So, what’s next? You’ve come up with a great product idea. You’ve found a trustworthy manufacturer. Your website is on point. Having done so much, where do you go from here?
No worries — I’ve been there before. More than once, actually …
I grew an e-commerce brand to over six figures in sales when I was only 19 years old, and a lot of that revolved around putting my product in front of the right eyes. So how do you get the word out? And how do you make sure that it’s effective — that you’re reaching the right people?
1) Keep Google happy
Search engine optimization is an absolute necessity for any e-commerce shop that’s trying to get off the ground. SEO is trending towards voice search and mobile, and having a way to measure, test and track your keywords is going to be essential moving forward.
Moz is one of the tried-and-true solutions for SEO, and it’s affordable for both small and large shops. There are plenty of other solutions out there, too, including Microsoft’s BrightEdge — one of the more common alternatives.
I think in some ways it’s going to be even more important in the future than it is now, especially as voice search and long-tail keywords become more common methods of discovery. Don’t ignore it.
2) Become an honored guest
One avenue that I (and many others) have pursued is guest posting.
Even outlets that are normally strict on outbound links or advertising (always play by the rules) will let you put a link to your website in your bio, which helps both search engines and actual people find your shop.
Target blogs that are commonly read by your audience and have high levels of engagement. You can also target larger, well-trafficked sites like Forbes, Entrepreneur and The Next Web (goes without saying), which have high cachet with Google and instant name recognition.
It’s not enough to just put together an interesting, audience-facing post, though …
Remember there’s a purpose to the blog, and your author bio is often an effective place to drive traffic to your site. Use it as a call to action, a way to generate leads from an email link, a direct link to your site, and a source of credible backlinks for Google. It’s a jack-of-all-trades solution.
3) Use technology to your advantage
No, you don’t need to take out a roadside billboard to get into “advertising.”
Google’s Adwords platform and Facebook ads are easily the most cost-effective, proven and targeted methods for reaching the right customers for your business. There are a number of affordable tools that can help you optimize them, however.
StoreYa’s Traffic Booster, amongst other shop-driven resources, is one that I’ve personally had the best experiences with in the past. Traffic Booster is different in that it uses learning algorithms to optimize (and automate) ad buys and make sure PPC dollars are being used effectively.
You can drive traffic to your shop, while simultaneously stretching ad dollars — when you’re getting a new shop off the ground, that’s important. Take it form me — I’ve been burnt by more than enough poor-performing PPC agencies and Upwork “experts” to know that this kind of system is better than a long-term retainer.
4) Send a letter
One of the key avenues a lot of people don’t think about as much as they should is email. Huckberry’s one of the biggest success stories for use of email, and they did it by speaking the language of their customers.
As an outdoor lifestyle company, they found exactly what their customers were looking for and served it to them, even if it didn’t immediately scream “BUY ME”. And they grew from $10,000 to $1,000,000 revenue in one year.
Email didn’t do all of that, but it was integral to how they grew.
Tools like MailChimp make it simple to create email marketing campaigns, and since customers that give you an email address tend to be further down the sales funnel, you know it’s worth investing the time to communicate with these high-quality leads.
5) Get sociable
Organic social is harder than it used to be, but it’s still an essential part of your strategy to get the word out. It’s important to find the right platforms to focus on, though. If you’re creating an accessory or apparel brand, Instagram or Pinterest might be your best bet.
Maybe you want a broader cross-section and longer text posts, so you’re looking at Facebook. Whatever platform you decide to focus on, make sure it’s one that tends to have high levels of engagement with users in your market segment.
6) Be authentic and consistent
I can’t emphasize this enough …
No matter what method you’re using to reach out, the voice of your brand has to be both authentic and consistent across every platform. Marketing guru Seth Godin defines authenticity as “consistent emotional labor”—having a coherent voice across every platform you use to communicate, and making sure your actions are in line with what you promise.
Speak it into existence
There’s an audience out there for what you’re creating.
Any time I’ve undertaken a new e-commerce project, I’ve always been able to find ‘em — and chances are, if you’ve gotten to this point, you have some idea of who your audience is and where they are, as well. Focus on the above areas and you’ll find that “getting the word out” might be easier than you thought.