UPPING YOUR ECOMMERCE GAME:
GETTING SEEN BY YOUR CUSTOMERS ONLINE
They’re out there. They might be next door, or half a world away. But wherever they surf they web, they’re only seconds away from being your new, loyal customer. We’ll show you how to increase website traffic for your retail operation.
Getting customers walking into your virtual doors is much easier than it may seem. These are just the first steps in your online marketing efforts. Take the time to get familiar with them. Your strategy will be refined as you go, especially as you begin to track your results.
Take a look!
When people see the words “social media” they almost always think of Facebook. Think about that for a moment; Facebook is nearly synonymous with having a presence online. That’s powerful. And it’s the unavoidable first step for almost any business wanting to garner more online traffic.
But it’s not the only social media stream out there. Depending on your type of business, you may benefit as much from LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and possibly even Twitter.
I’f you’re just starting out, you may need a little push to get the snowball rolling. Starting with friends and family is sometimes necessary, though not preferable. They may not be your customers, but they may know your customers, and that’s how you can begin developing your first bit of inertia.
As you hit a plateau, your next strategy to gather interest is to offer free products, service, or discounts for referrals. Offer more than your customers would expect (something of actual value to them,) so that the interest you generate from that transaction is genuine.
TARGETED AD CAMPAIGNS
While not as free as signing up for a Facebook Business page, creating an AdWords campaign is still very affordable. In fact, paying for Adwords is one of the more scalable strategies out there; you only have to pay for how effective the ads actually are. Your ads are targeted to only the demographic you specify (your most likely customer). When that customer diverts their web session to click on your ad, you’re charged a very small fee. You can also bid higher for better placement in search results, if your budget allows.
Remember though, converting those ad visitors into paying customers is still your job. The ad is a customer conveyor, you’re still the sales closer.
These are a few variations of the payment models for targeted ads:
- PPC – pay per click
- PPI – pay per impression
- CPA – cost per acquisition
AFFILIATES AND INFLUENCERS
Corporate buzzwords are mercifully unpopular these days. However, one in particular is still useful; synergy. If you can find a business (or several) that are related to what you do without being competitors, then they’re in the perfect position for a strategic alliance; you send them referral traffic, and they send the same to you. One of the best examples of this is a bagel shop next to a coffee shop – a customer for one is a probably customer of both. Though this example relates to physical storefronts, the same technique can be applied to websites. Affiliate marketing is one of the most effective ways to gain new traffic, and to sustain return traffic.
While you’re thinking about related-but-not-competing businesses, you should also be on the lookout for influencers in your industry. These can include bloggers, forum contributors, and even new LinkedIn connections (aren’t you glad you already did that step?) Ask them to review your product on their site, host an ad of yours, or simply make a formal introduction. They payoff with this strategy is a little harder to quantify, but is a necessary part of building your network.
CREATE A COMMOTION
All of the above methods can gain you new momentum, but once they’re in place, the real key is to create a commotion. What I don’t mean by this is to incite flame wars on social media. Please, for all that’s right and good, don’t be involved in online flame wars. What you shouldbe doing, however, is making waves. You have a blog? Encourage discussion in the comments section. You have a Facebook Business page? Run a poll, with a randomly selected winner. Twitter? Ask an interesting question that will get return tweets. Be an active, value-adding contributor for your affiliates, and even if they don’t reciprocate as charismatically as you do, your customers will take note. As you gain brand awareness, it will organically increase your website traffic too.
And if this is the part of marketing that you enjoy, you may even go the extra mile by joining Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, Quora, and other online forums.
Engage with the above-mentioned affiliates, influencers, and anyone whose association you could benefit from. The more activity on your site, the higher it will index. And the more you’re seen in relevant circles, the more recognition you’ll get. This sounds pedantically straightforward, but it is too valuable to leave unsaid.
Finally, an easy, free, one-and-done item to check off of your to-do list is to make sure that you show up in online maps and directories. Get listed everywhere you can be listed. A Google Business listing should be your first priority, but Yahoo also has business listings which may gain you unsought traffic. Check yellowpages.com, your local Chamber of Commerce, www.bizhwy.com, other online directories.
Most of them are free to sign up. If any offered paid placement, do some homework before you enroll to see if it will benefit your online visibility as much as they claim.
There’s a bit of a “secret handshake” when learning all of the online consumer venues, and how they connect. Though it’s not always obvious, the learning curve is fairly simple once you get acquainted.
By now you know better than to expect instant results. You might be able to microwave your lunch and order coffee from your car window, but cultivating leads and generator inertia takes time. Even online. Stick with it, stay on top of it, and you’ll see gains in your website traffic before you know it.
Good luck, and happy selling!