17 September, 2016
Receiving the first order on your eCommerce store is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. It is a motivation booster. It also becomes one of the most memorable feelings in life. Most of the eCommerce entrepreneurs might remember the person who placed the first order on their store. While some people get an order in few hours of their launch, most of them struggle to do so.
Getting the first order as soon as you launch requires a powerful strategy and an awesome product. I have compiled a list of channels/mediums which you can take into consideration for your pre-launch eCommerce strategy. A lot of them are quite obvious and everyone has them on their checklist, while some of them are not utilized at all. I have made this list as a form of checklist so that eCommerce business owners have every channel in mind when they start out and make the best utilization of them. This is not some advanced article on 'increasing eCommerce sales', it is a checklist which you might want to bookmark for future reference.
1. Gather Audience on Facebook
Facebook tops the list as most of the people relies on it to have their first sale. You can start a Facebook page for your business. Invite all of your friends to like it, ask your friends to invite their friends and voila, you have reached thousands of people in no time. You can even tag your friends (if they don’t mind) in your posts and keep the post public so that it reaches a wider audience.
Make sure that you don’t keep posting about your products. Post the content which is interesting for your audience and is shareable. Make the best possible utilization of videos as they get a wider reach. Also use the Facebook live feature once you have enough audience to give a live demonstration of your awesome product.
P.S. Do Not Buy Fake Likes
This is a relatively new feature which is being rolled out to everyone. The reason I have mentioned Facebook shop different from facebook page is because of its cool features. It was available to store built on Shopify, but now it is available to everyone. Shop section on facebook allows a customer to discover and buy products directly on facebook. You can even see ‘shop’ in search results and can even boost your product directly from the shop section. If you have an eCommerce store, you must make the most out of the Facebook shop section.
Twitter is also one of the most powerful tools if you are focused on a specific niche. You can select a specific #hashtag and build your popularity on that. You can even interact with people based on the hashtags in your industry. Make sure that you have every piece of required information on your profile. Tweet out coupons, listen to the conversations happening in your niche and join in.
Linkedin is the best place to share your stories with other professionals. If you have a strong personal presence on Linkedin, you can utilize it to promote your product and also post to LinkedIn groups.
Pinterest is one of the best places to showcase your products online. You can have the option to pin products on your product pages, this allows visitors to directly pin products on their profile. With a little creativity, you can rock your Pinterest feed and make it interesting for your audience.
You can organize products according to category and give them creative names. If you have a gifts store, you can go a step further and make boards with gifting ideas like ‘Gifting ideas for father’s day’. Make sure to include relevant keywords to your boards which can attract search engine traffic.
6. Beautify it with Instagram
With 300 million active users, Instagram is one of the most active social networks. Instagram is one of the best places to target people in a specific niche. Beautiful photos always catch the eye, show creative pictures of your products, tell your story or show behind the scenes photos. You can even integrate your Instagram feed with your eCommerce store, run a contest and interact with people on specific hashtags. Also, ask authority pages for shoutouts and featuring your product, some of them might charge high, but if they have a good engagement rate, it is worth it.
7. Make stories on Snapchat
While building followers on snap chat can take time, you can take advantage of your personal profile on snap chat and create creative snaps for your followers who might end up purchasing it.
Youtube is the second most visited website after google and video is one of the medium where you can show the most creativity. These reasons make youtube a perfect catch for eCommerce stores. You can upload product videos on youtube showcasing its uses. Include the keywords in your title and link of the products in your description. One of the main advantages of youtube is that it gets included in Google’s and Youtube’s search results. If you work enough on getting the video noticed, it will be one of the most important piece of your inbound content. You can also go for collaboration with other YouTubers or sponsor their videos to feature your products.
Promoting on Tumblr is a lot like promoting on Instagram. You need have a clear content plan before promoting on Tumblr. Select a specific theme relevant to your products and post the most creative content you can think of. You can even cross promote on all your social media accounts which brings more visibility to your Tumblr account. Keep the content highly relevant and creative.
Quora is a popular question-answer site with unlimited possibilities. If you are a regular user of the site, you might have seen a question like ‘Where can I get X product’ or ‘What is your eCommerce journey’ or ‘What can I gift to X’. You can search all the relevant questions and write answers to them. Don’t promote your product over there, instead, solve the problem and answer their questions without promoting.
Reddit is one of the most curated websites and Redditors hate promoters. So why is it on the list? Because it can be a source of quality traffic. To successfully promote on Reddit, you have to be a Redditor and not a marketer. Post something on Reddit if you think it is really good, it doesn’t matter where the content came from. Don’t just post a link to your product there, make content which people will love and share.
12. Industry specific forums
Industry specific forums are one of the best methods of online marketing, it gives you targeted audience who are interested in your industry and will be ready to buy your product. But marketing on a forum, as good as it sounds, have some downsides too. More often, people tend to over promote because they want immediate results. If you want to be successful on forums, you have to help people as I mentioned earlier. Build a good profile that people trust, help them and promote once in awhile.
13. Amazon, Ebay (or other local online general marketplaces)
The fastest way to make your first eCommerce sale is to get your product listed on the major online marketplaces like Amazon or Ebay. They have a huge customer base and if you sell retail branded product, it can be the best option for you to make your first sale and get noticed. Make sure that you price your product correctly and take into account the commission per sale. If your product is new, you can take advantage of Amazon’s launch pad and get your product noticed in front of millions of users.
14. Etsy, Bonanza for craft and handmade materials
The reason I have stated it different from online marketplaces is because of the different customer base Etsy and Bonanza offers. If you sell something which is creative, handmade or something related to crafts. You should definitely consider Etsy before Amazon or Ebay. Etsy is the best place to sell handmade creative crafts. While Amazon and others are great for general retail products, they are not made for handmade products. Etsy also offers a feature for customization of a product according to buyer requirement and a huge amount of customer base who are interested in creative handmade crafts.
15. Sell wholesale to other online store
If you have a competitive advantage over the pricing and you are finding it difficult to sell in retail, you can start a wholesale or drop ship to other retailers who already have a customer base built up. If you have a new product, you can ask retailers in the industry to list on their site and you can be the main source of supply for them. If you follow this way, make sure to negotiate the pricing with the seller. You can follow commission model, percentage of price model or CPA model.
16. Comparison shopping websites or Price comparison websites
Comparison shopping websites are different from online marketplaces. Their main role is to redirect a visitor to original source who is interested in purchasing the product. Most of these websites operate on a CPC basis and have a huge customer base. They spend heavily on marketing and aggregate product listing from sellers.
No other advertising can give you faster results than Adwords, set-up your account, select the keywords and make the ad. That’s it! Your ad will start showing up in no time and visitors will come rolling it. You can advertise on Search network on the basis of keywords, on display network on the basis of selected site or interest, on youtube and gmail as well. There are endless possibilities on AdWords. If you want to get almost immediately, Adwords will be the best choice.
18. Facebook Ads (Including Instagram ads)
Facebook ads is a powerful tool which helps you target users on the basis of Gender, Age and Interests which means that your ad is only seen by a relevant audience. Combine Facebook ads with your normal page promotion to get the most out of Facebook.
Followers on twitter are more 72% more like to purchase from you than any other social network. Getting a huge follower base on twitter takes time and continuous efforts. If you want to make your first sale quickly, you can take help of twitter ads. It has features like Facebook for targeting people on the basis of Age, Gender and interest + targeting on the basis of keywords in the timeline or in search results. You can promote your tweet, profile and even make a promoted trend.
Linkedin ads are the most powerful when it comes to B2B retail. With the help of Linkedin ads, you can target decision makers in an industry. Though Linkedin ads are slightly costlier than other social networks, but they are worth it. With Linkedin ads, you can target by job title or function, industry or company size, skills, schools, field of study and even seniority.
21. Discount coupon sites
Discount coupons sites are like daily deals site which is solely focused on coupons from a variety of other sites. (for e.g. CouponArea, Ultimatecoupons etc.) A lot of people visit these sites to explore different deals and coupons available. You can submit coupons of your site there and let people explore it.
22. Search engine optimization
This is a no brainer. Who doesn’t like free traffic? Optimize your website for search engines before you start promoting it. SEO is an ongoing long term process and the results are not seen almost immediately if the keyword you are targeting is highly competitive. Although, if your keyword is not having high competition, optimize your website for SEO and make it your priority. It will definitely bring a high amount of visitors for free.
23. Yahoo and Bing optimization
Most of the people only optimize their websites for Google and forget other networks. Yahoo and bing account for 1/3rd of search traffic which should not be forgotten. Optimize and register your website with Yahoo/Bing. If you think that CPC on Google Adwords is too high, you can try to set it on yahoo network; you might get it for cheap there.
Affiliate networks are one the most the best sales channels for online retailers. Success in affiliate marketing depends on upon your products and your relations with the publisher. Affiliate marketing involves 3 parties, Advertiser(You), Publisher, Customer. Most of the affiliate network works on CPC model but there are some which work on CPA model as well. Higher the returns, more publishers will be interested. Some of the websites where you can find publishers are:
Blogger outreach is more like Affiliate marketing where you have a publisher promote your products. In blogger outreach, you have to find known bloggers in your niche and contact them to promote your product to their audience. You send them a sample of your product or pay them to review it. If the blogger has a high influence on his/her followers, you might end up getting your first sale very quickly.
26. Classified ads site like craigslist, OLX etc.
Craigslist and OLX are classified advertisement sites wherein you can put up your product for free and it can be discovered by thousands of people. Most of the people look for bargains or unique products on these sites, if you have product related to that industry. You can start getting leads in no time.
27. Messaging platform like Whatsapp, Hike, Kik
When it comes to leveraging your network, you can take advantage of a messaging platform like WhatsApp where you can create groups of people you know and who will be interested in your products. You can ask them to add their friends as well which will give you wider reach. When you have a good amount of people, you can give a good deal to them. As they know you, there are high chances of converting. Though this might not be helpful in the long term, but it is a good strategy when you are starting out. It will help you get the word out to more people.
28. Take help from your supplier
Before you go spamming the inboxes of your email list, make sure that you make good relations with your suppliers. Your suppliers might have a gold mine of customers which they no longer serve or they might be getting inquiries from places they do not ship and you do. You can even ask them to get you listed on their website. If you have good relations with your supplier, you will have a ready customer base.
29. Ask Family and Friends to spread the news
Your network of family and friends will be most likely to make the first purchase from you. You might not want to directly sell to them but you can ask them to share a message with their friends. Imagine the reach if all of them in your network of family and friends post about your products on social networking sites. That can be a huge number. If they are comfortable, ask them to write a review about your product on your store which might help in establishing the trust for other users.
Google for business is a business directory from Google. You want to get found on google when someone searches for your business. Google for business makes it easier. To get more coverage of the traffic, fill out all the information, include relevant keywords, write detailed descriptions and encourage your customers to write feedback.
31. Write guest blogs on relevant sites
Guest blogging is the best way to get some buzz on the internet. Most of the websites will happily accept guest posts because it is free content and everyone loves it. Make sure you post original content, don’t over promote and keep the content relevant. Guest posts can also help with SEO as they give backlinks to your website.
32. Get coverage in media
Getting media to cover your story is hard, but if you get it, your store will be flooding with visitors from the start. Most of the small businesses do not start with a million dollars that get covered in the media naturally. You will have to contact editors of media houses and share your story with them. You must convince them that people will be interested in your story. If you have a creative product or a solution, they will be interested in covering it. If you sell a general product, you will have to work hard to get the coverage.
The success of a press release is a debatable topic, if it works, you will have your first sale soon after it hits the media and if it doesn’t, you don’t get it. The success of a press release can never be anticipated in advance so why not give it a chance? It will only take some time for crafting a perfect press release but if it is a success, you will never look back.
Blogging is one of the most powerful tools which can help you drive traffic to your site. Start making creative and relevant content for your industry which generates a buzz. If you are successful in blogging, you will not only drive good sales but also have a positive impact on search rankings.
35. Produce a viral product related video
Creating a viral video is not a child’s play. You cannot know if a video is viral unless it goes viral and there is no sure shot formula for creating a viral video. Though there are things which you need to take care of or the factors which you need to keep in mind to make the video viral. You can make the video surprising, funny, emotional, positive, informative or actionable. Show people what they have never seen before and blow their minds. All the viral videos have one common factor that it connects with people on the emotional level.
Having an email list is the best from this list to sell your product immediately after the launch. You can start building your email list even before starting out your store. Create a buzz in your community, have an amazing launch discount they can’t refuse and send them to your website which will collect their emails. Once they are signed up, send them an email with the amazing deal you promised and have a limited quantity of it. You will have your first sale in no time. If you already have an email list from your other store or blogs, you can even utilize that to send offers to people.
37. Sponsor an event or local gathering
Event or the party has always played a vital role in Promoting a product or building a brand image. It provides the stage where we can make the image of our product reach to many people simultaneously in very entertaining manner. There are various local gatherings and events happening in whichever city you are in, sponsor that event and showcase your product there.
38. Explore local meet up’s
Increasing local meet means communicating our product with the maximum of the people in our area. It results in a very healthy social relationship along with the product promotion. Come up with some creative session to present it local meet up’s which includes social media. Make people share your message along with your products on social media. This way you will have a wider coverage and eventually it can result in a sale.
39. Run a survey partnering with other bloggers.
Promoting products by partnering with other bloggers is old school and is not guaranteed to work. If you have a connection with bloggers, you can ask them to run a survey instead of promoting your product. The survey can include a small giveaway for the participants or it can be even for free. Make the survey centered around your product, it can be helpful as a market research and also promotion. Surveys can be created anywhere without the help of bloggers but the audience in it will be scattered. If you partner with any recognized industry blogger, you will have a relevant and engaged audience.
40. Start with a contest or giveaways
Price is the most important factor affecting your purchase decision. You can somehow manage to get people on your website but if the price of your product doesn’t look attractive they are not going to consider you. When you are new to the market, you have to build trust and to build trust; people must purchase your product and must be satisfied with it. Start with a contest, giveaways or launch discount to make people try your products. Make sure that the discount is not too high and it should be convincing enough to make a purchase. Once the sales cycle starts, there is no looking back. It might not be a profitable situation at first but it can lead good returns in a longer term.
41. Take it offline - pop-up stores
If you are online, it doesn’t mean you cannot promote offline. If you have a relatively new product, you can setup a pop-up store to make people try your product. If they are interested in buying, they can purchase it online and even from the pop-up store. This way you can collect feedback directly from your customers and eventually have a sale for the day.
42. Distribute pamphlets to a local area
A lot of people think pamphlets are outdated and no one notices it. But it’s wrong! You can consider distributing pamphlets if you have an online store which caters locally. Pamphlets can be really helpful if you are in an industry where CPC of ads is high and you can’t compete with them. If this is the case, pamphlets are a cheaper option.
43. Comment on blogs and share your journey
If you don’t want to spend money paying bloggers to cover your store, you can comment on their blogs. Blog commenting can be viewed as a link building strategy, but it is also an excellent way to generate more traffic to your website. Don’t comment too promotional stuff, keep it natural. Write what you feel about the article, discuss your ideas there, disagree with the blogger to spark a conversation and include a relevant link with the comment. Apart from the traffic, if the blogger takes notice of your store, he can promote it for free.
Google shopping is the first thing you see on search engine result when you search for any type of product. I know it is a part of Google Adwords ads but it is so important for eCommerce that I have to keep it separate from normal AdWords ads. People click on product ads when they are interested in that product while on a search ad, they might land on a particular category or brand and not an individual product. This means that people clicking product ads have higher chances of converting than search ads and even CPC’s on product ads are lower than search ads. If you are into eCommerce, you should definitely give a try to shopping ads. Make sure that you have a proper working feed without errors and information in the feed submitted to merchant center is up to date.
Throwing a party sounds exciting right? What’s more interesting is now you will throw a party to make sales and to get the buzz about your products in the market. Throw a fun party; ask your friends to invite their friends, post an open invite on social channels, post into relevant facebook and LinkedIn groups, post into your meetup groups. Gather people at a place, let them have fun and then introduce your product.
There is a psychological concept called reciprocity. We humans have a particular deep rooted urge to repay debts. As you have thrown a party, they would feel to try your product once. You will also get a chance to communicate with people personally and take reviews about your product. If you are in a B2B business, you can explore your connections and throw a professional party. It can get you some leads which will last for long term.
Gamification is the application of the concepts of game thinking and game mechanics in the form of credit points, badges or similar incentives. Gamification to be successful needs a good amount of audience to participate in. If you are just starting out, you might not have an audience who will participate in the game. You can combine gamification with other forms of paid advertising to work perfectly. For e.g. If you combine gamification with facebook ads, you will have a wider reach for less budget as people are engaging with that post. This way you lower your CPM and CPA.
If you are planning to take up Drop-shipping, you might even want to start Drop-shipping. Drop-shipping is a viable option if your product is something new and not available in the market or you have pricing advantages over others. You can make a list of leads to approach, contact them for the opportunity. If they are interested, sales will start coming in no time as the people who have signed up for Drop-shipping are already having a customer base.
In the world of internet marketing, cold calling is despised. If you are selling products useful for a business and internet does not seem to help your business, cold calling is the way to go. It might not work for some but it is surely worth a try. You cannot really know what works and what doesn’t for your business unless you try it out.
Trade shows are an excellent way to showcase your product among thousands of people. It can help you with the branding of your website and can also lead to instant sales. Though tradeshows are costly and you may not have a direct positive ROI but it can give you a list of highly qualified leads who are interested in your products.
50. Speak at an event and host an industry gathering
Speaking at an event or industry gathering shows that you are an expert in your field. If you can get a chance to speak at such events, share information about your business there, teach people how you got started and why are your products special. If possible, have a video recording of your talk and share it on social media channels.
As marketers, we are always looking for ways to get more returns out of our investment. Co-marketing allows 2 companies to work together towards a specific goal which benefits both of them. Co-marketing is when 2 companies jointly undertake marketing of each other’s product. For e.g. A computer processor manufacturer may partner with computer hardware manufacturer to jointly market their related products. This can even be adopted into eCommerce business, 2 eCommerce stores operating on the same level but different product lines can collaborate with each other to display a banner on each other’s site about related products. This can prove to be a cheap and efficient way of bringing visitors and sales.
52. Get live chat implemented on your website/app
You might be successful in bringing people to your website but what if they don’t convert? Customers often have doubts about the product before they complete their purchase. In fact, 74.6% people abandon their carts while shopping online. If you have a live chat feature you will be able to convince people to buy and solve their queries. This will help to reduce the cart abandonment.
53. Explore local government initiatives
As this is an era of digital innovation, governments have set up initiatives and programs for startups to help them grow. For e.g. Under Digital India initiative, many local governments help local startups with finance and marketing. When it comes to government, reach is much wider with a little cost. Before you go out exploring the paid ads route, you might want to do a little research if your local government have any such initiative.
54. Make connections with influencers
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Having connections with influencers can take you a long way. It is a proved thing that ‘word-of-mouth’ is the most powerful form of marketing. If influencers endorse a product; their followers have a high chance of converting than any other marketing channel. If you make connections with a powerful influencer before you launch your business, you already have a huge fan base waiting to buy your product when you launch. An influencer can promote your products across the web, not only it will bring in sales, it will even help you with SEO. Influencer marketing can have a better ROI than other forms of paid marketing. Though influencers charge for it, it is worth a shot.
55. Advertise in local newspaper or magazine
If you are into local eCommerce, newspapers and magazines in your local area can be of a great help to get the word out. Newspaper option is cheaper compared to some online advertising channels. It brings in wider coverage at a lower price. Newspaper or magazine advertising might or might not have a positive ROI, it depends on your placement, advertisement itself and offers on your store. If you have an offer which people can’t resist and if it is portrayed with a beautiful and creative advertisement, it is surely going to work.
Although Reddit ads are not as famous as other online ads, they are quite effective. Sometimes the least used advertising network gives higher returns and costs less. You have an opportunity to stand out from others when you use Reddit advertising. You can advertise your products on specific subreddits, use it to talk about your product and its features. Make sure you don’t look too promotional and blend in with the normal posts.
You can use all of them, some of them or none of them, the choice is yours. One cannot judge the performance of a channel before trying it out. Make a list of channels you want to try out and measure its performance, eliminate underperforming ones and bring in new ones to get the best channels. Keep on experimenting even after your get your first order. Do comment below if you plan to use the channels listed above or if you have found any other channel successful which is not listed above.