6 ways to market your online store for free

6-ways-to-market-your-online-store-for-freeThe explosion of social networks in recent years gives you access to millions of people all over the world right from your desk. And all for the price of… well, nothing actually. Nada. Zip.

Google has been tweaking its algorithms lately (the way it rates your online content for search) and has put far more emphasis on social media goings on. So the more you are out there talking, and being talked about, the better your rankings in search results could be.

All of the social networks mentioned below allow you to set up a business page or account for free, post text, pictures and even video, and interact with other people around the world. That’s a great way to promote your ecommerce website!

If your potential customers use any of these platforms, you should be there too.

Grab a Google+ business page
The number of businesses on Google+ is growing fast; probably due to the way the mothership ranks Google+ activity in its search results.

Google has made this network the place to connect with people with similar interests and share relevant topics.

If you have a physical store, don’t forget to claim your Google+ local listing.

Formulate a Facebook business page
Facebook has surpassed 1 billion users and is the most popular social network on the planet.

If you want to add a more sociable and shareable element to your business, Facebook is a good option. It is a place where people to hang out and have fun, so watch you don’t get too officious and markety.

Launch a LinkedIn company page
LinkedIn is the go-to place for professional networking. You can also create a company page to promote your products and services and post news updates.

One of its most valuable features is the networking groups. There are literally thousands you can join, from crochet to cryogenics and all points in between. If there’s not one already that’s right for you – make your own!

Take up on Twitter 
Twitter is great for sharing quick, short updates as posts are limited to 140 characters.

It’s a good positioning tool and is often used by business as a customer service channel because of its speed and accessibility.

Pinup on Pinterest
This highly visual network attracts a very active and mostly female community. By creating a business presence on Pinterest, you can be inspired by photos from around the web as well as using it as a billboard for your own products.

Instigate Instagram
Here’s another visually rich community. There are over 100 million active users on Instagram, furiously snapping and creating beautiful images

Free, yes. But there’s a catch…

All this free publicity and access to new markets takes time and energy. You could spend hours every day on it if you let yourself.

Make each interaction count and invest your time in the ones that your target markets gravitate towards.

Should your online store be offering free delivery?


In many cases, the cost of shipping comes as a surprise to many people during the checkout process. The 2013 UPS Pulse study found that 54% of the online shoppers surveyed that had abandoned a shopping cart had done so because of the cost of shipping.

A similar study from E-tailing Group in 2011 found that 73% of respondents considered free shipping without conditions “critical”.

Social media reviews are also playing an important role in setting customer expectations. A ComScore survey revealed that the top reason for recommending particular retailers was the availability of free or discounted shipping.

Benefits of Free Shipping to your bottom line

Offering free shipping can help increase sales by attracting more shoppers to your store and reducing shopping cart abandonment rates.

It can also lead to larger orders, particularly when minimum order values apply. The
E-tailing Group study found that more than three-quarters of the respondents had added more to their shopping cart to qualify for free shipping if a minimum order value applied.

Different delivery fee models

As a small retailer you might feel you can’t afford to offer free delivery across your entire range. But it doesn’t have to apply to everything on your site.

There are a few different models already in use, such as only offering free shipping:

  • to specific locations
  • for orders over a certain value
  • for specific products, like smaller or lighter items
  • at key shopping times of year like Christmas and Mother’s Day
  • for members of the store’s loyalty club

Another popular option is flat rate shipping, offering one delivery fee for everything no matter the size or location of the delivery.

Do your research

Obviously, the choice to deliver goods free of charge can have a big impact on your profit margins. Every business is different, so do your research and weigh up the costs and advantages as they apply to you.

  • Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and go online shopping for your products. What are your direct competitors offering in the way of delivery options and costs?
  • Do the maths to understand the likely effect on your profit margins. If you want to offer free shipping, the level at which it is set is key.
  • Test it out. Offer free delivery for a short period of time to see if it creates more income by generating more sales or lowering shopping cart abandonment.

Get the word out!

If you do decide to discount or do away with delivery costs for your customers, broadcast this loudly and proudly!

Put a notice on your homepage, your product pages and update your shipping information. Then head to your social media channels and let everyone know about the change.

Quick tip:  You can offer free shipping on all products by creating custom shipping rates, or you can offer it on specific product collections using shopping cart discounts.

Store of the moment: Goldfish Toy Shop


Goldfish Toys are designers of original, colourful, fun stuff for kids and the young at heart. All products are ethically and fairly made by hand in Indonesia and India.

The happy wooden products are designed in Australia by Mrs Goldfish (Elisa Doro), and lovingly handmade in a small family workshop in Bali.

Check out their Spiffy Store at http://www.goldfishtoyshop.com.au

Related articles

Why you and your store should be on Google+

why-you-and-your-store-should-be-on-Google-plusI know what you’re thinking… “Oh no, not another social network!” But if you want to improve your online store’s search rankings and be seen by more people, hear me out.

Whether you are a fan of social media or not, social networks and the endless chatter they support are increasingly important to the growth of your business.

Word of mouth has always been the most effective form of advertising. People tend to buy from those they like and trust and social media is a great way to build a relationship with your prospective customers.

Not only that, but Google, the king of all search engines, has recently focused on social signals in its search algorithms. This means the more people are talking about you and sharing your content, the better your search ranking is likely to be. Shares, likes, comments or +1s of your posts act like recommendations and boost SEO.

Google+ has chalked up more than 400 million users and is now one of the top six social networks in the world. It’s fast becoming recognised as the place to connect with like-minded businesses and people you may not already know (you’re not meant to connect with people you don’t already know on LinkedIn).

More importantly, Google+ is owned by the world’s most popular search engine. Let me say that once more for effect. Google+ is owned by the world’s most popular search engine. Posts, articles, pictures and links on a Google+ page are favoured in Google’s organic search results and status updates are indexed immediately, meaning they will show up in relevant searches right away.

By keeping your Google+ page up to date and interacting through it, you have more chances of being found online. Do you like the sound of that?!

If you’re keen to put your business on Google+, you’ll first need your own Google+ page. If you don’t have one already, set up an account here.

Before you create your business page, have the following to hand: a catchy tag line, a concise introduction that includes links to your website, your logo at 250 x 250 pixels in size, a hi resolution photo that represents your business and URLS of your other social media accounts.

Once you’re set up, search for people and companies to add to your ‘circles’. Look for those who would have something in common with your line of business.

Above all, post regular content, share your ideas, photos and video, and most of all, share other people’s stuff. Think wider than just your niche – build a personality for your brand and have fun!

Click here for the official step-by-step guide to setting up a business page on Google+.