The thought of making money while you sleep is enticing. Imagine waking up in the morning to your biggest order of the year coming through via an ecommerce sale. Now think about the feeling of being on vacation on the beach and having your biggest sales week of the year.
This is the beauty of ecommerce. You can be working out of your basement in Blacksburg, Va. and someone living in a Beverly Hills mansion can order your product.
I’m going to tell you how I generated over $1,000 in revenue during my first month of running an ecommerce business. I will also explain how I lost money during that first month in business, which is something many entrepreneurs don’t readily share.
The big problem when it comes to entrepreneurs starting an ecommerce business is that they’ll launch a site and then sit back while they patiently wait for orders to come in. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. If you think it’s going to be that easy, well, you have another think coming. If you write a great book, for example, you have to make sure it gets distributed in order to generate sales. Otherwise, your books will lie around collecting dust. The same holds true for ecommerce. You need to get the word out about your site and your products, otherwise, you won’t see any orders coming through.
The beauty of running a digital marketing agency, The Media Captain, is that I get to work with all different kinds of ecommerce brands. We have worked with everyone from entrepreneurs looking to make their first sale to national brands trying to improve upon the millions of dollars they bring in via ecommerce already.
After working closely with clients on the ecommerce side, my family and I decided to start our own ecommerce company, DermWarehouse. We sell physician strength skincare, makeup and hair care products.
Let’s take a look at the performance during my first month in business and discuss the steps you should be taking in your own ecommerce company to start generating over $1,000 in sales per month!
During DermWarehouse’s first month in business, we generated $2,439.65 in revenue and obtained our first 35 customers! Sounds pretty good right? The only issue is that we DID NOT MAKE A PROFIT, which is to be expected during the first month of business.
Below is the financial breakdown:
- Revenue: $2,439.65
- Cost for products: $1,463.79
- Advertising expenses: $1,505.88
- Overall loss: - $530.02 ($2,969.67 - $2,439.65)
There are several key takeaways from our first month in business that we can account for at the moment:
- We acquired 35 customers and are hopeful these customers will turn into repeat business.
- We captured an additional 60 email addresses through various marketing campaigns, and believe we can generate sales from these email addresses through our emarketing campaigns.
- We have retargeting advertisements and dynamic retargeting ads implemented for people who visit our site but drop off without converting. We are hopeful some of these visitors who have not yet converted will eventually turn into new customers.
- Out of the 35 orders that came through, 30 were through paid advertising. In order to improve profitability, we need more organic sales to come through the funnel as SEO/organic yields the best return on investment.
- This doesn’t account any of the time my sister (my biz partner) and I put into the business, which can be considered sweat equity.
Enough about me
The reason I wanted to share this information is because most entrepreneurs aren’t transparent about the finances of their business. They’ll make a Facebook post to make it seem like they’re making millions of dollars but this is rarely the case with most startups. There are growing pains prior to making the company profitable.
I’m going to share with you the steps you need to take so your business can get to the point where it is generating more than $1,000 in sales per month while simultaneously building a brand. For most ecommerce businesses, early on, the most important component is to generate sales so you can get new customers and obtain credibility for your brand.
Take some notes!
Google & Bing Shopping
If someone is searching for a “standing desk” and your product populates on Google with an image along with pricing, the person searching and clicking on your ad has a strong intent to purchase.
Make sure to set-up your ecommerce site with Google and Bing Shopping. You’ll need to create a Google Merchant Center account and upload a product feed. There are great plugins for ecommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce that will create an automated feed. Here is a link to guide you in the right direction to setting up a Google Shopping Feed.
The ecommerce conversion rate in the U.S. in Q3 was 2.5 percent. Let’s think about this for a second. Ninety-seven out of 100 people are going to drop off your site WITHOUT converting. If you don’t invest in retargeting, you are doing a disservice to all of your other marketing efforts. Someone who comes to your site from a Google Shopping campaign could be very interested in ordering from your site but is price shopping amongst three different competitors. Your retargeting advertisements could be the difference that reminds them to come back to your site to convert. For retargeting, you need to place a pixel on the backend of your website so you can track website visitors. You also need to come up with creative ads that will follow the user around. Adwords provides a great tutorial on how to set-up retargeting.
Implement dynamic retargeting
Dynamic retargeting ads will take your retargeting strategy to the next level. You’ll be able to serve retargeting ads based on the last ecommerce page the user visited on your site! So, if someone is interested in a pair of jeans from your boutique store, they’ll get served that exact product with the pricing. You can even entice them to come back with a special offer or discount!
Facebook’s product catalog is the perfect place to implement dynamic retargeting. Google and Bing are the other networks you should move forward with.
With OptinMonster, you can create beautiful A/B test lead capture forms without a developer. Let’s say you want to offer someone 10 percent off for signing up for your email newsletter. You can have different parameters, such as serving the pop-up only after the user visits three pages or has been on your site for over 60 seconds. OptinMonster will then dynamically serve a coupon code to the customer. LEARN MORE
Search Engine Optimization
Earlier in the article, I mentioned that our profit would be much better in the first month if we had SEO traffic and orders more frequently coming through the funnel. If you continuously work on increasing your domain authority by building credible links, this can be one of the most profitable endeavors for your ecommerce business. This is a time-consuming process and it can take over a year to reap the benefits, depending on the competitiveness of your industry.
Never lose focus on growing your organic rankings. Patience is a virtue. Sign up for a service like Moz to track your search engine ranking positions. If you are able to achieve page one rankings for sought after keywords that can result in sales, this will yield the best return on investment for your business from a marketing perspective.
Don’t forget about email marketing and content marketing, both of which are crucial when first starting out your ecommerce site. If you want to generate over $1,000 in your first month of operations, follow the steps above and you’re sure to be on your way to success -- it worked for us!