“To drive traffic to your Shopify store and get great returns, you’ll need to pay for it.”
This is a common tip many Shopify store owners give to newcomers. But is that true for everyone? Are there any free or low-cost ways to get tons of traffic for Shopify?
The truth is, there are good ways to drive traffic to Shopify for every budget. If you want all the good ideas, keep reading.
In this guide:
Looking for something else? Check out these guides:
- 10 Best Shopify Affiliate App in 2021
- Shopify Store Examples for Inspiration
- 26 Welcome Email Examples to Engage Customers
How Shopify Stores Drive Traffic
Where do visitors come from, anyway?
Knowing the answer will help choose the best marketing channels for targeting potential customers. Thankfully, there’s a ton of research on this. This research, for example, studied 60,000 Shopify stores and found that the top six traffic sources were organic, direct, Facebook ads, Google ads, Instagram ads, and Pinterest ads.
As you can see below, organic, direct, and Facebook were by far the most effective ways to drive traffic to Shopify stores.
What these top traffic sources for Shopify mean:
- Organic: customers visit stores after finding them on Google
- Direct: shoppers type a store’s URL in their browser to visit it directly
- Facebook ads: traffic obtained through clicks on campaigns run on Facebook
- Google ads: visits from paid Google ad campaigns
- Pinterest ads: traffic from ads placed on Pinterest
Many folks who come across these top sources decide to invest in them to drive traffic to their Shopify stores. Doing so makes sense, but—
Turns out that top traffic sources aren’t necessarily the ones bringing in the most sales. Otherwise, no Shopify store owners would have the problem where their store gets traffic but no sales. To know these top sources for sales, we turn to eCommerce research once again.
Here’s our answer:
Direct is by far the most effective, followed by organic, Facebook ads, Google ads, and Instagram ads.
So, we should drive and convert these types of traffic into sales on Shopify:
- Direct traffic—strategies here include techniques to promote brand loyalty and direct engagement (customer loyalty programs, blog content, etc.)
- Organic traffic—driving this kind of traffic requires SEO optimization, PR in media, and creating quality blog content.
- Social media paid traffic—this one comes from social media ads (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest), so techniques include paid campaigns.
So, should you try all of these strategies to get traffic to your Shopify store?
Not necessarily. The best ones depend on your marketing budget, products, and customers. So, to help you understand how to make the best choice, we’ve chosen the 10 best strategies to drive direct, organic, and social media traffic to Shopify.
How to Drive Traffic to Your Shopify Store
Now, let’s look at the 11 strategies to get both paid and free traffic to Shopify in more detail. Each section includes a note about the cost of trying the strategies, so you can make the best choice.
1. Create SEO-Friendly Blog Content
Cost: Free to Low
Blog content (product guides, how-to articles, videos, etc.) is a way to drive organic traffic to your Shopify store. This strategy is a must for a) Ranking higher on Google search results and b) building a good reputation with quality advice for customers.
That’s why many Shopify stores have a blog.
Enfamil, a store selling infant formula, offers a great example. What makes its blog amazing are helpful tips for parents and content categorization to find tips more easily.
If you decide to drive traffic to your Shopify store with a blog, taking these steps should help achieve appreciable results:
- Create a content map. Make a list of content topics based on customer questions. If you’re running a clothing store, you can create “top 10” style lists, fashion advice articles, and give ideas for outfits.
- Research keywords. Using keywords is important to let Google drive traffic to your store. Consider using a free tool like Ubersuggest to find keywords. Also, Google’s search bar autofill suggestions could also be helpful.
- Publish content. Publish blog content at least once a week to let Google know that your website provides good advice. A consistent publication schedule is also important for search result ranking, as it sends a signal to Google about your reliability.
Shopify apps can help get many SEO processes like image compression and meta data fixes done automatically. These 10 Best Shopify SEO Apps can help to optimize your eCommerce website and get higher in search results.
2. Do Social Media Marketing
Marketing your products with social media posts is a way to promote brand recognition and direct and organic Shopify traffic. The best strategy is to show your products could help customers, and give them ideas on how to use them.
You can share posts with this content to get traffic for a Shopify store:
- Product promotions
- Product videos
- Brand & product news and updates
- Branding-related content
BioLite, a seller of off-grid energy products, shares Facebook posts with short product videos.
This one is a good example with a nice visual and tips to make “your backyard into your friends’ and neighbors' favorite place to hang.” Note a link to the product page in the lower right corner, too.
Social media marketing is also about interacting with customers.
This means replying to their comments, following them, liking the pictures they post about your business or products. An active engagement shows your commitment to be available and helpful.
Pro tip: Launch a social media contest or a giveaway. Have the participants enter by liking and following your social media pages or signing up on your website. It’s a good way to build good followership, generate leads, and drive traffic to Shopify stores.
Using social media and other channels for marketing? Create frictionless, seamless customer experience on all channels to boost customer engagement and loyalty. Here’s how: Guide to Omnichannel Marketing Strategy for eCommerce
3. Use Shoppable Pins on Pinterest
Cost: Low to Medium
Pinterest has introduced shoppable posts like Instagram, and is becoming another legit way to drive traffic to Shopify stores. About 80% of weekly Pinterest users say they found a brand or product on the platform—so there’s plenty of marketing opportunities.
Being a site where people get inspiration is a major advantage of Pinterest. Unlike Instagram and Facebook, most searches on the platform are unbranded, so it’s a good way to showcase products in an organic way.
Here’s how shoppable pins look like.
Creating shoppable pins like this is possible after getting a business Pinterest account. Once you’ve signed up, you can create a Pinterest shop and upload product data (characteristics, categories, visuals, and prices).
Kirrin Finch, a menswear-inspired apparel business, has an amazing Pinterest shop with 218,000+ monthly views. Feel free to check it out for an example of Pinterest marketing.
4. Run Instagram Ad Campaigns
Instagram ads are the 5th best revenue source for Shopify, and for a good reason. What makes this platform such a popular place is that 81% of customers use it to research products online.
For businesses, Instagram has powerful audience targeting options—play with them and your ads will be shown to the right people. That’s why an Instagram campaign can quickly drive traffic to your Shopify store—many businesses are able to get between 200 and 500 daily visitors.
Instagram ads appear in the feed to those who match your audience settings. Khaite, a sportswear brand, announces pre-order campaigns with quality product photos. Take a look.
To be able to get traffic to Shopify, you’ll need a business account. It allows sharing different types of posts (standard, video, carousel, etc.) and tag multiple products to increase sales.
5. Use Google Shopping Ads
Cost: Low to Medium
Google Shopping ads are one of the most powerful tools to drive traffic to Shopify. Many business owners and marketers were able to ”flip the switch overnight” and generate thousands of dollars in online sales within weeks.
Google Shopping ads appear to those searching for products online, so you can target high-intent customers with them.
A great thing about Google Shopping ads is that you can create them directly from Shopify. All you have to do is add the Google Channel app.
Here’s more info + instructions on How to Create a Profitable Google Shopping Campaign if you’re interested.
6. Try Promotional Push Notifications
Cost: Low to Medium
Many customers aren’t ready to buy after the first visit to your Shopify store. They check out your products, hesitate, but eventually leave.
It’s hard to blame them for that—with thousands of similar online stores, buying from each one they come across isn’t an option. So, you need some marketing first to get their attention.
You can do something to stay connected with visitors who leave: push notifications. They work similarly to emails but get more views for your messages. When a customer visits a store, it shows them a request to subscribe.
Like here, on Shopify store Pura Vida.
Using push notifications could be a good way to drive traffic to Shopify. The visitors who are interested in your products but aren’t ready to buy can click “Allow” and get notifications. You can notify them about sales, discounts, product arrivals—anything.
Trying this technique to drive traffic to a Shopify store is easy with a push notification app. If you decide to give one a go, consider Firepush—it has a free plan and a 4.8-star rating on the Shopify App Store.
Useful resources to get direct Shopify traffic with push notifications:
7. Use Google Keyword Planner to Rank Higher
Google’s own Keyword Planner is a fantastic free tool to get keyword ideas and choose specific keywords to target. You can add those keywords to metadata and content to rank your eCommerce business higher in Google search results.
The keywords you’ll find in Planner will be useful to optimize any page on your Shopify store. Especially home page and product pages—those created to convert traffic.
Get a free Google ads account to use the Planner to search for keywords and improve the youtube store’s SEO.
Pro tip: choose long-tail keywords to improve the SEO of your eCommerce website.
Long-tail keywords are more detailed, e.g. “Eco-friendly cat carrier bag for two cats” instead of “Cat carrier bag.” This helps reduce competition and bring in high-intent customers to your website.
8. Share Email Marketing Newsletters
Cost: Free to Low
Emails are in the middle of the list of top revenue sources, but they can work fantastically for your eCommerce business. Since most online customers aren’t ready to buy, you can get them to subscribe to your newsletter and nurture them until they are.
Get an email marketing app for Shopify and start building an email list. This way, you can send marketing campaigns to your subscribers (welcome emails, promos, sales, etc.) and recover abandoned carts with automatic emails.
Example: this product newsletter email from Vessi announces the arrival of new products. It has quality imagery and trust signals (free shipping, easy returns, and flexible payment options) near the CTA to encourage clicking.
Useful resources for Shopify email marketing:
9. Start a Customer Loyalty Program
Cost: Low to Medium
A customer loyalty program is a great technique to convince online shoppers to return to your website. So, you can drive direct traffic for a Shopify store this way. If your business offers exclusive bonuses and perks for shopping, many customers are likely to keep that in mind.
The loyalty program at Mack Weldon, a Shopify clothing store, has two levels.
Level one includes all customers who made one purchase are eligible. The reward is free shipping for all orders. Level two includes customers who spend over $200 within one year. The rewards are free shipping + 20% off for all orders.
Consider designing a customer loyalty program to drive traffic to your Shopify store. This could be an effective strategy to attract direct visitors.
Pro tip: Let customers choose their own rewards.
Here’s why: Research suggests that 86% of customers want to have the freedom to select loyalty rewards. You can, for example, offer free shipping, discounts, cashback, and/or points.
ELO, a clothing seller, used push notifications to share discounts for second orders to build loyalty. Over 20% of customers who read the notifications went on to buy using a discount. Learn more: ELO Case Study.
10. Get Included in Gift Guides
“And the ideal gift this holiday season is... [your product].”
Wouldn’t it be great if customers could read this in online gift guides?
Absolutely! And you can make it happen and drive traffic to your Shopify store. Since many online publications make gift guides for all kinds of occasions, they often look for fresh product ideas to add there.
For example, if we search for “Gift ideas for her,” we’ll get a bunch of pages with popular gift guides.
To drive traffic to your Shopify website this way:
- Google “Gift guides” or any other appropriate keywords
- Look at the results and choose the ones where your products could be a nice addition
- Reach out to those publications and ask to consider your products (you can contact guide authors (editors) or just message their customer support)
Pro tip: Write emails to editors with specific product gift ideas and explanations of why you chose those items.
Make a short and sweet email for a guide editor at least 3 months in advance of the holiday. Mention a few product examples from your store along with some bullet points explaining why they are great gifts.
11. Become a Sponsor for a Podcast
Cost: Low to Medium
Have you listened to any podcasts lately? If you have, chances are you’ve heard some information about sponsors that give away discount codes to listeners.
Podcasting is already a $1 billion industry, and marketing is a major growth driver there. With many podcasters having millions of subscribers, they are a cool, organic way to market and drive traffic to a Shopify store.
MeUndies is a successful brand using a podcast sponsorship strategy. It sold almost 9 million pairs of underwear within five years. One of the podcasts MeUndies sponsors is Jenna & Julien Podcast—here’s a dedicated landing page for this podcast with 15% off for its listeners.
Try researching popular podcasts that your target audience listens to. If you find something interesting, feel free to reach out to the creators with a partnership email. Since there are tons of podcasts about pretty much everything, you will surely find one that fits your budget.
How to Drive Traffic to a Shopify Store: Summary
It’s time for your Shopify store to get noticed. Consider trying these 11 strategies to drive traffic to Shopify—they could be a good start for your business. You can begin with those proven to get the most sales, according to research.
Once again, effective ways to boost Shopify store traffic:
- Create SEO-friendly blog content (organic + direct traffic)
- Do social media marketing (organic + direct)
- Use shoppable pins on Pinterest (paid)
- Run Instagram ad campaigns (paid)
- Use Google Shopping ads (paid)
- Try promotional push notifications (organic)
- Use Google Keyword Planner (organic)
- Share email marketing newsletters (organic)
- Start a customer loyalty program (organic + direct)
- Get included in online gift guides (organic)
- Become a sponsor for a podcast (paid + direct)