How To Land Your First Ecommerce Sale Without Being A Marketing Expert



When you’re drooling over ecommerce websites and social media accounts to get inspo, it can be hard to know where to start. Which idea do you try to replicate first? How do you make that strategy work for your audience?

In this post, we’re showcasing exactly how to get your first sale without super complicated marketing. No bells or whistles. 

And if you're more of a listener, this episode of The Ecommerce Marketing Show with our Founder & CEO, Ben, is perfect for learning his ground zero approach to getting that first sale.

Because that's one of the most common challenges we see with new brands. How to get that first sale, then driving repeat purchases after that.

For now, let's stick with locking in your first purchase. The overall strategy works like this:

1. Capture site visitors by getting their emails

2. Save abandoned carts while capturing even more emails

3. Pour gasoline on your traffic-generating fire

Let’s dive into these easy steps that any ecommerce store owner can follow, and explore why each step is so important. 

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Step 1: Set up an email opt-in for first-time visitors

The industry average conversion rate for ecommerce sites in the US is about 2.63%. This means that a little under 98% of your site visitors won’t convert into paying customers (let that sink in for a second…).

And that’s exactly why you want to capture their emails. 

From working with ecommerce companies, we know that most companies drive around 30% of their revenue from email marketing, so getting site visitors onto your email list is essential. 

How many sites have you been on where you've seen discounts for your first purchase if you share your email address? Way too many to count, right?

By filling one out, a website visitor is “opting in” to receive emails. Here’s a bar from Poo~Pourri (at the very bottom in darker blue), offering 20% off a customer’s first purchase.

poo-pouri-20Typically, ecommerce sites will offer anywhere from 10% to 20% off for first-time visitors.

This has a few benefits:

  • Converts website traffic into email subscribers
  • Trains people to open emails from you (so do a great job with that welcome series)
  • Makes a purchase more likely from first-time visitors
  • Opens up a line of communication for further messages and promotions

However, not every ecommerce store owner wants to give away a coupon to first-time site visitors. Maybe you have a premium, luxury brand or you simply want to protect your margins.

If offering a discount off the bat isn't for you, you could say something like “Sign up for VIP access” instead. Here’s an example from 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

49th-optinYou could also create a free guide or training and use that as your offer – this is easier to pull off in some niches than in others. For cooking utensils and food products, you can offer recipe books. For fashion sites, you can offer a styling tutorial or guide. 

Once you’ve got that opt-in ready to go, then it’s time to move on to the next step. 

Step 2: Create a cart saver campaign

You’ve probably heard of abandoned cart emails, but have you heard of a cart saver campaign? It's a pop up that attempts to save the cart before the customer has even left your site. 

Here’s how it works: if a site visitor has a product in their cart and then moves their cursor to go to a new tab or exit the site, they will get a pop up encouraging them to finish their order.

threadtank-cart-saverA cart saver campaign offers a coupon to incentivize people to complete that order. 

So not only do you get more sales and fewer abandoned carts, but you also get more email subscribers that you can communicate with in the future.

From the data we have from thousands of customers, we know that about 20% of people will opt-in to this cart saver pop up, which, by the way, is really high for any type of pop up.

You can set these up however you like. If you’re concerned about protecting your margins, you can put a limit on when someone will receive the offer. 

For example, Paleo Treats only shows their cart saver coupon to people who have at least $100 in their cart. 

paleotreats-cart-saverYou might be thinking, “Sure. But these are probably really expensive and time consuming to get set up.”

Cart saver campaigns are actually super simple to set up with our pop up tool. It integrates with Shopify, BigCommerce, and other ecommerce platforms to detect when a visitor has something in their cart, and the total cart value. Just set the parameters that make sense for your brand and BOOM! You have a cart saver campaign up and running.

From there, you can get into an abandoned cart series. But it's important to focus on the foundational aspects of your new site before diving in too far there.

Step 3: Drive traffic from Instagram

Let’s review what we’ve done so far before we turn on the traffic. We’ve created a way for first time site visitors to join our email list, so even if they don’t buy from us right away, we can communicate with them later. We’ve also set up a pop up to keep carts from getting abandoned while adding even more people to our email list.

With a great foundation for email capture ready to go on your ecommerce site, you can focus on building up traffic. 

One of the best ways to do this is with organic Instagram marketing.

There are a lot of smart ways to make your Instagram marketing successful. To help you drive the traffic that will result in that first sale, here are some of the best.

Work with influencers

It’s hard to build up your following from zero. You need to partner up with influencers who already have a following that matches your target audience. 

You can send influencers gifts in exchange for a post. When they tag you, you get more of the right eyeballs on your account. 

influencersYou can also give influencers a custom coupon code to share with their audience, track their sales, and pay them out as an affiliate. 

Craig Hammond from Peejamas shared a lot about their influencer marketing strategy on this episode of The Ecommerce Marketing Show.

Curate influencer content on your feed

One of the best things about partnering with influencers (whether paid or some kind of trade) is that you can typically use their content. Of course, make sure to get permission, but this is pretty standard. 

You can post their images of your product on your feed. This gives you beautiful photography that you don’t have to try to create yourself. 

Use the perfect hashtags

And finally, whether you’re posting custom content or curated content on your feed, you’re going to want to use the right hashtags. 

Spend time on hashtag research. See what your target audience uses. See what competitors and industry influencers use. Look for hashtags with more than 1,000 post volume, but less than 500,000, so that your posts have a higher chance of getting seen by people who don’t yet follow your account.

You might want to start building up your Instagram following before you even launch your store, but for the sake of simplicity we’ve put traffic last. 

It’s all too easy to focus on building traffic without first making sure your site is ready. But when you follow these steps, you're way ahead of the game. So go turn that traffic on and open the floodgates.

Ecommerce Marketing
Website Conversion

This article originally appeared in the Privy blog and has been published here with permission.

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