By now I feel like a broken record. But the fact of the matter is, if you don’t have any traffic coming to your online store, you won’t get any sales. If your not making any sales, you’re not making any money and that can quickly become a very frustrating (and discouraging) situation for any entrepreneur.
Shopping carts like Shopify and Bigcommerce make designing and launching a beautiful online storefront easy. But the real work is what comes after that – getting people to actually come visit your store and buy your products.
While there are no silver bullets, here are 5 tactics to try that can help increase traffic to your online store.
1. The “New” PR
Use the internet and online influencers to your advantage. PR or public relations used to be the domain of big (and expensive) PR agencies. These days it’s far easier to do it yourself. Journalists are much more accessible today, and there are a number of tools out there that can make contacting them less of a hassle.
The first step is to set up some alerts to help you find journalists and bloggers who might cover your space. Rather than spending hours, manually searching Google and blogger directories. Set up some simple alerts to give this process a head start.
One tool that is great and designed exactly for this, is a service called Help a Reporter or HARO
HARO has a free service that sends you daily notifications of journalists and bloggers that are looking for people to interview or help contribute to a story they are working on. You can also set the HARO filters to focus only on those requests that involve topics that you think you could offer an interesting opinion on. Check those daily alerts, and when you see something that’s interesting, fire off a message to that reporter. While not every reporter will respond to your requests, it is a simple process that you can build into your daily routine, and eventually you should get some hits.
Another great way to set up notifications for PR opportunities is with Google alerts. Set up a daily Google alert for your topic area or even for mentions of a competitor that may have a bigger brand name than you. Whenever Google alerts you of a story that mentions those topics, try to reach out to the reporter.
A straightforward approach tends to work best. Usually a reporter’s contact information is easy to find. If they have a Twitter account listed, tweet them with a simple “I enjoyed your article, my company is in a similar industry and would love to chat” or if you can find an email listed, write out a more thought out pitch.
Whatever you do keep it simple and keep it short. 100 words should be more than enough to say what you need to say.
2. Find Instagram Power Users
Instagram is quickly becoming the launching pad for today’s Internet celebrities. Specifically, it’s become a fertile ground for helping a whole new generation of style and trendsetters build a huge audience of followers.
One route to go, would be to try to become one of those trendsetters yourself. If your store and your brand is highly visually appealing and you have a unique style you think others will love, that can be a very fruitful goal to pursue. However for the rest of us, sometimes the easier route is to just get to know the people who have already built a following and have become power users. Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know that’s important, and in social media this can be very true.
So how can you find the Instagram cool kids? Tools like Websta allow you to search Instagram by hashtag and see what’s trending. Look for users that have huge follower counts that post about hashtag related to your market. Then, well, reach out to them.
Everybody loves free stuff. Consider sending some of these Insta-celebs samples of your products in exchange for a mention or coverage. While not every Instagram user will be open to this, some will be. The trick is in how you ask. Just be straightforward. Rather than beating around the bush, tell them you are a fan and admire their following and would love for them to check out and maybe review your products. Keep it simple.
3. Get involved in Reddit
This is an obvious but often overlooked one. There are 2 really great things about Reddit.
- First, the user community on Reddit is highly engaged. Users take the forum and discussions there very seriously and many posts to Reddit can generate very in depth ongoing discussions.
- Second, Reddit has a wide array of sub-reddits that cover almost every topic under the sun. Two great ones for ecommerce advice are r/ecommerce and r/entrepreneur.
These are sub-reddits where (if you are brave enough) you can post your store url and ask for feedback. Users there will be more than happy to offer feedback on design, marketing, logistics… everything.
Once you’ve gotten enough feedback to work with. You can also search out sub-reddits where users might be discussing your product niche. There are, for example, several fashion related subs on Reddit where you can begin engaging in to begin driving good traffic to your store.
4. Word of mouth
You don’t always have to do everything on your own. Take advantage of the network you already have. From friends and family to your early adopter customers. Use them and the positive experiences they’ve had with your store as the foundation for your online word of mouth marketing.
You can make these efforts even easier by adopting a formal customer referral or advocacy program. These programs make the process of making sure you’re asking all of your customers for a referral much easier and automatic. At the end of the day, customers trust other customers more than they trust advertising. Use this to your advantage to help increase traffic to your online store
5. Start Tweeting
Don’t overlook Twitter. Of all the social networks, many will say that Twitter can be the most difficult to get the hang of. One reason is how hard it seems to be able to get followers. While I won’t go so far as to say you can make this process easier, there are a number of best practices to follow to at least make sure you’re not doing anything to scare potential followers away.
- Share timely news, if you are breaking news awesome, even if you aren’t try to keep your tweets relevant to what’s happening that day
- Share useful information (around your topic) the great thing about twitter is there is so much information out there, the bad news is there is so much information out there. If you can filter out the great stuff from the noise of the internet for your followers they will appreciate it, and it’s a great way to help you build a reputation as an expert in your niche
- Pictures will stand out. As an ecommerce retailer you probably have an interesting visual look to your products or your store. User that to your advantage and stand out from the Twitter feed with images
- Share your passion. Be a real person, add as much personality and opinion as you can to every 140 character message
- Use hashtags. You should be using consistent hashtags in your tweets; this helps readers to understand your area of expertise. Also keep an eye out for trending hashtags as well, those can be an opportunity to add your personality and opinion to the timely news or events of the day
With some time, effort and best practices you can start building your following on Twitter, and again use that following to drive more traffic (and shoppers) to your store.
So there you have it a few practical things you can start doing today to start driving more traffic (and sales) to your online store.
Until next time.