Regardless of an ecommerce business’s age, popularity, or niche, every online retail entrepreneur has the same problem. They all need to bring in a steady flow of traffic in order to stay afloat.
After all, the more traffic that comes to a site, the better chance the site has of creating new, repeat customers.
Many ecommerce businesses turn to pay-per-click (PPC) marketing solutions to keep their digital footfall high. But what do you do if you’re receiving diminishing returns from the “pay to play” approach?
If you need more strategy and fewer expenses, then you’re in the right place. Here are 7 low-cost ways you can use strategy to drive more traffic to your ecommerce site.
Know Your Audience
This might seem like a particularly basic step but it’s always good to periodically revisit, no matter how established your ecommerce website is. Try to objectively look at your business and establish precisely what you solve and who for.
If you sell products that generally have broad, public appeal, it’s natural to want to tell the world, advertising everywhere and anywhere. However this approach can become very costly, resulting in a lot of advertising spend with little to show for it.
When you really put your business, product, and audience under the microscope, you’ll often learn that your own ranges’ appeal isn’t quite as wide-reaching as you might think. You’re not looking for just any customers, you need customers that truly resonate with what you sell and how you sell it.
Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and performance data from any PPC tools you’ve used recently are all absolutely invaluable here. Dig deep into your website, advertising, and social media usage metrics and try to establish patterns. Can you identify any subgroups of people who are particularly interested in your products or active within your niche? Are there any times of the year, month, or week where orders seem to come through more readily? Is your site particularly popular in any specific geographic locations or with users from any particular social media platforms? Do any other trends jump out at you?
The aim here is to identify your most highly converting groups, highly converting times, and highly converting locations (both geographic and online). This should provide you with laser focus as to how best spend your PPC budget and where to make any content marketing efforts most visible.
Know Your Keywords
This is another rudimentary step that’s worth regularly revisiting. What search terms are people actually using to find your website? Where on your site do they generally land? And where do they go from there?
Head back to Google Search Console. The “Performance” report in Search Console shows you what search terms people are using to find your site and which ones are earning you the most clicks. Does your search data hint at particular products or ranges being most in-demand?
Google Keyword Planner (a free keyword research tool within Google Ads) is also incredibly useful. By entering a handful of keywords, the tool can give you an indication of search popularity for each term as well as suggesting a whole host of alternative, similar keywords that you may want to optimise for. They may even be performing better than your current terms! Additionally, run your competitor sites through Moz’s Keyword Explorer to get a few hints as to what keywords they might be targeting.
You need to choose your keywords wisely, so tools like this can help you make sure you’re on the right track.
Know Your Competition
Ask yourself – who are you really competing with? You may automatically think about that shop across town that sells similar products to yours, or that rising ecommerce star who serves the same audience, but nowadays they aren’t all you have to think about.
Unfortunately, any site with an overlapping or alternative product range is your competition – and that usually includes big names like Amazon and Ebay in some regard.
Taking on these online retail behemoths may seem like a fool’s errand, but if you raise your profile enough within your specific niche, you can turn a few shoppers into raving fans. This is why it’s so important to realise your place in the buyer’s journey and truly establish what you mean to them. Do people shop with you because of your service with a smile? Your approach to carbon neutrality? Your unique product range? Your corporate social responsibility practices? When marketed well, these “little things” can help you forge a competitive edge.
Also, consider your indirect competition too – are there any companies that provide a tangential product that sidesteps the problem that your products solve? For example, an ecommerce website selling eco-conscious beard oil may consider a company who sells high-end reusable razors as competition – it’s causing people to sidestep the issue that the beard oil company solves. Really think laterally about the other options your audience have at their disposal!
Using keyword research tools can also give you a good idea of the competitive landscape, helping you identify what competitor sites rank well for which keywords. Moz’s Keyword Explorer also gives every site a “domain authority” rating which serves as an overall SEO effectiveness score. Compare your domain authority score to your nearest competitors (in both size and range) to see who’s currently coming out on top.
Cross-Reference Your Data
With your audience, competitor, and keyword research data to hand, it’s time to cross-reference it all.
Firstly, what keywords do your competitors seem to be optimising for? What search terms do your audience actually seem to be using? Remember, you don’t want to copy what your competitors are doing, you want to be informed by your audience’s behaviour first and foremost. If your competitors have missed the mark on a few of their keywords, that gives you an excellent opportunity to swoop in and optimise your site for terms that people are actually using.
Secondly, do your keywords hint at a demand that isn’t being met by your current competition? If you can find a cost-effective way to meet this need, then it may be a good way to earn yourself a bit of market share.
Thirdly, did you outperform your competitors in any way; be it keyword optimisation, search placement, or online advertising? Great! But don’t sit on your laurels. Think about how you can make that performance even better and widen the gap between you and your rivals.
Optimise for Search Effectiveness (SEO)
Keyword optimisation is an essential part of SEO, but it is only one of over 200 ranking factors that search engines look at in order to determine a site’s placement in the results page.
In order to perform well in search, all sites need to be optimised for speed, mobile usability, and ease of use. Running your site through tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly Test can help you understand how favourably Google views your site across these factors.
Related Reading: What is SEO? A Practical Beginner’s Guide
Building your ecommerce site’s backlinks is another important SEO practice. Any link that lives on another site that points to your site is called a “backlink”. Search engines better rank sites that have backlinks from other, more established websites.
Why? Well, even though it’s just a little link, that backlink acts as a small stamp of approval from the more authoritative website. It shows that the bigger site considers your page so worthwhile that they’re willing to share a small fraction of traffic with you.
Related Reading: Backlinking for SEO: A Simple Guide to Link Building
Though SEO is much more than just keywords, search queries provide an essential guide to searcher intent that can’t be ignored. Consider how you can better incorporate the search terms people are using into your product, category, or landing pages to boost your SEO potential.
If your keyword research indicates a particular need or preference for a given product range, consider how you can boost that product’s presence on your website. This can be through pay-per-click advertising, social media, or…
Create Blog Posts About Popular Products or Ranges
Blogging is excellent for SEO. It allows you to write naturally about relevant topics in a way that is organically keyword-rich. It’s also highly effective at keeping visitors on and engaged with your site; a site’s “dwell time” (effectively how long people spend on your site on average) is another essential metric that Google looks at for ranking purposes.
Publishing high-quality, well-constructed blog posts about in-demand topics shows that you care about your audience. It shows that you’re willing to listen to their needs and create insightful articles that answer their questions.
Your keyword research may reveal some valuable blog ideas. If your site is being shown in search results for pertinent, full-question queries (e.g., “what kind of food should I feed an adolescent dog” or “how to restore an old skateboard”) then these could be great topics to explore in a blog post. Not to mention a great opportunity to end on a call-to-action for your most appropriate product!
By the way, it may seem like this article keeps cycling back to keyword research, but that’s just because keyword research is so important!
Good marketing doesn’t just magically happen. When you make any change to your strategy, make sure that you test its impact on your site traffic, your sales, and your overall bottom line.
Thankfully, when it comes to websites and online ads, nothing is ever final. If something isn’t working, you can always pull the plug and put things back how they were before. It’s not a failure – it’s just something new to learn from. It all helps you build a stronger presence into the future.
Therein lies the magic of digital marketing: with a good strategy, heaps of patience, and a positive attitude to continual testing and learning, the sky’s the limit!
Need a helping hand with your ecommerce marketing strategy? Look no further than the team at OLCO Design. Our seasoned ecommerce web developers, SEO strategists, and pay-per-click experts are here to help you strategically get more visitors through your virtual doors. Book your free, no-obligation discovery call with us today!