Driving organic traffic to your eCommerce site can be a herculean task especially if you're on a shoestring budget.
From our experience of working with eCommerce businesses, they’re certainly looking for creative yet economical ways to drive organic traffic.
More so, when 23.6% of the eCommerce sales come from organic traffic.
This is why we've penned this guide to help you drive traffic without burning cash.
Here we go!
17 Creative (Yet Economical) Ways To Drive Traffic To Your eCommerce Store
1. Inspire, with stories (take a stand)
A lot has been said about content marketing in eCommerce but what separates the fluff from the facts?
Effective storytelling. Feature people. Talk about their strengths. Have something “powerful” to say. See what everyone else is NOT doing. Strike an emotional chord.
It makes your eCommerce brand unique from your competitors.
A story without emotions will not be able to strike a chord with your audience. Convey your brand values using humor, empathy, happiness, or thrill which makes your audience feel connected with your story.
Aerie, an American clothing retailer decided to break the unrealistic body standards hindering girls and women in the society.
To break the status quo, they used unedited non-airbrushed images of models showing their scars and disabilities as part of their “Aerie Real” campaign.
Taking this initiative a step further, it introduced #AerieREAL to empower women to share their photos using its products.
The hashtag has been used over 360k times on Instagram garnering an increase in organic traffic.
Create kickass content for homepages: Check out 21 Inspiring eCommerce Homepage Examples (not your usual brands)
2. Rope in micro-influencers (you don’t always need to splurge)
Influencer marketing has been all over the place. But, can all eCommerce brands afford influencer marketing?
The answer is obvious!
This is where micro-influencers come into the picture. Micro-influencers are individuals who generally have more than 10k and less than 100k followers.
Unlike your Kylie Jenners or Dwayne Johnsons, micro-influencers don’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Moreover, your target audience can relate to them better.
Micro-influencers help in brand discovery because a lot of your target audience is unsure whether they like a certain product.
Picture this, you’re scrolling through Instagram and suddenly like a hoodie that is appealing after an influencer with 12k followers is sporting it.
And when they review the same, they have your attention.
Since the micro-influencer is going to explain the product better, your potential customer would have developed a keen interest.
Moreover, 82% of buyers are highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer.
Here’s a shocker!
Micro-influencers on Instagram have an average engagement rate of 3.86%. This alone should tip the scales in favor of micro-influencers.
Glossier came up with a micro-influencer program where individuals get product discounts and non-monetary incentives in exchange for posting videos featuring products they like.
Unlike other influencer marketing programs, anyone who loves using Glossier’s products can become a micro-influencer. Using this strategy, it has a community of 500+ brand ambassadors.
Another benefit of using micro-influencers is the high level of authenticity they bring in.
A large chunk of micro-influencers are passionate about the topics they talk about and back the same by extensive research.
Case in point, Fay is a micro-influencer who endorses hair wigs and toppers. Battling alopecia, Fay shares her experience to help women diagnosed with the same.
3. Use ephemeral content (those short + viral things)
What in the world is ephemeral content?
Don’t worry, it isn’t something mystical or maybe it is.
Ephemeral content is any content having a shelf life of 24 hours. It includes any visual content, either photos or videos inaccessible to the audience post 24 hours.
In other words, they’re also called stories.
If your goal is to drive organic traffic to your website, then you must take the time to create ephemeral content.
Visual content has a 40x chance of being shared. In a materialistic world, ephemeral content helps you use the power of FOMO effectively. Because it garners immediate response from audiences.
It incites users to quickly take action-either signup, download, or buy.
If you’re aspiring to reach a larger audience without splurging money on paid story ads, then ephemeral content is your best bet.
With the help of geofilters and hashtags, you can get your brand across a wider audience than you would’ve ever imagined.
Since Instagram stories occupy a larger share of the pie, the majority of the eCommerce brands are diverting their efforts there.
If you’re way behind the 10k follower mark, here’re four ways to make sure your Instagram stories drive organic traffic to your website-
- Ask your viewers to click the link in the bio
- Use Product stickers to make your stories shoppable
- Do a handle takeover with a micro-influencer
Anthropologie created a one-of-a-kind story campaign called #MyAnthropologie featuring their clothing and mobile accessories sported by their Instagram followers.
It stands out because it features images of actual customers and not models. Discarding the conventional norm of using “perfect” catalog images, it uses life-size imagery which is bound to perform well.
Finally, it helps customers flaunt their purchases all while tagging the brand, thereby creating brand awareness and valuable organic traffic.
4. Make sure you get the persona right before running ads (Don't be in a hurry)
Running ads is never economical if your ads aren’t serving their purpose. The common error made by eCommerce brands is not getting their buyer personas right.
Here’re four buyer persona mistakes made by eCommerce brands and what you could instead-
Sea of personas
Stick to creating 3 to 5 personas instead of umpteen. Build up on persona by analyzing the data based on your existing customers. If you’re lacking information on a particular persona, discard it and repeat the process, if need be.
Here’s an example of buyer persona for a biking accessories brand.
- Main sources of information include biking blogs, biking catalogs, and social media
- The Biggest problem- Buying biking accessories that aren’t durable and don't serve their purpose. He is willing to loosen his purse strings to get optimal quality and durable biking accessories for his road trips.
Now, use this to create another persona for a different age group, for instance, Gen Z, if they form a part of your core audience.
Ignoring negative personas
While you might think you’re better off going after personas that might buy from you, creating negative personas will help in knowing who won’t buy from you. It helps you save time, effort, and money that could be spent elsewhere.
You can collect data for negative personas by speaking to customers who converted but had low average sale prices. Customers who wrote negative reviews after a poor customer experience can be ideal candidates as well.
Here’s an example of a negative persona to help you understand better.
Considering you’re a meat brand with a farm-to-fork model, here’s an example of a negative persona.
Jessica, a vegetarian, eats eggs to fulfill her protein requirements. Since the average order value of eggs is abysmally low compared to meat, she is a persona whom you shouldn’t sell to.
Form personas on conventional demographics
Turn to psychographic information to base your personas. Psychographic information is a distinctive description of the attitudes, habits, and interests of a particular group.
Use it to analyze their lifestyle, behavior, and habits. These help determine the correlation to buying patterns.
Here’s an example of a buyer persona tying demographic information with psychographic information.
This is a buyer persona for a women’s wellness brand aiming to sell its PCOS products.
- Age group: 18-25
- Students/Working professionals
- Mostly unmarried
- Struggling with unintended weight gain, irregular periods, excess body hair, and acute hair fall and thinning
- Concerned with appearance and looking for a sustainable cost-effective solution
- Wants to develop a healthy lifestyle but is clueless
- Social life and personal life are affected
5. Offer irresistible value (Make it hard to say no)
While ‘offer value to your customers’ is mundane advice, here’re three tips to help create an irresistible value proposition.
Decode a critical problem
Present the problem and explain you’ll be solving their problem. Here’s how Herman Miller does it brilliantly.
A carefully designed and functional product that will solve your need for office furniture.
When you solve a problem, you make your customers' lives easier.
There’re a lot of options for a customer to choose from. To make it faster to find you, you need to communicate the benefits of making their life easier.
Mizzen and Main’s value proposition scores a centum because it ticks all the checkboxes.
Comfortable, Breathable, Packable, and Machine Washable.
The takeaway? Makes formal dressing a lot easier.
Describe your buyer personas (hint: adjectives)
Addressing your target persona with positive adjectives helps in catching a first-time visitor's attention.
This Mack Weldon’s google search ad was purely a masterstroke.
The use of smart is an emotional trigger and if you’re a smart guy, you’d not be able to resist clicking the ad.
And, that’s how you create an irresistible value proposition.
6. Reward for being vocal (Ask people to talk about you)
What better way to reward your customers than a referral program?
Referral programs are a proven low-cost customer acquisition channel. Use them to reduce your customer acquisition cost in large volume and high-cost channels.
Here’s how you can build a referral program that offers your rich dividends.
Offer Simple cash rewards
Start by simply offering cash in exchange for referrals. The reward you offer is entirely based on the business model. Take care not to burn cash in the process.
Julep offers $15 credits for every referral made for its Maven subscription box. It got 5x referrals from its promotional campaigns by using an omnichannel strategy.
Provide a premium upgrade
Premium upgrades serve as an alternative to cash rewards. Access to premium features, new products, and other miscellaneous benefits.
Take the perks route
Drive traffic by providing perks to existing customers based on the new customers they bring in. A handy perk will incentivize customers to refer your eCommerce product to their friends and family.
Run affiliate programs but make it easy
When your business starts to pick up the pace, you need to revise your referral programs. Taking a step further, an affiliate program can help you widen your horizons.
Offer your existing customers a percentage of sales made as a commission each time a sale is made through a referral link.
Ztylus, a smartphone accessories brand created a referral program where customers earn a 10% commission if a friend purchases using a coupon code.
7. Use flash sales as a trigger
Flash sales have proven to be successful no matter what industry you’re in.
Flash sales are limited period sales offering discounts. What does it help with?
Brand visibility? Check
Get sales during a gloomy season? Double-check
Sell excess inventory? Absolutely
But, how long should your flash sales be?
As a rule of thumb, a 24-hour sale is ideal but shorter flash sale campaigns create the urgency to act.
As per an Experian study, 2-hour flash sales lead to a 14% increase in email open rates, which is higher than average.
While a 3-hour flash sale results in 59% higher than average email open rates.
Here’s an example of what an effective flash sale ad looks like.
Black Diamond takes a specific approach by targeting one key product for a particular time.
But, here’s how you can avoid flash sale failures by avoiding these mistakes.
Running frequent flash sales
Don’t run campaigns that annoy them. Avoid flash sales fatigue.
Smart tip: Run flash sales before/after the holiday season and every few months
Leaving out existing customers
While flash sales are great for driving first-time visitors, you need to consider existing customers as well. How else would your referral programs work?
Going overboard with the inventory
Flash sales fail if your customers are purchasing but you run out of inventory. Limit inventory for every customer.
Poor delivery and return policy
While you might believe that throwaway prices offer an exceptional customer experience, late delivery infuriates your customers.
Even return policies need to be just and not exploitative.
Brainstorm sales promotion ideas: Read 15 insanely powerful Online Sales Promotion ideas for eCommerce
8. Build an email list—and send ONLY inspiring content
There’s a ton of content on how to build an email list but resources are few and far between when it comes to writing email copy.
Here’s a straight-to-the-point guide to help you create inspiring emails that convert-
Use numbers to incite curiosity and urgency by using social proof and a bit of controversy
Taking the customer’s name works like a charm.
Here’re a few examples-
Address the problem
These strategies apply to subject lines and email body content.
Get the visuals right
Using plain visual content is so 2016! Your visuals can be simple and use HTML to make them appealing.
This email by Dollar Shave Club hits the ball out of the park.
The dark brown and black-white color combination makes the email soothing to the eyes. The visual image complements the copy and the orange CTA button makes heads turn.
9. Work on SEO (and avoid these common mistakes)
While every eCommerce brand does work on their SEO, here’re common mistakes that you need to rectify.
Fix your duplicate content
If two product pages have the same descriptions, your pages do not get indexed by Google. Contrary to popular opinion, Google doesn’t penalize duplicate content. The best way to fix duplicate content is to enforce 301 redirects from the discarded versions to the URLs of the original content.
Not making search intent your second nature
When you’re in eCommerce, you are missing out on a lot of traffic if you aren’t targeting different types of keywords. For instance, head keywords like “sneakers” or “laptops” are highly competitive.
Long-tail keywords like “Adidas running shoes for men” or “swimsuit for women” are easier to rank, and convert better despite having low monthly searches.
If you pay attention, Amazon’s product description contains the product name, model number, color, and occasionally size.
Surprisingly, Amazon drives 57% of sales by using long-tail keywords.
LSI keywords signal Google about how your website is related to a keyword people are searching for.
Spray and pray approach over intent
Focus on aligning keywords with intent instead of hoping to be lucky.
Keywords are based on four types of intent-
1. Navigational: Navigational keywords users use when searching for a particular brand or product. For instance, the iPhone.
2. Informational: Informational keywords reflect the information users are seeking about a particular product. You can create educational content and drive traffic to your eCommerce site. An appropriate example would be, “Best smartphones under $15k”
3. Commercial: Keywords users use when they’re decided to purchase but are comparing two brands.
4. Transactional: At this stage, the user is sure about buying. They’re looking for the best deals. For example, “cheapest blue t-shirt”
Optimize your site for customer queries
Speak the language your customers speak. Optimize your site for the search terms your customers use. Ditch the jargon.
Here’s how Abercrombie is using vest in its search queries.
Use model numbers and title tags in your product numbers to be easily findable.
Never leave your visitors hanging
If your site visitor is searching for a product and isn’t able to find it, then you can use two strategies-
- Ask the customer to check search terms for spelling mistakes
- Give them an option to speak to the customer support
This is a great example of engaging customers, post a hurdle.
10. Make your headlines and the site copy compelling (takes more than discounts)
Originality sells. Unless you work on creating headlines and site copy to make people glued to their screens, you aren’t going to do great.
Here’s a checklist you can use to write copies so that you can go beyond discounts-
- Does the copy align with the tone of the brand?
- Does it communicate benefits over features?
- Does it contain rational triggers that inspire?
- Does it explain the product in a nutshell?
- Is your content skimmable?
- Is it fueling your SEO efforts?
Take a look at some of the eCommerce brands that nail the copywriting game.
Ugmonk sells custom designs and few of its products are too pricey. Here’s the copy which convincingly conveys the uniqueness of the product backed by its quality and durability.
It smartly articulates the manufacturing process and features concluding with the quality of materials used.
Now, here’s how BarkBox cleverly connects with its audience.
If your dog isn’t 100% happy…………No muss, no fuss, no disappointed pups.
It talks about the dog and sells its comfortability across. Since dogs can’t express themselves verbally, their happiness is addressed brilliantly.
Create mesmerizing landing pages
Landing pages that are simple, cut to the point, and crisp help in catching the user’s attention.
One hack to make your landing pages mesmerizing is to remove the clutter. You can do so by removing site navigation links, straight-to-the-point headlines, adding high-quality images and keeping bullet points for product details.
Another way to get your users to sign up is to have one visible CTA. To ensure your CTA stands out, place it at the top of the page, above the fold.
Add numerous buttons for a single CTA throughout the page. Always use active voice for the CTA button text. Use FOMO to create urgency.
Ascent Footwear explains how its shoes are built and how it makes a difference. The landing page focuses on answering one prime question- How does this shoe work?
Here’s what Ascent gets right in this landing page-
- It uses an expanded view to show the technical stuff that plays a role in its comfort and durability.
- Adding the explainer video explains the value proposition without congesting the page.
- The major focus is on the key messaging. By using a single column layout and small length, it certifies the visitors aren’t being burdened with information.
Learn to create landing page like a pro: Boost eComm landing page conversions: 12 scientific strategies
11. Create super helpful blog posts (think like a tech company)
Have you stopped for a sec to think about how big tech companies like Apple and Microsoft do content differently?
Content doesn’t always have to be about your products. Here’s how you can pivot your blog content-
Stop being salesy
Don’t make your blogs replicate your product pages. You can create blog content like DIY guides, comparison blog posts, tips, and solutions to problems.
Here’s a fun DIY storage wall post by IKEA.
Talk through product photos
Your product photos won't sell unless you back them up by creating inspiring, captivating content that holds your attention.
Here’s how The Bearded Chap educates the users about its products without just leaving it up to product photos
Unclutter by organizing content
Great content gets lost if it isn't organized to help users easily access them. Add categories for your blogs and other content so your first-time visitors don’t leave the site.
Learn how to organize and plan your content calendar from The Bearded Chap.
- Ultimate Men’s Hair Care Guide
- How to use men’s hair styling powder
- Men’s hair products guide
If this doesn’t make you click, nothing else will.
12. Use referrals as your email magnet (Ace it like Harry’s)
Referrals can be your lead magnet other than a way to reward your loyal customers.
Take a leaf out of Harry’s milestone referral campaign that helped them collect 100,000 emails.
Sounds too good to be true?
Harry’s created a two-page microsite clearly explaining their product in all of 5 seconds.
‘Respecting the face and wallet since like right now’ is a crisp way of communicating pocket-friendly razors which is every man’s concern.
The page simply asked for emails arousing curiosity with the line ‘Be the first to know’
After submitting their emails, the subscribers were asked to refer their friends to win prizes.
Here’s the milestone they had to accomplish to win a prize-
5 friends referred = free shave cream
10 friends referred = free razor
25 friends referred = free premium razor
50 friends referred = free shaving for a year
77% of emails were collected which means about 20k people referred about 65k friends.
13. Keep your brand messaging on point
Brand messaging is to brands what salt is to a dish. If you’re losing the game here, you’re fading into oblivion.
Old Spice deodorant has a rich history and it reminds people of their grandfathers. While Old spice had developed an image of being old school and boring, it rebranded itself to woo the younger audiences.
The ad starring Isaiah Mustafa communicated its deodorants as scent vacations instead of the same old antiperspirant angle that has been done to death.
What can you learn from this?
Key messaging and brand consistency have a large influence on driving customer awareness and sales.
14. Use discounts subtly
Discounts have a bad reputation since they have been exploited. You can offer exit-intent popups like how JCrew does it with sleek.
Jcrew is offering a 15% discount for first-time visitors. It subtly communicates the value of submitting email using early access to new arrivals and exclusive sales.
It only takes a minute, promise delays the exit smartly.
If you’re a new brand, here’s an example you can use
Offer app download discounts to a limited number of customers - First 1000 users get 30% off
First-time shoppers get X% off
If you’re launching a new product, then pre-orders with discounts works great.
Here’s an example of a pre-order Glossybox that you can take inspiration from.
Worth at least £50 delivered to your door from just £11.75 is a great way to convey discounts instead of the usual percentages.
15. Support a cause
While profit is the main motive of running a business, you need to fulfill responsibility by associating yourself with a social cause.
ThriveMarket offers a yearly subscription to a less fortunate family each time one is purchased. This helps provide access to low-income families for whom affording two-square meals a day is uncertain.
The brand has also contributed to covid and disaster relief which is directly proportional to their growth in profits.
16. Create awe-inspiring videos
Video marketing isn’t new but only 1% of the eCommerce brands create awe-inspiring videos.
84% of the customers opine they were convinced to purchase a product or service by watching a video.
Videos work because they tell a story and sell relatability. One-minute videos work well in driving organic traffic to your eCommerce site.
Kelty combines a product demo video with a product description and conveys it in a conversational tone. It does a great job of selling an offline buying experience to the online setup.
Explainer videos are great for building awareness as 96% of the customers have turned to explainer brands to know about a product.
Tommy John masters the art of highly engaging(the voiceover is alluring), solution-focused explainer video.
Another way to create videos that hit the nail on the head is to infuse lifestyle into your products.
Scratching your head?
Solo Stoves does it with class
Want to borrow some video inspiration? Check out eCommerce product videos: 30 brand examples to learn from
17. Wow your users with webinars
Webinars are to eCommerce marketing what Hawkeye is to Avengers.
Seldom used, 60% of the marketers use webinars to drive traffic.
By not leveraging webinar marketing, you’re not missing out on the following benefits-
Cementing brand authority and trust
Webinars help you sell your value proposition which helps in cementing brand authority and trust.
Webinars are not just for promotion but an opportunity for you to educate your audience about new products.
It offers a real touch to your product demos and presentations.
Fun fact- Webinars have a 19% conversion rate since there’re no geographical limitations for a coach and participants.
Bettering search rankings
By promoting your webinar on your blog and registration page, you can ask your customers to share the same on social media. This helps to spread the word thus increasing search engine rankings.
Here’re a few tips to use webinars to boost your eCommerce site traffic-
- Remind people regularly about your webinar through email and social media
- Include links to your eCommerce site so people can visit your site
- Add a unique title to your webinar to ensure brand attention
- Conduct webinars with leadership personalities to provide valuable information
- Make the content interesting and creative
- Keep the session recording for public access
- Send a thank you email to all your attendees
Harry’s organized a set of webinars with its CEO Andy Katz-Mayfield as the host. The theme of the webinars was to help students stepping into accounting as a profession. It aimed to teach students to assess risk, find resources, and handle the development of major change initiatives.
Should you just be measuring website traffic?
When your goal is driving traffic to your eCommerce website, you’ll most likely be measuring visits or sessions. But you shouldn’t be limiting yourself to just these metrics to measure the effectiveness of your eCommerce traffic generation efforts.
You should also consider the following KPIs:
- How much time did the visitors spend - It doesn’t make sense to usher in huge volumes of traffic if they leave soon. Hence metrics such as bounce rate and time on page can act as good indicators of user behavior.
- How many shoppers made a purchase - Again, your primary goal is to get the right traffic and not just any traffic. So unless your visitors are actually making a purchase, there won’t be any profitability in spending to get more eCommerce traffic. So conversion rate is an important metric to measure in this case.
- How expensive is it to get visitors to your site - Building website traffic can involve both organic and paid efforts. So the cost per acquisition (CPA) is another important metric to measure here. When you match that with your average order value (AOV) you can figure out how to adjust your ad spend to maintain profitability.
Website traffic is a great starting point, no doubt. But you’ll also have to figure out ways on how to retain those visitors and convince them to make a purchase.
Which of these creative ways are you going to use to drive traffic to your eCommerce store? Before you go try these, not everything is going to work for you. Do a test run and see what works for you.
If you’re not sure why your website is converting, sign up for a free audit from Convertcart.