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How to Make Your First Sale: A Marketing Checklist for New Entrepreneurs

How to Make Your First Sale: A Marketing Checklist for New Entrepreneurs

So you've just launched your online store. And in this article, I'm going to show you how you can make your first sale. The truth is you won't be able to attract your first customer if you don't drive traffic to your store. That's why in this article, I'm going to walk you through the ultimate marketing checklist so you can drive highly targeted traffic to your store, start making money and grow your online business.

I've worked with over a hundred small businesses and getting them started with their Shopify stores and making sales. Making sales is all about marketing. So today we're going to go over 5 strategies on how you can drive more traffic to your website. It's definitely a milestone getting your first customers that aren't your friends or family.

Early sales from targeted marketing tactics are milestones in every entrepreneur's career. Sometimes we stand in our own way, though. It's easy to fall into the trap of trying to tweak everything on your store to get it perfect. You might think you're improving by nitpicking your brand colors, going back and forth on font choices, and overthinking your prices. But what you're actually doing is you're building a business behind closed doors.

Real improvement only happens when you expose your brand to an audience. You can't know that you're genuinely making improvements until you look at the hard data as to how your audience is interacting with your brand. Instead, you should be investing that energy, the most important activity, getting people to your store.

Once you start driving traffic to your store, you'll get real data to be able to answer your questions.

For example, you'll be able to gauge if there's any interest in your products if your pricing is too high, and if people can relate to your brand. Try to detach from overthinking the minutia. If your site is already launched, I'm going to challenge you to focus exclusively on getting people to your site over the next 30 days.

Download the free calendar to keep you on track with your marketing for the next 30 days. Make sure you're set up with Google analytics before we do any of these steps. That way you could see what's working and what's not working.

Free traffic sources: Going after the low-hanging fruit

Here are some free, easy ways that you can start getting traffic to your store.

1. Offer a discount code

Consider offering a discount code to entice people to come to your store and then market it on social media. This jewelry brand offered a $25 credit and posted it on LinkedIn where people had to fill out a survey and give their email addresses in order to redeem the credit.

How to Make Your First Sale: A Marketing Checklist for New Entrepreneurs

If surveys are a part of your lead strategy, take this opportunity to collect important information, to be able to improve your business. So for example, you can ask, do you prefer gold jewelry or silver jewelry, or you can ask, do you feel comfortable with shopping for jewelry online?

2. If you haven't done this already, add your store URL to your social profiles.

You'll want to include this for your business and your personal profiles like Instagram and Facebook. Even if your audience size is smaller, you'll still want to do this to increase the opportunities that someone can land on your website.

3. Market to your personal network.

You likely already have some people in your network that would be interested in your product. And that's why it's so common for entrepreneurs to get their first few sales from people they already know. You can post on your social channels, but I highly recommend sending personalized messages to people in your network that reflect your target audience and would be interested in your product offering.

Even if they don't buy, they're still the perfect candidates to support you by introducing your business to their network and giving you honest feedback.

4. Join online communities.

Don't underestimate the value of dropping a link to your store in the right place. Find niche audiences and forums like Reddit threads, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, and Shopify's own community. Each of these channels is an opportunity to reach people who have organized themselves around specific interests that are related to your product.

Make sure you adopt a give before you take mentality and that you're adding value and engaging in genuine conversation with these communities. After you've built up a reputation and created authentic connections, then you can drop a link to your store and share any discount codes.

Paid advertising: Spending money to make money

With paid advertising, you need to spend money to make money. The best way to get targeted traffic quickly is through paid ads. The good news is that you can spend as little or as much money as you want. And in some instances, you can start with a budget as low as $10. You should choose your advertising channel based on who you're targeting.

If you're marketing globally, do some research as to which advertising channels are popular in different parts of the world such as (WeChat > china, line > japan). By in this article, we're going to be talking about Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google ads.

Facebook advertising

According to Pew Research, Facebook is one of the most popular social networks with the most diverse user base, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and income. You can create Facebook ads to target job title, marital status, and interest to name a few. Expert Facebook advertisers usually focus very heavily on interest targeting. Interest targeting is where the magic happens on Facebook because you can target a very niche audience.

I would recommend this for store owners who have a very clear idea of who their ideal customer is and what they like. A store that sells tee shirts with cat memes, for example, might target people that are cats, memes, and gift shops. United by Blue uses Facebook advertising to promote their eco-friendly products.

How to Make Your First Sale: A Marketing Checklist for New Entrepreneurs

In this instance, they can target people who are interested in sustainability and are engaged, online shoppers. This is an example of a carousel ad where they promote their different collections. Make sure to follow Facebook ads for beginners to get started.

Instagram advertising

Instagram is good for marketing to a millennial audience. According to smart insights, Instagram has one of the most engaged user bases amongst social networks. With Instagram ads, you can drive traffic by showing up in people's feeds or stories. For example, beauty brand following uses Instagram ads to promote their free samples. And you can see that this ad has been viewed more than 3,600 times.

How to Make Your First Sale: A Marketing Checklist for New Entrepreneurs

Brandless coffee uses Instagram ads that focus on the coffee's costs and features. Here they use a video ad to drive sales.

How to Make Your First Sale: A Marketing Checklist for New Entrepreneurs

I would recommend Instagram ads for

1. Fitness
2. Food
3. Fashion
4. And any verticals with strong visuals.

If you have high-quality enticing photography, and you want to market to millennials, this might be the right platform for you.

Pinterest advertising

Pinterest is an underappreciated channel. It's also the one with the most clearly defined user base. According to Pinterest, most of its users are female and HootSweet sites that many of those users have disposable income. Plus you can drive a significant amount of traffic using both free and paid efforts.

Using Pinterest is like scrapbooking. It's used to plan events and curate wardrobes. So keep that in mind when you're advertising. This ad from the third love bra company uses a tall image.

How to Make Your First Sale: A Marketing Checklist for New Entrepreneurs

This is the preferred format for Pinterest users will click on the ad. Then they'll be taken to a landing page where they can browse the product further. From promoted pins to buyable pins, Pinterest has so many tools to make marketing easy. So make sure that you're not overlooking Pinterest as a way to start making sales.

Google advertising

The first thing many people do when they're wanting to buy something is they'll look it up on Google. Google ads, show your website at the top of the results page when customers use a relevant search term.

Google ads offer a few different options.

1. You have text ads
2. shopping ads

Shopping ads, show your product photo and price in an eCommerce format. Do keyword research to see how many people are searching for the terms that you would want to advertise with. Many people find Google ads intimidating because of the complex interface. So consider hiring a Shopify expert, if you want to seize the opportunity, but would rather hand it off.

I would recommend this for:

1. Trending products
2. Local businesses
3. Products and services that have a high search volume, but low competition. To get started with Google ads, make sure to follow Google ads for beginners.

Outreach: Connecting with existing audiences

Outreach and partnerships is important for every business because messaging about your brand won't be as effective if it's only coming from you. Collaborating helps build trust and awareness amongst consumers. The following collaboration tactics help drive traffic and produce content. So essentially you're killing two birds with one stone.

Remember when you pitch to create these relationships, you have to constantly ask yourself what's in it for them. If it were the other way around, would it be an enticing offer? Remember the collaborations only work when it's mutually beneficial.

Reach out to bloggers

publishers are always on the lookout for fresh content and good stories to tell. A solid pitch based on a good story or an interesting product can potentially land you a spot on a blog or a publication. Look for publications that overlap with your niche so that you're marketing to your ideal customer.

Here's some ways that you can partner up.

1. Write and submit a guest post to share your expertise on the topic. Remember to use your author bio to describe and link to your business.

2. Ask for a product review.
Give your product to a blogger for free in exchange for a review.

3. Pitch a news story.
If your brand story is compelling, use this as a hook for an interview-style piece, whichever tactic you choose. Your pitch needs to be interesting, both to the writer and their audience.

Consider publications based on fit first and the size of the readership second. This tactic is recommended for entrepreneurs who have an interesting backstory and a unique product offering that bloggers haven't yet seen before. It's also good for entrepreneurs who have niche expertise and are willing to share it.

Seek out a strategic partnership

Partnerships can be a great way to get your products in front of someone else's customers. The key here is to look for like-minded non-competitive brands that already attract the kind of customers you're looking for. It could take some time and luck to find and create these opportunities. But once you have a roster of past partnerships, you'll have built credibility within the industry.

1. Run a contest
Try running a contest with your product as a prize. You can get other brands involved to tap into one another's audiences.

2. Packaged product samples with your partner's orders and vice versa. For example, you can pack a sample of drink mix with your partner's water bottle orders. Create a product with an influencer or a complimentary brand. This brand is a serial collaborator and has worked with celebrities like Adriana Lima to launch sunglass lines.

How to Make Your First Sale: A Marketing Checklist for New Entrepreneurs

Gift your product to an influencer within your niche in exchange for a feed or a story post. Time and time again, influencers with a loyal following and strong engagement have shown to have high ROI for small businesses.

Review and optimize 

Once you've implemented your strategy, its important to take a step back to see what's worked and what hasn't. This 30-day challenge is meant to be an exercise in creating a feedback loop, where you expose your search traffic, set a performance benchmark, and then work to improve it.

You'll then diagnose the problems with your store by looking at your Shopify and your Google analytics, as well as listening to any feedback that you've gotten from actively promoting your store. There are a number of reasons as to why people might not be buying from you and you can make informed guesses based on how your traffic behaves.

Here are common examples of how you can use data to make changes.

1. If you have a high bounce rate, that is people coming to your site and then leaving immediately, that might mean you have low-quality traffic or your site takes too long to load.

2. If none of your visitors have added products to their cart, it might just mean you haven't achieved the right market fit. In which case you'll have to find the right niche and try different products.

3. If you have a lot of abandoned carts during checkout, you might want to reconsider your shipping costs. Based on these learnings, you can start testing your marketing tactics. From there, do your second round of marketing and see if there were any improvements in these results. 

You need to get out there to grow. Driving traffic is all about connecting the dots between your brand and your buyer. And that's partly what makes marketing so overwhelming. There's just an infinite amount of opportunity out there. However, there's no one size fits all approach to this.

Exploring, trying, failing, and improving is the only way to find out what works for you. So get your story out there because that's the only way to grow. What phase are you in with your store? Have you just launched? Are you planning on launching? Drop a link to your store's URL in the comments below, and I'll be sure to check it out.

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