How To Market An Ecommerce Store On A Tight Budget
Marketing is the secret sauce behind the most successful ecommerce stores. Offering quality products that meet the needs of your target customer is definitely important, but promotion is what brings in the sales.
Sadly, many ecommerce entrepreneurs (particularly if they’re new to the game) don’t take the time to plan out a detailed marketing plan. They assume it’s too expensive or time consuming, so why bother.
Here’s the thing… paid ads are great, but they aren’t the only game in town.
If you don’t have the funds to run paid promotional campaigns, there are other proven methods you can use to market your ecommerce store. Stick with us and we’ll show you how.
7 Low-Cost Ways To Promote Your Online Store
Business promotion is more than just running paid social media ads or Google PPC campaigns. It’s a process by which you engage with your target audience to build brand awareness and boost sales.
The good news is there are a number of free and low-cost ways to market your ecommerce store available to you. These tactics can help you achieve measurable success, without breaking the bank.
Here are seven (7) strategies for marketing your online store on a tight budget:
- Build An SEO Strategy
- Create A Blog
- Guest Post On Other Sites
- Solicit Product Reviews
- Form Strategic Partnerships
- Start Email Marketing
- Use Social Media
1. Build An SEO Strategy
When it comes to marketing your ecommerce store, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best ways to get traffic and sales over time. Done right, SEO can significantly increase your store’s discoverability.
Did you know that some 70% to 80% of users focus exclusively on organic results and ignore paid listings? What’s more, 28% of these searches convert, resulting in a sale.
Getting to page one of organic search for your store’s top keywords is worth the effort. Customers actively searching these terms are “high intent”, meaning they are more likely to buy your products than someone casually seeing a social media ad.
Then it’s important to take the time to learn and understand SEO basics. Get online and do your homework!
There are lots of available resources, just be sure what you’re looking at was published recently and by a reputable source. In SEO the rules of the game change, because search engines like Google are always updating their algorithms. You need to keep current.
Here’s a few key SEO tactics to keep in mind as you’re building your website.
- Include appropriate keywords in your product descriptions, page URLs, meta-descriptions, image alt tags, and web copy.
- Write titles and headlines that match your user’s search intent.
- Be sure your site is mobile-friendly.
- Adding copy especially long form copy (over 800 words on a page) helps improve search rankings.
- Add internal links between important pages on your site.
- Check your site speed, if pages take too long to load it can negatively impact your search rankings.
- Monitor your SEO success using Google analytics.
2. Create A Blog
You don’t need to be a professional novelist to engage in content marketing. Many brands launch blogs to build trust and share valuable information with their customers.
Blogging allows you to create long form content, which as we mentioned above can boost your search engine rankings. Plus, you can post and share blogs on social media to drive even more traffic to your ecommerce store.
Not sure what to write about? Start keeping track of the questions your customers frequently ask. You can use them as idea starters to generate content that proactively answers common inquiries.
When brainstorming blog post ideas, think about your niche customer and what they care about. How can your products help them achieve their ideal lifestyle? What problem can you solve for them? How can you make their lives easier? The answers to these questions can be turned into great post topics!
For example, let’s say you offer vegan food options in your online store. If your customers are concerned with healthy eating, you can blog about ways to incorporate more plant-based ingredients into their favorite recipes.
Anytime you can offer consumers tips to use your products in new and unique ways, you’ve got a potentially good blog topic on your hands. Along with a great opportunity to show readers how to incorporate the products you sell into their everyday lives.
Plus your blog can help build stronger relationships with your customer base by allowing readers get to know your personality. They’ll start to see you as an authority in your niche, which creates trust and encourages repeat business.
3. Guest Post On Other Sites
Free traffic is hard to come by for new websites. And while we encourage SEO and blogging to drive organic traffic, it does take time to see results. Which is why guest posting is another option you might want to consider to market your ecommerce store.
Since you’re still in the process of growing your own audience, why not get your content in front of an already established one? That’s what guest posting allows you to do.
Not only can guest posting drive traffic, but the links to your site will help with search engine rankings. The important thing is to do the research and find bloggers with an audience you want to reach. Look to target people that will also connect with your products and brand.
Then reach out to those bloggers and offer to write a post their readers will love. Be sure the post you write provides real value and isn’t too ‘salesy’. Then include a few backlinks to your site that flow seamlessly within the content.
The best way to get your guest post published and promoted is to ensure it feels organic, and is targeted to the interests of the site’s existing audience.
4. Solicit Product Reviews
Getting your products reviewed can be a great way to spread awareness and drive sales. Plus you can use testimonials on your website and social media feeds to market your ecommerce store.
Product reviews are a critical way of building trust around your online store and products. Online buyers can’t actually see or touch the items you sell, so they make buying decisions through the phenomenon of social proof.
Online shoppers determine “correct behavior” based on seeing what others have done. In other words, new customers read past customer reviews and use that feedback to make their own buying decisions.
According to research by MarketingProfs, over 60% of consumers are more likely to make an online purchase if it has any product reviews, and 70% of online shoppers consult reviews before making a final purchase.
Reviews boost conversion rates, which is why they’re so important to add to your ecommerce store. You can also improve user experience (UX) by reading your buyers’ reviews and resolving any issues that customers mention in their feedback.
If you have a Shopify store, there are some really cool apps that can help you easily add product review functionality to your website. Check out the following post to learn more: Best Shopify Review Apps To Build Your Online Store
5. Form Strategic Partnerships
Generate buzz around your store by networking with popular content creators in your industry or niche. Perhaps you can get a well-known blogger to backlink to your online store, or maybe even write a review of one of your products.
You can also research and connect with social media influencers who cater to audiences similar to your own. Identify social accounts with active followers that are affiliated with your niche and start engaging with them (as your brand) on a regular basis:
- Like and follow their Facebook profiles and comment on their posts.
- Retweet or reply to influencers’ tweets, especially if they are about your ecommerce store. Comment and thank any influencers who retweet your posts.
- Search people who use the same hashtags as you on Instagram to see if any are major influencers. Follow any you find and engage with their content.
- Share content from influencers on your own socials and then message those influencers to see if they’d do the same for you.
Interacting and connecting with major players in your niche helps build awareness around your brand and products. The goal being to get some of these influencers to then spread the word about you to their own followers. Which can be a great way to help market your ecommerce store.
6. Start Email Marketing
Email is another cost-effective way to engage with customers and drive traffic to your online store. Despite the influx of new social media marketing channels, email continues to be the main driver of customer retention and acquisition for small and midsize businesses.
According to data from Emarsys, 81% of small business owners rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel, and 80% for retention. Get this, research from the Direct Marketing Association shows that entrepreneurs on average make $42 for every $1 spent on email marketing. That’s pretty impressive.
Still not convinced? Here are some additional benefits of developing an effective email marketing strategy for your ecommerce store:
- Cost – When compared to other marketing channels like paid social or Google PPC ads, running an email marketing campaign is one of the cheapest options.
- Reach – with email marketing you can reach hundreds, even thousands of people just by clicking “Send”. You’re only limited by the size of your email list.
- Sales – Since you know your subscribers are already interested in your brand, they’re more likely to buy if you send the right message.
- Ease of Launch – There are lots of user-friendly tools to help you design an email marketing campaign without any coding experience.
- Measurable – Data tracking and analytics will let you know exactly how each email campaign is performing.
For more information on how to develop a truly effective email strategy to market your ecommerce store, check out our complete email marketing guide.
7. Use Social Media To Market Your Ecommerce Store
It’s no secret that social media is a smart way to market your ecommerce business. What you may not know is that there are many promotional tactics you can use without spending money on paid ads.
Let’s start with the basics. First off, social media marketing is all about consistency. Post regularly at times that align with your customer’s schedule, so you can reach and engage potential buyers.
And don’t think you have to use every social media platform out there! You’ll just end up spreading yourself too thin. Instead, focus on the channels where your target demographic regularly hangs out.
If you’re not sure which social platforms are right for your business – do some industry research, or spy on the competition to see where they get the best results.
While you’ll definitely want to share links to your website and products, don’t scare off potential customers with too much salesy content. People come to social media to be entertained and discover information they perceive as valuable. Heavy self-promotion can be a turn off.
Try to stick to the 80/20 rule. 80% industry news, helpful blog posts, and fun engaging videos – 20% direct marketing of your own online store and products.
Now that we covered the general rules of engagement for social media, let’s take a look at some specific things you can do to market your ecommerce store.
Add Social Sharing Buttons To Your Site:
Social share buttons are a key element to increase the virality of your site which, in turn, can drive traffic and boost online sales. Make sure the buttons are easy for users to find, and will share the best product image you have.
If you have a Shopify store there are several low-cost social share button apps available that are simple plug-and-play solutions. Making it easy for customers to share your products on all their social networks is one effective way to market your ecommerce store.
Create Micro Content For Social Posts:
Think about when and how most people scroll through their social media feeds. Maybe they’re distracting themselves while in line at the grocery store, or using it to checkout and take a break from a busy day at work.
Whatever the trigger, people often turn to social scrolling as a quick escape between other tasks. Which means if you want to grab their limited attention, you need to format your content into bite-sized chunks. This works especially well on platforms designed for quick engagement, such as Snapchat, Twitter, or TikTok.
A great way to do this is to look at your existing web and blog content, and use it to create micro content just for social media.
As an example, say you sold coffee online and had written a post titled “5 tips for brewing a better cup-of-joe”. Rather than trying to share all 5 tips at once on social media, repurpose that content into 5 separate micro posts (one for each tip). Then share the mini-post across five days.
This way you can grab a distracted reader’s attention (without being overwhelming) AND get customers to come back the following day to see the next tip. Plus you don’t need to come up with all new post ideas for social, you’re simply reformatting content you already have.
Optimize Pinterest For Business:
Pinterest isn’t like other social media channels. In fact, we’d go so far as to say it isn’t truly “social media” at all.
Pinterest actually functions more like a search engine. Which means all the keyword research and SEO tactics you learned for your website, can also be used to your advantage on Pinterest.
Organic content posted on Pinterest won’t disappear down your feed like it would on Facebook or Twitter. Because Pinterest is focused on search, an older post can resurface as a popular Pin and bring traffic to your website… long after you first pinned it. We’ve seen Pins go viral months, or even years after their original creation!
In addition, you can open a Pinterest business account, create boards and Pins – all without spending a dime. And with the right SEO strategy in place, you can get your Pins seen by thousands of potential customers without ever having to pay for ads.
In fact, some of the most popular viral Pins on the platform that have been viewed and shared literally millions of times are totally organic. The trick is to make sure everything you publish is completely optimized for search, so that your Pins are discoverable.
In Pinterest, be sure to optimize all of the following with relevant keywords:
- Your business account username and profile description.
- Board topic names and descriptions.
- Pin titles, image tags, and descriptions.
Get Your Brand on TikTok:
TikTok is blowing up. The social media platform has over 689 million active monthly users worldwide and has been downloaded over two billion times from the App Store and Google Play.
Global Web Index showed that 41% of all TikTok users are between the age range of 16-24, making it a must-have tool in your marketing arsenal if that’s the age range you’re trying to target. This is where Zennials and GenZ users spend most of their online time.
A cool thing to know is that TikTok uses a proprietary discovery algorithm that helps videos go viral, whether you have 10 followers or 10,000. This means it can help your online store scale your social media presence and drive fast growth.
Plus you don’t have to be a cinematographer or anything to do well on TikTok. Creativity and personality get a lot of visibility. Get comfortable making videos, then think of fun ways to share your products with the world.
TikTok is great for building brand awareness. You can also drive sales with a link-in-bio feature that directs viewers to a landing page. TikTok also offers free advertising features (like AR filters and lenses) to promote your store online in an interactive and fun way.
If you don’t know much about TikTok, now might be a good time to dive in and learn. It can be a great low-cost way to market your ecommerce store, especially to younger buyers.
Make Your Instagram Shoppable:
One of the biggest challenges for brands on Instagram is driving traffic back to their website. And when your main objective is to increase sales, that can be a problem.
One way to work around this issue is to make your Instagram posts and stories shoppable. Once your account is set up with Instagram Shopping, you can tag up to 5 products in a photo and link them to your store catalog. This creates a true shopping experience for your followers!
It takes a little effort upfront to get the catalog set up on your account, but it’s time well spent. Use the following tips when creating shoppable posts:
- Be sure the product images fit seamlessly with your Instagram feed and your brand’s overall look and feel.
- Make sure you have a natural balance of shoppable posts among your feed interspersed with regular on-brand lifestyle posts.
- Consider taking pictures of your most popular products in action, and turning those ‘lifestyle’ images into a shoppable post.
Start A YouTube Channel:
YouTube users watch over one billion hours of video on the website every day! But surprisingly, only 9% of businesses use YouTube to promote themselves.
Take advantage of this opportunity and start making videos to promote your ecommerce store and brand.
As YouTube continues to grow in size, so does its marketing capabilities. A YouTube channel can help:
- Build trust and credibility with your audience
- Turn that audience into buyers and repeat customers
- Encourage engagement
- Increase your social media presence
- Drive traffic to your ecommerce store
Think about how to show people new and unique ways to use your products. Then take those ideas and make them into fun, engaging videos.
You’ll grow your brand following. But more importantly, you’ll boost sales by showcasing clever ways to use your products in real life situations. If a person can truly visualize how your products fit into their lifestyle, they’ll be more likely to buy.
Marketing Your Ecommerce Store: Key Takeaways
You’ve learned several ways to market your ecommerce store that don’t require a big budget, just some time and effort on your part. Here are some important points to remember as you get ready to build your marketing plan.
- Marketing your ecommerce store isn’t just a WANT, it’s a NEED. Don’t let the fact that you don’t have a big budget for paid advertising stop you!
- There are plenty of free and low-cost marketing tactics that can help you raise brand awareness, drive traffic, or make sales.
- You don’t need to launch all these tactics immediately. Start with one or two, then add more as you have more bandwidth.
- Diversification improves your chances of marketing success. Including different channels in your marketing plan enables you to reach more potential customers. Plus, you won’t lose all your reach if a search engine or social platform suddenly changes its algorithm.
- Track and measure all of your results! Learn which strategies get you the most sales, so you can focus more time and energy there.
- Remember, slow and steady wins the race. It takes time to build domain rankings and social media engagement. Keep going!
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