I’ve already led with a cheesy movie reference, so let me throw around some more clichés…if I had a nickel for every person who asked me why they weren’t getting any business on their new store, yep, you got it – I’d be rich. Many people mistakenly believe that setting up your store is the hard work it takes to have a successful business. Unfortunately, it’s just the beginning. I know, you went through sleepless nights, threw around tons of ideas, found vendors, went to trade shows and found more vendors, worried, changed things, maybe even invested heavily in an expensive design. Isn’t that enough? I hate to break it to you – not even close. An online storefront, even a pretty, well laid out, online storefront, has to have people visit in order to make sales. Here are my top 3 picks for getting people to your website:
1) Pinterest – Pinterest is a great avenue for traffic because pins and boards often show up in search engine results. To get started, setup your pinterest for business account. If you aren’t familiar with Pinterest, climb out from under the rock you’ve been living under and start looking around. Basically, it is setup in categories, called boards, where you add or “pin” pictures along with a link to the website you found them and a short description. When you are setting up your boards you need to think about what is both interesting and useful to your clients and how it relates to what you are selling. I like to keep to about a 70/30 ratio for my boards and pins. 70% should be from other sites and 30% from my own.
Once you have familiarized yourself with Pinterest, setup a couple of boards and added a couple pins, take a quick look at this great article from Social Media Examiner, 3 Unique Ways to Use Pinterest for Business. Pay close attention to #3, which I think is the key to getting in quickly and generating some traffic. According to Social Media Examiner, “The most successful pins on Pinterest have some traits in common. They combine great images with content to solve a problem, inspire, offer something desirable or appeal to interest in a hobby or activity.” If you take some time to research how Pinterest shows up in search results you will find this to be very true. More often than not, if I am searching for a solution to something, 3 – 4 out of the 10 results on the first page are from Pinterest. How do you do this for an eCommerce site? Consider what niche your items fill, what problem they might solve. Selling organic baby items, write an article on your website or blog about setting up a “green” nursery utilizing a Polyvore type board to showcase the products you would use. Then, create a board about the same thing. Add pins from links in your article, again, trying to stick to that 70/30 rule, where not EVERYTHING comes from your site. Have an online site that sells bakeware and baking accessories? Post a recipe, with pictures utilizing items from your shop. Make sure to pin the items from your article on pinterest.
2) Content – often if you are not getting a lot of organic (non-paid) search engine traffic it has to do with your content. It is especially problematic if you are a reseller who has used product descriptions verbatim from your vendor. This brief article, What is Duplicate Content at Moz.com outlines why it creates a problem. The skinny of it is, when duplicate content is found on the internet, Google is only going to display it once. Most likely, it chooses the first place it was displayed. If you are a reseller who copied and pasted your product descriptions, this means ALL of that otherwise searchable content becomes void in terms of search engines.
I recommend going through all content and revamping it so that it is unique to your site. Concentrate on your keywords (you can get some baseline niche keywords by following our article “SEO First Steps – Finding Your Niche Keywords and Phrases.“) and rewrite your content. This doesn’t have to be the great american novel and take a long time. Take 3 – 4 products a day and slowly work your way through them.
3) Use a mailing list service. I find that when I send out a newsletter I get at least a 30% increase in my traffic that day, and approximately a 20% increase the next day. More often than not this means an increase in sales. I am constantly amazed at eCommerce business owners who choose not to create and use a mailing list. It is one of the simplest ways to get traffic. Because there are FREE mailing list services, there is no excuse not to set one up. My favorite free service is Mail Chimp. It’s fairly intuitive and easy to setup. For $15 a month, you can upgrade to a paid service. My favorite fee based email marketing service is Constant Contact. Their interface is easy to use and they offer TONS of free support, from account managers you can call and talk to on the phone, to tutorials and free webinars.
In addition to the standard paths for getting signups – add the signup to your website, add a checkbox to your checkout, post it on facebook, post it on twitter, etc., you can also create a popup that visitors see when they first come to your page. I know popups are generally regarded as evil, but a one time popup, on one page only DOES get more signups. You can talk to your hosting company or utilize a service like Popup Domination.
Once you have a mailing list setup – start using it. Short, targeted newsletters with a clear read more and/or highlighted product pictures linking to your site will draw customers to your products. Offering discounts is always a great idea for your newsletter, but it doesn’t have to break your bank. Free shipping, 10% off or a few targeted items on sale are all good ways to give people incentives to purchase.