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. 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.
Start with these 6 ways to drive traffic to your online store:
- Partner with Influencers
- Post to Forums
- Utilize Content Marketing
- Run Contests & Giveaways
- Interview Influencers
- Get Featured in Local Publications
And while these 6 ways are just scratching the surface of the many ways you can drive traffic to your online business, they’re a great place for any merchant to start building traffic to their ecommerce site.
Grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. It’s time to pull back the curtain on these traffic generation strategies.
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. 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
- Have a large email list
- Have a high domain authority on their website or blog (you can check DA with Moz for free)
You can use free tools like Influence.co or BuzzSumo to help you find influencers in nearly any niche or industry.
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 influencer’s 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
- Link to them from your blog if you have one
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. 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 the right fit?”]
Thanks for your time and consideration,
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.
- Only Post 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 Rules & Subreddit Rules: Every subreddit typically has its 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 (we’re talking tens or even hundreds of thousands of members) and you can target groups based on your niche.
These are our tips for using LinkedIn groups:
- Join as Many as You Can: You can join up to 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 a relation!
- Don’t Just Post Your Own products: 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.
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 wallets.
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.
We love Slack. We use Slack to manage our online business as well as communicate with our team. 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 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 3 steps to using Quora as a promotion tool:
- Search for questions relevant to 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
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 so we’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.
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, we 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.
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. If you’ve never heard of this tactic, it might sound pretty crazy. Why waste your time writing good stuff for someone else when you can just write for your own blog?
- You get backlinks from high domain authority sites, giving you better search engine rankings which can lead to increased traffic
- You get traffic to your website whenever someone clicks on those links
- You gain authority in your industry by appearing on authoritative blogs
Syndicate Your Content to Other Sites
Content syndication means getting another site to “republish” your content on their own site. Again, this might seem crazy at first glance. Why give away the 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 we highly recommend you read a guide like this before trying it. Two things that are very important when syndicating content are to:
- Wait at Least 2 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: (The code looks something 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, but if you’re working with a blog or website that regularly publishes syndicated content, they’ll likely know what the proper procedures are.
Run a Contest or Giveaway
Everyone loves a good contest. The best part? They’re basically free and highly effective. Keep in mind, however, that giveaways usually only provide short-term traffic.
That said, you can do a few things to keep that traffic coming back and increase customer retention overall. But first, let us teach you the basics of a great ecommerce giveaway.
Every great giveaway needs 3 things:
- A Clear Goal: Driving traffic? Growing your social following? Collecting emails?
- An Awesome Prize: Cash, free products, a trip, etc.
- Promotion: Get it in the hands of 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. We recommend ViralSweep. Check out our ViralSweep Review to learn how they make running giveaways and sweepstakes easy.
Next, begin promotion:
- Reach out to influencers to have them help you promote it
- Send an email to your email list about the promotion
- Share it on your social media accounts—not once, but several times
- Promote it on your homepage
When you have a winner, announce it to everyone (with the winner’s consent, of course). Showcase them on your site. Get a picture with them, if possible. By making the winner feel important, you’ll inspire them and others to continue entering in contests as well as provide social proof to your other followers and customers.
Interview Influencers on Your Site
Influencers hold some serious power to help you get traffic. That’s why we’re talking about them yet again. Before we dive too deep though, 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 increase website traffic and promote your products
- Inspire your audience with amazing and emotional, inspirational, or helpful information
- Learn from the best in the biz
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:
- Look for influencers that are relevant to your industry or niche
- Look for influencers that tend to share the interviews they’re in
Once you have the right targets, it’s time to connect. A word of warning, however: Don’t just blindly send influencers 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 the 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.
We 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.
Get Featured in Local Publications
Local publications can be a very easy way to get (potentially free) traffic and publicity. Local papers and online publications are almost always looking for local businesses to feature and the bar for getting featured there is much lower than bigger national publications.
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
- Add yourself to a service like Help a Reporter Out for the opportunity to be used as a source in journalistic content
Next, get the right 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 Email Hunter or Norbert to guess their email
- Call them and ask
When you reach out to them, don’t be surprised to receive a low response ratio. It’s normal to send a follow-up email or two.
Note: We recommend waiting at least 5 days before sending a follow-up email — give them a chance to respond. If they still don’t respond after your follow-up email feel free to follow up again (about 3-5 days later) and politely let them know that if you don’t hear back from them you’ll assume they’re not interested and you’ll take them off your contact list.
Some tips to ensure coverage:
- Donate to a local charity. News outlets 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 are likely to come your way!
The steps outlined in this guide have driven tens of thousands of visitors to our ecommerce sites in the past, and continue to work to this day. 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. We challenge you to pick a method and go implement it right now. After all, taking action is ultimately what leads to results.