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In the age of COVID-19, online commerce is more important than ever. Many vendors who previously made sales primarily or entirely in person, or through a combination of that and online, are now forced to do business primarily or entirely over the internet.
You likely find it difficult to get people to visit your online store if you don’t have much previous experience—and you're not alone. Fortunately for you, we’re here to help. These are our top tips on how to drive traffic to your e-commerce shop.
Search Engine Optimization
We discussed some definitions and techniques related to SEO in a previous blog post (which we highly recommend you read!), but it bears repeating: SEO is crucial to the success of any website—e-commerce stores are not an exception. As a matter of fact, it can be doubly important for e-commerce pages to have strong SEO since the number of eyes on your content tends to be proportional to the number of conversions.
We won’t restate the information in our previous post here, but we will say there are a few techniques that are especially helpful for online vendors. For starters, you want your page to have a strong meta title and meta description. The meta title and description are the ones that appear on search engine results pages, so they’re the only chance you get to make an impression in that instance. They're marked with special HTML tags and don't appear on your webpage itself, so you should create them with only search engine result pages (SERPs) in mind. As Google says in their own SEO guide:
“A meta description tag should generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about. They are like a pitch that convinces the user that the page is exactly what they're looking for.”
Additionally, you’ll want to carefully curate your keywords. You don’t want to only use the most popular search terms, but also so-called long-tail keywords. An Ahref study found that 60% of all Google searches went to keywords that received more than 1,000 searches per month—but that only comprised 0.16% of all keywords. The remaining 99.84% of keywords received 1,000 or less searches a month, but altogether made up 40% of all total searches. These are the long-tail keywords, which because of their lower search volume are less popularly used—and are thus much easier to rank for on search engines. While these terms will get you fewer searches overall, they have a much higher click and conversion rate than the top 0.16% most-used words. We recommend using a service like Google’s Keyword Tool to help you find a good balance of meta terms to include on your page. Shopify has a stellar, comprehensive guide to e-commerce SEO that we recommend you check out, as well!
Ads & Promotion
What about the customers that are using social media instead, who aren’t taking the time to seek out your brand on search engines? What about the people who don't yet know how much your product or service could improve their lives? Well, you’ll just have to seek them out yourself. Consider making funds for ads on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram a part of your marketing budget.
That social media ads are a good investment is well documented. On Facebook and Instagram especially, ads can reach large audiences for an impressively low cost. With that said, it’s worth putting in the work to make sure that the people who see your ads are those who will be interested in your product or service. Facebook and Instagram both have built in demographic-targeting tools which you’d be wise to take advantage of.
Directly paying the platforms, however, is not the only way you can use them to advertise.
Work With Influencers
The value of working with influencers is right in the name—they have a large audience who pays attention to and trusts their opinions. They can influence a large number of peoples’ browsing and purchasing habits. A Yotpo survey found that at least 30% of Instagram users had purchased products that they first saw on the platform. Influencers aren’t just on Instagram, though. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Tumblr, and pretty much every other social media platform.
So, how do you get them to advertise for you? You’ll have to reach out first, and offer them a deal. Let them know why your product is worth their and their audience’s attention. Send them some free samples. Give them a discount code they can pass on to their followers. Maybe pay them on a per-conversion basis. Use your business instincts, like you would with any other partnership.
Customer & Brand Engagement
While we’re on the topic of social media marketing, why not do some yourself? You should be posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram at least, and preferably on Twitter and LinkedIn, too. As Shopify says in their SEO guide,
“Social engagement is about encouraging conversations with the right people, responding thoughtfully, and driving excitement and enthusiasm.”
With that in mind, you should not only be posting every day— you should also be interacting with comments on your posts, comment-ing on potential customers' posts, and interacting and conversing with other brands. Engage with the stories people are telling. Answer their questions and ask questions of your own. Establish a rapport. Share customer success stories and praise to your main pages. When you talk back to your customers, they feel like you care, and are more likely to purchase from you again. An aloof brand is not likely to inspire attachment.
Post on Your Blog
You can also generate content on your own platform to reach and maintain yet another audience. As MonsterInsights points out, your customers are looking for more than just a retail shop. They want a brand, with not only unique offerings but also a unique voice. Additionally, some people prefer reading long-form content to social media bites, which is where having a blog comes in handy. Plus, having more content about your product or service out there on the Internet makes finding it easier for your potential customers.
The same SEO rules apply to your blog posts as your e-commerce pages—a strong meta, good keywords, and long tail keywords will help ensure good search engine placement. Many web development and hosting services will offer an easy-to-use interface that lets you include these elements without needing to learn HTML. It’s also a good idea to update your blog regularly—at least once a month, if you can, to keep it high on the algorithmically-generated SRPs.
Now you’ve got all the tools you need to run a successful e-commerce store. Take this information with you, and set out on your adventure on the great wide web! Good luck!