If you’re new to the world of e-commerce, you’ve probably spent at least a little time looking for advice about marketing and promoting your business. That’s especially likely to be the case if your website has been online for a while but still has yet to generate its first order.
When you look for marketing advice, though, the thing you’re going to see most often may not actually be all that helpful because most “gurus” will tell you that you should be spending money on the Google Ads and Facebook advertising networks to get your products and services in front of more people. The idea sounds good on the surface; you spend a little money up front to expose your company to potential customers, and you make that money back when your ads bring in revenue.
The truth, though, is that marketing your business on Google Ads and Facebook isn’t as easy as people often make it sound. If you read reports from real business owners, you’ll see that many of them only earn a profit of around $10-15 from every $100 they spend on those networks. That’s a losing proposition when you account for other expenses such as wholesale costs, payroll, rent, utilities and shipping costs.
To make matters worse, some advertising networks aren’t available at all to companies in certain niches. Cannabis marketing, for instance, is out of the question on Google and Facebook. So, whether you don’t want to give all of your money to ad networks – or advertising on those networks isn’t an option for you at all – you’re going to need some alternatives.
Here are the best online marketing alternatives to Google Ads and Facebook.
A Blog Drives Traffic for Informational Keywords
When you’re in the e-commerce business, your product pages will always be the most important pages on your site. The search keywords that bring people to product pages are always the types of keywords that people use when they’re looking for things to buy. Therefore, product pages always have the best chance to produce conversions.
We’ll talk about the importance of your website’s product pages at greater length shortly. The problem with focusing all of your attention on commercial content, though, is that every other business in your industry is competing to earn top placement for those same keywords. When your website is new, you’re going to have an extremely difficult time driving organic traffic to your commercial content.
While you work to build domain authority and improve the rankings of your commercial pages, you need to find another way to generate traffic without giving all of your money to an advertising network. The best way to do that is by adding high-quality informational content to your blog.
What’s the difference between commercial content and informational content? A keyword phrase like “portable air conditioner,” for instance, is commercial. It’s very likely that a person searching for that keyword phrase is looking for a product to buy.
If someone searches for a keyword phrase like “how to clean a portable air conditioner,” on the other hand, that person probably already owns a portable air conditioner and isn’t interested in buying another one right now. That’s an informational keyword. Unless you’re offering a product or service that specifically applies to cleaning an air conditioner, you’re less likely to get sales when that keyword brings people to your website. That’s also true for other businesses in your industry, so many of your competitors are unlikely to have content addressing that keyword.
Adding a blog to your website and publishing high-quality informational content serves three important purposes.
- Informational content is more likely to earn a high ranking on Google because fewer websites are competing for those keywords.
- Informational content is much more likely than commercial content to earn organic links. The quality and quantity of a website’s inbound links are important ranking factors. Over time, adding high-quality blog posts to your website can help to improve the rankings of your commercial pages.
- Informational content helps to put your company’s name into the world and establish brand awareness. If people read your articles and find them genuinely helpful, it’s more likely that they’ll remember your company’s name in the future when they’re ready to buy.
Learning how to blog effectively isn’t easy if you don’t have previous writing experience, but it’s a skill that anyone can learn – and if you don’t have the time or inclination to learn how to write effective blog posts, hiring a freelance writer to provide your blog content is often a more effective use of your marketing budget than advertising on Google Ads or Facebook.
The most important thing to remember about writing effective blog posts for your website is that you need to structure your articles around keywords that people actually search for if you want the articles to generate organic traffic. You’re most likely an expert in your industry, and you can draw from your experience to select good article topics. What are the most common problems that people experience with the types of products you sell, and how do you fix those problems? What are the tips and tricks that people can know in order to have a better experience with those products? Those are the types of topics that typically generate consistent traffic.
Relationship Building Can Help You Earn Links
If you want your product pages and other commercial content to rank well on Google, your website will have to earn inbound links from other websites because that’s one of the biggest factors influencing how Google ranks search results. Website owners, however, don’t link to other sites easily. They’re not going to link to your site unless doing so would provide value to their readers. If you want to earn links, you need to provide resources that deserve those links – and that’s one reason why your blog is so important.
When you’ve created a resource that truly deserves to receive links from other websites, you’ll know it. You’ll search for similar articles on Google, and you’ll find that nothing else provides quite as much value as your content. That’s when it’s time to go hunting for links. Reach out to the publishers whose readers would benefit from knowing about your resource. Ask those publishers if they’ll consider adding links.
It’s also extremely useful to do a bit of research to find out who is linking to your competitors. If your competitors are outranking you for important search terms, it stands to reason that it would be useful for you to earn links from those same sites. Contact the owners of those sites and ask what it would take for them to link to your website.
Your Product Pages Are Your Most Important Marketing Tools
Once you’ve launched a solid content marketing campaign for your blog and earned a few inbound links from some high-authority publishers, you should find that your product pages have begun to generate some organic traffic and that your revenue is growing. Once you’ve reached that point, it’s time to focus more effort on your commercial content. Your product pages will always generate the lion’s share of your website’s revenue, so anything you can do to increase the traffic that those pages receive will have a direct impact on your bottom line.
It’s worth the time and effort to audit your website’s product pages and determine whether they’re truly providing as much value as they can. Are the product descriptions long enough to provide a sufficient number of keywords for Google to index? Do the descriptions do a good job of explaining what the products are and how to use them? Do the descriptions explain how the products compare to similar products that the customer might also be thinking about buying?
When you audit your website’s product pages, it’s useful to spend some time looking at competing websites that offer those same products – especially if those pages outrank yours. If you can honestly say that your product pages are more helpful and informative than your competitors’ product pages, strong rankings will almost definitely follow.