It is not an issue of what area of business you’re launching in. Any startup business owner, first and foremost, should find his or her first customers to ensure further success in the online business. But how to get first customers to an online store when you’re only starting, not all the work is done within your shopping platform, nobody in the online space doesn’t know much about you. In this post, we’ve collected the best practices in attracting the first buyers, and the real cases of our clients, the digital entrepreneurs, who got success at the pre-launching state and won the battle for their brand advocates from the very start.
Best practices to find the first customers
1 – Build a network around your brand
Find networking groups in your industry, attend industry-specific meetings, take part in trade shows and exhibitions to meet your target audience, connect with other business owners.
2 – Create a focus group
All the groundwork is done, you’ve conducted research and know who your client is (find a template to create a buyer personae at the end of this post). It’s time to focus on a certain group of people, your potential customers. Make a list of people or companies you’ve interacted with: in face-to-face meetings or via social media. That would be a list of your likely buyers, your focus group. Try to meet their only expectations first. Keep their interests in mind while crafting your email marketing campaigns, promos, store design, and product descriptions.
3 – Be active on social media
During Global Marketing Day-2019, Alexandra, a top professional blogger, suggested focusing on social media to grow the audience using the following five steps:
- Building your online brand presence.
- Creating original content
- Applying influencer marketing
- Using cross-platform promoting
- Giving back to your users.
Starting up your social media accounts before your business officially launches is a great way to generate excitement about your grand opening, products, or services. Use social media advertising to target people who meet your target market criteria and get them to follow you for updates. Interact on public groups and fan pages relevant to your niche. Running Facebook ads is as much use as applying AdWords. You can create targeted campaigns to attract Likes, make sales, and promote your brand.
4 – Ask for referrals
Your focus group may include people that are aware of the product or service you’re going to sell. They may be your former co-workers, neighbors, or relatives. Ask them to spread the word-of-mouth and tell more about your brand. Gather customer testimonials that you can further use to promote your business.
5 – Share how you can help others
No matter where you’re building your social media campaign, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social network, before getting something you should give. Share how you can help others and why your brand is unique. Give free samples with unique unboxing experience.
6 – Launch a pre-order campaign
Create a pre-order “Coming Soon” page, refine your customer onboarding process, test your pre-order purchasing sequence. After that, let people know pre-orders are open and keep track of customers to follow-up with pre-order buyers.
Tips from our clients who succeeded in getting their first customers:
The Vawoo marketplace sells e-cigarettes. It’s a tough market, and promotion is challenging due to the government’s restrictions. But, this UK brand achieved success.
“Unfortunately, multiple competitive research could not help in promoting e-cigarettes at all. Due to the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), a number of regulations came into force in 2016, one of which is to restrict any advertising of vaping products including TV, Radio, Social Media, Ad-words, and other search paid results. No legal marketing allowed. How are we supposed to make a name for ourselves and attract customers, if all the doors are closed?!”
The CEO of the Vawoo marketplace shares how they managed to succeed in this challenging environment:
“We had several hundred products listed on the platform and we were doing our best to make people know about the uniqueness of our website. In terms of the functionality of our marketplace, we had to rely on the capabilities of CS-Сart. We have acquired a number of add-ons that were successfully integrated into the system”.
Faly Music, Music Instrument Marketplace
We developed a payment processor for Yamir Palma, CEO at Faly Music from Mexico, to include an option to save cards for the next purchase and place pre-orders.
Here is what Yamir says about the challenges of attracting customers:
“We started the eCommerce project in 2010, the first big problem that we faced was increasing the customer confidence to buy big tickets on our webpage”.
They finally solved this problem by offering their own delivery, paying extra attention to customer service, and having firsthand information from top suppliers about new arrivals.
“After these actions, three things happened:
- The customer pays faster than we expected;
- Many times they buy a more expensive product;
- They preferred to wait for weeks or months until they received the new desirable product.
The results of the project were more impressive than we expected. We increased the 150% of credit card orders in the first month that we implemented the new payment processor“.
Pixel Takeaway, a marketplace for artists
In one of the interviews, Sergei, the CEO of Pixel Takeaway, intimidated the information about the channels that his online marketplace uses and that generate the most traffic and sales:
“Our clients especially like portraits and caricatures made by the artists. Our advertising campaigns include London art events, Facebook, and Twitter. I advise everyone not to put off the decision of starting a business. Do not waste your time on testing lots of software, releasing it online, and developing it. Now we are looking for new clients, and we have started a new service – a sister of Pixel Takeaway, Drawsy”.
Urbankissed, a Slow & Ethical Marketplace
Urbankissed is a slow and sustainable living brand loco. The marketplace CEO and founder, Sophie, shared her thoughts about the shopping behavior of her customers:
“People like to get informed on new and innovative sustainable aspects and to understand how exactly the positive initiatives of a brand impact the environment. Shipping fees should be immediately visible”.
The Urbankissed marketplace focused on design and target customer engagement to prove the uniqueness of their brand:
“We are aiming to create the most unique and beautiful but still large ethical brand directory with a well trusted Slow & Ethical Index.
Next, we want to focus on developing our blog and posting more editorial content on sustainable living”.
Humblemarket, an Eco-Living Marketplace
The Humblemarket is an eco-living online Multi-Vendor for ecologically concerned buyers. They put this philosophy into every aspect of their online platform to build a strong audience of brand advocates. Here is what Daryl, the marketplace CEO, says about attracting his first customers with niche easy-to-get products:
“Personally I’ve found the best products for me are products you can’t easily get elsewhere! It’s not about the most elaborate or most expensive, for the Humble Market the simple products are the most effective. Also, products that enrich our ethos are very important, having a collective group of products that all feel the same way and share a philosophy is what makes our Humble Market!”
One more extra tip from Daryl about growing business online is to believe in your brand yourself:
“I truly believe that the Humble Market will be a success and change the way people shop online – the aim is to allow customers to shop small with the convenience of shopping big, all whilst purchasing natural goods that help both themselves and the planet! But getting customers to know about us is by far the biggest issue.
Our customers are the same – they love finding the unique creations our vendors make; whether this is Vegan foods or unique house plants, the philosophy is what attracts them and then the products make them stay which is why I put so much credit down to our vendors… without them, I can safely say we would not be around!”
Key takeaways about getting your first customers to check-list:
- Your ads, social media management, promos, email marketing, and store design are narrow-specific with the focus on the target group;
- You are present online, run a social media account with creative status updates, engaging posts to attract more customers and ensure them about the unique nature of your brand;
- You provide excellent customer care and support across all channels to get loyalty to your brand.
- You’ve got a platform, your own source to where you can direct all the traffic and guide your first candidate buyers further along their purchase journey.
As soon as you get your first buyers, treat them like they own you. Make sure they are fully satisfied with your support. Build a circle of your brand advocates to help attract more customers to your source.
While managing your audience, creating ideas, and promoting, leave all the technical parts with development and customization of your main source – your eCommerce website – on Simtech Development. We are certified CS-Cart coders devoted to our job and experienced in helping online retailers to expand their brand selling power in the digital online shopping space!