You did it. Your Shopify store is finally up and running, and you’re poppin’ open some celebratory drinks!
But... now what?
How do you attract those first few customers?
In this piece, we’ll outline five tried-and-true methods to do just that.
These ain’t just some run-of-the-mill strategies aren’t just about how to make your first sale on Shopify; they’re strategies that will stay just as beneficial to you as your shop grows!
Here’s what we’ll cover throughout this article:
- What you need to do before pushing people to get to your store.
- How to drive traffic to your site: Best practices for utilizing your personal network and paid ads
- What to expect: How long it commonly takes and how to think long-term
How To Get Your First Sales On Shopify: 5 Tips to Get The Ball Rolling
1. Have opt-in forms ready to take contact info
Before we dive into how to make those first sales, let’s look at what you need to take advantage of each visitor that comes to your fancy new Shopify store.
While it’s okay to have a bunch of one-time purchases from unique consumers, what’s even better is building up a loyal customer base who will keep coming back to support your store and send new shoppers your way.
So from day one, you’ll want the ability to stay in touch with anyone who visits your site, which is why an absolute must for your Shopify site is an opt-in form.
And if you’re starting to see traffic but no sales, don’t fret!
One study found that a whopping 92% of consumers visit a brand’s website for the first time for other reasons than to make a purchase. But with an opt-in form, you can capture their contact info and reel them back in with manual campaigns and automated ones.
The key to a high converting opt-in form is to provide something of actual value like a first purchase discount or free shipping. This kills two birds with one stone by giving them a reason to sign up for your newsletter and return to your site to make a purchase. The opt-in below is a great example from Lifeboost Coffee.
Try out different offers and different types of forms, such as inline, pop-ups, exit-intent, floating boxes until you find the combination that works the best for your store.
It’s also okay to use different forms at the same time.
Most shoppers are used to clicking out of a pop-up or floating box by habit before they even think about it, so sometimes it takes two or three tries before they truly consider the request.
Take this example from Lifeboost Coffee. They have at least two sign-up forms in different styles running when you view their website, one being this 20% for new customers.
You can use an opt-in form to gather more information than just an email, as well.
Asking about someone’s interests enables you to send customized offers and gives you more data about what types of products shoppers are interested in before you start to make consistent sales.
- Opt-in forms are the best way to reel visitors back in to seal the deal on those items they were eyeing.
- Finding the right type of form and offer that will work for you takes experimentation.
- Try using multiple forms and form types at once. People are used to clicking out of stuff, but you can dangle an offer with a form with various styles and still nab an opt-in.
- Don’t just ask for an email. Offer a chance for them to tell you about their interests, preferences, and so on. More information allows you to customize offers for contacts.
2. Set up email marketing automations
One of the benefits of eCommerce is how much you can automate, like shipping confirmation or marketing emails. Set them up, sit back, and watch it work its magic.
Of course, you have to continue tweaking your rules and recommendations for optimal performance, but it’s so much less work than the days when every task needs to be completed manually.
Fundamental email automations include:
- Welcome email funnel
- Abandoned cart email funnel
- Product recommendation funnel
When you’re first getting started, thinking about automations may seem like jumping two steps ahead, but it’s really not. And here’s why.
Say you’ve started your brand campaigns and advertisements to encourage shoppers to check out your site. And it’s working.
You’re paying to play and getting the traffic, and folks are even adding products to their carts. But still no sales.
You’d be in the norm.
One study found that 79% of shoppers will abandon their carts without making a purchase. That’s a lot of lost sales.
Having automations like welcome and abandoned cart emails ready before you start advertising means that when you do start promoting your site, you’ll see the best return on your investment.
Getting the picture?
As you start to configure your emails, here are two important strategies to keep in mind.
Personalized emails will win out hands down. And we’re talking about more than just greeting someone by name. Think bigger, like adding products to an email based on the user’s viewing history. Here’s what an abandoned cart funnel with product recommendations could look like inside Sendlane.
Small changes in your emails’ subject lines, imagery, and copy can make a huge difference in their effectiveness. So it’s essential to keep testing. (And here’s why A/B tests aren’t enough).
- Setting up automations before you start advertising will increase your ROI.
- Personalize emails whenever possible.
- Keep testing your automations and email copy to improve their performance.
3. Tap Into Your Personal Networks
With your opt-in forms and automations in place, you’re ready for traffic!
To get those first few sales, start with the people you know, like friends and family members who want to support your endeavors.
We recommend starting with a Facebook post and email targeting your network, letting them know what you’ve been working on, and asking for them to check it out and share the site.
It’s a no-pressure way to let people anonymously show support by purchasing or sharing it with others.
Consider creating a unique friends-and-family discount code as a thank you for supporting your new business.
One of the benefits of starting with your network is that you can work out any bugs in the customer experience with people you know who will be more than happy to provide feedback.
If you recognize your cousin Linda’s name on an order, reach out to thank her for her business and ask if there’s anything you can do to improve the shopping experience.
- Friends and family can provide feedback on how to improve the customer experience.
- They don’t have to buy something to be helpful! Ask friends and family to share the website with others and increase your brand awareness.
- Consider a friends-and-family discount code to encourage sales and reward the support of your loved ones.
4. Dive into Paid Ads
Sometimes you have to spend a little moolah to make more moolah.
Until you’ve built up brand recognition, most traffic to your site is likely to come from pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
For most eCommerce businesses, PPC remains a key part of their overall marketing strategy; however, the piece of the pie will shrink as your email list, social followers, and overall brand awareness grows.
Advertising on Google can help you reach the most potential shoppers. But it can be super overwhelming.
Google offers multiple ways to create ads and promote your products, from text-only ads to shopping campaigns. Each will have different levels of cost and competition.
The good news is Google is one of the easier companies to get in touch with for help. You can call an Adwords specialist to get started or if you get stuck.
Google ads are one of the fastest ways to get sales, so we recommend starting there. But they’re not necessarily the best way to grow a following.
Beyond Google, advertising on social media platforms can simultaneously build up a brand following while getting more people to your shop.
Choose just a couple of platforms to start.
For instance, try building a strong presence on Instagram and Facebook before diving into TikTok and Pinterest.
It’ll serve you better to post regular content and ads in one place and grow an engaged following than to spread out your attention between all platforms at once.
There are unique benefits and strategies to each platform.
And we recommend you do some digging to figure out which social media platforms are the most popular for your specific market.
Look for industry reports and check out where other competitors are doing well.
Once you know where to start, check out these “Getting Started” guides from Shopify for eCommerce-specific advice:
When you’re just starting, consider keeping your budget small until you know what works and what doesn’t.
You don’t want to wind up spending $300 on an Adword ad that winds up being shown on irrelevant searches and doesn’t result in many sales.
Or maybe you find that you’re a video genius and have much better results on TikTok than anywhere else!
Still overwhelmed? You can always look for a consultant or firm with eCommerce digital marketing experience to help you create ads and strategies to promote your Shopify store.
- While pay-per-click advertising is a staple of eCommerce traffic and sales, it will become a smaller piece of your marketing pie over time.
- Utilize Google’s Adwords specialists to get started, but look into digital marketing consultants or firms as you grow.
- Try a couple of social media platforms at a time and research which platforms are the most popular for your niche.
- Keep your budget small till you know what you’re doing.
5. Offer Perks to Encourage the Sale
Who doesn’t like free stuff? Or discounts!
Discounts for first-time shoppers or new email contacts are standard nowadays, as is free shipping over a certain dollar amount.
But when you’re first getting started, you might consider going bigger to build an initial customer base. For instance, free shipping on all orders, or a larger discount, or even some bonus gifts with each sale.
The more unique your offer, the more your store will stand out and be memorable. These perks are also a way of saying, “we appreciate your business.”
Perks don’t have to be reserved for emails and forms. Promote your store’s benefits in your product pages or your navbar, like how Lifeboost Coffee includes an easy way to subscribe to the product and save 30%.
You want to give shoppers multiple reasons to trust and choose your store.
- Offer unique benefits to set your store apart.
- Always include a benefit in your opt-in forms and welcome emails.
- Include messages about perks and other benefits like free shipping and returns across the site.
How long does it take to get sales on Shopify?
There’s no simple answer.
It all depends on how well your marketing fits your target audience, how well your site copy and brands resonate with who you bring to your doorstep, and how much traffic you drive to your site.
Seasoned eCommerce marketers know how to turn on paid ads that generate sales left and right. However, newcomers to the game are still learning and growing. If that is you, just give things time.
Soon you’re going to blink and realize the orders are pouring in.
How to drive more traffic to your Shopify store for the long haul
As promised, the five strategies we covered will last the life of your store. But they’re just the start.
So what else should you consider to keep the sales flowing? Here are some final tips to keep in mind as your shop grows:
Every click, every picture, every email matters in eCommerce, and the more data you track, the more you can optimize your website and conversions. A marketing tool that integrates with Shopify (like Sendlane) can help.
Make email marketing a priority
Email is the top dog in the eCommerce marketing world. While ads can bring new people to your site, an email is the cheapest, easiest way to help you maintain brand awareness and drive sales. So don’t wait to set things up correctly and improve.
Create an SEO and content marketing plan
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a necessary long-term strategy. You won’t see the results overnight, but over time, your efforts will add up.
Consistent content will also help you reduce the money you’re spending on ads while creating a unique brand. Tie it into your social media efforts for optimal impact.
Check out our guide to increasing sales on Shopify for a more in-depth look at your next steps.