An In-Depth Guide to Exploding Your Business Online Presence
I totally get it. The frustration.
I’ve been there. I know countless others are there right now.
I frequently read Community Forums about online success. Guess what? They’re all asking the same question!
“How the heck do I build my to my business online?”
Check out this list of subject lines small business owners are asking on these forums right now:
“I spent $200 on ads, no sales. Help!”
“At a standstill, not a single sale after so much effort.”
“HELP! Over $250,000 invested… I need to make this work!”
“Don’t know what else to do. Trying everything and no sales.”
“Going bananas… 20K+ engagement numbers with no sales, help!”
And the list goes on and on and on.
These are real questions being asked by real people who are small business owners -and they’re all frustrated!
Is this you? Are you frustrated?
Have you spent countless hours trying to get people to buy your products and they just don’t convert?
Have you spent a ton of money only to see your return on investment come back next to nothing?
In this blog post I want to show you exactly what you can do to bring quality online traffic to your website and how to get that traffic to buy your products, whether online or in-store.
The best part is, you can implement these methods at little to no cost.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Is this really going to work?”
The answer is, “YES!”
After working with over 40 brands (including multi-million dollar companies) across 250 different professional projects, I know the tactics in this post will work for you, as they’ve worked for my previous clients. They really work! If you do them you can see your online traffic explode and sales coming!
Here’s how this post will be formatted.
With each tactic I explain in-depth why they’re important. At the end of each tactic I also include actionable steps for you to take so that you know exactly what to do and how to move forward.
The first 3 tactics lay the foundation on things you must do before sending traffic to your website. You want to make sure your website is ready to turn visitors into customers.
The 4th tactic discusses how to get qualified, highly targeted traffic to your store for little to no cost.
Finally, in the 5th tactic we’ll discuss how to convert your website traffic into happy customers using proven tweaks and optimizations.
Ready to learn?
Tactic 1: Tap into the Power of a Story
This is square one.
Your story is the most fundamental element of your small business and brand.
It’s how strangers come to trust you. It’s how visitors come to care about your services and products.
Before you drive any traffic to your store you need to have a story!
You need to answer these questions:
“Why am I selling these products?
What’s the purpose behind our services?
What’s my mission?
What’s my passion for my business?”
Remember this: You must tell your story before you can sell your products.
In short, “Tell before you Sell.”
When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” -Howard Shults, CEO of Starbucks
What Howard said above is exactly what you’re looking for: a common purpose with your customers.
People need a purpose or a reason to buy from you. People want to know why they are buying your products and why it’s valuable to them.
I’ve heard it said,
“People don’t buy products. They buy better versions of themselves.”
If your brand or product does not inspire people to become better, you’re missing the market.
What can you do about it? Take these 7 steps.
1) Write a 3 to 5 sentence mission statement about your brand and products as soon as possible.
2) Make your mission statement clear and as simple as possible to read. Forget the poetry and the fancy -people don’t care how good of a writer you are. They want simple information.
For instance, instead of saying something like, “We offer intricately and professionally designed apparel for the the modern and fashionable outdoorsman”, instead say, “We sell designer clothes to people who love the outdoors.”
See how much easier that was to digest? Consumers eat up simple, understandable content.
3) Put your mission statement on the front page of your website somewhere at the top, so visitors can see it before exploring your products. Also put it on your business cards, in your brick and mortar store, and any where else people can see it. 4) On your website, include a call to action button after your mission statement to “read more” where they are taken to read your full story.
5) Which means you need to write a full story about your business. The longer your story is, the better. Engage them with the value of your products and why you’re selling to them. Show excitement. Be convincing. Use decent imagery to help your story be engaging.
6) On your website, include multiple links in your story to explore your products. Sometimes your visitors might come to trust you after the first paragraph. Give them the ability to start exploring with a link in the case they get bored and exit.
7) Make sure you link to your full story in your main navigation. You can call it “Our Story” or “About Us”, or something like that. Do not put it only in the footer where it’s hard to find. Put it right out in front so no matter where visitors may come first they have an opportunity to know what you’re all about.
Once on a company’s homepage, 52% of visitors want to see “about us” information. (KoMarketing)
By taking these 7 actionable steps you can immediately start building trust with your visitors.
From personal experience, I cannot tell you how exciting it is to have people believe in your brand.
After helping one of my clients write a powerful story for their brand, they now get anywhere from 1 to 3 emails every week from individuals requesting just to be a part of the brand somehow.
When you know people don’t just want to buy your stuff , but also believe in your brand to the point that they’re willing to represent it -you know you’re telling your story the right way.
You can have this for your business. It all starts with telling your story!
Tactic 2: Make a Funnel, Not a Website
You need to start thinking of your website as less of a hierarchy of pages, and more of a funnel that moves your site traffic from point A to point B.
Have you ever tried to put oil in your car without a funnel? It’s messy, and most of the time it doesn’t work well.
Using a funnel is a much better way, right? Why? Simple. Because it ensures you can get all of that oil from the bottle into your engine.
Now imagine if that funnel were to have a lot of holes in it.
Oil would be exiting from all different directions and you wouldn’t get all of that oil into the engine. Plus you’d have a mess to clean up.
A good funnel directs all of the oil from point A to point B.
It’s no different with a website.
Your website is the funnel, and your site traffic is the oil.
Your goal is to build your website like a funnel so all of your site traffic can move effortlessly from point A to point B.
Point A is usually your front page or something like a popular blog post.
Point B is your product or lead page -where site visitors have an opportunity to purchase your product or learn more about your brands and services.
Your goal is to make sure all of your traffic is always moving down the funnel so that no matter where they jump in they are being moved toward your products page to purchase or buy into your brand mission.
Remember this: Website visitors are lazy!
They don’t want to guess. They don’t want to feel lost. They don’t want to figure it out.
As soon as they feel this way, they’re gone! They want to be led by the hand and told what to do.
About two years ago I worked with a goat milk soap company that was experiencing extraordinarily high exits and bounce rates on their website. They had a ton of great content and a super compelling story BUT their site was not setup like a funnel.
It was just a series of pages and you could explore that website for hours it seems without ever being directed to a product page.
So I audited their site, implemented a funnel and patched up all the holes. Their bounce rate dropped significantly and most of their exit pages weren’t even exit pages anymore.
Currently, their business has quadrupled over the last 2 years and they’re now the nation’s leading goat milk soap company.
Here’s exactly what you need to do in 9 steps:
1) Write down all of your website pages. You can group similar pages together, like your collection pages or your product pages.
2) Get a piece of paper and draw a funnel.
3) Divide that funnel into three sections from top to bottom.
4) Write down your landing pages in the top section. Then write down your product pages in the third section. All other pages you’ll put in the middle. This is your sales funnel.
5) For each page or page group, determine where your visitors are supposed to go next. Where visitors go next should always be down the funnel, or at least in the same section of the funnel. They should never be going up!
6) Go through each page on your website and make sure there is a clear call to action that leads your site visitors to the next step in your sales funnel. You’re looking to patch up any holes that allow visitors a good reason to leave.
7) Never lead your website visitors away from your site to another website unless you have to. For instance, you might have a link in a blog post that links to another blog post. If so, make sure that link opens up in a new tab so that your visitors are never taken off your website.
8) Make sure your product page is no more than 3 clicks aways. The more clicks your visitors have to go through to get to buy your products, the less likely they will ever actually reach that destination.
9) Test your funnel over and over and over again. You might discover after some time that you might want to move pages from one section to another. No matter what, always make sure you are leading your traffic by the hand down the funnel.
By taking these steps, you are giving your website the best opportunity it has to convert visitors into customers.
Now, don’t be discouraged if people still exit and leave your website. You can’t convert everyone, but you’ll be giving your store the best fighting chance at converting visitors into customers.
If you know how to, set up Google Analytics to evaluate how your traffic is flowing through your pages and where they are exiting.
Tactic 3: Keep It Honest & Simple
People are smart, and they know when you’re trying to look bigger and better than you really are. We know “fake” when we see it and it’s a big turn off.
Just like that guy at work who’s always trying to impress everyone with stories about himself that you know just are not true. How is it that you know his stories are not true? Intuition.
We all have it. Humanity is born with it. Most importantly, your prospective visitors have it too.
If your website visitors see any ounce of “fake” on your website -they’re gone, and they’re gone for good. Don’t try to look bigger than you are.
This is a huge mistake that so many online stores make. They feel insecure that they only have a few products to sell or they feel awkward that they’re just starting out or feel small because of their competition.
So what do some of these online stores do?
They bloat their site with apps, plugins and pages to try to make themselves look bigger than they really are.
We live in an era where authenticity in the sales process is appreciated more than it ever has been before.
If you’re trying to sell your product to someone you don’t know, at least be honest with them. They expect it, and they deserve it.
Besides, if you’re trying to look bigger than you really are, you’re only proving that you don’t believe in your own story which is supposed to be your biggest selling point.
Take these 4 steps to ensure you’re keeping things honest and simple.
1) As soon as possible, get rid of any apps or plugins you’re using that build distrust with your online visitors and set yourself free from trying to be something you’re not. Use your intuition.
2) Fix any content that bloats or is dishonest, like a fake review, a spammy looking plugins or an overly worded product description.
I’ve been to some stores where it seems they’re using 20 apps to try to get me to buy their products or leave my email or share their site on my Facebook page. It feels spammy and immediately builds distrust - not to mention it’s annoying.
3) Simplify your navigation. If you have 20 products, but have them divided up into 10 different collections to look fancy, you’re really only looking bare and incomplete . It also makes it really hard to navigate across all your products and visitors will never jump through that many hoops. Instead, try to divide your products up into 3 or 4 main collections.
4) Use this as an opportunity to market your store. For instance, write a post on your Facebook page saying, “We’ve made things easier to find on our shop. Come check it out!” Or write a blog post about your return back to being honest and simple.
Believe it or not, people love transparency and you can build great trust through it.
One of the most important things you can do for your store is keep it honest and simple. You’ll not only convert more visitors, but you’ll build their trust and keep them coming back for more.
You might be surprised that this could be the only thing holding you back from a successful business.
Tactic 4: Use Instagram to Drive Qualified Traffic to Your Store
Qualified traffic, simply put, refers to anyone who lands on your website that would actually be interested in buying your products.
In comparison to this is junk traffic, which is anyone who really wouldn’t ever buy your products because it’s not what they’re interested in. Junk traffic could land on your website out of impulse or misinformation.
When it comes to website traffic you absolutely have to have qualified traffic. You don’t just want anyone landing on your website.
I would rather have 10 qualified visitors to my website than 2,000 junk visitors simply because I can sell more products/services to 10 qualified visitors than to any other amount of junk visitors.
If you’re experiencing a high volume of visitors, but little to no conversions, chances are you’re not sending qualified traffic to your website.
But, how do you send qualified traffic to your website without spending a fortune on ads and marketing?
The answer is Instagram.
Instagram is your best friend when it comes to driving free qualified traffic to your website.
Not even Facebook.
It’s Instagram. Here’s why. It’s natively mobile, visual, and viral. Plus, Instagram users have way more control of the content they want to see so they’re naturally more trusting of the content that’s put in front them.
Now understand, I’m not debunking the value of other social media platforms (especially Facebook), but if you’re looking to get fast and free qualified traffic to your store without having to pay a lot of money, Instagram is your answer.
By posting just one product photo to Instagram with the right hashtags you are already accomplishing so much just by letting Instagram sift through your traffic for you!
Your product photo generates brand awareness. Brand awareness generates likes from people who are interested. Likes generate follows. Follows generate website clicks and BOOM! you suddenly have someone on your website who is likely interested in buying from you.
The cool part is all of these stages can happen in a matter of seconds and because they all happen on a highly trusted platform like Instagram you turn cold audiences into customers quickly.
As an experiment, I started an Instagram account for one of my clients. Day 1 is humbling, isn’t it? 0 followers. Where do you start? But within 1 month we moved from 0 followers to over 1,000 followers. By month 3 we hit over 2,000 followers and then just 6 months in we closed in on 5,000 followers.
Now, maybe you don’t think that’s a lot followers, but all of those followers are real, qualified leads who are ready to buy.
We didn’t buy their follows or manipulate them. We earned their trust fair and square through quality photos and good stories.
Because of this, we were able to push over $8,700 in sales in the first 6 months of their business launch and guess what -over 90% of their traffic was coming from Instagram.
Take these 6 steps to prime your Instagram account for gaining qualified traffic to your website.
1) Sign up for an Instagram Account if you don’t already have one. Make sure you switch your Instagram account to a business account. This allows you to see important analytics you’ll want to use.
2) Write a simple and clean bio with a call to action. If your mission statement is short enough, use that. Always use your website as the bio link. If your Shopify store is new, I’ve found great success in putting the words “JUST LAUNCHED” at the beginning of the bio for the first 3 to 6 months. This helped people know it was just starting out, and it gives a little extra momentum and excitement.
3) Research other Instagram accounts that have a high influence on your target audience and follow them! These are normally accounts with over 100,000 followers. This is important because your followers will see who you are following and this tells them the kind of content you’ll be posting and the kind of culture you want to set for your account.
4) Do not bulk follow other personal accounts to get follows! I repeat, do not do this! Not only does this ruin your opportunity to use Instagram to sift junk traffic, but it really makes you look spammy and desperate. It sparks distrust. Be confident in your account -even if you only have 10 followers.
If you’ve already made the mistake of bulk following, start the process now of unfollowing all of those accounts until you’re only following accounts of high influencers.
5) Research 20 to 30 hashtags that you’ll use on each of your posts. These hashtags should be relevant to the target audience you’re trying to reach.
6) Post at least 3 times a week. If you’re ambitious, post once a day.
Think about what your audience wants to see -it’s not always going to be your products. If you provide a valuable feed for them, they’ll stick around. If your account is new, seed your feed with at least a dozen posts and make sure they’re crafted well. This sets the pace for the rest of your feed and whether or not people will follow you.
7) [BONUS] Run a giveaway every month. Try to find at least one influencer on Instagram who’s willing to promote your giveaway on their feed. It’s pure gold! I usually email them and pay for their endorsement. Trust me. You will not regret the results you get from this kind of marketing.
When it comes to driving qualified traffic to your store for free or a small budget, Instagram is your best friend.
Prime your Instagram account and run your first giveaway. Then continue running giveaways on a frequent basis in line with your budget. You’ll be shocked by the results you’ll get if you do it strategically.
Getting large influxes of qualified traffic to your website can happen as soon as tomorrow with this tactic!
Tactic 5: Use the Power of Small Tweaks
It’s the small things that make a big difference. Oh, the small things!
As a small rudder can steer a large ship any which way it desires, so too it is with your website and online presence. For example, Hubspot did a test and discovered that changing one of their button colors from green to red increased their conversions by 21%! So never underestimate the small things.
To close up this in-depth guide I want to give you a list of small tips, tricks and actionable things you can do to radically increase conversions on your website starting today and for the long haul. Put these into place on your website as soon as possible.
1) Offer discounts to gather visitors’ emails and email them weekly. Period. I don’t care how opposed to “popups” you are -they work and you need to have one on your site. Most eCommerce stores come pre-installed with some form of email popup function. Use it. Offer your visitors 10% off in exchange for their email and maybe a first name.
The best way to accomplish this task is simply to sync your email popup form to software like MailChimp. You can start a MailChimp account for free. Create a list that all of these emails you collect go into. Then, email your customer list at least weekly. Weekly! Not monthly, or whenever you feel like it -do it weekly. They gave you their email because they’re interested. Here’s the thing. You don’t have to have fancy emails. I know you want to push an email like Nike, but forget that for now. They can be plain text and they’ll work great!
This is what StickerMule does with their emails -the world’s leading sticker manufacturer.
Nothing fancy, right? Yet, I open almost every email from them because it’s personal, un-intimidating and really quite refreshing. You can do this too! In fact, you have to! Email marketing has an average return on investment of 3800%. No joke. You can’t afford not to email.
2) If possible (and applicable), offer free shipping. As a customer there’s nothing like knowing that the price is set and you’re not going to be hit with unexpected charges. Shipping costs are a HUGE conversion killer. Studies show that orders with free shipping average 30% higher value than those that don’t.
If you have to charge shipping, be clear from the beginning so it’s not a surprise at checkout.
3) Do something unique to keep people checking back in. For instance, Cotton Bureau does a T-Shirt Tuesday every week where they inform their customers of what new tees are on their store. It keeps people coming back even if they haven’t purchased anything, but it continues to build trust with the brand.
Think of something creative. Something fun. Something for your consumers to look forward to every week. You could offer a new discount every Monday, or put a lineup on sale the first day of every month. Customers love this stuff!
4) Put people in your product images. This may not be possible for all of your products, but you should have faces in as many places as possible using your products. I make the effort to put people when setting up apparel shops. If you don’t want to pay for a professional photography every time you launch a new product, just focus on putting people in your best selling products instead. People in your products will immediately build more trust.
There you have it. Some of the best little tweaks and optimizations I’ve learned as a professional over the last decade and a half. If you implement just one of these small tweaks, you’ll surely find a great return on investment.
You are now ready to infuse your website and business with real life tactics that are proven to drive sales and increase conversions! They’re proven and they work. Go ahead and try them and tell me how they work for you.
Are there any tactics you’ve found success in? Comment below.