Have you ever clicked on a Facebook ad and dropped on an unfamiliar site with an unknown brand? If the product’s common enough (like jewelry, toothbrushes, or sunglasses), would you prefer an unknown brand over the rest?
I don’t think so.
Driving traffic to your site doesn’t make sense if it does not have enough reputation to unlock conversions. Otherwise, you’re pouring water into a leaky bucket.
In short, paid ads won’t solve your traction problem. Reputation, social proof, and authority does.
So how do you create a reputable site that gets conversions? How do you set your site up in that your paid ads spend isn’t wasted? If you’re a new Shopify store, how do you set this up with your startup budget?
That’s what I’ll teach you in this article.
There are three main ways you can get a high-converting, reputable site at little to no cost:
- Build referral traffic and social proof via reviews
- Borrow reputation & build more referral traffic via Instagram marketing
- Build more leads & trust with free guides
Just a heads-up: this is going to be a long post, so buckle up! 🙂
First Strategy: Build referral traffic via reviews
Testimonials and reviews are proven to influence the purchase decision of 77.3% of visitors. Without prominent reviews on the site, you may have already lost that many customers!
To get initial reviews for your site, you’ll need to do email outreach to lifestyle bloggers.
For this example, we’re going to imagine ourselves as an owner of a paleo bar e-commerce store. To acquire reviews through email outreach, this is what you need to do:
Step 1: Search & Take Note of paleo-related reviews in your search engine of choice
Below, you’ll see a list of paleo blogs that actively do reviews. Open all the tabs and take note of their domain names.
Now here are the domains I’ve found, and the names associated for each:
If you’re a new eCommerce store, go for up-and-coming bloggers before targeting the established ones.
To find these folks, look at the 2nd or 3rd pages of the search results then get domains & names of the bloggers.
Now that we have a handy list of data, how do we turn this into contactable information?
Step 2: Get an Email from the Site (If Available)
For some sites, you can usually find the emails in the “About” section of the site. For example, Burton’s Bakes’ email is right there in the “Work With Me” section:
But most of the time, the email can’t be found. Or it could be as generic as “firstname.lastname@example.org.” What do you do then?
What you can do is to generate email address combinations from your list of names and domains.
Step 3: Generate Email Addresses from your List
To generate these email addresses, go to Email Generator IO and add the First Name, Surname, and Domain from the data we generated in step one.
Clicking on “Generate” will return a rather large list of potential emails. Remove everything that’s not a business domain.
Now let’s ensure that we’re using the right email.
Step 4: Validate Email Addresses from your List
To 2 tools you can use to verify your email list:
- Email Checker NET is a free, single-use email validation tool; and
- Bulk Email Checker NET is a paid, multi-use email validation tool. This is the best validation tool that I’ve seen so far.
For the bulk checker, all you need to do is to copy and paste your generated email in a separate .txt file and upload it into the software. Then you’ll see a blue button to start the validation process.
After a few minutes (sometimes hours if you have thousands of generated emails), you should have personal emails that you can now use for your outreach.
Step 5: Prepare a thoughtful Email
Please note that “outreach” does not mean “broadcast.” Too many bloggers get a lot of manufactured stuff that looks like this:
I recently saw your website in the XXXXX directory, and I wanted to know if you’re currently accepting product reviews.
My product’s been reviewed In YYYY and ZZZZ and I’m looking to expand my audience a bit.
If you’re interested I’m happy to send over the product to you.
Ugh. Remember that you’re optimizing for traffic & sales, not for productivity. Show them that they’re special to you (which they are!) and that you really care!
A good email would look something like this (an example for emailing Paleohacks):
LOVE your paleo bar table comparing six products over at http://blog.paleohacks.com/paleo-protein-bars/. Saved me a lot of time!
I’m emailing you because you might be interested to know that I’ve created a paleo bar with less fat% than any of the list that you’ve shared.
Wanted to know if you’re willing to try it out? Happy to give it to you for free in exchange for feedback 🙂
What I like about this is approach is that:
- The language is not dry. There’s a lot of emotion in the email (i.e. there’s the word “love” at the start and an expression of relief in “saved me a lot of time”).
- You’re offering something new, different, and compelling (i.e. you’re showing off the fact that you have an even lower fat% paleo bar)/
- It’s not overly self-promotional. Instead of asking for a review, you’re asking for feedback. Since it’s a lower commitment response, you’re making it easier for them to say yes. Besides, if they like your product, they’ll leave a review anyway!
Most people stop with one batch of emails. Remember that this is a marketing strategy and thus email outreach should be done consistently.
And to become consistent, you need a solid pipeline. Here’s how:
Step 6: Have a Solid Weekly Pipeline of Emails
To create a pipeline, first sign up for a free account at Trello.
Then create five lists: “Leads”, “Contacted”, “Follow Up”, “Scheduled”, “Done”.
Here’s how it looks like for me:
Put every email you generate in the “leads” column. Then slide the card to the right as you pass through every stage. When you’ve finally closed a deal, move it to “Done”!
Now that you have a system for creating referral traffic that converts (thanks to blog reviews), I’ll teach you how to build a system for creating Instagram traffic.
Second Strategy: Borrow reputation & build social media traffic via Instagram marketing
Product placements Instagram is another source of high converting traffic. The principle here is simple: everyone looks toward someone for fashion inspiration, health tips, comedy, etc.
For instance, MeUndies has built their entire company via Instagram influencers.
Now let’s walk through how you can create product placements through influencer partnerships
Step 1: Use the right hashtags
While I agree that hashtags don’t work for Facebook and Twitter; it’s golden for Instagram. If you think about it, influencers mainly use hashtags to get their profiles discovered. Otherwise, there’s no other way to increase their follower count.
Begin by entering a seed keyword to start your research. We’re still using our paleo bar ecommerce store as an example.
You’ll get a list of 30 hashtags:
Then go through these hashtags one by one to find influencers.
Step 2: Create a list of your influencers
Note your influencers’ names, handles, locations, follower counts, types of posts, and their personal descriptions.
Going through the types of posts is especially important because it helps you determine if the influencer has a consistent brand voice with yours.
For example, if your paleo brand caters more to men and has a casual & approachable brand, then someone like Dave (@happynettleboy) will make a lot of sense for you.
If your paleo brand is positioned more towards fitness junkies, Camilla (@coach_camilla) makes a lot more sense.
The location’s also there if your brand has geographic constraints.
Step 3: Reach out and recruit them as an ambassador
When reaching out, be careful not to sound as transactional as your earlier outreach to webmasters. You’d want to transform these influencers into long-term brand ambassadors.
These ambassadors will get a unique referral link, and they’ll get credit when someone purchases. Based on the number of purchases that they generated, they will be classified under Ambassador tiers with specific perks/gifts.
Here are some examples for paleo bar case:
- 10 sales generated: Free pack of paleo bars
- 25 sales generated: Two free paleo books of your choice
- 50 sales generated: Free ticket to the Paleo F(x) conference
- 100 sales generated: Free trip for two to Bali
- 200 sales generated: Marketing support for the ambassador’s projects
Beyond that, you should create a community for your ambassadors:
- Invitation to Secret Facebook Group: brand ambassadors get to connect with each other
To track this, you can use affiliate tracking software like Tapfiliate.
Remember, apart from revenue generation, you should also create a tight-knit community of like-minded influencers who feel that they’re part of something bigger.
Third Strategy: Rank higher with Linkable Assets
If you execute the first two strategies well, you have not only driven immediate traffic to your site. You’re also setting yourself up for long-term search rankings increase.
Why? That’s because you’re increasing backlinks through other people’s blogs, and you’re increasing social signals by getting influencers to link back to you. The key factor to SEO is mainly to get authoritative sites to link back to you – and that’s how you can do it while getting short-term results!
Now let’s boost your rankings more by creating “linkable assets.” What this means is that you should create content that’s so good that it gets linked by other sites.
For eCommerce, this could mean comprehensive guides.
The best example of an eCommerce store that does this is Right Channel Radios. They have this immense learning center that has a guide for CB Radios for the following:
- CB Radios for Pickup Trucks
- CB Radios for Jeeps
- CB Radio Fundamentals
Not only do they make helpful content (and hence generates links), their content also allows them to own a particular keyword (CB Radios in this example). If you google CB Radios, you can take a guess on who’s the #1 CB Radios eCommerce store in the results.
Now I know that you’re like most eCommerce store founders: you LOATHE writing. That’s completely fine. We won’t go through keyword strategies here. What’s important is that you get started as a new eCommerce owner.
With that context in mind, here’s a simple and practical process to create compelling & comprehensive content:
Step 1: Research and find existing content online.
You don’t have to overthink this!
To get that content, enter the seed keyword where you want to get some sample content:
Take the content which has the highest number of shares:
Step 2: Extract the Content Template from these Highly-Shared Articles
Now you should infer or extract the content template from these proven benchmarks.
For this article from the Poliquin Group:
- Introduction: Share the benefits on why the Paleo Lifestyle has become popular
- Detailed Findings: Share facts that support your claimed benefits
- Action Steps: Share 10 tips on how your reader can get started with the Paleo lifestyle
For this article from the New Zealand Herald:
- Introduction: Share the outcome of one person after adopting a Paleo Diet (e.g. shed 55kgs)
- Quotes from Previous Life: Use quotes from your interview to display the eating habits the person had and the consequences for having those habits
- Quotes from the beginning of her transformation: Share how her habit changes were not instant and instead, it’s a product of incremental changes (i.e. first removed processed food, then fresh whole foods, then regular workouts, and then created a blog for accountability)
- Quotes about her current progress: Show how much progress that the person has had while showing a realistic update.
Just from doing that exercise, you now have two content templates that you can use: 1) for creating “X tips” articles and 2) a case study article.
Step 3: Draft, Proofread, and Publish
Based on my experience of writing a lot of content, the most difficult part is always knowing what to write. If you force yourself to structure your content in a way that we did for Steps 1 and 2, the content creation process will be a lot easier for you.
If you made it this far, congratulations! And thank you!
To recap, the intent for doing all of this activity is to strengthen your reputation (reviews), increase social proof (Instagram influencers), and improve Google search rankings (through content).
For each of these marketing objectives, I’ve given you some systems above that you can start using today.
Good luck, and start driving traffic that converts!
Kenn Costales is the Founder of Growth Hacker Kit, which is an eCommerce Marketing Agency that helps online stores grow their traffic and sales. If you want to improve the revenue & ROI of your paid acquisition campaigns (Facebook, AdWords, Amazon), he does Free Audits here.