Need more traffic? You and every other eCommerce entrepreneur I’ve met 🙂 Today we’re running through all the different ways you can drive traffic to your eCommerce store.
We cover 7 main ways to do this with some specific strategies for each one. Remember, no one strategy is ever going to revolutionize your biz. All of these strategies work together, so make a commitment to create an experience for your people across as many of these channels as you can manage.
You don’t have to do them ALL at the same time, focus on doing one or two things REALLY well before you try and do all the things.
What You’ll Learn
- How to calculate how much traffic you need to hit your revenue goals
- Organic + Paid ways to drive both new and repeat traffic to your eCommerce store
- The 7 main ways to drive traffic to your eCommerce store
84. How To Find Influencers From Your Existing Customer Base With Gatsby
Read the Full Episode Transcript
I see a lot of eCommerce entrepreneurs not quite hitting their goals because they need more qualified traffic. I say “qualified” because that’s really the most important part—people who actually want to buy a product like yours.
Today we’re talking about paid and organic ways to drive traffic for both new and repeat customers. Check out episode is 10 to help you figure out what percentage of your efforts should be focused on acquisition vs retention.
Paid vs. unpaid: what option is right for you?
When it comes to deciding between paid and unpaid methods… ask yourself, do you have more time or more money? Then ask if you need it fast or you’re willing to wait for results.
Here’s the deal: you don’t get fast and cheap. At least not sustainably. I don’t tell you this to discourage you, but rather to manage your expectations.
When it comes to driving traffic, or just eCommerce in general, there is no silver bullet. No one strategy or tactic is going to revolutionize your business. You have to implement a mix of strategies and tactics with consistently to see real results.
Before you do anything in your business, it’s super helpful to have a goal. And driving traffic to your site is no different. When you know what you’re trying to achieve, it becomes easier to decide what to do next.
How much traffic do you need to hit your ultimate revenue goals?
Let’s run through a quick example together, and then you can do this calculation for your own business. This number will help you understand how much traffic you need to hit your revenue goals.
- The first number you’ll need is your revenue goal.
Say you’re doing 600k a year in your business and you want to increase that by 20% which means you need an additional 120k.
Of course, you can also get that additional 120k revenue through things like increasing your AOV and your conversion rate, but for today’s purposes we’re going to focus on getting additional traffic.
- Next we’re going to need your conversion rate and your average order value.
Let’s say your conversion rate is 2% and your AOV is $75.
You with me so far? So AOV is $75, conversion rate is 2% and we need to calculate how much traffic you’ll need to earn 120k.
- Figure out how many transactions we’ll need, which in this case is 120k divided by 75, and that gives us 1600 transactions.
Now with a conversion rate of 2%, how much traffic do we need to get those 1600 transactions?
- Take 1600 and divide it by 2%—that gives us 80,000. So, we’ll need 80k more sessions to get our 1600 transactions at an average of $75 that will give us our 120k in revenue.
If you listened to episode 41- Setting and Accomplishing Goals like a Badass, you know I love to breakdown goals as much as possible to make them feel more manageable and give ourselves quicker wins. Setting revenue goals is no different, so make sure you’re breaking this down by month or quarter. Especially with the natural ebbs and flows of retail. It’s likely you can make up the majority of this during your big holidays vs. an even amount each month.
I do want to break it down a bit today, so an increase like this doesn’t sound as scary. In fact, if you break down that traffic and orders over the year, it’s only 219 sessions and 4-5 orders per day.
You don’t necessarily have to do that all through traffic, even a slight increase in conversion or AOV can make a significant impact to your revenue goal.
Lets get into the strategy and tactics to increase your traffic…
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This is very misunderstood strategy that most entrepreneurs think is reserved for big business. And yes, there are companies that spend tens of thousands of dollars on SEO strategy (my previous day job being one of them.) That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it too.
The first thing is to understand that Google’s main goal is to serve up results that satisfy the users’ search query as accurately and quickly as possible. And that SEO is just the process of making it easier for Google and all the other search engines to understand what your website is about, who it’s for and what you sell. That’s really it.
Page and collection titles
When you’re creating collections of your products, think about the terms your customers will use to search for products like that. Keep it clear over clever.
All images on your website need to have alt tags. This is for Google because it can’t read images, for the visually impaired who use screen readers and will be shown in place of an image that doesn’t load. Keep them unique and descriptive. Don’t stuff them with keywords.
Meta Titles and Descriptions
This is the snippet of text that shows in the Google search results and is more for the user than Google. This is often the deciding factor of why someone would click your result over someone else’s.
It’s harder to rank for specific products over collections, but if you have evergreen products that you always replenish into, this will be important. Make sure your product name is descriptive and using words your customer would use to find it.
The navigation menu sets the hierarchy for your website. Make sure it’s easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for. Think about how they would shop. The names of your links should be clear and speak to the products they’ll find when they click the link.
Another important part of SEO is blogging. Yep, blogging. Nope, it’s not dead and yes, it is important and helpful for a product-based business. The trick is to become a resource for the customer that is looking for a product like yours. I’m going to give you a few quick tips here, but check out episode 12 to learn a bit more about this. And this is great for both repeat and new customers.
Install Google Analytics and Google Search Console on your site.
This will ensure you can monitor your results and get an insight into how your site is performing for the keywords you’re targeting.
Identify long-tail keywords your ideal customer is using to find products like yours.
Long-tail just means 3 or more words. Instead of trying to rank for face moisturizer, you’ll focus on face moisturizer for extra-dry skin.
You can do this by searching places like Google, Pinterest and YouTube. Look at what suggestions come up—the algorithms generate these based on what other people are searching related to that topic. You can also use Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and my favorite place, Answer The Public.
A great trick is to figure out what the top-ranking results are in Google for your keywords and create blog content that is 10x better. Write long-form content (2,000+ words) and answer your users’ questions in detail. Include images and links to relevant products on your website and external links where appropriate to cite sources of your info.
Format your posts to make it easy to read for your users.
Use headings throughout your posts to explain the hierarchy of the information. For example, the title of your post will be your h1 tag. The key points of your article will be h2 and the supporting ideas of your h2 headings will be h3.
Share your content on your social channels and in your emails
This gets the first set of eyes on your content and shows Google that people are interested in what you have to say.
Like all SEO initiatives, it might take a few months before you see traction, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working. Sharing your content will help to speed on the process a bit, so don’t be shy about getting it out there. If you have the opportunity to get it in front of a high-authority website that wants to link back to you—even better.
2. Social Media
Next up on the list of free is social media—including Pinterest and YouTube even though they’re not actually social media platforms, they’re search engines.
When it comes to free traffic, social is one of the best options… But you SHOULD NOT build your entire business on social media. You don’t own the platforms, the content, or the followers and it could all go away at ANY MOMENT. It is still a viable option for growing awareness and traffic to your site. Like any marketing channel, make sure you’re making it about your customer and to be SOCIAL and have a conversation with your customers.
The most important part of this is to make sure you choose the right platform. You want to be where your target customer is already hanging out. If you’re targeting baby boomers, you’re better off on Facebook than Instagram. For DIYers and crafters, make sure you have a presence on Pinterest.
In terms of content, here are a few ways you can take advantage of social media to sell your product:
Try-on sessions or product demonstrations
If you’re selling clothing, getting someone on video to walk the customer through the items you sell, trying them on different body types and offering styling advice to mimic the in-store experience. If you’re selling anything that requires instructions, a product review or demonstration video is a perfect way to answer questions before they even have them!
If you’re not sure how to talk about your products, take some time to watch the home shopping network and QVC. Seriously, they know how to sell products. You’ll see how they touch and feel it while they’re talking about it, they talk about the fabric, how it feels, etc.
Remember, they can’t touch, feel or try on when they’re shopping online, so the more you can recreate that experience for them the better.
Create an event and give them a reason to shop live with you. Whether you’re sharing new arrivals or clearing out at the end of the season, generate an active way for your followers to shop with you! Make sure you have good lighting and you represent the product well. You can use a program like comment sold or just have an assistant post links in the comments to the items you’re selling.
With events like this, pick regular intervals to do them so people get in the habit of showing up. Make sure you’re hyping up the event through all your marketing channels and make it special and exciting for them.
This is a great opportunity to hook up with complimentary businesses as well and get in front of other people’s audiences. While you can do giveaways to grow your email list, this is going to attract a lot of freebie seekers and less qualified traffic.
Partner up with complimentary brands
You can do things like email marketing shoutouts or order inserts, joint live sales or special bundles you put together with your products.
I really love the bundle idea because you’re specifically selling a product at a discounted price that is giving the customer the opportunity to experience an actual product from all the brands that are working together.
And here’s the thing—doing a one-off thing with these brands isn’t likely to revolutionize your business, right? Do these things regularly to really make an impact.
Just like influencer marketing, which I’m going to talk about next, I’d rather see you have deeper relationships with fewer brands than have a bunch of one-off collaborations. People need to see your stuff 7-10 times before they commit to making a purchase, so the more you can get in front of that audience, the better chance they’ll actually convert.
3. Influencer Marketing
I KNOW this gets a bit of a bad rap. But it has been shown to have an ROI of $6.50:1. Not quite as good as email marketing, but pretty solid for a new customer acquisition strategy.
In fact, it has 11x more ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing. Not to mention, it’s been shown that 86% of women turn to social media before making a purchase, so having influencers vouching for your product is a good thing.
Please choose your influencers wisely
Micro-influencers with strong engagement are more likely to lead to sales than those with millions of followers. Those big influencers will definitely give you a big spike in traffic, but it will be a lot of looky-loos with no intention to buy.
Time your Influencer Campaign wisely
If you’re launching a new product or a specific campaign, get the product to them early to give them time to create the content and work it into their calendar. Plan ahead so you can have all the influencers you’re working with post about you at the same time. If you’re targeting your influencers right, they’ll likely have a lot of cross-over audiences, so your audience will see you mentioned multiple times in a short window.
Set your influencer up for success by giving them guidelines
Make sure they know what’s important about your product and what you’ve found to be your USP (unique selling proposition). They’ll appreciate having a little guidance on what you want them to talk about and will ultimately make it easier for them to create content around the product.
Give them creative autonomy
While you want to give them guidelines, you also want to give them the freedom to create content that will resonate with their audience. Once you give them the guidelines on what’s important about your product, give them creative autonomy. They know what works best for their audience so don’t be restrictive about what the content should look like.
Use Google UTM links and coupon codes to track results.
4. Email Marketing
This is more of a retention strategy vs. an acquisition strategy, but it’s still really important for converting those first-time buyers. When you’re thinking about increasing your overall revenue and traffic, repeat traffic and purchases count too.
Repeat customers spend about 33% MORE than first-time customers and email marketing overall has an average ROI of 40:1.
Trigger emails at each step in the customer journey
From when they first hit your site, to when they abandon their cart and when they haven’t been back in a while. Set these up as automations so they’re working for you on auto-pilot.
Increase your sending volume at peak times
During the holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, everyone is upping their frequency, so in order to stay top of mind and not get buried in the inbox, you should too. You can even send multiple emails per day! You’ll want to make sure you’re suppressing people who have already purchased, though you may want to include them in any last chance reminders in case they forgot something.
Create special offers for different customer segments
Sending the same message to everyone on your list takes less time, but it’s also less effective. Try segmenting out customers who engage with your content regularly but still haven’t made a purchase. Give them an offer they can’t refuse and see what happens. Remember, the first purchase is the hardest one to get.
A really important part of email marketing is to make sure you’re adding value. Send more than just prompts to buy your product. NO ONE wants to be sold to all the time. Share content about things they care about and are related to your product. The blog posts we talked about earlier are a great start here.
Resend your unread emails with a new subject line
This is my favorite tip! When you consider that only a small portion of your list will open any given email, you are leaving money on the table if you only send that really awesome email one time.
If you want to learn more about email marketing for eCommerce, check out the following episodes:
5. Word of Mouth
Another way to drive traffic to your eCommerce store is word of mouth. It’s not dead. And statistics show that 92% of people trust referrals from people they know. So it’s time to encourage your existing customers to do work for you.
Think about it, how often have you discovered a brand or purchased something from them because you heard about them from a friend? Imagine if that friend had given you a promo code to get a discount off your first purchase with that company, would you have been more likely to give them a chance?
When we’re strategizing for our eCommerce business, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the consumer. So take off your CEO hat and put your customer hat on. How do you discover and try new brands? Word of mouth from people you trust is WAY MORE influential than any celebrity, or random ad we see on the internet.
Use a referral program
Give your customers a simple way to tell all their friends about you! A referral program tied to your rewards program is the best way to do this.
This works best when you’re able to reward both the new customer and the one who referred them. The more customers they refer, the more they earn back… it’s a win-win for both of you!
When you’re deciding what to give away for each referral, take your customer lifetime value into account. If the average customer spends $500 over their lifetime, how much are you willing to spend on acquiring that customer!
Use incentives during the customer journey
For instance, if you have a welcome discount with your email sign up for 10%, you’ll want to make sure the incentive you give for using the referral link is more.
6. Paid ads
The biggest plus about paid ads is that they will speed up your results. Organic and free options are amazing and you should definitely be using them, BUT they take a much longer time.
Ads will amplify what is already happening in your business—good or bad. Before you even think about starting paid ads, I recommend you have proven product marketing fit and your website converts decently.
If you’re brand new, you may be thinking, but how can I prove that if I have no traffic? That is a valid argument and of course if you have the budget and know-how you can put it to the test. Just know that it will take time and testing before you get things right. The less experienced you are, the longer that will take.
My honest opinion? If you’re going to start with ads early on, find some money to invest in someone who can either teach you or do it for you.
Here’s the deal. If you’re going to grow a business, you have to invest. There’s really no way around that. So if it’s a side hustle when you’re getting started, save some money from your day job to help fund the business until you can get it going. If you went all in on the business too soon, get a PT time to help fund the business. Physical product businesses need investment. It doesn’t have to be tens of thousands of dollars, but you’re definitely going to need a little money to make things happen.
Look at it as an investment. Not an expense. Even ads. Because the data and information that you’re going to gather is going to be priceless.
Paid Social vs. Paid Search
There’s two main types of paid advertising that you’re likely going to focus on—paid social or paid search.
- Paid social is where you’re identifying audiences that are likely interested in your product and then interrupting their scrolling experience with ads.
- Paid search is where you’re showing your product to people who are already searching for a product like yours.
These are two very different angles here, and what is good for one business might not be great for another. Plus, depending on your business, you might not even be able to do social media ads. So if you’re CBD or sex toys, for example, search ads are going to be your best bet.
Consider your cold audience and your hot audiences
When you are doing ads, you’ve also got a couple of different audiences to consider.
- Cold audiences who have never heard of you and
- Warm or hot audiences who have already visited your website or made a purchase from you.
The strategies you use at each of these stages in the buying journey are a little different so take that into consideration.
If you’ve already been in business for a while and have some data but you’re just getting started with ads, re-marketing is going to be your best bet. It’s much cheaper than targeting cold traffic and is going to have a better conversion rate, which means an overall higher ROI. And, since people need to see your product 7-10 times before they take action, these re-marketing ads can be one or more of those times.
The other amazing thing you have to take advantage of are lookalike audiences, which are just cold audiences that ad platforms create based on the characteristics of your warm and hot audience.
HOT TIP: USE THE DATA!
It doesn’t lie, so make sure you’re using it to assess the performance of your ads and make sure you’re making adjustments and improvements along the way. This is a marathon, not a sprint, my friends.
7. Get in front of people IRL
Brick and mortar, while it suffered because of COVID, will not die 100%. And even during covid, eCommerce still only accounted for a small percentage of retail sales overall.
Ultimately, there’s nothing like being face to face with your ideal customer. Especially when it means they can touch and feel your products, meet and connect with you as the business owner.
I encourage you to do this through video as much as possible, but there’s just something about in person that can’t be replaced.
The feeling someone gets when they shop in a store, the ability to touch and feel the product, to try it on, to get immediate feedback from an employee—you can’t beat that. And it’s REALLY HARD to mimic that experience online.
Think about ways you can take your online eCommerce store into a physical space to meet your customers face to face, get immediate feedback, build your email list and start creating some brand awareness around your business.
Whether it’s a shopping event in your local area, a pop-up shop in a boutique that carries your items, or an educational event that relates to your product, think about creative ways you can meet your customers in real life.
Tips and tricks to get the most out of seeing your people IRL:
- Collect email addresses: don’t overcomplicate this. Good ol’ pen and paper works here. Just make sure you’re verifying what they wrote before they leave 🙂
- Give them a bounce-back coupon to use on your website
- Encourage them to follow you on social media to stay up to date on what’s happening.
- Keep some of your items as “online exclusives” so they’ll want to check out your website
- Provide AHHHMAZING customer service and give them an experience they can’t help but tell their friends about.
The trick is to figure out what makes the most sense for your business right now and which you have the resources or can get the resources to implement first.
Yes, you’ll likely need to do multiple of these to really get to your ultimate goal, but you don’t have to do them all at once. At certain times of the year one strategy might make more sense for your business than the others.
If you’re not quite sure how to break down when you should focus on what, check out Episode 41 – Setting & Accomplishing Goals Like an eCommerce Badass
Remember, I mentioned a lot of other episodes to go deeper into what we talked about today. Check them out.