Getting your e-commerce website off the ground can be technologically challenging. You've got to choose the right online shopping cart platform, create a compelling design, and make the checkout process seamless. Unfortunately, once you've accomplished these important tasks, you've still got to find a way to drive traffic to your website.
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I spoke with Corey Ferreira, Content Marketer at Shopify, our Editors' Choice tool for e-commerce software, about the best ways to market your new website to gain immediate traction. We discussed options such as using Facebook and Google ads, earned media, influencer endorsements, and even good old fashioned in-person hustling.
Keep in mind, there are long-term ways to build an audience, including things such as content marketing, email marketing, and partnering with other websites that are good ways to gradually build momentum. In this article, however, we'll solely focus on quick-win tactics that can help drive traffic within your website's first few weeks.
1. Influencer Endorsements There is no better way to quickly snag a new audience than to get a celebrity or an industry influencer to endorse your product on social media. If you can get a Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube influencer to endorse your product on his or her feed, then you're almost guaranteed to see immediate results. This kind of sponsorship can come in two forms: free or paid. With a free sponsorship, you're just sending a free product to an influencer and hoping that he or she sings your praises in a post. With a paid sponsorship, you're entering into an agreement that the influencer will post a predetermined number of posts about your product on a predetermined number of his or her profile pages.
"Just getting your product in front of followers on Instagram is massive to engage a young audience," said Ferreira. "Stay away from people with millions of followers, it will cost too much. If you do pay, make sure they mention it's a sponsored post. People respond really well, even if it's a sponsored post, if they trust the influencer."
Ferreira also recommends selecting influencers based on engagement rather than selecting influencers with a high follower count. "If they have 100,000 followers but only 10 likes per photo, I don't want to reach out to them," said Ferreira. "If they have a couple of thousand followers but they're getting hundreds of likes, I would reach out to them."
2. Blogger Outreach Similar to social influencers, bloggers hold massive sway over consumers. If you can engage the top bloggers in your industry and get them to write a positive post about your product, then you'll easily generate a new audience. In this instance, you'll wind up with more in-depth reviews of your product than you ordinarily would on social media, which could prove beneficial to your company—especially if your product is more complex than an Instagram post can convey.
Blogs also help drive traffic from Google search. If a popular and reputable blogger writes about your product, then that post is likely to surface when people search for products in your category. As with social media, it's better to start off by offering free products for organic endorsements. Only offer to pay for endorsements if you can't find someone to do it based off of his or her genuine enthusiasm for your product.
3. Facebook Ads If you can't get any bloggers to boost your product's visibility, then you'll probably want to drive awareness via Facebook Ads and Google Ads. Facebook's side-rail ads are great for getting your brand's name in front of a large amount of people with little to no work. Ferreira suggests starting with a small investment of about $5 and scale based on what works.
"For Facebook, a lot of it is trial and error," he said. "Split test everything. Target by demographic. Guess who is going to respond well to it." He also suggested creating ads that are eye-catching, with compelling copy. After all, you'll be trying to take people's attention from photos of friends and relatives, so you'll have to intrigue them before they click into someone else's post.
4. Google Ads Google Ads are a bit trickier to use than Facebook Ads. You'll want to monitor which search keywords are driving the most traffic to your website and eliminate the ones that aren't delivering. The cost-per-click on Google Ads is a bit higher than they are on Facebook. Because of this, you'll have to monitor what it costs you to acquire one customer, and how much that customer is likely to spend, to determine if the return is worth the investment.
"With Google Ads, look for case studies of companies similar to yours," said Ferreira. "The cost-per-click is a bit higher, Facebook is cheaper. But if you're providing a solution for a common problem, Google works."
5. Events Marketing Don't assume good old-fashioned handshaking won't help build your brand. "If you can go to a conference where your customer is and get a booth or just hand out business cards, that's a great thing," said Ferreira. "It doesn't cost very much." Sure, you're probably not going to generate a following of millions using hand-to-hand commerce, but you can definitely start building a grassroots movement.
6. List Your Website on eBay A great way to get your website off the ground is to list it on eBay. This way, you'll sell your goods, generate names for your email list, and begin interacting with prospects and customers. Ferreira does caution, though, that "building your business on borrowed land is not a great idea," especially because customers might just return to eBay to make purchases for products similar to yours.
"But you give yourself the opportunity to reach an audience you might not," added Ferreira. "If they buy [from you] on eBay, you can add them to your email list or provide them with follow-up offers. [There's] a lot of things you can do after the first sale to get them to buy more from you."