7 Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Online Store (Plus One You Haven’t Thought About)April 7, 2016 - Holly Cardew
Traffic — every store needs it, wants it, and loves it. And, if you’re like most store owners, you’re always on the hunt for great ways to increase traffic to your online store.
There are countless ways to get visitors to your site, but some ways are far more effective than others. As a business owner, you want to spend your time on methods that will deliver the biggest rewards for the lowest cost.
Here are seven of our favorite ways to get loads of targeted traffic to your website. If you use even a few of these methods, you can start seeing a big increase in visitors to your online store!
1. Create a blog
One of the best things you can do to increase traffic to your online store is maintaining a blog. It’ll allow you to attract potential customers now and well into the future for two main reasons:
Reason 1: Writing an informative blog positions you as an influencer
People buy from those they know and trust, and becoming a trusted source on the internet is simply a matter of regularly producing content that helps and/or informs people.
A great blog for your store gives a halo effect to everything around it. Not only does your store start to look more appealing, but your products begin to look like they can reliably improve people’s lives. This is the valuable sweet spot you move into when people (especially your target audience) start viewing you as an authority in your niche.
To build trust, blog about topics relevant to what you’re selling. For example, Skinny Teatox, a natural detox tea store, writes informative posts about healthy foods and nutrition. Ugmonk, a store that sells sleek clothes, lifestyle products, and prints, creates beautiful posts about clean, high-quality design.
Reason 2: You’ll attract visitors from organic search traffic over time
Don’t expect to create a blog and have it shoot to the top of Google in one day. It takes weeks or months to acquire the link juice necessary to achieve high search rankings. This being said, the earlier you start creating great content, the better. Yes, that means you should start now!
If you’re diligent about producing quality content, though, you’re going to reap huge rewards. Customers will start finding you through search engines, and you’ll get tons of free traffic that would cost you thousands of dollars if you paid for it.
2. Join forums and Facebook groups
Sure, you could try to reach your target audience scattered among random traffic sources. Or, you could find them where they’re already hanging out.
People with strong interests in certain niches will often gravitate toward places where they can find others who share those interests. This means forums and Facebook groups will be hotspots to find your ideal customers.
If your store sells baby products, who are you customers? Mothers. This means you’ll want to find forums and Facebook groups where mothers congregate.
After you find these groups, it’s time to position yourself as an influencer. The important thing to remember is your primary focus should NOT be selling to these groups. Promoting your products and selling all the time is incredibly annoying and will probably get you kicked out everywhere you go!
Instead, adopt the mentality that you’re going to help group members with their questions and pain points. This will be far more effective in helping you make inroads to your prospective customers.
Let’s use the baby products example again. If you were a mother with a baby (or one who was expecting a baby), what kinds of things might you need help with?
- Baby food recipes
- How to get your baby to nap
- The best baby services to get help from
- Whether you should let your baby watch TV
- What to do with your baby on the weekend
- And so on…
As you can see, there’s no shortage of things a new mother might need help with. That’s where you come in.
If you can position yourself as the go-to person in each group to answer these questions, you’ll eventually build a reputation as an authority. What’s more, a cool thing happens when you’re an authority: People start seeking you out for advice because they trust you.
When people trust you and they see you also have an eCommerce store… well, buying from you suddenly becomes a no-brainer.
3. Get press
Getting press is another free way to increase traffic to your online store, and it leverages an important truth in media: Writers and journalists are always on the hunt for expert sources and compelling topics.
The trick to getting in the press is being at the top of journalists’ minds at all times. If there are media outlets you’d like to be covered in, start by sparking relationships with writers at those outlets. Twitter is a great avenue to connect with journalists — you might be surprised at how easy it is to track down and direct message somebody there.
Let’s say you ran an eCommerce store selling cool tech products. In this case, you would try to build relationships with writers in the tech space. Perhaps you’d try to build relationships with writers from blogs like Engadget, MakeUseOf, and Huffington Post Tech.
Over time, you’ll show your new contacts what your store is all about and why you’re different. In the meantime, you can become their primary source for your niche by being helpful.
What does being helpful mean?
- Provide expert quotes. Sometimes a statement just doesn’t come with as much of a punch without an expert’s opinion to back it up. That’s where you come in. If you’re always on hand to give that expert opinion, you help the writer by lending credibility to their articles. Using the tech store example, you could give writers comments about what certain news bits mean for the tech industry.
- Present new article ideas. Writers are often under pressure to constantly produce new content, so they need a wealth of ideas to keep the articles coming out. If you send them intriguing content ideas or captivating story angles, you make their job a million times easier because they won’t have to spend time hunting for topics. Again with the tech store example, you could help writers out tremendously by informing them about exciting new tech trends or products.
- Guest post for the writer. This could be the best method of all because it takes a bunch of work off the writer’s plate. If the publication you’re targeting accepts guest posts (oftentimes this will be a blog), jump at the opportunity to get your store’s name out there.
Lastly, if you happen to get into some well-known publications, you can use press logos on your website for social proof. In one instance, Voices.com added customer logos (from NBC, ABC, PBS, Cisco, The Discovery Channel, etc.) to their website and increased conversions by 400%.
4. Send sample products to influencers
Remember how we said previously that you want to find your target audience where they’re already hanging out? Well, you can also find your potential customers through who they’re already hanging out with.
To do this, go straight to one of the top social media apps out there: Instagram. Nowadays, only a third of consumers trust ads, while 90% of them trust peer recommendations. It’s no wonder influencer marketing can be incredibly effective.
To ensure you’re reaching a sufficient audience, try to approach influencers who have more than 20,000 followers. When you find influencers, check their posts to see if they’ve accepted paid posts before and to see what engagement (number of likes, comments) is like among their followers.
You might also consider hosting an Instagram takeover, letting an influencer post on your feed for a period of time. This gives you a bunch of content on your Instagram while letting you leverage the influencer’s following. Great brands like Birchbox and lululemon do this all the time!
How to find Instagram influencers
There are a lot of ways to find Instagram influencers. Some of the more effective methods include:
- Use hashtags. Search on Instagram for any hashtags that might be relevant to your niche. For example, if you’re in the fashion niche, you might want to search for hashtags like #style, #fashion, #lifestyle, #designer, #outfits, #fashionista, etc.
- See who your followers are following. The people following you right now are undoubtedly your target audience! So, if you find out who they’re following, you’ll gain access to many more customers just like the ones you’ve got.
- Browse your feed and check out who’s getting the most likes. Chances are you’re already following influencers in your niche. Just by browsing through your feed, you’ll get a sense of who’s popular and who attracts high engagement from their audience.
- Contact companies dedicated to influencer marketing. If you’re having a hard time finding influencers in your niche, you might want to use a service that’s already connected to lots of influencers. InstaBrand and Speaker are two such companies that can help you.
For more help on reaching out to Instagram influencers, check out this great blog post.
5. Get a Pinterest account and start pinning
It’s time to switch your traffic strategy into high gear and get started on Pinterest. If you want to attract enthusiastic customers to your store, Pinterest is a fantastic place to do just that. The site boasts 100 million monthly users, for one, and prospects referred by the site tend to spend more money.
Since Pinterest is such a visual medium, it lends itself well to eCommerce. You can post images and get found organically through hashtags and photo categories — Pinterest users love to browse! Furthermore, if people like your photos enough to re-pin them, you’ll extend your traffic reach considerably.
You can post anything you’d like on Pinterest. Start with posting great product photos (use white backgrounds so your photos will stand out). Next, branch out into posting in-context photos and eye-catching photos you’ve found around the Web. You can also post inspirational content like motivational images and quotes. The sky’s the limit; the more you post, the more traffic you’ll pull in.
Lastly, consider trying out buyable pins. These are pins with big blue “Buy it” buttons that entice browsers to make purchases on the spot — and yes, this caters to consumers’ love of making impulse buys!
6. Build a referral program
Your biggest fans are the people who have already purchased from you, and it’s incredibly easy to gain a new customer through a current one.
That means you should pursue referrals with a passion. Customer referrals give high ROI for the little money you spend and give you instant credibility. Just imagine if you had a referral machine that brought you new customers like clockwork.
Get started building this machine today! You can begin really easily by asking your family and friends to refer people they know. These people are the easiest to get a hold of and will serve as great ambassadors for your store.
Next, if you have existing customers, email them. Ask them if they’re happy and whether they could refer someone else to you.
Of course, you want to make it incredibly easy for them to say yes! The way you do this is by offering a reward each time you receive a referral — give a reward to both the new customer and the customer who referred them. Great ideas for referral incentives include discounts, free samples of products, and gift cards.
7. Build an email marketing list
Building an email list is definitely a “Big Kahuna” among methods to increase traffic to your online store. Many marketing gurus say building an email list is not just important but essential to bringing visitors to your website.
If you need convincing, just watch this video from marketing expert Derek Halpern of Social Triggers:
There are myriad reasons why building an email list is valuable…
- Email is the most personal medium. When you collect someone’s email address, you get permission to send information “straight to the source” (i.e., right to your customer) rather than just being another name in an endless social media feed.
- You’re not at the mercy of a third-party traffic source. Let’s say 100% of your traffic comes from the XYZ Social Network… and one day XYZ shuts down your account. Just like that, your traffic has evaporated overnight. This is an extreme example, but it highlights the importance of building an email list. When you have a list of email addresses, you can always contact your customers no matter what because you have direct contact information in hand.
- Email drives more conversions than other mediums. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing comes with a whopping ROI of 4300%. Stats don’t lie and that figure is something to get excited about.
How to build an email list and what to do when you have one
Start converting your site traffic into email opt-ins. Here are a few tips to start building an email list:
- Give your visitors tons of places to opt in. You want to put a lot of opt-in forms in front of your visitors for the simple reason that it’ll give them multiple opportunities to subscribe. Place opt-in forms in your sidebar and beneath blog posts. Also, don’t be afraid to use popups — they convert like gangbusters.
- Consider creating a lead magnet to attract more opt-ins. A lead magnet is an “ethical bribe” that you give to the visitor in exchange for their email address. If you offer a really good lead magnet, you can double or triple your opt-in rates (and to be honest, you could see even higher returns).
- Run a contest. Shelling out a bit of money for a contest or giveaway can net you huge numbers of new subscribers at very low cost. For example, AppSumo (probably the king of collecting emails from giveaways) attracted 200,000 email subscribers for only $0.30 each. Also, you can weave virality into your contest to get even more subscribers.
What to do with your list once you’ve started building it
Once you’ve started collecting emails, it’s important to stay in touch with your list to keep it engaged.
You’ll want to email your list consistently (not too often and not too rarely). A good rule of thumb is to email your subscribers about once a week.
Getting email frequency right is important, but so too is the quality of your emails. Obviously, if you’re sending a bunch of unhelpful emails, your subscribers are going to stop opening your emails and you’ll get a bunch of unsubscribes.
When it comes to sending valuable content, think about what your subscribers actually want. You want to make your content so good your list can’t help but open your emails to see what you have to say.
Write big, beautiful blog posts that help your subscribers better their lives. Send important, relevant news. Give away awesome freebies. If you keep producing the good stuff, your subscribers will keep coming back to your site again and again.
BONUS TIP: Use higher-quality images and post more photos
To round out our list, we’ll go over a simple but extremely important traffic-maximizing tip: Pay close attention to the quality of your photos.
We humans are visual creatures — in fact, 90% of the information the brain receives is visual.
For that reason, you should start seeing all of your images as important representations of your online store. The photos you distribute on guest blog posts, social media, etc. will shape what potential customers think about your brand. Of course, better-quality photos will make your store stand out and increase the likelihood of attracting site visitors.
So, take a look at the photos you’re distributing across the Web. See how you can edit them and start creating better images going forward. For example:
- Make sure your images have the right resolution. To ensure sharpness and clarity, your images should be at least 72 DPI for viewing on the web. Check out this blog post for more on image resolution.
- Use white backgrounds for product photos. This helps your products stand out because they contrast brilliantly in front of stark backgrounds. Products on white backgrounds will also stop people in their tracks as they read blog posts or browse social media. Just look at how this Kate Spade satchel pops in this photo:
Photo courtesy Kate Spade
Furthermore, chances are you’ll want to upgrade your image protocol on social media:
- Use images a lot more on Twitter. Tweets that include photos get 313% more engagement.
- Include a photo with everything you post on Facebook. Photos get 53% more Likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more click-throughs.
- Use more images in your blog posts. Articles that use one image per 75-100 words get shared the most.
Don’t those stats just make you wonder how much traffic you’ve been leaving on the table? The implication is clear: Start using more images.
When you increase both the quality of your photos and the frequency of your photo posting, you’re sure to increase traffic to your online store with just a little extra work.
Put these methods to use and increase traffic to your online store!
These strategies are among the best out there for bringing in targeted traffic to your website. Start with a few and use all of them when you’re ready! If you stick with these methods and work at them diligently, you’ll attract a committed following of new, loyal customers.