Literally, the difference between 0 and 1 is infinity, zero indicates the emptiness and presence of nothing and “One” is the start of counting.
For start-ups this is quite true, as getting the first customer is the toughest task.
We help eCommerce stores and many times, we see customers who struggle with the first sale. It’s a natural challenge faced by all start-ups, it’s also the period of learning. Few common question raised by start-ups are:
- How to do the first sales?
- We have spent X amount of money, we are getting traffic but no sales?
- From one month, daily we are sending X amount on Facebook /Instagram, we are getting traffic but no sales?
We are a Shopify partner and helping many e-commerce companies in improving sales, our suggestion to budding eCommerce start-up for the first sales are:
1. Family and Friends – Connect with family and friends, schoolmates, college connection, society, and social media groups. Being an alumnus or part of the family, you will get a positive response, if possible try to give special offers and get feedback.
If sale is from a close friend or a family member, it is not considered a sale, rather they have made the purchase out of the relationship. The sale should be done to your near ideal customer like if you are selling a bridal wear, it should be purchased by a lady getting married.
At this stage, even positive feedback is very helpful; take feedback for all aspects of product, pricing, service delivery, customer care.
2. Target Long Tail Keyword – As you are a start-up it is best to find few long tail keywords with decent search volume and target that on your home page and build content plan on that.
Example – If your store is of “weeding gowns”, your targeted keywords can be “white wedding dresses & bridal gown” or “white & ivory weeding dresses “. Do proper keyword research, you will find many long tail relevant keywords
3. Content Writing – Take out niche segment and build content on that, like in case of “Bridal Wear store” the topics of content can be “Best places to buy bridal wear in Texas” or “How to make your weeding day special”. Check social forums, you will get many relevant topics. Make content in different formats such as blogs, infographics, videos etc.
The content should not just be selling content, it should be worthy to read, show your value proposition and try to connect them emotionally.
4. Write Guest Post – You can also write on the above topics on a women or portal related to marriages, connect with the portal with decent traffic. It’s a very cost-effective way of getting a new customers.
5. Engage in Social groups – Move around to all social media, and find relevant groups where your target audience is active, it can be a social media forum or any online forum. Don’t sell your product, engage with members and answer their queries, give them a reason to buy your product. You can share the content which you have written
6. Email Marketing – It’s one of the best way to individually connect with the prospects, gather all email id personal connect, school group id’s, institute group id. Segregate the email id based on your relationship personal, school, collage, professional, any other group and mail them personally. Use some tools like MailChimp, it’s free up to 1-2k users.
7. PR Release – When PR comes to mind, we always think of it as a costly affair, but you will find few PR portal which are cost effective. Try to connect with the PR agencies who can help you reach the target audience.
8. Google AdWords and Google Shopping – Google paid search campaign is the best medium to get quick conversion, using the channel you are connecting with the users who are looking for your product or similar product, it’s also a tool which will tell you who is your ideal customer or the targeted customer.
If you didn’t get conversion from the Google AdWords then it’s a serious issue, either your AdWords configuration is not properly set or user experience can be the issue last chance could be the user doesn’t find value in your product, you might have to relook at your product or pricing.
Most of the start-up ecommerce companies are very excited about Facebook and other social media campaigns.
In the initial stage, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media paid campaigns are the main channels for bringing traffic to your store, but conversion is quite tough. Your social media campaign can be considered successful if it is able to increase traffic, generate awareness about your product and bring your product in customer’s consideration set.
To move your product from customer consideration stage to customer decision stage i.e. sales, you must put persistent effort, it can take 1 – 3 months to get the first customer. If the product/service is very niche it would take less time but again the challenge is to reach the niche.
Before pitching your product, it is important to set the basic digital infrastructure and ensure your store user experience groundwork is completed.
Basic user digital infrastructure & user experience
- Product look and feel – In e-commerce, images play a key role in customer buying process, the images must be consistent across the store and be visually appealing.
- Seamless payment & trust – The payment method should be seamless, track the sales funnel and user behavior on form. If the user is spending more time on form and abandoning the payment, there could be some issues in payment method.
Most of the customers are hesitant in sharing their card details to a start-up company. As per research, nearly 18% users abandon payment as they don’t trust the store. You can overcome by using various trust payment badges and secure payment badges.Few well-known badges are SSL seals, Google Trusted Store, BBB Accredited, TRUSTe, Shopify trust badge.
- Get a CRM – All the companies need CRM, CRM can help you in keeping the customer details and all the required information at a centralized place. Using customer information, you can initiate lead nurturing, drip campaign or upsellIn growth stage, you can integrate with various customer management tools like email marketing, marketing automation, Cloud Telephony etc.You can go with open source CRM like Sugar CRM or you can opt for free CRM, few companies provide free CRM for limited usage, which may be enough for start-up companies.
- Email marketing – Personalised email is required to connect with the prospects. Email marketing tool could be very handy, most of email marketing solutions provide free limited usage.
- Analytics – It will give you a clear picture of the store, continuously monitor all the user experience metrics, exit pages, bounce rate, campaign metrics and sales funnel. Google Analytics is very helpful for high level of data point, if you have bandwidth you can also take CRO (conversion rate optimization) tool.
Finally, getting the first customer is a challenging task, but it is also a phase of learning. It is the stage where you will get to know about the customer persona, the buying process and what the value of your product is.