1. Offer Deals on a Regular Basis
Most online marketplaces will give you the option to hold sales and/or use promo codes to help entice shoppers. Be sure to do this on a regular basis. From taking advantage of holiday shopping (get 15% off for Father’s Day, 31% off for Halloween, 50% off of select items on Black Friday, etc.) to simply offering great deals for no reason at all, this will help ensure you have regular web traffic.2. Use Email Marketing to Remind Customers to Shop
An example of one of our newsletters that features our online sellers’ products.
When you first open your store, you’ll want to send out an email announcing it to your database. Make sure it links directly from the email to your store. Once you’ve done this, start sending out weekly (if possible) newsletters that highlight your products with great images and persuasive, yet succinct, content that links directly to each product for easy purchasing.
When you have sales, be sure to announce and promote them via email so customers can take advantage of your exclusive pricing right away.3. Start a Blog
A blog is more than a great way to establish yourself as a leader in your industry, it’s also an indirect way to help promote your online shop. Include one relevant link back to your store in each blog post (either link the home page of your store or link directly to a product) and make sure each blog is informative and helpful. If the content isn’t strong, it’s not going to do you any good. Quality blogs will help you grow your online business, however, so if you have the time, it’s a great project to invest in.4. Contact Bloggers About Your Products
Do a search on Google Blogs for whatever industry your products are in. (For example, if you create candles, you might look for lifestyle bloggers and/or bloggers who write about homemade goods) and then reach out to the ones with the largest following. Be sure to look for how many comments they receive and how large their following is on their social media accounts to gauge their popularity.
When you contact them, tell them why you love their blog (be specific), then briefly explain why you feel your product would be a good fit for a review on their blog. Provide a sample of your product for free, and if you can afford it, offer to provide another sample for a giveaway. You’ll get a review, a reader will get a free product, and you’ll get priceless promotion direct to your target audience.5. Start Guest Blogging
Guest blogging can be a great way to reach a larger audience you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Research who the top bloggers are in your industry (see above), read through their posts to see what topics they normally write about, and then contact them about guest blogging opportunities. Most bloggers will let you at least have a link to your store in your bio, but you possibly may also be able to get one in your content as well.6. Offer Video Tutorials/Behind-the-Scenes Shots
People love a good video — they’re easy to share and they can add depth and clarity to your products, as well as help them gain popularity amongst your target market. For example, if you sell headbands for babies, show parents the different ways their babies can wear them. If there’s only one way, just show adorable babies wearing your headbands in videos. If you sell dog treats, why not show a little behind-the-scenes action of you baking them? If you make clothing, show model fittings, fashion shows, you sewing, etc.
When you’re done, share these videos on YouTube (create your own account for your business) and also share on all other social media sites you’re on.7. Branch Out with Social Media
Social media is essential if you want to promote your online shop effectively. But, as with anything, it takes effort and time to build followers. Depending on what you have time for (or if you can delegate tasks to anyone else to help you), you will want to check out the following sites to help market your store: (And continually try new sites to figure out what bests works for your business.)
We Heart It
Fluff It Marshmallows uses Twitter to promote their online shop on Scott’s Marketplace.
For social media marketing to work, you need to post regularly. For most businesses, this will be at least once a day, if not 2-3 times, depending on how many followers you have. Post enticing pictures of the products you offer, along with any deals you have going on.Always include a direct link to the specific product for fast purchasing at your online store.
Ask your followers to post pictures of themselves wearing your products or using them in their home, depending on what you sell, to encourage interaction and help further your online reach. Using a scheduling tool, like Hootsuite, can help make social media more manageable for you.9. Hold Contests on Social Media
Contests are a great way to spread the word about what you have to offer, drive traffic to your store, and increase your social media followers. Some sites have specific rules for holding contests, like Facebook, so be sure you know what they are before beginning your contest. Offer one of your products as a prize (or put a few together for a prize pack) and then announce the contest on all of the social sites you use.
Post about the giveaway often to encourage signups (use the email addresses you get to build your email database) and then be sure to ask the winner to post a picture of themselves on your page with their prize once you’ve shipped it. Say something like “More great products just like this can be found at (insert URL)” to encourage those who are viewing the post to check out what else you have to offer.10. Try Paid Advertising on Social Media
Sites like Facebook and Twitter offer the ability to use paid advertising to target the right consumers for you. If you try this on Facebook, we suggest selecting a metric such as ‘website clicks’ or ‘website conversions,’ because you want people to click through to your online store’s URL, not your fan page.
On Twitter, you could try using ‘Promoted Tweets’ to market your store. Be sure to include concise, yet enticing content along with the URL to help drive traffic. For example, if you create clothing, your promoted tweet might look something like this, “What are the hottest #fashion trends for summer? Find out here: (insert shortened URL).”11. Include Your Store’s URL in Your Email Signature
This is a fast and easy one. No matter what email provider you use, you should have a custom email signature that includes the URL to your store. WiseStamp makes this simple and is free to use at a basic level. If you have Outlook, you’ll have to do add the URL yourself as WiseStamp doesn’t yet work with this email provider.12. Print Your Store’s URL on all Marketing Material
From business cards to flyers and everything in between, your URL needs to be included wherever you’re marketing your business. Never leave home without something you can hand out to potential customers that has your URL on it.13. Wrap Your Vehicle With Your Store’s URL
If you want your vehicle to be a non-stop promotion machine, get it wrapped with your store’s URL and some kind of image or slogan that entices passerby to pull out their phones and look up your store.14. Print Your URL on Shopping Bags
If you have a physical location, try having your store’s URL printed on your shopping bags. As customers carry the bags around, your store will be getting some good promotion. Even better: If you have the budget for it, get some reusable shopping bags printed with your business’ name, logo, and store URL on them and hand them out to customers who spend ‘X’ amount of money. You can also do this with online orders by including them in packages.15. Hand Out Magnets with Every Purchase
Include a free magnet (that includes your store’s URL, of course) with every purchase, whether in-person or online. This way, current customers won’t forget where they purchased from and can also refer you easily to their friends.16. Use Counter Cards at Checkout
Set counter cards right next to the cash register so customers can grab one as they’re leaving. Consider adding a coupon code or discount for online shoppers and direct them to your store’s URL.17. Use Window Clings Everywhere You Can
Window clings are an easy way to promote your online shop. You can put one on the door of your physical location and in various other locations throughout your store and in your vehicle’s window. You can even ask friends, family, and willing employees to do the same. As always, include your store’s URL.18. Partner with Other Local Business Owners
Partnering up with other local business owners is a great way to drum up new customers for your online shop.
Who are the other local business owners in your area? If you don’t know them yet, make it a point to go introduce yourself. Talk to them and see if they’d be willing to put any flyers or counter cards out for your business in their stores and, in turn, do the same for them. If you’re online only, see if any businesses that sell their products at local events, farmer’s markets, and festivals would let you have flyers on their table. Again, do the same for them wherever you sell.19. Try Your Hand at Direct-Mail Marketing
Just because you want to promote your online business, not a physical location, doesn’t mean you can’t use direct-mail marketing to your advantage. The key here would be to include a great discount, descriptive content, and your online store’s URL to get shoppers to visit your site. Research the local coupon mailers and newspapers in your area to find good spots for you to advertise in.20. Look Into Grocery-Cart Advertising
Depending on how savvy your target audience is, you could have a QR code-centric adthat takes grocery shoppers right to your store’s URL once scanned. This would be a fast and easy way for them to shop your products online. You could also do a basic ad instead if this won’t work for your target market that includes your URL.21. Place Coupons In Packages
Every time you complete an online order, make sure you toss a coupon in the packageto encourage the consumer to shop again. Have your URL printed on the coupon to make it easy for the customer. You should also always include one or two of your business cards in each order.22. Update Your On-Hold Message
Be sure to update your on-hold message so consumers know they can now shop for your products online. State the URL slowly and spell out any words that aren’t easily understandable to ensure phone callers will have time to not only write down your URL, but get it right the first time.23. Get Your Staff Involved
Have your staff wear buttons and/or printed T-shirts that say “Shop us online at (insert URL here)” during shifts at your brick-and-mortar location if you have one, and/or at any local events you have a presence at.24. Optimize Your Product Names and Descriptions
Use keywords in your product names and descriptions to help your store get found in search engines. To research the best keywords for each of your products, you can use the ‘keyword planner‘ available for free through Adwords. Use these keywords in each of your product descriptions naturally, though, or it’ll turn off potential customers. Only use one keyword per description/product name.25. Optimize Your Photos
Give your photos good names so search engines can find you. (E.g., green-womens-shirt.jpg instead of 3929s.jpg) Doing this can help you reach more consumers who are searching for products like yours.26. Add Your Products to Google Shopping
Google Shopping lets you add your product feed to their site, making it easy for shoppers to discover your store online. Some online marketplaces, like Scott’s Marketplace, already do this for you. You can contact your marketplace directly or review the list of sellers’ benefits listed on their website to find out if this service is included with your virtual store.27. Try Pay-Per-Click Ads
Paid search campaigns (i.e. pay-per-click ads) on search engines such as Google or Bing can be a great way to drive traffic and conversions for your store, but warning, they eat up your budget quite quickly. If you prefer not to have to do this task yourself, some online marketplaces (including Scott’s Marketplace) do this for you, saving you time and money.28. Join Local Associations
Local associations have big followings, and aside from many other benefits, joining a few in your area will mean your business gets listed in their directories online. This can help increase traffic to your site.29. Sponsor Local Events
Sponsoring local events can help you increase exposure for your online business.
Sponsoring local events in your area means you get promotion for your business, normally by a link on the event page, and sometimes through social media posts and other marketing material. Be sure you ask for your URL to be included. You may also want to ask if you can include one of your flyers (with your URL) in any goody bags or handouts.30. Get Customers to Review You
Word of mouth is a very powerful marketing tool. Review sites like Yelp, Google Local, and Yahoo Local are very popular with consumers, and you should aim for your business to have as many reviews on them as possible. When a customer makes a purchase, send them a follow-up email asking them to review their experience with you on ‘x’ review site of your choosing. Don’t bribe them with free things for a positive review; focus on outstanding customer service and fast shipping instead and let your business’ great reputation build organically.31. Start a Referral Program
What better way to boost your online traffic than by offering current customers a discount or free item for referring their friends? Whether it’s a $15 credit when their friend makes their first purchase of $50 or more, or simply a free item under $10 when their friend makes a $25 purchase, a referral program can do wonders for getting new consumers to purchase from your site.32. Update Your “Closed” Sign
If you have a physical location, be sure to update your “closed sign” to say something like, “We’re closed, but shop online now at (insert URL)” to encourage more sales at your virtual store.33. Comment in Forums/Groups
Do a search for forums related to what you sell to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Choose forums that allow you to either have a custom signature at the bottom with your URL and/or a linkable username. Be sure to choose a username that makes you stand out. For example, “ICreateBeautifulThings” or “SassyJewelryMaker” is better than “Shannon543267.”
Answer questions in the forum without blatantly promoting what you have to sell — people will naturally begin to click through to your site over time. When you repeatedly add value to forums, you become part of the community there, which makes the other users trust and value what you have to say, and, most importantly, want to find out what you sell. You can also do this by finding applicable groups on LinkedIn and Google+.34. Subscribe to Blogs
For a steady stream of ideas on how to promote your online shop, subscribe to small business and marketing blogs just like this one! When tips get delivered directly to your inbox every day, it makes it easy to learn fresh ways to help get your business more exposure and profit.
There you have it! 34 ways to keep customers shopping at your online store all year long. If time is an issue for you, choose one or two of these ideas at a time and set aside anywhere from 10-30 minutes per day to work on them. Whether it’s in the morning while you have a cup of coffee or during the “slow period” at your brick-and-mortar location,getting into a routine will help make marketing your store more manageable and effective for you.
Article by: Shannon Willoby
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