3 STEPS TO TAKE AFTER YOU LAUNCH A NEW
So, you’ve joined the 21st century and launched your commerce
You’ve done all the work. You’ve picked a niche, located suppliers, set up a website and celebrated the grand opening of your online store. You are excited. The anticipation of success is leaving you with a feeling of euphoria. You are officially an ecommerce entrepreneur!!
You’re all psyched, and then, as you stare at your computer screen, waiting for orders to start rolling in, a question comes to mind: How can I make my first sale? And after that? How can I continue the momentum needed to ensure my business will turn into a thriving shop? What’s next?
The Shopify blog, recently reported and lists 50 ways to make your first sale. You can click on any item in the list for a detailed explanation of how to implement each strategy, so I strongly suggest checking it out.
However; this list of 50 strategies and explanations for each one is essentially a book, and a to do list of this size can be intimidated and exhausting.
The goal of this post is to give simple and practical advice to those of you who ponder this question. Naturally, every niche is different. there is no one size fits all formula that will guarantee your stores success. But, there are some general principles that’s going to be discussed that will give you a better idea of practical steps you can take after launching your ecommerce business.
Or, as Corbett Barr says, “Write epic shit.” Not to be profane, but just read that article; it’s good.
The basic principle is this, consistently produce high quality content, and people will share it with others and come back to you for more.
This is the strategy that Pat Flynn discussed in a recent podcast episode. Pat is building his new FoodTruckr brand by creating blog posts and podcast episodes that are much, more than just SEO optimized, keyword stuffed strings of English words. He’s producing content that people in his niche actually appreciate and share. He’s not worrying about things like spinning articles and building back links; he’s just creating stuff that real people find interesting.
How it benefits you
It’s pretty simple; when you publish interesting, informative stuff, you’ll drive traffic to your website and people will become aware of your brand.
Content marketing has a huge potential. You can look at it this way, you could spend $1000 driving 5000 visitors to your website, or you could spend 5 hours creating an epic blog post that gets shared and tweeted hundreds or thousands of times. There is a time and place for both tactics, but some people focus on the former and forget the latter.
How to do it
First create a content schedule. It’s very important to be consistent, so figure out your strategy and then stick to it. Here’s an example content creation schedule:
-A podcast with new episodes every other week
-A blog with new articles every week
-A YouTube video about one of your products twice a monthh
Pretty simple, isn’t it? Again, the important thing is to be consistent, but also to make sure that the content you publish is high quality. It’s takes serious time and mental energy to write well, or to write/edit/publish a podcast. But then again, this investment is vital for an effective content marketing plan.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend tons of money on professional video production or on recording equipment for your podcast. It’s more important that the content of your articles/podcasts/videos/infographics is high quality, even if the production quality isn’t perfect.
Let’s look at this scenario, if I record my podcast on an Dudio-Technica ATR2100 Microphone (affiliate link). It cost me about $50, and that’s all I use to record my podcasts. Some podcasters spend hundreds or more on equipment, but that’s not needed to get started.
These days you can record HD video with an iPhone. You can take product photos with your smartphone, as long as you have good lighting. My point is that when I say you need to produce fabulous content, darling; I’m not talking about spending a lot of money on equipment. But, it is extremely important to do your research and make sure that you know what you’re talking about and do a good job of communicating that knowledge.
Social media marketing goes hand in hand with the previous point, content marketing.
How it benefits you
First, create fabulous content, then get your tremendously engaged social media followers to talk about it and spread the word! If you have even a few Facebook fans or Twitter followers who are passionate about your brand then they are going to be the spark that ignites a wildfire of traffic when they start talking about the amazing content you created in step 1.
Having engaged social followers is extremely powerful because of the limitless opportunity for exponential growth. Let’s say you have 1000 Facebook fans who truly care about your brand or product. Let’s also say that each of those fans has an average of 500 Facebook friends. If you publish a piece of amazing content, and mention it on Facebook and 10% of your fans share your post on their own walls, then you’ve just reached 50,000 people!!!! Do the math!! If just 1% of those 50,000 people share your post, then you’ve just reached 250,000 people!!! How about that for growth!!
This is the way things go viral. My numbers above are probably unrealistic for most posts because most things don’t go viral in such a powerful way. However; the power of exponents still applies, even if the percentages are smaller. This is a source of traffic and buzz that you just can’t ignore.
Even if your posts don’t go viral, however; having a tribe of people who care about your brand enough to follow you on social media platforms is a great opportunity. This connection allows you to stay in touch with your fans, let them know about new content or products, and draw repeat business.
How to do it
You must, however; get your first 100 followers somehow. Then you have to get to 500, and then 1000, and you get the picture. You also have to make sure that they are engaged with your brand; not just passive followers. They should be cheerleaders!!
Post regularly – Just like with your content schedule in #1, it’s important to be consistent. Post daily or multiple times per week.
Don’t just post your own stuff – No one likes it when all you do is promote yourself. A good rule of thumb is that for every time you post about your own articles or products, you should be posting to other people’s content 3-4 times.
Have real conversations – Sometimes we forget that our “likes” and “followers” are real people with real lives, real interests, real needs. By reaching out to people, offering to help, responding to questions, and showing appreciation, you can start building real relationships.
Make friend with other leaders – This leads into #3. It’s important to mention in the context of social media specifically. Find out who else in your niche has a large, engaged following (i.e., people who like, retweet, pin and comment), and follow the. Start reaching out to them and building relationships with them.
3. Network with powerful leaders in your space
Making friend in high places within your niche can only help your business.
How it benefits you
Take a few seconds and make a mental list of the top 3 influencers in your niche. Who are the most well known and highly respected people in your niche? Now imagine what would happen if those 3 people knew your name and knew about your business, and if they started talking about you to their audiences. What kind of impact would that have on your business?
Depending on how big and competitive your niche is, it may be impractical to become best buds with the top 3 people. No matter what niche you’re in, though, you can build relationships with influential people.
How to do it
We can start by sharing an example of what NOT to do. Frequently, I receive a great deal of emails from people asking to publish a guest post on Ecommerce Pulse, or asking me to try and review their product or service, or to share an article or info graphic that they just published. It’s pretty obvious that these people have not really read this blog or listened to the podcast, and their first email is asking me to do them a favor of some kind.
If I have no relationship with someone who emails me like this, it’s not very likely that I’m going to put a lot of effort, or go out of my way to help them promote their business. I’m dedicated to helping anyone who emails me with a questions about commerce, but I’m not quite so eager to help someone promote themselves.
However; if someone has been reading or listening to Ecommerce Pulse for a while and commented on articles, or emailed me with questions, then there’s a good chance I low their name, and I know a little about who they are. There’s some level of a relationship there. I’ve even become friends with some of you who I’ve interacted with a lot, and I really appreciate that. These are real relationships that I have with some of you!!
So, if one of the people with whom I have a relationship emails me asking me for a favor of some kind, I’m definitely going to at least give it my full attention and honest consideration because I care about this person.
Here’s the basic principle: Don’t start a relationship by asking for a favor to promote yourself. If you want to network with an influencer, start by giving. For example, leave meaningful, well written comments on their blog posts. Write them an email thanking them for their work and complimenting them on something specific that you like. If you notice something on their website like a broken link, missing image, or missing favicon, shoot them an email letting them know. And, if you can, offer to fit it for them.
Over time, the influencer will likely get to low you by name and appreciate your involvement in what they are doing. After all, they became an influencer by being passionate about their area of expertise. When you show an interest in that area, and show appreciation for their expertise, it’s natural for them to grow to appreciate you. This is your proverbial foot in the door to a much deep relationship.
It should be clarified that we’re not talking about “fake” friendships or using people. This type of relationship is built on genuinely caring about someone and appreciating them. You’re actually helping them and contributing to their cause when you can. With the friends I’ve made through Ecommerce Pulse, there is a give and take for sure; the relationship is mutually beneficial, but that does not cheapen the fact that those initial interactions led to a real friendship.
Pulling it all together
You may have noticed that there’s a lot of overlap between these 3 steps. The content you create in Step 1 is shred with your social media followers in Step 2. You likely connect with the influencers in Step 3 through your social media profiles in Step 2. The influencers in Step 3 will hopefully share the content you create in Step 1 with their social media followers.
It all works together as part of a cohesive marketing plan. We haven’t even touched on advertising, but that’s another pillar that you may build into your marketing plan. The 3 steps we’ve mentioned doesn’t cost you anything but time and mental effort. That’s an investment that has the potential to give you a huge return on your investment.
How do you feel about these strategies? Can you think of anything else you would add to the list? I’d love to know what you think.