And eCommerce store owners (who want to grow profitably) need to be doing all 3!

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been online for years or you’ve just launched, or if you sell on a little Etsy store or you’re making a motza on your own eCommerce website.

The fact remains: traffic = sales.

Without anyone visiting your online store, you ain’t gonna make money.

Read on for a clear description of the ONLY 3 ways to get website traffic.

Communicating with customers is essential

We communicate with our customers and potential customers in a variety of ways in order to build our brand and attract more customers.

Sometimes our content is designed to attract new people to our website, such as paid advertising.

Sometimes our content is designed to educate, such as blog articles.

And sometimes our content is designed to convert, such as product descriptions on our website.

The winning strategy

There are three primary strategies for attracting visitors to your website: Paid, Owned and Earned.

Paid is obvious. This is Advertising bought and placed by the business.

Owned means you are marketing via channels controlled by the business.

And earned means you are earning traffic from other sources, whether that’s earning your way up Google’s organic search rankings, or other people are talking about or sharing content or information about your brand.

Using a mix of all three is the winning strategy.

I see too many businesses throwing all their eggs in one basket when it comes to getting traffic to their site. For example, posting like a demon on Instagram and not doing anything else.

Sound familiar?

Read below as I describe your options in more detail and give you some examples.


When we think of using paid advertising to generate traffic to our website, typically our thoughts jump to running ads on Google or Social Media.

Right now, my clients are having best success with paid ads on multiple platforms, for example Facebook and Instagram as well as Google.

BUT, this is not the extent of the paid ads you can run. Other examples of paid ads include:

  • Paid ads on other platforms where your ideal customer hangs out, such as Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok or LinkedIn.
  • Exhibiting at expos, trade shows or markets (and the website listing you typically get with your booking),
  • Paying bloggers and influencers to write or post about your products on social media,
  • Running print, outdoor and TV advertising (truthfully, I don’t typically recommend these last options to anyone anymore, unless you have the deep pockets to fund the kind of advertising that helps you become omnipresent in the marketplace!)

Benefits of Paid advertising

Paying for advertising is targeted and allows you to reach a large audience.

Advertising via channels like Facebook, Instagram and Google can be flexible and cost effective, and (my favourite) they tend to be the most measurable options.

It’s also the most scalable option. Meaning, you can tip more money in and you get more traffic and sales out the other end.

Challenges of Paid advertising

The biggest difficulty for small businesses is that it can be difficult and costly to break through the ‘noise’ in the marketplace. IE get noticed amongst the competition.

Also, response rates tend to decline over time and this type of marketing often has a low perceived credibility amongst customers.


Continuously working on creating and building up our own marketing assets is incredibly important.

Examples of this kind of marketing include:

  • content on your own website (including product descriptions in your online store, any content pages you have and your blog)
  • Automated email funnels,
  • your email newsletter or other marketing emails sent to your list
  • content you share via your own branded social media channels
  • product packaging that sits on retailer shelves
  • any lead magnets, brochures or catalogues you produce

Benefits of Owned marketing assets

You have 100% control over all your own marketing materials. That means, full control over the way you present your brand, your offers and your messaging.

Strategies like Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and email marketing can be extremely cost effective and produce high returns on investment.

Challenges of Owned marketing assets

The biggest challenge with creating and distributing your own marketing content is that it requires consistent ongoing work to be effective. 

Additionally, they’re not exactly scalable, without other traffic-generating strategies to supplement them. 

So, typically you wouldn’t classify ‘owned traffic strategies’ as ‘set and forget’ kinds of marketing activities, and I certainly wouldn’t call them a ‘get rich quick’ strategy.


While most eCommerce businesses tend to naturally focus on the Paid and Owned marketing, not as many work hard at the Earned traffic.

What is Earned traffic? Well, it’s what happens when people totally love your stuff and they share it via word of mouth, traditional media or social media.

Examples include:

  • mentions, shares, re-posts, comments or other social media engagement
  • customer reviews and testimonials
  • media mentions or editorial coverage
  • Organic search traffic coming from search engines like Google. This requires working on your search engine optimisation, efforts that – strictly speaking – fall into the ‘owned’ category, given you’re in control of creating that content. However, the end result is ‘earning’ some lovely free traffic coming from organic search results.

Benefits of Earned marketing

Earning unsolicited recommendations is hands down the #1 most influential kind of marketing. Why?

Word of mouth has been proven to have the highest credibility of any kind of message about your brand.

Additionally, any kind of earned marketing will reinforce the paid advertising you are doing and improve your overall results.

Challenges of Earned marketing

Unfortunately, there are still downsides to this strategy.

Firstly, you have very little control over it, aside from simply asking customers to provide a review or recommendation.

Secondly, you are not in control of the ability to scale (increase) the amount of traffic you get to your website from reviews or recommendations.

So whilst I do want you to work on your Earned marketing, please do not rely on this as your only method of getting traffic to your website!

If you are someone who wants to rely on brand reps or influencers for all your marketing, this is a particularly important lesson for you!

Work with an eCommerce ad expert to get results faster

Now that you know ‘what’ your marketing and advertising activities you should be doing in order to get traffic to your website, you may want some help with the ‘how’.

If you want to achieve profitable growth for yourself as fast as possible, then why not book a free Strategy Session with my team?

It’s a conversation where we talk goals, hurdles and strategies, and there’s completely no-obligation on you to work with me afterwards.

If you’re looking to supercharge your product sales and boost profits instantly, then I invite you to book your session with us today.

Click here to find out about working with Catherine Langman

Updated 2nd March 2023