Your store launches only once. You want to use the launch as a chance to get as much traffic and attention as you can.
Before you become a seasoned marketer with big sales, there are a number of things that you can do to get traffic to take advantage of a grand opening.
This post is all about getting traffic to your new store by targeting influencers and getting attention. We offer actionable tactics and provide six templates you can copy and paste to use for your campaigns. And at the end we share the most important things you should do as an established business to keep the momentum going.
Now let’s start getting you some traffic.
1. Send free samples to Instagram influencers
Instagram is quickly becoming one of the most effective marketing channels for ecommerce merchants. A recent study found that Instagram gives brands 25% more engagement than any other social platform and our own analysis found that it generates a higher average order value than Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.
It’s also a great way to drive traffic and awareness for your store – especially if you know how to target influencers.
For the sake of example, let’s say you want to start a company selling hair products online. How do you get attention for your store and products?
Get started by looking through Instagram for the popular accounts that may consider featuring your product to their hundreds of thousands of followers.
How do you find these popular accounts?
By searching through WEBSTA, a site that catalogues the most popular Instagram hashtags and users. By typing in “hairstylist” in the search bar, you get to see both the most popular related hashtags as well as users who have “hairstylist” in their usernames or bios.
You might also check out WEBSTA Hot, which features the most popular hashtags trending now.
It was by searching through WEBSTA that we discovered Steph Brinkerhoff, a professional wedding hair stylist and makeup artist based in Utah. Her Instagram handle is @hairandmakeupbysteph, and she has about 150,000 followers.
Look: In her bio, Steph features a link to her blog, Hair and Makeup by Steph. You can find there all sorts of advice on hairstyles.
And just as importantly, you can find above a link to her “Contact” page. It lists a phone number, email, and a contact form. From there, you can initiate contact.
Another effective way to target Instagram influencers is by using the Instagram app on your phone. You can check the “popular page” which contains photos that are trending and have thousands of likes. Look for photos related to your industry and click over to the user’s profile to see if she has a large audience and a way to get in touch.
For example, here’s how that might look if you sold pet-related products.
Typically if a popular account has contact information - especially an email address – in her bio, it usually means she's open to product placements, partnerships and advertising opportunities.
Now when it comes to reaching out, it’s important to be strategic about this. Not every Instagram user with a lot of followers is willing to feature products from users. We’re certainly not recommending that you target Steph or nala_cat to get your product featured. Instead, this simply describes the journey of the targeting process.
What might a reach-out campaign look like? If a business address can be found on a contact page, send along a sample directly and attach a note to describe the product.
And if there’s no actual address, you might send a note to ask whether the Instagram user might be willing to accept samples. Here’s a template you can use:
2. Reach out to bloggers and press
There are other people you can reach out to: bloggers, vloggers, and press. The size of their audience varies, but some of them have large followings, and the process of reaching out to them is quite similar to reaching out to Instagram influencers.
The best way to find bloggers is simply by looking for them on Google.
On Youtube, you might try out keywords like: “hair advice,” “hair tips,” and “hair care.” Then see whether the makers of the videos post regularly on aspects of writing about hair products.
You may have to play around with your keywords to find the people who may be interested in your product. There are many people who review products on video part-time or for a living.
Another tried and true method for getting traffic is landing your business in the press. Now you might not get covered from very big newspapers and sites, but you have a better chance of getting press from local news sites and community papers. You have a good chance of being featured if you can tell a unique story, if you can talk about your product in interesting ways, and if you write a good pitch.
When reaching out to the press, a concise pitch is nearly always better than the long pitch because reporters see lots of pitches. If you’d like to get press attention, write a short and compelling email. Tell them about what makes you different, and try to pitch yourself as a local success story.
Just as it would be with an Instagram personality, getting coverage from a popular blog, from a vlogger, or from the press can drive a lot of sales to your store. Reach out to them just as you would to an Instagram personality to send them a sample and a short note.
What can you write to a blogger or a vlogger? We’ve put together this template to get you started.
And to the press? You can pitch to be featured as a success story. Find the appropriate person at the paper of interest, and send them a note that might go like this:
All of these people have audiences, and getting their attention when you have just launched and are still novel may be your best shot at getting covered.
Note: You don’t have to target the biggest and most successful people. Your chances of getting featured are better for people with smaller audiences, because they’re not constantly swarmed by people who are looking for a feature. In fact, Chris Dammacco, who sells retro video games, has made a conscious decision to target Youtube vloggers with smaller audiences. Keep in mind that the loyalty of the audience matters almost as much as its size.
3. Post your store to reddit
The whole internet hangs out on reddit. In addition to its main page, which aggregates the most popular content, it also has thousands of niches called subreddits. You can find a subreddit on nearly any subject, for example, /r/bicycling, /r/scifi, or /r/corgi.
There are a few threads that you should be paying attention to that may help your business.
First, everybody should be browsing the /r/entrepreneur subreddit. With about 79,000 subscribers, it has lots of interesting tips and discussions on starting a business. You might also be interested in the related /r/smallbusiness thread as another source of general business advice.
Let’s stick with hair products. Well, maybe you want to check out the /r/femalehairadvice thread. There’s a lot of discussion on all aspects of haircare for girls.
Make your posts very brief, displaying only the essence of what your new store is about. One example of a headline that you might use could be something like:
Who says that short hair can’t be fancy? My store in Philadelphia makes accessories for guys with really short hair.
Make it snappy, catchy, and not very sales-y. You should also check out the Reddiquette guide to check out whether you’re following reddit guidelines.
Pay attention also to the rules of your subreddit. They’re always found in the sidebar to the right of the subreddit. Some subreddits don’t allow promotional material – so posting what’s basically an ad for your store is not allowed. If you post about your site to a place that doesn’t want it, either you’ll find that no one’s upvoting your link, or in extreme cases you may even get banned from the subreddit. Read the rules.
4. Get friends and family to share
Are you at the age yet when all of your Facebook friends are posting pictures of their babies? Isn’t it annoying?
Many people are sick of looking at baby photos, but you can probably get away with sharing your online store. People don’t launch businesses too frequently, and so it’ll probably be quite novel within your circle of friends to see you start your own business.
Do you know the site Upworthy? Of course you do. Upworthy articles are in everyone’s Facebook feeds. Now did you know that its initial momentum was generated by friends and family. They set a goal of getting 1,000 Facebook fans by the end of the day of their launch date. It worked, and that’s part of what gave them the initial traction to take off.
Reach out in a targeted way to your friends and family. You’ll get away with it without risking irritation. On Facebook, talk about your store in an update.
Are there channels for talking to your extended family? Do they plan reunions on an email list? Send a note, and tell them about your new store.
Don’t focus the ask on getting them to buy your products. You should instead offer them your products for free. They are your friends and family, after all.
Instead, ask them to share the store with their networks. These are people with whom you have social equity, and you won’t ask for these kinds of favors very often. You’ll have a higher rate of success than reaching out to strangers, and if enough of them share, that may give you sufficient momentum to keep a regular stream of customers.
What might that message look like?
Add exclamation marks as required.
5. Pro-actively engage on Twitter
You don’t need to start selling products before you engage with people on Twitter. There are a lot of ways to get on peoples’ radars as a cool new store.
That’s nothing to sneeze at. How did it get a few hundred followers pre-launch?
First, it generated some follow-backs by following select people on Twitter whom it determined may be interested in a new bakery. These include restaurateurs and self-declared bread enthusiasts in Toronto.
One tool that you can use to find relevant users is Followerwonk. Log in through Twitter, and you can search relevant keywords in bios and profiles.
It has also been following a disciplined tweeting strategy. Blackbird has been baking and distributing their breads around interested stores around Toronto, and have been uploading lots of pictures of breads to Instagram and Facebook. The pictures are mouthwatering – and shareable.
It also engaged very pro-actively with people who sent tweets about the local community. These topics included life in Toronto, great food there, and, of course, bread.
It has finally tweeted often about when the store would open, building anticipation.
And so when it finally opened, there were lots of interested people ready to coming knocking and buy its bread.
Here's the central strategy: Search Twitter for for keywords related to your business and then look for chances to help people or add value in a way that lacks a sales pitch. Let people discover themselves why your tweets are valuable.
6. Write a blog post featuring people with audiences and send it to them
“Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” - Dale Carnegie
Our final suggested tactic for getting traffic goes back to reaching out and connecting to people with big audiences, and bloggers in particular.
Instead of reaching out by sending a sample of your product, you might get traffic in a more roundabout way: By writing a blog post about them, and sending it to them in an email or via Twitter.
Yes, instead of waiting for them to feature you, you can feature them first.
You’re going to be looking for the influencers in your industry anyway. Write up the top people you find and turn that into an easy blog post featuring the most popular Instagram users, bloggers, and vloggers. Heck, throw in major Twitter accounts in there, too.
Here are possible headlines your blog post can take:
In the blog post, list them and come up with a short blurb discussing what they’re about. Need an example of what that post might look like? See below.
Next, send the post to them through your Twitter account or to their email address, with a message like the following. If you send the post via Twitter, it’s critically important to mention their handles, with a message like:
And if you send an email, you might consider this template:
Don’t be too obvious that you’re just trying to get their attention. As long as your blurbs are thoughtful, they’ll be flattered. If they send it out to their network, all the better.
A store only gets launched once, and you won’t again have an easy excuse to reach out to a lot of people. So do everything you can to get traffic and convert them into customers.
Once you’ve built a following, look toward other ways to establish yourself as an online store. These methods include mastering SEO, following a good content strategy, engaging with fans on social media, and spending money effectively on social media ads and on Google Adwords.