As a brand new ecommerce store owner, your number 1 struggle is going to be how to drive traffic to your online store.
And today, I’m going to give you 8 actionable strategies to attract more customers to your online store. But before I begin, I want to be absolutely clear.
There is no quick and easy way to get traffic unless you pay for it. And building up a consistent stream of visitors takes time and effort.
I also want to clarify that the amount of traffic that you receive does not matter nearly as much as the quality. So while getting a sudden rush of visitors from social media might feel great, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t lead to any sales.
The best thing that you can do, is to be consistent, lay a solid foundation and your traffic will gradually increase over time. Beware of sites or people that promise you millions of hits overnight or fast SEO rankings. These are all scams.
Here are 8 things that you can do to get more traffic to your store in both the long and the short term.
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Write Content Other Than Your Product Descriptions
Most people launch their online stores with no additional content other than what’s written in their product or category descriptions. And if you stop there, your site is going to be stagnant in the eyes of Google and your customers.
The key to a good content strategy is to write interesting articles that are related to what you sell. And as you start writing about your products or interesting applications of your products, people will begin to think of you as an authority in your niche.
And the more of an authority that you become, the more likely that customers will purchase from your store. (Read on for some examples)
Here’s what we do with our online store. Since we run a linens business, we write content pages on how to make arts and crafts with our linens. People are attracted by these craft pages which in turn leads to purchases of our products to make these crafts.
Here’s an example of a content page that has generated a lot of sales for our store. Click here to see the actual page
First off, you’ll notice that this is a pretty darn cool craft for weddings. It’s cute, it’s innovative and it’s pretty inexpensive. Once you see it, you want to make it. And lo and behold, the materials for this craft are all directly linked at the end of the page.
Depending on the day, we rank in the top 3 in search for this craft and it brings in a ton of targeted traffic that lead to purchases.
Leverage Search Engine Optimization
Now ranking for this craft isn’t a fluke and neither is our strategy for ranking our webpages. We use a tool called Long Tail Pro to find out what people are searching for at any given time.
By providing Long Tail Pro with a seed topic or keyword, the tool not only gives us an idea of search demand but it also provides us with an accurate assessment of the competition as well.
Typically when it comes to producing content for our site, we look for keywords that bring in a decent amount of volume but are very easy to rank for in search.
But remember, SEO is a long term play. By picking long tail keywords that provide a small amount of traffic, it all adds up over time as your content portfolio grows.
If you aren’t using any SEO tools for your site, then check out Long Tail Pro for free
Leverage Email Marketing
In addition to attracting search engine traffic, we also use this page to increase our email list which we then use to market other products. Let’s break down a few key aspects of this page a little bit further.
First off, we have an email signup link within the content as shown below
We also have a popup which looks like this
And finally, we also have a signup form at the end of the tutorial which looks like this
If you aren’t gathering emails for your online store, then you are missing out on a huge sales opportunity. With email you can market to…
- New customers who might not be ready to buy yet
- Existing customers who have purchased from your store
- Lost customers who may have abandoned their shopping carts
Once you’ve got an email list, use it to send out interesting content and sales and promotions on a regular basis for instant traffic!
Let’s take our “Wedding Dress Hankie Craft” example one step further. Did you also know that we get a ton of Pinterest traffic for this craft as well?
Pinterest starts with having great images so my wife put together the following image for this page. Isn’t she awesome?
Pinterest is our #1 social media site for sales and it generates a good amount of traffic for our online store. The key to Pinterest is to create great looking images that are both skinny and long. We generally try to use a 2:3 aspect ratio for our images.
I’ve written about Pinterest extensively in the past. Here are links to our results with Pinterest and a guide that my wife wrote.
- How Pinterest Has Increased Sales For Our Online Store Along With Some Real Numbers To Back It Up
- Pinterest Marketing For Ecommerce And Online Stores – The Ultimate Guide
Leverage The Comparison Shopping Engines
When it comes to shopping online, there are many sites out there that aggregate products to make it easy to find for customers. These sites are called comparison shopping engines(CSE).
Here’s how they work using Google Shopping as an example.
When a customer does a search, Google displays a picture of your product along with the price and store information. If the customer clicks on the photo, you are charged by the click and they are taken directly to the product page on your website.
What’s cool about the CSEs is that they convert extremely well. Because a customer can see a picture of your product along with the price BEFORE they click, they have a much higher likelihood of making a purchase.
I’ve written extensively about the CSEs in the past. Here’s a list of posts and my experiences with the well known CSEs.
- How To Use Comparison Shopping Engines To Increase Sales For Your Shop
- My Review Of Google Shopping, Amazon Product Ads, And Shopzilla Based On Data From My Shop
- My Review Of Nextag, Shopping.com, The Find And Pronto Based On Data From My Shop
Leverage Search And Content Based Advertising
Even if you have a tiny budget, pay per click advertising platforms like Google Adwords, Bing Ads and Facebook ads are a great way to drive targeted traffic to your site.
In fact when we first started out, Adwords was one of the main ways we got targeted traffic to our store. We didn’t go overboard, had a modest budget, and tried to buy ads that ranked in the top 8 for our keywords. We also used Adwords to help fine tune our site for conversions.
I’ve already written about several of the popular PPC platforms in the past and they each have their own nuances and strategies. Below is a list of posts to help you out.
- Using Google Adwords And Analytics To Tweak The Conversion Rate Of Your Online Store
- A Facebook Advertising Strategy For Ecommerce Stores That Really Works
- How To Make A 12x Return On Your Ad Spend With Facebook Dynamic Retargeting
- Bing Search Ads – How I Made An Extra $3253 Last Month With A Few Clicks Of The Mouse
Scout Out Your Competitors
Make a list of all of your competitors and find out where they are advertising. Then go through all of these places one by one and evaluate whether these venues make sense for your store.
This process is extremely tedious, but early on in the life of our shop, we took our top ten competitors and did this analysis for every single one. It’s valuable because your competitors are likely on a budget and have done some homework already. You can leverage their hard work!
For example by examining a competitor’s backlink profile, we noticed that they were advertising their products at a local college. So we reached out to that college and got a rare “edu” backlink back to our online store.
Leverage The Forums
I’m not talking about just dropping links to your store on the forums. In fact, if you simply advertise your online store on a forum and then leave, you will probably be banned. Instead, focus your posts on the forums towards steering people to your content pages and have the genuine intention of helping them out.
If you are helpful, over time you will establish a reputation and can then start recommending products in your own store.
When we first launched our online store, I parked myself on the wedding forums trying to help out new brides to be. And occasionally if they asked for wedding favor ideas, I would casually refer them back to our website.
To easily find forums in your niche, simply type forum:[your topic] into Google search.
As you can see above, I just rattled off 8 ways to get traffic to your online store without even blinking an eye. And believe it or not, there are a bunch more that I didn’t mention because they are more specific to our online store niche.
But here’s the thing. The worst thing that you can do is to sit there and twiddle your thumbs. You’ve got to get out there and try different things and see what sticks. Not every method of traffic generation is going to bear fruit.
All it takes is 1 or 2 good ones and you’ll start making sales. Good luck!
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.