So you got a hot sauce and you’re looking to sell it online?
Well, this guide is for you, what I’ve found reading other blogs about how to sell hot sauce online, I’ve noticed the advice is generic and doesn’t contain actionable advice.
While suggestions like “use social media” are good, the question is how do you use social media to promote your brand.
This guide is going to show you everything you need to know step by step, not only that I’ve done my best to try and anticipate anything you might need to know.
Why sell online?
Since the rise of the internet there has been a massive shift in leverage between manufacturers and retailers.
Previously, if you wanted your product to be seen by your ideal customers, you had to sign with a retailer.
However, many manufacturers are beginning to embrace direct to consumer marketing.
One of the biggest reasons is that direct to consumer marketing gives you the ability to build a direct line of communication with your customers.
Let’s say you sold your hot sauce out of a retailer.
It’s almost impossible for you to know who bought your hot sauce or get in contact so you can build a relationship and make more sales to that customer.
Whereas, if they bought your hot sauce from your website, you have their contact details so you can begin to build a relationship and foster a loyal customer for life.
Setting up your online store
This is the first big piece, it’s going to be a little tough to sell your hot sauce online if you don’t have an online store.
We’ll need a few things in order to set up an online store, a host, content management system and a theme.
Your host is where your website is stored, a host is a computer that stays on 24 hours a day that gives people the ability to access your website.
Your host will also be where you can register your domain name, your domain name is your URL, for example, mine is okryan.blog.
Here is my recommendation for Hosting.
Content management system
A content management system is like the skeleton of your website.
There are a range on content management systems out there such as WordPress, Wix, Shopify and Square.
I personally recommend WordPress, WordPress is by far the most popular content management system out there and it’s free!
Because its extremely popular, what you’ll find is that just about every software solution integrates with it.
WordPress uses plugins to add additional functionality, while WordPress doesn’t have e-commerce functionality by itself, we can use a plugin called Woocommerce to add shopping cart features.
The theme structures the appearances of the website.
There are a range of free and premium themes available for WordPress.
Personally, I recommend the Storefront theme, it’s built by the Woocommerce team which means if there are any updates to Woocommerce, you know that Storefront will be updated as well.
Putting it together
Once you’ve set up your host, you’ll need to install WordPress on your new hosting account.
I’ll have instructions on how to do this with my hosting recommendation.
Now you’ll need to install the Woocommerce plugin, so once you’ve signed into your WordPress dashboard head to Plugins > Add new then search Woocommerce, once you’ve activated the plugin, it will take you through a startup wizard that will take some information from your so it can get you ready to sell online.
On the last page of the wizard, there will be a checked box asking if you want to install Storefront, keep it checked as we want to use the Storefront theme.
If you need more help I have a guide that is designed for people who have never built a website before on how to make an online store.
A mailing list is a great way to keep in contact with your customers.
Most email marketing software will have a plugin that will integrate with Woocommerce so that once someone purchases hot sauce from your website, they will then be added to a mailing list so you can keep in contact and build a relationship.
Installing Facebook pixel
The Facebook pixel is a snippet of code that you can install on your website that will track your users so you can create retargeting ads and analyse your traffic using their analytics dashboard.
If you head to business.facebook.com and click on the Pixels tab, Facebook has a range of partner integrations and have a plugin that you can upload to WordPress.
Once the plugin is added you will be able to do a range of things such as create ads that target web traffic, people who add to cart and people who have purchased from your website.
So now we’ve got our website set up with our mailing list and Facebook pixel.
Now we’re going to discuss the strategy.
The problem I find with most people discussing marking strategy is that they don’t have a strategy.
They just post on social media and hope that someone buys.
Our goal is to create a system that helps guide our customers through a logical progression.
In order to create this system we need to think about the two types of customer behaviours.
There are two types of customers and the way they interact with brands are completely different, the two types or new customers and existing customers.
This might seem blatantly obvious, however, no one actually seems to put this into practice with their marketing campaigns.
New customers tend to purchase in very specific ways.
New customers are typically none responsive to bulk offers of products, yet I see it all the time, brands trying to force new customers to buy a bulk offer of a product they’ve never tried.
Typically, new customers want to try the product before committing to larger purchases.
Think back to the market stalls, I’ll often see people selling hot sauces from market stalls and almost all of them have free samples for people to try.
This achieves two things, it builds a sense of reciprocity which means if you do something for someone, they want to repay the favour and it gives the customer a chance to try your hot sauce before committing to a bottle.
While I’m not suggesting you give away your hot sauce, but creating a sample pack is a fantastic way to give your new customers an opportunity to try your products in a low financial risk way.
I refer to these products designed for new customers as front end products.
Front end products should be lower in cost and designed to give your customers a good understanding as to what your brand is about.
We want to make the front end products as compelling as possible because we need to be able to bring in more new customers to help you scale your hot sauce business.
People hate paying for shipping, so one of the best strategies to driving sales to your front end products is to offer free shipping, this could be through the use of coupon codes you promote as an incentive or as a sale, free shipping is a fantastic way to drive sales to your front end products.
Cold traffic is the hardest to master because you’re trying to sell to people who have never tried your products.
However, if you can create a couple of front end products that new customers love and convert well, you will never have any issues building and scaling your business.
Existing customers are the best.
Someone who has already purchased from your store and enjoys your hot sauce is much easier to convert to bigger and more profitable purchases than someone who has never purchased from your store.
Existing customers typically will purchase more bulk items compared with sample products.
Because they know like and trust your hot sauce and they want to buy more, the value becomes an influencing force.
I refer to these products designed for existing customers as back end products.
Back end products are designed to appeal to existing customers.
These will typically be bigger and bulk products that provide better value to the customer.
A great strategy that online stores use is offering free shipping over $X amount.
Most shipping fulfilment companies will combine products together and ship them to your customers for one fee at the same address.
This would take some calculation to see what amount will be most profitable, but if you could offer free shipping on purchases over $50, you could easily eat the cost of shipping into your profits because now customers will be purchasing bigger quantities to redeem this incentive.
Putting it together
Now we’ve set up your mailing list, integrated the Facebook pixel and created front end and backend products.
This is where we can put it together.
What we want to do is drive traffic and guide new customers to the front end products.
This should be the focus of our marketing strategy is to try to generate as many sales with our front end products.
I’m a massive fan of Facebook ads, what I would recommend is to set up retargeting ads.
These are pretty easy to set up, all you have to do is head to:
- Enter business.facebook.com
- Click Business Manager > Audiences > Create Audience > Customer Audience
- Choose Web traffic
- Give your Audience a name, increase the date to 180 days and click Create
I highly recommend being as detailed as possible when naming your audience, down the line you’re going to build up a fair few audiences so you need to label them something so you can figure out which is which, for example, I named my audience okryan.blog Traffic – 180 days so I knew which it was.
We can use this audience as our targeting when creating Facebook ads in the Ads Manager.
What this audience tells Facebook is that I want to position my Ads in front of people who have visited my website.
We want to use these ads to drive traffic to our front end offers.
Back end offers
Now our goal is to funnel new customers who have purchased your front end products to your back end products.
So since these customers have purchased from your online store, they are now added to your email list and tagged by your Facebook pixel.
Now we can build a relationship with your customers and start promoting back end offers to your customers.
Mailing list do’s and don’ts
When people start to build their mailing list, they tend to default to spamming their customers.
The problem with this strategy is that most of your customers will be using Gmail.
Gmail has an amazing spam filter and promotions tab that is designed to keep its customer’s inboxes lean and give them the best experiences.
What that means for you, is that you begin to spam and abuse Gmails customers, they’re going to start sending you to the spam filter or promotions tab which means your emails may never get seen.
There are a few things that you can do to prevent this.
Gmail leverages user feedback to determine where to put your emails, therefore if a lot of the people you send emails to don’t open them, Gmail will stop putting them in the prime inbox.
However, if you have a great open rate and engagement, then Gmail will begin to reward you.
The first is to work on your copywriting if your email subject lines are generic and bland, your emails aren’t getting opened, work on creating eye-catching and engaging email subject lines that get your customers to open them.
The second is culling your list, this is a tough one as people often relate their level of success to the size of their mailing list, however, if your mailing list is full of people who haven’t opened your emails in months, then this could be harming your open rate, most email marketing software have options to remove people who haven’t opened your email in a set amount of time, if not contact support. It’s better to have a list of 5,000 people who see your emails vs 10,000 who never see it at all.
The third is to verify your domain, most email marketing software have docs on how to achieve this and will usually involve adding some code to your DNS in your control panel.
Retargeting purchases with Facebook ads
Now we want to create an audience of people who have purchased your hot sauce so we can create ads that specifically target existing customers.
To set up these audiences head back to the Facebook Business Dashboard:
- Head to business.facebook.com
- Click Business Manager > Audiences > Create audiences > Custom audience > Web Traffic
- Click All website visitors and choose Purchases under the From your events heading
- Give your audiences a name and increase the date to 180 days.
This audience tells Facebook that we want to position your ads in front of people who have bought your hot sauce.
Direct to consumer
Using your mailing list and your retargeting ads, you now have the ability to follow up with your customers and increase the lifetime value of each customer that you introduce to your products.
You have the ability to build a strong brand and connection with your customers and promote back end products that they enjoy.
The Front end product is designed to introduce customers to your brand and build a pool of customers that you can build a connection with and build brand loyalty.