Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, we didn’t put all of these strategies together over a weekend.
With e-commerce sales, it’s a slow steady, incremental layering of tactics combined with a whole lot of trial and error. A marathon rather than a sprint.
However, the combined effect of having these systems in place can dramatically increase eCommerce traffic and conversions and have a compounding effect.
How to increase sales online
In this article, I’ll lay out a complete playbook of strategies you can use to promote your online store and increase eCommerce traffic and conversions.
I’ve grouped the strategies to increase e-commerce traffic and conversions in terms of where they fall in the marketing and sales funnel sequence. For those unfamiliar with the concept of “the funnel”, top-of-funnel activities are designed to attract new visitors who are unfamiliar with our products to our website.
Mid-funnel activities are designed to build a relationship with the user, who is still warming up to our brand. Bottom funnel activities are intended to convince people who have an interest in our products to actually make a purchase.
(Note that we use Shopify for our e-commerce store – which I recommend. All of the solutions mentioned below integrate easily with our Shopify store.)
Top Funnel Strategies to Increase eCommerce Traffic and Conversions
While SEO is the best way to get traffic, it is generally only going to deliver substantial traffic when you are selling an extremely specialized product that has very little online competition. For everything else, you will need another strategy to increase eCommerce traffic and conversions.
As the purveyors of lunch boxes, backpacks, and diaper bags, there was no way we could compete for these valuable keywords in organic search, so here is what we do to get new visitors to discover our products:
1. Paid Blog Placements
Being featured on the blogs of influencers is a great way to generate traffic and build instant trust in your products.
While we do a fair bit of PR and get free coverage on many sites, some of the biggest hits we’ve gotten have been paid placements with well-established bloggers who align with our audience.
While not cheap, in some cases we have seen our traffic temporarily increase by a multiple of 10 with a single mention on a blog. This can be a very effective way to drive traffic and reach a new audience.
2. Facebook and Google Shopping Ads
There are a lot of ways to do banner advertising online, however, we have found that Facebook and Google Shopping are most effective for reaching people who have no awareness of our products. Facebook allows for very tight targeting allowing us to reach exactly the type of profile that we have found are most interested in our products – mainly mothers of children between the ages of 3 and 10 with some university education.
The “lookalike audiences” feature in Facebook allows us to upload lists of our past customers so that Facebook can use its algorithm to find similar targets. It’s been a very cost-effective way to generate valuable new traffic.
Google Shopping is great because, given the visual appeal of our products, prospective customers see an image of our designs in response to a specific search query.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to pay for traffic to your site, then fail to capture the opportunity to continue marketing to that visitor.
Rarely will people purchase a product they have just stumbled upon, so you need strategies for keeping them in the loop once they’ve visited your site and have an idea of what your brand is about.
3. “Win this” email call to action
In order to capture email addresses, you need an opt-in offer that is compelling enough for a first-time visitor to fill out. While we have used coupon codes in the past, the most effective strategy we’ve used is a pop-up offering the potential to win a substantial prize: 5 of our products valued at over $300 to anyone who subscribes.
It is extremely effective and has multiplied our opt-in rate for newsletters. Marketing the contest to our social media followers has also been a great way to convert those followers into newsletter subscribers.
You may find it annoying when you see ads for a website that you recently visited following you around the web, but I can tell you from first-hand experience that is an extremely effective form of advertising.
If you have spent money to bring a visitor to your site, and they don’t fill out a subscriber form, you have essentially wasted your money unless you have a way to continue reaching out to them.
Retargeting is great because it constantly reinforces your brand with previous visitors, but you only pay for actual clicks back to your website. This is by far the most effective way to keep non-subscribers in the loop, so that you can increase their relationship with your brand and products.
Bottom of Funnel Strategies
Bottom funnel strategies are designed to “seal the deal” with visitors who have already visited your site and built a relationship with your brand, but have not yet made a purchase.
5. Subscriber and Purchase Automation Sequences
We have two main email sequences that we send to subscribers. The first occurs as soon as they join our email list.
They get a series of emails over 3 – 4 weeks including a welcome email with social media links, an email containing a list of testimonials from satisfied customers, an email with pictures of celebrities using our products, and an email with a list of our most popular products.
These are very effective at getting people to come back to the site and consider purchasing our products.
The second email sequence is triggered by a purchase on our site. The buyer will receive a thank you email letting them know that we are here for them should they have any issue with the product and thank them for the purchase.
The second email encourages them to share a photo of their purchase on our Instagram account with an incentive for a discount on their next purchase.
A third email requests a review of the product on our site.
And finally, they will also receive an email highlighting our most popular products should they choose to make another purchase.
6. Customized Cart Abandonment Sequences
Finally, we have upped our game when it comes to shopping cart abandonment.
Shopify has a basic responder built into the software, but the settings are limited and it is a simple plain-text email. Recently we decided to start sending two emails to anyone who submitted all their purchase information but did not complete the sale (also known as “cart abandonment”).
The first arrive just 10 minutes after they leave the site with a full cart, and a second email arrives the next day.
Both of these emails utilize the buyer’s first name in the copy, feature appealing hero images, and include a personalized message from a member of our staff encouraging them to get in touch if they have any questions.
7. Use AI for better customer intelligence
AI has technology skyrocketed and is set to explode in all industries. There are now many e-commerce AI tools available that will give you amazing insights into your business and help you make better decisions.
AI can help you personalize the customer experience of your business, which will make it more likely that they’ll purchase from you. AI tools can segment your customers for targeting more effectively with marketing messages.
This has been a gradual process so it’s easy to overlook the dramatic changes from last year.
When looking at the data our first month of doing this saw traffic on our US site increase by 25% over the same period last year and sales increase by nearly 70%.