The e-commerce traffic myth – if you build it, they will come
If only it were as easy as setting up an ecommerce store and having people come flocking to buy! Unfortunately, you're going to have to do a little more legwork to introduce your website to people and get traffic. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources in today's ecommerce marketplace which can help you drive traffic to your ecommerce store and convert it into sales.
Hansel & Gretel Method
When Hansel and Gretel were walking through the forest they left breadcrumbs on their path so that they could find their way home. Of course, this ended badly for them because the forest animals ate their breadcrumbs and they were lost. And you know, were almost eaten by a witch.
What Hansel and Gretel should have dropped were links. Links are forever.
When luring traffic to your e-commerce store imagine dropping links as the way to get your customers to follow you home. Every link you drop on social media, in the press, as a guest blogger, on forums, among your friends and family, through e-commerce affiliate marketing, on search engines, on a podcast or Youtube video is a trail that leads back to your store. While not everyone will buy, some will. The more links you drop, the higher your website traffic and the more people will have the opportunity to become paying customers.
Top 10 proven strategies to drive e-commerce traffic
Let's look at the top 10 proven strategies to drive eCommerce traffic:
- Media Publicity/PR
- Celebrity Influencers
- Social Media
- Affiliate Marketing
- Sharing is Caring
- Become an Expert
- Free Giveaways
- Content Creation
- Free Offers & Discounts
- Real Life
1. Media Publicity/PR
Remember the time that I hired a PR company who sent a bunch of press releases and nobody called, nobody bought? I changed my strategy and focused on direct contact with the media. I researched editorial calendars and gift guides, I found out exactly who to pitch and when. It was an incredibly successful campaign and I was running a six-figure business with my Tees for Change company within 18 months. Research can be time-consuming. The pitch has to be perfect. Timing matters. This is why I recommend Media Leads as your one-stop-shop publicity resource. We've done all the work for you to discover who, what and when. All you have to do is make contact.
2. Celebrity Influencers
Think of how much traffic you can get if say, Kim Kardashian, were to drop your ecommerce store link on her Twitter feed! There are resources that allow you to find celebrity contact information, like Contact Any Celebrity. Don't limit yourself to television and movie stars. There are Youtube stars, Instagram stars, blogger stars, podcast stars, authors and experts in fields related to your products. Often these people are easy to access—providing direct contact information right on their websites and social media pages—and they have loyal followers who highly value their recommendations.
Look for people in related industries and check out their numbers. Do they have a lot of followers? Are their followers extremely loyal? Are their followers your Ideal Customers? Send them a note, offer them a free sample, engage on their pages with their followers, tag them on social media to get their attention. You'd be surprised at how willing some of the world's greatest influencers are, especially if you're offering something they can believe in.
3. Social Media
We live in an era where social media reigns supreme in today's e-commerce marketplace. According to Smart Insights, 76% of Facebook users log in daily. Fifty-one percent of Instagram users log in daily and 42% of Twitter users. Social media is today's water cooler, social club, coffee shop, book club and yellow pages all rolled into one. Not to mention the activity on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit and Quora.
These platforms are social so engagement is a must. Commenting, liking and posting all build engagement. Don't limit yourself to only using business pages to promote your business. Algorithms are such that few people will see your business page posts without paid boosting and they are limited in your ability to interact with your customers on a personal level. Remember that people buy from people.
Use your personal pages to build a following and create relationships to drive ecommerce traffic. It's not necessary to use every social media outlet either. Pick two or three networks where your ideal customers hang out and focus on those. Pinterest (which is one of my primary sources of traffic) and Instagram lend themselves very nicely to ecommerce traffic, so you should definitely have a presence there.
4. Affiliate Marketing
In previous posts we've talked about how to engage other people—strangers, even—to market your products for you, for a share of the profits, of course. If you can get other people to drop links in their own circles, they are driving traffic you personally don't have access to. Don't forget to invite your own customers to become affiliates and spread the word for bonuses and perks. They are using their own social collateral to drive traffic to your store.
5. Sharing is Caring
Creating strategic relationships and partnerships in your own industries is a brilliant way to drive exactly the right customers to your store. When you help other people who sell complementary or related products, they will likely help you. These don't have to be direct partnerships. Tagging them on social media, dropping a link to a product, starting up a conversation on Facebook Messenger, becoming their customer – these are are all passive ways to create relationships. Most people will welcome industry collaborators and respond in kind.
6. Become an Expert
Becoming an expert in your field will provide many opportunities to promote your e-commerce store. If you're an expert in your industry you will be invited to participate in symposiums, trade conferences, industry roundups, and more. You'll be a sought out guest for podcasts and media interviews. People will flock to your social media and your ecommerce store to find out what you're doing and what you're thinking. It's a priceless way to drive ecommerce traffic your way.
7. Free Giveaways
If you're selling an awesome product, people will want it. Running a giveaway can be an effective way to drive traffic to you. First, it will drive people to see your ecommerce store to find out what they could win. Second, you can incentivize participants to share your giveaway on social media in exchange for more entries. Third, you'll collect all participants' email, growing your list. Fourth, you'll offer a special to all entrants as a way to entice them to buy, even if they didn't win.
8. Content Creation
A blog, a podcast, a Youtube channel and guest blogging are all ways to drive traffic to your ecommerce store. Remember Hansel and Gretel? Think of every blog you write, every podcast you do, every Youtube video you create as a link that Google and other search engines can find to follow you home. You'll want to do some SEO research and include that in your content to ensure that Google is sending the right people your way. It does no good to send cat lovers to your dog product store. Use your SEO to target qualified traffic.
9. Free Offers & Discounts
You want traffic, yes, but don't waste the opportunity to build your list. They say it takes seven to 12 times for a person to hear your message before they buy. Think of your own buying behavior. Maybe you've seen the OneLove bras that are constantly on your FB feed. Perhaps you click through and look around. Maybe you see there's a 15% discount on the first bra if you give them your email. Perhaps you're visiting an ecommerce product that focuses on women's health and they offer a free ebook and weekly information. Whether it's a content upgrade, a free offer or a discount, make sure your potential customers keep coming back to your message. Eventually, some of them will buy – they just need a long seduction.
10. Real Life
Just because you have an ecommerce store doesn't mean you need to be a hermit. In fact, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that a handshake and eye-to-eye contact can be the most effective marketing tool you have. I once went to a workshop about public speaking. The presenters disclosed that they had spent a significant amount of money on Facebook advertising that resulted in no sales. Yet, they gave one speech at a local entrepreneur Meetup and had 20 people sign up for their training. The difference? Face-to-face contact and focused attention. They were selling an ecommerce product, but they understood they had to build the in-person relationship first.
An author I know rented a booth at a local women's business conference and sold more books in one day than she had all year through online sales. Going to any party, Meetup, networking group, conference, mom's group, book club or anywhere else you spend your time can be your very best marketing tactic. People buy from people. But, you gotta get out there.
What has been the most successful thing you've done to drive ecommerce traffic to your site? What has been the least successful? Leave a comment below and let me know!
This is absolutely a great article, Andreea!
I’d add one caveat to the in-person traffic building tactics:
Often, people aren’t specific enough when selecting or driving traffic from events. People will blow their entire year’s advertising budget to go to the largest event with the most people who *might* be interested in their commerce wares.
“I sell jewelry – I’ll go to the biggest women’s conference in the state!”
“I sell children’s books – I’ll go to the biggest parent conferences in the state!”
The problem is the lack of specificity and the lack of a system for measuring exactly how worthwhile these events are.
I suggest creating ONE special offer, with a special landing page, specifically for the audience at the event, and offer ONE irresistible incentive for event attendees to give YOU their contact information (see how this differs from handing out free samples?)
You then have a clean measurement. Say the event cost you $300 to attend. Out of 20,000 event attendees, you got 30 email sign-ups and 10 purchases of $50 each. Was the event worth it?
With a little advance planning, events can be a goldmine of traffic – but it pays to measure and test everything, even your event pay-off.
@T.A. Somers I think you’ve made some great points — yes, in order to make fact-based decisions about where to put my efforts/your $, I need to create the opportunity to measure all my actions. Good articles prompt even more productive thinking!