10 Ways to Promote Your Online Store

Written by Vineeta G - May 27, 2014

Running an online store can be a challenge. The popularity of online stores has resulted in an overwhelming choice for consumers, so if you don’t actively promote your store it will get lost in the internet wilderness without any customers.

Fortunately, with a little hard work, planning and creativity, you can generate targeted traffic to your store and start to smash your sales targets.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of 10 effective ways to promote your online store.

1. Targeted Advertising

The beauty of using digital media for your online marketing is that you gain the ability to reach the right people, with the right message, at the right time. There are several different platforms for targeted ads, including Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, and Pinterest.

Google Adwords gives you the ability to target people according to the keywords they’re searching for and their location. You can also choose specific times to display your ads and pick which devices they appear on. Plus, you only pay when people click through and land on your store.

Facebook invites users to include a lot of personal information in their profile, including age, location, relationship status, education, and interests such as music, films, and favourite shops. By using Facebook Ads, you can target specific groups of people who you believe will be interested in your products. So if you want to target females in the age range 20-40 who love nature and photography, for example, you can.

Pinterest is growing in strength as a social network platform, and promoting your products, brand personality and things that inspire you is easy and fun. Create a good-looking account in your business name, then start following people who follow the brands you consider allied to your target audience. Pinterest are currently playing with promoted pins so keep an eye on that development, and don’t forget to add a Pin It button to your own products so others can easily share them.

2. Facebook

Social media is often undervalued as a marketing tool, and Facebook is one platform you should be using for your business. Creating an engaging and interesting business page is free to set up and easy to do, although you must make sure you post regularly to keep your audience engaged.

Much like Pinterest, your posts don’t all have to relate to your products – they simply need to be inspiring to your target audience, easy for them to relate to, and shareable. And don’t panic if this sounds like hard work – there are several tools that allow you to schedule your posts to be sent out at certain times. All you need to do is set aside a little time each week to plan and schedule your posts.

3. Remarketing

Remarketing is a feature that allows you to stay in contact with customers who have previously visited your site as they browse online. Simply tag the products or categories you wish to promote, and build a targeted campaign so that relevant ads appear in the webpages of people who have already viewed your products. The ads will keep appearing until those people clear their cookies.

You can use companies such as AdRoll to help you with this, or build a campaign tied in with Google Adwords.

4. Guest Articles

Writing guest articles for magazines and blogs popular with your target audience is a powerful way to reach target buyers. Begin by searching for relevant online blogs and magazines – don’t forget to consider local magazines and browse lists like the 100 most popular blogs in your field. Set out to build a personal relationship with them first – follow them on social media, retweet their posts and comment on their blogs so they know who you are and what your expertise is. Then pitch an article to them.

It’s also worth spending some time on their blogs and websites, or interacting on their forums to offer impartial advice, comment on other articles and answer questions. Don’t forget to use your brand name and logo as your user ID.

5. Offers and Competitions

People love winning and the feeling of getting something for nothing, regardless of how expensive it is. So use that to your advantage. Offer free things in return for visiting your website and giving you feedback on your products and the usability and appearance of your online store.

Competitions with prizes such as beautiful countryside holidays or city breaks to popular European destinations can achieve a great following on Facebook and Twitter, and help to increase your email newsletter signups. Make sure that people get more entries for sharing the competition on social media for a bit of free promotion.

With every competition or offer you run, make sure that people learn a little about your brand and your products as part of the entering process. So the next time they wish to purchase a specific item that you sell, they will immediately think of you.

In addition, encourage people to increase their involvement with you as much as possible – for example, offer a significant percentage off a future purchase in return for leaving a review. And remember, the more that people tweet about you or promote you on Facebook, the more incentive they have to shop with you. Let your early adopters become your promoters.

6. Customer Stories & Articles

Always follow up a purchase to find out why that person bought your item – you may find your customers have some unique stories to share. If you sell wedding dresses, for example, you may find that the customer is planning an alternative wedding in your dress. Ask them to send in pictures and make a beautiful story about it on your website. Your customer will then share this story, giving you some free promotion.

It’s a good idea to ask customers to send in pictures or videos of themselves wearing or using your items. Pictures are worth everything to an online store, and having a customer gallery in addition to your own photos will enhance your website and speak volumes to potential customers.

7. Promote via Affiliate Sites

Any retailer with an online store can benefit from affiliate marketing – which is the process of using a third party (essentially your affiliate partner) to promote your products. Sign up to a company like Commission Junction or Trade Doubler who work as an online, commission-only promotional workforce.

Savvy shoppers look to discount websites first to see if they can make any savings before making a purchase. Using voucher codes or discount code websites can lead to a surge of potential customers to your site, including many who may not have looked at your site otherwise.

8.  Beat the Nerves

People can be nervous when using a new online store for the first time, so take the hassle out of the equation. Offering free delivery and free returns to everybody can encourage hesitant first-time buyers to hit the checkout button, and will entice them to return to your store and promote it amongst their friends.

9. PR Stunt

Do something outrageous to grab people’s attention. Desigual recently asked people in Italy to turn up naked to their stores in return for free clothes – this may not work in the UK, but it attracted huge media coverage around the country and the news stories and pictures spread worldwide, giving them excellent coverage.

Alternatively, open a Pop-Up shop for a few days in a shopping mall or other popular venue in a busy shopping town or an out-of-town shopping centre. This will help to generate a buzz, encourage spontaneous purchases and, most importantly, build brand awareness.

10. Strategic Partnerships

Finally, look to build strategic partnerships with non-competing websites that have a similar target market. The key is to look for partners with a matched vision and complimentary products. So if your store sells women’s clothes, seek to form a partnership with websites selling men’s or children’s clothes – after all it’s mostly women who do the shopping!

Strategic partnerships are mutually beneficial, help to spread the marketing workload, and your customers will benefit from a greater number of trusted resources.

Ask for an advertising slot in return for free advertising on your own site, or work together for a joint promotion.

These are just a few of the most effective ways to promote your online store and boost your sales figures. Have you used any other methods to promote your online store? What’s brought you the most success? Join in the discussion in the comments below.