Driving More Traffic To Your Online Store
You've had a brilliant idea. After many months of hard work, you have brought that idea to life and opened your online store. And now what? No-one is visiting.
Does this sound familiar to you? If you are a retail entrepreneur, you may well find that driving more traffic to your online store is one of your most difficult tasks. Setting up a retail business requires mastering so many new skills, and learning how to get traffic to your website is another one that you need to get to grips with.
This blog post is a roadmap
This blog post covers most of the main methods for driving traffic. Each one of these methods is worthy of its own blog post (or more likely, it’s own book!), so consider this post as more of roadmap to help you understand where to start, what your options are and where you should be focusing your time.
Don't have time to read it all now? Download the FREE e-book version here:
Throughout this article, I will be referring to additional resources - blog posts, podcasts, courses and books where you can learn more. These are not affiliate links, they are just my suggestions, from personal experience, to help you in the areas where you want to learn more.
No magic wands here!
Unfortunately, I’m not going to be giving you any magic ways to increase visitors - each one will take time and effort to implement, but with patience, you will get there.
Want to download all of this information so you can refer back to it? Get the e-book here:
What to do before you drive traffic
For now though, let’s dive into the traffic conundrum.
What we're going to cover
The areas we are going to cover are below:
Different types of traffic
I want to introduce the concept that not all traffic is equal. While we may get used to focusing on our number of site visitors, traffic is as much about quality as it is about quantity.
High Converting Traffic
Some methods will drive high converting traffic. That means that people who come to your website are already in the mood to buy when they arrive. Some methods drive lower converting traffic - traffic where people are visiting but are less likely to be in the frame of mind to buy.
Think of it this way - high converting traffic is you going to the shopping centre on your lunch hour on a Friday afternoon, looking for a present for a birthday party that you are going to on Saturday. You know that you are leaving with a gift and you are ready to spend.
Low Converting Traffic
Low converting traffic is like you walking through the shopping centre after a trip to the cinema in early October and noticing that all the Christmas party wear is already in the shops. You might pop in, have a look around, but you’re in no hurry to buy. You possibly might pick something up if you think you can’t live without it, but it’s a lot less likely.
As you read through the different traffic driving methods, you will see that some are high converting and some are low converting, as based on industry averages. This will help you identify where to spend your time.
What you need now is a plan
Now that you are ready to drive your traffic, what you need now is a plan. It doesn't have to be a complicated plan, all you really need to do is work out which areas you were going to work on in the short-term, which areas you are going to target in the medium term, and what you want to work on long-term. This will allow you to test methods of driving traffic to your website in a logical way rather than trying to do everything all at once and feeling overwhelmed. (I know, easier said than done, right?).
I have attempted to split out what I believe to be the areas that you need to focus on in a certain order, but you may choose different priorities according to where you are in your business, and where you own strengths lie.
It can be overwhelming, trying to figure out where you need to focus your attention first, so if you'd prefer to have a downloadable version you can refer back to, get the e-book here:
The fundamentals of driving traffic to your online store
Part 1 - SEO
The first thing that you need to do, ideally while you are building your website, but if not, then shortly after, is make sure you have done the basics to optimise your website.
SEO stands for search engine optimization and in the simplest terms it describes the process that you need to use to have Google (or other search engines) pick up your website. Many people struggle with SEO because frankly, it's not the most exciting part of running a business and also it is not something yields results in the short-term.
SEO is not a quick fix
The work that you do to improve your SEO can take a few months to have an impact, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make a start.
There are many great books, plugins and courses that you can use to teach yourself SEO, but if you are serious about increasing your traffic from search engines, this is definitely one area where professional help is well worth paying for.
Why is SEO so important?
Because when it is done correctly, SEO will work for you at all times of the day and night, driving traffic to your website that is actually searching to buy what you are selling.
According to www.smartconversion.com, conversion rates on traffic coming from SEO are actually around 3%, so higher than the average. This is because that traffic is actively searching for your products. If you think of your own experience, if you go to the trouble of typing in “long sleeved red v neck jumper” into Google, it’s because you are looking for something very specific and will be much more likely to buy it when you find it.
Investing in SEO can drive free, targeted customers who are ready to buy, which is why it’s my top suggestion for the place to start to grow your traffic.
Understand "long-tail keywords"
SEO has become less fashionable and is not talked about as such a buzzword anymore in the industry because of the fierce competition to get to the top of the Google rankings.
However, there is a powerful concept in SEO called “long-tail keywords” that it is useful to understand. A long-tail keyword is a very specific phrase, for example “black cropped embellished leather jacket”. Although you may not be able to hit the top spot for “leather jackets”, if you are able to research the relevant long-tail keywords for your particular product area, then you may be able to drive very targeted traffic to your website.
How To Get To The Top Of Google - Book
SEO Roadmap - Udemy Course
How To Get Your Website On Google - Blog Post - I would also recommend speaking to Andrew at Bright Arts if you are thinking of having your SEO professionally managed (again, this is not an affiliate link, I’m just passing on what has worked for my clients!)
Here’s a video of Andrew and I talking about SEO in the Female Founders In Retail FB group.
Part 2 - Email Marketing
Email marketing is also not considered to be the most fashionable marketing method at the moment, and after the dramas of GDPR in May, many people have fallen out of love with their email lists.
However, the traffic that you drive to your website from your email list will be the highest converting traffic that you can get. In fact, studies show around 4% or higher conversion from traffic that you have directed to your website from an email that you send.
All major retailers use email marketing consistently to highlight special offers, talk to their customers, launch new ranges and push sales.
You control the channel
Consider an email list as a channel that you control. You have a direct line into your customers inbox and can message them directly whenever you like. These are also customers who have established enough trust in you that they have given you their email address, so nurture that relationship. It is also a valuable asset that protects you if Amazon, or Instagram or Facebook decides to freeze your account one day without warning.
Email lists allow you to take traffic that you can’t control (from organic search or social media platforms) and turn it into traffic that you can control. The method that you use to do that is to offer the visitor something in return for an email address. This can be done via a pop-up on your website, in your website footer, or on special pages called leadpages (sometimes known as squeeze pages).
The simplest method for a product based retailer is to offer an introductory discount to email subscribers. However, you are not limited to using that - try different offers to see which gets the best % of sign ups. For example, if you eco-friendly products, you could create a pdf of a plastic-free challenge for parents. A beauty brand could offer printable tips for the perfect skincare routine, or exclusive “how-to” videos. The list is endless. Promote your lead magnet on social media and drive people to sign up for your list.
Using an email provider
Always actively grow your list
It is important to always be actively growing your email list, as they will naturally shrink by around 22% a year as people unsubscribe or change their email lists. Start your list now, and nurture it over time, and you will have your own channel straight to your dedicated followers. What’s not to love?
Part 3 - Content Marketing
In a nutshell, content marketing involves creating unique content that your audience will enjoy.
For example, writing a blog post about your product that will entertain and interest your audience is content marketing. Other examples might be how-to videos, infographics or e-books.
Social Media Marketing vs. Content Marketing
You may well share this content on social media, but content marketing specifically refers to content that you create that lives on your website. It allows you to post long blog posts, for example, instead of a short FB update.
Content Marketing works alongside SEO
Having a strategy in place to create interesting and original content on your own website will not only encourage people to visit from social media, but it can also be another piece of your SEO strategy.
For example, you write a blog post on a particular topic that really interests your target market, and in it you use several long-tail keywords that you have researched. You have now created another way for potential customers to find you via a search engine.
It is also beneficial to have fresh content on your website - even 2 blogs a month can make a difference.
Create a realistic schedule
It can feel like yet another job for you to do as a small business owner, so be realistic about what you can commit to. If it has to be one blog a month, better to do that and create really good content than to push yourself to create less compelling content on a regular basis.
Boosting Your Brand Awareness
The next group of activities to drive traffic to your online store fall under the banner of boosting your brand awareness.
Managing success is hard to do
What is more difficult with many of these techniques is measuring how successful they are. For example, a PR piece may really increase customer awareness, but seeing how this converts to additional traffic and sales on your website is difficult to do.
Don't try to do too much at once
Nonetheless, brand-building activities like these should be part of your overall strategy to grow traffic. My advice would be to pick one and work at it for 3-6 months so that you can really test and refine what works well for you, instead of trying to do a little bit of all of them.
Last week I was talking to someone about my marketing, and what they told me was that if I was planning on learning an instrument, then I wouldn’t try and learn the piano, and the flute and the violin all at the same time. Instead, I’d pick one, work at it every day, and when I was feeling more comfortable, add another instrument in.
That’s exactly how you should look at these tactics. Any one of them will work as a way to grow your business, but each one requires focus and dedication, as well as a process of working out what works for your own business.
Part 1 - Social Media Marketing
Ah, social media! As small business owners, we are all heavily reliant on using social media to get our brand out there.
It’s a fantastic way to grow our brand, communicate with our customers and attract new ones.
Social Media traffic is low converting
Just be aware, that although this is such an area of focus for so many businesses, traffic that you drive to your website from a social media platform typically converts at a much lower rate than other types of traffic - around 0.8%.
This is because people tend to be in browsing mode when they are on social media, so to go back to my earlier example, they are like you browsing Christmas party wear in early October.
Of course, you can sell directly within a social media platform (e.g. Instagram shoppable posts) but in this blog we are specifically looking at how you use social media to drive traffic to your website so that they can buy there. You just need to be aware that you should not expect high conversion rates from your social media traffic.
My top tips for using Social Media to drive traffic
I’m not going to delve into all of the different platforms out there and the pros and cons of each - once again, this topic is so big that I could write a blog a week about it for a year!
I will just give you my top tips for using social media to drive traffic to your website:
There are so many books, courses, podcasts, and blogs written about social media, it’s hard to know where to start. Here is a small selection.
Part 2 - Partnerships
Collaborating is one of my favourite ways to grow a business, because it strengthens your network, gives you immediate access to a whole new audience, and can be a lot of fun!
Finding suitable partners to work with can substantially increase your brand awareness and ultimately your traffic.
You need a complementary partner
Find someone who has complementary products, and who serve the same audience. For example, if you sell baby clothes, team up with someone who sells baby shoes.
Create giveaways or promotions that you can both share with your audiences. Feature on each other’s newsletters.
Find your partners on Social Media
Social media is a great way to find suitable partners - if you’re not a member of the Female Founders In Retail FB group, click here to join. You'll find hundreds of other women with product-based businesses.
Be open, friendly and upfront about what you are trying to achieve. Most people will respond well to that kind of approach, especially if they are of a similar size to you. There is strength in numbers!
Part 3 - PR
PR refers to getting your products into magazines and newspapers. Press coverage can have a major impact on brand awareness which over time can significantly increase your sales.
A good PR strategy takes hard work
However, it does require a lot of time and effort. You need to research your customer to understand what they read, and therefore which publications would be best. You also have to figure out the submissions deadlines for the publications, try and track down the right people to contact, and work out what angle you are going to use to get your products noticed.
How clear is your brand story and USP?
PR works best when you have a really clear brand story, as well as a unique angle on your product. Make sure that you are really clear about your USP (unique selling proposition) before you start a PR campaign. For example, www.nubianskin.com got significant press coverage when they created a range of nude underwear for a variety of skin tones. Their unique offering made for a clear and compelling story.
Press releases are essential
If you are convinced that PR is going to be a really key part of your business strategy, you can either employ a PR agency (which can be expensive) or there are several courses that will teach you how to do your own PR.
Part 4 - Physical retail
Finally in this section, if you have a physical store, or take part in events like craft markets or pop-ups, do not miss this opportunity to drive traffic to your online store as well.
Make sure your website URL is clearly visible - can it be on receipts and signage? Create flyers with your website featured on them to hand out, and consider a “bounceback” offer - giving customers a code so that if they then visit your website, they get a discount off future purchases.
Don't miss this opportunity
Don't forget that most of us no longer think about the distinction between shopping online and offline. We are increasingly likely to research our purchases multiple times both online and offline before we purchase. Don't miss this opportunity to get customers that have benefitted from meeting you face-to-face to visit your website, and ideally sign up to your newsletter.
Paying for Traffic
The final section of this blog post is about paying for traffic.
The reason that it is last is not because it is not an effective method for driving traffic. It is indeed a very effective method, and one that all of the major retailers use as part of their strategy.
It's easy to spend a lot of money on traffic
However, it is incredibly easy to burn through a lot of money using paid advertising, so it is advisable that you only start paying to drive traffic once you have really worked through any issues on your website, and worked out a good formula for what engages and entices your ideal customer.
There are many varieties of paid traffic
There are several different methods of paying for traffic.
1 - Social Media Ads - promoting posts or ads on your chose social media platform
2 - Paid search - promoting your search results
3 - Banner ads - clickable ads that display on websites
4 - Influencers - paying someone with a large social media following to promote your goods
5 - Sponsored content - having a blog post featured on another platform, or an “advertorial” in a magazine
Top tips for using paid traffic
This is another very complex topic as each one of these methods has its pros and cons - so instead of getting into even more detail, I've put my top tips below:As with other methods, don’t try lots of different ones at once. Pick one and practise getting good at it.
You’ve made it all the way to the end, congratulations!
You are now familiar with the main ways to drive traffic to your online store.
If you are feeling overwhelmed right now, don’t panic. Do not try to take on all of the methods outlined above.
Create an action plan
My advice for entrepreneurs who want to drive traffic to their online store is to do the following:
Download the e-book
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