You’ve built your online store. You sourced your products, you’ve got your business plan in place, and you’ve finally launched. The hard part is finished!
...or is it?
As you keep hitting refresh to see how many hits your site is getting, you realize that there’s one tiny thing you might have forgotten.
How are you going to get people to your site?
One of the biggest questions we get is how to drive traffic to our stores. There are tons of things you can do to draw people into your site which typically fall into either long term or short term strategies.
1. Get to blogging!
Every ecommerce site should have a blog.
Say it with me now. Every ecommerce site should have a blog.
Because blogging does so much for your site and your sales. In fact, companies that publish16+ blogs per month get 3.5 times more traffic than companies that published 0-4 posts per month. Not only should you be blogging, it should be part of the core strategy for your ecommerce.
Blogging is a fantastic long term strategy that pays off in SEO rich content that search engines will be able to use to find your site more easily. Not just for robots and algorithms, blogging also helps answer the questions that your customer needs.
Answering a customer problem or question
Start from your product and think about your customers: what kind of needs will they have that your products can solve?
The Home Depot Blog is a great example of this idea:
Now, I just want to point out a few things:
The title is something that makes you want to click on it: “Styling a Bookcase in Three Easy Steps.” If you have a customer that is looking for home improvement ideas, chances are, they’re not going to search directly for Home Depot.
But by writing an article that’s going to pop up when you search “what to put on a bookshelf” or “how to decorate a bookcase” you’re going to drive traffic to your blog, and to your site. Blogging allows you to rank for keywords that are similar to the keywords on your product pages.
Note a few really cool things about this blog- there’s a clear call to action throughout the article that tells you to “Shop this Project.”
As an online shop, you should have a clear way for your customers to get to your product pages from your article. It doesn’t have to be as “in your face” as Home Depot’s blog, but showing examples of things you can do with the links to the product pages after will work just as well.
There should always be a coherent link from your blogging to your product. Otherwise, you’re blogging just to blog and it won’t do anything for you.
Also, the article itself is rich in photos that show clear examples of what to do (by using Home Depot products of course). It’s also well structured into three main parts that makes it easily consumable.
You need to understand your customer and what they’re looking for. Where can you respond? Showing that you’re an expert in your field will earn more of your customer’s trust, and the more they trust you, the more likely they are to purchase from you.
Another important thing to note is that when you create quality content, whether that’s a blog, an awesome product video, or a gorgeous photo for social media, others will not only be willing to share it, but they’ll want to reference it too.
Building Link Juice for Referencing Power
I won’t get into the deep SEO explanation right this second- but you should think about links as power.
Every link on a website lends the site it’s linking to some of its referral power. When other well-referenced blogs link back to yours because of a great statistic or other unique content, you get some of that power. This idea is called link juice.
If there are powerful sites that are referring to your quality content, not only will you get referral traffic from those sites’ audiences, but Google will also understand that your content is quality, and you’ll get an SEO bump. Those sites are effectively giving you a bit of their link juice.
How do you get your blogs in front of those who will link to it?
Building a Backlink Strategy to Boost your Traffic
There are a few different ways you can find the most popular blogs on your topic. For example, if you’ve been a diligent student writing away, you can contact other bloggers who might want to reference your work.
There are a few tools that you can use to outreach to those who might be interested in linking to your blog and providing you with that super link juice that will jump your SEO referencing. I recommend using AHREFS for this, the tool can be a bit pricey, but you can try it out for free for two weeks.
So I searched for articles that contained the phrase “blog strategy,” which is a very common phrase that would be hard to rank for, but it’s good for the example.
That first result doesn’t look too relevant, but the rest looks pretty good. I’ve outlined in red what’s important for your purposes:
- Domain rating: AHREFS creates a domain rating from 1 to 100 which ranks how powerful the site is based on the amount of backlinks it has.
- Referring domains: This is the number of external sites that are linking just to this page. This tells you how powerful the site is.
- Organic Traffic: This is the estimated amount of traffic volume this article is getting when someone searches the keyword I entered above.
- Who Tweeted: AHREFS also provides a list of people who have tweeted these popular articles and you can rank them based on their audience size. (Note that this particular feature is only available in the advanced plan)
This is really useful data- now you know who you need to contact for a potential backlink. With this tool, you can even see who tweeted the article and reach out to them with your own.
For example, you pick out the people with the biggest audiences and you send them a DM or a Tweet with
“Hey I saw you liked X article, I wrote one too that [Does this different], love to hear your thoughts!”
Alternatively, you can use this tool to find the most popular blogs for your backlink strategy by filtering by those who have the biggest domain rating and organic traffic. From there, you can reach out to these authors to see if you can get a backlink.
There’s a few ways you can go about doing this.
Contact the authors:
You can always ask nicely. LinkedIn and email are your best friends, try to hunt down the author of the blog you want to target and send them a link with your blog.
Pitching can be a bit trickier than it sounds; these are busy people. If your content is exceptional, chances are, those you contact will gladly link to your article. If your article is much of the same or is just a re-worked version of what’s already out there, there’s no added value to the contact’s audience, nor the contact.
For more information on writing an awesome pitch, Hubspot wrote a great article on how to get your outreach pitch perfect with templates and everything.
Leave a comment:
Another great way to secure a backlink is to comment on another blog with your link. However, and I can’t stress this enough, tread lightly here.
If you plaster your link on the most popular sites, you’ll seem insincere and spammy. You don’t want that.
Add your link when it adds real value to the audience that would be reading this article. For example, if the article is already incredible (and it will be if you’ve done your research properly), and yours brings a few more examples, or maybe a funny take on it, feel free to add your link.
Nonetheless, don’t just paste your link and then go gently into that good night. Add a comment and post something that has substance.
“Hey John, great article. I love how you highlighted X, Y, and Z. I think these are important points because [insert sincere opinion here].
I recently also wrote an article on this topic, but I covered more of A, B, and C because I think it’s worth mentioning that [something that makes your article different]. I’d love to hear your thoughts! [Link to the article]”
The idea is to start a conversation. If a blog has an active comments section, it might provoke an interesting discussion on how the articles are different. Most importantly, you won’t seem like a SpamMaster 5000.
Guest posting to get your name out there:
Another great way to build a backlink strategy is to write quality articles for external blogs. For example, if you find great, popular blogs that accept guest authors, pitch them an original article.
The idea isn’t to write an article and then plug in “TRY MY STORE RIGHT NOW!” It looks commercial, and it doesn’t add value to the reader. The idea is to write something that’s actually useful for the audience of the target site.
For example, if you sell clothing, reach out to fashion bloggers and offer to write a guest post like “24 Unique Tie Knots that Will Make You Stand Out” or “The Top 10 Boot Trends throughout the Decades.” Keep it in line with what the blogger normally publishes; if it’s too different, it won't resonate with the audience.
For more information, CoSchedule created a great guest post pitch kit to help you get your posts accepted.
If you are transparent about your intentions and you’re sincere about the way you approach people, you’d be surprised at how receptive they can be.
I get approached by people who want backlinks on a regular basis, and if their content is good, I definitely consider linking to them.
If I think the content is good, but it doesn’t add anything substantial, I typically tell the blogger that they’re welcome to contribute content to our blog. It ultimately depends on the quality of the content and how someone approaches me.
2. Drive Traffic to your Ecommerce Site by Working with Influencers
Similarly to the way you’d outreach to bloggers, reaching out to influencers who already have a powerful voice in your target market can be the quick traffic boost you need for your online store. Typically an influencer is anyone who has more than 1000 followers on any one social network.
How to Find Relevant Influencers to your Ecommerce Store
A great way to find influencers is to stalk hashtags that are relevant to your products. Let’s go back to the fashion example: if your audience is on instagram, your top hashtags will include #ootd, #instafashion, #fashionblogger, #fashionista, etc. When you search for those hashtags, you’ll find the top posts under that hashtag.
I just searched for the #Fashionista hashtag on Instagram and this was the second photo. She’s got over 3000 likes and 52 comments. With an audience of 289K followers, this might be a great person to reach out to.
This is a sponsored post as she’s mentioned the brand of the shoes she’s wearing and it’s accompanied by the hashtag #ad. We already know she’s receptive to sponsored content.
What to Look for in an Influencer
Understand that reaching out to an influencer who has a huge following might be come along with a huge price tag.
That’s not necessarily your goal here.
When you’re building your traffic, you want to shoot for mid-sized and micro influencers, or those who have a significant, but smaller social following. Why? Because mid and micro influencers tend to have 16 times higher engagement rates. You can check an instagram influencer by using Phlanx’s Influencer Engagement calculator.
A huge audience is well and good, but engagement is where it’s at. After all, what’s the point in doing an influencer campaign for a 3.2 million user audience if there’s only a third that are active users?
There’s a great tool you can use to find this is BuzzSumo. You can try it out for free (like AHREFS) and you can search over several social media accounts to find influencers for each one. Unfortunately, you can’t search via Instagram, but you can search for Twitter influencers that have an Instagram profile.
Here, I’ve filtered out influencers, companies and journalists and selected users that have an Instagram profile. Feel free to go after these top profiles, but if you scroll down until you’re hitting the 3000-10,000 follower range, you’ll probably have an easier time.
Obviously, my examples here are really general and are producing a ton of results. If you have a niche market and can use more specific keywords, go for it. You want to get as precise as possible.
For the full story on BuzzSumo, check out our review.
How to Sweeten the Deal
Working with influencers means a partnership. You’re asking someone who has power within a community to vouch for you and your products. This is a give and take partnership- meaning that you have to offer some kind of compensation for the influencer to essentially create content for you.
While you might not have a huge budget, targeting smaller influencers might be easier on the wallet. There’s an Influencer post cost calculator you can try via Influencer Marketing Hub that measures followers vs engagement to estimate the price per post you could expect.
If I’m an influencer of anything, it’s cat photos.
Free products and bonuses:
Influencer compensation doesn’t have to be monetary. Some influencers will provide a post for you just for some free products. You can always reach out and offer to send a sample or a best selling product for your influencer to test out.
However, understand that if you ask an influencer to review your product to their community, they’re going to give an honest opinion. If you’ve chosen your influencer correctly, you can be confident in your good review.
Set up an Affiliate Program:
Another great way to compensate influencers is by putting an affiliation program in place. This way, you can compensate your influencers based on their performance and easily track your results. You can track their traffic either with a tracked link or a promo code.
I suggest using a promo code as it works better for long term campaigns. They don’t expire, unless you force them to, and you can have several that are personalized for each influencer campaign.
In the same vein, you can also use an referral program with your customers, offering them a discount for each new customer they refer to you. This incentivizes your customers to share the products they’ve purchased with their friends and family or on social media.
3. Launching a New Contest
While launching a contest means giving something away for free, the impact it can have on your ecommerce site’s product discovery and traffic is impressive. Contests and giveaways work really well to promote virality around your ecommerce.
Decide on your rules
Decide on a goal for your giveaway: Do you want to grow your email list? Or maybe you’d prefer more social shares and buzz around your products? Once you decide on what you want out of your giveaway, you’ll how your customers will have to enter. Make sure this is something you can track and measure.
Another thing to keep in mind: simplicity is key. If you make a contest too complicated or too much work for your entrees, they’ll pass it over unless the prize is really really good. Make sure what you’re offering is appropriate for what you’re asking your customers to do.
This is also a great opportunity to pin down some great user generated content. For example, asking your customers to create something or take a photo that has a clear link back to your store and products means you get content that you can repurpose later.
Every great contest needs a punchy title and a smooth hashtag to gather all the entries in the same place if you’re putting the contest on social media. Be conscious of your platform, you don’t want a Twitter contest hashtag that’s 40 characters long.
Pin down a great prize
There are tons of different things you can offer in terms of prizes for your online store. If you’re doing a new product launch, offer the product to one or a few lucky winners. If you’re starting a new sale, offer a box of the inventory that’s moving a bit slower. If new customers is what you’re after, offer a $100 shopping spree at your store. If your products are as great as you think they are, you customers will be hooked.
Create a Platform-Exclusive Promotion
If you’re going to be doing a giveaway or contest on social media, make it something that is exclusive to the social network you’re running it on. Otherwise, choose a winner per platform- but understand that it might get complicated to track them all.
This is also a great way to push a promotion and show your followers that you value their attention. For example, saying “20% off your next purchase, just for our Facebook fans! Use the code FACEBOOK20.” This gives your customers a real incentive to keep their attention on your page.
4. Launch a Paid Campaign
When you’re just starting out and you don’t have the social following to get traffic flow to your ecommerce site, launching a paid campaign is the way to go.
I know what you’re thinking. You just launched a business, money is tight, and you don’t have the budget for some expensive outreach campaign.
I get it. The answer is absolutely not throwing thousands of dollars at Facebook or Google and hoping for the best.
But the traffic that paid ads bring in converts 25% more than organic social for example.
You need to make sure your strategy is on point when you launch a paid campaign, and if it is, it can be affordable.
Facebook ads start off at $5 per day to boost your posts, and they have a campaign builder made to walk you through the process. Google AdWords can even be affordable as you can set a maximum budget per day and go for longer keywords that fewer people will be bidding on.
For more information on social media, I’ve already written a complete guide for launching a successful paid social ad campaign here.
For Google AdWords, I’ll explain a bit further:
Google AdWords allows you to create a Pay-Per-Click or PPC campaign that shows your ad above search results when a user searches for the keyword you’ve placed a bid on. If you bid higher than others, you’ll appear higher in the search results.
AdWords can be a bit tricky to use, but Google will offer you a bit of help if you ask for it or if you have problems. The real trick is finding the best keywords to use, and there are a few different tools that can help you do this:
SEMRush will give you a list of keywords that you can export (to later import into AdWords) and shows you approximately how much they cost per click. It can be a bit pricey, but you can try out a limited version for free to get started.
Moz Keyword Explorer:
Pricing comparably with SEMRush, Moz also offers a keyword tracker to determine the best words for your search campaigns. What I like about Moz is that it suggests similar keywords that customers might type as well (SEMRush does this a little too).
What you ultimately want to look for are keywords that others haven’t yet thought of (so they bid lower) but that are still getting significant amounts of traffic. This way, you can get the best ROI when you’re launching a paid search campaign.
Google shopping works similarly, but allows you to add product information into your search bid.
Combined with your AdWords account, you can create a feed of products from your store and Google will determine whether or not the products are relevant to the search (and where to place them based on how much you’ve bid).
Shopify has a fantastic guide on how to create a Google Shopping campaign if you want more information.
Tracking your Results
No matter which of these strategies you choose to implement, you should be tracking your results to understand where you need to tweak your efforts and/or budget.
Divvit lets you see your traffic by clicking on the Traffic tab on the left of your screen.
Here, you can compare the traffic throughout your site and see which of your channels are performing the best. You can see how your referral, organic social, organic search, and paid channels are doing and which ones are working best for your online store.
Track your weekly or monthly results and export your reports so you can understand exactly how your site is doing. Driving traffic to your new ecommerce site seems like a huge task, but if you put the effort and research into which method will work best for you, you’ll be swimming in visitors in no time.
What are your best tips for driving ecommerce traffic?