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      12 Ways to Get the First Sale on Your New E-Commerce Site


      You’ve just set up your e-commerce site. The design is trendy, the product descriptions are top-notch, and you’ve set up the perfect payment gateway. You’re officially open for business — boom, mic drop, collar pop!

      Now you just sit back and wait for the orders to come in, right?

      via GIPHY

      Sorry, Charlie. Getting that first sale can be a challenge, even with a solid marketing strategy.

      Ideally, you’ll want to begin to market your offerings even before your store is launched. However, you can take many of the same steps to promote your shop after it’s up and running. All you need is a little patience and an understanding of which techniques are most effective and affordable.

      In this article, we’ll discuss 12 ways you can get that first sale on your e-commerce site. Let’s get started!

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      12 Ways to Make Your First E-commerce Sale

      1. Reach Out to Your Network

      The first people to be aware of your business will likely be family and friends, and you can solicit their help in getting that first sale. If your product genuinely solves a pain point for anyone in your personal network, sell them on the benefits of buying from you.

      This is not much different from promoting to strangers online. To get started, ask your immediate family and friends to try out your products. You could even provide free samples. You can also reach out to your personal network on social platforms like Facebook, where you’ll likely be connected to old classmates and colleagues.

      The key here is to know your products inside and out, be aware of what problems they solve, and sell people on their benefits. Make sure to follow up with anyone interested and take the time to thoroughly answer their questions.

      2. Start a Blog

      A blog offers a way to increase brand awareness and bring new traffic to your website. It’s also a platform where you can better expose your products to your audience. The more visitors you can bring to your site, the higher the probability you will make a sale.

       “A blog for an e-commerce store.”

      Some examples of content you can create on your blog include:

      • Articles that demonstrate how to achieve a goal using your products
      • Roundup posts that showcase your best solutions for solving a specific problem
      • FAQs that answer questions people who might be interested in your products will have

      To improve your success rate, you’ll also want to do some keyword research. Organically working in some relevant keywords can help your posts rank higher in search engines.

      3. Build a List of Email Subscribers

      Email marketing is a proven tactic for customer acquisition and retention. This means it can be a core part of your e-commerce marketing strategy.

      Signups for newsletters generally indicate interest in your brand. Therefore, an email list can generate one-off sales and drive repeat purchases from customers whose interest you’ll keep active by sending them regular (and relevant) content.

      Tools like Jackmail (which enables you to send automated emails) and Mailchimp (which provides email templates and tools for tracking metrics) can help you create and manage your own newsletters easily.

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      4. Solicit Help From Social Influencers

      As a new brand, it’s vital to keep costs low. One cost-effective strategy for getting your first sale is working with influencers – or to be more specific, micro-influencers.

      Micro-influencers give you access to small, targeted audiences who already have a connection with the influencer and trust them. These influencers actively cultivate engaged and loyal followers and can get your product in front of that audience with their seal of approval.

      This is a worthwhile investment because the costs involved are typically low. That also means you can work with multiple influencers to reach increasingly larger audiences as your budget increases.

      "A search for influencers.”

      The first step to getting started with this type of marketing is to search for influencers within your niche. You can explore relevant accounts on social media to locate candidates, or use a dedicated influencer database like Socialbakers.

      5. Host Giveaways

      Everyone loves free things. When you’re just starting out, you can use this simple fact to your advantage to create awareness of your business and products.

      Hosting contests and giveaways can bring much-needed attention and help you build trust with potential customers. You don’t have to start big, nor do you need to give out your most expensive products. However, you do need to be willing to offer a few starter products for free.

      Giveaways can help you generate interest in your brand, as you’re drawing the attention of both participants and winners to your paid offerings. Participants may also share your products or information about the giveaway itself with their friends and networks.

      Services like ViralSweep and Gleam help you run contests and giveaways online while keeping things simple and professional. There are also dedicated WordPress plugins you can try out, such as RafflePress.

      6. Give Discounts

      Unlike giveaways, discounts do not require you to give away your products entirely for free. Plus, discounts may make it easier to persuade a potential customer to buy from you.

      “An example of a giveaway.”

      It can be difficult for new buyers to justify purchasing from your store at full price, especially when you have no established reputation or past customer reviews. Offering some of your best or most affordable products at a reasonable discount can be a strong incentive, reducing the risks and enticing visitors to give you a chance.

      Just remember that when setting up discounts, you’ll need to take production and shipping costs into account and make sure you don’t overextend your budget. It’s also a good idea to create sales with time limits, which play to visitors’ Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).

      7. Simplify Your Site’s Design

      By simplifying your website’s design, you can make it easier for potential buyers to use your site without any hassle. This is key for turning interested visitors into e-commerce conversions (in other words, your first sales!).

      One way to simplify your site’s design is by reducing the number of products displayed on its pages. You want to ensure that your site’s interface is not cluttered, and that a visitor doesn’t have to jump through many hoops to find what they want. This is one reason to have a prominent search bar and clear menu options for easy navigation.

      You’ll also want to use a lot of blank space to help focus visitors’ attention on your Calls to Action (CTAs). That can mean removing distracting and unnecessary elements and avoiding the temptation to include too much information on each product page.

      Finally, keep in mind that mobile phones far surpass desktops and laptops for making online purchases. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that your store is fully responsive.

      8. Build Your Brand on Social Media

      Building a brand makes it easier for existing customers to stay connected. It also helps potential customers find and learn about your business and the people behind it. To this end, you’ll want to create accounts on major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even TikTok.

      By using social media, you can tap into audiences that are already using those platforms. You can grab their attention and create positive feelings towards your brand while creating and sharing relevant (and engaging) content.

      “A brand Instagram page.”

      Attracting an audience through social media is a topic worth several posts of its own. In short, you’ll want to begin by doing some audience research, and deciding what platforms to focus on. Then you can start sharing content and promoting your products, linking followers back to your e-commerce site.

      Also, don’t forget that many social media platforms have groups formed around specific interests and topics. Joining these groups can help you connect with relevant potential customers and generate interest in your band. A great place to start is by signing up for and posting on Facebook Groups that are centered on your niche or industry.

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      9. Market to B2B Clients

      An alternative way to generate your first sales is by selling to other businesses, rather than (or along with) directly to individual customers. Ultimately, your goal is to get your products into buyers’ hands, whomever they might be.

      This can be done by selling to wholesale retailers, either on a local, national, or even international level. Selling to businesses might not result in high profit margins, but it is a way to get your products in front of the right consumer audience. Once you have enough brand awareness, you can start to target customers directly.

      10. Refine Your Product Descriptions

      You’ll only make a sale if your site’s visitors understand your products and what benefits they offer. This means creating clear and detailed product descriptions. It’s important to include all the relevant details and specifications, as well as high-quality images and other media.

      An example of a clear product description.

      Some users might research products beforehand and only visit your store to make a purchase. However, others will begin their buyer’s journey on your site and will be entirely dependent on the information you provide.

      You want to ensure that those users can learn everything they need to know about your products without having to leave your site to find more information. To make that happen, you’ll want to find out what questions your target audience is asking, and include those details for your products.

      11. Streamline Your Checkout Process

      You may have generated interest in your products, but people aren’t buying because they’re frustrated by your checkout process. For that reason, you’ll want to do everything you can to reduce cart abandonment.

      If users have to create an account or are forced to answer too many questions during checkout, they may decide it isn’t worth continuing. Each additional step is a chance for your customers to change their minds about following through on their purchases.

      One practical step to take when streamlining your checkout process is asking only for essential information, such as billing and shipping details. You may also want to include a progress indicator to let customers know how close they are to being done.

      12. Attend a Trade Show

      Of course, there are also ways to market your brand offline, such as by attending trade shows. You can likely find both regional and national events that are relevant to your niche and audience. There are plenty of sites that compile trade shows by industry and enable you to search for them, such as 10times, EventsEye, and TradeFairDates.

      A search for trade shows.

      At these events, you’ll get to meet both individual customers and wholesale vendors. You can drum up interest by offering free samples, exclusive coupons, or promo codes to any visitors who come by your booth. While it takes a little more work than some of the other options on this list, trade shows are an excellent way to get some exposure and start building relationships.

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      Get Those Online Sales

      Launching your online store is only the first step in starting an e-commerce business. Getting your first sale can be a real challenge. However, by taking a few well-proven steps, you can start your e-commerce store off on the right foot.

      One of the best strategies for getting those initial sales is to put a lot of high-quality content out there, via your blog and social media profiles. You can also host giveaways and offer discounts to drum up interest or look into less obvious options such as marketing to B2B clients and attending trade shows.

      If you’re looking to build or grow an online store, our WooCommerce hosting packages make it easy to sell anything on the world’s biggest e-commerce platform. Don’t hesitate to check them out!



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      Painless and Efficient Ways to Do Usability Testing


      This Tech Talk will be streaming live on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. ET.
      RSVP for free on GoToWebinar here.

      About the Talk

      Usability testing helps product builders and designers make informed design decisions that increase the odds of creating helpful and delightful user experiences.

      Rafael Mojica, VP of User Experience at DigitalOcean, will guide you through his favorite ways to carry out usability testing, and share insights on how you can validate the decisions you make while building.

      What You’ll Learn

      • What, when, and with whom to validate your product/service design decisions
      • Tips on what to do before, during, and after a usability study
      • Best practices on successful usability testing

      This Talk is Designed For

      Product builders and designers.

      About the Presenter

      Rafael Mojica, VP of User Experience at DigitalOcean, is a multidisciplinary interaction designer. He’s passionate about expanding the benefits of design thinking and communications into all aspects of a business.

      How to Join

      This Tech Talk is free and open to everyone. Join the live event on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. ET by registering on GoToWebinar here. and Rafael will be answering questions at the end.

      If you can’t make the live event, the recording and transcript will be published here as soon as it’s available.



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      10 Ways to Move an In-Person Service Business Online


      We know you’ve been adapting to a new normal these days. 

      You’re a slave to your in-home wifi, your social interactions are taking place behind a screen, and your work “watercooler” moments are happening online, not around the office Keurig. But if you’re a business owner, those aren’t the only ways your working life has been transformed over the last few months. 

      Businesses are being profoundly affected by the global state of affairs. This is an unprecedented time for everyone, and as such, we’re learning to adapt and pivot how we do business.

      “It’s absolutely critical for businesses to pivot right now because the economic environment has completely changed,” says Jeremy Knauff, CEO of Spartan Media. “You can’t keep doing what used to work because everything is different right now. We’re facing a Darwinian business event unfolding.”

      Service professionals especially have been feeling the strain of how to transform their in-person business models into streamlined digital operations. Difficult? Absolutely. Impossible? We don’t think so.

      In this guide, we’re outlining 10 creative and lucrative ways that your service-based business can continue to make money and provide value during quarantine, while still planting seeds for future growth. 

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      10 Ways to Move Your In-Person Biz Online

      1. Analyze Your Business Plan

      Before you jump into a new money-making effort, it’s helpful to take a look at your business as it currently operates (or did, pre-pandemic). With that in mind, consider: What will pivoting really look like for your business?

      “It could be a very small change in your business model, such as how you’ll deliver your services,” says Susana Fonticoba of Clear Path Marketing. “Or it could be a major change that disrupts the who, what, where, and how. Whatever changes you make in your business model, it must always satisfy the revenue you need to survive, the income you want to thrive, the type of clients you’ll serve, the clients’ deep goals, and the offers you’ll sell to fulfill it all.”

      Take the restaurant industry, which has been hit particularly hard during quarantine. Many have pivoted by offering curbside and delivery service but have still faced massive loss. Na’ama Moran, co-founder and CEO of the restaurant supply company, Cheetah, took a unique approach to deal with her industry’s changing business landscape due to COVID-19. Moran switched from serving as a wholesale restaurant supplier into a grocery delivery service, selling direct to consumers.

      “Moran leveraged Cheetah’s infrastructure, staff, inventory, and technology to provide a streamlined way for people to purchase food and cleaning supplies without any contact with other people,” Knauff explains. “This unique pivot enabled the company to continue moving their inventory while supporting their local community.

      2. Adapt Your Services

      Even if your business offers in-person service, there can be ways to safely continue providing those services — with necessary modifications and added digital provisions. 

      Take the recent adjustments made by lawn care company GreenPal. We have changed up processes for how our vendor partners interact with their clients,” says Bryan Clayton, GreenPal co-founder. “We now have instituted a contactless procedure for when a homeowner hires a lawn care professional to mow their yard.”

      Because of these adjustments in operations, GreenPal has “seen a 17% conversion rate in many of the markets that we operate in,” Clayton adds.

      If your target audience is more hesitant to loosen the purse strings during an uncertain time, you can utilize digital tools to yield future growth.

      “More than anything, people are afraid to spend money right now,” says Bri Henke, owner and Design Director at Dig. “Because everything that used to be guaranteed just isn’t anymore — jobs, food, school, toilet paper — nothing feels safe about our world right now. So spending money on a luxury, like design, is slowing down. Right now, people are thinking about what they want to change about their home, and for that, I am trying to build up an e-design/concept package level to my business where we don’t have to physically interact, but we can make some positive changes to their space”

      3. Offer One-on-One Training or Tutorials

      Even when you’re taking your business online, you can still provide that essential person-to-person experience indispensable to service-based businesses.

      “A service is a personal experience,” says Jermaine Amado, photographer and owner of J Amado Photography. “It’s about building on the relationship with your client. So why not find a way to offer one-on-one support to your client through a video call? You could guide them through the process of taking photos, planning meals for the week, or a pedicure.”

      And pivoting your business for COVID-19 helps you not only prepare for future economic challenges but offers you a chance to target new audiences.

      “By offering one-on-one online photography courses and camera training, I feel like I was able to reach a new client base,” Amado says. “Adapting my services has allowed me to venture into an all-digital world where I don’t have to travel to offer my services.”

      No matter what field of industry your business occupies, you can adapt to bring offerings online.

      4. Offer Value Through Online Learning

      In addition to providing virtual services, you can make the most of the digital landscape by sharing your hard-earned knowledge, while establishing yourself as an authority and building your brand visibility. This strategy can help your business remain viable during a crisis and attract clients.

      For example, as a result of COVID-19, Southern Tax Preparation & Services moved from providing educational resources as part of its paid services to making those materials readily available through social media platforms and online communities, email campaigns, live video conferencing, and a podcast. This strategy shift is boosting the business in big ways.

      “We are establishing ourselves as an authority in the accounting and finance industry, and our audience’s desire to establish and maintain a stable financial structure has also increased,” says Jasmine Young, MBA, CPA, CFE, andSouthern Tax founder. “The increase in revenue from client referrals to purchase services that assist in creating a stable financial foundation is an obvious indication that our decision to pivot . . . was a step in the right direction for our company, as our gross income for the past quarter was 75% of last year’s gross income for the entire year.”

      The knowledge you have is valuable. Utilize it!

       

      5. Curate Customized Product Kits

      Pivoting your traditional business in difficult times is necessary to establish multiple revenue streams to compensate for the loss of income from main offerings. This has been especially vital for hair salons in the UK, as governments may limit their re-opening for another six months. 

      HairCraze by Naomi, a salon in Wales, has innovated new strategies to offer value and boost its online business. They filmed a video on DIY haircutting, and a banner ad was placed on their website and Facebook page notifying visitors that the video is accessible to people who subscribe to their email or newsletter. According to their marketing company, this tactic has helped the business build up a stack of email addresses from potential customers to hit up and market to once the lockdown ends.

      HairCraze by Naomi has also contacted their current clients that regularly utilize hair coloring services, offering to make dye for them based on their individual hair profile. These dyes can be mailed or delivered to customers at a discounted cost, helping them maintain color between salon visits — a better-than-boxed-dye solution at a cheaper-than-a-salon-visit price. 

      Now that’s creative innovation.

      6. Learn and Incorporate New Tech

      The health and fitness industry is seeing creative solutions to the prohibition on in-person gatherings as they seek to incorporate innovation and recoup lost earnings through digital offerings.

      Soofi Safavi, an entrepreneur and hot yoga enthusiast, pivoted his yoga business to operate virtually during the pandemic. When COVID-19 caused him to close his studios, instructors struggled with online class logistics and lost income, and his customers were without the habits they needed for their physical and mental health. Safavi acted quickly to create Wizard.fit, an integrated fitness app that allows instructors to virtually teach classes, collect payment, and instruct in a way that simulates a live studio. 

      Adapting to offer your business’ services on a digital platform doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. With the right network and tools, you can get virtual offerings up and running fast.

      “There are a myriad of opportunities available online for service-based workers,” said James Dyble, Managing Director of Global Sound Group. “For example, if you’re a personal trainer, jump on YouTube and start providing your services with that method. Possibly, even have a membership website or a mentoring program. . . . If the content is right, then the revenue will follow.”

      7. Improve How You Engage

      Running a business behind a screen can be a challenge for service-based companies that rely on an in-person relationship. Use this time as an opportunity to refine and improve the ways that you engage and connect with audiences.

      First, update your website during this crisis. Make sure your customers are aware of what new or adjusted services you’re providing during social distancing. Then, take connection a step further.

      “As an events producer, I enable entrepreneurs, speakers, and organizations to have engaging events. Wow, did COVID-19 ever change that!” says Connie Zeller of C.Zeller Events. “I’m fortunate that I have amazing clients who could see the value of a pivot. While a virtual event can’t deliver the energy, physical connection, gift bags, food, and the overall live experience, it can still deliver an impactful message and reach the goals and visions of a live event.”

      Thoughtfully consider and plan how you’re going to provide your winning service in digital environments. Without the in-person connection, your business needs to use available tech in innovative ways to prioritize your audiences and nurture relationships.

      “Technology is allowing connection in such a productive way without having to leave your home,” Henke says. “So the opportunity to offer your clients your time still exists; it will just be through a screen. Reassuring your clients that they still get you, I think, is key in all of this — rather than just them feeling that they are only worth an email. [Clients] need to know that we are still there with them, it is just in a different capacity than before.” 

      8. Expand Your Virtual Marketing Techniques

      As a professional organizer, Diane Eisenstein, founder and “Chief Organization Officer” of The Tidy Abode, has been experimenting with the addition of virtual services to her in-person business, offering coaching via FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom.

      “The most exciting part of it is that I have reached people from all around the country this way,” she says. “So many people staying at home want to be productive and get organized, but they get stuck on one part of the project. That’s where I come in! I give them advice on potential solutions and the products they need to get it done. I don’t get the big reveal moment at the end of a project, but I do see the ‘aha moments’ when I give my clients a suggestion that would work for their space.”

      Social media is likely already a part of your marketing strategy, so continue to expand your social media techniques to boost business! Host live tutorials on Instagram, Facebook, Zoom, or Youtube Live so you can communicate with your supporters in the comments in real-time. You can then upload these videos online to boost engagement and visibility.

      As a writer and vocal teacher for MusicGrotto.com, James Croad has been utilizing YouTube Tutorials to continue his vocal and guitar lessons remotely.

      “As a service professional, the transition hasn’t been easy, but it wasn’t impossible either,” Croad says. “It just takes a little bit of ingenuity! Regardless of the service you provide, we live in a digital age where there are multiple online platforms that can improve your business regardless of the quarantine. If you’ve got some grit and are willing to experiment, you can find a goldmine of efficient and profitable business practices online.”

      As you pivot and find things that work, market them vigorously. 

      “We are offering both free training and paid virtual 30-day masterminds to help businesses creatively explore their options and accordingly tweak or pivot their services,” says Janis Pettit, CEO of The 10x Zone.

      “For example, one company provides in-home occupational therapy for special needs children, and their business was down 70%. They decided to try teletherapy and it was approved by the insurance companies. After testing it and getting great results, we developed an aggressive marketing plan to promote it. It’s working, and weekly visits are going up quickly. And the best part? They can now serve clients not just locally as before but in the entire state!”

      Taking advantage of every opportunity to make $$$ (and build a loyal audience) can serve you well and help you develop the creative entrepreneurship needed to run a successful business, no matter the conditions.

      9. Expand Your Offerings

      Why not try something completely new? Offering a novel service to clients can expand your business — and your audience.

      “Since lockdown, I have recorded myself making healthy meals and putting them in the Whatsapp group that I have set up with my clients,” says Elliott Reimers, a certified nutrition coach at Rave Reviews. “They’re contributing a small amount each per month for these tips. In addition, I am making up batches of the meals I recorded and then dropping them outside clients’ houses once a week.”

      By supplying unique offerings, checking in with clients, and keeping a positive attitude, you can meaningfully connect with your audiences and provide value.

      How can other businesses do this?

      • Nail salons can curate and send clients boxes of supplies with illustrated (or video) instructions on how to care for their nails. 
      • A massage therapist can film a video of how to pinpoint trouble spots in muscles and how a tennis ball or foam roller can alleviate the pain. Then they can sell and schedule a private one-on-one session via Zoom to walk through this process with the client.
      •  An esthetician can schedule private video sessions to examine clients’ skin and recommend and order specific products for the client.
      • Physical trainers can provide virtual workouts or home-workout tips, creating video tutorials or doing it with them virtually to boost both of your physical activity and gains. They could also sell different protein shakes or guided meal plans.
      • Cleaning companies similarly can sell their cleaning products, supplied with step-by-step tutorials on how to clean various home spaces. 

      And all businesses can offer gift cards!

      10. Continue to Incorporate Digital Options

      Bringing parts of your business online can be a massive benefit to you as you target new audiences and expand your offerings. So don’t stop that momentum when things return to business as (mostly) usual. Keep utilizing the power of tech to boost your business. 

      “One valuable aspect of a digital service-based business is the convenience factor,” Eisenstein says. “In-person services require travel time, prep time, and schedules that need to be matched up. Even after COVID-19 conditions end, I will most likely conduct consultations over video calls, plus I plan to incorporate more virtual coaching into my schedule so I can reach more people around the world.”

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      Re-Homing Your Business in a Digital Landscape

      Pivoting your business into a digital landscape isn’t just valuable — it’s essential right now. Not only can virtual adaptation help you keep your business afloat, but it can ultimately help you run a better, more successful business in the future as you refine how you market, engage, and incorporate technology. 

      “The economic environment and marketplace have shifted, and the ‘new normal’ will not go back to the way things were,” Pettit says. “Businesses that don’t have a way to serve their customers’ needs as they are now will struggle or even fail. Look at businesses in the past that didn’t — Blackberry, MySpace, Sears, and many more. There is great opportunity here if you can creatively embrace it.”

      If you want to get your business up-and-running online and flex those creative muscles, you need to start at the beginning: partnering with a great web host for your site. We can help you set up your online presence — at a safe, virtual distance.



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