Bringing customers to your newly started online store is one of the grey areas of starting an online business. Some tutorials promise you the holy grail of marketing, but in real life, it sucks. Been there, done that.
Everybody says the Facebook ads with the discount promos are the best way to bring customers to your online store. Why? Because everybody else says so. In real life, it doesn’t work as you wish. There will be days after days continuously draining your credit card tied to the Facebook ad campaign, without making a single F***** sale. And you might be on the edge of giving it up altogether.
So, what is the solution? Is there a way to bring customers to your online store?
Well, gather around, here is everything I know about how to bring customers to an online store. I am not a marketing expert. I am only a regular online business owner (Have a couple of eCommerce sites and blogs) with around eight years of experience fighting tooth and nail in this realm.
Additional Read: How to sell online – the right way
How to bring customers to a new online store 101
Paid ads won’t work as you wish! Running Facebook ads is NOT the holy grail of bringing in customers. Perhaps it will work if you can spend hundreds of dollars on your daily ad budget. But, I could never afford to pay that much for marketing. So, I am talking about running a max $10 daily ad budget. And, you should never rely 100% on that strategy. So, here is the plan.
A plan is never a good plan unless you can write it on a paper serviette
On-site marketing to bring customers to your website
I cannot stress this enough. There is no point in running ads and do all other marketing campaigns unless you have a frictionless user interface for your website. You can spend thousands of dollars to bring thousands of customers to your online store.
But, if you don’t have a website that (take notes!)
- looks Trustworthy/Professional
- loads fast (first paint under 2 seconds)
- interacts with customers, and
- doesn’t make it a pain in the ASSguard to buy something
you can kiss all those thousand customers a goodbye because they are not going to buy from your online store, or even come back again.
Fix your website to bring customers to your store
We live in the age of the internet. 99.9% of the websites load under 3 sec. And, if your online store is not going to show up quickly, people will think it is broken. Fix it.
If your online store has unaligned web elements (buttons/text) or colors that don’t match, people will think it is a scam. Would you enter your credit card on a website that doesn’t look professional? So, fix it. Take a look at these inspiring Shopify store examples as good UI/UX examples.
Also, don’t make it too hard for them to do something on your site. Try to make it “click, click, click, and done” Remember, this is not 1998 anymore. Customers have so many choices. If your site is too hard to use, there is always another option for them. I have seen many sites that are hard to use. For example, I have seen complicated checkout pages that you would never fill. So, fix it. Try to use customer journey mapping to understand the friction points of your site.
A website is not just a boring newspaper. If you cannot keep your customers engaged in your website, they will leave your site. So, use interactions to build a conversation while they are shopping. Use popup dialogs to shape their purchasing journey. Use raffles, giveaways, and flash discount coupons to keep create an enjoyable purchasing experience for them. The best way to do this is through a chatbot.
There are a ton of chatbot plugins that you can use. I have used a screenshot from HubSpot to show you what a chatbot is. I hope they won’t get angry. They also offer a free chatbot builder, so go check it out if you like. Link: Hubspot CRM (not an affie)
Use discounts and offers to bring customers to your site
Ecommerce sites are now full of discounts. So, if you don’t offer discounts, it is not going to work for you. I mean, come on, when you run an online store, you don’t have to afford a fraction of the overhead costs of running a brick and motor store. So, pass down some of those profits to your customers. So, they will come back, probably with their friends (you know what I mean? It is called word-of-mouth).
Lower prices and positive word-of-mouth are the best purchase influencers in the world.
Cross-selling and up-selling
Cross-selling and up-selling benefit in two ways. Those strategies help you to increase the average cart value on your online store and to bring customers through targeted advertising.
Increasing the average cart value through cross-selling and up-selling is a no-brainer. When you propose similar or frequently bought together products to your customers, there is a big chance that they will add more to their cart. However, when you add related products, rather than manually adding such products, try to automate the process based on data. I have a good example.
In an interview with Ruslan Kogan, the CEO of Kogan eCommerce business, he once told that the data on their site suggested flip-flops as a “frequently-bought-together” for winter robes. Would you ever think of adding flip-flops in a related product section for winter selection? No. But, apparently, people buy flip-flops to go to the bathroom in wintertime. Funny, huh? So, try to use automation for cross-selling.
Use memberships to bring customers back to your store
Do you remember those loyalty cards that you get from supermarkets, airlines, etc.? Apparently, it is a marketing gimmick that they use to keep customers coming back. When customers have to choose between two businesses, they will mostly go for the business that they have a membership with. So, you can leverage the same strategy and offer loyalty programs for your customers. And, you can use the same chatbot that we have discussed earlier to offer memberships.
Think of something like this. Now I am shopping on your online store, and suddenly there is a popup message saying,
“Congratulations! You won a gold membership in our store. Join now, and you can get FREE delivery from your next order.”
Am I going to join your loyalty program? Damn, yes! I just got free delivery from the next order for nothing. And, yes, you guessed right, there will be a “next order” too.
Use affiliate marketing to bring customers to your online store
The concept of affiliate marketing is quite simple. You just pay a commission for anyone who brings in a sale for you. Amazon pays around 3-5% for its affiliate partners for every sale they bring in to Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate partner, and over the past years, I have driven customers worth nearly $7000 in sales for them.
Similarly, you can create an affiliate program for your online store, and content creators (like me) will work our ASSgurds off to bring in customers for you (to earn commissions). Check this article on CrazyEgg to learn how to create an affiliate program for your business.
Off-site marketing to bring customers to your website
Woah, we are halfway through this article. Don’t worry; I’ll keep it short.
Using Facebook ads to bring in customers to your online store
Alright, I told Facebook ads alone won’t bring customers to your online store. But, we have to admit that Facebook ads are one of the effective ways to promote a new business. So, if your on-site marketing strategies, which we have discussed in the first section works well, it is time to focus on Facebook ads now.
Starting a Facebook ad campaign is quite easy. However, troubleshooting an under-performing Facebook ad is something that you have to focus on. Go through this checklist Why my Facebook ads are not working to see if you are doing anything wrong and how to fix them.
Getting the best out of your Facebook page
Like it or not, your Facebook page is going to be one of your top sales channels for any online business. So, while you are working on Facebook ads, try to pamper your Facebook page as well. Run a “page likes” campaign to get more followers to your page. Then, keep them engaged with audience building posts. To get the highest organic reach on your Facebook page, make sure to post regularly and during the peak hours on Facebook.
Also, you can run contests and giveaway programs for your Facebook followers to create a viral audience-building campaign. For example, start a giveaway contest to give a free gift for those who have the highest number of contest entries. And, let them earn entries by inviting someone to your Facebook page, etc. There are so many Facebook chatbot integrations that can be used to create such campaigns as well.
Using old-school off-line marketing to bring traffic to your online store
Selling online doesn’t mean that you have to limit your marketing campaigns to online only. There are incredibly effective off-line marketing strategies to bring customers to your online store as well.
Flyers work! Nowadays, everyone sticks their heads inside a mobile phone, and it is hard to get their attention from inside the phone. So, if you hand over a bill or a flyer, it creates a momentary distraction from the phones, giving you a chance to show what you offer.
When you design a flyer, don’t make it boring. Do not use old-school MS Word to create a flyer. Hire a professional designer, and use graphics and colors to get the right attention. You can find plenty of Kick-ASSguard flyer designers on Fiverr (affie) for under $40.
Talk to people and invite them to your online store
Start with your friends and relatives. Just bug them and tell them that you have made this online store, and if they like, they can make a purchase and give you feedback. I am not kidding. Take your phone and do it right away. Make calls.
If you have a brick and motor store, you can also encourage your customers to make the order online instead of paying the cashier. For example, if you have a restaurant and if you run an online store for that restaurant, you can create a 5% discount for all orders that are made through your website. So, you can encourage your customers to redeem that 5% discount by making the order online while they are at your store. Assist them in making that purchase so that they will do that again.
Using packaging to bring customers to your store
Packaging materials are excellent for marketing. If you are trying to bring new customers to your online store, rather than sending them some boring packaging, give them an unforgettable unpacking experience with proper packaging design.
Also, you can add discount coupons to the packing itself. So, your customers will come back to your online store. And, when people come back, they trust you more, and they tend to spend more on your website as well.
Now you know around 13 ways to bring customers to your online store
Getting new customers is not going to be easy! I know that. And it is going to be costly. So, while you are focusing on bringing new customers to your online store, make sure to polish up the rest of the business to retain those new customers who visit your site. A one-time-customer is a lost customer for me. Therefore, work on your customer retention strategies to maximize your profits.
It has been a long article. I hope you were not bored with reading it. Anyway, reading about marketing is boring; doing it is the real thrill. So start practicing what you have learned right now.
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Let’s find out how to start a small online store to sell clothes online. And, most importantly, let’s talk about building a compelling marketing strategy to sell clothes online. Do you know why a lot of new online businesses fail? Because people don’t just buy that easily.