I've worked with many ecommerce entrepreneurs who have great products, great ideas, and great ambitions. But once their stores are online, they sometimes slowly get discouraged and eventually give up on their business because they simply aren't getting enough traffic to make sales.
I think that effective marketing is one of the most challenging parts of starting a successful ecommerce business--anyone can get a store online, but getting qualified traffic to your site can be tough! If you are just getting started with your ecommerce store, I want to make sure you have some ideas about how to drive traffic to your site so that you don't give up in frustration after spending so much time building a great website.
Here are a few ideas to consider as you put together your marketing plan:
1. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
PPC is definitely the most obvious method of paid advertising, and probably the easiest to try. You can set up a Google Adwords account in 5 minutes and have your ads running almost immediately. However, PPC can be a money-pit if you jump in before you're ready. Make sure you do plenty of research beforehand so that you understand how to get the most for your money. Some important concepts to research include:
- Keyword selection
- A/B Testing
- Conversion optimizing
Here are a few helpful links covering some of the basics:
- A Beginner's Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising (Slideshare slideshow)
- A Beginner's Guide to A/B Testing
- Startup Resource: A Beginners Guide To PPC and AdWords Display Remarketing
2. Banner ads
Banner ads are a great way to build awareness of your brand, since you can get your logo and product images displayed on other websites. However, quality is more important than quantity. You can blow lots of money plastering your banner ads all over the internet without seeing much of a return on your investment, so consider the following:
- Banner design - Make sure your banner design is clear, non-cluttered, and has a clear call-to-action (telling the viewer to do something, like "Click here" or "Learn more."
- Banner content - Keep the text concise. Not many people will read a paragraph of text on a banner ad, so keep it short and to the point.
- Relevance of the site you are advertising on - Find sites that are popular/relevant within your target market, and then seek to buy ads on those sites. Then make sure to use Google Analytics to track which sites are sending you the best traffic (not just highest numbers, but those that are converting to paying customers) and then focus on those sites.
Here are a few helpful articles on how to design and use banner ads effectively:
3. Paid reviews by bloggers
Find popular bloggers in your niche, and then pay them to write an honest review of one of your products (and/or give them free samples of your product). For this to be most effective, it's good to find bloggers who don't often endorse products. Also, you don't want a glowing review that is obviously over the top. Meaningful reviews are honest and objective.
4. Affiliate programs
An affiliate program is a system where you agree to pay a commission to people who recommend your product when the traffic they send your way converts to customers. The nice thing about affiliate programs is that you only pay the referrer after a sale is made. This can be an effective way to encourage bloggers or other online influencers to talk about your product and link to your store.
For Shopify store-owners, there are several apps in the Shopify app store that will allow you to easily set up an affiliate program. I don't have personal experience with any of them, but they are all either free, offer a free trial, or only charge you when a sale is made, so it's very low risk to try one. Here are links to the various affiliate apps:
Hold contests on Facebook or Twitter - give away a free product or coupon by choosing random names from your Facebook fans or Twitter followers. Or, post an image of a great-looking product on Facebook, with a note attached saying that out of everyone who shares the image, you'll choose a few lucky people to receive the pictured product. This doesn't really cost you anything, except the cost of the products/coupons you give away.
Do you have any other fantastic ideas for paid promotion of an ecommerce site?
I'd love to hear about them! Please share them by leaving a comment below.