It doesn’t matter if you have the most amazing products for sale on your e-commerce site, or if you have the best customer service in the world, if you don’t have any traffic!
For most e-commerce owners, the thought of generating traffic brings out a cold sweat.
It sounds easy after all, but with so many other sites out there how can you bring visitors to your site?
Not only that but how can you make sure that the traffic you get is the right traffic. You can bring tens of thousands of visitors to your site but it’s a waste of time and effort if they don’t convert and buy things. The key to traffic is quality, not quantity (well, quality AND quantity is the ideal!)
Using online adverts is often the first port of call for e-commerce site owners, as it’s the most classic way of promoting your business.
Sometimes referred to as PPC (Pay Per Click) online adverts cost you money when someone clicks them.
There’s also CPI (or CPM) which is calculated by the number of impressions the advert gets. Impressions are just a fancy way to say that someone saw the advert.
Due to “banner blindness” PPC is often the better way to go.
There are numerous ad networks out there but some of the more popular ones include:
- Google AdWords
- Facebook Ads
When utilizing paid adverts there are some things you should take into account.
A common mistake e-commerce sites make when using adverts is to send the visitor the website home page.
This is usually combined with a generic advert pushing the brand, and neither of these are really effective.
Instead the adverts used should send visitors to a landing page.
A landing page is normally a specially crafted page that has one job: to convert the customer.
For e-commerce sites this is usually a product page, but can just as easily be a custom page that goes into detail about the product or product range.
Barring the information on the page, there is one vital thing it must include: a call to action button. This button can do one of many things depending on the purpose of the advert, usually it’s to add a product to cart, to sign up to a mailing list or whatever action you want the visitor to take.
It used to be the case that you could slap a generic advert up and call it a day, but that just wont work online anymore.
Instead, to get the most return on your investment, the advert needs to be targeted to the person looking at the advert.
Most ad networks like Google AdWords offer some reasonable targeting options, but few compare to Facebook when it comes to a detailed targeting.
Facebook holds a LOT of information on its users, and you can take advantage of this for your e-commerce adverts.
If you sell fashionable make up, you can target the younger female audience as well as more affluent ladies.
If you sell sports equipment you can target the appropriate people who have shown an interest in different sports.
Facebook make it incredibly easy to focus your adverts on the right audience.
I’m cheating slightly here as retargeting doesn’t strictly bring traffic in, as the person being targeted must have already visited your site.
That being said it’s a powerful tool to bring those people back to your site (it’s still traffic!) with them being more likely to buy – after all, they’ve visited once and shown an interest, so coming back must mean they want to buy the product, and maybe they are ready to do so.
Combined with a landing page, retargeting can help drive buying traffic back to your site.
Even if you’re able to budget for paid adverts, utilizing organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) should be something every site owner does.
This is even more important for e-commerce sites as they generally have “thin” content, i.e. just product descriptions rather than reams of articles.
Value Driven Blog
Because e-commerce sites by themselves have a smaller word count than a more content driven website, fight back by starting your own blog.
Lot’s of e-commerce blogs though, to put it politely, suck! They either start of with great intentions and fizzle out or are nothing more than sales pitch after sales pitch.
The key to a quality e-commerce blog is to put your customers first and provide value.
This doesn’t mean you can’t mention and link to your products (you should!) but it should never be the primary reason for an article.
Instead of just promoting a product, write an article about a problem that the product might be able to solve, and within the article mention and link to said product.
Blogs can also provide more informational style topics that might not benefit you directly through sales, but that benefit the reader, and therefore indirectly benefit you thorough brand awareness.
Descriptions are one thing, but people want to see and feel a product, and the closest thing you can get to that online is video.
Each and every product that you sell should have a video showcasing it, explaining how it can be used and showing every angle and part of the product.
Placing these videos on YouTube and embedding them on your blog provides several benefits:
- Free video hosting, so your site doesn’t have to host dozens or more videos
- Free traffic – YouTube is the number one video site online, and by linking to your site in the description you can generate traffic
- SEO boost – by embedding the videos on your site you get the “rich media” checkmark, and search engines love rich media
- General brand awareness – even if people don’t click through to your site your business can gain brand awareness
You can even embed the videos on your product pages, giving visitors yet more information to help them make the decision to buy.
Craft Product Descriptions
As I outlined in my article 19 tips to improve e-commerce sales, it’s vitally important that you take your time to prepare quality products descriptions.
As you likely have less content to work with, creating 500+ word descriptions that have been keyword researched and written with the visitor and search engines in mind can drastically help improve your onsite SEO.
To really benefit from organic search, you also need to pay attention to more mundane and easily overlooked aspects of SEO such as:
- Image file names
- Image titles
- Image ALT links
- Page titles
- Page meta keywords and description
- Anchor text usage
- Internal and external links on the page
All of these elements help improve the chance of ranking a page for search terms, and overlooking them is leaving traffic on the table.
Social networks are one of the Internet’s success stories, well some of them.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are some of the core sites that can send your e-commerce traffic fresh visitors.
Remember, sharing not selling is key on social media and any campaign that you do should always have that in mind.
Social network users will turn away in droves if they think they are being pitched to so instead look at social media as a way to engage with existing and new customers alike.
Engage & Interact
Some social media sites like Facebook and Twitter make engaging easy, whereas others like Pinterest it might not be as obvious.
The key is not just to share you own stuff but to share other peoples content, like, heart, pin, whatever the site uses just engage.
It’s even big of you to share competitors content if it provides value to your followers, or a discussion starting point.
Joining groups, boards and communities within the social networks is also beneficial. Not only can you increase brand awareness by being part of the conversation but it can also help get a feel of what customers and potential customers need or want, and where their pain points are.
It’s not unusual for people to spout their unhappiness to the world about bad experiences with companies and savvy social media experts can leverage these comments to showcase how you’re a better alternative.
Influencers are people who frequent social media in different niches and who have amassed a fervent and large following.
By cozying up to influencers, they can help you to reach their wide audience with your brand message.
You will need to pick influencers wisely and yes you will need to pay them: some want straight up cash, others are happy with relevant freebies.
And freebies are excellent as the influencer often will review the product for their followers, so sending out freebies can generate traffic with very little cost involved.
A 1,000 Words
While using images in social media is important, if you have a products that are suited to quality photographs you have two great choices: Pinterest and Instagram.
Both of these sites are perfect for images, though Instagram might be better suited for on-site images whereas with Pinterest you can get away more direct images.
Pinterest images can also be linked direct back to your site, which improve click through rates for getting traffic.
Outside of the core three ways to drive traffic to your e-commerce site, there’s a few more tricks and tips you can use.
Contests and Giveaways
Nothing creates a buzz like a freebie does! Giving away something on your site can generate traffic from internet shares and as well as more organic word of mouth.
Use influencers and blog posts to help increase your reach and offer something that your audience would consider valuable (it doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive, though that’s an angle too).
If your are giving something away, check your local regulations and if you’re utilizing a third party site like Facebook to facilitate the giveaway, check their rules!
Run webinars (live talks)
Live video talks are an awesome way to generate buzz about your business and products.
They can take many forms, but live is usually best as people can then ask questions about the topic.
And what should your topics be? Well, that depends on your business but some ideas are:
- Product unboxings – show and tell for your products
- Use cases – using your product live, perfect for household and beauty products
- Close to your heart – if your business has certain ethics, like being sustainable, you can talk about that with your customer base.
There’s an important rule though: don’t pitch!
At least not overtly or overly.
It’s about awareness and engagement, though there’s no harm in discussing a product and telling people you stock it, but this isn’t mean to be a sales pitch or infomercial.
Your customers will appreciate the value you give them more when they don’t walk away feeling dazed and confused by a hardcore sales pitch.
The Bottom Line
There are many ways to increase traffic to your e-commerce site, so they only thing you need to do now is pick one (or more) methods and get that traffic!