Ready to Launch: How to Make Your First Online Sale

  •    Freelance journalist covering women, business, policy and social good.

You've finished setting up your eCommerce store or site and your products are ready to launch. Now you just need to win your first customer! If you're worried about what to do next, you're not alone: Research shows that attracting new customers is a top concern for small business owners.

The most successful eCommerce stores multitask with multiple marketing strategies aimed at gaining visibility from new customers and continually driving sales. Here are some useful tips on how to make your first online sale, from social media promotions to great PR stunts to content marketing that helps you share your story with new audiences.

1. Get Social

The most common way for potential customers to learn about a new business is through word-of-mouth, according to a Small Business Trends survey—a dynamic that's held true for over a decade. An effective way to spread the word about your new store or site is through social media with a clever hashtag that can be used across multiple platforms.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are popular sites, but you can also leverage unique platforms like Snapchat, which features self-deleting images, to give a sneak peek of a new product. You can also use YouTube to share a pre-launch video, or create a board for your store on Pinterest, which accounts for 25% of retail referral traffic. Give viewers a reason to spread the news by offering discounts for referrals or a special coupon code for pre-order sales that can be shared with friends and family.

2. Find a Partner

Another way to spread the news about your store launch is to partner with a social media influencer in your industry. Who do your customers look to for advice? Is it a radio host, a blogger, a journalist or a subject matter expert? Offer to host a contest or product giveaway and ask them to share the news with their audiences to help expand your potential customer base. You can also feature a link to the influencer's brand on your eCommerce site or store for a win-win publicity exchange.

Another approach is to send a free sample of your product to a relevant social media influencer and ask them to review it for their audiences. Customers acquired through word-of-mouth have a 37 percent higher retention rate, according to AdWeek. You can include a special discount for the influencer's audience to create shared trust with your brand.

3. Write a Blog

Ready to Launch: How to Make Your First Online Sale

Creating content with a company blog that shares your site's story is the perfect way to not only market new products but to also build lasting relationships with your customers. Take readers behind the scenes to show them how your business prepared for the new launch. Or explain how ingredients are sourced or how products are made. You can also introduce readers to your team with short profiles of employees who will be handling customers' questions and product needs.

Business marketers who have blogs generate 67 percent more leads than those who do not. A blog can also help set you apart as an industry expert—especially if you share advice and tips or comment on new trends in your category. Establishing your expertise and creating trust help encourage customers to give your new store a try.

4. Pull a PR Stunt

To put your site or store on the map, consider a PR stunt to get customers' attention and accelerate your initial sales. When executed well, a PR stunt can generate instant publicity and plenty of social media shares. A stunt can be funny, outrageous or out of the ordinary–just make sure that it's consistent with your store's branding and values.

Virgin founder Richard Branson is known for his outrageous stunts, from dressing up like a bride to promote a wedding and bridal wear store, jumping off the roof of a Las Vegan casino or dressing as a (culturally appropriate) Zulu warrior to promote Virgin Air's service to South Africa. Other companies have created limited edition versions of their products for events and holidays, or offered invite-only previews. PR stunts don't have to be costly—all you need is a sense of adventure and a healthy dose of creativity.

To attract new customers to the launch of your new site or store, remember that using multiple marketing approaches is the most impactful way to create word-of-mouth advertising for your products—and encourage others to share the news as well.

​Ready to get started? Lets go.