Need a boost for your online business, but don't have a lot of cash to drop on advertising? Here are a couple of proven ways to bring more traffic to your listings. And they also happen to be free!
Google me this
One of the most effective ways to make sure buyers see your products is to submit your listings to product search engines. The obvious first stop is Google Product Search, which garners 8.7 percent of total search traffic. Using Google Merchant Center, you can upload your product data to increase your chances of being found in Google searches.
If you list on the eBay marketplace, this is all taken care of for you. But if you have an off-eBay store, such as an Auctiva Commerce Store, you should set up a free Google Merchant Center account and make sure to update your product feed regularly.
But don't limit yourself to one source. While Google is certainly the 900-pound gorilla, it pays to play nice with other product search engines as well.
One comparison shopping engine, known as TheFind, is quickly gaining notice from buyers who look for items online. Earlier this year, it surpassed Yahoo! Shopping in the number of average daily users. And it's optimized for mobile shoppers, a fast-growing segment of online buyers.
As with Google, it's free to submit your product feeds to TheFind. Even better, you can submit the same feed you've already set up for Google—that's twice the exposure for the same amount of work.
Bing Shopping (formerly Bing Cashback) has also recently added a no-cost product feed service for merchants.
Here's the great news: Auctiva Commerce merchants can automatically submit product feeds to Google, TheFind and Bing through their account dashboards.
Linking to your products from your blog can help search engines find your stuff
Having a blog helps get your name out there, establishes you as an expert and, best of all, provides a natural place to promote your store or listings. By linking to your products from your blog, you can make it easier for search engines to find your stuff. Small Business Trends lists 10 ways to get people to read your blog.
You don't have to be a writer to have a blog. You just need a computer and something to say. Don't know what to say? Write about the products you sell—after all, that's why you're here, right? What about the things that keep you motivated to sell online, the interesting conversations you have with customers or fellow merchants, the things that make you go "hmm…"? Almost anything can be fodder for a blog—just make sure it's relevant to your business.
Short on time? Here's a nifty trick that even the most highly regarded bloggers use from time to time: Copy or link to a press release, video or article from a trustworthy source, and add a short analysis or comments about why anyone reading your blog should be interested. Just don't make this shortcut a habit. Your content should be largely original to build credibility.
How often to write? That depends on how much time you want to spend, but most experts recommend updating your blog at least once a week to keep the attention of your readers—and the search engine spiders.
Use your social skills
Now that you have a blog, promote the heck out of it. Announce your latest blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Buzz or wherever you happen to be.
Look into automating this process so you don't have to visit multiple sites every time you post. For example, Facebook's Social RSS app lets you feed your tweets, blog entries and eBay Store inventory to your Facebook fan page. There are also Twitter apps on Facebook that will automatically tweet your followers when you update your Facebook status, and vice versa. Most of the main blogging sites also now have plug-ins to let you tweet your posts.
If you're not already on one of the many social networking sites, open an account under your business name and start following others who have common interests or a need for the kind of products you sell. Many of them will follow you back. This is the easiest and fastest way to build a following. Encourage your existing customers to join your network as well.
You might think you don't have time for social networking. You're busy enough taking care of the day-to-day business of selling or getting your store up and running. Fair enough. But you don't have to spend hours every day updating your status and tweeting your every move. One tweet a day, or even a couple each week, is enough to keep people interested without overwhelming them.
E-mail newsletters are a great way to inform your customers about what's new on your site or in your business
Spread the newsletters
E-mail newsletters are a great way to inform your customers about what's new on your site or in your business, whether it's a new shipment of inventory, a sale, a special promotion or a fresh look for your store. These also provide an excellent opportunity to remind customers to read your blog and ask them to follow you on whatever social networks you use to promote your business.
If you have an eBay Store or Auctiva Commerce Store, you have the built-in capability to send newsletters to anyone who signs up on your site. Use it!
If you don't have a store, but you sell on eBay or another marketplace, hang onto those transaction confirmations—they contain the coveted customer e-mail addresses. Once someone buys something from you, it's your right (and well worth your time) to try and win their repeat businesses using promotional e-mails. If you haven't yet compiled a list of customer e-mail addresses, start now.
Let the good times scroll
Of course, one of the easiest ways to get more of your items in front of buyers is to cross-promote them within your eBay listings. Auctiva's Scrolling Gallery is used by more eBay sellers than any other third-party marketing tool. Why is it so popular? Well, for one thing, it's free. For another—it works!
When a buyer opens one of your listings, they'll see the Scrolling Gallery and all the great items you've selected to rotate through it. If they click on an item, they're transported to your free Auctiva Store, where they can browse all the items you currently have listed on eBay.
(Incidentally, the free Auctiva Store provides yet another location to build your buyer community. Use it to promote your blog, invite buyers to join your social networks and even point visitors to your off-eBay store).
The Scrolling Gallery widget is customizable, so you can change the color scheme, configuration and position of the gallery within your listing. And you can add any message you wish to entice buyers to click inside.
Whether you sell primarily on eBay, your own site, or both, use some or all of these tips to help drive more traffic to your listings, and keep buyers coming back. Happy selling!