Although regional small businesses are slowly starting to move online, some still fail to grasp how different an online store is to a conventional ‘bricks and mortar’ site.
With the latter, a physical site is set up that all passers-by can see it; both while it’s under construction and afterwards, when the doors are thrown open for customers for the first time.
With an online store, the construction is sometimes done under a “veil of secrecy” but when it’s finished and ready, most site owners automatically expect a flow of traffic through the virtual front door. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. People need to know that the site exists before they can visit it!
It’s important to note that Google doesn’t list sites immediately – it can often take two to three weeks for a site to appear on search results and even then, you may not even make the first page.
My advice – don’t wait for Google. You can promote that brand-new site of yours right now with the following simple tips:
Tip #1 – Add your website marketing into your current “conventional” promotions
This simple tip is often overlooked because some business owners believe that a website is marketed through online methods only.
You can start getting ready for your site’s launch by updating all your promotional materials – business cards, brochures, roadside signs, clothing, pens, company cars, exterior signage, invoices, everything. Anywhere that a current client sees your business name should have the new web address in bold lettering.
If you live a smaller town as I do, get your local newspaper on board for the launch. For a relatively small cost, you can grab some great exposure with an editorial feature. Often these include a half-page “story” on your new site with the other half-page including an advertisement with all your details.
Tip #2 – Utilise your Social Media presence
One of the great advantages that Social Media has over Google is the instant gratification that it gives to every one of our updates, pins, posts or tweets. We don’t have to wait for the search engines to index and archive our information – it is instantly out there. This makes it ideal for promoting a brand-new site.
Most of us already have a Social Media presence so why not use that to your site’s advantage. Announce to all and sundry that you have a new online store and ask your social media “friends” to pass on the news.
Don’t leave it at that though – make sure you create a plan and use your Social Media power to drive everything that your site does. Running a pizza shop with online ordering? Hold instant competitions to boost slow nights. Got a brand-new outfit in your e-commerce boutique? Get one your staff to model it and post it on Instagram and Pinterest. Offering free shipping for today from your e-store? Get the word out instantly with a tweet on Twitter.
Tip #3 – Hold a launch special (with coupons).
Use your newly re-vitalised social media presence to share a coupon from your online store – the software that runs your eCommerce component (i.e. WooCommerce) probably already has one built-in. A coupon is a code that, when applied to the checkout area of a site, generally applies a small discount or bonus such as free shipping. They are designed to only be used once – automatically cancelling after use.
People love coupons – and they’ll also share them like crazy, quickly spreading the word about your new online store.
Try out those three tips and will be giving your e-commerce store a red-hot start in its online life. Don’t procrastinate and wait for people to find you – get out there and “grab the bull by the horns.” A site owner is in absolute control of the future (and potential success) of their online business. It won’t happen by itself – some hard yakka is required.