8 Ways to Make Your First Online Sale
Have you taken that first step to creating an ecommerce business? It can be incredibly liberating. However, this is not Field of Dreams. You need to do more than just build it. Your customers will not come just because your company is in business. You need to learn how to successfully market a product and make that first sale. Not sure how to do that? Let me walk you through a few of the most important tips to making your initial online sale and to make money online.
Blog About It
Blogging is the original form of social media. And, even though it might seem like it’s old and outdated, it still has clout. Not only does it offer you a lot of traction with human readers, but it’s a great solution for building your presence online and increasing your ranking in the SERPs for organic searches related to your product. What can you blog about? The sky’s the limit here. Just a few of the potential topics (and even entire blog series) include the following:
How to use the product
The benefits of using the product
How the product came to be (inspiration behind it)
Behind the scenes of your company
Technology and your product
You get the idea. There’s an almost endless list of post ideas out there that can help you create epic content that engages human readers and helps search engine spiders bump up your online visibility. Don't know which website to start your blog on? Try Wix - it's simple, clean and you'll be up and running within just a few hours.
Give It Away (to Influencers)
If you really want to sell your first product online, you need to get it in the hands of those who have a large audience. As a startup business owner, chances are good that your audience is rather limited. However, every industry has influencers – those to whom other people listen. If you can get your product into the hands of an influencer or two, and get them to post about it, tweet about it, share pictures of it, you’ll start to see a spike in sales.
How do you go about getting your product into the hands of influencers, though? It’s not as simple as it sounds. First and foremost, you need to be willing to give it away. Free samples can go a long way toward enticing an influencer to give your product a shot. If they do, and they love it, you’ll experience a boost in sales, but you will also be perceived as being of higher-quality because the influencer gave you their seal of approval.
Get on Facebook
Chances are good that you already have a personal Facebook page. Use that to your advantage. Build a business page, complete the account creation process, including uploading relevant photos, and then get your friends to like the page.
However, remember that you are using your personal Facebook profile for business needs. That means you need to take extra care with what you post and how you interact. Everything you do or say in relation to that personal account will reflect on your business, and you cannot afford anything that might even remotely resemble negative press.
My recommendation is this – use your personal Facebook profile to build awareness of your online business, but transition to using your business page as much as possible as soon as you can. Once this happens, focus on being as professional as possible, all the time. You may need to limit how often you post on your personal account, and you will definitely need to continue limiting the types of content that you post. No matter how much you try to divorce your personal page and your business page, they will always reflect on one another.
With that being said, I do recommend that you post one product per day from your online store to your personal Facebook page, and I also recommend that you use that channel to help spread positive press about your business and the products that you sell (like influencer recommendations, or actual press mentions).
Start Sponsoring Things
One tried and true way to build brand awareness is to sponsor things. Take a look at the average county-level youth soccer team. Chances are good that their jerseys show not just the team name and a number. You will most likely also see a business name there. That's a sponsor, and it’s an incredible way to get your name out to the public. You can sponsor any number of things, as well, including:
Industry networking events
Local area networking events
Local sports teams
Local events like fairs and celebrations
Donations to schools and education programs
Local environmental clean-up programs
These are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. However, make sure that you’re sponsoring the right event. You want to make certain that those attending the event will be interested in what you have to offer. Otherwise you will simply be wasting time, money, and energy.
Google AdWords is a powerful tool for building traffic to specific landing pages. It’s one of the best options for new online business owners to use while you build organic traffic. The AdWords program is what’s called pay-per-click marketing.
In this scenario, you target specific keywords and create brief ads around those keywords. Then, you bid on what you’re willing to pay per visitor click with Google. You set up a budget, and every time someone clicks, the amount you bid is deducted from your budget. AdWords ads are displayed prominently in Google search results – the top listings are ads, and then they are interspersed throughout the rest of the pages.
However, AdWords can get pretty expensive with some of the higher-competition keywords, and you will need more than a shoestring budget to really make use of the program. You’ll also need to master writing sales copy for the ads themselves. This will require more than just having a flair for words. You’ll need to get into A/B split testing to see which copy resonates more with your audience, so you can maximize the value offered by this program.
Facebook ads are just like AdWords, but they run on Facebook instead of being displayed in Google search results. Facebook ads can be just as beneficial as AdWords, and they can be a bit less expensive. In addition, Facebook offers some pretty powerful targeting tools that allow you to really home in on your ideal audience. You can choose to whom the ads are displayed based on things like age, geographic location, gender, income level, interests, and a great deal more so that you make the smartest use of your marketing budget.
However, like AdWords, you’ll need to make sure the content of your ads is up to snuff. You’ll need compelling copy, as well as the right imagery in some instances. You will most likely also want to create specific landing pages for your Facebook campaigns so that you can track results and tweak things as needed. If you direct those who click the ad to your homepage, then you have no way of knowing where the traffic your website experiences is really coming from, particularly if you’re using both AdWords and Facebook ads, or running multiple campaigns on each platform.
Get Affiliates Involved
In my post on how to make money with affiliate marketing, I introduced you to the world of affiliate marketing and how it could help you build an income stream. However, now you’re the business owner in need of marketing help, which puts you on the other side of the equation. You can hire affiliate marketers to help spread the word about what you have to offer.
It’s a great way to share the marketing burden without having to pay someone who doesn’t get results. However, remember that you’ll need to set up your affiliate program and find ways to track affiliate performance so that you can pay those who do perform well.
Perhaps the single best way to drive online sales is to get product reviews. Reviews from actual customers are seen as a form of social proof. Even a product with a negative review or two will sell better than one with no reviews at all. If you have no reviews, then potential customers see it as an unknown quantity – they have no way of knowing whether it lives up to the hype, or if it is something they should avoid. In most cases, customers are going to move on to something else rather than risk being unhappy with a product.
So, how do you avoid that catch 22 situation? There are tons of ways – offer incentives for customers to buy the product and leave a review. Ask friends and family who purchased the product to leave reviews on the site. These are just a couple of ways that you can drive more reviews.
In the End
When it’s all said and done, making your first online sale is not rocket science, but it will require perseverance and dedication. Keep plugging away and success will come. You’ve built the company. Now you just need to generate awareness. I also want to invite you to sign up for my 'Six Figure Sunday' course (click here to sign up), where I’ll teach you what you need to know to earn six figures with just one day of work each week.