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When I was 23 years old, I sold my first ecommerce business for around $1 million. These days, I work at Privy, a company that provides website conversion, email marketing, and text messaging tools. I still run my own ecommerce businesses on the side, so I know the struggle of just starting out and begging your family and all your friends to buy your products and leave you reviews.
In this post, I’ll walk you through some strategies for getting your first $1,000 in sales that won’t annoy your loved ones.
First of all, here’s a shortlist of things you don’t need to get sales:
Now, here’s what you do need to do:
I’m sure you have a great idea and a great product, but there’s only one reason people aren’t buying from you yet. It’s because they have no idea who you are. To fix this problem, you need to build awareness.
Take Coca-Cola for example. They spend millions on high-profile billboards because they know that when you make your way into a convenience store after a long walk, you’ll choose their product over others simply because you’re aware of their product already.
Your job as a small business owner is to create that same kind of awareness for your brand. Of course, you probably won’t be putting up a billboard in Times Square, and maybe even Facebook advertising seems out of reach. If that’s the case, I have some cost-efficient solutions for you:
HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is a platform reporters use to find sources for their articles. It’s used by professional writers from large outlets like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to small-scale bloggers and everyone in between.
When I create a brand, I monitor HARO requests for opportunities to respond. I reply to their requests with messages like, “Hey, I just launched this product at a great price-point and I think your readers would love it.”
I believe we’re in the golden age of TikTok. In fact, if you have a product out there and you’re not already making TikTok videos, I think you’ll regret it.
I’ve spoken to many small brands in the past year who’ve gone viral on TikTok for free and made hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I believe the virality of the platform will decrease in the next 1.5–2 years and the platform will become more pay-to-play like Facebook and other social media platforms, so I encourage you to get started now.
Quora has been around for a long time, but it’s still an extremely relevant site because of its high search engine ranking. To use this platform, find questions that fit into your niche. For example, if you’re selling tea, maybe there are questions about relaxing after work. Once you find relevant questions, answer as many as possible. Make your answers as helpful as possible. Then throw in a plug for your store at the end. You can say something like, “By the way, I created this product and I think it would be a great thing to add to your end-of-day routine.”
I think the person who said, “Build it and they will come,” had zero dollars in ecommerce sales.
Once people are aware of your store, you need to give them a reason to visit. People are lazy and they won’t often take initiative. At least this is the case for me personally.
When you’re reaching out to potential customers to build awareness, you should also give them a special offer like a coupon code. You can place the code in the ads you create or on social media. If you work with influencers or have the opportunity to be featured in a blog post, include codes there as well.
Other ideas for offers include:
I encourage you to explore these options and figure out what works best for your store.
The average ecommerce store converts at only 1%. That means, if 100 people visit your ecommerce store today, 99 of them will leave without making a purchase. But there are some things you can do to improve these statistics and make more sales.
Any time you make a sale, ask for a review you can feature on your website. Showing this kind of social proof encourages others to buy.
Your product descriptions are another important area for conversion. This is a space where you can answer all your customers’ questions about your product before they even ask. Include as much detail as possible. Does your t-shirt have the softest fabric you’ve ever felt? If so, let your customers know.
Pop-ups can also drive conversion. A pop-up asking your customers to share their email addresses is an asset. If the customer leaves without buying, you can follow up with them later. We’ll talk about emails more in the next section.
Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke once tweeted that your email lists and your website are the only two things you can own on the internet. Everything else is just rented.
With those words in mind, I encourage you to start building your email list. It will be valuable in the future. In fact, 30% of ecommerce revenue comes from email. Here are a few ideas for engaging emails you can send to your customers:
I hope you’re inspired to get busy building your email list, spreading awareness about your brand, making offers, and most importantly, getting sales.
I believe that if you follow my advice, you’ll be well on your way to your first $1,000 in sales and much more. Most importantly, enjoy the journey! I wish you all the best along the way.
Caroline is a former journalist turned marketer. She is a content marketing specialist at Printful and is becoming increasingly obsessed with social proof.
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