Cracking that first sale on a freshly baked website is difficult (and important). Sometimes it can test your patience, but mostly it will make you question if this is what you should be doing for a living. For all you know, you might have what it takes to make an amazing store, but might be still stuck in neutral gear. This article will prep you for everything you need to make your new store on Shopify reach the party zone and make your mom proud.
You peak into your partner’s laptop with gleaming eyes, too tensed to check it out for yourself. You are as excited as a kid who does an amazing job at something and wants to know what you think about it. After shedding sweat, blood, and tears, and after many sleepless nights, here you are, unveiling the curtains of your new store.
You look forward to a sale to take place, but as the day passes you hope someone, anyone would at least visit your new store. And just when you are about to turn away from your laptop, a user turns up. You gasp, sitting on the edge of your seat. But then, the user leaves within seconds!
What the hell is going on?
By the end of the day, you doubt if there is some issue with the way you have set your new store up. You see your worst nightmare come to life - you end up waiting... for a day, for a week, and then more than 2 months for that very first sale to happen.
When you venture into uncharted waters, nothing is certain. Data from Shopify says that the median time to the first sale has been 20 days. It again depends on the products you sell as well- Are they high-end products or low-end products? Do you provide users with a lot of choices? How are they priced? And so on.
Here is a snippet of what a Shopify employee answered on the forum, to a Shopify store merchant who asked how long it takes to make the first sale-
You might have an outstanding store, but what is the use if you are the only one who knows about it?
First things first - Drive traffic to your new store
This is, of course, keeping in mind that the UX is in place. Check out 17 UX hacks to make sure you are on the right track. To bring truckloads of traffic to your front porch like the ‘Pied Piper’, you need to go out there and make it happen.
Make people aware that your store exists
Start off with with a soft launch, a zero dollar plan. There are millions of stores out there. You need to think out of the box, to catch eyeballs and create a good recall value.
Before I built a site I thought it would be easy. " If I could just build a website to sell my products I would be rich" and a few months of frustration I was finally ready to launch my website.
I woke up early and clicked "Go Live" then..... absolutely nothing happened.I completely missed the boat, I didn't realize that traffic is the currency of the internet. A good website doesn't matter as much as good traffic.When your site is finished you will realize the work has just started. Although it is hard marketing and sales is one of the best games to play. Network with people on Instagram to get your first sales. See if people like your product if they like it then move forward. Make a video that is inspiring and promotes your brand. Don't spend a lot of money on your video, make something under 1 minute. Don't spend a lot of money on your ads at first make sure it is getting a good ROAS.
Catch your website leads with Wheelio app and send promotional emails to people that join your list.
That is the quick and dirty version. As you build you will get more and more tactical and build a living breathing brand. If you can't make money at this point don't move forward. You should rework what you have. Move forward only if you are making money.
Jordan Duran, Founder, ApachePine
Pre-launch email list
Store not up yet? No worries, let people know you will launch soon. It’s always better to start off early. Remember, the early bird gets the worm.
Create a hype around your new store, build curiosity, or tell them they will get an early bird offer when your store is live. Encourage people to share their email or subscribe for web push so that they will be informed when you launch.
Combine it with a referral programme
Harry’s saw amazing results with their Pre-launch campaign. After a user subscribed, they would ask them to refer a few friends. Look at the bait they used, it is worth falling for -
They got 85K email addresses in a span of 7 days before their store even launched!
Promote your store on your social accounts
The biggest thing is support from friends and family. You'd be surprised how much support you can gain from them. I spent a few months telling friends and family members about our idea and upcoming launch. On the day of the launch, I was very nervous and hesitant because I didn't feel the store was up to par. But shortly after going live we got 4 order within minutes....all friends, friends who I didn't even reach out to but Facebook did help to spread the word. Don't underestimate your friends...you'd be surprised to know how many of them want you to succeed.
Vaughn Beckford, Owner, Ocean Boulevard
Like they say ‘Charity begins at home’, you need to start promoting your new store within your close network. Announce on your personal social feeds - Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, adding your store link to your email signatures and asking your family and friends to give a shout out for you to help you get the word out.
This is also an opportunity to receive honest feedback and also gives you the freedom to blatantly ask them to promote you. Believe it or not, it's usually the ones you know personally, that help you kickstart your new store with a sale.
Announce your arrival and run contests on Social Media
Make use of the power of social. Create multiple creatives and post them on your company account.
Run contests to make users curious and interact with you. You can try out things like- first five orders will get free movie tickets to the latest movie, or someone who can come up with a wacky tagline for your new store will get a free gift and so on to engage users. Have a look at this example below. See how they involve the users?
Participate in Forums and interact with Facebook groups
Firstly, you need to do a bit of research to join the forums and groups that are relevant to your business. You don't want to end up asking questions to which no one knows answers to.
Be active on Forums (here are a few forums you can join - Shopify Forums, Digital Point, Web Retailer, Reddit) and Facebook groups (here are a few Facebook groups you can join - Ecommerce Entrepreneurs, Shopify Entrepreneurs, Ecom Empires). Reach out to people, ask queries, participate, contribute and get observed. This will help you get feedback as well as some free traffic.
We got our first sale within 24 hours of launching, we didn’t start out with any advertising budget so we simply advertised our store in local Facebook “selling” groups initially, which gained us some decent traffic and our first $100 in around 5 days.
Our items at the time where quite low priced (around the $3-4 mark) so it took a few sales to get us up past $100. This was in late 2013 so we’ve grown a little bit since then.
My advice to anyone without a huge budget is to leverage social media to the best of your abilities, whilst you can’t generate quite the same amount of traffic these days as companies want you to use ad spend, with a strong brand you can still build a decent following for free and generate sales.
- Jamie, Cherrydiva
Putting out a Press Release
Though it might seem like an outdated approach, it has some undeniable benefits. The knack is to write an awesome copy and get it published in a popular service. It makes sure that you are listed in the first 10 search results when someone searches for your store. This plays an important role in building trust as well.
Sell your products on other marketplaces
You need to experiment to know what would work for you and what won’t. Try selling your products on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. Since they are already receiving plenty of traffic, your product might have a shot at being viewed and purchased. This helps your products to rank in organic search as well.
As you are just starting off with your business, you need to write content for different blogs who receive good traffic. For starters, you could write on a topic you have expertise in or anything that would pertain to your business.You need not write specifically about the products you sell. But you can mention who you are, what you do and link it to your new store in the author bio.
Reaching out to a bigger audience with Paid marketing
Avoid ad fatigue, keep more than one creative ready.
The bidding for both Facebook Ads and Instagram is the same. It has been observed that Instagram gets more impressions. It is advisable that you hold your horses when it comes to Google Ads, as it won't give you traction in the initial stages.
Instagram lets you target the right users and display your products to the right audience. You can also get in touch with Instagram users who have a huge following list to feature your products. Get yourself up on the Instagram stories to reach out to more users.
Know all about Instagram ads in this extensive guide.
Facebook’s powerful targeting helps to reach out to the right users. Its advanced features let you target a specific set of users, provided you know your target audience well, like their demographic information, interest, and behavior. Monitor your campaigns, analyze them and try out different Ad sets. Aim at creating awareness and interest.
Check out the Facebook Ad guidelines before you start off.
This is a bit complicated for someone who has just started off with a store or who have not yet dipped their toes into the ocean of AdWords. It is advisable that you embrace this, once you think people would be searching for you organically as this is a search based discovery channel. But there have been cases when merchants have got successful results -
As a new store, people don't know about your store.So you should run some advertisement campaign for your store so that people know about this.Google and FB Ads are great.
-Toby Peterson, Shopify Member
Wouldn’t it be just awesome if an influencer mentioned you in one of the videos, or if they post a photo of themselves using the product! No doubt, it will leave an impact. The trick here is getting in touch with the influencers. You could mention them in the blog posts that you write, and let them know by reaching out to them. Make sure that you are not tagging bigass influencers who won’t even notice. Some influencers do it for free as well, in exchange for the products you sell.
Here is a micro-influencer marketing guide you need to see before you start off.
Long-term plan - Building Marketing channels
Marketing channels should definitely find its place in your new store. Start building your marketing list so that when you are up for targeting users, you are ready. You don't need to start working from scratch and start digging a well at the last moment. Here are two marketing channels you need to experiment with-
Lure users with exciting offers, or tell them what kind of emails they would receive (like new collection shoutout, back in stock alerts etc) if they subscribe. Emails are useful when you need to provide an elaborate description of a product or show multiple items that users can buy, or when you need to send them an order confirmation mail, with every single detail on it.
Web Push notifications
Send automated triggered notification sequences to engage, retain and retarget users. Once you begin receiving traffic, you need to start adding them to your subscriber list. Users are usually hesitant to provide their email addresses in the first go, and this is where web push notifications can be made use of as users can opt in without providing any information. Due to its prominent position and crisp nature, it catches the users eye within seconds and is easily consumable. You can read more about web push notifications in this extensive guide.
We have observed that web push notifications contribute to both assisted conversions and final conversions. It retargets users with personalized sequential notifications and helps in recovering abandoned carts.
Once you have set all these up, dive into your funnels.
Figuring out where the problem lies
Problem 1 - Lots of traffic but no sales
When traffic finally starts to pour in, you have jumped one hurdle but there are many more up ahead. This is one of the most common problems faced by new store owners in the early days-
There are a few things you might want to check here -
- Are you driving relevant traffic?
- Is your website user-friendly?
- Do you have limited products?
- Are your products highly priced?
- Are your images optimized and product descriptions in place?
If all these are in place, then you turn to your marketing channels and paid techniques mentioned above to engage and retain the users to encourage them to convert. Remember, not everyone converts on the first go, especially if you are selling end products. The key is to engage with them at the right time with the right context.
Problem 2 - Abandoned Carts
Users adding to cart shows that they like your product and have an intent to purchase. Yet numerous merchants face the problem of recovering abandoned carts. Here is a glimpse of the Shopify e-commerce forum-
There are a few things to check -
- Do you show surprise delivery charges?
- Do you provide different payment options?
- Are your shipping and return policies defined clearly?
If the above-mentioned questions are answered on a positive note, then you need to start off with drip campaigns. We have seen that the quicker you reach out to a user, the faster they convert.
What should you be doing -
- Reach out to them in 30 mins (our recommendation)
- Personalize your communication (send them the image of the product they have abandoned)
- Give discounts and special offers
Encouraging users to make a second sale
One sale down? Awesome! While you clink champagne glasses, let’s not forget, it’s not over yet. First comes the post-purchase engagement. Always make sure that the users are informed about every detail of their order delivery.
Get in touch with them again when the product is delivered, for feedback about the product as well as our service. You could surprise them with a special gift along with their order to show how much you mean to them.
When a user makes their first sale, you must make sure that you impress them. This increases the chances of them converting again. The next step is to retain them. Reach out to them with contextual messages
You can provide them with special discounts to lure them into buying. See how you can retain users in this article.
Diving into the conversion funnel
To get a better understanding of what goes on with your conversion funnel, you need to track and analyze with a tool, preferably Google Analytics.
Where are the users coming from?
To see which channel brings them to your website. Here is how you can check on Google Analytics-
Where do they drop off?
You need to identify where users leave your site and why to optimize those pages.
Check Bounce Rate
Here is how you can see which pages get high bounce rates -
Make sure that you change the sort type to ‘Weighted’ so that you don’t end up looking at pages that got just one click with 100% bounce rate. Bounce rate measures users who have landed on a particular page and then leave without browsing other pages.
This might be because you aren’t linking to other pages. You could add, ‘You also might like’ or ‘people who bought this also bought’ sections to the page to encourage users to visit other pages.
If the average session duration is less, then
- Check if the pages have broken images
- Does the page load slowly?
- Is it optimized for all devices?
It could also be because you might not be bringing relevant traffic.
Note: You can also add a secondary dimension of Source/Medium to know which channels contribute to higher bounce rate.
Analyze Exit Pages
Check out Exit Pages to know from which page users leave after they visit multiple pages. Here is where you can find it-
Find out what is it that you can do to make these page convert the user, or take them closer to conversion.
Note- Not all exit pages are bad if the user performs the desired action and then leaves.
Track Behaviour flow
You also need to check the Behaviour flow to see the most common path users use to navigate in your site. Check out the top visited pages and the volume of drop-offs here-
Are users following a path you had intended them to? If not what are you missing out on? Make changes to those pages accordingly.
What channels to double down on every stage of the funnel
A single channel need not perform best at all stages of the funnel. You need to find out which channels are helping you create awareness, which channels are helping you at the consideration stage and which channels are finally leading to conversions. You need to define ‘Goals’ in Google Analytics.
Identify groups of channels that work well together. It is not only about which channel brought the conversions, but also the channels brought the users to the point of conversions as well. Know how to find out if a channel is an assisting channel or a converting channel in this detailed article.
Cracking repeat sales on your new store
By now, you would have established trust with users who have made 1 or 2 sales. This helps in encouraging them to make a repeat purchase. If you have sent them giveaways along with their order, it would have helped in strengthening the bond. Give special offers, discounts to customers who have previously purchased with you.
Remember, it is always better to retain users you already have than acquire new ones to save time, money and effort. An average conversion rate for a new buyer is between one to three percent. For repeat customers, the percentage increases from 60 – 70 percent.
Here is what a Shopify Expert shared with us -
Most new stores don't have a social media following, so what I like to do is run a giveaway contest using Gleam, and have people share the post (on FB) as one of the entry methods (along with following social pages).
Then boost the post (maybe spend $50 or so) to your target audience get it going nice, now you got likes coming in and people being exposed to your brand.
Setup Shoelace for automated Facebook retargeting so all those new visitors to your site are exposed a second time.
When the contest ends, send an email out to everyone that entered (a 3rd touch point now) announcing the winners, and offering a nice discount code to anyone else (now a 4th touchpoint if they return back to the site).
End result is social media buzz, new followers, and hopefully some sales at the end of the contest.
Joe, Shopify Expert, SpeedBoostr
With these techniques, you will not only increase traffic to your new store the day you launch but also encourage sales (repeat sales). Any other techniques that have helped you succeed? Let us know in the comments below.