The last thing you want to see is your new online store fail—especially when there was something you could have done to prevent it. So many new online entrepreneurs are hit with a flash of inspiration: They build an online store, then expect sales to come barreling through. We’ve written about the mistakes entrepreneurs make when selling online, but what if you could take steps to plan for success right from the get-go?
Fortunately, there are a few steps that you can take to plan for the success of your new online store. We see thousands of new online stores launch every single month, so we see what works and what doesn’t. By the end of this post, you’ll know how the basics for creating a landing page to test your new online store idea, creating a beta test group, growing your customer base, and launching your new online store.
1. Create a landing page to test your new online store
If you’ve just been struck with an idea about selling online, you may be tempted to put up an online store, reserve your domain, and snag your social media handles.
But, before you do that, consider creating a landing page so you can test your new business idea. Testing your new idea will at least give you an idea if your target audience cares about what you have to offer and are willing to pay for it.
The Startup Bros wrote about validating your business idea for free with Google Adwords and a landing page. Start here before passing go:
2. Utilize a beta test group
Assuming you’ve successfully validated your idea, move onto actually creating and testing the products you want to sell with real people. It doesn’t matter if you’re offering a new fitness program, a monthly nutrition plan, or a business coaching practice. You want to test this with real, live people who are part of your target audience. Put together a group of your target audience members and see how your product fares in the wild.
3. Get your email marketing account loaded up
Don’t even think about creating content without pairing it with email marketing. With Facebook making you pay for your fans to see your page updates, the only true control over the content your readers and customers see about your new online store is through email marketing.
Whether you use AWeber, Mailchimp, or Campaign Monitor (or any of the other countless email marketing options), you’ll want to make sure your email marketing is set up from the beginning.
You can always move to a more complex email provider or upgrade your account when the time comes. For now, setting up a free account with MailChimp is a no brainer. Plus, you can build your email list using the Selz Mailchimp integration for when you start selling your products on your new online store.
4. Prep your social media accounts
Now that you’ve validated your new online store idea, think about nailing down social media handles. Snag your business name on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any other social media platform your target audience uses.
Be sure to add a professional avatar and cover photo that aisbranded along with your developing online store.
While you’re at it, sign up for a free Buffer account so that once you start blogging, you can easily schedule content to your new social media audience and funneling them into your email marketing list.
5. Start blogging
Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to develop readers into customers.
Now that your idea’s been validated, start creating content around your product and how it fits into the life of your target audience. Teach your readers about your product, why it’s important, and how it can fit into their lives.
Increase your business’ visibility by guest blogging and see your engagement explode. Continue scheduling your blog posts on social media and directing the engaged audience back to your blog.
Don’t have a blog yet? Lucky you, because all Selz accounts come with a free blog, making it easy as ever to start a new online store and blog all at the same time.
Already have a separate website with a blog, but need buy buttons? You can do that, too, using the Selz embed feature.
6. Create your online store
Whether you’ve started blogging or not, you can begin creating your online store. Selz gives you an extremely easy way to get started selling online.
All new Selz accounts come with a 14-day free trial where you can customize your store to your heart’s content and try out every Selz feature.
Not to mention, it only takes a minute to create a new product listing.
You can also use our free store if you plan to only embed your items directly to an existing blog or website. As you create your online store, you offer an opt-in to grow your email newsletter list.
7. Give away products to build your Instagram following
If you’re just getting started online, consider partnering with businesses with the same target audience. You can then give them some of your products to promote on their Instagram account, then repost the image on your account.
Tekkers Eyewear recently talked with us about their Instagram strategy that helped them nail their first 1,000 sales. If you want to use Instagram successfully, plan strategic partnerships with like-minded business owners, influencers, and bloggers to cross-promote your products.
Cross-promotion on social media can work both for digital and physical products.
8. Set up Google Analytics in your account
If you want to know where your traffic and customers are coming from now and in the future, set up Google Analytics. First, you’ll want to create a Google Analytics account. Then, add your Google Analytics ID in your Selz account settings:
Once you have Google Analytics set up, you can watch where your traffic and customers are coming from.
9. Decide on your KPIs
Before launching your online store, consider your KPIs: What will success look like for the launch of your new online store? Do you have a set amount of traffic, subscribers, or sales that you are aiming for?
Having some tangible numbers to work with will help you see what worked and what didn’t with the build-up and launch of your online store. Once you launch, you can look over your numbers and make tweaks for the future based on your KPIs.
10. Launch your new online store
Once you’ve validated your business idea, started blogging, and collecting email addresses, you’ll see that real people are engaged and interested in your product. You can build up engagement and excitement around your online store before you launch or you can decide on a set date. Either way, consider your marketing strategy for your launch.
Some online marketing ideas for your upcoming online store launch:
Create a content marketing series
Write a blog post announcement
Send out an email campaign
Offer a discount to encourage sales
Run a paid social media campaign
Strategically guest post
The goal here is that not only have you validated your idea, but you’ve continued to nurture your target customers with content, social media, and emails that result in a wildly engaged audience. Once they are at peak engagement or your set date arrives, launch your new online store.
Using these different strategies helps you prevent your new online store from failing. From validating your idea, beta testing, and content marketing, these really are the best practices you can employ. Don’t be like the thousands of potential online entrepreneurs we see whose stores fail: put together a strategy, build your audience, then release your store to an engaged audience willing to pull out their wallets.