Methods to promote an e-Commerce system

Promoting an e-Commerce website can involve a mixture of technical, analytical, creative and marketing skills. There are various paid and free methods of promoting a website ranging from traditional advertising such as flyers and billboard ads to social media to search engine optimisation and pay per click ads. Competitions, viral videos and celebrity endorsements also common methods of promoting websites.

Choose an easy to remember domain name

Choosing an easy to remember, keyword-rich domain name is preferable to choosing a name that may contain dashes, numbers or non-dictionary words. For example if you’re selling chocolates online, the ideal domain name would be (or if targetting a UK audience). This is easy to remember and also contains the keyword that your target audience will be searching for so this domain name would perform well in search engines too. However, those short one or two dictionary word domain names are rarely available to register so businesses often have to get creative when coming up with names. This is why many popular apps and websites today ended up with names like twitter, pinterest, imgur etc… those names by themselves aren’t particularly easy to remember and don’t describe what the sites are about but they’re a good example of how an obscure phrase or non-dictionary word can still become known globally.

Search Engines
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of getting a website or web page higher up the pecking order in search engines through a combination of on-site and off-site work such as increasing the number of backlinks to the website or adjusting the website’s content to include keywords and phrases which users may be searching for.

Search engines send ‘spiders’ out to ‘crawl’ websites and webpages regularly and these spiders are designed to gather information about the page and report back to the search engine with their findings. The search engine then processes the information from spiders and determines how to rank websites based on the information received from spiders.

All e-Commerce websites should be implementing a search engine strategy and understand what the search spiders are looking for and what SEO is as it can potentially generate long term, organic, free traffic to the website. The other benefit of receiving traffic through search engines is that the traffic is usually highly targeted, meaning it’s more likely to result in a sale than other types of traffic. For example if someone searches for ‘buy chocolates online’, they’ve already indicated in the words they’re using that they’re interested in buying chocolates online – so this user is much more valuable to the e-Commerce website than a user who has arrived through a search for ‘chocolate recipes’ for example.

Social Media
Businesses can grow their following rapidly on social media at no or low cost simply by posting unique, innovative, humorous or useful content and engaging with customers. An e-Commerce business can pay for sponsored posts on both Facebook and Twitter which will ensure their material is seen by not only their existing following but also friends and connections of their followers along with a very specific targeted audience.

GoPro are a good example of a business that ow a lot of their success to social media. They encourage users to post photos taken with their product to their social profiles and publish a ‘photo of the day’ and ‘video of the day’ to their Facebook and Twitter. They regularly upload videos taken by their customers to their YouTube channel which help to highlight their product’s features in addition to entertaining people, promoting lesser known sports and encouraging people to live active, healthier lifestyles (their product is marketed as the world’s most versatile camera so they try to showcase their product in as many different locations / events / scenarios as possible). GoPro run daily competitions and giveaways which also attracts a steady stream of new potential customers.

Social media is also an excellent way to answer customer questions or concerns and keep people up to date with latest business news i.e. new product ranges, discounts, sales, events, job openings etc.. due to its informal nature, many people prefer sending a tweet or Facebook message rather than calling a company. It’s also free to communicate using social media or certainly cheaper than calling a premium support number.

Effective user interface

The user interface of an e-Commerce website should be simple and intuitive to use. It plays a large role in the overall user experience (UX) which influences a user’s behaviour, attitude and emotions when using the website or talking about a website with friends.


Giving away free things is always guaranteed to generate publicity. Many businesses run competitions in order to reward loyal customers, increase exposure and generate new leads both online and offline.

Many hotels for example will promote a free night away in the hotel with breakfast and dinner included. To enter, users usually must like or share the business on Facebook, follow them or retweet a status on twitter or perhaps subscribe to the hotel’s newsletter.

Several businesses also encourage users to enter competitions via hashtags by getting users to submit photos or stories of how they’ve interacted with the brand. The business will then pick a winner based on their favourite story / photo.  For example every Friday Ryanair promote their #RyanairFotoFriday competition in which users are encouraged to post photos of themselves on Ryanair flights. Ryanair’s favourite entry gets free flight vouchers.

PPC / Adwords
Google Adwords are the most popular form of pay per click advertising. Businesses can set up an account, create ads and enter keywords they want their ads to display for. For example if a Hotel in Cardiff wants to promote themselves any time people are searching for ‘Hotel Cardiff’, they could create an ad specifically tailored to people searching for ‘Hotel Cardiff’. Every time a user clicks on the ad, the business gets charged a small amount typically averaging about 30p per click but this varies based on industry, the amount of competition for keywords, whether users are on desktops / tablets / mobiles etc…

Viral Videos

In order to stand out from the crowd, video is one platform some businesses use to promote their products, brand or culture. It can be hard to create an interesting, informative or humorous video that appeals enough to people to make them want to share it but some great examples of viral videos include DollarShaveClub and T-Mobile’s Royal Wedding.

Celebrity Endorsements

Another quick method of generating publicity for a business is getting a celebrity endorsement or brand ambassador to promote the business.

Car manufacturers such as Audi often give free cars to footballers and celebrities knowing that said celebrities are constantly being photographed and swamped by huge numbers of fans at all times. There’s a high chance the car manufacturer will receive lots of subtle, indirect publicity as a result.

Businesses also regularly send freebies to celebrities in the hope of getting a tweet or shout-out on a celebrity’s social media profile which could mean exposure to thousands or millions of people.