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6 Ecommerce Traffic Alternatives to SEO

Visitors are the lifeblood of your store, this goes without saying. Without them you will have no orders and no cash in the bank, full stop.

Although it might seem otherwise, getting customers to your site isn’t an easy task though. Naturally you could believe in a myth saying that all you need to do is “do some SEO” and you are sorted but nothing is further from the truth.

Leaving the fact that SEO usually takes a lot of time to bring any effect (especially for a new site), with all the constant changes Google makes to their algorithm this particular traffic source is becoming less and less reliable.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not discounting SEO by all means. The point I am trying to make is that in this day and age, to ensure a continuous success of your store, you should diversify traffic sources to your site. Even if only so that once Google decides to change their algorithm again and you find your site dropping in rankings for one reason or another, you won’t lose your most valuable assets, visitors.

In this post I want to highlight some traffic alternatives to SEO you should focus on for your store. Before we do that though, there is one thing we need to talk about.

The Difference Between Traffic vs. Converting Traffic

Even though I stated otherwise just few lines above, it is actually quite easy to get large numbers of visitors to a site (note that I said visitors not customers like a few paragraphs above).

  • You could submit your posts to social bookmarking sites like Digg and receive an instant (although very short lived) boost of traffic
  • You could leave a heavily intriguing comment on a highly visited blog
  • You could target the most popular forum in your industry and try to post up a link in a highly popular thread (although, doing so could probably quickly deem you as spammer)

All these would take minutes to start bringing visitors to your site, often in great multitude. However, does this traffic hold any chance of converting?

Most likely no.

People coming from those sources are not looking for what you sell. Most likely you have intrigued them with the subject of your post (or caught them at a time when they were genuinely bored and were looking for something interesting to read) and lured them to your site. But by all means, you didn’t bring any potential customers to your store.

Needless to say, focusing on such traffic is a waste of time.

What you should focus on instead is a traffic that has a potential to convert.

That’s the traffic that brings people looking exactly for what you are selling to your site. It is naturally more difficult to build it up and it takes much longer. However, once done it can drive a substantial amount of sales from the store.

6 Ecommerce Traffic Alternatives to SEO

1. Email Marketing

According to 2012 SEEWhy report, email is undoubtedly the most converting traffic source of all. The report shows that traffic to the checkout from email converted at a staggering 67%.

But email marketing is not just a newsletter you sent out. There more types of messages you can send to your customers and prospects to increase your sales. For more info on that check out my previous post on Ecommerceinsiders.com

Pros: A highly converting traffic, also an ideal way to build loyal customers.

Cons: It takes large amounts of work to build up a list and send emails (although, a lot of that can actually be automated).

2. Your Brand

Your brand is your online shops’ greatest asset. And, unlike a common perception, by a brand I don’t mean your logo or a tagline.

A brand is much more, it is everything your customers associate with your company. It is the experience of buying from you, the delivery, the quality of products and much more.

How does this affect your traffic? First and foremost, a brand creates a point of differentiation between you and other businesses. It also helps to build up a word of mouth marketing, meaning that customers might actually become your business’ evangelists (which in turn can drive highly targeted traffic to your site, what in turn means one thing only … more conversions).

Pros: Creates a point of differentiation between your site and your competition. Also, helps with building a word of mouth.

Cons: Absolutely none, nada, nilch!

3. Direct Traffic

Direct traffic is probably the best traffic source you can get. If people are coming to your site by typing the URL into their browser window, it can only mean that:

  • they know about you
  • they are hugely interested in your store
  • they want something from you

Direct traffic is often a result of your branding efforts but not only. Direct traffic often comes from assist from other traffic sources.

Once you start getting direct visitors to the site, you will notice one important thing about it: it converts like mad!

4. Guest Posting That Can Drive Traffic

Writing guest posts is often perceived as the most effective SEO technique to build links. And, that’s absolutely true.

However, there is one more thing you can gain through guest blogging, traffic. Guest posting can also offer a great traffic potential.

How? By posting extremely useful and high quality content on authoritative websites in your industry, you can drive targeted traffic to your site.

Pros: Potential to drive targeted traffic to the site but also build your image as an expert in your field.

Cons: Takes large amounts of work. Also requires more than expert knowledge about your products to write interesting posts. Oh, and some writing skill comes useful too.

5. Paid Search

Paying for traffic might not be the best way to gain new visitors. Having said that, paid search offers the opportunity to drive highly targeted traffic to your site almost instantly, a traffic that even if doesn’t convert straight away, at least gets accustomed with your site. And, quite often visitors that first visited your site through paid search come back later on through direct traffic, often to finally make a purchase.

Pros: Opportunity to drive targeted traffic instantly.

Cons: Cost.

6. Social Media

To be honest, social media is probably the worst converting traffic to an ecommerce site. At first I didn’t even wanted to include it on the list. However, social media offers some opportunity to increase your brand awareness and drive some unusual traffic to the site.

Social media is part of a typical marketing mix today. Most businesses employ this channel in one way or another to promote themselves and build a loyal following.

Depending on the industry you are in, social media could help you get more people to stay constantly in touch with your store (Facebook pages are quite ideal for that) or to spread the info on your business through unusual means (posting images to Pinterest).

Most of this won’t result in any sales but as said, it can offer some brand building opportunities. And for that reason alone, it is a traffic source that should not be overlooked.

Pros: Good branding opportunity.

Cons: Time involvement with very little tangible return.

Over to You

How about you? What traffic sources, other than SEO are you focusing on in your store? Share your insights with us in the comments.

Pawel Grabowski

Pawel Grabowski is a copywriter helping SaaS and software companies utilize great copy to boost their growth.

Find out more about Pawel at smashingcopy.com and connect with him on Linkedin.

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