from the day you launch. Paid ads will get that essential traffic you need in the first few months while you build your organic search presence – it’s the ideal combination.
The reason I recommend Google AdWords specifically is because it tends to come with a higher purchase intent than Facebook or other social advertising channels. People use Google to actively search for products so they’re already interested in – which gives you a higher quality of lead and more chance of turning them into paying customers.
Here are some general tips for your AdWords strategy:
- Set your targets and stick to them (keywords, budget, etc.)
- Focus on your most desirable products first
- Tempt people with a special introductory offer and create campaigns to promote your deal
- Create specific landing pages (never send PPC traffic to your homepage)
- Set up AdWords remarketing so users who don’t buy first time continue to see your ads after they leave your site
- Run Google Shopping campaigns alongside regular text ads
- Capture emails from users to send them promotional messages later on
In terms of budget you have a decision to make. Do you invest more in the first few months and take a loss for the sake of building traction, or do you set a profit target to reach? This depends on your budget and how quickly you need to start making money from your business.
Just remember that any good PPC strategy starts paying for itself within the first few months. It should certainly be bringing you traffic from day one and get you selling those first products within the first 30 days.
So invest what you can into paid advertising now (time, not just money) so you can grow faster. Each new customer is another person you can use to tempt with future purchases, fill up your social pages with positive feedback and help you build your brand further.
Use SEO as your long-term strategy
I don’t want to downplay the importance of SEO and organic traffic for new eCommerce stores. You want to get your search marketing strategy up and running right away but understand it will take time to start seeing results.
There’s no need to panic – this is the nature of SEO and taking shortcuts only comes back to bite you later on. So use PPC as your quick fix and allow your SEO strategy to do its job, gradually building up your online presence and bringing in “free” traffic to your store.
So what does an SEO strategy look like for a new eCommerce store?
Make yourself useful
The first thing you need to do is decide how you can create a blog that really solves the problems your target customers face. It could be buying decisions, technical issues with products, general users queries or any combination of things.
The goal is to make your website a place where consumers interested in your products want to come, even before they’ve decided to buy anything. Doing so will not only generate leads from the people already visiting your site, but also raise your online profile and bring new traffic coming to your store.
Reach out to users where they already are
While you’re waiting for your on-site SEO to take off, you can do your best to generate organic traffic from other sources in the first 30 days. Find user forums related to your industry or generic sites like Quora where people go to ask questions.
These are great places to introduce yourself to potential customers. Answer their questions and show them you’re a genuinely helpful brand. Forget about selling for now and focus on establishing connections.
You can do the same on social media, too. Find groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and trending topics on Twitter. Make your presence known and offer your expertise to everyone who needs it.
Your goal is to build a reputation as a brand that helps people out rather than trying to force products down their throat. You’ll find more people buy if you take a less aggressive or sleazy approach – and always remember there’s value in engaging with people who don’t buy from you, too.
Get yourself published on other websites
Another way to reach out to communities is to publish content on other websites. It could be a simple case of publishing on Medium and LinkedIn or targeting industry websites – eg: TechRadar if you’re selling consumer tech goods.
Again, the aim isn’t to sell products but get your content and brand seen by a wider audience. These sites get huge streams of traffic on a daily basis and the more niche their content is, the more targeted this traffic will be to your product (and more likely to buy).
Depending on what products you’re selling, you could even reach out to review sites to give their verdict. These are a favourite tool for consumers who haven’t decided which product to buy yet and you’ll often get links to your product pages in return.
If you have physical stores, go local
If you’re a purely online retailer then this won’t apply to you. But if you have physical stores then you’ll want to put a sting focus on local SEO. Get yourself on Google My Business and claim your business in Google Maps. It’s also a good idea to register with online directory listings like Yelp, even though their influence has declined somewhat.
Again, don’t worry if your SEO strategy doesn’t directly sell any products in the first month. Focus on making AdWords do the selling for you (that’s what it’s designed for) and start using SEO to build your audience – precisely what it’s supposed to do.
Set up email marketing right away
When traffic comes to your site the aim is always to keep them involved with your brand. If they buy a product there and then, great. If not, then you need to find another way to connect with them again at a later date.
Email marketing is key to this and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive to do. Ask blog readers to subscribe and prompt other users to sign up for special offers and other incentives.
Run this alongside AdWords remarketing and you’ll be able to reconnect with a wide range of visitors who don’t buy the first time around. They’ve still shown an interest and still have potential to buy – your job is to give them the extra push.
Aside from this, email marketing is by far the best performing marketing strategy at turning previous customers into repeat customers.
Resist the urge to advertise on social (for now)
Plenty of marketers would slap me for saying this and you’ll have to weigh things up for yourself. However, there are a few reasons I think you should forget about advertising on social media for the first months:
- Social leads come with a lower buying intent than AdWords
- You already have PPC and SEO to spend your time on as it is
- Producing social content, managing accounts and running ads is demanding
- You can make progress on social for free
Let me be clear: social advertising is a great marketing tool for eCommerce stores and I recommend you get involved – just not now. You have enough to be doing in the first few months of running your store and you should focus on getting the absolute highest quality of leads.
I would focus your time and budget on AdWords to get the maximum amount of traffic with buying intent. This will be the key to selling as many products as possible in the first month and once things are picking up I would suggest social advertising.
In the meantime, use your social channels to promote your content, build your audience and cater to any customer services needs. Go back to the point I mentioned earlier about reaching out to groups and discussions on social, too. Use this to get a feel for whihc networks are most suitable for you and build whatever presence you can for now.
The time to pay up for social ads will come soon enough.
So that’s it for today but be sure to check out the Shopify article we mentioned earlier. There are some suggestions in there I didn’t cover today so it’s certainly worth reading. I just wanted to give my two cents on where your time and money might be best spent in the first 30 days of running your online store. It’s results that count after all and getting those early sales really will kick things into action for you.