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183. How to Convert First-Time Buyers Before the End of the Year

Woman at laptop: episode #183 how to convert first time eCommerce buyers

Every eCommerce business has a group of people who follow them on social media or are on their email list, who engage consistently but have yet to make their first purchase with that business. Your job is to figure out how to convert those first-time buyers.

Hopefully, your amazing BFCM and Q4 marketing plan will inspire those people to buy, but even if December rolls around and they haven’t taken the plunge yet, you still have a chance to make it happen and I’m going to walk you through exactly how to do it!

Prefer to listen to this episode? Click here.

What is the Strategy & When Should You Implement It?

Because we are already in Thanksgiving and Black Friday week, I recommend you implement this strategy in the first or second week of December, definitely before your standard shipping cut-off. But you can also repeat this throughout the year since you’re always going to have new people in your audience who fit this description. Quarterly is a pretty good frequency.

The idea is that you create a mini-campaign designed specifically to convert this group of people which consists of an offer they can’t refuse and delivery of that offer in a very personalized way.  

Create an Offer they Can’t Refuse

Let’s start with the offer. You definitely want this to be better than your welcome offer and depending on your business, it might even be better than your Black Friday offer. 

And better doesn’t necessarily mean a higher discount. Maybe it’s just less restrictive. So if your BFCM offer was limited to specific products, maybe this is just a blanket discount off their entire purchase offer. 

Remember, this is an exclusive offer that’s only going to be marketing to people who have never purchased from you before and it’s a one-time use offer with a time limit. We’re just trying to get them to have their first experience with your brand and product so they’ll turn into repeat customers. 

If you’re feeling hesitant, I want to you think about the lifetime value of your customer. How much does the average customer spend with you over the lifetime of being your customer? What if was $500? How much would you be willing to spend to acquire that customer? 

How to Market this Special Offer to Convert First-Time Buyers

Now that you’ve got your offer, you’re going to market it to them directly in a personalized way. My favorite way to do this is through email marketing of course. The trick is, the email you send is going to be a text-based email that feels really personal like you sat down at your desk to write it. 

It can say something along the lines of: 

Hey, first name. I see that you’ve been hanging around for a while but still haven’t made your first purchase with us. I wanted to check in to see if you had any questions or needed any help. 

In the meantime, I’d love to offer you an exclusive discount for your first purchase with us. 

Then use a unique discount code, or one that looks unique, and put a time limit on it, say 48-72 hours. 

The next day, you’ll want to resend the email to anyone who didn’t open it the first time, and of course, send a last chance email around 4-6 hours before the discount is set to expire. 

Remember, this email doesn’t have any images in it, so if I want to direct them to a specific product or collection, you’ll want to do that with a text link. Just make sure you style your links in a different color and use an underline so the user knows it’s an actual link. 

Now that you’ve got your offer and you know what you’re going to say, you’ll need to identify who these people are which is easily done by segmenting your subscribers in your email marketing platform. 

For this group, the conditions you’re going to use are has opened or clicked an email in the last 90 days and have placed an order zero times over all time. If you’re on Klaviyo, you’ll also want to make sure to include the on newsletter condition or accepts marketing so you’re only sending to people who have opted in to receive email marketing from you. 

Boost the Results with Facebook Ad Support

You can also support this mini-campaign with Facebook ads if you’re already running them. 

Create an ad audience with this segment in your FB ads account. This is easily done through the Klaviyo integration. Other email platforms have this ability too. 

If you are going to bring ads into the mix there are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • You can create a separate segment for ad targeting because it doesn’t need to be limited to those who opted into email marketing. 
  • You’ll need this segment to be a pretty decent size, probably at least 1000 subscribers. 
  • You might want to extend the offer a smidge since it takes a couple of days for ads to catch traction. 

What About People Who Aren’t Already on Your Email List 

Just because they’re not on your email list doesn’t mean you can target them with this special offer designed to get them to convert.

One, you can also create an ad audience of people who engage with your social media channels and run an ad directly to them. If you’re delivering the offer through an ad it, of course, can’t be a unique discount code, but it’s a pretty short-lived offer so that’s not the worst thing. 

You could also require them to sign up for your email list in order to access the offer so you can use a unique code if you want. You’d just want to set up a unique welcome series for them. 

How to Get Your Social Followers to Make Their First Purchase

If your biz is on the smaller side and you’re not doing ads just yet then you can create an Instagram stories campaign to draw them in and convert them to first-time buyers. Create a poll on your stories asking your followers if they’ve ever purchased from you before. 

If they say yes, send them a nice DM saying thank you so much. If you want to reward these people you totally can. It will just add to the cash injection you’re trying to create. 

If they say no, that’s where you want to hit them with this mini-campaign marketing message we’ve been chatting about throughout this episode. 

How to Automate the Process

You can also automate this with a tool called Manychat. I spoke with the CEO of Manychat on episode 109 of the podcast, so check that out if you want to learn more about the platform. I’ll also stick my partner link in the show notes which gets you 30 days of pro for free if you want to try it out. 

Essentially using a tool like ManyChat will automate your responses to those who engage with your story so you don’t have to do it manually. You can also easily require people to join your email list before giving them the offer – though I wouldn’t necessarily bother. The whole goal of this particular mini-campaign is all about getting the sale and bringing a bonus cash infusion to your biz so remove as much friction as possible. 

Mini-Campaign to Convert First-Time eCommerce Buyers

Here’s a quick recap on the mini-campaign and how to implement it.

  • You’re going to identify people who engage with your content but have never purchased from you. 
  • You’re going to craft a special limited-time offer that you’ll market to them in a personalized way to make them feel really special. 
  • You can boost the results by including ads in the mix – but only if you’re already running successful ads in your business. 
  • Use Instagram stories to engage followers who aren’t yet on your email list. 

What Results to Expect with This First-Time Buyer Campaign

While I have found wild success with this process to convert first-time buyers in the past, as have my clients and students there are no guarantees. It’s something to test and try in your business. 

If it doesn’t work the first time, it doesn’t mean it won’t work later on. Like many things with eCommerce, it’s often a numbers game and is all relative to your business and audience.

The number of sales you see isn’t an indicator on its own of whether or not it was successful. If you have 100 followers on social and 30 of them say they have never purchased from you, getting one sale from those 30 people is a 3% conversion rate which is really good. 

On the flip side, if that list is really big, say there are 1000 people you send the email to, you might only get a 1% conversion rate – but that’s 10 sales you didn’t have before. 

There’s no way to know for sure how it’s going to perform until you test it and even if it doesn’t quite meet your expectation there are always small things you can do to improve the overall results. I just don’t want you to give up on something too soon. 

So many of us go in with somewhat unrealistic expectations and then give up on things too soon. So while I want you to be excited enough about the possibilities that you actually try it, I don’t want you to expect this giant windfall of sales either. Keep it all in perspective and remember that practice makes progress. 

Tools & Platforms Mentioned:

ManyChat

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Jessica Totillo Coster of eCommerce Badassery eating gelato on stairs in Rome Italy

Hey, I'm Jessica eCommerce & Email Marketing Strategist

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. Learning from the top experts in the digital marketing & eCommerce industry I love working with female entrepreneurs and teaching the secrets of 7-figure eCommerce businesses.

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