How do you bring the right people to your online store? How do you get them to stay? How do you set yourself apart from competitors?
Many sites take advantage of pay-per-click advertising, social media channels, and search engine optimization to boost site traffic and sales. But on top of these tried-and-true strategies, what else can you do? I spoke to e-commerce site owners to get their advice on marketing opportunities you don’t want to miss.
Diversify Your Channels
Increase your store’s exposure by utilizing multiple storefronts like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Bonanza, Shopify, ClickFunnels, and Rakuten. “The more people see your products, the better your chances of making a sale,” says Najeeullah Babar, President of specialty computer company interloper.com. However, he warns, “it can get very cumbersome and time-consuming to synchronize inventory across multiple marketplaces. Use a service like UploadMyProducts.com or ChannelAdvisor.com. You will breathe easy.”
Adele RG Boese, owner of Etsy shop DerBayz Vintage, recommends Tweet Eye. “The site uses the RSS feed from my online store and schedules posts on Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest,” she explains. Overnight, she went from 10 visitors to over 300. “My sales started increasing and the traffic continued. I’ve introduced the channel to a number of other Etsy shops, and they all reported the same results.”
Maximize Your Content
“Rather than casting our products onto marketplaces and social sales channels to see who bites, this year we’re focusing internally to convert our respectable content traffic (about 15k-20k unique visitors/mo.) into buyers,” says Krista Fabregas, staff writer for Fit Small Business. “I think a lot of small businesses (like us) look outward to get more people in but forget that many opportunities are lost if you don’t turn 10+ years of traffic-driving content into selling tools. I guess you can say we’re making the most of our channel before focusing on other sales channels.”
The vast majority of the site’s traffic comes from blog posts, so the company has worked to align content and product strategies — updating top blog posts to include targeted products. “Using WordPress with WooCommerce and Divi,” Fabregas says, “this is easy to do. So far, we’ve seen immediate upticks in sales in the target categories.”
Video Is Content, Too
“I run my family’s jewelry business and we do quite a bit online,” says Jeff Moriarty, Digital Marketing Manager at Moriarty’s Gem Art. The company’s efforts include banner ads, SEO, and email marketing. But the secret sauce? “Something that has paid off very well for us in video,” he says. “We do a lot of videos on YouTube to educate our buyers about gemstones and jewelry. While not exactly pushing to sell, it has turned into sales for us. It helps build trust, and then ultimately viewers decide to make their jewelry purchase with us.”
Guess What? Photos Are Also Content!
“One of the easiest ways for e-commerce businesses to market themselves online is to take lots of original imagery and allow others to use it,” advises Sam Williamson, Marketing Executive at A Hume Country Clothing. If you take a look at our site, you’ll see that we use original imagery for almost every single product that we have on our website, something that is very unique for an e-commerce website of our size. This in itself sets us apart from our competitors, but we also go a step further by allowing the images to be used elsewhere (provided that some kind of attribution is given back to us). This helps our images spread across the internet, gaining us more exposure.” Consider adding your original photography to Flickr or other Creative Commons sites.
Speaking of photography, remember that a great image can dramatically affect sales. In a previous blog post, I interviewed Steve Chou, who found that changing the featured photo on one of his listings increased sales by 209%. Experiment with different featured shots to see if and how the needle moves. Use PickFu to poll audiences about what photos they find most attractive. In just minutes, you’ll have valuable feedback on how target customers react to your product photography.
Influence the Influencers
Stefanie Parks, founder of DermWarehouse, recommends providing free product samples to the right people. “We used Instagram’s hashtag search to find influencers. We knew our niche was people on Instagram that had between 5,000-20,000 followers. We used search terms like #beautyblogger and #parenthood to find people who would represent our brand well. We then sent them a direct message to try and solidify the relationship.” Once partnerships were established, the influencers spread the word about the company to their respective audiences, and DermWarehouse was able to use images of these influencers for online advertising campaigns.
But influencer marketing doesn’t just mean millennials with mirrors. Mark Tyrol, President of Battic Door Energy Conservation Products, says his company targeted building code officials and architects. “We exhibited at a Building Code Officials trade show and expo and at an American Institute of Architects trade show and expo. We did this for two consecutive years. In addition, we contacted architects by direct mail with product literature and requested them to specify our products.” He reports that “as a direct result of our influencer marketing program, our sales have increased +50% in each of the last two years. We picked up dozens of new accounts that continually purchase products. Many customers tell us they were referred to us by their architect or code official, confirming the success of our program.”
Recommend Replacement Links
“Every day, millions of pages on the internet are deleted, outdated or lost,” says Max Robinson, Marketing Executive at Precious Little One. “A lot of these pages are product pages on e-commerce websites, which presents an opportunity for other e-commerce businesses to find these broken links and to offer their own link as a replacement. There are a few ways to do this – the way I do it is to find a competitor website and frequently run it through link checking tools like Xenu’s Link Sleuth to check for broken links. Any broken links I find, I then run through a tool like Ahrefs to see if anyone else is linking to them. This works very well!”
Don’t Leave Out the Low-Tech Approach
Colleen Lloyd-Roberts, owner of Top Notch Nail Files, offers a simple strategy. “Stickers go on the back of all our products, and it’s company policy that no product leaves the shipping area without one! The sticker has our website and toll-free order line on it. Those tiny stickers have proven to be a huge marketing tool over my 10 years of business, as we have received so many referrals and new business from people showing that sticker to friends and family who then go to our website and buy.”
Do Something Warm and Fuzzy
“When your customers know you are engaged with helping their community, they become more loyal and in some cases feel the obligation to give back themselves,” says Marc Joseph, CEO and President of DollarDays. “Our strongest give-back effort is through Facebook.” Each month, the site’s Facebook followers are encouraged to nominate a deserving organization to win a shopping spree. These monthly contests have revolving themes, like animal shelters, veterans’ groups, and teachers. DollarDays also offers a program similar to Amazon Smile, whereby customers can designate 5% of their purchase dollars to their favorite charity. “We believe that giving back is a win for our e-commerce business in creating a loyal following while at the same time helping to support their causes,” Joseph says.
What other e-commerce marketing strategies do you recommend? Tell us in the comments!
Also published on Medium.