Now that you have your online store up and running, you need to promote it in order to drive sales. Wondering what the most effective ways to promote your online store are? Be sure to take note of these 15 promotional strategies.
1. Send out free samples to influencers
One of the easiest ways to promote your brand, your online store, and your products is to send a free sample to influencers or prominent leaders in your specific niche.
What’s an influencer? An influencer can be described as someone who is active on social media and blogs. He or she promotes consumer awareness and drives consumer action. As the majority of influencers have a substantial following on social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, with any bit of luck, if they are impressed with what you send them, they’ll give you a shout-out Tweet or Facebook post. This will, hopefully, lead to a spike in your social media followers and website traffic, which translates into improved visibility.
Consumers tend to trust recommendations from a third party more than from a brand itself. Therefore, getting an influencer in your corner can do wonders for promoting your online store. However, in order for this strategy to work, it’s critical that you target the right influencers. When identifying influencers that are appropriate to your brand, there are three key variables to consider: context, reach, and actionability. Context is especially key. This essentially means identifying someone with influence that will resonate with your target audience.
For example, Justin Bieber is one of the most influential social media users. But if your target market is men over the age of 60, a promotional tweet from Bieber isn’t going to do much good in capturing their attention. Reach refers to the breadth of an influencer’s social network, and actionability refers to his or her ability to influence consumer action. Ideally, you need to identify influencers who are A) a good contextual fit, B) have an expansive reach, and C) are actionable.
Example: A Luxury Travel Blog
2. Sponsor an event
In order to promote your online store, you need to get your store name and brand out there. Sponsoring an event is an excellent way to improve visibility.
The key here is to maximize the ROI of your sponsorship dollars. To do this, invest the most dollars in events that are likely to be tremendously popular with your target audience. You also want to take a proactive approach and set up a demo table at the event so you can interact with the people there. In addition, make sure you bring your “purple cow” products to the event — the products that will actually spark conversation and engagement.
3. Pull a PR stunt
Whether it is a viral video or a clever, newsworthy meme, a little PR stunt can make a big impact when it comes to enhancing the visibility of your online store, maximizing your brand’s exposure, and driving online sales. When pulling a PR stunt, it helps to keep Mark Hughes’s six buttons of buzz in mind: taboo, unusual, outrageous, hilarious, remarkable, and secret.
Example: The Epic Split feat. Van Damme by Volvo
4. Try Facebook advertising
Paid advertisements on Facebook are a truly tremendous way to expand your reach.
Considering the average Facebook user spends about 40 minutes per day on the site, Facebook is loaded with advertising opportunity. The great thing about Facebook ads is that, unlike virtually any other marketing channel, you can easily target your ads by age, gender, and interest. So, if you’re selling heavy-duty camping tents, you can choose to advertise to people with an interest in the outdoors. The best part? Facebook ads have a fairly high click-through rate of about 0.36 percent.
5. Invest in AdWords
No other advertising channel will give you a faster sales boost than Google AdWords will. AdWords lets you place advertisements on pretty much any Google search results page, dramatically improving your visibility. The secret to a successful Google AdWords campaign is choosing the right keywords.
When choosing keywords, keep in mind that branded keywords tend to convert the best and, therefore, offer the highest ROI.
6. Start an affiliate program
Ultimately, affiliate marketing can be an amazing sales channel for online retailers. In affiliate marketing, you essentially let other websites or blogs market your products and drive traffic to your website. In return, you offer them a small percentage of any sales that originate from their website or blog. There is a variety of affiliate networks you can join, including Commission Junction, ShareASale, LinkShare, and com. Alternatively, you can start your own affiliate program.
Just remember, if you do decide to go the affiliate route, you never, ever want to be stingy toward your affiliates. Affiliates are not just generating sales; they are bringing you new customers, so it is a wise idea to be generous with your percentage return.
7. Use Facebook Ads for retargeting
One of the major advantages of Facebook Ads is that they allow for retargeting, meaning you can remarket to people who have already visited your site. So maybe that person who was admiring a beautiful boucle winter coat on your online store will finally follow through and purchase it after seeing it show up on his or her Facebook page a couple of times.
According to a 2014 comScore study, retargeted ads boosted branded searches by 1,046 percent and site visitations by 726 percent after just four weeks.
8. Network on forums
To improve your visibility, expand your reach, and make contact with prospective customers, it a great idea to network on forums where you know your target audience is likely to be hanging out.
9. Engage your audience with a contest or giveaway
Effective promotion means sparking engagement. In other words, you want to get customers to actually interact with your brand and your online store. A contest or giveaway is an excellent way to facilitate engagement, generate buzz, and get your target audience excited.
10. Develop a presence on Twitter
If you want to effectively promote your online store, you need to be on Twitter.
How can you improve your Twitter presence? First and foremost, tweet regularly. Ideally, you will want to be posting several times a day. However, don’t forsake quality for quantity. Always make sure that your tweets are relevant and timely. If you aren’t producing content that will catch the attention of your target audience, you are wasting your time. Lastly, always remember to react and engage. Tag people in your post, respond to people if they tag you, and engage with people who are liking and sharing your content.
Dig deeper: You might want to check out this Twitter interaction guide I wrote few years ago – many of the points are still valid as for today: 49 data proven ways to get more retweets.
11. Go visual with Pinterest and Instagram
The demand for visually driven content is growing, and it is growing rapidly.
According to MDG Advertising, 2 out of every 3 consumers say that clear, detailed, compelling images are even more important than product information and customer ratings when it comes to making a purchasing decision. Furthermore, according to research conducted by Zabisco, 40 percent of people respond more favorably to visual information compared to plain text. All of that means visually driven content sites, like Pinterest and Instagram, are true goldmines when it comes to promoting your online store. In fact, 1 out of every 4 Pinterest users have purchased an item after seeing it on the site, and Pinterest actually generates more referral traffic for businesses than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined.
Example: My Burger Lab
12. Steal your competitors’ audience
An excellent way to expand your own audience is to tap into your competitors’ audience. A great way to do this is via social media. Try using a tool like Social Lead Freak to figure out who your competitors’ fans are and what kind of content they find to be most engaging. Then, tailor your content accordingly.
13. Make an infographic
Remember when we said that the demand for visually driven content is rapidly growing?
Well, infographics are another great way to capitalize on this demand. According to AnsonAlex, publishers who use infographics see an average of a 12% increase in traffic.
14. Document your launch and growth
There is nothing more exciting than a new company launching. To promote your online store, document your launch and growth and share the experience with your audience.
Example: Alex Turnbull / Groove
15. Grow your mailing list
One of the most effective ways to promote your online store is via email.
In order to do that, you need to get more email addresses and grow your mailing list. Skeptical about the power of email marketing? Consider this: Research shows that for every dollar spent on email marketing, companies make an average of $40 back. That’s a pretty impressive ROI! So, now that you know email marketing is tremendously effective, how can you grow your mailing list? First and foremost, make it easy for people to subscribe to your mailing list and encourage people to sign up via all available channels, including social media. You can also try offering deals for customers that refer subscribers to your mailing list.