4 Free traffic sources to drive 1,000+ visitors to your online store (daily)

February 15, 2018

free traffic sources

How would you like to drive over 1,000 visitors to your eCommerce store, every single day?

Then 2,000...

Then 4,000...

...all for free.

Sounds awesome, right?

Here’s the good news: You don’t need to spend a single cent on acquiring traffic.

Now, don’t get me wrong. PPC ads and Facebook ads are both massively effective for your online business. But they require time, money, and effort.

What I’m saying is this: Even if you’re a startup with $0 to spend on marketing, you can still drive traffic to your online store.

How?

By using the awesome free traffic sources I’m going to share with you in this article.

Let’s dive right in!

#1: Your blog

If you’re neglecting your eCommerce store’s blog, that’s a huge mistake. Your blog is possibly the single most important website traffic sources in your arsenal.

Here’s why:

Organic search traffic from search engines like Google is some of the highest-converting traffic you can possibly get. It's far better than banner ads or social media marketing. But there's one caveat...

Ranking your store on Search Engines requires backlinks from other websites. And getting backlinks to product or category pages is really freaking hard. Or time consuming, if you're writing guest posts.

Getting links to high-quality blog posts or infographics, however, is MUCH easier.

Plus, even if you do rank your product pages on Google, you’re still limited to the keywords around your products. Once you rank for them, you hit a ceiling.

Quality content can help drive even more free traffic and leads to your site. For example, if you had a leather shoe store, you could rank for something like “How to care for leather shoes” using your blog.

Using Google to find Free Traffic Sources


So now you might be wondering...

How do you create quality content?

If you feel a panic attack coming on at the thought of sitting down at your laptop and banging out a 2,000 word post, don’t worry - you’re not alone.

Many eCommerce store owners, like you, struggle with writing blog posts.

That’s why we wrote a complete guide to eCommerce content marketing. So go check it out!

But if you need more help getting your creative juices flowing, here are some great tips from Andrianes Pinantoan of Canva:

Tip #1: Use Buzzsumo

Input a topic or a website, and this tool will show you which are the best-performing articles according to social shares.

Let’s say your eCommerce store sells hair extensions and one of your competitors is Luxy Hair.

Simply go to Buzzsumo, search for luxyhair.com, and you’ll be able to see which of the content on their website has been shared widely.

3-buzzsumo-content-ideation-1


As seen in the above screenshot, this How To article got an impressive 5.6k shares on Pinterest.

Now, you shouldn’t be copying your competitor’s content or paraphrasing their entire article.

But definitely use this as inspiration for your brainstorming sessions.

By understanding what types of articles get the most shares, you’ll find it easier to generate blog topics that are well-received by your audience.

Tip #2: Ask your audience what they want to read about

This one’s pretty straight-forward:

Set up an automated email campaign so that the minute someone subscribes to your newsletter, your email provider delivers a thank-you note to their inbox.

In this thank-you note, ask this person what type of content is the most relevant to them.

If you’re a fashion eCommerce store, your options could be:

  • Celebrity styles and inspiration
  • Useful advice and fashion tips
  • Round-ups of latest products

You get the idea!

Tip #3: Test out your headlines

Headlines are super important.

You can have the most informative, well-written blog article out there, but if it doesn’t come with a compelling headline, no one’s going to click through and read it.

Take this article by Team Canva, for example:

The Importance of Headlines in Driving Free Traffic


When they first published this piece, it was titled:

Why Steve Jobs Took Long Walks and Why You Should Too.

According to Andrianes, it was a flop.

There was no way of telling why it didn’t perform well - and the only thing left to do was to change the headline and try again.

So that’s exactly what Team Canva did - they reposted the article with the headline Why Everyone From Beethoven, Goethe, Dickens, Darwin To Steve Jobs Took Long Walks and Why You Should Too.

It was an instant success, and this one article ended up getting Canva 70,000 shares!

Moral of the story?

You won’t be able to get your headline right every time, even if you’re a seasoned content writer.

But by testing out different headlines, you can get maximum mileage out of your article and get more free traffic.

#2: Your social media posts

Next on the list of free traffic sources for your website?

Social media marketing.

It’s no secret that eCommerce store owners spend tons of time perfecting their Instagram feed these days.

You google “how to take good Instagram pictures” and carefully arrange your flatlays.

You use three different filter apps and apply your filters painstakingly.

And you wait till the optimal timing before posting every day.

Now, here’s one additional step that I want you to take:

In all of your Instagram captions (and all of your social media captions, really), include a Call To Action that directs people back to your website.

Instagram Traffic


The rationale behind this is simple:

Getting more Likes and Followers on your social media channels is great, but what’s crucial to your revenue is converting these Followers into actual customers.

#3: Your subscriber list

Next on our list of free traffic sources is… your subscriber list.

A lot of eCommerce store owners are obsessed with getting more “exposure” for their brand and getting seen by more people.

But here’s the thing:

It’s actually a lot more productive to focus on marketing to customers who have already bought from you.

Look at it this way:

Let’s say you set up a remarketing campaign to target people who have abandoned their carts in the past 24 hour.

You’re essentially reaching out to a highly qualified audience - the “hottest” of your leads.

It takes way less effort to convert them to a paying customer, as opposed to someone who has never interacted with your brand before.

Check out these stats:

First, while a typical marketing email only averages a 21% open rate, remarketing emails average an impressive 57% open rate!

Plus, remarketing emails average a 30% conversion rate, as opposed to the 5% conversion rate of a standard email.

But don’t just stop at setting up remarketing emails.

While these are a quick and easy way to capture your low-hanging fruit, you should also engage the rest of your subscriber list, especially those who are inactive.

Need some inspiration?

Here are some ideas from Carly Stec from Hubspot:

#1: Take a tongue-in-cheek approach

Carly absolutely loves Piperlime’s email approach:

6-email-for-inactive-subscribers-1

Image from ImpactBND.com.

A fun, light-hearted email like this one will get your subscribers chuckling… and hitting that button to be redirected to your website.

#2: Incorporate other forms of media

In the email shown below, Earbits utilizes the same break-up style approach as Piperlime.

But here’s where they do things differently:

They include a little “mix-tape” their subscribers can click on and listen to.

7-email-for-inactive-subscribers-1


This actually makes a lot of sense for Earbits, because they’re a music discovery site.

But eCommerce stores can follow in the same vein and jazz up their emails with sound clips, GIFs, or other types of media to get their readers’ attention.

#3: Bribe them

When all else fails… go ahead and bribe your subscribers.

Here’s how Crocs does it:

8-email-for-inactive-subscribers-1


The beauty of using this strategy?

It’s unexpectedly versatile.

Let’s say you’re an eCommerce store that sells skincare products, like BelmondoHere’s a cost-effective way to bribe (or shall we say, incentivize) your customers to revisit your store: Offer them free samples (get your suppliers to give you some!) with every purchase.

You don’t need to fork out a single cent and your customers are happy because they got free stuff.

How’s that for win-win?

#4: Quora

In a nutshell, Quora is a place where anyone can ask questions and have them answered by industry experts.

9-using-quora-to-get-free-traffic-1


If you’re trying to get quality traffic, Quora is one of the best free traffic sources.

Here’s what I mean:

Instagram is full of casual browsers, and they may or may not be at the stage of the Buyer’s Journey where they’re willing to commit to a purchase.

Quora, on the other hand, is crawling with people who are looking for a solution to their problem.

As such, they’re better prospects…

...and it’s likely that you’ll be able to convert traffic from Quora into paying customers more easily.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

First, let’s address the question:

How do you market your brand on Quora, and use Quora to drive traffic to your store?

Start by filtering out the questions that aren’t popular and focus only on the questions that have the potential to drive traffic to your site.

To help you out, here’s a list of the top 10 most followed topics on Quora:

10-using-quora-to-get-free-traffic-1


Let’s say you’re an eCommerce store that sells knives.

You could answer questions under the topic “Knives”, which has 30.4k followers…

11-using-quora-to-get-free-traffic-1


But why would you want to do that when you can take a crack at questions under the topic “Food”, which has 16.2 million followers?

Of course, choosing a more generic topic has its disadvantages too:

You’ll need to look through the questions more carefully to find the ones that are relevant to your products.

But you do get a lot more potential with 16.2 million followers as opposed to 30.4k followers - so it’s worth the extra effort!

Once you’ve decided which topic you want to focus on, navigate to the “Topic FAQ”, which shows you the top questions being asked at the moment.

Scroll down the list of questions and look for questions which have been answered by plenty of people.

12-using-quora-to-get-free-traffic-1

 

Then click through on the question, and you’ll be able to see the number of people following it.

13-using-quora-to-get-free-traffic-1

 

Once you write and post your answer, these people will be notified - either via email, via a notification, or some other way.

Cool stuff, huh?

Now let’s talk about how to craft an awesome answer on Quora that will get you traffic to your store.

Imran Esmail from EscapeYourDeskJob.com has three great tips:

Firstly, tell stories.

Here’s how Imran puts it:

Personal stories of tragedy, struggle and personal perseverance do exceptionally well on Quora.

You don’t want your Quora answer to read like a Wikipedia page. Pepper it with examples and personal anecdotes (the more emotional, the better!) and incorporate humor and wit if possible.

Secondly, utilize pictures in your answer.

Think about how people are consuming content.

On their desktops? Not usually. On their laptops? Yes, but less frequently. On their mobile phones? All the time.

Your Quora answer should be optimized for people who are reading it on the go.

What does this mean? Steer clear of chunky paragraphs and use pictures to sustain your readers’ interest.

Here’s a great example that Imran dug out:

Quora free traffic

Image from SmartBlogger.com.

(FYI I think this answer is genius.)

Thirdly, don’t sell the farm.

This last tip from Imran is arguably the most valuable piece of advice for eCommerce store owners hoping to drive free traffic back to their websites.

Basically, you want to provide enough details so that you have a robust enough answer (which brings you views and up votes)...

...but not too many details that your readers have no incentive to click through to your website.

For example, let’s say you’re answering the question: What are the top three things a newbie cook should know?

Your three points can be:

  • Proper seasoning
  • Food hygiene
  • Choosing your appliances and equipment

Go ahead and elaborate on the first two points.

When you come to the last point, talk about the importance of buying the right kitchen equipment…

...and then link to a product comparison article on your website which lays out the pros and cons of the top three knife brands (including your own!) in the market.

Smart, huh?

Bonus: Guest Blogging

Guest posts are articles you write on someone else's blog.

At first, this sounds crazy. Writing quality content on your own site is hard enough as it is - why would you want to do it for someone else?

Aside from link building, which can improve your rankings and search traffic, guest posts can drive direct traffic to your site. You're essentially "borrowing" that site's traffic - assuming you include a strong call to action within the post that leads back to your blog.

Affiliate marketers are known for guest posting a lot. It's one of their favorite link building tactics.

But your can use this strategy as one of your best website traffic sources if you do it right. I recommend reading this guide to learn more.

A final word on using free traffic sources to drive customers to your store

While this free traffic sources list is by no means a definite guide, it should be enough to keep you busy for the next few months.

You’ll be able to see results pretty fast with some of the techniques I’ve mentioned here (eg. including Call to Actions on your social media posts and reaching out to your subscriber list)...

...but for the other techniques, like beefing up your blog articles and answering questions on Quora, it’ll take some time before you get any traction.

Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The key is to commit to a schedule that’s manageable for you (perhaps writing one blog article and three Quora answers per week?) and stick with it.

Within three months, I can guarantee that you’ll see a nice increase in quality traffic.

Within six months, you should experience an uptick in sales due to your growing traffic.

And as you build your online business, all the graphs that you’re keeping an eye on will only get more and more exponential. And the best part is that you don't have to spend money on Facebook ads!

Here’s to exploding your traffic in 2018!

Read Next: How to Start an Online Store [The Complete Beginner's Guide]

(BTW, see how we shared an article at the end here for you to keep reading? This is a great way to get more direct traffic to your popular posts. You'll be getting traffic in no time!)

If you liked this article, please share it with your eCommerce friends!

Bill Widmer

Written by Bill Widmer

Bill is an eCommerce content marketing and SEO consultant. He's run several stores and worked with many well-known brands including A Better Lemonade Stand, SaleHoo, and Lifehack.

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