How to Drive Traffic to Your Online Store: 10 Free and Paid Methods

How to Drive Traffic to Your Online Store: 10 Free and Paid Methods
Charlene Boutin
Charlene Boutin Mar 9, 2021 — 10 min read
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Here’s a simple truth – you can’t get sales if you don’t drive traffic to your online store.

Traffic is the lifeblood of any store. Even brick and mortar stores rely on foot traffic to make sales. It’s the same thing online.

Here’s how you can drive traffic to your online store, whether you have money for marketing or are still bootstrapping on a budget.


Is it possible to drive traffic without ads?

Ecommerce is still growing fast, and it currently accounts for 14.1% of all retail sales worldwide, including brick and mortar.

That means there’s a lot of competition, but it also means there is a lot of demand to purchase products online.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a competitive edge even if you don’t have the same marketing budget as your competitors.

As a matter of fact, you can drive traffic to your site without paying for ads.

Don’t get me wrong – ads are an amazing way to drive traffic. However, they’re also an easy way to throw money at a problem without actually increasing sales.

Before we get into paid traffic methods, let’s tackle some more budget-friendly ways to drive traffic.

1. Pinterest marketing

Pinterest acts more like a search engine than a social media platform – and the people searching on this platform are people with a lot of spending power!

The majority of Pinterest users make 75k or more per year. Since Pinterest users have disposable income, this platform is a great place to showcase your products and use pins to drive traffic right back to your site.

First off, make sure you join relevant group boards. Group boards have several contributors who can add pins to them, which means that you can leverage other users’ followers and traffic sources to get more eyeballs on your own pins.

Before you join a board, just be sure to do your research on that board’s rules. For instance, some boards need you to contribute a certain minimum number of pins per week.

You can also create your own boards on your own profile. Each board should have at least ten pins, but be sure to pin consistently on each board to keep driving traffic to them.

For each board – and each pin – use relevant keywords in your descriptions that your audience might be searching for.

Here’s an example. If I search for ‘workout attire’, which was a suggested word when I used the search bar, these pins come up.

Workout attire brands use Pinterest to drive traffic to their stores

They wouldn’t show up if the creators of these pins hadn’t tagged them with the right keyword.

That’s why you should create a detailed keyword plan if you want to make the most of organic traffic. Choosing the right keywords can make all the difference.

When you choose what to pin, don’t just pin your own products and content pieces. Make sure you pin content from other sources as well. As long as the content is relevant to the board you’re pinning it to, you’re good to go.

2. Instagram marketing

Instagram is a powerful social media platform for ecommerce brands.

That is especially true considering the new Shopping tab that was added this year.

Now Instagram users can specifically shop for products on Instagram.

We have an entire post on how to sell your products on Instagram, but if your goal is mainly to drive traffic to your store, here are some tips to optimize the platform to your advantage.

First off, your profile is the only point of contact where people can click on your site. Users who have fewer than 10k followers can’t add links to their Stories, so if you’re a new brand, you only have one link allowed in your profile.

An optimized profile should have the following:

  • Relevant keywords to help you show up in search results
  • A healthy amount of relevant emojis
  • One link and a call to action

Take a look at Pure Nonscents’ profile below. They’re using relevant keywords, have a simple call to action, and aren’t exaggerating on the emojis, either.

Pure Nonscents employed an Instagram marketing strategy to grow their brand

Once you have an optimized profile, you should start posting consistently. There’s no shortcut for this step – organic traffic can only be reached with quality content!

If you’re not sure what to post about, here are some ideas:

  • 💡 Educate your audience on ways to use your products
  • 💡 Post crowdsourced content — like real customers using your products
  • 💡 Call your followers to action to read a blog post on your site
  • 💡 Educate your target audience on something that solves their problems
  • 💡 And, of course, showcase your products and promotions

Let’s look at what Pure Nonscents is doing with their content. Not only do they post about their products and promotions, but they also create blog posts and remind their followers to check it out:

By placing educational content on Instagram, Pure Nonscents drive traffic to their store

Remember to place a call to action in each post and respond to all comments you get.

3. Content marketing

I mentioned blog posts when discussing Instagram, so let’s dive a bit deeper into this.

Content marketing is a powerful way to drive traffic to your online store. It involves creating quality content to cultivate trust, build brand awareness, and establish your brand as an authority in the topic.

If you take up the role of educator as well as seller, not only will you drive traffic to your site, but you will also be more likely to convert that traffic into sales down the line! 40% of marketers say that content marketing is an important part of their marketing strategy.

Content marketing in itself is a huge topic, but here’s what you should know.

Many customers are looking for more than a product: they want advice and education to help them solve an issue they have.

In some cases, a product can help them solve their pain, but they will be more inclined to pick your product if you solve the first step of their problem using quality content.

Research keywords that are relevant to your products and create blog posts about them. If you’ve done this step already when researching your Pinterest strategy – awesome.

Want to see this in action? Medela, a popular brand of breast pumps and other baby products, has established itself as not just a product brand, but an entire educational brand for new parents.

Their website is so much more than a store. They create tons of quality content to drive traffic and help their visitors find answers.

Medela creates tons of quality content for new moms to drive traffic to their store and establish brand authority

For instance, if a new mom searched ‘how to pump breast milk’, they rank second. And for context, the website ranking first is a blog, not an ecommerce site, so they only create content. In this context, it makes sense that Medela ranks second and not first.

The content marketing strategy helps Medela rank organically for targeted keywords in search engines

That doesn’t mean you can’t outrank blog sites, however. If your content is high quality, provides answers to questions your potential customers have, and rich in other types of content – like videos and images – you can still rank for relevant keywords.

4. Optimize your store for SEO and keywords

Your keyword research is getting more bang for its buck here. Your ecommerce site should definitely be optimized for the right keywords. These are the same keywords you’re creating content and Pinterest pins for!

This means making sure your images, product descriptions, and alt tags are using the proper keywords. But there are other technical aspects of SEO that you may need to fix on your site.

You can get an SEO plugin like Plug in SEO to help you figure out what’s missing in your current SEO optimization.

5. Get active on Reddit

Reddit is a great resource for online store owners when it comes to driving traffic. Why? Because there are highly niched down forums for almost any topic!

Here’s an example. If you sell electronics, you can start showing up on r/gadgets or r/consumerelectronics.

Consumer electronics brands become active on Reddit for in-depth marketing research and occasional content sharing

Post and ask questions to understand your audience and what they deal with. This will give you good content ideas for social media and your blog.

You can also offer advice and answer other people’s questions, too.

6. Get recurring traffic by leveraging existing customers

Existing customers are your best source of traffic because they are already spending money on your store.

So it makes sense to spend some of your resources on driving them back on your site.

For instance, you can ask for referrals in exchange for promotions or coupons.

Additionally, you can invite your visitors to join your newsletter and build an email list.

RW&Co uses an embedded email subscription form to turn store visitors into subscribers

You can grow your list by:

  • Adding popups with promotions in exchange for email addresses
  • Implementing exit-intent popups when visitors leave your site
  • Creating static opt-in forms like the one shown above
  • And so much more

For popups, you can try one of the Getsitecontrol templates. This no-code app makes it easy to create opt-in forms and display them in any way you’d like on your site.

For example, this is a popup you can display after a visitor spends a few seconds on your website or right before they leave 👇

Notice that this template includes a discount. Offering a discount is the best way to convert your store visitors into subscribers and get a chance to email them your special offers later.

Pay to play – how to drive traffic to your online store using paid methods

Now that we’ve discussed some of the best ways to drive traffic without an ads budget, what should you do if you have some money to spend on ads?

If you’ve already covered the above steps, you’ll have great data to play with in order to make your paid traffic ventures more successful.

1. Use your keyword research and launch a PPC campaign

By now you should already be aware of what keywords you should be optimizing for. Guess what! You can use these keywords to redirect paid traffic to your online store, too.

A PPC (pay-per-click) campaign, like Google Adwords, can help you show up at the top of search results without having to rank for them.

If you don’t know which keywords you should pay for – because you’ll have more than one keyword for your store, and you may not be able to afford to boost all of them – choose the ones that are on an upward trend right now.

For example, RW&Co is a women’s clothing store, but right now loungewear is a popular trend. So they are paying to show up for this keyword!

RW&Co bids on trending keywords in their niche to drive traffic to their online store

Just make sure that the page you redirect your traffic to fits the search intent of the user. It wouldn’t make sense to direct users who search for educational content – such as ‘how to look good in loungewear’ – to a products page, when they are looking for a video or blog post instead.

2. Use Facebook and Instagram ads

Unlike Google Adwords, Facebook and Instagram ads don’t show up based on search results. They will show up on users’ feeds based on demographics and behaviors.

They are effective ways to drive traffic to your store, but can also be a huge waste of money when not done correctly.

Here are a few tips to help you succeed:

  • Implement a Facebook pixel on every page of your online store so that you can collect data
  • Don’t just set your ads and forget them – test out different variations of ad copy and images to see which ones get you the best conversion rates and cheapest cost per sale
  • Give people a reason to click on your ad, like special sales and promotions (and don’t be afraid to test out different promotions to see what your audience responds to)
  • Use lookalike audiences – audiences that have similar behaviors and demographics to your current paying customers

Here’s a final tip. Create a targeted landing page – don’t just drive people to your home page or a page with all your products.

Revive Superfoods did this during their Black Friday sale.

Revive Superfoods relies on paid ads and special deals to drive traffic to their online store

Instead of driving traffic to their home page or a list of products, they created a landing page specifically for this ad campaign.

Revive Superfoods drives new visitors to landing pages instead of the home page

3. Use influencer marketing

Influential users on Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms can help you drive traffic to your store and generate more sales.

But don’t just throw money at any influencer and hope for results! You’ll need to do your research on any influencer before you reach out to them.

Additionally, the right influencer needs to have an active presence on a platform that your ideal customer uses.

They also need to be creating content that is relevant to the product you want to sell.

For example, Raycon, an earbud brand, reaches out to several influencers on Youtube who may have audiences with an interest in music or tech.

Raycon partners with relevant YouTube influencers to spread the word about their brand

It wouldn’t make sense for activewear brands to reach out to this influencer, because he creates true crime videos. Nor would it make sense for Raycon to reach out to mommy bloggers, because new moms watching mommy bloggers probably aren’t using earbuds so that they can hear their babies properly.

When you choose an influencer, start off with a small collaboration first to test out the waters.

If you get a surge of traffic, but no sales, this may not be the right audience for you.

4. Use Promoted Pins on Pinterest

If you’re already using Pinterest in your free traffic sources, you can upgrade your technique by using Paid Pins.

You can use the keywords that you already know work well on this platform based on your organic strategies – if you’ve used organic Pinterest before.

The same goes for which audiences you want to target. You should only pay for audiences that actively engage with your pins.

When you create promoted pins, make sure to check in with your ads often and adjust as necessary based on the results you get. Remember that not all traffic is created equal. Some traffic may click on your store, but never purchase anything.

The best ways to drive traffic to your ecommerce store

By combining a variety of methods, you can drive traffic to make more sales with your ecommerce store, no matter what your marketing budget looks like.

But traffic is only part of the story. Retain that traffic by turning visitors into email subscribers and paying customers once they land on your site. Getsitecontrol’s email subscription popups for ecommerce are perfect for this purpose, and you can use them without any technical skills. Get started for free today.

Charlene Boutin is a B2B writer for hire specialized in creating compelling case studies, blog posts, and converting copy for digital entrepreneurs and SaaS businesses. When not writing, she can be found prototyping weird games in Unity or playing on her Nintendo Switch.

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