A new online store is often empty. Shoppers don’t yet know your shop. They haven’t had time to learn about your products or your customer service. So if you want immediate store traffic and sales, you’re likely going to need to advertise.
There are certainly other ways to generate website traffic, conversions, sales, and profits. You could, as an example, use content marketing. If you have time to let your business grow slowly and you can be patient, content marketing will work. But if you want to kickstart your business, you will need to do some sort of promotion, and you’ll almost certainly have to pay it. Bottom line: You need advertising.
1. Pay-per-click Ads on Search Engines
Search engine marketing can take a few forms. But it is most frequently pay-per-click advertising wherein search engines display your ad on a search engine results page and you pay when someone clicks on your ad and lands on your website.
Search engines will try to match your ad with interested shoppers so that both you (the advertiser) and the shopper have a good experience. To do this, the search engines use some sort of ranking model to decide which ads to show for a given search query. Google, for example, uses a system called Ad Rank.
PPC typically requires experimentation. You’ll try a few ads, spend some money, and through trial-and-error find the most effective ads for your store. In the end, PPC is one of the most powerful ad vehicles at your disposal.
To get started, try:
2. Social Media Advertising
Most of the leading social media services offer some form of paid advertising. These services can drive a significant amount of highly qualified traffic to your online store.
There are a few things to know about the services.
- They often have very good demographic information since they know their users well.
- They may be less competitive and less expensive than search engine PPC ads.
- They may have ad units designed specifically to drive site traffic.
Similar to PPC ads, social media advertising is also a learning process. You are likely going to need to try a few ads to determine what works. Consider promoting individual products on social media rather than broad categories.
Here are a few social media sites to try.
- Pinterest Promoted Pins
- Facebook ads (Instagram, too)
- Twitter ads
- Reddit advertising
- StumbleUpon ads
- LinkedIn advertising
3. Digital Advertising
Here I am using the term “digital advertising” broadly. It can describe a banner ad on a website or just about any other ad unit you can imagine. All of these can drive traffic to your new online store.
One approach to using digital advertising would be to find important websites or online publishers in your industry niche and place ads there. For example, if you’re selling fishing gear, you might try an ad on Sport Fishing magazine’s website or on the Outdoor Life site.
Often the fee for these ads is a cost-per-thousand impressions or a flat rate for a given time period, say a day, week, or month.
Also in this category are ads on influential blogs and podcasts. For online stores with relatively more funding, Pandora can be a potent digital advertising platform.
4. Video Advertising
Internet video advertising is one of the fastest growing advertising formats.
There are a few reasons for online video advertising’s popularity.
First, making a video commercial is relatively easy. It can be done with a good smartphone and free video editing software
Second, Internet video ads are a good value. Although it is rapidly growing, video advertising can be less competitive than other online options and therefore may be relatively less expensive.
Third, lots of folks see video ads. Tubular Insights reported that YouTube on mobile devices reaches more 18-to-49-year-old Americans than any broadcast or cable television network.
Consider using video platforms like YouTube or Hulu to spark your online business.
5. Traditional Advertising
So-called traditional advertising can describe some of the most familiar promotional forms, including magazine, radio, television, and direct mail.
These ads may drive the most site traffic when you focus on a specific geographical area, such as shoppers near your shipping warehouse.
In the past, traditional advertising earned a reputation for being relatively expensive and ineffective. That was true to an extent. But there are still plenty of opportunities to drive site traffic to your new online store with a traditional ad.
For example, shared direct mail can be a productive and cost-effective way to attract customers.
There is one caveat, however. In my experience traditional advertising drives the most traffic when you offer a discount in the ad. So if discounting is not part of your plan, it won’t work as well.