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. Thee days it’s far easier to do it yourself.
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 at least give you a head start.
One tool that is great and designed exactly for this is a service called Help a Reporter or HARO
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 set up the HARO filters to focus those request around 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, its’ 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 of PR opportunities is with simple Google alerts. Set up a daily Google alert for your topic area or even a competitor that you have that may have a bigger brand name. Whenever Google alerts you of a story that is covering those topics, try to reach out to the reporter.
A straightforward approach tends to work best. Usually reporters 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.
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 who you are, 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 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.
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. The trick is in how you ask. Just be straightforward, rather than dancing 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 easy one. There are 2 really great things about Reddit.
First the user community on Reddit is highly engaged. Users take the forum and discussions very seriously and many posts to Reddit can generate very in depth discussions.
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.
These are sub-reddits where (if you are brave enough) you can post your store 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 with to being driving good traffic to your store.
4. Word of mouth
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.
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 hastags as well, those can be an opportunity to add your personality and opinion to the timely news or events of the day
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.
This post originally appeared on the Forewards Ecommerce Blog