How To Make Your First Sale
With Email Marketing

Written by Franco Varriano.

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1. Overview

We’ve always recommended that online stores start leveraging email marketing before they even ship their first product. It helps build a prospect list and anticipation for the product launch. According to a 2013 study by Custora, email marketing accounts for more than 7% of all ecommerce transactions, making it the second most effective ecommerce marketing channel behind search (15.8%). That was in 2013. The importance of email marketing is growing and every online store should leverage the technology to grow their business. While many email marketing tips work best at scale, this week we are providing a step by step guide to making your first sale with email.

2. Getting Started

The early key decision you’re facing when launching an online store is what to sell. Once you’ve found a niche product, a cost effective way to source the products and to fulfill orders, you’re on your way to the launch. It happens really fast, so fast that making early sales on launch day would not only be beneficial but also give you a boost of confidence, the type of confidence you need to sustain this long journey. Now this is where email marketing comes in.

In order to get started, you must choose the right platform. How do you choose? There are many factors that impacts your final decision, especially in the early days. Your budget, feature requirements, and personal preference. From my first hand experience, email marketing softwares are quite sticky, meaning you invest a lot of time and effort in them. So much time that you would not like to change every couple of months. So you should pick the platform that will be as effective with 1 subscriber as with a million. The word “effective” is defined as feature requirement, pricing, scalability, ease-of-use, reliability, integrations, support and anything else you find important. The software might not have all those requirements on day 1, but you must be assured that they are in the work so they become available when you need it. At, our support team shares product roadmaps with prospects and current customers so they know what to expect and why they can commit and work with us on a long run.

Now that you have picked the right software, now how do you drive your first sales with email marketing?

3. Collecting 200 Emails

As a business owner, you should become the number one promoter of your brand. Assuming you’ve done your research and built a detailed buyer persona, you should have a clear picture of your ideal customers. You will have to reach them, whether in person or online. I personally like the in-person approach as you can build trust and get early feedback at the same time. Here’s exactly how I would do it: I would create a 8 questions customer survey, load it on a tablet and walk around in the mall to ask people who match my buyer persona to answer the survey. Yes, it takes a bit of guts but it’s fun and most people are super friendly. If they resonate with the product, they will comment on it, if they don’t resonate with it, they won’t spend much time answering the survey. The last part of the survey must ask them to enter their email for updates. The goal is to collect 200 emails (if you can do more than 200, go for it), ideally 8 weeks before launch. If you can manage to get 50 people during the week (Monday to Friday) and 50 people during the weekend (Saturday and Sunday). Within 2 weeks, you will have your 200 emails.

Note: You will most likely have to talk to more people as not every responder will provide you with their emails.

4. Start Your Journey Campaign

What is a journey campaign? It’s simply a series of emails updating prospects on your product development and store launch timeline. You are simply going to be sharing great updates, if possible with sneak peek of your product (especially if you are building it from scratch). You want your prospects to be part of the journey, and the campaign will help create a deeper bond than just a customer/business relationship and grow your brand awareness. In every email, invite customers to give you feedback, follow you on social media and share your story. Your journey campaign should be a bi-weekly newsletter that ends 2 weeks before the product launch.

5. Launching Soon Campaign

14 days before the product launch, you are feeling confident (or you should be) that the product will be ready for customers, the store will be up and running, you will now focus on marketing.

The lead campaign email should start with a sincere thank you note to your prospects, thanking them for their participation and feedback. The second part of the email should invite prospects to become the first people to receive the product by pre-ordering now.

This can be a daily campaign as you can run a countdown to launch in a fun and interactive way. In fact, to reduce the unsubscription rate, you should let them know that you are running a countdown and everyday they will receive [insert item of value here] in their inbox.

Let’s hypothetically make a scenario, where we expect our email marketing to have:

  • A 5% unsubscription rate
  • A 50% open rate
  • A 10% conversion rate.

In this scenario, which is based on 200 emails, you will have exactly 10 buyers before the launch.

In a less optimistic scenario, we would expect our campaign to have:

  • A 10% unsubscription rate
  • A 15% open rate
  • A 3% conversation rate

In this scenario (based on 200 emails), you will only have one buyer despite having 27 prospects open the email. Meaning that 153 prospects didn’t open their email, we can apply the subject line trick to grow the number. In case you don’t know this trick by now, it works like this:

  • You wait for 7 days after sending your initial email
  • You change your subject line a
  • Then send the email to prospects who didn’t open the first email.

So as we are sending the email to the 153 prospects, expect a 30% increase in open rate while maintaining the same conversion rate target. This adds an extra 2 buyers before launch, and you are feeling very good and confident about your brand.

Following these steps, you will launch with at least a sale and a mailing list of 100 plus prospects ready to buy and help you grow your business.

6. Conclusion

If you’re an ecommerce merchant and don’t have automated email marketing campaigns setup for your store, you’re losing money. Right now. makes it easy to start using automated email campaigns for common challenges like: Welcome Series, Abandoned Carts, Order Follow-up emails and more! You can learn more about our powerful email marketing automation features here or go ahead and get started right away by using for FREE.

And if you’re one of the thousands of merchants who are already using Rare’s Smart Email Marketing software and want to see how our Customer Success Team can work with your brand to grow your revenue – feel free to book a call at your convenience here.

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