The first sale is a crucial milestone for every start-up. It is reward from countless hours spent with the product, building the website and e-commerce solution. The first sale proofs that your assumptions are correct, at least some of them, and it gives confidence. But what is exactly done before the first sale?
Year ago the first thing was to get people on the e-commerce site. The strategy was to use some money in Google AdWords and in Facebook Ads. I wrote about it some time ago and the results were moderate. In that post I mentioned also that good SEO implementation is VERY important and hanging on the top of the first search result page of Google doesn’t pay anything. This needs only little time and good analysis of keywords which direct traffic on the site. Facebook Ads, Google AdWords and SEO didn’t make the first sale so we need to think something more.
The first users and their experiences. Good friend of my wife was expecting a baby and she was by then quite active in different “baby forums”. We thought that she would be interested in evaluating and testing the crib, so we gave one crib for free. After she gave a birth to adorable baby boy, she started to “evaluate and test” our product. We got valuable feedback about the crib and another big thing was that she endorsed it on different baby forums. Giving one product for free for “evaluating and testing” was a good thing since it generated more traffic to our site.
When you’re waiting the first sale you start to think following things: is the product interesting? How to get more visibility? Is the product too complex? Is the value proposition correct? Does the sales channel work? Is the marketing message good enough? Is the buying process easy and so forth. I think this is normal, since you are committed to the product and you trust its success. And then, brave customer makes the leap of faith and orders the product. The first sale is closed and it answers to those bothering questions (at least some of them). The effect of the first sale is amazing: it brings you back to the top and you feel like winner…until you find yourself waiting for the next order.
Did we get the first sale by giving one crib free for a mom who is active at the baby forums? Not sure, but I think that it was one factor in this mysterious equation.
It’s been a while since I last time updated my blog and I think it is good time to do so. This time I want to share my observations from product acceptance and adoption. Some of you may remember that one year ago my wife founded e-commerce site where she has been selling products for babies. I have been helping her with technical issues and supporting in various things. Product portfolio has been growing moderately and the main article is the hanging crib (“UINUA -ensikehto“) for babies aged under 6 months. Cleverness of the crib is its way to utilise Finnish benefit for mothers: Maternity package and literally the “package” itself.
The product is unique and new on the “baby crib” market and I am not sure is it re-segmenting existing market or creating new market for hanging cribs (which utilize Finnish maternity packaging). Let’s assume that UINUA crib is re-segmenting the existing market. What this means? This means that product is entering to existing market where is competition and also potential customers. Great, there are potential customers and now their awareness of the product must be raised and they are directed to the sales funnel. Creating sales funnel is not easy and it needs lots of following activities: advertising, guerrilla marketing, social media, SEO, visibility in traditional media or using directly the e-commerce site (and of course lots of other things).
In the summer UINUA -crib got attention when Finnish baby magazine KaksPlus wrote article about my wife and her invention. That was very good thing and the product got its “15 minutes of fame” and there were traffic on the web site. Sounds good? But it is not, now product got visibility and its awareness has raised. The tricky part is that the product is NEW on the market! There are no recommendations or experiences from the product, potential customers are suspicious and they don’t know what to think about product. They need time to ACCEPT the product and it helps if there are (brave) customers who can tell experiences, give recommendations and speak about the product to their friends. Those customers are more valuable than gold and especially if they have 500+ Facebook friends.
Acceptance doesn’t happen in a second, it may take a year or two or the tipping point is around the corner. Never know when it happens, but when it happens, then starts the (wide) adoption of the product. Then the main activity is to keep the customers happy and deliver product as fast as possible. If we look back in history, we can see this same pattern happen again and again. First is acceptance and then is the adoption. this has happened with stone tools at stone age and with the iPad at nowadays.
Building the on-line visibility by SEO
In the last post I was writing about Concretizing Ideas and little bit about webstore. Now the webstore has been up and running few months and the learning curve has been very steep. I would say that it is very fun to learn running and marketing the online business in pragmatic way. In this post I want to share some experiences from there.
As I mentioned in the last post, the business is in bootstrapping mode and since the idea is new the costs are kept in very low level. The first lesson what have I learned is the importance of the marketing in on-line business. By marketing you try to get visibility and without visibility you don’t have any visitors. Without visitors you don’t have potential customers and without potential customers you don’t have paying customers and so forth. So the first thing to do is to start building the pipeline by getting the visitors to the site (and start tracking the conversion from visitor to paying customer).
Is the Google the best way to get visitors to the site?
I started couple of Google Adwords campaigns and tested different variations of keywords. This is very effective way if you have big marketing budget and you can afford to pay 0.50 to 2.50 € CPC. Ironically the best keyword with the best conversion (from impression to click) is the most expensive. I would say that it is very easy to spent 1000 € / week to get traffic to your site. The heavy advertising in Google Adwords is not actual (yet) and I need to find something suitable.
If Google Adwords doesn’t work let’s try Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads are very lucrative because they have very good possibility to target advertisement to target audience. (Just wondering have you “liked” some page, brand, group etc.?). When creating campaign it is very easy to setup demographic factors and other properties of target audience. For example create campaign that displays ads to females at the ages from 20 – 30 and who likes “Motherhood”, “pregnancy”, “ babies”. Ads are displayed only matching profiles and there are less “false impressions”. Comparing Facebook Ads to Google Adwords I got better results from Facebook campaigns than Google. Unfortunately I can spent one month marketing budget in one day in Facebook too. Still, I like the targeting possibilities of Facebook Ads.
Search Engine Optimization
The best results I got from search engine optimization. It takes little more time but when it is done good enough it pays itself back very quickly. By good SEO I got more visitors to the site than Facebook Ads or Google Adwords campaigns. And now I can say that the Google is the best way to get visitors to your site and visibility. When your site is the number one in the search results from different keywords (let’s say that is the most expensive one in Google Adwords) your SEO is succeeded. You’ll get impressions for free and clicks don’t cost you any more.
The basics of SEO is very easy and I followed the guideline below:
- Keywords in the title
- Keywords in the page URL
- Keywords in page content
- Meta tagging of the pages
- Keywords in headings
- Keyword proximity
- Keyword prominence
- Keywords in link-anchor texts
- Keywords in high quality outbound links e.g. links to respected author’s article etc.
- Page age and size e.g. updating the content by blogging
So the keyword is the word that is written in the Google’s search field. I defined few important keywords and applied the steps above. What happened? Soon I found out that the webstore is the first search result or at the first page of the search results when searching with those keywords. And when the link to the page is the number one in search result, it is clicked most probably. Journey continues and there are few keywords that are hard to conquer and of course this is the first step to get customers to the pipeline.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned!