How to Make Your First Online Sale

Brian Bojan Dordevic
About The Author

Brian Dordevic

Brian is Marketing Strategic Planner with a passion for all things digital. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or schedule a consultation call with him.

Making your first sale online is a significant milestone to achieve. Once you have established your online store, it is easy to submit to endless tweaking in search of perfection. This can take a lot of focus and energy that can be better utilized towards more important tasks like making that first online sale. There are virtually hundreds of channels and ways to promote your business online, that often entrepreneurs find it difficult to choose what will produce the most meaningful results. Luckily, E-commerce professionals from our digital marketing agency in Chicago are here to advise new as well as future entrepreneurs like you on how to best produce traffic and make your first sale online.

Table of Contents: 

Targeting traffic is crucial for new stores

As previously mentioned, new online store owners easily get tangled in a web of constant font switching, second-guessing on their prices, and many other minor details in an effort to improve their store. The truth is that any meaningful improvement will only be significant once your store has an online presence. In other words, you need hard numbers and consistent traffic to your site. Once you manage to drive traffic to your store you will be able to gain hard data to discover if your prices are too high and if your brand resonates with your intended audience.

In order for you to achieve your first online sale, we’ll start by introducing some free traffic sources and highly targeted marketing strategies that require more time and investments. 

A piece of advice for the road

Not every business can apply the same techniques and be equally successful. If a certain tactic doesn’t apply to your store, rather than skip it, we help in customizing it to best apply to you and your business. On another note, setting up Google Analytics is vital in order to monitor traffic as you implement different marketing strategies. Taking advantage of this, allows you to gain a clearer picture of which tactics bring the most benefits to your E-commerce efforts and which ones do not. 

Free traffic sources

Exploring free traffic sources involves manually sharing your store with relevant online communities. Below we have provided you with a couple of things to keep in mind in order to produce the best possible results:

  • Offer incentives in form of discount codes to entice people to visit your store
  • Make sure to add your store URL to all of your personal online profiles
  • Always look to provide real value to your visitors instead of constantly spamming them with repetitive promotional messages

Utilize your personal networks

As a prospective entrepreneur yourself, you know that your first 3 or 4 sales are most likely to come from your own personal connections. This is why in order to make your first sale online it is crucial to share your store on all social media platforms you possess. You could also send an email to your closest connections and inform them about your store’s launch or even organize an email marketing campaign.

Employing your personal connections is a great way to get quick feedback. However, if this strategy doesn’t produce the results you were expecting you shouldn’t feel discouraged; this is the least qualified source of traffic. You will soon discover that nothing beats the feeling of earning the trust of your prospects and transforming them into loyal customers. 

Build an email list

According to research conducted by DMA, the average ROI of email campaigns is forty-two dollars for each dollar that you spend. The best way to start building your email list is to include an email subscription form on your website. Your list will rapidly increase if you decide to include some form of incentive for signing up. Whether it’s a discount coupon or a chance to win a free product every week, you are only limited by your own imagination. Once you have a list of your current and potential customers, you will find it easier to get your message across since your product information and content will land directly into their inboxes avoiding spam filters.

Join online communities

Posting a link to your store on forums such as Reddit or joining different Facebook groups is an effective way to find niche online communities in your industry. In channels like these people organize themselves around specific interests. Conducting quality research will help you find those interests that closely relate to your business. Once you have found your target audience and what their interests are, become an active member and connect with others. These communities are a great opportunity for you to build a reputation and establish authentic connections for your business. 

Below are groups of experienced entrepreneurs that you can go to for extra help and support:

  • r/Entrepreneur
  • r/ecommerce
  • Shopify Entrepreneurs Facebook Group
  • Grow and Sell Facebook Group
  • Bright Ideas and Entrepreneurs LinkedIn Group
  • Shopify Community

Paid advertising is a reliable way to get targeted traffic. Many paid advertising platforms will only ask for compensation if someone clicks on your ad. In some instances, you don’t even have to dedicate a large portion of your budget to this type of advertising. Some campaigns go for as low as $10 dollars. 

Google Ads is one of the most popular pay-per-click (PPC) advertising networks on the web and gives you a variety of options to make your first online sale. It allows marketers to post ads on Google search results pages, as well as YouTube videos, and partner websites.

The most prominent feature of Google Ads is its massive reach. With just a few steps, you can launch a campaign that will be seen by people all across the internet. Better yet, Google Ads campaign options allow you to set up targeted campaigns which are only triggered when someone types in your predefined keywords in a search engine console. Your ads will also appear on websites and articles that contain similar keywords. However, it is very important to conduct thorough keyword research to check the search volume for terms that your target audience is looking for.

Leaving the Google Ads targeting expansion turned on will include a lookalike audience in your marketing campaign. Expanding your desired audience outside of your desired targeting can bring you more clicks. However, with this, there is a good chance that you will end up paying for unqualified clicks that won’t convert, which can end up costing you more and affecting your efficiency. If you are interested in trying Google Ads, check out our blog for a guide on how to set up your campaign as well as what to do and not to do when it comes to digital advertising.

Facebook advertising

Facebook is one of the most popular social networks. It has the most diverse user base in terms of age, income, gender, and ethnicity. This is why Facebook is one of the most profitable marketing channels on the web today and a great chance for you to make your first sale online.

Marketers reach their customers by leveraging the social network’s targeting options. This tool helps you segment users by age, gender, job title, location, and interest. If you have a clear idea about the likes and interests of your prospects, this type of segmentation is the perfect opportunity for audience targeting.

Instagram advertising

With its visual format, you may consider Instagram to be a predominantly millennial thing. That being said, according to Smart Insights, Instagram has one of the most engaged user bases. This makes it a perfect platform for influencer marketing. However, you don’t have to be an influencer or employ your own to enjoy its benefits. By using relevant hashtags, your posts can reach a considerable amount of people and drive traffic to your online store.

Pinterest marketing

From Promoted Pins to Buyable Pins, this social network offers a lot of opportunities for you to achieve your first online sale. The database is mostly comprised of female users, and according to HootSuite, have disposable income.

Using Pinterest is much like scrapbooking. Users create boards where they save pins based on different themes. It is widely used for event planning, saving interesting articles, and curating a wardrobe.


Advertising your brand alone won’t drive the amount of traffic you are looking to reach. You need to build credibility for your brand, and the best way to do so is through partnerships and collaborations with other people. Below are a couple of ways to achieve this: 

  • Write a guest post – If you consider yourself to be an expert on a topic, share your expertise through a guest post. Putting a link to your shop in your bio is a perfect way to make your first sale online.
  • Ask for product reviews – Many brands, especially those just starting out, give their product(s) to bloggers for free in exchange for reviews and a chance to market in front of other people’s audiences.

Send free samples to influencers

The internet is packed with bloggers, journalists, entrepreneurs, and vloggers. They come from a huge array of industries and niches. Most of them have a large base of followers on social media as well as a loyal audience on their sites.

Sending a free sample of your product to influencers within your industry is a win-win situation. On one hand, you show them that you appreciate their work, while on the other hand, you may be mentioned on one of their platforms. This results in a huge credibility boost followed by a spike in social media followers; thus traffic to your online store.

Start your own blog

Running a blog associated with your store is a great way to take advantage of the limitless capabilities of content marketing. Producing free and valuable content creates trust with your customers and keeps them informed. At the same time, this also gives you the opportunity to share content on social media and boost your SEO rank.

The most frequently asked questions about your product and industry are the perfect starting point. Use your blog to answer these questions in separate articles and soon you will notice just how powerful content marketing can be as your social media shares start to increase.

Keep an eye on Google Analytics

Gaining insight into the behavior of your audience will help you understand what improvements need to be made in order to increase sales. Analytics will show you how frequently users enter your website, which pages they enter, how much time they spend on certain pages, and which route they took to exit. Best of all, Google Analytics’ services are completely free. It is vital to your business to dedicate a portion of time to analyze traffic in order to increase presence and drive sales.

Outshine your competitors with comparison shopping engines

People tend to shop around before deciding to buy a product. Comparison shopping engines compare a large number of stores and products simultaneously. To be successful play by the rules of each engine and stay competitive with pricing, while simultaneously figuring out which gives you the best ROI. Here are some of the most popular comparison shopping engines:

  • Google Shopping
  • PriceGrabber
  • Shopzilla
  • Become
  • Bing Shopping Campaigns
  • Pronto
  • Bizrate
  • Amazon Sponsored Products
  • Camelcamelcamel
  • ShopMania
  • BuyVia
  • ShopSavvy
  • Yahoo Shopping
  • Pricepirates
  • MyShopping Datafeed
  • Idealo

Final thoughts

We at Alpha Efficiency understand that starting your first online store can be an overwhelming experience. However, having a solid plan can take the pressure off and enable you to make your first online sale in no time. With the right approach, you will need no more than a handful of strategies we have previously discussed. Taking advantage of what social media has to offer will allow your business to easily adapt and turn your prospects into customers. With this in mind,  blogging and producing engaging content will drive loyal customers eager to give you their business. To finish, remember to keep in mind the importance of Google Analytics and plan your steps accordingly.

Want to start your creative project today? Fill out this form, and let’s discuss your next steps.

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