Setting up an ecommerce store is simple enough. But, promoting it and driving relevant traffic to the shop is certainly no easy feat. This is even more difficult with a small marketing budget.

Let’s take a look at effective ways in which online store owners can get the word out without spending a bundle.

1. Get found online through SEO best-practices

It’s difficult to get noticed as an alternative to the 800-pound gorillas of the eCommerce world. The search engines increasingly remove commercial sites from the results, replacing them with their own ads and shopping programs. Today, results focus more and more on content, not products.

The secret to winning SEO in eCommerce is by building unique content.

Great content is shareable, great for referring traffic, and there’s little competition to rank for content-centric terms versus commercial or brand name keywords. Original content is great for building a strong reputation, long-term customer relationships, and increasing brand awareness.

Here are several great ways to help accomplish this.

Each product should have its own unique content

This is also a great place to get creative with your descriptions and inject your company’s personality into the site.

Avoid using the template product descriptions from the manufacturer. This creates repeated content (the enemy of all search engines) and guarantees your site will be unlisted or–even worse–banned from search engine results pages (SERPs).

If creating unique content for every product isn’t possible, be sure to “noindex” your product pages, and focus on creating unique and helpful content on your category or higher level pages instead.

Add customer reviews to all product pages

This is where user-generated content can be especially helpful. About 70% of buyers are looking for reviews of products before making a purchase. It’s easier for review pages to reach the top of search results than selling pages.

Reviews also keep product pages “living,” which can help bring the search engines back more often. Anytime you can update your site more frequently, the better it is for your overall SEO efforts.

Get specific with your keywords

Most commerce platforms offer built-in SEO and keyword tools. Instead of stuffing the site with unrelated but popular terms, pick highly relevant words instead to help direct a targeted audience to the right pages on the site. Every page should have specific page titles, description and keywords to avoid repetition.

2. Consider starting a blog

Managing a blog is a fantastic tool to help promote your store. Writing original content for a blog helps establish your brand as an authority in the industry, as well as personalizing your brand for shoppers as relatable and something to share and interact with others.

Done right, this could be the most powerful, successful program in your marketing arsenal.

3. Retain and upsell current customers

Generating sales from existing customers is often much easier than finding new ones.

Leverage purchase history

A very simple way to generate more revenue is to utilize past purchase information to sell complementary products or services. Look for what other similar customers have purchased in the past to identify buying patterns. Promote these items to targeted customers.

Give them a nudge

If they have already tried the product or service once, the occasional incentive or reward can help sway them into becoming repeat customers. Be careful not to overdo these deals though because abuse can lead to conditioning them to wait for your next deal instead of buying at standard pricing.

Open communication

Stay in touch with your customers by maintaining a newsletter, blog or social media account. Offer exclusive one-time discounts for those who join your social media groups or sign up for the newsletter. Consider promoting these discounts on coupon sites and forums to help crowdsource free backlinks to your store.

Connect on other networks

Successful social media strategies encourage reviews, community, and photo sharing from existing customers. You need to interact with your audience. Most users are on social networks for entertainment and self-expression, not necessarily to purchase anything. Social networks are most useful as tools for customer retention, reputation, and word of mouth.

4. Encourage word of mouth through referral programs

Offering referral incentives encourages shoppers to spread the word about your brand to their network. Word-of-mouth marketing done right is an incredibly high-value marketing channel for many brands. Average recommendations can result in 3 to 5x higher conversion rates than other channels. Here are some tips for successful referral initiatives:

Create a compelling offer

Provide customer advocates with a compelling reason to share your program/offer with their friends. Offering meaningful incentives can dramatically increase participation, e.g., discounts, free products or services. Even a simple non-business reward/gift you know customers would appreciate can help tremendously.

Promote the program

Driving awareness of a referral program is critical to its success. The more shoppers easily understand the program, the better chance they will become advocates. Include program messaging everywhere: on your website, your email signature, postcards in store or in every order shipment are just a few examples.

Make it easy for advocates to refer

There are a number of ways in which advocates can share referral marketing programs with their friends, including email, personal URLs (PURLs), Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Make sharing as easy as possible.

Bonus points: Test and optimize the program’s messaging according to the channel to understand what directly relates to the success of a referral program.

5. Offline impressions still matter

You can reach potential customers by taking promotions offline to create brand impressions that bring consumers online to your website.

recent study looked into offline influences on online search behavior and indicated that roughly 3 in 4 consumers research online after seeing an offline ad. Those that prompted them to search online were:

  • Television advertisement: 45%
  • Word of mouth: 41%
  • Magazine/newspaper advertisement: 35%
  • Radio: 23%
  • Billboard: 13%

In any offline promotion, it’s critical to point viewers to a single, clear call to action, specifically your website URL. (It’s short and easy to remember, right?)

The channels mentioned above are still pricey to enter but whenever you do any kind of offline effort, the rule to keep you call-to-action simple and clear remains true. Whether you’re printing a postcard, direct mail letter, brochure or even just getting business cards. Keep it simple.

Since most people carry smartphones these days, people can begin their online experience with your store from almost anywhere in the world as long as they can remember your name!

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