When you’re first starting out with an eCommerce site, your budget is severely limited. You want to promote your site and bring in the traffic that will help the endeavor grow, but you lack the funds to pay for high-priced advertising.
By 2021, global eCommerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion per year. With eCommerce exploding, now is the time to get set up to claim your piece of the pie. Here are eight simple ways to grow your eCommerce site on a shoestring.
1. Create a Unique Site
Your website is your digital storefront. Just as with a brick-and-mortar store, the display you provide in your window can draw in customers or drive them away. It’s important to create a clean, uncluttered look. Even if you can’t afford to hire a designer, you can study what other sites do well and imitate it for your own store.
Take a look at Northernism and how it creates a unique, uncluttered look to showcase its products in the best light. The slider serves as displays for its products, just as you’d see in a store window. This allows the consumer to picture what the item might look like in their home.
2. Create a Social Media Presence
It costs nothing to create a page for your business on most social media sites. Simply having a presence allows current customers to follow you and share what you have to offer with their family and friends. While you might not yet have a budget to hire a social media strategist, you can certainly post your own updates until your store takes off financially.
3. Use Quality Photos
If you aren’t already adding big, beautiful images to your eCommerce site, start now. Online content that features images get 94 percent more views than those without images. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is also true for product descriptions. Seeing an image in action allows the consumer to see size, color and other features they might not fully grasp in text.
Note how Wing Tactical features its products in a rotating slideshow. The images are big and sharp. You can easily take similar photos on your own to feature the products you wish to highlight for your site visitors.
4. Go Mobile Friendly
A growing number of people access the internet via mobile devices, with about 51 percent of their online time now spent on cellphones versus desktops. One simple thing you can do is make sure your website design is mobile responsive. If you’re hosting your store on a WordPress platform, you can even choose a theme that is mobile-first designed. This will ensure it loads at optimum speeds and appearance for mobile devices.
5. Run Specials
One way to attract new customers is to offer some type of incentive for buying from you. This could be free shipping for over a certain dollar amount or items that are seasonal at a percentage off. The key is to figure out who your typical site visitor is and personalize the specials for those people. A millennial shopper is going to be interested in different items than a baby boomer, for example.
The Practical Man takes the concept of offering specials and free shipping in order to entice new customers to make a purchase. It has a banner that rotates different featured items, but starts with whatever is currently on sale. It also offers free shipping on orders over $400 in Australian dollars. At the top of the page is a banner that allows the shopper to click on it to go directly to items that are 60 percent off. It offers several options to indicate what’s on sale.
6. Take Out Social Media Ads
Social media advertising fits into any budget. If you’re on a shoestring, you can create posts to entice people to visit your site and then boost them for $1 per day on Facebook, or whatever amount you’re comfortable with. Even if you only invest $1 a day, be sure the goal is to get them to your site. While not all of them will buy from you, a percentage will, and you’ll gain new customers from the effort.
7. Offer Free Shipping
Whether it’s because of Amazon’s Prime accounts or simply that people online want a deal, nine out of 10 consumers are more likely to buy from a site that offers free shipping. You also have an opportunity here to gather a few add-on sales. If your free shipping threshold is a $50 order, and the person has $42 worth of items in their basket, they are likely to add that additional $8 in goods in order to avoid paying for shipping. This is especially true when the shipping is as much as simply buying a few more items.
Note how Crate & Barrel encourages users to sign up and order at least $49. This accomplishes two things — it allows them to collect your information for future marketing and it ups the average order size. It uses some of the other techniques we’ve discussed as well, such as beautiful images and discount notes.
8. Get Your Employees Involved
Even if you only have a handful of employees right now, ask for their help in promoting your online store. Ask them to share a link to their favorite product on social media or tell family and friends about the store. After all, if your store grows, they benefit as well. Either they will receive promotions and raises or their jobs will be more secure. When your eCommerce store wins, the whole company wins.
Limited Budget Creativity
When you have a limited budget, you have to think outside the box and get truly creative with your advertising and promotional strategies. Even if you’re doing other work at the same time, devote at least 15 to 20 minutes every day to advertising your own site. You can do this for free via social media, sending out a newsletter, improving your website or reaching out to influencers in your industry. Time and effort allow most businesses to grow, so strategically spend your time working toward your brand goals.