feature

The biggest challenge that online store owners face is increasing traffic to their ecommerce store. Knowing where to start and how to stand out from the thousands of other shops that are competing for the same traffic is a daunting challenge.

The explosion of growth in the ecommerce world has only made it tougher for ecommerce sites to attract the critical mass of visitors needed to stay in business.

In this post there I'm going to give you 12 different strategies to help you grow your online community and increase traffic to help you boost sales. Pick the strategies and tactics you find most interesting and suitable for your business and start seeing your business grow.

1. Post Daily Content for Continued Growth

One of the easiest ways to grow your social communities over time is to post content consistently. Studies have shown that different audiences react to different posting frequencies, so make sure you are testing the optimal frequency with your own audience or look at the engagement levels in comparison to posting frequencies of your competitors for some guidelines. The minimum should be once a day on Facebook and 4-6 times a day on Twitter. Also pay attention to what time of the day you post, the timing of social media is very important. 

Two amazing tools which can be used to help automate this process are Swayy and Buffer. Swayy is great for finding high quality articles and news related to your industry and allows you to schedule posts to your different social networks. Buffer is a very popular app that can be integrated with your browser and dozens of other apps to help you schedule posts to your social networks. Using these apps can help you cut down your time spent on your social marketing to half an hour a day.

2. Use Images When Posting to Facebook

The best way to increase engagement on Facebook is by including images within your posts. Photos on Facebook have been shown to generate over 50% more likes than the average post. When you want to post an announcement or to promote a piece of content then include the link to the page within the post (preferably after the content so it stands out) and attach an image to the post.

Here's an example from Shopify's Facebook page last week:

Adding an image to an otherwise text-based announcement is far more compelling and will increase click-through significantly.

For guidelines on posting on Facebook with images, check out this post, “3 social media bad habits you need to quit now."

3. Increase Exposure of your Communities With Social Buttons

The more impressions you have on your social networks the more likely it is that you will gain more likes. The best way to dramatically increase the number of impressions on your social networks is by embedding social buttons within your site and within your marketing communications. Most blogs have social sharing buttons displayed prominently to encourage readers to share the article. Here's an example from an article by Shawn Graham in Fast Company: 

Some of the places you may want to consider to place social buttons:

  • Footer of your website and blog
  • Header of your website and blog
  • In your newsletter
  • In your email signature
  • Within specific blog posts

4. Run a Launchrock Campaign

Launchrock is a popular free service for collecting email addresses of people who want to get early access to the launch of a new app, service or really anything. The special thing about Launchrock is that it integrates social within the subscription process which is a very powerful component that can be used to turn a regular promotion into a viral marketing channel to help drive traffic and sales.

You have probably seen a Launchrock page before, they look something like this: 

After opening a free account with Launchrock you can fully customize their widget and marketing copy and then embed the widget within your promotion page on your site.

The idea is to create a give-away or some other promotion which works on friend-bring-a-friend and use the social features of Launchrock to make it viral.

Inform your visitors and social communities that in order to enter this amazing promotion they need to enter in their email address on the promotion page. After they enter in their email address, Launchrock will show them a message and social sharing buttons.

Make sure the message has a powerful incentive to get your visitors to share the promotion with their friends. Something along the lines of, “Increase your chances of winning the summer giveaway by inviting your friends to join the promotion”, or “Get 3 friends to join the promotion and all of you stand the chance of winning a bonus prize,” should help increase the share rate and thus the number of people that will get exposed to your promotion.

Within Launchrock, you have detailed analytics on the number of referrals each email brings which can help you identify the top influences. These influencers can then be contacted via email and thanked personally for their help in spreading your promotion which adds a very nice personal touch to your promotion.

5. Leverage Social Reviews to Automate Word of Mouth Marketing

Using product reviews to create trust and provide insights on your products is a great way to increase sales.

Yotpo is a popular free social review app that's available in Shopify's app store. The app helps convert over 8% of customers to reviewers through their mail after purchase email which results in a large number of reviews being created. The best part is that this process is automated so you don’t have to spend time reaching out to customers to try and get new product reviews. Here's how it works: 

Yotpo’s social features allows you to connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts and post your user-generated product reviews directly to your Facebook business page or Twitter account. These reviews help bring social traffic to your product pages which in turn increases sales. For great examples of stores taking full advantage of social reviews check out the Facebook pages of RockinWellness and KollectionK.

6. Create Micro Content

We are all suffering from information overload, which means that people have less patience and less time to consume content. A growing trend among marketers which should be seriously considered by online store owners is the creation of bite sized chunks of content for quick and easy consumption.

Two great services which can be used to host such content is Soundcloud, a cloud-based sound file hosting service, and Vine, a relatively new video hosting service released by Twitter. Vine is a free mobile app that enables users to create and post 6 second video clips that can easily be shared on social networking sites.  

Some brands like Urban Outfitters, Doritos, and even Nascar have started experimenting with Vine as a new tool for creating content.

Here's a Vine video that Nascar posted recently: 

7. Run a Twitter Q&A

Engagement is critical to keep any online community alive and well. A great tactic to grow your Twitter community and dramatically increase engagement is by hosting a weekly Twitter Q&A. The idea is to pick a day of the week, and then encourage your community to post questions related to your product, business, industry or really anything. You then provide answers to their questions and then choose the best questions and use them in a blog post.

Over time others in the space will take part and slowly you will establish your brand as an authority in the space. Remember the mantra: No Engagement Left Behind.

Bonus tip: Pick a hashtag related to the Twitter Q&A and ask your community to use it within their tweets. This helps with branding and will help make the practice familiar to those who choose to take part. Here are some tips from Twitter UK's company blog on how to host a Twitter Q&A session

8. Run a Pinterest Treasure Hunt

Pinterest is one of the largest social networks in the world and can be used for a wide range of marketing activities. One powerful way to use Pinterest to create buzz around your brand and product line is to use it to run a “treasure hunt” promotion.

The way the treasure hunt works is to contact a few partners and ask each of them to pin an image on one of their Pinterest boards. Each image is meant to provide clues to the next image in the treasure hunt. You get the ball rolling by publishing a blog post about the promotion and a link to the first image. Fans that get to the last image are forwarded to a hidden page where they enter in their credentials to take part in the raffle. Here's how Cottage Life Magazine hosted a Pinterest treasure hunt, you can follow their strategy as a guideline on where to start your own. 

9. Experiment With Different Titles in Your Blog Posts

The title of a blog post carries a lot more weight than the average person realizes and should get as much attention as the content of the post. Here are some tips for optimizing your titles:

  • Use everyday language
  • Leverage common psychological traits (urgency, fear, desire, etc)
  • Keep it short
  • Use negatives (Don’t do this vs. do this)
  • If you're post is a list, start the title with how many points you're going to make

Check out this amazing article on a post that received thousands of shares and how its title helped it reach this amazing feat.

10. Make it Easy for Customers to Share and Pin Your Products

Including social sharing buttons is a must for any online store that wants to take advantage of our innate social behavior online. Make sure you include buttons to the popular social networks (Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) and that they are not hidden away in your store’s theme.

Many choose to go in the direction of choosing buttons that match their store’s theme but this may limit the percentage of shares. Choosing colorful buttons which stand out can help improve the amount of shares which will help drive new traffic to your site.

Try and use a service like AddThis which has its own analytics and can be used to help you with finding the optimal positioning and layout.

Here's how Thomas Holmes, author of the book "Shopify & You," uses AddThis on his product page to encourage social sharing: 

11. Invest in an Infographic

Over the last few years infographics have become extremely popular. Investing in a professionally designed infographic is one of the best ways to create a huge spike in traffic to your site and help you get a number of high value back links which are great for SEO. A quality infographic can cost anywhere from $100-$1,500 but it will be well worth the investment.

Spend some time researching an interesting topic in your industry and find a whole bunch points that you will cover in the infographic. An example of such an infographic might be “How much money do Americans spend during Christmas compared to the rest of the world.” This infographic could be created by almost any online store and would be general enough that many blogs and news sites would link back to it, resulting in thousands of visitors to your blog.

12. Create a Complimentary Board on Pinterest

A great way to provide additional value to your customers is by providing them with info and special deals on complimentary products which you don’t necessarily sell.

Let’s say your store sells hiking shoes and you would like to provide extra value to your customers. One of the best ways to do this is to create a complimentary board on Pinterest with a whole range of complimentary products that your customers may want to buy. The stores and other sites that you are promoting on your board will take notice of the incoming traffic from your Pinterest account and may even adopt the same strategy which will result in new incoming traffic to your store.

Connect all your marketing channels around this board and make sure you drive traffic to your Pinterest boards from your social accounts, newsletters and blog posts. Your fans will be thankful.

Conclusion

Many of the strategies mentioned in this post are very fresh and underutilized which means that if you are reading this you have a unique opportunity to take full advantage of the advice mentioned in this post.

I would love to hear how some of these strategies are helping you build your online empire so once you have started your campaigns and promotions let all the readers know by posting your story in the comments section below.


By Justin Butlion, the Content and Social Marketing Manager at Yotpo. He loves to blog about ecommerce, online marketing, web development and entrepreneurship. Check out his latest posts on the Yotpo blog.