It seems like there are thousands of articles telling you how to promote your online store. With all the social media channels, blogging tips, and content marketing strategies it can quickly get overwhelming. I found myself getting so bogged down with all the different tools and techniques to drive traffic and increase conversions that I lost site of two important points:
- You don’t have to do everything at once
- It’s actually not hard, you just have to do it
Let’s take a moment to look at all this together. We’ll sort out some details, and by the end, you’ll have a very effective plan that you can start on today. So let’s jump in.
Everybody says we live in an age of “information overload.” It is true that there is a crazy amount of information out there and it’s impossible to keep everything in your head while learning all the new stuff. The key to surviving is the realization that it’s not the quantity of information out there that is actually overwhelming you. The problem is not knowing how the underlying meaning of that information and how it effects you. If it was just the amount of information that overloaded you, every time you walked into a library you’d freak out.
So what’s the difference between walking into your local library and hopping on the internet and searching? The main thing, for me at least, is that I don’t have to actually do anything about the information in the library. When you start searching the internet for ideas and tutorials on how to promote your online store you are slammed with a totally unmanageable amount of information that you feel like you have to do something about. I mean, the first article you pull up on Google will probably have a title like “101 ways to promote your online business.” So now you think, whoa, I have to do 101 things right now just to make it to the second result.
7 Things That Work Together And Make A Big Difference
Yes, there are hundreds of things you can be doing to promote your online store. The things that have worked for one person might not be the exact same things that work for another. It is certainly a good idea to spend some time on a regular basis keeping up with trends and tools. Having said that, here are 5 things you can start doing today, for free, to have a big impact on your business.
- Email: Start an email newsletter
- Blog: Start a blog for your business
- YouTube: Set up a YouTube channel and read YouTube Marketing for Ecommerce
- Facebook: Create a Facebook page for your business
- Google+: Create a Google+ page for your business
- Twitter: Set up a Twitter account for your business
- Quora: Start answering questions on Quora
The interesting thing about these seven things is that they can all be extremely interrelated. Let’s look at the pattern for how all of this can be used together.
Email Is King
Starting an email newsletter is at the top of the list for a reason. Email, despite all the grief it may get with regard to spam or whatever, is still king. It’s an incredibly effective tool and should top your list of ways to promote your online store. Email is effective for multiple reasons:
- It is available when people are ready to ready
- It pushes news / info to people so they don’t have to go hunt it down
- Emails can be saved for later reference
- Regular emails keep people connected with your business
There are plenty other reasons why email is very important, but those are certainly a few of the top reasons. The next logical questions after deciding to create an email newsletter is what to write about in the newsletter.
One obvious thing to write about are your products. If you have new products to announce or start running a sale, a great way to get the word out is in your newsletter. If you are using Cart66 to power your e-commerce, you can also put Buy Now Links in your emails which are links which, when clicked, will take your customer right to the checkout page ready to pay for the product.
In addition to selling, newsletters are also very useful for teaching and helping. Include links to your blog (which we’ll talk about next) as well as links to things on the web that you think are helpful and useful to your customers. For example, if you sell exercise equipment then you can assume your customers are interested in exercise related content. So maybe include links to stuff like Constant BPM Music For Working Out. The overall point here is to keep your mind open to things beyond your own business. Keep an eye out for anything that your customers will enjoy.
Another great source of content for your newsletter is your own blog. As you write great content for your blog, prepare little excerpts that you can include in your newsletter along with links to the full article. The same tip about being open to writing about things other than just your products applies both to your newsletter and your blog. The trouble with regular blogging is keeping things interesting and having topics to write about. When thinking about what you want to write about, here are a few questions to ask yourself to bust through writers block.
- What did we do at our company over the last week?
- What are we planning to do in the near future?
- What did I learn recently that I might help other people?
- Have I met anyone recently that my audience would be interested in?
- What are some other businesses that do things my audience would be interested in?
- Am I planning to go anywhere like a conference where I can meet people in my audience face-to-face?
- Are there any interesting personal stories I can share? (People like knowing the real people behind a business)
- Are you noticing any common questions in your support channels? Maybe answer them on your blog?
- What was the last funny thing that happened at your office? Maybe there’s a cool lesson to be shared from that.
- Are there any recent success stories, or failure stories that your audience can learn from?
Once you land on a topic, write a detailed article about it. To some degree, you might want to consider SEO for your blog posts. For example, it is worth putting some thought into whether or not the topic you are writing about might be a topic you want your site to show up for when people are searching the web. If so, you might want to try optimizing your blog post title a little bit to show up for more searches. For example, when I was writing about how to sell music on WordPress I happened to notice that the phrase “Sell music on WordPress” was searched for a lot more often than “Sell music with WordPress.” It’s nice to know things like that. The tool I’ve been using lately to figure this sort of thing out is Keyword Tool. There are bunches of other sites that can help you with keyword research, but I found Keyword Tool to be really easy to use an a quick way to squeeze a little SEO love into my blog posts.
Having said that, you certainly do NOT want to go overboard with SEO tweaking in your articles to the point where you are using awkward phrases or stuffing weird sentences into your posts. Google is really good (and constantly improving) at detecting tricks and rewarding solid, helpful content. So, BY FAR, the more important thing is to write good, helpful, content that people are going to be interested in reading and sharing.
One last point about blogging. Try to avoid posting blog posts simply for the sake of posting a blog post. There are far too many posts out there with titles that seem appealing – like you’re really going to learn how to do something – and then you get to this short, 250 word post that doesn’t say anything that everybody doesn’t already know anyway. Just like from one of my favorite old movies – I mean what’s anybody say that everybody doesn’t already know anyway?
Take the time to write something that is going to be helpful, authentic, and interesting. If you need some additional inspiration head on over to CoppyBlogger’s blog and read some of their stuff. They have loads of extremely helpful content for content creation and blogging.
Next, create a YouTube channel for your business. This is free to do and not too hard. Take a little extra time and connect your online store to your YouTube channel as an associated website so that you can make annotations in your videos that link to directly to your website. Here’s some information on how to create YouTube marketing videos including instructions on linking your website to your YouTube channel.
Once you get your YouTube channel set up and connected to your online store, you’re ready to start creating and uploading videos. After you write a blog post, create a short video explaining the main points of your blog post. It doesn’t have to be a long or complicated video. Try for somewhere between 2 and 7 minutes. If you can’t make a fancy intro, don’t worry about it. Personally, I don’t like those intros anyway. In fact, when I’m watching stuff on YouTube I tend to jump into the video at least 30 seconds in to get past the intro and the person explaining why they decided to make the video.
Once you upload your video, be sure to fill out all the YouTube tags and description boxes and so forth to help people find your video if they are searching YouTube. In the description of your video, include a link back to your blog post where people can find more detailed information about the topic.
Lastly, add an annotation to your video (at appropriate times and in reasonable locations) that links back to your blog post for more detailed information. If the person is interested in learning more about what you are talking about, they can click your annotation and land on your blog post – or whatever page on your site is most appropriate. If the video is about a product, maybe you link to the product page.
Bottom line: Make a short video summary of your blog post, upload it to YouTube, then embed the video in your blog post.
Google+, Facebook, Twitter
We have found those three social media channels to be the most effect for us. You may want to look into LinkedIn or whatever. After I’ve written a blog post and uploaded a video summary of the post to YouTube then it is time to start sharing your new creation.
Google+: If you set up a Google+ page for you business you can link that into your YouTube channel as well. Then, when you upload a new video to YouTube it will automatically post your video to Google+. Then navigate over to your Google+ page and comment on your new video. In your comment include a short summary of what the video is about and provide a link back to your blog with the detailed information.
Facebook: Likewise, on your Facebook page, write a little summary about your blog post and include a link back to the article on your blog as well. If you feel in the mood, you might consider paying to “boost” your Facebook post for more exposure. This article is about how to promote your online business for free, so paying for a boost on your Facebook post is sort of outside of what we’re talking about. Nevertheless, if you want to, it’s an easy and rather affordable way to get some additional exposure for your content.
Twitter: If you use an app/service like TweetDeck you can schedule some tweets to your new blog article. Twitter is a little different from Google+ and Facebook because the shelf life of a tweet is really short. You send out a tweet and if somebody hasn’t seen in within a couple of hours, it’s probably lost in the vast history of all the tweets that flow through people’s Twitter accounts. Therefore, you can try a few different messages that link to your blog post to see which wording garners the most attention. You can also consider tweeting a link directly to your YouTube video. If you copy/paste the YouTube URL to your video into your tweet, Twitter will show a thumbnail of your video in the tweet. Then, when clicked, the video will play right there in the twitter feed – for people on a desktop. Mobile devices vary on how they handled displaying YouTube videos in tweets.
Quora is a different sort of thing from other social media channels. It’s a site where people ask and answer questions all day long. So, in some ways, it is a little more organized than the chatter of random tweets. It is also more collaborative than Facebook and Google+ tend to be. I’ve only recently started answering questions on Quora, but the response has been rather interesting and good. In addition to meeting a few interesting writers on Quora, I have also noticed a bit of a bump on our Twitter followers. You can connect your Twitter account to your Quora account so that every time you answer a question in Quora, it tweets out the question and a link to your answer. I wasn’t really even paying attention to the fact that this was happening until I started noticing people liking and retweeting those tweets.
Another interesting point to note about Quora is that you can embed YouTube videos in your Quora answers. So, if you happen to find some questions that can be answered by the YouTube videos you have been making, you can embed a video directly into your Quora answer.
The more you contribute to Quora, the more authority you earn on their platform. That results in your answers getting more views. So, if you take the time to write helpful answers and you include pictures and YouTube videos in your answers (when appropriate) you’ll have success as a Quora write. That will lead to you getting more Twitter followers and more people seeing your content and visiting you blog.
Summary Of How To Promote Your Online Store
I know we’ve gone over a lot of information here, but don’t let that overwhelm you. It’s not 101 things to do. Everything we’ve talked about can be done for free. Even making YouTube videos can be free. You don’t have to go out an buy a whole lot of stuff. You can probably do everything with stuff you already have, like your iPhone. If you like the way things are going, you can gradually invest some money into nicer equipment like video cameras and microphones, but you don’t have to do that to get started.
To review all the main points:
- Try not to let all the information overwhelm you
- Create a newsletter
- Set up a blog and post to it
- Post video summaries about your blog posts on YouTube
- Share your blog posts on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter
- Answer Quora questions and reference your YouTube videos and/or blog posts in your answers when appropriate
None of these things are technically confusing or hard to do, but the do take time and commitment. You can totally do this on your own. If you have any questions, or if I can help in any way, just let me know.
Thanks for reading 🙂