Figuring out what to sell, setting up your website and generating traffic is easier said than done.
Once you have the idea to start an ecommerce business, it can take a year or two to get your ducks in a row. When you’re finally ready to launch your ecommerce website, you can’t expect traffic and sales to start surging in.
In my experience (10+ years online marketing), it takes about 100 days to get traction and around 9 months to achieve significant growth. Marketing an online store, is kinda like making a baby 🙂
The first 100 days are super critical.
My goal has always been to grow my marketing agency and launch my own ecommerce website. With that goal in mind, Ive worked tirelessly to develop repeatable processes to grow a website from 0 visits per month to 10K visits in a hundred days. Then 4x that growth in the following 6 months. My last project, I grew from 30 visits a day to 3500…in 9 months.
In this ecommerce marketing guide, I’ll share the exact process I use to ramp up a new site and dominate any niche in 9 months. As you read the guide look for the hazard sign and light bulb for common pitfalls and marketing tips.
You will learn:
- How to Find Your Precise Target Audience
- How to Find Your Product Keywords
- Discover Market Defining Keywords
- How to Find Shareable Topics
- Finding and Engaging with Influencers
- How to Rank A Buyers Guide On Page 1 For Category Keywords
- Find Niche Sites That Do Reviews
- How to Run Contests That Attract Interested Buyers
- How To Set Up Facebook Ads
I don’t want to kid you, here. Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean its not a lot of work. My mindset has always been this: If Im going to do anything, Im jumping in 100%. Go hard or go home. Im a pretty simple guy. If its not worth doing 100%, I don’t do it.
So if you’re ready to grow your online store – you can follow this guide. I’ll tell you everything you need to know to take your market by storm. But first, I want to start with the absolute basics. So please make sure to start with chapter one – don’t skip it.
What Is Ecommerce Marketing
You can read all day long about strategies and tactics for growing your online store, but you’ll soon be left feeling like you’re drowning under a mountain of information. And when you finally manage to try out of those so-called “growth hacking” tricks, nothing happens.
Tips and tricks are just that.
Ecommerce marketing is closely aligning goals, strategies and tactics to achieve sustainable traffic growth that results in sales.
Okay, let’s break these three things down. There are:
- Marketing Goals – the what
- Marketing Strategies – the objective
- Marketing Tactics – the how
This is the order you should work in.
A marketing goal can be traffic, revenue or customer based. Working with a 9 month concept, we can set a goal for 30K visits and $5K of sales per month.
That’s a goal you can aim your ecommerce store at.
A strategy gives your goal a path. So in order to hit this goal of $5K sales per month in nine months, you decide are going to use the following strategies:
- Acquire a small group of enthusiastic customers
- Amplify brand exposure and reach
- Use top funnel organic traffic to grow email list
- Build authority in your market
Okay, there are the strategies. Now, a tactic is how you are going to execute your strategy.
Take for example your growth strategy to send massive traffic to your site.
The tactics you plan to use to make this happen could be as follows:
- Paid Ads on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest
- A detailed content marketing plan
- Influencer Outreach
Goal + Strategies + Tactics = A concrete ecommerce marketing plan.
But in order to get an effective ecommerce strategy in place, there’s one thing you really need to do.
If you’re marketing plan doesn’t start with a well defined target audience, it will fail. Now, its totally fine if your target audience changes – but you can’t afford to have your marketing “floating around accidental-like on a breeze” (in my Forest Gump voice). You need to be purposeful in each action.
Action #1: Find Your Target Audience
Your target market need to be more specific than people who buy your product. When defining your persona, you need to look for a unique angle or well defined subset of your buyer group. Your persona is a representation of your target audience and should include:
- Demographics: Age, sex, salary, location.
- Interests: hobbies, affinity categories.
- Personal: goals, challenges, values, fears.
Sounds complex? Not really. You can hire a digital marketing agency for tens of thousands of dollars to conduct primary and secondary research or you can do it yourself in ten minutes. 🙂
Since we are starting up with no money or resources, I think we should do it ourselves 🙂
In our example, we’re looking to better define a group of people who buy natural soap.
Step 1: Start a Google Sheet To Capture Your Information
Step 2: Search Forums For Mentions Of Your Product
In Google, enter “product” inurl:forum and click on a few of the listings. If you find an amazon listing, even better. You want to base your persona on people who actually buy your product.
Step 2: Keep Digging Until You Find A Strong Emotional Reaction
Here we find a person who really cares about sustainable products – thats something worth adding to your spreadheet. This is a great angle. And she seems like a perfect person to build a persona off off.
Searching on Amazon will give you some more information.
We know from Amazon that buyers or mostly women and some have kids.
Step 3: Dig Some More Until You Have Demographic Information
You’ll be amazed what you can find on forums. On this one, we find Jennifer – we know what she looks like and she works at Whole Foods. The goal with this exercise is to paint a picture of your buyer.
Step 4: Facebook To Validate Your Target Market
At this point, you should have a starting point of who your target market is. At least the very basics. In this part, we add more details to our persona and validate our market.
From the Facebook Ads Manager, click on traffic.
On the next screen, you can set the basic information like Gender, Age, etc. The part to pay extra attention to is the detailed targeting. There you can set additional info.
I recommend having at least 100,000 people in your target market.
Here we are targeting, 28-45 year old moms interested in sustainability, skincare and online shopping.
Add the details to your spreadsheet and we’re done.
Resources To Learn More About Strategy
You can’t have a marketing campaign without a target audience. Its not an exact science, but we at least now we have some idea who’s going to buy our product.
- Effective Planning is About What To Leave Out
- 3 Common Mistakes of Strategic Planning
- Google Analytics: Ecommerce Metrics to Track Daily, Weekly, Monthly
Developing a Keyword Driven Ecommerce Strategy
Despite what you hear the “experts” say. Keywords matter.
They matter a lot. And will always matter.
From a strategic perspective, keywords can help you pinpoint your in-demand products and competitive landscape. You can’t expect to take a market by storm if you don’t understand your market defining keywords.
Keyword research is a long, complex process – too long to go into complete depth in this section. But I do want to make sure you have what you need to choose the right keywords so you can start driving traffic to your website.
Action #2Find Your Product Keywords
With the concept of topics in mind, it’s time to find which product keywords you want focus in on.
Step 1: Enter Your Keywords Into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
You don’t have to put a ton of thought into the keywords that you enter in. Usually 2-3 word phrases work best.
Step 2: Drill In Deeper To Keywords With Shopping Results
Click on metrics. Ahrefs will show you volume, keyword difficulty and topics for each keyword. For now, we want look for the shopping icon next to the keyword. This means that Google Shows products for these searches – meaning intent to buy is high.
Step 3: Research Product Keyword Ideas and Them To Your Keyword List
Right now, we just want to make a list of keywords. We will see how they bucket into topics later. Go through the keyword ideas for each of your seed keywords and add relevant ones to your list.
Again, try to focus on the ones with shopping results. We will worry about the other keywords later. Right now, we just want a good list of 20-50 keywords that are mostly products.
Here’s a quick explanation of what the keyword ideas mean from Tim.
- “Phrase match” – This list of keyword ideas shows you all phrases that contain exact match mention of your target keyword.
- “Having same terms” – This list of keyword ideas shows you all keywords that contain all of the terms of a target keyword in them (in any order).
- “Also rank for” (similar search results) – This list of keyword ideas shows you all keywords that Top10 ranking pages for your target keyword also rank for.
- “Search suggestions” – This list of keyword ideas shows you all search queries that are suggested via “autocomplete” when searching for your target keyword.
Step 4: For Each Product, Find All They Keywords You Could Rank For
The best way to get this data, is to look at the #1 result from the search engine results page. You can use Ahrefs to see all the keywords.
Fantastic! You have your product keywords. But don’t stop here. If you want to dominate your market, you need to understand your market defining keywords.
Discover Market Defining Keywords
Market defining keywords are terms used to describe your industry. The best way to find them is through analyzing common keywords from your competitors.
Step 1: Get A List of Domains They Sell What You Sell
From our product keyword list in Ahrefs, you’ll see a list of competitors. Just copy and paste the first 5-7 URLs.
Step 2: Conduct a Keyword Gap Analysis
When you paste the URLs into the Content Gap tool, you should play around with the competitive targeting setting. In my example, since Im including large sites like Amazon, Google and Etsy, I want to show keywords that at least 4 sites rank for (the big three + one smaller site)
The results of this are usually surprising. I would have never thought of the keyword “bath bombs.”
In a market-defining keyword list (gap analysis) you’ll find:
- keywords your target audience is searching for
- ideas for complementary products
- high volume, low competition keywords
Go ahead and export this list.
Step 3: Import Marketing Defining Keywords Into A Keyword List
Export the keywords and import them into a Ahrefs Keyword list – you can name the keyword list MDKW (market defining keywords). The goal with these market defining keywords is to identify high volume “low hanging keywords.”
I like to set the keyword difficulty setting to max 10 and then sort by clicks. Clicks is an ahrefs metric that tells you how many clicks a search gets. You can read more that here.
Step 4: Make A Short List of 3-5 Keywords To Go After For the Next 100 Days
You’ll have to pick through this list bc not all keywords will be the best for your business.
Product keywords. Check.
Market defining keywords. Check.
High traffic, low volume keywords. Check.
There’s still something missing from our keyword strategy…
If you want to drive a ton of traffic to your ecommerce site in 100 days, you can’t rely solely on search traffic. We also need topics that generate a lot of shares.
Find Shareable Topics
Your content will have a much better fighting chance if you base it off of topics you KNOW will generate links and shares. We can piggyback off our market defining keyword research to get started.
Step 1: Find Content Publishers In Your Space
Since we already have our MDKWs in Ahrefs, we can use that list to find content producers.
Click on your list and then check out the traffic share by domains. Sort By Keywords and look for the first site that isnt one of the big ecommerce sites.
Click on domain’s top content.
Step 2: Review Domains Top Content
So, there’s two things I look for here. Content that gets a lot of shares and content that generates a lot of backlinks.
In the domain report, sort by median shares and then referring domains. Look for topics that have lots of shares and links or both.
You should click on details to see if they are getting organic traffic. You don’t want to choose a viral topic that wont rank in Google.
This seems like a great topic for my soap site 🙂
Step 3: Deep Dive On Keywords
Once you find a topic you want to write about, click on the organic keywords report to check keyword volume and difficulty.
When you are in the organic keywords report, filter the position to top 20 and export the results. Then import it into a new list in ahrefs. You can call the list, content or something like that.
Step 4: Repeat The First Few Steps Until You Get Around 10 Topics
If you don’t see a lot of content producers on your market defining keyword list. You can search in Alltop to find high traffic blogs. You should also consider “shoulder niches” for this.
Here’s what I mean.
Our product is sustainable soap. So we can tap into the “shoulder niche” of sustainability/green. Just type that into alltop.
You can look at the top blogs in Green and Gardening for more shareable topics. If you don’t have any luck coming up with a shoulder niche on alltop, just do a google search “top X blogs”.
Step 5: Review Content Keyword List and Choose 3-5 Topics
Ramping up a business in 100 days takes a ton of focus. Trying to go after every keyword under the sun is one of the most common mistakes I see people make. Try to choose topics with low difficulty but have a lot of keywords.
Additional Resources On Ecommerce Marketing Strategy
- Ecommerce Keyword Research: Beyond The Basics
- How to Make More Effective Use of Social Media in Your Ecommerce Strategy
This past year, influencer marketing become one of the top buzz words in internet marketing. The reasons is because it works.
Influencers are typically passionate about a topic and attract followers that share that interest. When you market to them, you can reach their followers and amplify your reach.
Being associated with influencers is also a fantastic was to build your own trust and authority. The problem is so many people go about influencer marketing the wrong way and spam people to death with fake flattery.
To get the most of our influencer marketing, you need to target the ones that have a following related to your niche AND produce content regularly. We don’t “need” to reach people with the biggest possible following. If you’re selling products like mufflers, reaching out to Kim Kardashian doesnt make sense.
Find and Engage with 50 Influencers
Step 1: Search For Your Keyword In Buzzstream Discovery
I recommend using Buzzstream for influencer discovery and outreach.
Start with one of the parent topic keywords you found in ahrefs and add the intitle: search operator to find articles about your topic.
Step 2: Filter Influencers By Domain Authority and Twitter Followers
If you used a really broad keyword like we did. You will have to filter down the list. A good starting point is 10K + twitter followers and DA 40+. You might have to play with the settings to get a good list of 50-200 people.
I also like to filter to include influencers active within the past month
Step 3: Look People That Have Written Multiple Evergreen Articles On The Topic
We want to find articles that are relevant to share today. So avoid stuff like news. We also want to connect with people not brands.
Kimberly is a perfect example. She has 50K+ followers that are interested in skincare.
Step 4: Read Their Bio, About Page and Articles On Your Topic
Right now, we just need to get a feel for what these people are about. How do they make money? What do they sell? What causes do they support?
Step 5: Add Them To A List
If you’re using other tools to find influencers, you can add them to a Google sheet along with their name, twitter handle, and relevant articles.
With Buzzstream, you can add them to a project that saves all your interactions with them.
Step 6: Engage
There’s a few ways you can engage with Kimberly. One thing I would definitely do is follow her on Twitter. I would also add a few of her articles into a repeating social queue. I use smarterqueue for this. Just make sure you mention them when you share their articles.
You can also leave a comment on their most recent post. But I only do this if they are actively responding to comments.
I also send an email to the influencer to let them know that I read their article and leave some specific comment about. With the first email, you don’t want to ask them for anything. Letting them know you read it and why you shared it is enough.
When it comes to influencer marketing, half of the battle is finding them – the other half is creating meaningful interactions.
By not asking them for anything – you can stand out from the rest of the people that email them. I know doing this for 50 people might seem like a waste of time – but its not a waste of time. These relationships will pay off in the long run.
Additional Resources On Influencer Marketing
- Five Brands That Successfully Tapped Into the Power of Bloggers Outside Their Industry
- Get More Traffic & Free Blog Content With Influencer Roundups
- Influencer Marketing: Creating Lightning in a Bottle Over and Over
- How This Startup Is Using Influencer Marketing, Viral Videos, and Beards to Build a Business
- Influencer Marketing: How to Supercharge Engagement with Your Content
- Influencer Marketing: I’ve got a bone to pick with you – wanna meet me outside?
Scale Up Content Marketing
When you’re starting your ecommerce store, you’d think the first thing you want to do is sell, but it’s not. In order to sell to people, people have to know you exist which means people need to start coming to your site.
Therefore, your first priority is traffic.
You need traffic to your site and you should start this as soon as you can, even before you have products for sale.
Now the big question:
How do you get traffic to your site?
Well, there are a lot of ways to do this, but the one you should start off doing for traffic generation is content in the form of a blog.
Everyone Says to Start a Blog, But How…?
Starting a blog that will see perpetual traffic takes time, but the sooner you start the sooner you’ll see start to see results. But starting a blog that works for your business has more to it than just creating a blog page and calling it good.
You need a content marketing plan (tactic) to go along with your plans for traffic generation (strategy).
Or, like our initial heading says, you need to penetrate your market with really great content.
To do that, you need to create content that your ideal customers, bloggers, and influencers are consuming and attracted to.
Your average ecommerce blog is pretty terrible. Usually, this is how it looks:
- No one is sharing or commenting
- Every post looks like a product pitch
- It’s mostly about the business and not your audience
Remember, you have more than one audience. Create content for your industry bloggers and influencers and your traffic will skyrocket.
Because you will get links and shares- and those two things creates traffic that lasts.
Action #6: How to Rank A Buyers Guide On Page 1 For Category Keywords
Links are still at the base of ranking content and to get them, you need to actively be working for them. Here’s one tactic that I’ve used to get amplify top funnel content and drive tons of search traffic.
A Crowdsourced Buyers Guide is a sort of a cross between an expert roundup and a regular buyers guide.
The reason they work is they very helpful to people in doing research on something they plan to buy, and helpful, informative articles like this tend to garner links naturally.
Here is how you go about doing this.
Step 1: Find keywords with strong purchase intent
These keywords should be related to your products or a category in your store. You can do a search for things using terms like, “best”, “top”, “top 10”, “cheap”. Here’s what I mean by this:
- Top toddler backpacks
- Cheapest backpacks for toddlers
Get the picture? This will give you products to add to your article.
Step 2: Find experts in your niche and reach out to them.
Chances are you may already have a few people in mind for this, but even if you don’t Google can help. Just use a search query like this:
- “keyword” intitle:interview
- “keyword” intitle:“expert roundup”
- list of “keyword blogs”
This will pull up targeted searches listing experts you can start to reach out to. Now that you have a list, you’ll want start emailing these people briefly and politely asking them to contribute a short answer to the question you have for them (this question is up to you).
Experts get emails like this a lot so you’ll want a decent sized list of people to get in touch with as some won’t respond. As you send emails, keep in mind that they’re busy so be respectful and get to the point without coming across as crass.
Subject: Group interview, you in?
I am reaching out to [NICHE] experts for a post about [TOPIC]. I would love to know what you think is the most important consideration when buying [PRODUCT]
I know you’re busy, so a short response (50 words) is more than enough. If appropriate, feel free to provide links to any blog posts that you’ve done.
To be included in the interview I will need your suggestions by [DATE].
Step 3: Put your article together with your keyword in the title. That way you have a shot of ranking your article as you start building links.
Step 4: Reach out to your experts when the article is published. Once your article is ready to greet the world, email the experts who contributed to it and let them know.
Step 5: Search for Broken Links on Resource Pages. Now that you have a really great niche resource, it will be easier to get links from other sources outside of just the experts who added to your post.
This comes in the form of searching for resource pages in your niche that have missing or broken links. You can do a search like this in Google to find them:
- “your niche” inurl:links
- Your niche inurl:resources
- “your niche” other resources
- “your niche” “resources”
After you find these, use a tool like Moz Toolbar to figure out which ones have good Page Authority, add relevant links and show they’re a high-quality resource page.
Check your vetted list to see if there are any broken links or if your resource would be a good fit for them.
Step 6: Now, get your email together so ask for the link. This template has proven fruitful for me:
Subject: Problem With [Website Name]
Hey [First Name]
I was researching [RESEARCH TOPIC] and came across your list of [TOPIC] resources: [Your Page URL].
As I was checking out the resources, I hit some broken links. Let me know if you want me to send you the short list.
Send it off and move on to the next one. You’d be surprised how many quality links you can get from doing this.
Content Marketing Resources
- How to Start a Content-First eCommerce Business
- How to Develop a Buyer-Centric Content Marketing Strategy
- How to Make the Leap from Product Marketing to Content Marketing
- 12 Companies That Do Ecommerce Content Marketing Right
- Amazing Tip: Scale Your Content Marketing Promotion With Social Media Automation
While this is listed as the fourth step in your marketing plan, you can start on sprucing up your product marketing around the same time you’re doing paid advertising. Almost all of these strategies will run at the same time as you’re funneling traffic to your site and product pages.
Product Marketing has an important role in your ecommerce marketing plan, but before you spend time and money on it, you should have spent some time concentrating on traffic and sales to make sure you’ve really validated your product market fit.
If you’ve done that, then it would be good to spend some time in this area to maximize the effective and build on what you’re already doing.
While you probably have photos for your products, it may be time to reinvesting some of your profits into your another set of product photography. This could mean bringing in a photographer and creating shots that put your highlight your products and tell a story.
Keep in mind your customers and the other personas you put together to help you create images that they will like and relate to.
Optimize Your Product Descriptions For People and Search Engines
Writing descriptions can feel tedious and annoying. Most people find that they have writer’s block when they try to do this without a clear path. Your descriptions are more than just a way for you to talk about your product. You can write them in a way to get found on Google, drive more traffic to pages, and increase sales. Below are my tips on how to do just that.
1. Write For A Persona. By now, you should have your persona’s put together. Keep these handy when you’re writing descriptions. They will help set the tone and energy of what your write.
2. Turn Features Into Self-Interest Fulfillment. The features should speak to fulfilling a desire in your customer. Writing for self-interest is a psychology copy hack that works really well so don’t forget about it.
3. Use Tone From Your Persona. As mentioned above, your personas have a tone to them. Happy, energetic, professional, or whatever that may be, use the tone in your copy to help connect and convert.
4. Layer Critical Information. While you don’t want to be boring in your copy, you don’t want to leave out important information. Mix the critical info into the rest of the description for tightly wound information.
5. Content Needs To Be Original. Google wants original content on all your pages, and that includes your product descriptions.
6. Content Needs To Be Substantial. It’s tempting to keep the copy short, but too short means you’re hurting your chances of getting found on Google. While you don’t need to write a novel for each one, keep in mind that it’s best to keep your word count closer to 300-500 words. And don’t get sloppy with your on-page SEO.
7. User Generated Content Helps…A lot. When other people start using and talking about your products, Google pays attention. You can use tools like PixelShop to finding user generated content and post it under your products.
8. Optimize For Core, Related Keywords. Keywords are important for your products copy. You should research these ahead of time and pepper them throughout your description.
9. Sneak Medium Head Keyword In Page Title. Another little hack worth using is placing a keyword in your page title since this is one of the more important areas that Google can read and categorize.
When writing descriptions, it can be tempting to copy the ones written my Amazon or the manufacturer. But don’t do it. Duplicate content doesn’t rank in Google so skip this. If you do end up using duplicate content, set your robots.txt file to NOINDEX that content.
Get Product Reviews
This is probably the most important thing you could do as it’s great for increasing sales, trust, and SEO. One of my go-to tools for getting reviews is Yotpo.
The way this tool works for helping your get review, finding and displaying user generated content, other features are really great. Obviously, this comes with a cost.
There are quite a few ways to go about getting people to review your products where you don’t need to fork out a lot of cash every month. Here are five steps to get reviews on your products that can save you some money but still be very powerful. Reviews can give your conversion rate a powerful boost during the checkout process.
Find Niche Sites That Do Reviews
You can do a simple search in Google for blogs in your niche. For example, if your ecommerce site sells organic cloth diapers, then terms like “mom blogs,” “diaper reviews,” and widget intitle:”product review” or intitle:product intitle:review will yield quite a few results. Aside from blogs, there are review sites that review everything from A to Z.
You can also search your competitor to see who reviewed their product.
Start compiling the blogs you find that may be a good fit into a Google Doc for you to track your outreach and research efforts. I recommend using Buzzstream for this process, though. Because you can sort by Domain Authority and other traffic metrics.
2. Find Other Influencers Who Could Talk About And Review Your Product
Blogs aren’t the only people who will give you reviews. YouTubers and Instagramers are other people you should consider when looking for product reviews as they have the reach you want and the audience you want to get in front of.
3. Start Reaching Out
With a list in hand of targeted influencers, start reaching out to ones via email or messaging apps to inquire about getting them to review your product. Some may like just free swag in exchange for a review while others may ask for money.
Subject: Want To Check Out and Review [PRODUCT NAME]?
Hey [First Name]
In reading your review on [YOUR PAGE URL], I couldn’t help but wonder if you would be interested in reviewing [MY PRODUCT]. I’d be happy to send a couple your way to check out.
Here’s a link to our [DESIRED ANCHOR TEXT}: XXX.com
All we ask in return is a mention to our website and a complete, honest review, like you did on [YOUR PAGE URL]
We will help drive traffic to your website by promoting the post on our social media sites (we have X followers and mentioning it on the several online forums that we are active in.
Let me know what you think, send me your address and I’ll get one out to you
A lot of people will scratch off influencers who say no the first time around. Your goal should be to build relationships with them so even if they say no, keep in touch and be friendly. It can pay off in the end.
4. Don’t Forget Your Customers
One of the easier ways to get product reviews is from your current customer base. They have bought your stuff, and they know your brand so the reviews here are ripe for picking.
You can setup email automation triggers to send customers an email a couple of days after purchase asking for a review. Another option is to email your entire database a coupon in exchange for a review.
Make it easy for them. Give them something in exchange for it.
Make sure you have a platform and process that all allow for reviews. Double check that the review plugin or add on will enable the rich snippet review in Google search.
- Advanced eCommerce Link Building Guide
- Backlinko’s Chapter On Link Building For Ecommerce Websites
- Study Shows That 8% of All Product Page Traffic Converts to Sales
- 8 Highly Effective Tactics to Get PR Coverage for Ecommerce Products
- 9 Proven Ecommerce Link Building Tips That Drive Buyers To Your Site
- Big List Of Product Photography Tips For Etsy Sellers
- How to Master Product Photography on a Tight Budget (We Did it With Less Than $50)
- Ecommerce SEO Guide to Your FAQs
Email Marketing and Promotions
When you start creating awesome content, traffic will start to boom… That’s when you want to start growing your email list.
Social media marketing and paid ads platforms are always changing and can disappear without notice. But your email list is something that once you build it, you own it.
Once you build a list of potential customers, resist the urge to blast them with generic sales promos. Running a contest beforehand, pre-qualifies your list.
So start building it as soon as you can.
But there’s more involved to this than just setting up opt-in forms and popups — which you should absolutely have. Here are a couple underutilized ways to get the most out of your marketing efforts while building your email list.
Action #9: How to Run Contests That Attract Interested Buyers
One of the best ways you can draw people into your email list is by running contests. You can use all your promotional avenues to point people in the direction of your email list by enticing them with winning something from your store.
1) Start With a Profitable Product. If you already have your store live, then you may have a product or two that tends to sell the best. Even if you don’t, you can still pick a product that you feel best fits your ideal consumer. This product is what you’ll be giving away for your contest.
2) Have The Contest Running On Your Platform (Blog/Site). The best ways to build an email list with contests is when they’re hosted on something you own and manage. Whether your store is one WordPress or Shopify, you’ll have quite a few choices for tools that make running contents rather easy.
For example, WordPress has plugins like Rafflecopter, KingSumo Giveaways, and Gleam.io. These tools require a person to give their email address to enter to win.
3) Announce Your Winner On Your Page. Depending on your tools, you can easily announce who the winner of your contest will be. By announcing it on your page or blog, you’ll pull in more traffic to your blog which is always a good thing.
4) After The Contest is Done, Email a Special Offer to Everyone Else. People love the chance to win something free, but when if lose it can be a bit of a bummer. It’s never good to end anything on a sour note if it can be helped. Luckily, you can save the day by emailing all the applicants a special offer as a thank you for participating. They get a deal. You make a sale. Everyone wins.
5) Use Remarketing. In a contest, usually only one or even a few people can win. That means that there is going to be a lot of people interested in your products but who didn’t win. Creating remarketing lists is a great way to keep on top of all these people who got on your email list but didn’t win.
6) UseYouTube To Build Your Email
Another underutilized tactic for email list building is YouTube. Product videos are a great thing to put on your contest page. But since your videos live on YouTube and you’re likely to get subscribers and views there, you can add annotations to your videos that promote your contests or getting them on your email list.
Email Marketing Resources
- 7 Tips to a Powerful Email Marketing Strategy
- How to turn Famous Bloggers Into Prizes That Grow Email Lists
- How to Use Targeted Popups to Grow Email List and Revenue
- Ecommerce Email Marketing: The Foolproof Guide to Selling Success
Now that you’re growing traffic and an email list, you want to build on your successes by pulling in more customers through advertising. This strategy not only helps you sell more, but it also increases traffic with chances of adding more people to your email list.
That’s what we like to call a win, win, win.
The average marketing budget allocates money for ads into only a few places like Google advertising and social media channels, but there are quite a few options more than just these alone.
Here are some areas that you can spend your advertising budget.
Action #9: Use Sponsorships To Build Your Brand
The great thing about spending money on sponsorships is that not only does it help you advertise your brand and products, but you can also get great backlinks from sites with high page authority. There are three solid steps to help you land sponsorship deals. Let’s dive right in.
1) Look For Clubs, Associations, Causes, Events
This is the best place to start since there are the ones who usually accept sponsorships. You can do a search query like:
- [niche] intitle:”our sponsors” site:.edu (<— you can change this to .com, .org, .io, etc.)
This will bring up a list of sites that have pages where they feature their sponsors.
2) Qualify Prospects
Once you’re on this page, you can sort through the mess by qualifying these ones. Do do this, take a look and how the site best fits and relates to your brand and THEN look at the Page Authority (PA).
To gauge the authority of a page, you can use a free tool like Moz’s Site Explorer Chrome Extention which will show the PA of each site that shows up in the search results.
3) Email Outreach
After you’ve done some work picking out the best options for your brand, start reaching out to these ones asking if they are looking for more sponsors. You can use a template like this one to help you speed up the process.
Subject: Is [WEBSITE NAME] Looking for New Sponsors?
I’m researching sponsorship opportunities for our small [MY NICHE] company I came across your page: [YOUR SPONSORSHIP PAGE URL].
Are you looking for new sponsors? If so, please send me some information about how we can get involved.
Thanks in advance!
[MY WEBSITE URL]
All the Best,
Advertising on forums is another great way to spend your budget since it gives you great backlinks and traffic to help funnel in better ranking and more customers.
Many forums allow for sponsoring of dedicated subforums that allow you to control the anchor text of links which is great for SEO.
But there are benefits to sinking your teeth in on a forum
- These act as an online hangout for groups interested in what you offer
- You can build trust with a community of people that can quickly turn into customers
- This trust can drive targeted traffic to product pages increasing sales in a snap
If you think there are no forums in your niche, you may be surprised what a simple search will bring up. Using a query like:
- [Niche] “sponsor forums” inurl:forum
This is likely to bring up quite a few sites. Here’s what you do after that:
- Find And Read Rules ASAP. This will help you figure out if they have sponsored areas and how to keep yourself from getting kicked out.
- Join Conversations. Take a look around and start chatting with people in conversations that you can add to.
- Subscribe To Threads You Participate In. This help to keep conversations going and helps you gain trust.
- Link After You’ve Gained Trust. Once you have that trust, then you can add links to your conversations. Link to product pages, blog posts, or whatever link you like.
Does it take time? Yes. But it can be well worth it.
It may seem a bit old school, but people still listen to radio and that means there is an audience waiting to hear about your brand.
Radio gives you the chance to give high targeted ads based on location, many exist online and have a high page authority, and the cost is rather low (Links, Social Media, Radio Spots from a site with a 7 PageRank can be only $50/mo).
You can quickly find places to advertise by doing this:
Find Local Media Outlets With Sponsors
This process is similar to what you’ll see in the topic before.
- Use the follow search term in Google [Niche] “radio” OR “news” intitle:“our sponsors”
- Qualify Sites. Check out what the radio show is about and if it would be a good fit for your brand. Then see the PA on it.
- Reach Out. Send them an email asking if they are looking for another sponsor for the show.
- Measure Traffic From Geo and Referral. Keep an eye on Google Analytics to see what type of ROI you’re getting from having your ads and sponsorship on this radio.
Product Listing Ads
These ads are cost-per-click ads you buy through Adwords that show up in Google Shopping. You’ve likely seen these in your Google searches before.
You can see an example of what PLAs look like in the image above. These type of ads are coupled with a featured image and can draw clicks through to your product pages and increase sales.
The way remarketing works is pretty simple, but it’s one of the best ways to spend your advertising money if you can do it right.
A lot of traffic that comes to your site will often leave never to be seen again. The way remarketing works is that it tags cookies onto the browser of your user letting platforms like Google know that they’ve been on your site.
Then, your remarketing ads will start to appear around the web on blogs and sites that act as a way to keep your brand in front of people who already showed interest.
Some remarketing can be done via Adwords, but other options include Facebook’s ad system using Facebook Pixel. You can choose on or both. It’s up to you.
Speaking of Facebook, in terms of ROI, Facebook Advertising is one of the best places to spend your advertising budget.
No matter who your customers are, chances are they’re on Facebook. That means you can use this platform to reach them at every stage of where they are in their customer journey.
By that I mean, whether they have yet to buy from you, have purchased a small dollar item or are a continuous customer, you can create ads specifically for these each of these segments to serve more personal ads that convert better and funnel money back to you.
Action #10: How To Set Up Facebook Ads
Because there is SO much to Facebook, I could write an entirely separate article about Facebook advertising and campaigns on the platform. But for the sake of simplicity, I’ll give a basic rundown of how to set up ads on Facebook so that you have something to start with.
You need a Facebook page for your store, so if you don’t have one then now is the time to get one. To get started, log in to Ads Manager and go from there.
Your objective is your goal; what do you want out of the ads you’re about to pay for? There are a lot of options here so you need to figure out which one you want out of this. For the sake of example, I’ll choose Increase Conversion.
2) Create A Pixel; Choose Your Audience
A Facebook Pixel is how the platform will track its effectiveness for a conversion based campaign. Create yours and add the pixel to your site and choose from the list of what will count as a conversion for you in this campaign.
After that, you want to pick your audience.
The narrower and more focused your audience is to your ideal consumer or influencer the better your chances are of converting more people at a lower price.
You can choose to create a custom audience or your can skip and get right into adding info like:
- Gender, and
There is a meter to the right in this section of the dashboard.
Usually, the closer to the “red” section you get the better. So really niche down and focus your campaign to get the most out of it.
3) Pick Ad Placements
You don’t have to tinker here. Facebook has Auto Placements where they show your add in areas where they are probably best to perform. Unless you have experience with this, just choose the auto option they recommend.
4) Set A Budget and Schedule
Now you need to set your budget. You can choose between a daily budget or a lifetime budget (lifetime is set by a start and end date, not forever) and then set the running dates. This can be as long or as short as you want it.
5) Build Your Ads
To build your ads you need to choose,
- A Format, and
- Page and Links
There are 4 formats to choose from:
- Carousel (image and video)
- Single Image (most bang for your buck)
- Single Video
After you decide on a format you need to connect your Facebook and Instagram accounts to your campaign.
Next, add Text about your ad. This where you tell people about what they will be getting and shows up above your ad. Don’t be bland, but don’t be aloof either.
Now edit the look and copy of your ad:
- Change image or video
- Give it a headline
- Add a description
- Place the destination URL in the Link area
- Add a CTA (optional)
You can preview the views of your add to get it just right, but after you’ve tweaked it to perfection, you simply place your order.
And that’s it. You campaign is done. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Use This Guide To Grow and Dominate Your Ecommerce Market
This guide can be used as a wireframe type blueprint for your ecommerce marketing plan.
By giving you some high performing strategies and tactics to help you reach your goals, you can take this and tweak it to fit your niche so that you can build the perfect plan for you.