Trying to increase website traffic to your online business can feel impossible when you’re first starting out.
No matter what you try, nothing seems to work. Things get even more frustrating when you start wasting money on advertising that isn’t driving any returns.
Don’t worry – driving traffic doesn’t have to be this hard. It’s not a pipe dream, and you don’t have to be a genius. All it takes is some guidance and a little elbow grease.
How to Increase Website Traffic
Whether you’re at the bottom of the hill and you’re not entirely sure how you’re going to make it to the top or you’re halfway there and you just need a little pick me up, this post is for you.
Starting with the first 6 ways you can drive traffic to your store, we go into detail about:
1. Partnering with Influencers
2. Posting to Forums
3. Content Marketing
4. Running Contests & Giveaways
5. Interviewing Influencers
6. Getting Featured in Local Publications
And while these six ways are just scratching the surface of the many ways you can drive traffic to your online business, we’re going to keep building on this post over the coming months to create a complete, comprehensive guide of all the ways you can build traffic to your site.
Grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. It’s time to pull back the curtain on these traffic generation strategies.
1. Partner With Influencers
Influencers are the bread and butter of the online marketing space. They’re free to talk to, typically have a large and engaged following, and can drive tons of highly engaged and targeted traffic to your site.
(Remember: Engagement is more important than raw numbers because they have a greater eCommerce conversion rate.)
An influencer is anyone who has a significant influence on a large group of people, either on social media or via email.
In his guide to influencer marketing, Jason Quey says there are 5 “flavors” of influencers:
Each of these types of influencers has a different reach, associated difficulty with contacting, and level of ability to build a relationship with and grow your online store.
For example, Swedish watchmaker Daniel Wellington partnered with influencers to promote his watches. David Ambarzumjan went so far as to create this awesome watch painting!
In order to partner with influencers, you must first target the people you want to work with. When looking at influencers, try to focus on people who are:
- Highly relevant to your products, but not competitors.
- Have a large and ENGAGED social media following (check them out on Klout or PeerIndex).
- Have a large email list.
- Have a high domain authority on their website or blog. (You can check DA with Moz for free).
Once you’ve picked 3-5 influencers to partner with, you need to start building a relationship with them. It’s not as simple as sending them an email and saying, “Hey, can you help me sell my stuff?”
Start with the two things all influencers love:
- People who engage with them (and their content).
- People who help them become even more influential.
In order to get on an influencers good side, follow them and engage with them on their social media profiles. Here’s how:
- Like and share their posts.
- Comment on their posts with something funny or insightful. (Everyone loves a good gif!)
- Link to them from your blog if you have one (more on blogging in tip #3).
Once you’ve spent at least a week engaging with them, it’s time to finally reach out and see if they’re willing to work with you.
If you’re new to this, it might seem a bit daunting – don’t worry, as long as you show them you truly care about the relationship, people typically want to help you.
Here’s an outreach template you can mold to fit your needs:
“Hey, [Their Name]!I’ve been following your content on [social channel or website] for a while now, and I love what you put out. In fact, [key takeaway from something they did or said. For example, “I learned was able to drive 3,000 visitors by reaching out to influencers thanks to your article on driving traffic”].
I’m the owner of [your business]. I sell [products]. I think you’d be a perfect fit for them!
[Offer them a free product to review or a percentage of profits for any products they sell for you. For example, “I wanted to offer you the opportunity to review our products for free. If you write about it, awesome! If not, I understand. Would you mind if I sent you XYZ product?” or “I wanted to offer you a spot on our affiliate program. We offer 10% of the profits from every sale you send our way. Would you be interested in trialing the product to see if it’s a right fit?”]
Thanks for your time and consideration,
2. Post to Forums, Groups, or Q&As
To drive traffic, you have to go where people are hanging out. Forums, groups, and Q&A sessions are, by definition, places where people are.
Some of the places you can post to include:
Let’s break them each down so you’re not going in blind.
Reddit can be a scary place for inexperienced marketers. The crowd there is typically far less forgiving than most other places. They can just smell bullshit a mile away.
That said, don’t be scared. There are plenty of best practices to keep you from being on the sharp end of the Reddit rage sword:
- Be as transparent as possible: Reddit users can tell if you’re being sketchy, lying, or just abusing the ability to post.
- Only post high-quality stuff: Don’t write a crappy blog post and share it there or just share a link to your landing page. If you’re going to share a landing page, you better make sure it’s really unique, interesting, or entertaining.
- Make sure you’re only posting in relevant groups: Posting your puppy products on a subreddit (subtopics within Reddit) for book readers will get you banned real fast. Unless you’re posting it to a forum post about puppy books or something.
- Follow Reddit’s rules, but also follow the subreddit rules: Every subreddit typically has it’s own set of rules, separate from Reddit’s official rules, that you must abide by. Some subreddits allow links to your own content, others will kick you out for it.
LinkedIn groups can be a great way to drive traffic to your online business because many of them are active (talking tens or even hundreds of thousands of members) and you can target groups based on your niche.
My tips for using LinkedIn groups:
- Join as many as you can: You can join up to, I believe, 99 groups. Take advantage!
- Try to find highly relevant groups: Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with how they’re related, either. If you sell headphones, expand your search to tech enthusiast groups and music enthusiast groups, for example. Semantic relation is still relation!
- Don’t just post your own products. This goes for Reddit too: People hate spam. They’re in the group to build relationships, not to see another version of your store. Post other people’s products, cool articles, and your blog posts (again, more on blogging in the next section).
As with all the marketing tactics on this list, focus on building relationships. People can tell when you’re being genuine vs. when you’re just trying to get them to open their wallet.
If you’re wondering what groups to join, here are 10 LinkedIn groups for eCommerce professionals. Keep in mind, however, that these are more for learning than for promoting your stuff.
I don’t have much to say about Google+ Communities because the same things apply as with Reddit and LinkedIn. But, it can be used to get more traffic.
My advice? Share good stuff, be honest, and focus on relationships.
I LOVE Slack. It’s like the modern-day, 10 times better version of Aim from back in the day.
For those of you too young to remember Aim and AOL, it’s an instant messaging app. However, Slack can be used across any device and you can join as many groups as you want.
I use Slack to manage my online business as well as to promote it and drive traffic.
Certain Slack groups allow you to promote your products or your blog, as well as network with influencers and connect with your customers!
Here is a list of Slack groups you can join based on your interests.
Facebook groups have the same best practices as Google+, Reddit and LinkedIn.
The key difference, however, is that Facebook groups give you much easier access to the people in the community.
You can see who the members are, message them directly, and promote your content and products (once you’ve developed a good rep there).
Quora is a nifty little tool that allows you to answer questions posted by anyone about anything. Of course, you can also ask your own questions, but that’s not how we’re using it to generate traffic.
There are three steps to using Quora as a promotion tool:
- Search for questions around your industry.
- Answer those questions as thoroughly as possible, with a link back to your product/website.
- If you’re really crafty, promote your answer to your new Slack and Facebook buddies to get your answer upvoted and seen, thus driving even more traffic.
Here’s a guide on how to use Quora for eCommerce, if you want to learn more about this method.Learn How to Use Online Forums and Groups & 5 Other Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Online BusinessClick To Tweet
3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is about using content to promote your business. The easiest way to go about content marketing is by starting a blog on your site.
It’s a pretty diverse field. I’ll briefly cover three tactics in this section:
- Starting a blog
- Guest posting on relevant sites
- Syndicating your new content to other sites
Let’s kick it off!
Starting a Blog
A blog is an online business owner’s best friend. It’s a way to drive free traffic, be seen as an authority in your niche, and build relationships with influencers and customers.
For example, Mr. Porter is a high-end designer clothing store. Their blog talks about everything from design to organization and even why we’re addicted to our phones.
To start off a blog right, you need 3 things:
- A consistent blogging schedule (likely once a week).
- A list of ideas to jumpstart your writing.
- A desire to start writing!.
If you’re going to invest time into a blog, I highly recommend starting off with keyword research. Much of your traffic from blogging will come from search engines, so you want to go in knowing how to get higher search rankings.
Shopify wrote this nice guide to blogging for ecommerce with some ideas to get your brain churning.
Guest Post on Relevant Sites
Guest posting, or guest blogging, means writing blog content for another person’s blog with your name on the post.
I often allow guests to contribute blog posts to the ABLS blog, as you may have seen.
If you’ve never heard of this tactic, it sounds pretty crazy. Why waste your time writing good stuff for someone else when you can just write for your own blog?
- Get backlinks from high domain authority sites, giving you better search engine rankings (which leads to increased traffic).
- Get traffic to your website whenever someone clicks on those links.
- Gain authority in your industry by appearing on authoritative blogs.
It’s not terribly difficult, either. Check out this detailed step-by-step guide to guest blogging.
Syndicate Your Content to Other Sites
Content syndication means getting another site to “republish” your content on their own site.
Again, this seems crazy at first glance. Why give away content you worked so hard to create?
For the same reasons you want to write guest posts. You get to steal their traffic, get backlinks for SEO, and gain authority.
This tactic is a little more advanced, so I highly recommend you read a guide before trying it. Two things that are very important when doing so:
- Wait at least two weeks before syndicating a post: This gives search engines time to properly index your content and credit you for it.
- Include a canonical link to the original content: (code looks like this: <a target =”blank” rel=”canonical” href=”yourlinkhere”>Anchor text</a>). This points search engines to rank your content first.
If that sounds complicated, don’t worry – it’s really not. Just read the guide and you’ll understand.Learn About Content Marketing & 5 Other Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Online BusinessClick To Tweet
4. Run a Contest or Giveaway
Everyone loves a good contest.
The best part? They’re basically free and highly effective. For example, Keysocks was able to gain 10,000 emails in 5 days with giveaways.
Keep in mind, however, that giveaways provide short-term traffic.
That said, you can do a few things to keep that traffic coming back and increase customer retention. But first, let me teach you the basics to a great eCommerce giveaway.
Every great giveaway needs three things:
- A clear goal (Drive traffic? Grow your social following? Collect emails?)
- An awesome prize (Cash, free products, a trip, etc.)
- Promotion (Get it in the hands of your influencers, current customers, and more)
Once you know why you’re running a giveaway, what you’re giving away, and who you’re going to promote it to, it’s time to build the contest.
First, pick a good tool.
Gleam has proven itself worthy. What I like is that they build virality into the contest to make it easier to promote. They use a points system that prompts entrants to take actions like sharing, commenting, liking, and referring in order to get more chances to win.
This lets your customers do your promotion for you. It’s exponential – the more people you reach, the more take actions, which increases your reach, and so on. Plus, they have a free or paid version.
Next, begin promotion.
- Reach out to your influencer partners to have them help you promote it.
- Send an email to your list about the promotion.
- Share it on your social media accounts – not once, but several times (just don’t be spammy).
- Promote it on your home page.
Finally, leverage the winners.
Running a giveaway takes a lot of time. When you have a winner, announce it to everyone. Showcase them on your site. Get a picture with them if possible.
By making the winner feel important, you’ll inspire them to continue entering in contests as well as provide social proof to your other followers and customers.
For a more in-depth guide to running contests, check out how Brian Harris used a giveaway to get 2,239 email subscribers in 10 days.Learn How to Run Contests and Giveaways & 5 Other Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Online BusinessClick To Tweet
5. Interview Influencers on Your Site
Influencers, baby. I’m telling you, they hold some serious sway to help you get traffic. That’s why I’m talking about them yet again.
Before I dive too deep, there’s something you need to know…
Interviewing influencers probably won’t give you an immediate or amazing traffic boost.
This strategy isn’t short-term or a quick win. The purpose is more so to:
- Build a long-term relationship with key influencers in your industry to get them to consistently work with you to get your traffic and promote your products.
- Inspire your audience with amazing and emotional, inspirational, or helpful information.
- Learn from the best in the biz.
To give you an idea of how all that happens, check out one of my personal favorite interviews with Aaron Orendorff on becoming a better writer (if you have time, of course):
Now that’s out of the way, let’s sink our teeth into how to find influencers.
When looking for influencers to interview, there are two important things to keep in mind:
- They are relevant to your industry or niche.
- They tend to share the interviews they’re in.
I won’t go too much more into who to look for here because I already covered it in the first method on partnering with influencers. Go back if you have to.
Once you have the right targets, it’s time to connect.
Word of warning: Don’t just blindly send people emails. Do your homework first!
You should take the time to:
- Follow their social media profiles.
- Read some of their blog posts and even speed read one of their books.
- Comment on, share, and like their social media and blog posts.
Once you’ve done the work to show you care, send the outreach email asking for an interview. Here’s an outreach template from SmartBlogger’s guide to interviewing influencers, tweaked for eCommerce:
“Hey, [Name]![Comment on their work, how you know them, what you’ve learned from them, etc. Make it original and prove you’ve actually read their material.]
Would be willing to do a quick 30-minute interview sometime in the next few weeks?
I run a [blog/site] called [blog/site name and link]. I help [target audience] to [attain xyz goal (either via your products, your content, or both)].
I recently came across something you wrote/said here: [link to what they wrote/said] and I’d love for my audience to hear your take on [topic]. [Explanation of why it’s important.]
I’ve also interviewed/am planning to interview [drop names of other major influencers you plan to interview.] I’d love to include you as well!
The interview will be pre-recorded (make sure you pre-record it), so we can talk whenever it fits into your schedule and I’ll make sure to keep it under 30 minutes. (Also make sure you stick to your word on this time limit!)
I’ll send you my questions ahead of time so there will be no surprises.
Just tell me a few times that would be good for you, and I’ll be happy to set it up.
I highly recommend reading their guide to find out how to do your research before the interview, how to structure the interview, and what questions to ask.Learn How to Interview Influencers & 5 Other Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Online BusinessClick To Tweet
6. Get Featured in Local Publications
Local publications can be a stupidly easy way to get (potentially free) traffic and publicity.
Local papers and online publications are always looking for local businesses to feature and the bar for getting featured there is MUCH lower than bigger national publications. Think low-hanging fruit.
First, put together a list of local publications:
- Find local newspapers using USNPL. Search for your county and city, surrounding counties and cities, and state-wide to give you plenty of options.
- Find local radio stations with Radio Locator.
- Find local TV stations by entering your zip code in TV Guide.
- Find local websites using Patch Network and local business coverage sites using Business Journal.
Next, get the right people’s contact info.
You don’t want to waste your time talking to the people who have no power to get your business covered. Here’s how to find their contact info:
- Check their website.
- Connect with them on LinkedIn.
- Use a tool like hunter.io or Voila Norbert to guess their email.
- Call them and ask.
When you reach out to them, don’t be surprised by a low response ratio. It’s OK to send a follow-up email or two.
Note: I’d wait 5 days before I sent the second email, then tell them in the third email (another 3-5 days later) that if I didn’t hear back I’d assume they weren’t interested and that I’ll take them off the list.
Some tips to ensure coverage:
- Donate to a local charity. People love covering charity donations.
- Sponsor a local event or get involved with a local cause.
- Pitch a feature of your business to a local talk show.
- Send out press releases to local journalists.
Just be ready for the additional traffic and customers that’s bound to come your way!Learn How to Get Featured in Local Publications & 5 Other Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Online BusinessClick To Tweet
Getting traffic to your website doesn’t have to grey your hair or cause pimples. There are proven methods and systems that have worked time and time again.
The steps outlined in this guide have driven tens of thousands of visitors to my eCommerce sites in the past, and continue to work to this day.
You probably noticed that many of them are connected. Posting to groups and utilizing slack helps you partner with influencers, which gets you interviews with them. You can then use those influencers, in combination with your blog, to promote your giveaway. You get the idea.
You don’t have to try every method at once. Pick one, master it, then come back and tackle another. Bookmark this page so you don’t lose it.
I challenge you to pick a method and go implement it right now. After all, action is far more important than knowledge will ever be.
In the words of Grant Cardone, author of The 10X Rule, “Knowledge speaks. Wisdom listens. Action wins.”