What are the Best Traffic Channels for eCommerce Stores? Lift Off Summit Knows!

Organisers of Lift Off Summit, Bob Dunn and Patrick RaulandHave you ever thought to yourself: Man, the internet is a big place! What does a store have to do to get noticed around here?

You started out with a passion and a burning desire to offer your talents to the world by selling brilliant products or services. You bought the perfect domain name, found a good host, set up your store, and you’ve started making sales. You thought that if you build it they will come, but the path to eCommerce superstardom seems to have a few twists. Suddenly you’re Googling how do I get traffic?, and just as suddenly, the room starts spinning.

If this sounds familiar, don’t despair! Help is at hand from a couple of legends of the eCommerce entrepreneurship world (and two good friends of Prospress). Bob Dunn and Patrick Rauland are putting together the Lift Off Summit to help new eCommerce entrepreneurs get their online store off the ground.

These two rockstars interviewed 20 leading eCommerce and marketing experts to get the inside scoop on traffic channels. The Summit goes live from June 19 – 23 2017, and will be totally free that week! Details on the schedule and how to purchase the recordings are available on the website.

I chatted with Patrick recently, and he offered some great insight into how to choose traffic channels for eCommerce stores. He even had some bonus subscription-store-specific advice for readers using Prospress’ flagship product WooCommerce Subscriptions.

Ali: What is a traffic channel?
Patrick: A traffic channel is anything that gets someone to your store. So it could be Facebook, it could be Google, or it can also be things like Kickstarter where you build awareness on this platform and then launch a site afterwards. It might even be a local Arts Festival where you have your goods on display and you give out business cards. Or maybe you have a product on Amazon or Etsy and then someone Googles your company name and visits your site. These are all examples of traffic channels for eCommerce stores.

Mobile phone next to scrabble pieces spelling "Social Media"

Ali: What are the big traffic channels most people would be aware of?
Patrick: There’s a ton. Each store can use totally different channels to succeed, but one of the biggest right now is Facebook marketing. Their ad platform is insanely customisable and you can target just the right people. Instagram is also huge, and Pinterest is like a visual search engine, so that’s important. YouTube is also great and is the second biggest search engine.

Ali: What are the traffic channels for eCommerce stores we might not have heard about?
Patrick: I think people forget about using local events, Kickstarter, wholesale, retail, and affiliates. There’s a ton of ways to get traction. And there isn’t one right option. As a new store owner you just have to take your best guess and then jump in.

Ali: Could you tell us what you mean by ‘affiliates’?
Patrick: Sure. Affiliate marketing is essentially when someone recommends a product and you give them a percentage of the sale. So if I love WooCommerce and I write tutorials about Subscriptions or other products and someone clicks through and buys that product I’ll get a cut.

Ali: After doing the interviews and research for this summit, what is the most under-appreciated traffic channel in your opinion?
Patrick: I think the most under-appreciated is Pinterest. But it’s a really powerful channel, as it’s where people plan anything visual. So if they’re moving, they might have a moving board, and they’ll pin images like couches, wall colours, plants, lights, coffee tables, etc. That’s so many products on a customer’s radar.

And when they’re using Pinterest like that, you want to make sure you’re turning up in that search engine. So I think that’s the one I underestimated the most.

Ali: Are there particular traffic channels that are better suited to subscription stores?
Patrick: All traffic channels will work for someone selling subscriptions. The neat thing about subscription stores is that you have a high customer lifetime value (LTV). That means you tend to make more off of each of your customers than a traditional store. So that means you can afford to spend a bit more acquiring customers.

I’d definitely look into Facebook and maybe using affiliates. If you can pay someone $5 once to get someone to spend $20 at your store every month that’s an easy decision.

Ali: Are there particular traffic channels that are better suited to particular kinds of subscription stores?
Patrick: Depending on how much your item costs, you may have to work harder to build more trust, and a few channels are really great for building trust. Content marketing is not only a way to bring customers to your store, but it can help them make purchase decisions, and it can also help them with the product once it’s arrived at their home. So that’s pretty great for getting people over the purchasing hurdle.

Another one is newsletter marketing. It’s similar to content marketing but you can do a bit more segmentation if you want.

Person looking at iPad and desktop display

Ali: What are the best traffic channels for eCommerce stores?
Patrick: I wouldn’t say there’s a best channel. They’re all really valuable.

But let’s say you do have a great product and a great message about your product. And people are buying your product. Then you can multiply your growth by paying for traffic. A few channels do that: Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

So once you know you have something awesome those channels can be really useful.

Ali: We know that customers are searching for different things in different places. So how can a store owner make sure they are in front of customers? What should they do on YouTube? What should they be doing on Pinterest?
Patrick: Well I don’t think you have to be everywhere in fact I think that’s how you can burn yourself out.

But it can be really useful to be in one or two of those places. If you have a complex product, YouTube might be great, because people can see how it works. For example, I just bought a fancy webcam and before purchase, I viewed a handful of unboxings and side by side comparisons. I couldn’t have gotten that on the store page so I went to YouTube to see how something worked.

If you have a simple and visually stunning product Pinterest might be great. And Google can be used by just about any business.

Ali: What do you think is the main factor holding people back in increasing the traffic to their stores?
Patrick: I think many store owners think that a product will market itself, and that does happen a little bit. Some products are truly viral. But 99 times out of 100 you have to help people understand the value of your product – and you have to find where those people are.

If people spent half as much time marketing their product as they did choosing their WordPress theme I think there would be a lot more successful stores.

Ali: If store owners follow the advice from this summit on how to get traffic, and suddenly get traffic to their store, what do they do? What’s the next step once you have visitors to your site?
Patrick: There are three pillars of eCommerce. Traffic, conversion rate, and average order value. If you increase any of those it will increase your revenue.

So once you find a traffic channel works for you keep reinvesting in that channel, and once you get a big enough audience start looking into the conversion rate on your site. That will just amplify everything else you’re doing.

An Instagram photo with a forest background

Ali: If you could give one piece of advice to folks with a subscription site, what would you say?
Patrick: I almost always recommend just getting started. You don’t have to memorise any stats from this summit. It’s a lot of information. Watch a few sessions. Take your best guess on a traffic channel and GO!

It might fail and that’s okay. Then try another one. We have 20 speakers so there’s plenty to try.

Conclusion

It’s no secret that we like to interview entrepreneurs at Propress, after all we have dedicated a whole blog to telling the stories of WooCommerce entrepreneurs (nominate to be interviewed by us here!). It’s inspiring and empowering to see people being resourceful, taking initiative, and implementing tools in imaginative ways to create a meaningful life for themselves. It’s inspiring because seeing what others are achieving can stretch where we think the limits of our abilities lie; and it’s empowering, because we know that if these entrepreneurs can be successful, so can we!

With 20 interviews about traffic channels for eCommerce stores, Lift Off is providing a whole bunch of tools to help you get noticed on the internet. I had a sneak peek into some of the content that will be available with the Summit, and it’s really looking good! Bob and Patrick are offering solid advice on how to smooth your path to eCommerce superstardom, by helping get your online store off the ground.

Check out the schedule, the speakers, and claim your free ticket here!

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