The Single Best Way to Get Traction for Your Ecommerce Startup


Let’s set the record straight.

If you are brand new to running an ecommerce business and think that "doing light SEO, social, or ads" is going to be a path to overnight success... stop what you are doing and read this closely.  

If you want early traction, the problem you need to solve immediately is getting in front of as many real people who're actually interested in what you sell as fast as possible. Posting to an empty Facebook page isn’t going to help.

Relying on Google to send search traffic, at least right away, is a risky bet too - they don't tend to trust new websites right away

I get it, some part of us really wants to believe that all it takes to be an online success is a couple of posts to Facebook, all of our friends will be interested, they’ll tell all their friends and BOOM our store is “the next big thing.”

But it doesn’t work this way. There’s been a huge disservice done to an entire generation of entrepreneurs who have been bred to believe that if their product is good, it’s their customer’s job to market the company for them.


If you want traction for your ecommerce startup, you have to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and start reaching out to people you don’t know.

We’ve become so afraid to ask that it’s like we’re waiting for someone to give us permission to live our dream.  

“I don’t want to come off as spammy.” “But what if they turn me down?” “People don’t like being sold to.”

The thing is, most everyone has it backwards.

Once you’ve reached out to bloggers, you can build up your backlinks that'll contribute to your SEO. Once you have customers, you can direct them to your social accounts. Once you have sales, you can build an ad budget and experiment.

But if you put these things first, all you’re doing is scrambling to get a return on the time and money you’ve invested and you'll likely find yourself at a deficit.  

Remember there was a time before the internet when hustling was the only way to do business. People went door to door, they hit the phones, they sent out letters and heard “no” often.  

Realistically hard-nosed hustling is still is the only way to start, and the tools the internet provides - Social media, SEO, etc. - only enhances the efforts that are built on that foundation of hustle.

Watch this video from Gary Vaynerchuk, and realize that, to some degree, this is what you need to be doing every. single. day.  

Want to get advertisers on your blog

Want to get advertisers on your blog? #throwback #Video

Posted by Gary Vaynerchuk on Sunday, April 12, 2015


Even if you’re not doing exactly what Gary is doing, that’s the hustle you need to bring your "thing" into the world.

That might include:

  • Requesting guest posts
  • Asking for product reviews
  • Reaching out to potential cross-marketing partners
  • Getting featured in videos
  • Getting on the shelves of local stores
  • Pulling a stunt that gets press

Instead of posting to an empty Facebook page, partner with someone who runs an active page or group. Instead of “Pinning” to empty boards, get featured on an active Pinterester’s board. Talk to people with reach.  

Do things that actively put you in front of people so that you know without a shadow of doubt they’re seeing your message. Do this until it’s near impossible to manage on your own. That is what you need for traction.

SEO, Social media marketing, paid ads... these are great if (and it’s a big IF) you have the knowledge, skills, and budget necessary to do them justice. But from my experience, new entrepreneurs default to these when they haven’t put thought into a marketing plan and don’t want to face the harsh reality of rejection.

It’s easy to blame Google for not sending you traffic. It’s easy to blame Facebook’s algorithm for “killing reach”, it’s easy to blame not using the right hashtags on Instagram, or calling Twitter too noisy, or not using “compelling” enough headlines, or pinning to the right boards, or using the wrong call to action…

It’s easy to gravitate towards these tactics because it’s easy to blame things you have little control over when they don’t work out.   

Watching that cursor blink as you try to think of the perfect subject line, knowing there’s a distinct possibility that the person you’re about to email might say “no” or worse, tell you your idea isn’t valuable enough, or unique enough, or just plain not good enough… That’s much harder.

It’s hard to stay focused after dealing with rejection. Waking up everyday feeling like you’re on the brink of something great even though you’re the only person who knows it; that’s difficult.

You have to trust that what you’re trying to do is worth fighting for, and if it isn’t, that you can learn from it without letting negativity destroy you.

If you want early traction, you need to send emails until your fingers blister. You need to make phone calls and talk to people you feel you have no business talking to. You need courage to do it confidently and thick skin to handle rejection.

If you want early traction, you need to reach out and take it.

About The AuthorAbout The Author

Tommy Walker is a Conversion Optimization enthusiast and Content Strategist at Shopify. Get more from Tommy on Twitter.