Driving traffic to our online shops is something that should always be high up on our ‘to-do’ list. When you sell online, it’s definitely not a case of ‘build it and they will come’ – rather, it’s ‘build it and then hustle like mad to tell everyone about it – constantly’. Today, I’m going to give you 5 ways to do just that.
There are, of course, many more ways to drive traffic to your shop, but I wanted to give you a mix of core techniques and one or two things you may not have thought of – or may not have actually devoted any time to trying just yet.
All of these 5 strategies work, and work well. The key is to be consistent. Marketing is all about telling your story and remaining visible. You should be doing at least one (preferably more than one) marketing activity for your shop every single day in order to maintain and grow the momentum of your business.
Now, a brief caveat. Before you devote extensive time to researching and working on these 5 traffic-generation avenues, make sure you have top-quality photos in your shop.
Even if you do a fab job with your marketing – even if you tweak your SEO and end up ranking number 1 in search for your particular target keyword/s, you won’t get clicks through to your shop if your photos aren’t eye-catching and professional-looking.
So – make photos your absolute number one priority before you move on to working on traffic generation techniques. If you need help with your photography, there is a stack of useful info out there, and you might find this post on my blog helpful.
Alrighty then – onward!
1. Use SEO – Get Your Titles and Tags Right
In order to get the attention of customers who are searching for what you make on Zibbet itself (or on Google, for that matter) your titles, tags and descriptions should be a top priority. The process of improving these elements of your shop is known as Search Engine Optimization (or SEO).
Most people are going to find you via these words – so make sure you’re using the right ones. Here are a few steps to sprucing up your SEO.
Find your keywords.
Take a step back from your product and ask yourself: ‘If I were searching for this very thing, what words would I use to search for it?’. If you’ve got some family or friends handy, ask them the same thing and see what they come up with.
Those are your ‘keywords’ – the words you want to make sure you get in your product title, the first few lines of your description, and in your tags. And yes – a ‘keyword’ can be a phrase, not only a single word!
For example, some keywords I use for my shop are: ‘sterling silver’, ‘men’s wedding band’, ‘eco’, ‘modern’… a mix of words and phrases.
Pro tip: If you’re selling internationally, do some research on keywords that may be used in different markets. For example, in the US they use the word pillow instead of cushion. And don’t forget to include any measurements in both metric and imperial measures.
Give your product a descriptive title.
Don’t use ‘fluffy’ words or names for your product – use a title that reflects the keywords people would be using to search for it.
For example, I would write the title, ‘Sterling Silver Men’s Wedding Band. 6mm wide. High Shine Finish.’ rather than ‘Alejandro Ring’. Ain’t nobody going to be typing ‘Alejandro Ring’ into a search bar!
If you sell a lot of similar products, make sure to make each product title unique. You can use similar keywords in your title, but play around with their placement, and get in as many keywords specific to that product in your title as you can.
It takes a little bit of time for changes to filter through the system, so don’t tweak these things every day. Make a change, and give it a week or two to work before you consider making more changes.
Also – don’t change everything at once! Choose a small sub-set of your shop to focus on, and tweak, tweak, tweak those items until they are showing up as high as possible in the search results. Then, you can move on to other products.
The More the Merrier.
The more products you have in your shop, the more likely it is that people will find you. So, make sure you’re always setting aside time to grow your inventory.
2. Pin it!
Pinterest is a HUGE traffic driver to online shops these days. If you’re not already taking advantage of this fantastic social media tool, I highly recommend you do so asap.
The more followers you can gain on Pinterest, the more people will be seeing your work, and hopefully clicking back through to your shop.
Pin with a Plan.
It’s important to have a goal and a plan in place when you start pinning. What are you trying to achieve? Who are you trying to reach? You need to know your target market/ideal customer, and from there, you can work out what sort of content they are going to enjoy – and re-pin themselves.
For example, I actually have at least 3 ideal customers whom I am trying to reach with my Pinterest account. First – fellow makers who want to sell their work. Second – women who would buy my jewellery. Third – men who would buy my jewellery… specifically, my wedding rings.
I have pinboards that appeal to all three of these demographics. For my fellow makers, I have a Crafty board where I pin DIYs. I also have a range of boards where I pin info to help them with their biz, such as Social Media Tips for Handmade Business and Quotes and Thoughts for Creatives. I also have a board that showcases workshops and studios, because we all like to see where and how others work. For my jewelry customers, I have men’s and women’s style boards, an Eco Wedding Inspiration board, and a range of other boards that all reflect the ‘Epheriell style’ – which, thankfully, is very close to my own personal style. I’m guessing if you make things, the same goes for you.
What to Pin?
While re-pinning is awesome, and will definitely help you to gain new followers, you’ll really benefit from pinning new things. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, you obviously want to be pinning your own work. Product photos, blog post images, instagram photos – you want to leverage your pinterest followers and market your business. That’s the whole point, right? So, you want to make pinning these sorts of things a habit, too. I pin Instagram photos right from my phone – it saves all Instagram photos to a folder in my picture gallery, so I can upload them straight from there to Pinterest. I pin images from my own blog posts when I publish them, and I pin new and old products on a regular basis – a few times a week.
Second, you want to be pinning new things so that you become a bit of a taste-maker. People like to follow pinners who share fresh and new things with them. Be the person adding new content, not just the one re-pinning old content.
Third, you want to be building your brand – and by pinning new things that align with your brand, you’ll be doing just that. Use the boards you created in the previous step as a guide to help you search for new content to pin.
Make Pinning a Daily Habit.
I pin every single day. Not only that, I pin 2-3 times a day, for about 5-10 minutes a time. Honestly, it’s super-easy and quick to do, especially once you establish the habit. The best thing to do would be to pick a few moments in the day when you know you’ve got a bit of ‘wait’ or down-time, and you can use your phone (I do almost all my pinning on my phone, because it’s quick and convenient, and I prefer the app to the website).
For me, this means I pin:
- In the morning in bed while I’m drinking my first cup of coffee.
- During the day if I’m on a train, in the passenger seat of a car, sitting waiting at the doctor’s etc…
- In the evening – often while watching TV (during the ad breaks for example) or just before I turn my internet off on my phone for the night.
Most of this is re-pinning, rather than pinning new things. More on the latter below. I actually find re-pinning quite relaxing and enjoyable – it’s basically just looking at pretty pictures, after all!
Once you have a Pinterest account and a decent amount of boards set up, my top advice really is to be consistent.
Of course, this goes for all social media, but you have to decide what works for you, and how much time you have to spend on Pinterest each day. I hope this post showed you that it doesn’t have to be complicated, or take up a lot of time. It can be quick, easy, and, of course, it’s darn good fun, too!
3. Grow a Mailing List
I’m a big fan of social media – and I use it daily to grow awareness of my brand. But when it comes to actually driving sales, you still can’t beat good old-fashioned email. Why? Because while people can miss your Facebook posts, and ignore Instagram for days at a time, there is one thing everyone always checks – yep, their email.
We all still rely on email to run our lives. If your customers are doing one thing – and one thing only – when they get online, you can bet it’s checking their email.
This is why a connection to potential customers via email is so incredibly powerful.
Once you have that ‘in’, you can be confident that you’re connected to your customers (and prospective customers) as powerfully as you possibly can be.
Hey, of course they can still ignore your emails. They can even unsubscribe. And that’s okay.
The most important thing is that they chose to be there in the first place. You gave them a compelling reason to sign up – and it’s up to you to give them a compelling reason to stick around.
My mailing list subscribers are my absolute most special people. They have trusted me with their personal, private email address, and I honour that by giving them what is (I hope) a huge amount of value in return.
Sharing your email with someone shows a level of trust far above that of any other form of online connection. If you grow that trust with your customers by always respecting them and giving them value, they will reward you by not only sticking around, but becoming your most loyal fans and supporters.
So, if you’ve been hesitating about starting a mailing list, don’t!
Go sign up for one right now, or dive back into that list that has been nothing but crickets for months, and send your Most Awesome People something of value. “But how do I get subscribers?” I hear you asking.
First – never add someone to your mailing list without their express permission – it’s not only uncool, but actually illegal.
Sign up to a mailing list provider like Mailchimp (who I linked to above – I use them and love them, AND you can start off for free) and give people a link they can use to sign up to your mailing list.
Put that link everywhere. In your ‘thank you’ emails. On your about page. Heck, even on the end of every listing description if you want to! Make it easy for people to see you have a list, and also make sure you give them a reason to sign up.
Will they get a discount, a special deal, or access to subscriber-only sales? Will they get free shipping on their next order? Will they go in the draw to win one of your products each month? Come up with something to entice people to join your list, and then start emailing them when you have new products or other news to tell them.
If you need some help, you might like to check out my Create & Thrive Guide: How to Run a Rockin’ Mailing List.
4. Get Featured on Relevant Blogs
Buying advertising on blogs is one way to get our brand in front of the right people. However, a much more powerful way to get your work noticed is to have bloggers feature you. These people are taste-makers – people trust their opinions. If they choose to feature you, that is extremely valuable ‘social proof’ for your business and brand. You shouldn’t be waiting to be ‘discovered’ by influential bloggers – you should be seeking them out and introducing yourself to them via email.
Now, there is a right way (and a wrong way) to go about this.
The wrong way is to send them your life story, beg, ask for a favour straight-up, or harass them.
The right way is to send them a brief, simple ‘hello’ that introduces them to your brand… and puts the ball in their court.
Remember that these people are getting pitches all the time, so make it easy for them! Be succinct, be on-task, and make sure to include a few low-res photos of your work so they can see immediately if it jives with their audience.
Do your research and make it personal! Use their name, know what sort of stuff they look for, and only contact people who you think will genuinely like what you do. They’re a person doing a job, just like you, and their job is to find awesome content. Your job is to help them by giving them awesome content.
A simple initial email might go something like this (remember to be genuine here, and modify it to be true to what drew you to their blog/publication):
I came across your blog, _________ name of blog _________, recently, and it stopped me in my tracks – I really love your posts on _________ category/style of post. I dig your eye for design!
I actually make eco-friendly sterling silver jewellery for everyday wear under the Epheriell label, and based on what you’ve shared on your blog in the past, I thought you might connect with my work. My jewellery is modern yet classic, and is effortless to wear – perfect for the modern, busy woman who appreciates a minimalist, clean style aesthetic.
I’ve attached photos of a few of my pieces, and if you like the look of what I do, you can see more of my work in my shop here http://epheriell.com. I’d be happy to send you high-res photos and answer any questions you might have about my work if it appeals to you.
Thanks for taking the time to read my email, I really appreciate it!
Simple as that. Straightforward, friendly and honest. You’ve made it obvious you’ve done your research, you’ve made it easy for them to find your work and investigate you further (that link is crucial!), and you’ve made it obvious you’re happy to share good quality photos (a must for being featured in a quality publication) and to talk about your work.
For more details on what bloggers are looking for when they’re deciding who to feature, check out this post.
Have you ever thought about collaborating with another maker?
Collaboration is a fantastic way to expand your audience – by basically ‘sharing’ your audience with another maker – who, in turn, shares their audience with you.
The key to a successful collaboration is choosing the right person, and the right project. You want to choose someone who has a similar-sized audience to you – so that you both benefit from the collaboration. You also want to choose someone who has a similar aesthetic to you – but who is not a direct competitor (for example, two silversmiths wouldn’t generally collaborate if they already have similar styles – but a silversmith and a clothing designer would be a great match).
There are a number of different ways you could collaborate, and I’m sure you can come up with more – but here are 4 ways you can try.
Host a Giveaway.
This is a nice way to build buzz around both of your brands, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of work. Ideally, you want to get a photo of your 2 products together, and then both of you promote the giveaway to your audiences. This would work particularly well on Instagram, where you could make it a requirement of entry that people follow both of you, and re-post the giveaway image on their own account.
Create a New Design.
Quite a bit more work, but collaborating on a new product (or product line) could result in something you would have never come up with on your own, and that enhances your brand story and stretches you creatively, too. Plus, you get the joy and challenge of working with someone else – which can make a nice change from doing everything and making all the decisions yourself on every new design.
Exchange Blog Posts/Social Content.
A content swap is another simple way to collaborate. It could be as easy as posting a photo of each other’s work on your Facebook page.
Do a Collaborative Photo Shoot.
Another more in-depth strategy is to collaborate on photos. If you can get together and do this, great! If not, you can always swap products and then take product or style photos that feature work from both of you. You can then use these photos for your marketing, and maybe even in your shop!
Sound intriguing? Read an example of a successful creative collaboration here.
And there you have it – 5 practical strategies for driving traffic to your shop.
If you’ve tried any of these – or you have other ideas for driving more traffic – I’d love to hear about it! Share with us in the comments.
Jess Van Den is a self-employed silversmith working under the Epheriell label. She's been making jewellery since 2008, when she opened an Etsy shop to sell her jewelry as a hobby, and turned Epheriell into her full-time occupation in 2010 – bringing her husband Nick on board soon after. She specialises in eco sterling silver wedding rings, and works out of her solar-powered home studio in the countryside north of Brisbane, Australia. An ex-teacher, she's also the founder and editor of Create & Thrive, where people learn how to turn their handmade hobby into a full-time business from those who've done just that. Set Up Shop, her popular 30-day e-course that teaches you how to take your online handmade shop from GO to WHOA! is open for registration right now – join over 400 creatives who've already learnt the Set Up Shop system and set up fabulous online shops that shine!
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