In this article, I’m going to share 3 ways to generate traffic to your online store for free in 2019. If you’re starting an online store with Shopify, free traffic is a big deal. It means you can get your product in front of customers without paying a dime.
I learned these strategies through experience. After getting banned on Facebook, I had to find new ways to drive traffic to my dropshipping store. Today I’ll explain the methods I used to get sales without paying for ads. But a word of warning: These are strategies and not cheat codes, so be prepared to get to work!
By the end of this article, you’ll know:
- What channels to use to find your target market
- How to provide valuable content to create valuable traffic
- How to start bringing that traffic to your store for free
- And more…
Before I get on with the list, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about dropshipping. Dropshipping is one of the easiest ways to start an online business. Instead of buying tons of inventory for your online store, you only order products when you get sales. Your supplier ships your orders for you, so you can sell all over the world!
Dropshipping is a low-risk business model because it’s free to use you don’t need any inventory to get started. The only thing you need to pay for is your monthly Shopify account fee. But other than that fee and your domain, most of your money will be spent on advertising.
After all, once your dropshipping store is set up, you need to find ways to bring customers to it. Most dropshippers invest in paid Facebook ads, Google ads, or Instagram influencers to bring traffic to their store.
But, how to get sales without paying for traffic?
There are a few free options I’m going to share with you today. Let me be clear before I start. If you are not paying for traffic, you need to work for it. There is no cheat code for building a successful business.
Free Traffic Strategy #1:
Engage With Online Communities
Let me share a personal dropshipping story here. A while ago, I tried advertising face masks on Facebook. For reasons I go into here, I got banned from Facebook Business Manager.
After I got banned on Facebook, I needed to come up with a new marketing strategy and figure out how to make sales. I had spent hours of importing products and setting up my store, and I was determined to make it work. I knew there must be another way!
Since I could no longer pay to run ads on Facebook or Instagram, I was stuck wondering how to sell products now. I started to browse Google to find out where else I could find my audience.
On the first page, I stumbled upon many subreddits dedicated to skincare, cosmetics and beauty products. Just so we are on the same page, a subreddit is a dedicated forum on Reddit for one specific topic.
At this point, I had nothing to lose, so I decided to post in a relevant subreddit. It’s important to note that you can get banned on Reddit for advertising, so I got a little more creative.
I posted a picture of my facemasks and wrote a sentence or two about how much I loved them. This was completely true, I had ordered samples and was really happy with the quality. When another user asked where to get them, someone shared a link on Amazon. I replied with a link to my store and said I had found them there for a little cheaper.
Boom! The next day I woke up to sales and customer emails! My Reddit strategy worked, and it didn’t even cost me a dollar! Even though paying for traffic made me feel like I was dropshipping the right way, I learned that sometimes the best things in life are free!
You might not be targeting the right people. Communities are ready-made audiences for dropshippers. Communities exist all over the internet, but there are three I find to be the most effective for dropshippers. They are Facebook groups, Pinterest, and Reddit. I’ll cover each one so you have a better idea of how they can be used to bring in free traffic for your business.
Facebook groups are one of the best places to engage with your audience and drive traffic to your store. Facebook groups provide a space to communicate about shared interests with others, you can create a group for anything!
While you can not directly advertise to Facebook groups, you can still use them to your advantage. To start driving traffic, join relevant Facebook groups and start posting quality content. Engage with other members and ask for feedback about your products or store.
Once you start building a relationship with other group members, they will organically become free traffic. Also, once you’ve built a stronger reputation, message the group administrator to see if you can share a unique discount code with the group. This is the perfect way to bring free, quality traffic to your store.
The second community to source free traffic is Pinterest. Over the last few years, Pinterest has evolved from a community that loves to share great content, to one that loves to shop. 90% of users on Pinterest said that Pinterest helps them decide what to purchase.
To take advantage of this active market, create a Pinterest board and start pinning! Your pins on Pinterest never expire, and so your posts can always come up in searches. Pins are the perfect way to start growing organic free traffic to your store. Also you can check this detaily guide for Pinterest marketing.
The last community to tap into is Reddit. Reddit has seen explosive growth over the last few years, especially after it’s redesign. There are now over 150,000 communities on Reddit. Yeah, your target audience is probably on there!
You can find a community on Reddit for everything, and this makes it the perfect place to find high-quality traffic.
There are a few different strategies you can use with Reddit. First, you can post and share your products in subreddits relevant to your niche. Remember, obvious advertising is not allowed. However, you are free to share your love and interest in a product! Afterwards, share a link in the comments in case anyone is interested in checking it out.
The second method is finding appropriate subreddits where you can share products. Subreddits like r/Iwantthat or r/Ineedit are the perfect place to post about your product. These subreddits see huge amounts of traffic, and if Redditors are interested in your product, they will definitely visit your store. Rather than sharing an obvious advertisement, share a photo or video of you actually using your product. It will be more genuine and work much more effectively.
Free Traffic Strategy #2
Grow Your Instagram Account
Hold on! Before you say “I know,” give me a chance to show you how. There is no denying that Instagram is the best social media channel for free traffic. Whether you have the budget to pay for advertising or not, your dropshipping store could benefit from an Instagram account. Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users. That’s a lot of potential customers!
Years ago, Instagram was used by hobby photographers to share photos. Now, it’s used by everyone from mommy bloggers to cats. It has become a place to connect with any community.
So why is Instagram the perfect platform for generating free traffic?
Well, You can create an Instagram account for free, and you can even make it a business profile to see helpful data at no extra cost. But, before I go on, I want to address a common mistake I’ve seen new dropshippers make.
They create an Instagram account, post a few times, don’t engage with anyone, and then wonder why they don’t have any sales.
To win on Instagram, especially without spending a penny, you need two things:
- Lots of followers and lots of great content.
- Having followers and lots of content builds social proof.
If a customer stumbles upon your page, they’ll be much more inclined to click the link to your store if they see lots of engagement.
Wondering how to get tons of followers?
I’m going, to be honest, there is no shortcut. When it comes to posting content, you want to focus on quality and quantity.
But, what does that mean, and how do you do it?
Quality content comes in the form of the 80/20 rule. Make sure that 80% of your posts are simply beautiful, inspiring, or helpful to your audience. Use the other 20% to promote your products and your brand. Quantity means posting multiple times a week. Make a simple, repeatable content schedule to follow.
- On day 1 use a free stock photo website like Burst to share a relevant photo.
- On day 2, use Canva to create a simple graphic of an inspiring quote.
- On day 3, repost content from an influencer in your niche.
- On day 4, share a product photo.
- And repeat!
The second part of getting free traffic from Instagram is engaging with your community. Your community includes anyone posting with hashtags relevant to your product. To connect with your community, look up one of those relevant hashtags on Instagram. Start leaving meaningful comments on posts with that hashtag. Chances are the Instagram users who posted that content will visit your profile and check you out.
Here’s one last tip for growing your Instagram page on a budget. If you’re worried about paying for your monthly Shopify account fee while you grow your Instagram, then start your Instagram account before you open your store!
Let’s move on to the last strategy for free traffic: Influencers! But how do you get influencers to work with you for free? The answer is affiliate marketing.
Free Traffic Strategy #3
Create Affiliate Marketing Partnerships
Here’s no doubt that influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways to make sales in dropshipping in 2019. 86% of companies used influencer marketing last year, and this number is projected to grow. If you want to boost traffic to your store, influencers are one of the best ways to do it.
Most of the time, dropshippers pay an influencer to repost an advertisement in their Instagram stories or feed. While this can be effective, there is an alternative that costs you nothing.
Before I continue, it’s important to remember that Influencers are running their own businesses. Like you, they want to make money. Keeping that in mind is extremely important when it comes to discussing affiliate marketing opportunities.
To get an influencer to work with you, you need to do something for them too. If it’s not upfront payment, it will need to be potential income opportunities down the line. That’s essentially what an affiliate partnership is.
An affiliate partnership is one you set up with an influencer so that they make a percentage of the sales they bring in. You need to work with each individual influencer to determine what percentage works for them and still brings in some revenue for you. Although you might make slightly less revenue, you won’t pay for advertising until you make sales!
They are effective for a number of reasons.
First, many influencers are interested in this partnership because of the potential for making lots of money instead of a one-time payout for a sponsored post. Affiliate partnerships are also effective because they incentivize sales. When you pay an influencer for a single post, they post your advertisement and forget about it. But in the affiliate partnership model, your influencers will be inclined to market and sell your products effectively. That’s because they only profit if you do.
Do research on Instagram and Youtube to find the popular influencers in your niche. I would suggest looking for micro-influencers first. These are influencers with less than 50,000 subscribers or followers. That’s still a huge base of traffic, and they likely have a close relationship to their audience.
A common mistake I see beginners dropshippers make is trying to work with huge influencers. While they may have more followers, they will be less likely to work with a new company. Also, they will not have as personal a connection to their audience. Products shared by micro-influencers come off as more genuine than bigger ones.
So keep this math in mind: 3 influencers with 20,000 followers will be more effective and easier to work with than 1 with 60,000!
Now I’d love to hear from you.
Have any other free traffic strategies to share?
Tried any of the ones I mentioned above?
Leave a comment and let me know. I’ll chime in with my thoughts.
Thanks for reading.
Muammer is a Marketing Analytics Manager at Turkcell. His mission is to empower entrepreneurs and to help them achieve their goals. He also has a passion for illustration.