Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A wacky way to increase store traffic

This is such a good tip, I'm almost afraid to share it with you. But please read it thoroughly and don't abuse it, okay?

When I began my yarn business on eBay, no one had heard of Life's an Expedition yarn and therefore no one was searching for Life's an Expedition yarn. Since most of my yarn is blended colors and blended fibers, I wasn't even coming up in searches for "cotton yarn" or "red yarn." So I tracked down some wholesales for Noro, Laines du Nord, Sirdar and other famous yarn brands and listed those as supplies. That way, people looking for Noro Kureyon, for example, would wander into my eBay store and see the Life's an Expedition yarn.

This is sort of a circuitous route to increasing traffic, I admit, and it's not as sound as having sought-after merchandise with good key words. But sometimes you have a product or series of products that are not searched-on or do not have great key words. Or maybe the tags are so over-used that they do not benefit you. Then your store sits there without traffic. So I brainstormed some ideas that could apply to these offbeat stores or products. These ideas do not replace using good tags and social media and all the other things we know to do. We're just playing "what if."

  • If you sell milk soap, you already know that people will search on that term. But what if you are getting lost in the huge sea of milk soap listings? Perhaps you can come up with some unusual scents to supplement your line and get a little attention. While it's true that more people are going to search for lemon or cucumber or vanilla, that doesn't help you if you are coming up low in Google searches. I know of a soap maker who created a beer soap. Before you shreik, "ew!" hear me out. Granted, most people will not search on beer soap, but when they do, she will be higher in the ranks than her competitors. Can you come up with an offbeat flavor or variation to supplement your normal line of whatever you sell?
  • I have struggled for years to sell my odd, peculiar, unconventional handbags. You would think that having something different would make them popular with a smaller segment of people, but it's been tricky. I don't even bother to use unique as a tag. People tag their merchandise as unique all the time and 95% of the time, it isn't unique at all. So for some products--such as my bags--I have found that it is beneficial to tag according to ambience or the character of the piece. For my bags, I use such tags as hippie and bohemian. It helps a little. I know that purse, messenger bag and clutch are practically useless in the vast internet sea of bags. Okay, so I'm still floundering with this concept, but maybe you can apply it to your own shop. Can you come up with a theme to some of your products? Something beyond vintage or retro.
  • If you sell jewelry, you know that a tag such as bracelet or necklace is like a drop of water in the ocean. You might try creating a torc or a circlet or something with a name that is unusual. This presumes that the piece you are promoting really IS a torc. If you are thinking, "Who the heck searches for a torc?!" well, you see that woman in the front row wildly waving her hand in the air? Yes, that would be me. I search on torc. I search on whatever offbeat jewelry name I can think of because when I want jewelry, I want something really unusual and often I have trouble finding anything unusual. Again, typing in unique or unusual doesn't work. Most of the pieces tagged with those words are not unusual.
What do you do if your product is a _____? Something that has no name?
  • Ah, the great unnamed hard-to-tag gizmo. I've got several of those. They are the kiss of death in Google searches. I make handwoven wall pockets that no one else makes, anywhere. At a craft show, people flock to these things. But I don't even know what to call them. No one searches on wall pockets, but wall decor is too vague. One solution I've tried in the past is to list wall mirrors, coat racks, etc., in the hope that people searching on those will browse my store and see the wall pockets. Can you think of any related items that you could make and sell--items with searchable names--that will bring people to look at your uncategorizable or unnameable items?
  • Remember my dilemma with yarn. Can you stock up on supplies of a famous brand name that pertains to your craft? Or you could do a little destash once in a while just to bring people in. Maybe customers will forget they were looking for Grumbacher oil paints when they see the drop-dead amazing painting you did. Maybe a destash of a famous fabric brand will lure someone into looking at those wacky quilted thing-a-ma-jigs you invented.
Some of these ideas will not help you in Google much. For example, there are so many hits for oil paint... eh, forget it. But within your own hosted venue, it might help.
WAIT. Before you run off and ruin the tagging universe, please realize that a targeted search using solid key words that pertain to your product is what shoppers want. Please don't sabotage that ideal by abusing tags. There's a big difference between getting creative and getting abusive with this.

For example, it just isn't right to tag your handknit scarf as a sweater on the off chance that someone looking for a sweater will like your scarf. Instead, you will attract someone looking for a sweater, sees your scarf instead, gets mad and leaves.
A more creative and legitimate approach would be to add felted wool leaves to several of your scarves and start a whole nature theme. Or adding leaves in shades of purple and black, instead of the more predictable green or autumn shades. Or using gingko leaf designs--something specific--because although many more people will search on leaves instead of gingko, you will stand out in searches when someone really does type in gingko. Or even coming up with work that incorporates name variations, such as gingko biloba.

Or if you were using maple leaves, you could use...umm...whatever the Latin word for maple might be. Acer? Yes, I realize that people are more likely to search on
maple than acer, but the point I'm making is that if you are desperately scrounging for legitimate tags, adding a personal touch to a product and adding an unusual tag might just help. In other words--brace yourself for another tree pun--we are talking about branching out in your product base or tagging. Not cheating with your tagging.

I am afraid that people will misinterpret some of what I have written here, so I feel compelled to add this: Please read Etsy rules about tag abuse before you go out there and create chaos, okay?

And also, if you are going to give funky names to your products, watch out for copyrights. I named a yarn Godzilla without realizing that name is not available and now I have to rename and relabel it. (Hanging my head in shame.) But you know, a yarn named Steve is very unlikely to violate any copyright. I'm not saying a yarn SHOULD be named Carl, but at least it's different.

dj runnels

Visit my shop: Life's an Expedition
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