Your online store's grand opening — its veritable ribbon-cutting ceremony — happens with a few clicks of a button. Although getting traffic to your website may not be so simple, your opening day can still receive the same fanfare as a real brick-and-mortar store. Announcing your launch date to a new audience is akin to a runner getting on the starting blocks — preparation is crucial for that first burst of customer traffic.
This post will show you how to leverage word-of-mouth marketing, how to dip your toes into digital advertising and ways to leverage digital influencers to sell your product. Revving up your ecommerce engine can be difficult, so this is all about driving traffic to your store quickly.
Word-of-mouth marketing is still (and will always be) the most influential way to drive traffic to your new store. Your friends and family will be your inaugural brand ambassadors, and may even be your first sales, and leveraging their voices should be the first step in getting buzz for your brand. To ultimate goal of word of mouth is to create a conversation with your store as the starting point and this can be accomplished in a few ways. Providing excellent customer service is the lowest bar for online retailers, but shipping your items quickly and replying to emails instantly can go a long way in establishing trust. If you have access to product before it ships, include a small handwritten note or thank you for ordering card with the shipment. A small personal touch like this may go a long way in a customer's loyalty journey.
Providing excellent customer service is the lowest bar for online retailers, but shipping your items quickly and replying to emails instantly can go a long way in establishing trust.
As usual, your friends and families will be the front-lines of broadcasting your new store. You may have already Facebook shared your domain name, but if you haven't here is a social media plan of action for the initial rollout.
Tell your story with a longer post.
A causal link and asking people to buy products isn't going to engage anyone. Craft a message that details your personal and business journey that has lead you to this point. A friend on Facebook recently announced they were leaving the corporate world and entering direct B2C sales with their new store. In a lovely five paragraph post, they linked their store in the fourth paragraph - technically below the fold for a Facebook post. The first three paragraphs discussed change, growth from one opportunity to the next, resolutions, and goals before the introduction of their new store and Facebook page. 44 comments and 1 share later, the initial earnest post he created was a fantastic store debut. Don't simply paste a link and move on, you only get to do this once.
Reach out to your friends and family members you know will likely share your post if you ask them to.
Creating a new business is fairly novel, and when it’s clear you're not trying to get them into a mid-level marketing scheme they're going to be even happier to share your news. These core pseudo-influencers will also likely already know about your business journey, as you're talking about it in person or sharing details of what you're doing. Create a message shared in personal messages to them requesting they share information of store along the lines of:
"Hey [your friend], Just a quick message. As you know I'm launching [your domain] officially with a big market push and would really appreciate it if you could help share and like my page. If you could send a message to your friends along the lines of 'My friend [your name] just launched their store selling [type of products]. I know that @tagged friend #1 or @tagged friend #2 may be interested in [type of product] for [gift/occasion/their hobby]' I would be so, so grateful!"
The messaging, which you should adapt, is short and to the point, but should also be personalized.
The messaging, which you should adapt, is short and to the point, but should also be personalized. Don't send the same mass-message to an email chain, or make a large thread. Splitting up the threads will take no extra time and it allows you to engage and control the conversation better. Another option is to ask them directly to share your post and tag people (ideally) outside of your network, will extend the reach of your store.
For more information on word of mouth marketing, Andy Sernovitz's bestselling "Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking" is a seminal book on the subject, and will provide you with a longer read to get into the nitty-gritty of expanding your reach without breaking the bank.
Digital SEM Advertising
Speaking of banks however, a proven way to drive traffic to your new store is to simply pay for it. Pull the bandaid off, its 2019, and that's just how it is. We have many, many resources available for you that discuss how to get started with PPC advertising, particularly Search and Shopping campaigns, as well as some Facebook Digital advertising but I want to go over some high-level things you should be thinking about before taking this avenue.
Paid search is simply the quickest way to kickstart traffic to your store because of how efficient Google has made it to create campaigns. Like a brick and mortar, if you build if a billboard next to the highway, people are going to see it. You do not need the domain authority that SEO requires, nor the heft of a massive social media following to get new customers, you can simply advertise in the right spot at the right time.
Paid search is simply the quickest way to kickstart traffic to your store because of how efficient Google has made it to create campaigns.
Let's very broadly consider the sales funnel, and where digital search engine marketing comes into play. A target PPC ad with keywords relevant to your products taps into your potential customers' awareness. At this point no one knows your store exists — they're not visiting your store directly and you do not have enough domain authority for Google to rank you above the scroll organically. PPC ads are at the very top of the funnel within the awareness/discovery cycles where you're making a name for yourself by being present and being resourceful. A customer has a problem (their need of a product) and you're waving your hand at the start of the line saying 'I can help with that.' This new traffic, once on-site, transforms into leads, and it’s your job to close that sale. Relevant product page information, the right price point, and the ability to solve for the customer is going to lead that customer from a click to a checkout.
What if you have a product no one knows about? How do you advertise something no one knows exists yet? In this case we turn our attention to Facebook Audience targeting. Apparel, outdoor equipment, office supplies, etc will have connections. You can target users with your new running shoe to those who would be interested in workout clothing, running, running accessories, and more. If you've developed a brand new board game or toy you're in a different spot. Facebook Audiences allow you to get in front of other customers who will likely share interests in the hobby or product line you're offering. In the example below, if you've developed a family, European-style board game you can select comparable games from Facebook's massive Interest targets and create a network of people who may be interested in yours. Either with product carousel or dynamic ad content, the goal is to be seen by people who are likely to click through your content. Once the hook is set, it is up to your website to close the deal.
Moving away from social advertising and paid media, social engagement is another excellent opportunity to increase your brand awareness and drive traffic. Social media influencers, particularly on Instagram, are excellent resources for quick bursts of traffic via sponsored and promoted posts. Outreach to vlogs and social users is another angle of media posting that very quickly opens up to a new audience, however it is not entirely without cost. We're talking about free samples here.
Sending free merchandise for review and brand awareness is a quick and relatively simple solution to acquire positive press about your store.
Sending free merchandise for review and brand awareness is a quick and relatively simple solution to acquire positive press about your store, and only costs your margin and shipping costs. The return on investment for such endeavors can be meaningful and worth pursuing. Here's your how-to to get in front of influencers and bloggers and vloggers alike.
Research who you want to target via the social media channels best avenue.
That means follow trending hashtags on instagram, using Google's inurl: search feature to find relevant bloggers, and Youtube's tagging system to find reviewers and other DIY enthusiasts within your brands industry. Try to find engaged content creators who post regularly and have a brand voice which is similar to yours. You don't want to accidentally be lambasted by sending products to a reviewer known for showing bias in their reviews or being overtly negative. Instead find your own pseudo-ambassadors you'd be happy with using your product, regardless of follower count. To that end, don't aim for the stars (figuratively and literally). Major brand ambassadors with millions of followers are likely out of your price point and your outreach may be ignored. Focus instead on those who will be excited to get to know your products. Then, follow them and engage with their posts.
Try to find engaged content creators who post regularly and have a brand voice which is similar to yours.
Craft the message.
These, like your Facebook outreach, should be sort and sweet and offer a clear value proposition to them — your free product within inhibition. After you've followed them for a short amount of time, follow their website's contact information or send them a direct message. Here's a simple format to follow:
"Hello [their name],
I'm [name] of [your store] and have been really enjoying your feed/video series on X/blog.
I have recently started my own business about X and am particularly proud of my Y. I think that it [your value proposition of the item - why does it stand apart from the rest of the competition?]
Can I send a free copy/sample/the item of the product to use? I am very proud of what we've made and I think you will too. If you can get back to me with your business or PO address I'll gladly send you one! Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help at all!"
The most critical aspect of it all — you'll need to send the product — but you'll need to follow to look out for their post to reblog and share it on your own social media channels. This will develop a backlink and help spur traffic between your new ambassador. The content creator you're sending content to will get the gist — they know that in return of receiving products a post or shoutout is implied - make sure you capitalize on it when it comes.
Word of mouth marketing, digital spend, and social outreach are just a few of the many marketing angles to approach with driving to your online store, but they're some of the most valuable *right* at the moment you're launching your store. Your social shares and engagement, your internet grand opening, is a once in a lifetime opportunity so make the most of it when you can. If you're a little more entrenched, and have been taking orders, use some of the later advice to reach out and grow your business through customer engagement. There’s no reason not to start today!