— February 14, 2019
You need more traffic on your e-commerce website.
This statement will be true for as long as you have an e-commerce website.
The good news? There’s lots of traffic out there to be had. Over 220 million Americans are expected to make a purchase online in 2019.
Of course, they’re not all your ideal customer.
And that’s the other challenge. You don’t just need more traffic; you need the right traffic.
Product ads are great, but they can’t do it all
In the early stages of selling their products online, most e-commerce marketers focus on direct response ads.
This makes a lot of sense. Direct response is simple to execute and budget for, and the results are easy to measure.
But direct response alone isn’t enough to power long-term, scalable growth.
Eventually, channels that produced strong results on day one become saturated, with the same audience receiving the same ad. And savvy consumers have gotten really good at avoiding product ads.
That’s why the best e-commerce marketers develop a multichannel traffic strategy that consistently brings new, targeted visitors to their websites.
There are a billion tips, tricks, and hacks out there for creating this multichannel traffic funnel. And when your business grows to $ 100M in sales (it will—I believe in you!), you’ll have teams of in-house experts working on them all.
But until that point, there are five essential sources of traffic you can easily tap to keep new customers flowing and existing ones coming back.
First, let’s make sure your website is fast and friendly
Before you invite thousands of new prospects to your online store, you’ll want to make sure they don’t encounter a couple common speed bumps when they get there.
Improve your site speed
A 1-second slow down on your site can decrease conversions by 7% and negatively affect your search engine rankings.
That’s a lot of wasted marketing resources.
To check your website speed, run your site through a free speed checker like Pingdom.com. It will give you a speed grade and suggest where you can improve.
Once you’ve checked your site speed, attack the lowest hanging fruit that’ll improve speed the most.
Optimize for mobile
So it’s pretty important that your site is ready for mobile shoppers.
This free Google tool will test just how friendly your site is on mobile devices.
If your site didn’t fare so well, don’t worry. It’s not too difficult to improve its mobile friendliness.
Now that your website is a super-fast, mobile-friendly place for people to browse, read, and shop, let’s look at ways to get more traffic through the virtual door.
1. Drive blog traffic with SEO
When someone goes to Google, they’re focused on finding answers and solutions.
What time does the bank close? Where’s the best greenway to run? How do I get a chili stain out of the couch before my wife gets home (hypothetically, of course)?
If you can provide them with an answer when they need it most, they’ll gladly visit your site.
Your job is to find out what questions your ideal customers are asking and then answer them in a way that tells Google you’re doing it well.
Officially, that’s called writing for search engine optimization (SEO).
Things can get really techy when you dive deep into SEO. But for starters, there’s really two steps you need to follow.
First, find out what questions your customers are asking.
Keywords are the words and phrases someone types into Google. For example: “Grocery stores in Chicago,” or “How do I write a blog post for SEO?”
To get started on what these questions might be for your customer, ask yourself:
- What does my customer like to do?
- What motivates them to do it?
- What’s keeping them from doing it?
For example, let’s say you’re launching a new model of running shoe. It’s mid-priced, designed for endurance running, and geared toward the weekend athlete. Your ideal customer is likely 30 to 50 years old, works full-time, and may have a family.
What are these people searching for online that connects to your brand?
Taking a guess, you might come up with a question like: “How do I train for my first marathon?”
But is this the way your customers are asking this question on Google?
There are tools-a-plenty you can use to find this out.
I use a free Chrome plugin called Keywords Everywhere.
With the plugin installed, when I do a Google search I automatically see:
- Volume: The number of people searching that term
- Cost-per-click: How expensive it will be to get paid traffic from Google Ads
- Competition ranking: How difficult it will be to beat out the competition and rank for that keyword
For our marathon question:
The details of my query appear below my text. There’s also a list of other keywords I may want to consider.
What you’re ideally looking for here is the unicorn keyword—a keyword with a high search volume, low cost-per-click, and low competition.
Since there’s no search volume for my original question, I’ll consider a second choice. It looks like couch to marathon would be a good choice. Or possibly how to train for a marathon from scratch.
In reality, you’ll enter a few searches. But this is good enough for now.
So we have our keywords and we’re ready to write.
Next, publish for your customers—not for Google.
One common mistake I see is brands placing more importance on Google than on their customers. Google probably won’t buy anything from your store, so your content should be created with the reader in mind first.
Google’s goal is to make its service as useful as possible for its users. So if you’re writing useful content for real people, you’re also well on your way to ranking well on Google.
(There are a few other things you can do to your content if you really want to knock your SEO out of the park.)
Keeping your keyword and your specific audience in mind, you might now create an article titled: How to go from couch to marathon in just 5 hours a week.
Google regularly crawls your website to know if it’s likely to be a good resource for its users. As your blog grows, it will tell Google just how great it is in several ways.
Publishing new content to a blog takes time, but we’ve seen first hand the positive results a blog can produce for a brand’s e-commerce sales.
Now that people are finding your brand through Google, let’s see if we can get some traffic from the other side of the two-headed marketing monster: Facebook.
2. Facebook advertising
Fact: 78% of American consumers have discovered products on Facebook. This has made the social network a critical source of e-commerce traffic.
Organic posting on your business Facebook page is useful, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to reach large audiences through organic posts alone.
To use this consumer-rich platform effectively, you’ll want to devote some budget to paid Facebook ads.
Before you start placing ads, though, we should consider the psychology of consumers on Facebook. They behave very differently from consumers on Google.
People don’t go to Facebook to make decisions. They often go to Facebook to avoid making decisions.
If you interrupt the flow of their feed with an in-your-face product offer they’ve never heard of, they’ll likely keep on scrolling.
Instead, think about jumping into the conversation they’re already having by placing ads that feature helpful content.
We find that aspirational content featuring numbered lists (AKA listicles) perform really well on Facebook.
For our running shoe company, placing an ad that features the article ‘The 7 Most Beautiful Places for Your First Marathon’ should be a traffic magnet.
Facebook’s advertising platform offers lots of ways to narrow down your target audience and make the most of your advertising budget. We recently hosted a webinar that dives deeper into this topic. Watch now to take your Facebook ads to the next level.
This strategy is not only a great way to generate traffic, it’s also a natural filter for the right traffic. People reading this article are the most likely consumer of your running shoes.
While SEO requires you to create original content, Facebook does not. This is a great opportunity to use licensed content, which provides value to your audience and generates lots of targeted traffic without overextending valuable resources.
And once they’ve visited, you can now retarget them to keep the conversation going. (More on that in a minute.)
3. Email marketing
People who have subscribed to your email list are already part of your tribe. They know your brand and trust it enough to give up their email address.
This is why email marketing continually produces the highest ROI of any marketing platform.
The trick is to give your subscribers something of value so they keep opening your emails. A lot of small business think they need to offer discounts and coupons to make this happen—but that’s not the only way to keep people interested.
One online retailer that’s crushing email marketing is Campman.com. They’ve seen an impressive 10x growth in revenue through email in the last 12 months.
Campman achieved this success because they use their newsletter to foster a community of like-minded adventurers.
Every week, Campman subscribers are treated to a new themed email that speaks to their interests. Matcha content is paired with product offers to create a compelling story customers and prospects want to read.
For example, this email features an article about cozy winter huts accompanied by Campman apparel a customer might need for such a trip.
And because they know their customers are generally beer and music lovers as well, they include a beer of the week and a song of the week in each newsletter. It’s a personal touch that speaks directly to their community.
Growing your subscriber list should be a high priority, given the value this channel brings. Don’t be afraid to ask your website visitors to subscribe to your list. A well-designed pop-up introduced while they’re reading your content will do the trick.
And, hey, while we’re on the topic—why not subscribe to our newsletter? We send weekly emails with business tips, marketing advice, and other resources for growing businesses. You can find the sign-up form at the bottom of this blog post.
One beautiful result of driving all that high-quality traffic to your site through Facebook and Google is that you can now retarget them.
In case you’re not familiar, retargeting, also known as remarketing, is that marketing magic that makes an ad for sofas appear in your Facebook feed two minutes after you’ve visited a furniture store website.
You can get pretty tricky with retargeting if you want to.
Back to our running shoe example.
Let’s say someone just popped in, read one blog post, and then left your website. They’re not really showing an intent to buy, but they are interested in the conversation—and based on the post they read, you know they’re most likely a long-distance runner (or training to be). In this case, you may want to retarget them with another aspirational article.
Then, let’s say someone else visited your product and technology page. They’re really digging your new shoes, but they haven’t bought anything yet. You might retarget them with a user case study that gets into how your shoe helped a former couch potato train pain-free.
No matter how deep you get into the tactic of retargeting, it offers a huge benefit to e-commerce marketers. Especially considering 96% of people don’t buy on their first visit to a website.
5. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is like using celebrity endorsements, sans celebrities.
The exact definition of an influencer can feel a bit squishy. An influencer can be an elite athlete, a reality show star, or a local person that’s really good at social media and has a passion for a particular topic.
Generally speaking, though, people trust influencers even more than they trust celebrities.
So getting your product in the hands of a relevant influencer can drive lots of attention to your brand and potential customers to your website.
There are two simple ways to find influencers relevant to your brand.
You can do a little legwork on social media
Since we want to find a runner that can connect with our target audience. We’ll go to Instagram and search for hashtags like #marathontraining, #marathon, and #runningcoach.
Look for posts with lots of likes and comments. Those are often your influencers.
This can take a bit of trial and error. But it will also help you find potential micro-influencers. Micro-influencers have a moderate following on social media, but that following is often very niche and very loyal.
Influencer discovery tools
You can make your influencer search much more targeted (and quick) by using one of the many influencer discovery tools available.
Hypeauditor is a good place to start looking for, and auditing, Instagram influencers.
Once you’ve found your influencer, you’ll need to reach out and introduce your brand and product. Depending on their reach and experience, “payment” may simply be a free sample. Or it can be significantly more.
Take it one step at a time
When you’re a marketing team of one (or maybe you’re marketing, shipping, and design!), this list can feel a bit overwhelming.
Try to take it one step at a time and get one funnel working well before moving to the next.
Even better, get a little help from your friends!