It takes constant work and advertising to get regular customers, and a part of this is
being ready to try new tactics, some that might be out of your comfort zone.

To promote your store successfully you will need easy and effective ways to drive traffic
and increase sales. This will be a trial and error process and just like a physical location,
customers won’t show up if they don’t know you’re there.

Offer deals regularly

Most online marketplaces will give you the option to hold sales and/or use promo codes
to help attract shoppers. Be sure to do this on a regular basis, this is very important
because everyone likes a sale. You should take advantage of seasonal shopping, or simply
offering great deals for no reason at all, will help ensure you have regular web traffic.

For example 15% off for Father’s Day, 20% off for Halloween, 50% off of select items on
Black Friday, etc.

Email Marketing

When your website goes live, you’ll want to send out an email announcing it to your
database. Make sure it links directly from the email to your store. Once you’ve done
this, you can start sending out weekly/monthly newsletters that highlight your
products with images and content that links directly to each product for easy
purchasing.

When you have sales, be sure to announce and promote them so customers can take
advantage of your exclusive pricing right away. MailChimp is a free, easy-to-use
option for small business owners. Some online marketplaces, including Scott’s
Marketplace, promote their sellers’ products to their massive database of shoppers
through email marketing as well.

Start a Blog

A blog is a great way to establish yourself as a leader in your industry, it’s also an
indirect way to help promote your online shop. If you include one relevant link
back to your store in each blog post (either link the home page of your store or link
directly to a product) this will make sure each blog is informative and helpful. It
helps to link any images back to your web store or a specific product too. Quality
blog posts will help you grow your online business, as long as you have the time, it’s
a great project to invest in.

You should conduct market research for the industry your products are in and find
out what the blogs with the largest following are doing. Be sure to look at how many
comments they receive and how large their following is on their social media
accounts to see their popularity. Then contact them to see if they are able to promote
your products/ website. In this email or phone call you should tell them why you love
their blog (be specific), then briefly explain why you feel your product would be a good
fit for a review on their blog. Some companies even provide a sample of your product
for free. Hopefully, you will then get a review, a reader will get a free product, and
you’ll get priceless promotion direct to your target audience.

Guest blogging is another way to reach a larger audience you wouldn’t have access
to otherwise. If you research who the top bloggers are in your industry, read through
their posts to see what topics they normally write about, and then contact them about
guest blogging opportunities. Most bloggers will let you at least have a link to your
store in your bio, but you possibly may also be able to get to the link in your content as well.

Product Visuals  

People are loving video content because they’re easy to share and can add depth and
simplicity to your products, as well as help them gain popularity amongst your target
market. You can share these videos on YouTube and all the other social media sites
you’re on. Now that Facebook Live is popular, you might also consider live videoing
product demos or show off behind-the-scenes at your company. Using video is also
a great way to show off your products, whether it’s what, how, why or where to use the
product.

For example: Behind the scenes at Paradise – Millers Fashion

Optimise Your Product Names, Descriptions and Photos

Use keywords in your product names and descriptions to help your store get found in
search engines. To research the best keywords for each of your products, you can use
a keyword planner for free through Adwords. Use these keywords in each of your
product descriptions naturally or it’ll turn off potential customers. Only use one
keyword per description/product name. Give your photos good names so search
engines can find you. Doing this can help you reach more consumers who are searching
for products like yours.

For example: blue-picture-frame.jpg instead of 556114416.jpg

Social Media

Social media is essential if you want to promote your online shop successfully. It does
take time and effort to build followers. Depending on what you have time for or if
there is anyone else to help you, you should have a look at the following sites to help
market your store:

Facebook       Twitter         Instagram          Pinterest          YouTube          Google+         LinkedIn           Tumblr          Periscope

For social media marketing to work, you do need to post regularly. For most businesses,
this will be at least once a day, if not 2-3 times, depending on how many followers you
have. Post enticing pictures of the products you offer, along with any deals you have
going on. Always include a direct link to the specific product for fast purchasing at your
online store.

Ask your followers to post pictures of themselves wearing your products or using them
in their home, depending on what you sell, to encourage interaction and help further
your online reach. Using a scheduling tool, like Hootsuite or Buffer can help make social
media more manageable for you.

Want to know more about how social media can improve your business? 

Contests and prize draws are a great way to spread the word about what you have to offer,
drive traffic to your store, and increase your social media followers. Some sites have specific
rules for holding contests, like Facebook, so be sure you know what they are before
beginning your contest. Offer one of your products as a prize (or put a few together for a
prize pack) and then announce the contest on all of the social sites you use.

Paid advertising online

Sites like Facebook and Twitter and now Pinterest offer the ability to use paid advertising to
target the right consumers for you. On Facebook, selecting ‘website clicks’ or ‘website
conversions,’ is popular because you want people to click through to your online store’s URL,
not your fan page. On Twitter, you could try using ‘Promoted Tweets’ to market your store.
Make sure you include a brief, yet appealing content along with the URL to help drive traffic.

Paid search campaigns (i.e. pay-per-click ads) on search engines such as Google or Bing can
be a great way to drive traffic and conversions for your store, but warning, they eat up your
budget quite quickly. If you prefer not to have to do this task yourself, some online
marketplaces (including Scott’s Marketplace) do this for you, saving you time and money.

Still unsure the best way to advertise online? 

Your URL should be everywhere

Email signature – This is a fast, easy and cost effective. No matter what email provider you
use, you should have a custom email signature that includes the URL to your store.
WiseStamp makes this simple and is free to use at a basic level.

Marketing Material – From business cards to posters and everything in between, your URL
needs to be included wherever you’re marketing your business. Never leave home without
something you can hand out to potential customers that have your URL on it.

              Business Cards                                                                             Posters

                       

Vehicles – If you want your vehicle to be a non-stop promotion machine, get it wrapped with
your store’s URL and some kind of image or slogan that attracts people around to pull out
their phones and look up your store.

Shopping Bags – You could get some reusable shopping bags printed with your business’ name,
logo, and store URL on them and hand them out to customers. As customers carry the bags
around, your store will be getting some good promotion.

Magnets – Include a free magnet with every purchase, whether in-person or online. This way,
current customers won’t forget where they purchased from and can also refer you easily to
their friends.

Partner up with other local business owners

Partnering up with other local business owners is a great way to get new customers for your
online shop. If you don’t know the other local business owners in your area are yet, make it a
point to go introduce yourself. Talk to them and see if they’d be willing to put any flyers or cards
out for your business in their stores and, in turn, do the same for them.

For example:

 

Local associations have big followings, and aside from many other benefits, joining a few in
your area will mean your business gets listed in their directories online. This can help
increase traffic to your site

If you’re online only, see if any businesses that sell their products at local events, markets,
and festivals would let you have flyers on their table. Sponsoring local events in your area
means you get promotion for your business, normally by a link on the event page, and
sometimes through social media posts and other marketing material. Be sure you ask for
your URL to be included. You may also want to ask if you can include one of your flyers in
any goody bags or handouts.

After sale  

After someone places an order with you, you need to be thinking how can you give the best
customer service even right up until and after the customer opens their package (If it is a
physical item). This is the perfect time to use the promotional material and give great
customer service. Make sure to put a discount code in the package to encourage the
consumer to shop again. Have your URL printed on the code to make it easy for the customer
to visit your site again. You should also always include one or two of your business cards in
each order. You can even design the discount code tailored to the customer, for example, if they bought a specific item like a dress, you can then give them discount on shoes and
accessories to go with the dress.  This way the customer feels like there is more of a
personalised service dedicated to them.

Online marketplaces

E-marketplaces can provide easy purchasing process since availability, prices and stock
levels are all available openly. Time constraints and problems with different office hours
for international trade are removed as it is possible to operate on a round-the-clock basis.

Google for Retail lets you add your product feed to their site, making it easy for shoppers
to discover your store online. Some online marketplaces, like Scott’s Marketplace, already
do this for you. You can contact your marketplace directly or review the list of sellers’
benefits listed on their website to find out if this service is included with your virtual store.

Customer reviews   

Word of mouth is a very powerful marketing tool. Review sites like Yelp, Google Local, and
Yahoo Local are very popular with consumers, and you should aim for your business to have
as many reviews on them as possible. When a customer makes a purchase, you can send
them a follow-up email asking them to review their experience with you on your chosen
review site. You should focus on outstanding customer service and fast shipping instead and
let your business’ great reputation build organically.

Referral Program

A way to boost your online traffic is by offering current customers a discount or free item for
referring their family or friends. A referral program can do wonders for getting new consumers
to purchase from your site. Social media comes in handy with this as you can offer your
existing customers to share your page to their following. If done successfully you can gain
thousands of new customers just by one very happy customer.

Get involved in Forums/Groups

Do a search for forums related to what you sell to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Choose forums that allow you to either have a custom signature at the bottom with your URL
and/or a linkable username. Be sure to choose a username that makes you stand out and
relates to your brand.

Answer questions in the forum without promoting what you have to sell and people will
naturally begin to click through to your site over time. When you repeatedly add value to
forums, you become part of the community there, which makes the other users trust and value
what you have to say, and, most importantly, want to find out what you sell. You can also do
this by finding applicable groups on LinkedIn and Google+. As long as you don’t hound groups
with desperately trying selling your product, writing on forums and groups will be a walk in the
park.

PR Stunt

If you want a first sale fast, pulling a PR stunt could do the trick. Viral videos are also based on
the same concept, a PR stunt has the potential to propel your brand into fame. If executed well,
you can say goodbye to time-consuming brand marketing with instant publicity, gaining you
loyal followers and customers in the process.

However with the popularity of the brand comes the actually PR stunt. This consists of doing
something unusual or remarkable enough to be worthy of media attention. If done correctly,
your store could benefit from thousands of links from news sources, which is great for both
traffic in the short term and SEO in the long term. A good PR stunt doesn’t require a lot of
money or a big brand to pull it off. It just requires creativity.

Press Releases

A lot of new online stores push out press releases in order to attract media attention, but
sometimes it does not go according to plan. News outlets can ignore you when you distribute
a new press release, leaving you feeling demoralised and a huge waste of resources. To stop
this from happing you need to make sure your news actually is news worthy. You shouldn’t
expect a massive response unless you’re giving the public something very interesting to read
about. A press release should be presented in a way that is crisp and professional, without
being too repetitious.

Pop-up Store

Just because your store began online, it doesn’t mean it has to stay online. A pop-up store
could be just what you need to compliment your online presence especially when you are
just getting started. A pop-up store isn’t a financial burden, due to its temporary nature but
it is all about location. You can open a pop-up store at markets, art fairs, shopping centres,
galleries, and any other place people gather. Just make sure you’re set up in an area that is
clearly visible and where your target market will be wandering.

A pop-up store also can act as a great offline marketing outpost. You can use your store to
hand out discount codes to be used for your online store, and you can collect email
subscriptions and social media followers.