How to Increase Traffic To Your Online Store

Take that to the bank

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

Help a reporter out

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.

Discover Instagram celebrities

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Engage the reddit subs

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

mouth-medical-marketing

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.

7 Quick ideas to get your store ready for the holidays

mall christmas tree

If your online store is like most others, then you rely on the holiday season for a quarter or more of your annual sales. The end of the year holiday season drives all of us, all over the world, out o the malls and online to find gifts for our loved ones (and sometimes ourselves… ok mostly ourselves – did I say that out loud?).

The rush of shopping traffic itself is enough to give most retailers a boost in sales. But in the increasingly competitive ecommerce world, that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels and rely on a natural lift in your business.

There are quite a few things you can incorporate into your online store experience to rise above your competitors, and be better positioned to take advantage of eager holiday shoppers.

Here are 7 quick ideas you can try right away to get ready for the holidays.

1. Try a countdown box on your website.

One of the oldest sales tricks in the book is trying to give your buyers a sense of urgency. Time is a great tool to create this urgency to buy.

Buy before the sale is over!
Only a few items left in stock!

These are examples of marketing messages designed around urgency.

There is no more urgent time to buy than the holidays. Nothing ruins the joy of spending time off with loved ones than a missed or forgotten gift!

Use this stress to your advantage. Try implementing a countdown box to remind visitors that time may be running out before the holidays. Sometimes a simple reminder that there are only so many days left until Christmas is enough to lead to impulse buying and increased conversions.

2. Add holiday shipping incentives

Shipping is one of the biggest bottlenecks on online selling. if you can’t ship your product in time for then the customers wants, you won’t make the sale.

If you traditionally offer standard postal service five business day shipping, add an express shipping option for the holidays, or a premium courier option.

While the difference in delivery time may only be a few days, that can be a huge deal this time of year. Better (more convenient) shipping options could be the difference between a sale or a visitor deciding to go with a competitor, especially as the end of the year gets closer and closer.

3. Try gift cards during the holidays.

One of the fastest growing product segments across all retail is the gift card. You’ve bought them, and you’ve probably given them as gifts also. I know that gift cards are my own go-to gift idea.

Why not try using them for your online business.

The ability to create gift cards is one of the latest features that Shopify has added natively to their platform. Not only are gift cards a great option for new visitors to your store. If you’re on one of the premium Shopify packages you might be already paying for this feature anyhow, so you might as well use it this time of year.

4. Offer volume-based incentives

During this time of year more than any other consumers are far more likely to have large shopping baskets. They aren’t just buying for themselves right now; they are buying for everyone around them too.

Encourage these volume purchases (and give the consumers a bit of a break at the same time) by offering volume discounts, bundles product offerings or large discounts off of certain purchase sizes.

Take a look at your margins and look for creative ways to increase average order values without impacting your profit margins too negatively.

5. Ask for a referral on the order confirmation page

If you don’t have one already, create an order confirmation page that asks for a customer referral immediately after a purchase has been made.

All of your customers probably know someone else who is scrambling to find appropriate gifts this time of year. Better yet, your customers’ own friends and family probably have similar tastes, so they might very well be interested in your store as well. Customer referral programs are a great way to organically grow your business, particularly at busy times like the holidays.

Look for tools that allow you to setup these programs quickly, so they are ready in time for the season. Tools should make the referral process dead simple for consumers. Don’t force them to write out long elaborate messages, or cut and paste hyperlinks. A good referral program should only require a few clicks from a consumer to get you a new lead.

6. Check your SSL certificate

Not even the best marketing in the world can save a sale if a customer add products to the cart, clicks on the checkout button, and then sees a message saying “this transaction isn’t secure.”

You should always make sure your SSL certificate is updated, but holiday season is a great time to double and triple check that is the case.

7. Give your site a visual once over

Your website may render differently depending on the web browser or differently from desktop to tablet to mobile.

Don’t lose a large amount of sales because you forgot to check what your site looks like in Internet Explorer. Again these are tests you should be doing year round, but the holiday rush is as good a time as any to double check.

Make sure to double-check the major web browsers: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari. You’ll also want to check a few Android and IOS devices as well. Shopify research has shown that this year over half of all shoppers are now browsing stores through an online device.

 

So there you have it, 7 things you can immediately do to prepare for the holiday rush. Now if you don’t mind me, I’ve got to go gift shopping!

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Forewards-update-email

 

 

How To Get 100 More Twitter Followers For Your Business

It’s almost certainly the most commonly asked question by new (and even current) users on Twitter.

How can I get more Twitter followers?

These days businesses of all shapes and sizes have no choice but to make building out your social media presence a cornerstone of your marketing strategy. From ecommerce, to services, and eBay to Shopify. No matter who you are, you absolutely must be present where your customers are, and more and more where they are is on social media. But for many, the hardest platform to get used to is Twitter.

Who should I follow? Should I follow everybody back? What hashtags should I use, and what are they in the first place?

There are lots of tactics you may have read about to build your Twitter following, but which ones work, which ones don’t and which ones should you focus on?

Well, the team over at Quicksprout is here once again to the rescue. They went out and asked some of the foremost experts in social media for their advice and have compiled this infographic that shows some of the techniques you can use to quickly add another 100 followers to your Twitter account.

How to Get Your First 100 Twitter Followers

Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

 

10 Facebook Advertising Tips

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Whether you are a Facebook advertising newbie or an ol’ hand I’m betting you could use a few pointers about how you can make your ads more successful. Luckily to build ads that convert on Facebook isn’t that difficult, it’s just about knowing how. Here are 10 top tips to help you successfully advertise on Facebook.

1. Images: Images are what grab a Facebook users attention. It’s what they first see and if your picture doesn’t pull your customer in then it’s probably a bit of a dud. Getting images right isn’t as straightforward as you think as there are a few issues to think about before you commit to one.

First is the size, make sure you get this right. Then having clear, attractive images that display your products at their best is something you must think about. Then there is simple product image versus lifestyle images, which one to choose?

To make sure you’ve built an ad that is getting the optimum amount of click-through rates test and compare how your images perform. Customers will react differently to different images so test and this should deliver you the best results for your ads.

2. Copy: If images catch your customer’s attention, copy is what convinces them to click-through. Compelling copy can be a real enticement to a customer and make clicking your ads a must.

When writing your copy make it descriptive yet concise. Also tug on those heart strings by adding a bit of emotion. Emotionally appealing copy can be a real draw and make customers shout “I want that!”

3. Bid: Bidding for a smaller business can be a little confusing to figure out. So before you jump in with your bids, think about your audience size. Don’t bother with oCPM. You’re not Red Bull (yet).

Rather try go for smaller, more defined audiences and CPM bids. These suit a growing small business and using them should have you nailing your ads.

4. Budget: Your Facebook budget is all about balance. Go to low and you risk not reaching anyone in your audience and going to high could mean that you are overextending yourself. You need to set a realistic budget that will deliver the results you want.

A good rule is to set a budget that can reach your entire audience within a week. This will show if this audience is the right fit for your business and make the most of your hard earned cash.

5. Analytics: Why bother run any campaign if you don’t track its progress? It’s foolish, will make your ads less effective and will almost certainly lose you money.

When starting Facebook advertising, remember to set up conversion tracking for your ads. This will not only allow you to keep track of all those lovely sales but also see what isn’t working so you can tweak your campaigns and become more successful.

6. Gender: Targeting ads by gender is an easy yet effective way to build better ads. To cater to both genders, create two separate audiences with each ad tailored for their perspective groups.

Modify your images and copy for both genders so that they are most appealing to each and it should impact your click-through rate.

7. Age: A twenty year old and a forty year old have very different tastes. Right? Therefore having one single ad that is aimed at a large age group probably isn’t going to work for your store’s ad.
Just like gender, filtering your audience by age can create a highly targeted ad that reaches the right customers.

8. Interests: Interests are one of the most effective ways to narrow down your audience and find Facebook users that are most likely to click your ads and convert. Put thought into what your customers are actually interested in and you should find your customers.

A good rule for interests is to think niche. For example if you have a golf store, don’t just target people with the interest “Golf”. This audience will be much too large and could only have a fleeting interest in golf. This could mean that you might be wasting money on people who have no real intention of buying your products.

Instead try interests such as “The Ryder Cup” or another golf brand. It will be a smaller audience that are much more likely to have an active interest in golf and thus, buy from your store.

9. Audience Size: Think thousands, not millions! Audiences in the millions are too big and will burn through your budget before you have the chance to reach any real customers.

Audiences between 50,000 and 200,000 should do the trick. It’s a great size as it allows you to reach everyone on a realistic budget and will enable you to test to see if this audience works for you.

10. Call to Action: Give people that extra push with a great call to action. Having a simple yet effectual “Get It Now!” or “Buy Today!” can be a real incentive for customers. It acts as a great motivator for customers to click-through and convert in your store.

Now go, experiment and use these tips to create awesome Facebook ads that get you the sales you want!

Think your ads pass the test? Get your ads graded for free here!

SEO tactics and Why I Live My Life In Fear of Google

toilet mug

When you are trying to build a business online, whether SaaS, services, or online retail, there is one linchpin in your marketing plan that you should always be aware of – Google.

While there are many, many tactics you can use to drive traffic (and resulting customers) to your website, ultimately SEO can, and should always be, a channel to keep in mind.

The great thing about SEO is that because the traffic you get from search is organic (web surfers actively looking for content, or products similar to what you offer) it tends to be very good, and high converting traffic. The other great thing about search traffic is once you’ve laid down your SEO foundation, it tends to be a lasting marketing asset. Searchers will continue to be able to find you whether you continue your SEO efforts or not (although you should always strive to maintain and improve them over time).

The bad thing about SEO is you can be at the mercy of Google and their algorithm changes.

You could say that I wake up every morning deathly afraid of what Google will bring. Or, you could say that I don’t do that because I try my best to be up to date with the best practices that Google looks out for, as well as the old practices that Google now says might have a negative impact on your site.

So on that note, here are 3 tactics that you should eliminate from your SEO strategy

1. (Bad) Link Building

No question, your website’s link profile is critical to your search engine rankings, domain and page ranking for your business. However the “building links at any cost” tactics of the past have long fallen out of favor with the folks at Google (and the other search engines).

Only a few years ago, there was a booming cottage industry of link farms, website directories that were thin on content, and other easy sources of paid links. Google recognized that most (if not all) of these links offered no value to visitors, and were almost purely designed to catch the attention of their search spiders. As such, Google not only devalues any thin and purchased links these days in it’s ranking algorithms, but sites that have nothing but these types of links can be severely punished as well.

So if you come across sites offering lots of links for a fee, or even free sites that allow you to post your own links on a page with little to now value to a web surfer. Turn away. At worst these types of links will do nothing to boost your rankings. At worst, they may end up making your search rankings worse.

2. Keyword stuffing

A simple on page SEO tactic that used to go a long way in catching the attention of search spiders was to stuff your content with as many keywords as possible. As Google has continued to improve their search algorithm, this is one of the old school “tricks” that is now the easiest for them to catch.

When creating content, you absolutely should use keywords and keyword phrases. However, you should never be using keywords to the detriment of readability, and certainly never when it is inappropriate. Content that Google deems hard to read or overly stuffed with keywords or words repeated unnecessarily, is also content that Google will flag as SPAM. That is not a list you want your site to be on.

3. Invisible Text

Invisible text, or text that is hidden from readers but embedded into your website code, or buried at the bottom of your page is another technique that used to be popular, and pretty effective too.

However, like the other tactics we talked about, those days are over. Search engines have adapted to recognize invisible text, which today at worst will make no difference in your search rankings, and at worst may get your site hit with a penalty.

So if that’s the list of tactics that you shouldn’t use anymore.

So the question you’re probably asking yourself is this. If those are the things that I shouldn’t be doing, what “Should” I be doing when it comes to SEO.

1. Stay in School (in spirit)

First and foremost, get educated. It’s a good idea to get a rough understanding of the elements of your page that Google is now putting more focus on.

Arguably the best resource online is the search strategy content published by the team at Moz. Rand Fishkin and his team can help guide you not only to he latest and greatest tips, but they also have a vibrant and exceptionally active community of other online marketers sharing advice in their forums.

We have also published a handy infographic on this blog not too long a go that provides a very thorough list of elements that Google considers in it’s SEO algorithms.

2. Lead with Content

Next content. Great content is really the secret weapon in winning the war of SEO. But rather than just tell you to create great shareable content, and leave you to your own wits. We’ve published a great instructional blog here, describing how to use a technique called the Skyscraper Technique, to better your odds of creating something highly shareable and engaging.

3. Be Social

This is perhaps one of the most controversial areas of SEO. Google has been very coy about how much, and if at all they value social signals and social sharing in their search algorithm. The way I look at things, at the very least it can’t hurt. After all, the next most important place you want to be catching the attention of potential customers (after search) is most definitely social media.

The more presence you have on social media, and better yet, the more your customers are talking about you in social media the better. Again here’s a post we published not too long ago that goes into how you might be able to harness social, as wells as word of mouth or referral marketing to really make the most of this channel.

So there you have it. Google isn’t anything to be afraid of. Just make sure your strategies are up to date to be able to get as much immediate and long-term benefit out of it as you can.