Promote your online store without spending a dime

The best things in life are free

You’ve finally done it — uploaded all the gotta-buy-me photos, written the compelling descriptions, organized your products into SEO-friendly categories, and set up your payment, tax and shipping options. You tick off the checked boxes on the to do-list in your head one last time, take a deep breath, and click “Publish.” Your web store is live — and you can’t wait for those online shopping carts to start filling up with whatever awesomeness you’ve got to offer.

There’s no doubt the online shoppers are out there. Worldwide, e-commerce sales totaled a whopping $1.2 trillion in 2013, with U.S. mobile sales amounting to more than $38 billion. You just need to capture a slice of that e-commerce pie — the online shoppers who fit your target demographic. Pet owners in Portland? Quilters in Quebec? Beaded jewelry lovers the world over?

Before you look into placing online ads or peppering cars at your local Wal-Mart with flyers, try these five free ways to drive high-quality traffic to your online store.

Start with social media

You’re going to check your Facebook feed at least once today anyway, right? So is everybody else. The popularity of social media doesn’t show any signs of waning, so it’s a smart move to promote your online store using the social sites that your potential customers hang out on.

Social Media PromotionCreate a Facebook page for your online store. Invite your circle of Facebook friends to share and like your page. Start posting relevant and interesting (i.e. sharable) content that encourages viewers to check out your web store. If you’ve got a GoDaddy Online Store, it’s easy to connect it to your Facebook page.

Start tweeting about your store. Reach out to the tweeps who already follow you and attract new followers by offering exclusive discounts and special deals — in 140 characters or less, of course. If using Twitter for business makes you shudder, you might want to read this post.

Facebook PromotionInteresting side note: As Seth Fiegerman recently reported in Mashable, social media giants Facebook and Twitter are looking to make it easy to purchase directly from their respective platforms. Facebook’s been testing a feature that enables mobile and desktop users to click a “buy” button on business pages and ads. Likewise, Twitter’s been testing a “buy button” that lets people make purchases directly from tweets. Whether Facebook and Twitter eventually will charge for these e-commerce perks remains to be seen.

Set up a Google+ business page. A business profile on Google+ will help your business perform better on other Google products, like search and maps. You can use your G+ page to post info about your products and services and interact with your customers. Plus, you can connect with your customers and prospects in real-time using tools like Google+ Hangouts. Creating a Google+ profile is easier than you think, honestly.

Get visual on Pinterest and Instagram. Post photos and videos of your products in action. Grab some shots of your business behind-the-scenes. Check out this post to learn more about using Pinterest to find and engage with customers.

Include social media follow buttons on your web store. PROMINENTLY. You want to make it easy for visitors to like and share your site and your products. And don’t miss the opportunity to drive traffic to your online store by including your website address in your social posts.

Get on the maps

How many times have you typed “nearest pizza shop” into your phone and watched a handy map with pizza joint pins “magically” appear? You want your business to show up on that map when customers are looking for the products or services you offer. With many of your customers on-the-go, showing up on map services online is incredibly important for your business. Learn about a few popular online map tools in this post.

Offer a mobile coupon

“Humans are wired to love discounts and deals. Why not deliver them on the smartphone?” Neil Patel, chief evangelist of Kissmetrics

A Key Ring study found that more than 75 percent of mobile shoppers redeemed a coupon from their mobile device in 2013. That means you can attract the attention of bargain-savvy shoppers who use a smartphone or tablet by offering them an easy-to-redeem mobile discount.

Reach out to reviewers

Whether you sell cosmetics, cupcakes, dog collars or dresses, there is someone online who writes reviews about those products. It can’t hurt to reach out to see if a reputable blogger or reviewer in your industry is interested in a sample. Even if they choose not to write a review, let them know you’d appreciate their professional feedback.

And don’t forget about your happy customers. Their positive reviews exert a strong influence on other shoppers. Ask them to give you testimonials and to take a few minutes to rate your products (a built-in feature of GoDaddy Online Store).

Keep doing what you’re (probably) already doing

There’s a good chance you’ve been selling your stuff through online marketplaces like Etsy, eBay and Amazon. That’s great. Keep doing it. The more places you put your products in front of prospective buyers, the better. Just include a prominent link back to your primary online store. Having your own site builds credibility with customers. It shows them that you’re open for business and know what you’re doing and it gives interested shoppers a direct route to the place that you call home.

Image by: takomabibelot via Compfight cc

Andrea Rowland
A former small business owner and newspaper journalist, and a published nonfiction author, Andrea Rowland helps craft compelling communications for small businesses and web pros through her work as managing editor of the GoDaddy Garage. When she's not writing or editing, she likes to experiment with baking, travel, read, and dip her toes in the ocean.