One of the most frequently asked questions we get at IncomeShops is “How do I generate traffic to my store?”  Traffic of course is the key to success for any online business.  It is particularly challenging for affiliate stores like the ones we host at IncomeShops because the default content in an affiliate store is not necessarily unique, hence, search engines will not rank these kinds of stores highly without unique content being added.  Generating traffic is both an art and a science, but regardless of which discipline you’re predisposed to, there is one irrefutable truth about generating traffic – consistency!  Whatever it is you do, do it consistently, and remember, the more exposure you wish, the more work you’re going to have to do.  But there are some smart ways you can go about getting exposure.  Here are some tips:

  • Products.  The products you choose to put in your store are important.  Make sure that they are appealing, useful, and have the kind of value that you believe will be important to your customers.  For the products on the home page, do a google search to see where else these can be found and create a differentiating element by adding relevant content.  For example, if you have an electronics store, instead of just listing a “Smart Watch” on your site, include content that provides added information e.g. “A Smart Watch is a great accessory that anyone can use even occasionally…for example, it eliminates the need to carry a cell phone when you’re going out on a night on the town. “  Check your primary pages regularly to make sure that all links are functioning appropriately and that any adverts you place from Adsense etc. are not overwhelming the higher margin entities in your store.
  • Email Sign up.  Your store should be enabled with a newsletter (see below) or other email registration sign up.  This will be an important aspect to making sure you engage your customers in the long run.  For IncomeShops customers, this will mean signing up to MailChimp to manage your email lists and campaigns.
  • Content.  Creating new, relevant content for your site is extremely important.  We recommend you jot down all the topics you would love to read yourself about a store like yours e.g. if you have a fashion store – articles about quality, style, trends, do’s and don’ts, appropriate attire (e.g. for a kind of event) etc.  Then, put them on a calendar and write 200 words about each topic on a predictable schedule, e.g. weekly, daily etc.  Having a schedule that you stick to will create a sense of consistency that your customers will appreciate.  These articles should be factual, less opinionated, and informative.  Do not “re-spin” content from others without their permission and give credit for information gleaned from other sources.  For opinions and editorial content, you should create a blog.
  • Leverage blogging.  Blogging is a good way to establish your own credibility and expertise around the kinds of products you’re promoting.  If you are passionate about your niche, let the world feel it through writing memorable articles of value to your customers.   For example, if you have an apparel store, you could write articles like:

-          Top Fashion Trends for the Summer

-          Six accessories you can’t do without

-          WOW! Awesome Saturday Night Looks!

Blogging is not much different than having your own online magazine.  You want content to be short, meaningful, and educational or informative, and absolutely entertaining.  And make sure every article you write can be tweeted, posted to Facebook, Google plus, Pinterest or other social networks you favour.

  • Leverage Facebook.  This means not only your Facebook friends, but their friends as well.  For affiliate marketers, most retailers you’ve partnered with run promotions.  Why not let your friends know about it by having them link back to your store?  And when you do, get them to sign up for your newsletter too.  That way, you’ll build a mailing list of people interested in the kinds of products you sell in your store.  You should also have a Facebook page for your store.
  • Go to where your customers are.  There are loads of internet forums where people that share common interests congregate.  Participate in online forums that allow you to mention your blog or your website and post meaningful, intelligent material.  People will gravitate towards you if they believe you know your stuff.  Make sure you know the rules though, some forums do not allow you to promote your site, others, like reddit (reddit.com) have no problem with you doing so.  Other sites you may be interested in exploring are Tumblr and StumbleUpon.  There are many more.  Promoting your site is a key factor in generating traffic.
     
  • Leverage Twitter - Twitter is a terrific way to engage your customers and you should be diligent about building a following.  Follow-backs from the “twittersphere” can be had by carefully determining who on twitter may want to know about your store.   These may include ordinary people of course, but also people in your industry.  You may wish to explore the sites like followerwonk.com where you can do research on influential players on twitter as well as find relevant keywords, profiles and bios.
  • Start a Newsletter – Newsletters don’t have to be big and fancy, they only need to have a little bit of information that may reference other sources on the web that make you valuable to your registrants.  Don’t be afraid to mention other posts or send traffic to other sites that are helpful to your customers.  For newsletter posts you write yourself, make sure they can be tweeted by your readers; this will help you to increase your following.
  • Submit your posts to Reddit.  Reddit is a source for what's new and popular on the web.  Users provide all content and vote on what’s good vs. not good (or garbage).  Links that receive community approval bubble up to the top.  Create something fresh and interesting and you should get increased traffic.
  • Leverage keywords – focus on targeted and relevant content to make sure you have a good chance of being found for the key words you think are appropriate.  Longer key words are advisable if you are in a popular niche.  For example, “Gucci oversize optyl sunglasses” vs. “Gucci sunglasses”.

This is by no means a comprehensive list.  There are many more ways to build traffic to your site than the ones listed here.  However, we recommend you start with the traffic you know best – i.e. create your own Facebook page, Twitter account or other social media presence and announce it on your personal social network pages.  And don’t be afraid to ask for help:  “Hi everyone, I’ve just launched my own online store selling awesome apparel – please check it out and please introduce everyone you know to it – I’d really appreciate it!”.  Make sure you promote your site in as many ways as possible, and use tracking tools such as google analytics to monitor traffic results.  Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be exploring more traffic strategies to help you build a strong traffic generating site.  So if you build it – they will come, but you’ve got make sure you’ve invited them, and when they do come, make it easy for them to stick around and to tell others how great a destination your store is.

The IncomeShops Team

September 2015