How to make your first online sale: a complete guide for beginners
For most people, making their first online sale is nothing but a distant dream. Check out some tips to attract more customers!
For most people, making their first online sale is nothing but a distant dream. Check out some tips to attract more customers!
Many entrepreneurs who start their business with little knowledge of the market. However, after a lot of research, and trial and error, they became examples of success to the digital community. But to do so, it’s not enough to simply create a product, or affiliate to one, and just wait for the customers to start pouring in.
Many people are discouraged from working with online sales after sharing their Sales Pages on Facebook, Whatsapp, and other channels, but fail to achieve expressive results.
Why does this happen?
More than being invasive, this kind of strategy ignores a core premise of online sales: you need to provide value to the customer, before offering them a product or service.
If you want to become a digital entrepreneur, be it as a Producer or an Affiliate, it is important to closely follow the market and understand that making an online sale is directly linked to three major pillars:
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about each of these pillars, and show you how you can go from your first online sale to making your business scalable – which basically means to make more sales without increasing your costs.
Even though there are a number of different sales strategies, the decisive factor for the success or failure of your business is the mindset. As the first sale may take a while to take place, you will need to be very patient, and even resilient, not to give up when you come across the first obstacle.
But we are not saying you shouldn’t invest in an idea for an undetermined period of time, even if it doesn’t pan out. It is important to establish the most important indicators for your business and monitor the development of each action that has been implemented, to learn if your product has the potential to grow in the long-term.
If you have researched about the market and you offer a product that adds value to people’s lives, the financial return will eventually ensue.
If you want to learn more about metrics, read our post here!
Planning is as important as having a good idea. Especially if you want to leave your fixed-income, benefit job to work on own from home.
Lack of money naturally increases the pressure to achieve results, which is a recipe for disaster for the entrepreneur who is starting out, and is still structuring a business model.
Therefore, if you have decided to work with online sales, don’t ignore this step! Talk to your family, if it’s the case, and explain how some adjustments in the budget will be necessary for the following months.
If you don’t have people depending on your income, this planning stage will be dealt with much more easily. You just need to add up all the expenses you will have in the creation and promotion of the product, maintenance costs – such as telephone bill, the internet, consulting services, among others – and personal expenses.
Multiply the result by the period of a year and you will get to a considerable amount with which to maintain your business, until the money you make from sales can cover the investment.
We have recently written a post on how to write a business plan that can certainly help clear out some of the doubts you might have about this step. I suggest you take a look at it after you finish reading this one.
Now you know a little bit more about the entrepreneurial mindset and financial planning you need to do, let’s talk about the sales process.
Basically, this step can be broken down into three steps:
The pre-sale is the planning process for the sale you want to make.
This is the moment when you analyze things such as:
In other words, this is the moment to carry out a complete research prior to the sale itself, to determine important points such as who your audience is and the value the product provides.
To make this process clear, we will give you an example (that will be used throughout the sales process):
Imagine you’re a craftsperson and you know everything there is to know about mandalas. You then decide to create an online course to teach other people to create mandalas with their favorite colors.
With this information, you are already planning your pre-sale, as you already have:
As soon as you determine these first key points, it’s time to analyze your audience.
You will then need to come up with your buyer persona, so answer questions such as:
This is an extremely important step because it will help you determine the kind of communication you will establish with your audience. Moreover, by creating your buyer persona you will know exactly where to find your audience.
(Take this opportunity to read our post on How to create a Buyer Persona for your business.)
In this step, it is essential to analyze:
Using the same example we used in the pre-sale, it is in this step that you will determine where you will find people who are interested in purchasing an online course on how to create mandalas.
You will need to advertise your product to these people. There are many ways of doing that, such as Facebook, Native Ads, Google Adwords, and so on. It all depends on where your audience is, since the main focus here is to find your audience, that is, your potential customers, and then deliver the message that your product is available to them.
After that, you will need to set up your payment methods, that is, to define the ways the user will be able to purchase your product, and also the way your product will be delivered.
This is the final step in the sales process.
The post-sale somewhat overlaps with the sale step, since it is also connected to the way you will deliver the product. However, it involves a little bit more:
Going back to the example of online classes on how to create mandalas, the post-sale will be the moment in which you analyze the customer satisfaction with your product, improve your relationship with the audience, and, most importantly, understand the results you have achieved.
A good idea here is to carry out a customer satisfaction survey. Send a form to people who purchased your product with questions not only about the product, but also about the support. Would the customer make another purchase? Would she recommend your course to other people? And other pieces of information you think are important.
More than that, it is at this stage that you will provide support to your customers. Answering questions about the material, helping them with practical exercises, resending a lesson that had a corrupted file, and making refunds if necessary. These are some of the things you have to do well to captivate your customer.
Don’t forget to analyze the results of your campaigns as soon as they are finished to clearly understand what the return on investment was. After all, you can only optimize something after you get the first results.
Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to achieve customer loyalty. This will help you sell more products, since a satisfied customer can recommend your product to other people, besides being a potential customer to your next product.
You can, for example:
Here at Hotmart, we believe that the first sale is the most important achievement, to our users. This is because it is a transforming step, capable of getting the entrepreneur out of inertia and put her on the right track to a promising career.
There are many people who work as a Producer or Affiliate and achieve something they never thought possible before joining the digital market. But don’t think this is a walk in the park! Although it is possible, starting an online business demands the same amount of effort from starting a brick and mortar business, an on-site course, or any other kind of traditional business.
Not needing a physical store, or storage, or being able to start without other employees do not make an online business easy. However, it makes it possible for you to start right away.
And as we said before: the starting point of this journey is the first sale.
From now on, we will help you pave the way to make your first sale in an easy way. However, it is important that you understand that:
Before we start, you need to know that when you sell a digital product, you do that through a link.
Here at Hotmart, our Producers and Affiliates receive Hotlinks, which are the links generated by Hotmart that will allow users to sell digital products they have created or affiliated themselves to, and consequently, receive the commissions they earn for the sales.
There are two kinds of Hotlinks that the users can work with:
The Affiliates receive these Hotlinks and use them in their promotions the way they see fit.
Referrals are the most basic path to promoting a digital product. In this path, the Producer or Affiliate uses their contact network to impact potential customers.
Be it online or offline, promoting by referrals is taking advantage of your network to make a sale without having to invest in ads.
The logic behind it is simple: identify, in your contact network, who is a potential buyer of a certain product and offer them a purchase link.
As it is extremely simple and costs nothing, the referral is ideal for those who are just starting out and need to understand the dynamics of promotion.
It works really well for people who can recognize the opportunities around them and notice the needs in their relationship circles.
There are two major disadvantages to the referral system:
In the first case, you need to be very careful so that the referral is natural and relevant. After all, there’s no point in sending a link of a homebrewing course, for example, to your friends, if none of them is interested in this topic.
The other problem is that you won’t always find people interested in buying what you’re offering in your circle of friends. This limits your growth and makes you think of other strategies.
YouTube is one of the most accessed websites in the world. It is also TV’s major competitor.
Using it as a channel for your first sale is one of the most recommended paths for people who are just starting out. To do so, you need to analyze what will be promoted and create the content that focuses on the product.
Creating videos for YouTube is simpler than you might imagine. And, to promote your offer, you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment or a Hollywoodian production.
Above all, you need to understand that the objective of the video is to promote a determined product. That’s why the whole content must be developed around the topic the product is about, and at the end of each video, you have to invite the person who is watching to learn more about your offer and make the sale.
Regardless of the recording format, you need to be careful with what will be said and the audio. The most important thing here is to make your message clear.
You can record the video with your buyer persona in mind: interviews, lessons, or even a screencast of a presentation. If you’re shy, you can create Power Point presentations with tips on the product’s topic and record a screencast with voiceover.
Another golden tip is to draw inspiration from other videos in the same niche. But beware! We’re not saying you should copy other entrepreneurs, but see what they are doing well and learn from it.
As important as creating content that converts, you need people to get to your channel. It is worth investing some of your time in ranking factors.
The first step to attract viewers is to post frequently.
As we mentioned before, this is a short-term strategy. That’s why we recommend you plan enough for a period of 30 days, posting one video per day, for example.
The videos should be short – between 3 and 5 minutes each, capable of drawing the attention of the viewer in the first moments, and, at the same time, passing on relevant content and presenting the offer.
Also, pay attention to good practices of SEO for YouTube, such as:
Facebook is, most of the time, the most well-known promotion channel to those who are just starting to work on the online market.
Before you advertise on Facebook, it is important that your fanpage have at least 10 posts on the content of your product.
The content may consist of images, links to blogs or videos. They help you increase the relevance of your ad.
We suggest you start your tests with Facebook Ads with a minimum of U$30.00.
To achieve the best results with your campaign, you need to make as many different ads as possible for your tests.
It is always important to keep in mind that these tips are for you to make your first sale. Then, as you move forward with your business, more complex and sustainable planning will be put into practice, OK?
When choosing a product with the following characteristics, you are looking for an impulse purchase, and that’s why:
The most appropriate ad for you to make your first sale in the shortest period of time possible is the one which has as its objective to generate clicks.
That’s why the ad should arouse the curiosity of people who see it. Check out the example below.
All these tips focus on the first sale in a fast way, without worrying about starting a business at first.
Many major users started out this way and, in time, optimized their strategies. Only with a solid planning will you be able to make recurring sales.
Besides, the use of any of these three techniques is no guarantee of a sale. However, experience tells us these are the most recommended paths.
Just like any other kind of business, it is essential to pay close attention to the actions you take to increase the chances of assertiveness. So, pick one of the tips above and test them out.
Choose the one that best fits your profile and create your material. Then, you just need to analyze the results and make changes to what needs to be improved.
After talking a little bit about the preliminary part of the business, let’s move to the topic that made you click on this post: the pillars to make your first online sale.
Have you ever noticed how we’ve been taught, since we were children, to respect people who are an authority? Police officers, judges, and teachers, for example. Being recognized as an authority, a person is automatically seen as someone who deserves attention, respect, and admiration.
An authority online can be summed up as someone who is a leader in a specific niche and able to pass on the knowledge acquired with years of study in easy, accessible content, to an online audience.
The good news is that you can talk about a topic you already master, and if you are an Affiliate, you can use your personal influence to endorse a product or service.
Let’s say you love cars and found an online course on car maintenance to become an Affiliate.
In the topic “cars”, you know a lot about the customization process and decide to create content that meets this specific demand. From the moment the audience realizes that there is value in the material you share, they will be more willing to receiving a product recommendation or reading a review, for example.
Having a blog is not mandatory for people who want to work with online sales, but you’ll find this is the best way of delivering quality content and educating your prospects on the product you’re selling.
But in order for this strategy to be successful, you need to offer quality content, with a predetermined schedule, which fits the profile of your buyer persona. Only then will you be able to show that you have the ideal solution for the problem this person is facing, and make her move forward down the buyer’s journey.
If the content you share adds value, little by little, your blog will become a reference on the subject and will attract traffic organically.
According to a report by the Cisco Visual Networking Index, video will be responsible for 82% of online traffic of all internet users by 2020. But you don’t have to wait until then to realize that video is the most engaging format online.
Therefore, it is easy to conclude that video is essential in order to build authority for your audience. It is also a very dynamic format, and more effective when it comes to generating empathy and creating a community of fans.
In the beginning of the post, we talked about how important it is to add value to your customer and building a relationship of trust before offering a product or service. So, a nice way of achieving this is by creating rich materials and making them available for free.
You have probably come across this term in your research on digital marketing, but here’s a brief explanation: rich materials are more complex content about a certain subject, and they tend to be more specialized than other formats.
A blogger in the fitness niche may write a post about protein-rich products and offer an ebook with recipes using these products.
If you make really high-quality material available, without any additional cost, you activate the reciprocity trigger in your customer. This makes the customer more willing to pay for a product you offer, since you have already helped them solve a problem before.
It may be hard work, but distributing rich materials is an extremely useful tactic for your content strategy. With it, you’re able to ask for the lead’s contact information in exchange for the material you provide and nurture the relationship with this user until she is ready to make a purchase.
Social networking sites are informal channels through which you can build a relationship with your customers, and also post your opinion in a light, fun way. And for digital Producers and Affiliates, they are also excellent channels to promote products.
Carry out a thorough research on which social media your potential customers can be found, and come up with a communication strategy that focuses on these channels. This way you won’t waste any time by updating profiles that don’t actually have an impact on your audience.
The golden rule here is: avoid talking about your product or company all the time. It is important that your customers reach your product organically, and not because they were impacted by adverts. The ideal ratio is 80% of valuable content, and only 20% talking about your brand.
Bear in mind that building online authority takes time. But here are some tips that may help you achieve this status:
Have you ever found yourself in one of the situations below?
The chances you have identified with one of the situations below are very big. After all, the opinion of others, also known as social proof, is a decisive factor for a purchase when we don’t know anything about the product.
Trust, therefore, is strongly linked to the concept of authority and both need a relationship and time to be built. Even though this is hard work, this is an “investment” that truly pays off, because as you become an authority in the market, you instantly increase the level of trust people have in your products and services, and then you can sell more.
The best way of earning the trust from your audience is to be available to it, whenever necessary. This is especially true in the digital market, where people cannot touch or try out products, and they will be more comfortable if your contact information is visible, in case they have doubts or any problems with their purchase.
Products with an efficient customer support also have a low abandonment rate.
The Sales Page is the business card of a product. Therefore, we really stress the importance of affiliating to products that have clear, precise information. We have already written a post on what a Sales Page should have to convey trust and credibility to the customer. Read it here.
Building a good email list takes time. You need to offer free content, promote events, carry out surveys with your audience, among many others, before being able to ask for the contact information.
But many entrepreneurs, who are anxious to start making sales, ignore this process and buy email lists from other companies.
And why is this a bad thing?
For starters, the people on those lists have not given you permission to contact them, and they probably have never heard of your product. And therefore, your communication with them will be seen as impertinent.
Even if these users do not unsubscribe from your list immediately, they were not considered leads by your Marketing strategy, and so it’s very unlikely that they will move forward to the next stages in the sales funnel.
Instead of wasting time and money looking for “shortcuts”, what about investing in people who have already shown interest in your product or service?
There are a variety of sales strategies you can use to build a relationship, increase sales, and engage with your audience. The big secret is how and when to use each of these strategies, so that your audience feels involved and you are able to reach your objectives.
Remember the example we used in the beginning of this text about the Affiliate who shares links in thousands of Facebook groups? This is, of course, a promotion strategy, but the audience doesn’t recognize the value in this offer, since they don’t yet know the Affiliate.
It’s important to understand that there’s no single formula to make a sale online, but regardless of the strategy you choose, make sure you do it honestly.
In other words, only make promises you can keep.
Paid traffic consists of using different platforms to display ads and take potential buyers to your Sales Page. Google stands out in this, since it concentrates over 90% of online searches all over the world; and we can’t leave Facebook out, since the social networking site already has more than 2 billion users.
Adwords uses keywords to show your advert to users who look up a specific term, or one that is similar to yours. As a result, it attracts more qualified users to your Sales Page.
It works similarly to a keyword auction, in which you only pay when people click on your ad.
It is important to highlight that is not only the price of the bid that is taken into account for whether your ad will be displayed. The quality of the ad and the landing page are also factors analyzed by Google to determine the position.
To learn what people are searching for, you will need to carry out a keyword research in your market. In this stage, you can use some tools that are available online for free, such as Google Keyword Tool and SEMRush, or find out about the most frequently searched topics on Google Trends to be more assertive in your ad.
Remember that the broader the topic is, the larger the search volume, and the bigger the competition. On the other hand, the more segmented it is, the easier it will be for you to become an authority in that niche.
The word “sports” should have an extremely high bid for those who wish to place an ad (there are more than 170 thousand monthly searches). But if you look for a more specific term, such as “sports for people with visual impairment”, you will probably find a lot less competition.
If you are able to hire a specialist to optimize your campaigns, we suggest you do so. But if you can’t afford this help at this moment, don’t worry: Adwords has a step-by-step on how to setup your campaign. To access the tutorial and the features dashboard, you just need to sign up for the ad tool, using a valid Google email address.
Adverts on Facebook are displayed in two different ways: news feed ads (just like the posts from your friends) or on the sidebar, which is a good option for those who advertise using a personal profile.
The first step in creating a Facebook ad is to access the ad manager. You then have two options: the standard Ads Manager, or the Power Editor, which offers more advanced customization tools.
We have written a post with a complete step-by-step to advertise on Facebook Ads. Check it out here!
Just like Adwords, the bid is not the only factor that influences how your ads on Facebook will be shown, they also take into consideration: 1) quality and relevance of the ad, and 2) estimated action rate.
When many people tag a certain advert as useful, the quality and relevance grade goes up. If the ad gets a lot of negative feedback, however, its grade goes down.
The estimated action rate is an analysis carried out by Facebook, calculating the probability the user has of taking the action you propose in the ad.
If you could define your product in one sentence, what would it be?
This ability to sum up the benefits of the product and making it appealing to your audience is called copywriting.
Writing well is not enough in order to come up with a good copy. You need to use a sort of language that is aligned with the interests of your buyer persona, that creates an identification and calls attention so that the visitor clicks on your ad, interacts with your content, and makes the purchase.
You can also use mental triggers to create your copy, such as:
People like knowing why they are purchasing a product. Whether it is to be accepted in a group, to solve a problem, or merely to feel important, they look for a reason.
As the visitor feels that you trust in what you are selling, she feels safer that you have the ideal solution to her problem. This perception increases more and more when you show the results reached by other customers.
Before making a purchase, it is common for the user to look for reviews. And there’s no one better to talk about the advantages of your product than someone who is pleased with the purchase.
If you are not a leader in your segment yet, use the opinions from renowned professionals or digital influencers to recommend your product.
One of the best ways of increasing your sales is by building affinity with your audience. Use storytelling to make your buyer persona identify with, making sure you portray how your product can solve a problem she is dealing with.
The scarcity principle consists of convincing the visitor that she has to make the purchase at that moment, because she won’t have another opportunity to do so. You have probably seen, when you’re about to make a purchase, sentences like “last units”, “valid until tomorrow” – this is the scarcity trigger.
If you ask a number of marketing specialists, you will find out that email is still one of the best cost-benefit tools to build a relationship with your customer.
However, if you want to achieve significant results, you have to keep track of click rates, conversion, and cancellations. Only then will you make sure the leads in your list are qualified ones.
It is also important to segment your subscribers into the stages they are in your sales funnel, to offer content that meets their expectations accordingly.
Once you segment your list, you can direct your campaigns to the right audience. A good example of this is a welcome email message. According to Neil Patel, users read welcome email messages 42% more than regular promotional emails.
What about using this kind of email to offer a bonus to your lead? It could be some sort of rich material, a special offer on a small purchase made on your website, or a free trial to a product or service you are promoting.
These offers have a high added-value, and a small level of commitment, which makes them an excellent entrance door so that the lead makes a more substantial purchase from you in the future. Check out our post on lead nurturing and learn how to use this resource to make more sales.
Once you have successfully convinced many clients to make their first online sale, there are more advanced sales techniques that, when used correctly, have the potential of increasing the average ticket of your customers and scale your business faster, such as upselling and downselling.
Upselling means offering a second opportunity for purchase or even to improve the initial purchase of your customer, by showing them related products. Giants like Amazon and Walmart do this all the time, but it works well for digital Producers and Affiliates too.
Imagine you are selling an online course on fashion design and have an ebook on how to put together different outfits. There’s a fair chance the customer who is buying your main product is interested in your ebook, and buys both.
The advantage in this kind of transaction is that you didn’t need to spend any kind of money in the promotion. The only thing you had to do was to present the item in the heat of the moment, when she was ready to make the purchase.
Recently, Hotmart Club introduced the upsell feature. Since then, Producers who host their online course on our Distance Learning Platform are also able to sell other products in the very learning environment where their courses are.
On the other hand, downselling is the act of reducing the cost of an offer in order to bring back the customer who abandoned the purchase on the Sales Page. This is an excellent strategy to win over people who registered for your page, but somehow didn’t complete the purchase.
If you got this far, you have realized that there are many tools that can help you make your first online sale. But don’t forget that, before technical knowledge, you need to have focus and willpower to reach your objectives. After all, we are talking about a market with a huge potential to make money from, and therefore, with a lot of competition.
The good news is that you can try out a lot of different hypotheses and even make a few mistakes before you finally find out what works best for you audience.
If this content has helped you in any way, make sure you share it with your friends. And make sure you also read our post on how to make your first sale as an Affiliate.
* This text was written in 2014, and updated with the help of Leonardo Leite, to contain more precise and complete information.