The $0 Ad Budget: How to Skyrocket Your Sales Without a Single Advertisement

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How many times you’ve heard this:

Without running ads, say, Facebook ads, it’s hard to increase sales.

If you believe in it, you’re not alone.

Many other eCommerce store owners instill this approach into their minds. They’ve thrown a lot of money into Facebook ads every single day.

But, let’s us tell you a secret:

Promoting an eCommerce business without a budget is difficult, but it’s possible. You can increase tons of sales for your store without spending a penny on ads.


This post will show you. You’ll learn 7 effective methods to pump up your sales in a short time.

The best part is: they are also useful to build a long-lasting relationship with your customers, which later helps you get more sales.

No ads, for sure.

Let’s get started right now.

1. Drive sales from your Instagram

Instagrammers love to follow their favorite brands. Their will and interest are on this platform.

  • 72% of Instagram users feel encouraged to take action after seeing a photo.
  • 38% of customers say they often buy products they see on Instagram.

Instagram can (indeed) be a massive driver for your business. We’ll set you up with all the tactics and resources you need. 100% free.

➤ Make your Instagram shoppable

You set up a shoppable Instagram gallery and add a link to this gallery to your Instagram bio.
Take a look at the Pura Vida Bracelets Instagram page:

Notice the link in their bio. Click it, and you’ll be directed to their Instagram storefront.

Pura Vida’s storefront is designed to mimic the look and feel of their Instagram account. Each Instagram post shows the exact product they sell. Hence, shoppers can enjoy a seamless experience and grab a perfect picture of how they can wear a specific bracelet.

When you click a product image on their storefront, you’ll know the price of that product. If you want to have it, click the Add to Cart button to add it to your cart.

To create an Instagram storefront like Pura Vida’s, you can use tools like Foursixty and Like2buy.

➤ Partner with influencers

There are a bunch of articles about influencer marketing. Most of them show evidence that influencer marketing works. It’s still red-hot.
To do influencer marketing, take the following steps:

  • Step 1: Know your goals, your audience, and your budget.
  • Step 2: Make an influencer persona.
  • Step 3: Create compelling content.
  • Step 4: Use metrics to measure your influencer campaign.

Sound complicated, right? That’s why we wrote an ultimate guide to eCommerce influencer marketing. Read it to learn how to start, step-by-step.
Now we’ll give you four tactics that will help you work with influencers successfully. Those are the best ways to bring you REAL sales.

➤ Product reviews

You offer a free product or a gift to influencers, and they post a review in exchange. You can write the review by your own and then send it to the influencers, or ask them to create content for you.

➤ Sponsored postings and mentions

It goes like this: you pay your influencers so they’ll mention your brand or products in their post. This tactic is one of the most widely-used influencer marketing tactics.

➤ Unboxing videos

In this tactic, influencers will record a video of themselves unpacking your product and exploring its features. They can try the product, show emotions when using it, and raise their followers’ confidence in buying from you.

➤ Giveaway contests

People love the feeling of winning something. To give your prospects that feeling, you can offer your influencers a free product or gift and ask them to do a giveaway to their followers. Like this:

2. Use loss aversion marketing tactics

Loss of aversion? What does it mean? Is it a new marketing technique?

The answer is NO. It was discovered and has been used for a long time.

‘Last-minute deal!’

‘This is the last chance. Act now!’

And, check your inbox – if you subscribed to the newsletter of an eCommerce brand, you may certainly have some ‘Hurry! Sale ends tonight’ emails in there.

These are typical examples of loss aversion marketing.

People don’t like to lose. They strongly prefer avoiding losses at all costs. They are loss averse.

Marketers know this. That’s why they’ve tried to use loss aversion marketing to sell products for years. Most of the time, they’ve got incredible results.

You can get the same results. Try these:

➤ Combine loss aversion with urgency and scarcity

Urgency and scarcity play directly to our desire to avoid loss. We don’t want to miss out on anything, even when we’d never really want it at first.
To apply this tactic, you can include a countdown timer to each product page. For example:

Or, add a countdown timer and a countdown cart at the same time. This way, shoppers feel more encouraged to take action immediately.

Limited-time offers like these turn another psychological phenomenon to your advantage and make it a powerful motivator: Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO.
If you want to add a countdown to your store, use Countdown Cart for free.

➤ Send abandoned cart emails – the best time for loss aversion

When a shopper adds an item to their shopping cart, he shows their interest in it.

At this point, he has come to so close to making a buying decision. But it seems he needs a little encouragement to take the next step.

It’s up to you to give him that uplift. But don’t complicate things. Sometimes you just need to let him know that the offer is coming to an end.

Take a look at this example:

Source: Really Good Emails

To push the email recipient to take action, Gilt used power words like ‘expiring soon’ and ‘too late’ in their email. Those words added urgency and scarcity to the sales.

3. Upsell and cross-sell to repeat customers

Upselling is the act of offering shoppers a more expensive (better) item when they add a product to their cart or reach the checkout page. When upselling products, your goal is to increase average order value (AOV).

When shoppers click a white shell bracelet, you can ‘upsell’ them to a better bracelet for just $11.26 more. That’s a pure upsell.

Another way to increase AOV is to cross-sell products. It’s merely the act of selling additional, usually complementary products after shoppers add an item to cart. Like this:

Instead of upgrading to a better version of the white shell bracelet, the shopper is now adding other three bracelets to the cart.

Below is a comparison between upselling and cross-selling:

Follow these simple steps to get started with upselling and cross-selling:

Step 1: Install an upsell app, for example, Boost Upsell.

Step 2: Select the best products to upsell or cross-sell.

Step 3: A/B test your offer for 1 or 2 weeks.

Step 4: Measure, tweak your tactic and repeat the process.

Read this guide to create the best upsell and cross-sell offers that can sell and convert.
A subtle way to upsell and cross-sell is to bundle products. Dollar Shave Club is the master of this.

The bundle is both valuable and relevant, which persuades more shoppers to buy. It works for almost anything.

To learn how to bundle products the right way, read Product Bundling: A Cooking Recipe to Make Unrefusable Meals for Your Customers. This guide has many golden nuggets that you can put them into practice right away.

4. Send abandoned cart emails

Not all the shoppers who add a product to their cart will buy immediately. Some of them may click the Add to Cart button and then abandon their cart.

Here is the latest statistic: ¾ of shoppers choose to leave a store without completing the checkout. The highest abandonment cart rate is on mobile phones.

No matter how good your products are, this situation can happen to you all the time. It’s inevitable.

But it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to save your sales. You have a secret weapon to recover abandoned carts without spending extra money: abandoned cart emails.

It’s that easy.

So, how do you get rolling?

There are a few different ways to send cart abandonment emails. The best way is installing an email automation tool like Mailbot.

All you need to do is to customize an email template, add a discount to motivate recipients to complete checkout, and save the email. You can even specify the time you want your email to be sent. After that, the email sending process is on autopilot.

Read Mailbot Automation Campaign: Cart Abandonment to learn more.

Cool, huh?

Once you master the email creation, try the following to bring your abandoned cart emails to a higher level:

➤ Add social proof to emails

First-time shoppers are easy to leave your store without buying. They’re often careful and take much time to consider before opening their wallets.

This is where social proof can help.

For example, Birchbox shows the star rating and reviews of each product in their abandoned cart email. This way, the brand can build trust with recipients, and so encourage them to complete the order.

Source: Sleeknote

➤ Spotlight a single product

If an abandoned cart email includes more than one product, your prospects may not have equal purchasing intent for all of those items.
To solve this problem, you should focus on re-selling (or spotlighting) a single product. Do as follow:

  • Step 1: Choose a best-selling or best-rated product in the cart since it has a high conversion.
  • Step 2: Specifically, highlight some of the significant benefits (or unique selling points) of that product.
  • Step 3: Write the best copy and add some objectivity like reviews.

Here is a comparison between a “traditional” abandoned cart email (left) and a “creative” one (right) which applies the spotlight effect.

Source: Conversio

5. Build a community on social media

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great to do branding. They’re often seen as wonderful places to:

  • Show photos and videos of cute things (and of yourself, too).
  • Engage with fans and customers.
  • Build brand awareness.
  • Support customers’ problems via direct messages.

When it comes to making money from those platforms without running paid ads, it’s a tough task.
True? No!
You can use social media to generate sales, too.
How? By building a community of like-minded people on social media.
Is this a joke?
No (again). Social media isn’t directly tied to return on investment (ROI) and driving sales. But it can be and should be your sales-driving machine.
Here’s why:
Your social media community is a place where you interact with your followers. It’s different from a business page which aims at marketing. A community brings a feeling of sympathy, intimacy, and togetherness.
Your community can be your customer service page, where you can discuss with fans, offer discounts, run contests, and provide other values.
You can get a lot of user-generated content (UGC) by encouraging followers to share their thoughts about you and your product. Then, use that UGC to build trust with new customers.
Big companies like Gymshark do a good job of building their own community:

The clothing brand Golden Tote created a Facebook group exclusively for shoppers who have bought from them. This is a smart way to make existing customers feel special and appreciated.

If you’re convinced to start a community, we have some useful tips for you:

Create a social media group on Facebook, or Twitter account, or a Slack community, etc. This group should be dedicated to a specific topic that your potential customers can be involved in.
Have some rules and guidelines for members in the first place. Try to keep the community positive.
Communicate with members every day. If there is any compliment about your brand/products, show your gratitude.

Don’t focus on marketing or promotion in the group. Instead, show your help and engagement.

6. Run referral programs

Word-of-mouth is the most powerful marketing tool. Let the data speak for itself:

  • 83% of consumers seek recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends when buying something.
  • 71% of shoppers trust online reviews.
  • 74% of consumers say word-of-mouth has a significant impact on their decision to purchase online.

If you are running an eCommerce store and haven’t used word-of-mouth, it’s time for you to give it a shot.

The best practice is to create a referral program with tools like ReferralCandy. In other words, you do marketing to existing customers who already buy from you or to people who are willing to work for you.

Take a look at Amuze’s referral program:

There are some reasons why this referral program works so well:

  • The referral program call to action (CTA) is always shown up in the header. It can’t be missed.
  • The referral process is simple and to the point. You get a unique referral link to share with others via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Here is another excellent example from Modcloth:

If you want to create a referral program like these big brands, read Referral Program Best practices for eCommerce stores

7. Reward loyal customers

If you already have a loyalty program, that’s great. You may know how to get sales from it.

If you don’t have one, it’s OK for right now. Like an old saying, “it’s never too late to do something.”
The last part of this post will show you how to reward your bought customers using a loyalty program.

But first, let’s start with the WHY – why you should do it.

Some convincing reasons are:
Marketing to existing customers is much cheaper than finding new ones – 6 to 7 times less expensive.

Existing customers are 67% more likely to spend money than new customers.

For bought customers, all barriers to purchase have already been removed. They know you’re trustworthy and authentic. They know how good your products are and how fast your shipping time is.

Now, move to the How. As an online store owner, you can reward your customers in 3 ways:

➤ Point programs

73% of reward programs are point-based.
This is the simplest and most common way to inspire customer loyalty. Here is an example from Columbia Sportswear.

When customers make an order, you’ll give them a certain amount of points, depending on the size of their purchase. These points are transformed into some types of rewards, like a gift or a discount.
Spend more to earn more points. That’s it!

➤ Spend programs

In a spend-based loyalty program, you reward customers with a point value for each dollar they’ve spent at your store. It’s easy to understand, create, and maintain.

Many brands prefer spend programs since they’re ideal for cutting churn rate and increasing transaction amount.

Look at Luna Grill’s spend program:

Luna Grill makes their point system clear: Every 1 point for every $1 you spend. Once customers achieve 100 points, they can redeem them for a $5 off next visit.

➤ Tiered program

A tiered program usually includes three tiers. Each tier comes with different rewards. To reach the next tier, customers must pass the previous one.

A tiered system is, basically, based on levels of loyalty. For example:

Pacifica Beauty clearly illustrates the benefits of each tier. Their tiered program has three levels: Friend Status, Girl Crush, and Bestie. The more points customers have, the more exclusive the rewards they can get.

Another great example comes from SweetLegs. We can guarantee you’ve never seen a tiered program like this: 7 exclusive VIP tiers!

SweetLegs’ tiered program allows customers to earn dollars-off rewards that reflect how much they invest in their brand, no matter if they are casual shoppers or their regional distributors.
To create a loyalty program, you can use tools like

Final thought

Don’t get us wrong.

Paid ads are useful to make sales. Even a lot (possibly).

We use paid ads to promote our products, too.

However, if you want to 2X (or even 5X, 10X) your sales and build brand awareness, you should think differently.

Paid ads, like Facebook ads, aren’t always a gold miner. Don’t believe it? Look at big brands in your niche. Have they relied solely on ads from the start until now (and to the future)?

You know the answer is NO.

Don’t just stop at paid ads. You can rocket your sales without a budget.

Try the tactics above, then sit down and watch your sales increase fast. Comment below if you have something to share with us.

The post The $0 Ad Budget: How to Skyrocket Your Sales Without a Single Advertisement appeared first on Beeketing Blog.


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