Most ecommerce businesses fail because they can’t get enough traffic to their stores. They focus on having the coolest products and the most amazing store design, forgetting (or at least neglecting) the most important part – the buyers! That’s a guaranteed way to build a tomb filled with sad, lonely products that will never find a home.
It can be overwhelming to figure out how to turn a product idea into a successful Shopify store with tons of traffic and sales and conversions and all that fun stuff. But really, you just have to start at the end and work your way back.
Throughout this process keep in mind that your goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. So if your goal is to make $1 million in profit, but you have no plan for getting there, your goal won’t be achievable.
You’ll need to answer three key questions in order to reverse engineer a successful store:
1. How much profit do you want to make?
The answer to this question will vary from person to person, but it’s important that you have a specific amount in mind. For illustration purposes, let’s say you realistically want to make $40,000 per year in profit.
2. How much do you need to make in sales to reach that profit, considering all expenses?
To answer this you’ll need to know your profit margin – the revenue remaining after all expenses (don’t forget about taxes!). You should have a good estimate of expenses and potential profits before opening a store. So if, for example, your profit margin is estimated to be 20% and you want to take home $40,000 per year, you would need to make sales of $200,000.
3. How many people need to visit your store to make those sales numbers?
There are two pieces of data you need to know to figure this out. The first is Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). Do some research to figure out the average LTV within your niche. If it’s $50, you’ll need 4,000 customers at $50 each to reach your $200,000 sales goal.
But wait! 100% of your site’s visitors won’t be buyers! So the second piece of data you need is your conversion rate. The average conversion rate for ecommerce stores is around 2%, although that can certainly vary within different industries. Using that average, if you need 4,000 people to convert to buyers, you actually need 200,000 visitors to your store.
So that’s your goal. Get 200,000 visitors in the door.
The average American knows about 600 people. So even if you get every single person you know to visit your store, you won’t be anywhere near your goal. You’ve got to leverage existing communities and tools to get there.
This is the key to getting that traffic: start building an audience months before you launch your store. Put up a “coming soon” landing page that asks for email addresses to start out. Then spend those months growing your list of potential visitors.
There are tons of ways to build an audience, but it’s important to focus on getting the most payoff for the least amount of work. Do some research on potential marketing channels – influencers, bloggers, social media groups, forums, related products or services that might be willing to promote you, etc. Look at what your competitors are doing to market their businesses.
Here’s a few ideas:
+ Get media/influencer coverage
We’ve written a whole article about getting media coverage with zero dollars and zero connections. Get on it.
+ Reach out to makers of the tools and apps you plan to use in your store
Tell them about what you’re building and how you’re using their products. Then ask if they’d be willing to mention your store on their website or social media. Here at ByteStand, we love featuring users of our apps on our site.
+ Create a giveaway
You can give out a bunch of samples to targeted groups like active bloggers or social media groups within your niche. Or setup one big giveaway using a tool like Gleam to get tons of social media shares.
+ Build pre-lauch buzz
Once you’ve got a few people on your list, start sharing your process with them. Offer sneak peeks, share new developments, ask for advice. Keep people excited about your business and make them feel like they’re part of it.
You may also want to run ads, collect pre-orders and setup a referral or affiliate program. Figure out which methods will give you the most bang for your buck and focus on those.
Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll end up with two pre-launch lists – early adopters who want to try out your products and influencers who want to share your products with their audiences. Be sure to keep both groups updated throughout the pre-launch process.
It’s totally fine if you don’t get the full 200,000 people from your goal on your pre-launch list. That’s the goal for the entire year, no need to get them all in the door on day one. But if you’re getting little to no sign-ups, you most likely need to rethink your products and/or your approach. Best to figure that out early on instead of after you’ve built your whole store.
The most important thing is to launch to a group of interested people. If you’ve built your list right, you should see a snowball effect as those people visit your store and share their experiences. Create a reward for sharing – like a discount for referring friends – to keep that snowball growing during your launch phase.
Even after your initial launch, you’ve got to keep nurturing those two lists – the early adopters (now buyers/subscribers) and influencers. Send periodic offers and updates to your subscribers and keep building relationships with those influencers.
Building a pre-launch list allowed Mint.com to grow from 20,000 early adopters to over 1 million users within six months. Tim Ferris’s pre-launch campaign for The Four Hour Body got him over 200 positive Amazon reviews before release and a debut at #1 on the NYT best seller list.
You may not be Tim Ferris, but you can use the same techniques as him to reverse engineer your way to success.