Website Traffic, Marketing

How to Get Traffic to Your Online Store (even with a Zero Dollar Budget)

You just launched your online store and you’re excited about all of the possibilities that having an online business brings, like more money and more freedom. You’ve worked hard to create a really great product and stock your store full of inventory that you know your customers will love. But when your website goes live, all you get is crickets.

You just launched your online store and you’re excited about all of the possibilities that having an online business brings, like more money and more freedom. You’ve worked hard to create a really great product and stock your store full of inventory that you know your customers will love. But when your website goes live, all you get is crickets. | Think Creative Collective

Does this sound familiar?

You’re bootstrapping your business, so you don’t have lots of money to spend on advertising. So how do you get traffic to your online store when you’re on a budget?

When I started my online stationery business, Crafty Pie, I had zero budget to market my business. It took me a whole month until I got my first sale. So I scoured internet marketing blogs and listened to various podcasts. I consumed as much information as I could and implemented different strategies to get traffic to my website and convert that traffic to paying customers. A few months later, I started bringing in consistent sales and was doing 4-5 figures every month.

And here’s what I learned about how to get traffic to your online store when you’re on a budget...

Social Media

Social media is a great place to start while Google is indexing your site and you’re waiting for your SEO efforts to kick in (I’ll get to this later). You can start generating buzz for your online store before you even launch, guaranteeing that you’ll have customers waiting to give you their money.

Because of its highly visual nature, Instagram is a great place to start if you sell products online. Photography really counts here. So make sure you’re posting clear, well-lit photos. If you’re not familiar with how to use Instagram and get engaged followers, I highly recommend starting with Think Creative Collective’s free Instagram bootcamp. They show you how to take awesome photos using just your smartphone and natural lighting.

Also make sure you’re using 5 to 10 relevant hashtags for your niche. For example, if you sell women’s clothing, you could use hashtags like:

#fashion
#womensfashion
#womensstyle
#fashionista
#ootd (outfit of the day)
#onlineshopping
#ecommerce
#sale
#onlineshop
#shopping

Depending on your niche, creating videos on YouTube is another great way to drive traffic to your website. You’ll want to create videos that your audience will find valuable or entertaining like how-to’s, tutorials or funny videos.

Luxy Hair is a company that sells hair extensions. They do a great job of using videos to get more customers by creating hairstyle tutorials using their hair extensions.

For more info on how to use YouTube to drive more traffic to your website, check out Neil Patel’s guide to building a successful YouTube channel.

Pinterest

So you might think that Pinterest falls under social media, but I think Pinterest deserves its own section. Yes, it is considered a social network, but it’s also a search engine. It’s a place where people go to find things they like, need or desire and save those things by “pinning” them. This could include a recipe, a wedding dress, an article on how to start a blog, exercise tutorials or a home decor item that’s perfect for their living room.

Pinterest was the second most popular source of traffic for my online store following organic search traffic. Here’s how to get started on Pinterest:

  • You’ll want to start by creating a business account on Pinterest and verifying your website.

  • Then you’ll want to create boards relevant to your niche. For example, if you sell yoga products, you can create boards on yoga poses for stress relief, yoga poses to lose weight, yoga for cardio, healthy eating, meditation, inspirational quotes, etc. Then start pinning others’ content to those boards, not just your own content. Otherwise, you’ll come off as spammy.

  • Like Instagram, Pinterest is very visual so your images are important here as well. So you’ll want to make sure you’re creating pinnable images like your product photography, blog content, mood boards or infographics. Also, vertical images work best and grab the most attention on Pinterest. So create your images at 735 x 1102 pixels.

  • Then you’ll want to join group boards that you can post your content and other’s content to. You can find group boards by searching your niche + group board and then clicking on “boards.” For example, you sell home decor items, you could search for “home decor group boards.” Once you find group boards, follow the instructions in the description on how to join the group board. If you follow the instructions exactly, you’ll have a better chance of getting accepted to the group board.

For more info on how to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your online store, check out my article on how to use Pinterest to promote your online business.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO sounds more complicated than it is, but it’s actually quite simple if you follow these guidelines:

  • Make your product titles descriptive and what people would search for. For example, if you sell jewelry, your product titles would be something like “sapphire stud earrings” or “rose gold necklace.” You can use the Google Keyword Planner Tool to find the long tail keywords people are searching for.

  • Do not duplicate your titles. Google does not like duplicate content.

  • Make sure you are using H1 heading tags and what’s wrapped in these tags should match your product titles.

  • Name your product image files something that describes the product much like the product titles. So for the jewelry example, your product image would be something like rose-gold-necklace.jpeg. This will ensure it comes up in Google Image Search. This worked really well with my invitation business. Also, use this same description in the alt tags.

  • Use the Google Search Console to submit your sitemap as soon as your website goes live. This will ensure that Google crawls your site. It will notify you once your site has been indexed. You can then use it to see what keywords you’re ranking for, any bad links on your site that need to be fixed, how many links there are to your site and lots of other useful info.

Get the basics of your SEO in place from the start and you’ll find your efforts will pay off a few months down the line once you start ranking on Google.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is when you market to individuals who have influence over a particular audience, specifically the audience who would be interested in your products. The types of influencers include bloggers, instagrammers, youtubers or anyone who has an audience that you can leverage.

This is a great way to get the word out about your online store quickly and cheaply. But it takes a bit of hustle.

There are a couple of ways you can do this:

  • You can find these influencers and send them an email or contact them through their social media channels, or

  • You can use a service like FameBit where you put together a campaign for as little as $100 explaining your company and what you are selling and the influencers will come to you with proposals

To find influencers manually, you can:

  • Search Google for “keyword” blog (example: fashion blog, technology blog, fitness blog)

  • Search http://buzzsumo.com for your keywords to find blogs related to your niche

  • Search instagram hashtags related to your niche

  • Reach out in Facebook groups asking if there are any blogs interesting in partnering up You can offer to share a coupon code or other promotion to their audience as an incentive

When reaching out to influencers, you’ll need to find their contact information. You can do this by searching for their email or contact form on their website, sending them a direct message on their Instagram or their Facebook business page.

Here is an email template you can use:

Hey {{Name}},

I’m {{your name}} with {{company name}}. I love what you’re doing with your blog / Instagram/ YouTube account and I was wondering if I could send you a free {{your product}}. If you like it, feel free to post about it / take a picture of yourself with it.

Thanks!
{{Your_Name}}

Here’s some more ideas on how to partner with influencers in your niche for your eCommerce business.

Blogging

Blogging is another great strategy to get traffic to your website. This was essential for my wedding invitation business.

Like SEO, it can take some time for Google to index your articles, but if done right, it pays off big time after a few months.

The key is being consistent and writing articles geared towards your audience. I see a lot of newbie bloggers who start out just writing about things that have nothing to do with their business. Your audience will be confused if you’re writing about what you ate for dinner when you sell skincare products.

You can get ideas for content by using the Google Keyword Planner tool and searching for keywords in your niche to see what pops up. You’ll want to focus on long tail keywords (3-4 words) that get at least 1k monthly searches and have a low to medium competition.

For example, I searched “skin care how to” and found that “skin care tips” has at least 10k monthly searches and medium competition. I could write an article like “10 Best Skin Care Tips.”

I also found that “sensitive skin” has 10k monthly searches and low competition. So I could combine the two and write an article called “10 Best Skin Care Tips for Sensitive Skin.”

Abagail & Emylee have a great free printable you can use to help plan your blog content.

And don’t forget about guest blogging! It’s a great way to drive more traffic to your website and get those backlinks, which gives you more domain authority making you rank higher in Google.

You can use the same strategies in the influencer marketing section to find blogs in your niche and reach out to them.

I have used all of these strategies for my own eCommerce businesses and I can tell you without a doubt that they all helped drive more traffic to my website, which resulted in more customers.

But don’t get overwhelmed trying to do all of them at once. Try one or two methods to start with and go from there. I guarantee you’ll start seeing results!



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