Starting a new e-commerce business is hard; there is no doubt about it. Even before you actually start, there are so many things to do. You need to take a look around to see what kind of stores are out there, pick the right niche for you, find a supplier, build a website, and come up with all the right incentives for demanding customers.
And after all that work you might still feel like you’re just on the starting line because the greatest challenge all e-commerce newbies face is still in front of you.
How to make customers come to your page?
It might look like an impossible task at first. But don't despair, many people made it before you, and so can you. To help you out, we'll show you proven ways how to bring first customers to your store.
Contact friends and family
This is one of the most basic ways to bring customers to your site. You don't need to know how to make ads or have a neck for writing. All you need is your personal social media page. Many of you are active on social media anyway. So why not use this advantage to grow your business?
Your friends and family are the easiest customers you will ever have. They already like you and communicate with you on regular basis. That is something you have to work for hard with other customers.
So why not use your relations to boost your shop a little?
You don't need to try complicated, elaborate ways. Try to post something in the following manner:
I’ve recently opened a new store yourcoffeemug.com selling personalized coffee mugs, and I’m really excited about it. Why don't you check it out?
If you’d like to get your own mug, I'd be happy to get you a free sample or give you a great discount.
If you like the store, I’d really appreciate if you could spread the word. Thanks.
The shares from your friends and family will get you many more visitors, which is exactly why you’re doing this.
You’ll also see what kind of people respond well to your products. Your social circle most likely includes various people. By showing them your products, you can get a good idea of what kind of people you should target with your ads later on.
Start a blog
A blog is another popular way to attract the first customers although it’s not as easy as the previous one. To write your own blog, you need to dedicate some time to it.
If you want your blog to be successful, think of an interesting topic. For e-commerce, it usually means to have exciting products and to know your way around what you sell very well.
Good topics come from answering questions asked by customers.
Those are all the articles starting with “Lots of you have asked me lately…” It doesn't even matter if there ever was an actual question as long as the post is interesting and catches the visitor’s attention.
Another common blog theme around is “HowTo...”.
These kinds of posts usually explain how your products work, how to operate or install them, and how and when to use them.
Don’t know where to start?
Try to write an article about how to pick one of your products. Not how to pick one product from all of your product. Just how to pick a version of one of your products.
No matter if you sell raincoats or sports drink. There are always choices.
How large should the raincoat be? Should the customer get a long one or a short one? What about the wind, does it matter? Does the customer actually need a raincoat? Isn’t an umbrella enough?
With a little bit of fantasy, you can make a blog post about almost any topic you can think of.
Get active on social media
As the saying goes, everyone is on Facebook. Social media is a gateway to your customers. And it’s also the easiest way to start approaching your first customers.
As we’ve already mentioned above, hitting your Facebook friends with a post about your great new store is the fastest and easiest way to get the word out. But your work doesn’t stop after one post.
Once you open your store, Facebook should become your best friend. And you need to talk to this new best friend of yours about your store and the awesome products you sell a lot.
But remember to separate the two worlds of your Facebook personal page and your business page.
On your personal page, you want to post updates about your store a couple times a month, your story, or the About us page every now and then. You also need to keep up the usual social communication the personal page serves for.
Your business page is another story. Use it to promote your store. Go nuts, and post everything your customers should know about your store, about you or just about absolutely anything.
If you have a promotion, put it up. Is there anything even remotely related to your store that you find interesting? Put it up.
Start social interaction with your customers, promote your store, inform them about your store, and entertain them. People pay more attention to entertaining stuff. So don't be afraid to write posts that may not be entirely about your business.
Do you think that plain Facebook isn’t enough for you? Well, it's time to get visual. People just love visuals. That's why photo-based platforms are growing faster than any other social media.
You can make a great impact with visual content on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Upload your best product pictures to Facebook and Instagram, tag them, leverage trending hashtags and create new ones.
Using visuals gives you a huge opportunity to promote your store. Pictures of your products, suggestions, pictures of satisfied customers, anything that can be photographed can be used for promotion.
Participate in Forums and Groups
OK, this one might take some time and work but it’s absolutely free. And if done right it can bring quality visitors with a high chance of converting to your store.
On the internet, there are millions of forums and social media groups where people discuss all sorts of issues. And chances are that some of the millions of them are exactly about what you sell.
To get to them, you just need some research. Try to Google your niche + “forum” – for example, a dog food forum, drone forum, or electronic gadgets forum. Search for groups on Facebook. Or just join one of the big ones like Shopify Newbies, and see where it will take you.
Remember to check if they are still live because some of them may not have been visited for years.
Once you found a live one, that fits your niche create a profile and log in.
Now, this is important, so pay attention. You actually need to READ the posts. Not all of them, but you need to read the ones you’re going to engage with.
You cannot just start writing posts to promote your store. The numbers are not important here, the quality is. Nobody will pay attention to useless promotion, and you will get yourself banned.
You need to actually communicate with people on the forum or group. See what they’re interested in, what problems they talk about. Answer their questions, give them tips, and contribute somehow.
Only then, when it’s appropriate, you can promote your store.
The best promotion is when your products are the answer to a problem or question someone has posted.
Do you want to know which forum people definitely use? Try Reddit.
Alright, today it’s maybe more of a social network than a forum. But the fact is that Reddit manages to stay on top of the things even in these extremely fast pace times. And it’s good for much more than just producing an incredible amount of memes.
Reddit is a place where a vast amount of the internet population comes to learn and talk about things they’re interested in. If you dig into the many subreddits there, you will definitely find some that will fit your niche.
Are you new to Reddit and want a place to start? Try the /r/entrepreneur and/or /r/smallbusiness subreddits. You can learn how to use the page and something useful at the same time.
Leverage Search Engine Optimization
Unless you’re very new to the world of e-commerce, you’ve probably heard the term Search Engine Optimization or SEO. It does exactly what it says: optimize your site for search engines. And if done right, it can be a very powerful tool for every e-commerce business.
SEO is basically a way to tell search engines what content your website has.
You can imagine search engines as signs on crossroads that send internet users where they want to go. And the signs cannot send them to you unless you tell them what you have on your website.
The process is actually done by software that crawls through websites and evaluates their content. Then, based on the content and the search query the user types into the search engine, your site will get placed on one of the many search result pages.
As you probably know from experience, the higher the result, the more likely the user is to visit the website.
So, what can you do to get the search engines to show your store in the search results?
Start with these few basic steps:
First, you have to go through your products and determine what the internet user may type in the search engine when looking for that specific product.
It’s nothing hard, just think of what you might write if you would search for that specific product.
You can use helpful sites like this that can tell you what searches are most common and give you some recommendations.
Once you know the keywords, you need to add them to your site, specifically to the title, meta description, image alternative texts, H1 headers, and the content.
The website title is the link that shows up in the search engine results.
Let the world know specifically what you sell. Do you sell baby clothes or bicycles? Make the title say it to both the search engines and your potential customers.
But remember that the title should be up to 70 characters long for the search engines to show it in full.
The meta description is the few lines in the search engine results under the title that summarizes the webpage content for the search engine. It tells the internet users what the webpage is about and catches their attention in few words.
E-commerce providers like Shopify will let you set different meta description for each product or collection webpage. So get as specific as you can so that both the search engines and customers know what each page offers.
You should be able to set the title and meta description through settings in most e-commerce providers. You can find how to do it in Shopify here.
Next, you want to add the keywords to your pictures’ alternative text.
Search engines cannot see what’s in the picture, so they determine its content by its alternative text.
Remember to write alternative text for every product picture you have on your website.
Next in line are the H1 headings, i.e. the large titles at the top of every webpage. They are the first thing that every visitor reads when opening the page. And the first thing that the search engine algorithm reads on every page.
So remember to create specific H1 titles for each webpage.
Finally, we have the content. Search engine algorithms go through all the product descriptions and posts on your website to cross-reference the content to the headline.
Use phrases that contain specific keywords for the webpage that you have in the headline.
Remember that search engines prefer longer text because it’s more site-specific. And by longer text we mean longer quality text. Never put quantity over quality.
Whatever you do to get customers to your website, stick to it for a while. And you need to count on that the results won't come immediately.
You cannot attract hundreds or thousands of customers with one blog, social media or forum post.
You should be ready to put in the time and work it needs to be done right.
But don't worry and don't overthink it.
Just start the communication through the channels you like the most, and keep at it.
And even when you work hard and sweat getting more and more new customers, never forget to keep in touch with those you already have.
I hope this article was useful. If you have any questions or want to share your experience and struggles with us, join us in this FB group and tell us what’s on your mind.
Make sure that your URLs and filenames match the content.
Add the keywords to your content, including page titles, descriptions, and image alt text.
Find keywords that are relevant to your products and your brand.