How to build a successful online shop: Popularization After you’ve built the online store your next step is to popularize it. Even the best designed and developed e-shop makes no sense, if no one knows about it or buys from it. The promotion of your e-store starts right after you’re completely sure it’s ready for marketing: when everything runs well. Ask some of your friends and family to test it before popularizing it and make adjustments if they notice anything isn’t clear enough. Users don’t like to visit websites that are under construction or look unprofessional.
Search Engine Optimization SEO is one of the most important things for your online store performance in terms of sales. If you don’t work on it, search engines won’t be able to find you – which in the end means that people won’t be able to find you either. Think for a second – in the last six months when you wanted to buy some product, did you look in a magazine or a brochure to find out where to buy it? Or did you look in social media, or ask Google? Users in most cases use a search engine to find what they’re looking for, so investing your efforts in SEO is time well spent. There are a lot of ways you can increase your social engines ranking. In fact, it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about your blog, company site or e-shop – website SEO is the same.
The basic things you can do are:
- Add meta-tags and keywords to your online store. Some major search engines claim that they ignore meta-tags, but they’re still very important. Smaller engines use them, and websites that allow you to submit your e-shop address will search for these meta-tags.
- Submit your e-shop to search engines. Definitely to the largest ones, but do some research into local search engines that are popular in your country.
- Make a list of keywords that your customers might search for when they want to find your product. Include them in your product descriptions.
- Create a newsletter for your e-shop. You can send information about promotions, discount coupons and interesting news about your products. Provide a subscribe option and encourage your visitors to subscribe by offering them something exclusive if they do. Inform your subscribers how often you’ll send the newsletter (more often than every two weeks will be annoying, so consider sending your newsletter monthly). Keep an archive of your old newsletters.
- Don’t use a frame. Search engines can’t read what’s inside your frame; it just appears as if there are no keywords in your website.
- You can even create a blog in your online store, but consider it well beforehand. Maintaining a blog can give you a lot in terms of SEO and popularisation, but it’s time-consuming. First of all you need to look after your e-shop and only after that your blog, not vice versa. If you have time and resources to have a blog in your online store, then use every way you can think of for popularising it, too. It can bring you additional customers. For more ideas on how to do that, read the series of articles about blog popularisation.
Advertising Good old advertising – if you have a budget you’re willing to invest in your online store popularisation, make sure you spend it well. Here are some of the best options:
- Google AdWords. Don’t replace SEO optimization with paid advertising in Google. Google AdWords are a powerful instrument, but focus on creating cost-effective campaigns.
- Amazon. Advertising on Amazon is a great option, because a lot of users use it when they need to buy something. If you don’t sell your products there, then use it for advertising. The ads are paid per click and can bring a lot of quality traffic to your e-shop.
- Banners. Traditional banner campaigns are not as effective as they were before. But still, in your country and depending on what are you selling, they can work. Banners provide visualisation and give your customers better insight into your products and e-shop, which text ads, for example, can’t do.
Be social The power of social media is already proven enough, so don’t miss out on it.
- Join and participate in social networks; create the so called Owned media. Make a Facebook fan page, create a Twitter profile. Use Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and everything else that is relevant for your business and that is used in your country. Consider using local social networks, as they’re really strong and focused.
- Include social media sharing buttons all over your e-shop – in product pages, news, blog articles and thank you pages. This will provide the opportunity for every one of your users to introduce another customer to you. And that’s for free. Place buttons in your e-shop that link to your profiles in social media. It’s best to put them in your header or footer so that users can see them regardless of their current position in your e-shop.
- Make a video about your products. If you have real stores, make a video about them too. Submit it to YouTube, Vimeo and other social networks. Include links to your e-shop in it. Users like to watch video content, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s done professionally or not, with your phone for example. Even if you don’t have a big budget for it, don’t overlook the opportunity for popularisation through video.
Use every other way that you can think of
- Join affiliate programs. Get affiliates to sell products for you, for example: ShareASale, Commission Junction, LinkShare. Design banners for your affiliates and inform them about your latest promotions and discount coupons.
- Request testimonials from your clients and put them in your e-shop. Users like to identify themselves with other people and to see that someone else actually uses your products. This gives them confidence and will help them decide to buy from you.
- Submit your product feed to Google Base.
- Put a link to your web store in your personal profiles in social networks and in your e-mail signature. Ask your family and friends to do the same – the more, the better. Join and participate in forums, discussion groups, question and answer pages, etc., that are related to your products.
- Hire bloggers to write about your products and include a link to your e-shop. For example, you can use PayPerPost.
- Hold a contest in your e-shop to attract more attention and drive more traffic to it. You can do it on Facebook too, and include some paid advertising to popularise it. Give away the products that you’re selling, as prizes.
Whatever the way of popularising your e-shop, don’t forget the analysis and tracking part. Implement a tracking solution into your website like the most widely used Google Analytics for example. It will help you to better understand what your users are doing in your e-shop, where they click, where they have problems – and where they came from. This way you can make adjustments in your online store, so that it sells more, and enables more efficient online popularisation campaigns. There are so many other ways to promote your shop – basically anything that you can think of that can entice more people to learn about your online store and visit it. The way you do your promotion depends only on your budget and what you are comfortable with. Luckily, even an e-shop with a low-cost budget can be popularized – so, invest the time and let’s go looking for e-shopaholics!