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How To Get Your First Sale on Shopify (and Keep Them Coming Back)

Scott Jones

Sr. Product Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

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Though Shopify sellers can’t physically frame the digital dollar they earn from their first digital sale, it’s still a significant milestone for any ecommerce company to reach. The reality, though, is it’s unlikely to happen without growing traffic. In fact, Shopify recommends new shop owners devote 30 days to driving traffic from potential consumers before tackling anything else.

Knowing who exactly you’re targeting is a smart place to start. But then you have to figure out where those consumers spend their time online and how you’ll message them. Here’s a closer look at how to get your first sale on Shopify.

Paid Advertising

One of the best ways to generate traffic is to invest in paid advertising. Good thing you have many options. Whatever channel(s) you choose depends on who you’re targeting. Generally speaking, most Shopify sellers can benefit from the following paid placements to get their first (and subsequent!) sales: 

Google Ads

While it’s true some consumers have turned directly to Amazon for product-specific searches, nearly half still use Google — Google’s 2019 Economic Impact Report found brands make $2 for every $1 they spend on Google Ads, making it an effective channel for both ROI and customer acquisition.

To get started with Google Ads, choose five to 10 keywords and create a new campaign by selecting a goal, picking an audience, and specifying a budget. Then, write your ad copy and push the campaign live. All that’s left is to monitor performance and optimize as necessary to not only get your first sale on Shopify but many after.

The search giant offers ad placements in Google Search, as well as Shopping Ads, Discovery Ads, and video ads on YouTube. The right format will also depend on what your brand sells and who is buying those products.

For more on how to boost your Google Ads performance for Shopify:

Facebook and Instagram Advertising

Facebook is still the most popular social platform in the U.S. with nearly three billion monthly active users, making it a great fit for getting your first sale on Shopify.

Through Facebook Ads Manager, brands can create, run, and track ads on Facebook, as well as Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook’s Audience Network. To start, you’ll choose an objective and an audience, upload creative, and write copy. Facebook makes it easy to edit budget, audience, placements, and creative to optimize performance.

Shopify sellers who run Facebook ads directly through AdRoll can also benefit from audience targeting with Shopify data and retargeting with dynamic ads.

For a Shopify guide to facebook ads:


Once you’ve started to generate some brand awareness, you’ll likely begin to see more traffic. Not all of those site visitors are going to convert right away, so that’s where retargeting comes in.

Remind consumers about the products they’ve browsed or put in their carts with retargeting campaigns to help increase the odds you’ll get your first sale on Shopify. Retargeting uses data on consumer intent to serve up ads featuring products tailored to each individual’s shopping behavior. Then, after they leave your site, those consumers will see your ads as they navigate around the web and on social media platforms. (Pro tip: AdRoll makes it easy to set up retargeting campaigns for both the web and social too.)

Email Retargeting 

Email is another way to stay in touch with potential customers and encourage them to convert. By opting in to AdRoll emails, the AdRoll pixel will automatically recognize when a visitor submits an email address on your website. By associating each cookie the pixel drops with an email address, we can match email subscribers to their site behavior.

You can then retarget potential customers via email as well when reaching out to those who have indicated an interest in your products but who have not yet converted. To send these targeted follow-up messages, you’ll take the behavioral information gleaned from cookies or pixels and segment your audience into targeted lists. Then send a relevant message based on where those visitors are in the purchase journey. Also, be sure to include a thoughtful subject line — and to hammer home your value proposition to get your first sale on Shopify. 

For more on Shopify retargeting best practices:

Free Promotion

Don’t look past the free tactics at your disposal. First, consider your own social networks. Wherever you have a presence — whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or elsewhere — include your Shopify store URL in your profile. Share discount codes with followers to encourage initial purchases, and don’t be shy about making a big announcement on these channels when your store launches.

You can also simply email your personal and professional connections to ask for support and/or exposure when trying to get your first sale on Shopify. You should also consider joining online communities on Reddit or Facebook Groups to find potential customers with common interests.

And remember: There’s no such thing as bad press. Pitch bloggers and news sites relevant stories about your business and/or products, offer to write guest posts, or solicit reviews in exchange for free products. Also consider in-person marketing tactics like handing out free samples or coupons to generate buzz.

A Big Milestone

Like graduating high school or getting married, earning your first sale on Shopify is a milestone you’ll always remember. And while there is no step-by-step guide for precisely how to get your first sale on Shopify, focusing on traffic is key.

Driving traffic will also generate intel into your brand, products, and site experience. Use this information to double down on what works and to improve what doesn’t. There are many reasons visitors don’t buy products: The site takes too long to load, for example, or you’re targeting the wrong audience, or consumers don’t trust your site. Lucky for you, Shopify and AdRoll offer the tools to help diagnose and fix many of these issues and to keep shoppers coming back long after that initial sale.

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