E-commerce is big business. So big, in fact, that in the US alone e-commerce accounted for 13% of all retail sales in 2017, to the tune of a staggering $453.46bn in sales.
It’s one of the fastest growing commercial sectors in the online space and it’s not just huge brand names that are bagging all the cash, as suggested by an increasing amount of independent retailers emerging on the market.
But for e-commerce retailers, it’s not all smooth sailing as advertising costs often come at a premium, and finding the best performing traffic sources for your store is essential if you wanna maintain a positive ROI.
Factor in fierce competition, pressure to align with industry trends and ongoing development costs and it’s easy to see why finding high performing traffic sources at low cost continues to be a top priority for online retailers.
Fortunately, many of the ad networks we’re gonna touch on here have been quick to adapt to this trend, and you’ll find a variety of solutions for e-commerce advertisers which are gonna provide you with time-tested results.
Now let’s cut to the chase and start analyzing the best e-commerce traffic sources!
List of the Best E-commerce Traffic Sources
Ready to understand what are the best e-commerce traffic sources you need to know right now?
Check the list!
With precision tools for targeting consumer interests and the ability to control every aspect of your campaign objectives, it’s no surprise that social advertising has long been one of the most popular advertising channels for online retailers.
Often thought of as The Holy Grail of e-commerce advertising, social advertising is a traffic source that you simply must not overlook.
The ability to create specialized audience lists and advertise to millions of users with specific targeting options makes social advertising a favorite choice for many leading brands and advertisers.
Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram are all excellent sources of traffic, with Facebook sitting pretty much at the top.
Online retailers have plenty of options to bring focus to each stage of the sales process: from brand awareness and reach campaigns, to engaging users with page content, lead gen campaigns or campaigns that drive conversions on their sales pages.
With Facebook ads, you’re gonna be able to optimize every aspect of your campaign.
Start by installing the Facebook pixel on your site and make sure to use the advanced reporting tools so you can drill down into the granular performance of the campaign.
You’re gonna be able to specify on which platforms you wanna bid to target customers who are most likely to purchase from your offer or interact with your content.
The choice of available formats gives an extra degree of flexibility and command over your campaigns, with multi-product ads, canvas ads and dynamic ads typically getting top ratings from e-commerce advertisers.
Plus, if you wanna try something fresh to grab your customer’s attention, you can dip into Instagram stories or collections ads to showcase products in new and innovative ways. And that’s not all, you can even sell directly via shopping ads allowing you to reach up to 400 million active daily users.
Provided you’ve got high-quality images of your product (and if you don’t, then it’s time you splashed out on a good photo shoot) you’ll also find Pinterest to be a goldmine for online retailers.
These ads have the advantage of adopting a native format and blend in on the page with surrounding pins, creating a seamless experience for users.
Pinterest claims that 61% of its users have made a purchase after seeing business content on Pinterest, so make sure to start pinning if you wanna benefit from this high converting traffic source.
Another type of advertising you gotta take advantage of is influencer marketing on social media platforms.
There are scores of platforms allowing you to discover and contact influencers who are perfect for your brand and will lend social proof and act as brand advocates to their collective millions of followers.
Influencer marketing is set to become one of the fastest growing ways to reach and attract new customers to your offer, so make sure to act fast if you wanna snag the perfect brand advocate before someone else gets them first.
Unfortunately, having a well-structured site that’s optimized for search is no longer enough. There’s plenty of competitors with huge budgets that simply leave new advertisers lost in the noise.
Luckily there’s a wildcard for you here – paid search!
It helps bridge the gap by displaying your ad on top search engines and their collective network of quality publisher sites, which is an awesome way to gain visibility by millions of potential new customers.
Recent developments in user experience, along with numerous technological advances, have secured paid search as one of the leading solutions for advertisers of all kinds.
It’s an advertising model that’s been around for many years and has been the core of advertising strategy for many e-commerce retailers and affiliates.
The pay per click model remains an extremely lucrative and powerful advertising source for online retailers or affiliates who are looking to send high-quality traffic to e-commerce offers.
Both Google Ads and Bing Ads have been closely aligned with the goals of e-commerce retailers in mind, so you’re gonna find their ads to be among the highest performing in terms of impressions, click-through rates, and conversions.
Sounds great, right! Of course, quality comes at a price so, if you are serious about this, you’re gonna (probably) have to pay a premium when you create a campaign with these brands.
To reduce your costs, check for any coupons or offers you’ve got in your email and optimize your campaigns from start to end to improve quality score and bring down the cost per click.
It’s also worth mentioning that paid search has a long association with big name brands such as Google and Bing, and ads that appear on these sites are generally considered to be from credible brands in the eyes of potential buyers.
Having said all of this, it’s no surprise that many online retailers use Search as their primary source of advertising.
The Google and Bing platforms help you target customers who are searching for products like yours or browsing their network of partner sites.
If you have a large inventory of products you may wanna take a look at Google product listing ads. These are a great way to cement your brand as a serious contender in the online advertising space.
There are numerous other PPC networks that you can also test to see how well they convert for you, but we’re gonna cover them some other time. Stay tuned.
Set to become one of the most widely used ad formats in the near future, native ads represent a golden opportunity for e-commerce retailers and affiliates.
The format is meshed perfectly with the surrounding content and often takes the form of recommended posts or stories which have relevance to the article on the page.
You’re gonna notice that publishers follow similar approaches to how they integrate native ads with their own content, and it’s not unusual to see their ads displayed as recommended sponsored content following an article on major publications such as Forbes or the NY Post.
You’re soon gonna discover that some publishers perform better for your vertical than others, so make sure to choose the right geographical location and category for your offer. It’s a smart move to also check out similar creatives in your vertical for inspiration.
Ready to get your feet wet with native ads?
Here’s a tried and tested way to start: set-up an account with Revcontent and Taboola. Both have large publisher networks and are well known for being big hitters when it comes to promoting e-commerce offers.
Other excellent choices for native ad networks that are gonna give you good integration and performance with e-commerce offers are:
So how to go about using native ads for your e-commerce offers?
First, you’re gonna need to create an ad with a striking image and attention-grabbing headline to entice the reader to click. You can find great native ads tips on Mobidea Academy if you’re getting started.
Once you’ve decided on how you wanna frame your offer, make sure you set the right targeting options to maintain relevance to the content on the page.
With some native traffic sources, such as Outbrain, you’re gonna be able to get traffic starting at just $.10 per click, making it a great choice if you need high-quality traffic at affordable rates.
Taboola, on the other hand, will typically cost you $.35+ per click, but they do have additional features and more traffic, which makes them an ideal traffic source for high volume campaigns.
Alternatively, if you wanna try one of the more innovative networks in the native advertising space, look no further than MGID.
They’re something of a global pioneer in the realm of native advertising and not only do they have awesome placements but also feature some of the hottest publishers around.
MGID works closely with advertisers to increase conversions and has excellent targeting options to make sure their traffic outperforms the competition.
Their real-time analytics program is incredibly easy and intuitive to use and even integrates with Google Analytics so you can keep track of performance and optimize every aspect of your campaign on the go.
This platform reaches more than 850 million unique monthly visitors, and if those numbers aren’t convincing enough so you check them out, we don’t know what is!
Here’s the sweetest part! If you wanna get started with MGID and explore this platform like a pro, we’ve got a special deal, which gives you an immediate exclusive 25% bonus (up to $5000).
Mobile is another format that’s seen rapid and substantial growth.
E-commerce sales from mobile rack up at 38% and keep rising, so right now you won’t find a better traffic source with such low costs and such a high revenue potential. If you do, give us a call!!
When testing your campaigns for either search, social or native advertising, you absolutely gotta separate your mobile traffic from other devices, as this traffic is gonna convert differently for your offer.
Mobile traffic is great not only because it drives higher interaction, but also because it allows you to focus on the user behaviour to further boost engagement and generate more conversions.
You may also wanna look into push notifications, as this is a sure fire way to reach your target audience and capture their attention in real time.
Push notifications typically have a low CPC and can reach hundreds of millions of users, but their best advantage is that ads are shown to real users only.
Some popular ad networks that work with push notifications include:
Planning Your Campaign
Before you rush promoting on any one traffic source, it’s a good idea to draw up a plan of what you expect to gain from the process.
Pay attention to the following elements to match your campaign to the product you are selling.
The objective is to find highly targeted traffic, that not only converts for your niche but is cheap enough to reduce your eCPC, while promoting a positive ROI.
Needless to say, be aware of your niche when planning your campaigns.
It has become increasingly difficult to compete with big brand retailers on top category products, so the more you specialize in your niche, the better.
Focus on the specifics of the offer you’re promoting and brainstorm ideas on industry trends from advertisers similar to you.
Recent advances in technology, such as behavioral targeting and contextual advertising have made it an exciting time for e-commerce retailers and affiliates.
E-commerce is such a driving force in online sales, that ad networks just gotta respond by increasing their e-commerce advertising solutions and implementing tech that drives more conversions at affordable rates.
Once you choose a network to start with, it’s fundamental to always test your market, explore the different solutions at your disposal and measure every aspect of your traffic source and creatives. Like, constantly! Do that and you’re gonna be well on the way to a profitable campaign in no time at all!
While you don’t have to limit yourself to the solutions covered in this article, the traffic sources we’ve mentioned do score as the most used by super successful e-commerce brands and affiliates. It would be a shame if we didn’t tell you!
Let’s finish with a number!
That’s how much e-commerce sold in 2017. This amount is set to grow exponentially over the coming few years, so online retailers should expect a very very bright future.
Networks Account Manager
Francisco is a Portuguese swimmer who also happens to love the beautiful - yet challenging - art of media buying. He's super clever, analyzes data like the best of them, and is currently part of the Networks Team. He spends a lot of time creating the best articles possible for you to enjoy so pay attention and dive into one of his precious content gems right now!