Latest analysis suggests that around 34% of the total e-commerce revenue worldwide is generated by the top 1% of e-commerce sites. The headline of this statistic shows that there are some VERY large revenue-generators out there. The Goliath’s of the industry that we all know and love seem to be completely dominant and yet the corollary of this ratio is that 99% of e-commerce sites generate 66% of all e-commerce revenue.
So, guessing that if you are reading this, you are in the 99%, it must be reassuring to know that you are not alone in the fight to drive traffic to your shop.
If you had a physical store which was part of a retail community in say a small town and you sold pet products, then it might be reasonable to think that you would be the only store to do so. In the world of e-commerce, however, you are competing with all those other suppliers of similar products who can offer similar levels of convenience, price, and quality – almost irrespective of their geographic location.
As we’ve discussed in previous articles, it’s all about driving relevant traffic to your site and converting them once they are there. So, how about creating reciprocal partnerships with suppliers and service providers that have the same issues as you? Look at complementary rather than competing service providers and create links on each others’ sites. That way you are harnessing their traffic-generating efforts as well as your own while offering something that doesn’t cost you anything in hard cash
Let’s again take the example of your e-commerce site selling pet jackets. There are so many other products and services that pet owners need that don’t compete with you. Vets, obedience classes, pet food, outdoor pursuits, dog-friendly guesthouse- the list is extensive; and all these guys will have a website looking for traffic – just like you. If this were a physical store then you might put each-others flyers or posters on the wall – so do the same on your website and ask them to do the same on theirs.
Real estate on websites is obviously at a premium, and both you, and your reciprocal partners will not want to have a messy notice board all over your front page detracting from your own products and services. So perhaps create a ‘useful links’ section and encourage your partners to do the same.
The process is rather like a loose version of an affiliates programme but without any money changing hands between the parties.
For the process to work there are some elements to consider:
- Make sure the links on your site look like a service to your customer rather than pure advertising.
- Don’t compromise the look and feel of your site to accommodate someone else’s style.
- Try to make sure that the reciprocal arrangement provides you with some benefit to you.
- Track the traffic through your analytics.
- Thinks about offering reciprocal discounts or free service enhancements for the traffic being sent from your partner sites. Possibly use a voucher or discount code.
- Think ‘outside the box’ when it comes to approaching reciprocal suppliers. Think about the likely interests of the people and match them to complementary products and websites.
As with all strategies, the success of a reciprocity programme will depend on the amount of time you have to contact and develop the partners.
Once the links are in place, then the communication workload will drop, and you can move onto the next part of your traffic-generating strategy.