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How to Promote Your Online Store

Launching an online store is an occasion worth celebrating. Since successful businesses require strong digital brand identities, publishing your ecommerce website to the public is often the culmination of weeks — or months — of careful consideration and hard work.

To ensure the launch gets your online store the attention it deserves, promoting your products becomes tantamount. While elements like a professional-looking website certainly encourage potential customers to buy once they visit your site, first they need to discover you. 

Promoting your business is a great way to connect with  your customers. When they’re actively searching for a product like yours, making your online store easy to find is a secondary service you’re providing. 

Whether you’re interested in unpaid or paid promotions, take a look at the fundamentals of how to market your online store, and start selling effectively to the customers who need you most. 

Unpaid vs. paid promotions

Unpaid and paid promotions are two sides of the same coin. While they have their fundamental differences, both avenues help you reach potential customers and meet revenue goals by driving new traffic to your site. The core difference between the two structures is pricing — but that’s not the full picture.

Unpaid (or “organic”) marketing refers to the promotional tools you can utilize that don’t require ongoing investments to be consistently effective. They work partly by leveraging the audience you already have, then amplifying your reach through word-of-mouth and search engines. An example of this is sharing your new product in your social media stories to your existing followers. When people are already looking for you, a great unpaid marketing strategy ensures you’re found

On the other hand, paid promotions center on advertising that often has continuing costs, and ending your investment typically means ending the promotion. Pay-per-click advertising is an example — you only pay if someone clicks on the ad. Many brands choose this route since it brings product awareness to people who haven’t yet realized their need for it.

Both approaches to promoting your online store will gain traction, but it’s best to start by optimizing all of your unpaid marketing opportunities before supplementing with paid ads. There’s value to each strategy, but always start with the lowest-cost improvements for your business, and work your way up. 

Either way, make sure you use web traffic analytics tools along the way. For example, Squarespace’s built-in analytics show you where your website traffic is coming from, what your visitors are looking for, and how they’re interacting with the products in your online store. Once you have this concrete data on which of your efforts work best for your ecommerce store, you can pivot your promotional strategy over time.

Unpaid promotions and organic marketing

Often the most effective solutions are the simplest ones. This is certainly the case when it comes to boosting the organic traffic to your online store. Ultimately, a strong unpaid marketing approach centers on utilizing your presence on free platforms, or platforms you’ve already paid for, starting with your website and expanding outwards. Optimizing your website first doesn’t just drive organic traffic — it also ensures that you feel proud of your online store as new customers find you. 

Optimize your website’s SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, or how easy it is for search engines to find your site when someone is looking for a store like yours. The easier it is for the search engine to find your website, the further up on the search results page you’ll be listed. For example, when a business ranks as the number one search result in their niche, this is a sure sign they’re using SEO optimization to their full advantage.

From sitemap indexing to SSL security, read through the full guide on how to optimize your site for SEO

Begin blogging

There’s a reason blogging has been such a longstanding marketing tactic for small business owners — it works. Writing articles for your own website reaches audiences in a few different ways. 

Sharing your expertise:

  • Establishes your authority in your industry

  • Provides additional value to shoppers

  • Creates another piece of content your audience will want to share

  • Provides more language that helps search engines find you

For example, an online soap boutique might blog about the top five ingredients that the best soaps contain. This post would:

  • Communicate the boutique’s knowledge about soap-making and skin health

  • Show their commitment to sourcing high-quality ingredients

  • Educate their customers on soap buying best practices

  • Encourage readers to share with their beauty-minded friends

  • Make it easier for search engines to show on their results page

It’s a five-pronged approach to unpaid marketing that creates lasting ripples, and it’s not unheard of for companies to get new customers from blog posts originally published months or years ago. 

Build an email list

Email campaigns are one of the most high-converting marketing avenues available to small businesses, with no discernable downsides. Beyond starting conversations with your audience directly in their inboxes, growing your list of subscribers creates an audience that you can reach as long as you have an email address. While social media is also a vital way to build awareness of your brand, changes in algorithms and functionality that are out of your control may impact how you reach customers. Email lists give you the agency to connect with — and keep — your list of engaged customers.

To start growing your list, give readers a reason to sign up. Whether you want to provide a small discount code for your newest product, share a downloadable free gift guide, or send them exclusive invites to pop-up workshops that showcase your products, incentivize your audience to subscribe.

Just make sure you’re sending emails to your list from a dedicated professional email address. Customers and spam sensors alike will feel more trusting.

Grow your social media

Depending on your industry and ideal audience, different social channels may work better than others for promoting your products. For example, a ceramics studio could benefit from a visual platform that lets them showcase videos of their artistic process, and each ceramic piece being made. Contrastingly, a t-shirt company could see returns from typing out their short, quippy t-shirt text, and publishing on a strictly text-based platform.

Choose to focus on the channel where you currently have the largest audience to leverage, and work outwards to other platforms as you feel the need.  It’s not necessary to be everywhere at once. Instead, focus on developing strong momentum behind one or two social presences.

Regardless of which platform fits best, make sure to link directly to your ecommerce store in your profiles, so any new customers can easily click and purchase.  

Partner with others

Networking will never go out of fashion, because camaraderie between companies is beneficial to both sides. Beyond mutual respect, kindness, and encouragement, forging great relationships with other entrepreneurs is one of the best ways to gain awareness around your brand.

Developing a strong relationship with other entrepreneurs lays the groundwork for future partnerships. These partnerships are professional cross-promotions of each other’s companies across platforms, exponentially increasing your potential reach. For example, a business that sells lipsticks may pitch a partnership with a local photographer. The lipstick company would provide the makeup and a model, while the photographer would take headshots. Both business owners would post the images on their accounts, tagging the other as a contributor.

Unpaid partnerships tend to be less centered on overt product placements and advertisements, and more focused on mutual support between business owners. Since this is the case, start the potential partnership conversation by emphasizing how you can help them in return — they’re more likely to sign on when they’re aware of the benefits.

Like with any partnership, consider how their vision, mission, and values align with those of your brand. Since your name will be tied to theirs, ensure it’s a public-facing relationship that fits with your business.

Paid promotions & marketing

Paid promotions complement unpaid marketing by reaching people who have little-to-no awareness about your product or online shop. Pulling from algorithms and set keywords, paid advertising systematically reaches your ideal audience — as long as you’re choosing to continue investing in the ad costs.

Explore social media advertising

The right social media platform for your business depends on the sort of content you’re creating, and where your audience engages. The same is true of running paid social media ads. Promoting on the platform where you have the strongest presence can funnel missed sales into another opportunity for engagement. 

For example, if a jewelry shop runs an ad for their best-selling necklace on their most popular social channel, viewers can click the photo and buy the necklace from their ecommerce store. However, even if they aren’t ready to purchase, viewers can still engage with the jewelry shop by liking, commenting, or following the account. 

Try pay-per-click advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is driven by advertisements that charge you by the number of times people click on it. Unlike social media advertising and its indirect promotional benefits, the main goal of PPC ads are to drive traffic directly to your website’s domain.

Search engine results are a great example of PPC marketing. The short, text-based advertisements at the very top of the search page are PPC ads that charge the company each time someone visits their site through that link. Even though they require ongoing investment, PPCs put your website results among the first, encouraging new customers to visit your online store. 

Utilize influencer marketing

Consumers have long looked to celebrities and social influencers for advice on which products to purchase. However, the invention of the color television solidified entertainers and creators as trusted celebrity endorsers — a facet of marketing still prevalent today.

While it can be difficult to connect with “celebrities,” social media influencers are often more approachable candidates for paid partnerships. Many still have expansive audiences and powerful platforms, plus openly invite paid advertisers to contribute to their content.

Unlike an unpaid partnership, your business benefits from their promotion, while the influencer benefits from your monetary investment. Both parties still see returns from the engagement, they just look different than before.

Many influencers list their business contact email for advertising or media requests in  their social media bios. Sending a direct message straight to the influencer may mean your proposal gets overlooked in a busy inbox, so it’s recommended to use their listed outreach email. These email addresses are often managed by a dedicated manager who can answer any questions, and get you started with an advertising partnership.

Next steps

There are many moving parts to successfully marketing your online store, and Squarespace is here to help you lock them into place, piece by piece. From professional ecommerce templates to built-in SEO optimization and email campaigns, Squarespace is the all-in-one-platform that empowers you to promote your business. 

Ready to streamline operations and amplify your reach?

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