How to increase traffic to an online store

Setting up an online store is only half the battle, the other battle (which is arguably also the most important) is to drive traffic to the online store. The competition is intense even if one operates in a niche category, and it takes ingenuity to stand out from the rest.
Arun Nair - Author

Make no mistake that the right customer acquisition strategy along with persistence is the fuel for success for any online venture, and I have outlined some tips to help you get there. These tips are based on my own personal experience running and mentoring e-commerce ventures over the years.

  • Content Marketing

    The cliche Content is King holds true even more these days, especially since good and relevant content is hard to find. Employ the right content marketing strategy and stick to a content calendar of activities to perform for a period of time (month, quarter, year).

    Persistence is key here, and a lot of failed content marketing campaigns can be attributed to lack of effort and persistence over time. Besides regular content in a blog in your online store, you must also seed content elsewhere and gather important (and high quality) back-links to your online store. For e.g. create content around relevant topics in Quora.com and attribute it back to your online store. Over time they not only bring in valuable traffic to your store, but also adds to your influence.

  • E-mail Marketing

    E-mail marketing is still one of the most potent means of driving traffic to an online store. Though ISPs have introduced stricter SPAM regulations around email marketing, a good opt-in campaign done at the right frequency to the right audience has the potential to yield much better conversion. If you do not have a substantial database to deliver the mails to, you can use third-party vendors that will send your email communication to their database.

    If you have built a good opt-in database of email ids over time, it is important to segment them and send timely emailers with the right offers to get them coming back. You can also set-up auto emailers that are triggered on events like cart abandonment, stock availability etc.

  • Massive Social Media Out-reach

    Tap into the power of social media and give your online store or your promotional campaign wings. It is important to have a concerted effort to build your community online, that is not only high in engagement but also has the potential to become ambassadors of your online store. Organically it may take time to build a follower base, but if done well and with constant engagement, you have a base that will constantly drive traffic to your online store for free.

    Keep in mind though, that every social networking platform has it own unique character, and hence when engaging with the followers of these platforms one must customize the message for maximum impact. Popular social networking platforms to tap into are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube

  • PPC (pay per click) Campaigns

    Supplement your organic traffic with PPC traffic to give a boost to your online store. It is important to arrive at the right set of keywords to target, and this can be achieved by getting suggestions from Keyword Planner (Google AdWords), peeking into keywords that your competition is bidding or using any of the keyword suggestion tools available for free. When done right, PPC campaigns can be cost effective and also yield high conversion returns (in comparison with other campaigns).

    Popular PPC platforms include Google AdWords, Facebook Advertising, Bing, LinkedIn Advertising

  • Content Discovery Platforms

    Use content discovery and recommendation platforms like Outbrain and/or Taboola to drive traffic to your online store, or to a particular blog post in your store. Because these content discovery platforms usually use contextual matching, you are more like to attract users who are interested in your content or the store. Note: this approach usually works well for experiential brands or services that can be powered by content.

  • Engage with Social Influencers

    There is nothing more convincing and a great boost to an online store than an endorsement from an influencer, not only does this give you access to thousands of customers in a single-go, but it also embeds an element of trust that is little achieved through conventional mass-media advertising. Use tools like BuzzSumo or Hoot Suite to find influencers on Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, YouTube, Pinterest etc and engage with them for a reach-out campaign.