Anyone can choose a hot product, find a reliable supplier and build a beautiful dropshipping store on Shopify.
But what good are those things without a steady stream of visitors to your online store?
The biggest challenge for online sellers is generating traffic.
Traffic is your lifeblood.
Without it, you don’t generate any leads and you won’t make any sales.
And making sales is the whole point of creating a dropshipping store, right?
The thing is, you’re probably attracted to dropshipping because it’s cheap to get started.
But generating traffic typically requires advertising, and advertising costs money.
I’ve seen so many dropshippers give up because they’re not prepared to invest in things like Facebook or Google ads.
Or they’re not willing to put in the hard work required for content marketing or building an email list.
In this article, I’m going to lift the lid on effective low-cost ecommerce marketing and advertising strategies.
By low-cost I’m talking $0 to $100.
However, I highly recommend using a mixture of paid and free marketing strategies for your store so you reap both short-term and long-term benefits.
The strategies in this post have all been tried and tested and are proven to work when applied correctly.
However, success will vary depending on the product you’re selling and how well your store is set up.
So before you try implementing these marketing strategies, make sure you know:
And be sure to check out:
If you’re confident that you’ve got a great product and your dropshipping store is a well-oiled machine, then these low-budget strategies will help you to generate more traffic and sales.
Why you need a marketing strategy for dropshipping
The old saying “Build it and they will come” simply does not apply to your dropshipping store.
There are currently more than a million stores on Shopify with more being launched every day.
And then you’ve got online retail behemoths like Amazon, eBay, Etsy and more to compete with.
Why would anyone choose your store?
You’ve got to give them a reason to choose you.
That’s what a marketing strategy does. It gets your store in front of your target customers and gets them to buy what you’re selling.
I can guarantee you that if you simply launch a dropshipping store, put a few posts on Facebook and Instagram, and write a blog post or two, you’re not going to generate traffic or make sales and your store will splutter to a halt.
I’m sorry, but it’s true.
But a marketing strategy sounds expensive?..
I know you chose dropshipping because the barrier to entry is low. It costs next to nothing to get started and it’s a great way to begin with ecommerce.
So all this talk of marketing strategies and advertising might set off alarm bells for you.
I get it.
But the thing is, marketing and advertising doesn’t have to be expensive.
Yes, big brands spend hundreds of thousands on advertising.
But plenty of successful online sellers get started with just $50-$100 worth of Facebook ads.
That’s all you need to validate your store and get the sales ball rolling.
Even more, there are plenty of free marketing strategies you can use to get traffic to your store.
It doesn’t matter which strategy you choose to implement (although some will be better suited to your store than others).
What matters is that you choose at least one low-budget strategy, and take action!
How to create a high-converting dropshipping ad
A quality ad creative is essential for grabbing people’s attention while they’re scrolling through social media, or searching online.
Short video ads are the most effective for dropshipping right now.
But images accompanied by quality copy can also produce good results.
You can often get basic photos and video footage of your product from your supplier (they might even have a decent promo video that you can edit to look even more professional).
But the optimal approach is to order your product from your supplier and shoot your own photos and videos to use in your ads.
A good dropshipping ad should be:
- Eye catching (colorful, fast cuts, surprising)
- Entertaining/funny (something that makes people click ‘like’)
- Informative (it shows your product in action)
- Insightful (it shows how your product solves a problem they have)
- Short (15-30 seconds is enough)
- Persuasive (makes them want to click the link)
You also want to create hooky headlines and persuasive copy for your ads.
The main questions you should be asking of every dropshipping ad you create is: “Will this ad entertain, educate, or surprise my audience?” and “What will my audience feel compelled to do after seeing my ad?”
Where to get inspiration for your dropshipping ads
One of the best ways to learn how to create an effective dropshipping ad is by spying on other ads.
That way you can see what’s worked before and, effectively, “borrow” ideas and strategies from other online sellers.
How to spy on your competitors’ dropshipping ads
It’s easy to spy on other sellers’ ads and get inspiration for your own.
1. Facebook Search
Go to Facebook, and type “free worldwide shipping” in the search bar.
Then filter the results by “videos”.
Most of the videos that show up will be from other dropshippers who are selling on Facebook.
Look at the views and engagement on the videos to get an idea of which ones are converting well and take note of what makes the video effective.
2. Facebook Ads Library
You can use the Facebook Ads Library to look at active ads from any business.
Just go to the link and type in the business or page name and, if they have active ads, they’ll show up in the library.
This is a great way to look at both big brands and your competitors’ ads to get inspiration and ideas.
Pay attention to their headlines, copy, and visual content to see what works and what doesn’t.
OK, let’s get into the low-cost marketing strategies.
1. Low-cost Traffic via Facebook Ads for Dropshipping
Facebook ads have become the number one way for dropshippers to drive traffic to their store and start making sales.
That’s because Facebook is huge, with 2.6 billion active users all over the world.
Facebook has also built a powerful, easy-to-use advertising machine that lets you target users based on location, gender, age, interests, and more!
You can also choose how much you want to spend per day on your ads so you don’t blow your budget.
The more you spend, the more people Facebook will show your ads to.
Facebook is the perfect testing ground for dropshipping products as you can see how people are responding to your ads in real-time.
If you’re brand new to Facebook ads and you’ve never heard of the words “pixel” or “ad set” before, then I highly recommend taking our Dropshipping with Shopify course.
You’ll learn all about Facebook ads (and everything else you need to know about starting a dropshipping store on Shopify) from Sarah, a successful six-figure dropship store owner.
A few notes on this low-budget Facebook ads strategy:
- You can spend more money if you have it (10 ad sets or a daily budget of $10 a day will naturally be more effective and provide you with more data)
- Content is king. The quality of your videos, images and copy will largely determine the success of your ads.
- The world’s best Facebook ad won’t compensate for a poorly-designed store. The ad is the bait, but your store is where you secure the sale.
The best Facebook ads strategy for beginners
- Create two different video ads and include copy that promotes benefits over features
- Create a new campaign in Facebook Ads manager and set the objective to ‘Conversions’
- Create six ad sets within the campaign. Set Conversion Event to ‘Purchase’
- Give each ad set a daily budget of $5
- Target specific countries you want to sell to (Most dropshippers target the “Big 4”, USA/Canada/UK/Australia to start with). Only target men or women if your product is gender-specific. Don’t worry about age
- For Detailed Targeting, come up with one unique interest for each ad set (if you sell dog toys, interests could be: Dog owners, Dog toys, Pets, Dog training, Pet products, Pet care)
- Add your two video ad creatives to each ad set and link to your Product page
- Run the campaign
- After day one, kill the ad creative with the higher cost per click (if CPC is over $1 kill both and start again)
- Identify the ad set that’s generating the most ‘Add to Cart’ and ‘Purchases’ and invest more in that one
Because Facebook owns Instagram, you can also choose to show your Facebook ads to Instagram users.
While I’d recommend creating specific creatives for Instagram, as the two platforms are very different, you may want to experiment running ads across both platforms.
2. Low-cost Traffic via Google Ads for Dropshipping
Google ads can be a great way to drive traffic to your store. There are 3.5 billion Google searches every day, and your store can tap into that traffic.
The Google ads landscape is vast and, if I’m honest, quite confusing for beginners.
However, the low-budget strategy I share below is also the most simple way to get started with Google ads as most of the process is automated.
All you have to do is connect your store with Shopify’s Google Shopping app and follow the instructions below.
Google will choose the best places for your ads to appear and the best people to show them to.
A few notes on this low-cost Google ads strategy:
- Because the process is automated, you need to make sure you have high-quality product images and descriptions on your store as Google will pull these automatically
- You can start with $5 a day, but you’ll want to run your campaign for at least two weeks and ideally 30 days (total spend = $150)
- This automated process is great for getting started, making early sales and collecting audience data, but, going forward, you should look to build more customized Google ads
The best Google ads strategy for beginners
Create a Google Merchant Centre Account (you can do this within your Shopify account)
- Install the Google Shopping app in your Shopify store (or use this one), which automatically syncs your products with your Google Merchant Account
- Choose which products you want to advertise and ‘Edit Google Shopping Fields’ to include relevant keywords based on your own keyword research
- Within the Google Shopping app, click ‘Create Campaign’, give it a name like “New store traffic” and choose a relevant Activity Name
- You can start with a budget of as little as $5 a day
- Click ‘Publish’ and Google’s AI takes care of the rest. It will create audiences based on your keywords and even retarget people who have visited your store
3. Low-cost Traffic via Instagram Influencer Marketing for Dropshipping
Influencer marketing can be a powerful, low-cost way to get immediate traffic and sales.
Research suggests that for every $1 marketers spend on influencer marketing, the returns are anywhere from $7 to $18.
That’s really high ROI, but it all depends on which influencers you choose to work with.
Let’s say you sell are dropshipping pet supplies. There’s no point trying to find some fashion model to promote your product.
You’ll want to search for Instagram accounts that are relevant to your niche - ones that post cute dog photos.
The thing about influencer marketing is the traffic is instant. The influencer’s followers will see the post or story within 24 hours and will decide to take action, or not, in the moment.
If you pay, say, $50 to an influencer (or simply send them a free product) and make just 5 sales of a $30 product, you’ve already tripled your investment.
A few notes on this low-budget Instagram influencer strategy:
- Make sure you create ads that fit Instagrams unique post and story specifications
- Instagram stories might be a better place for your ad as the ‘Swipe Up’ feature can take people straight to your store (rather than the ‘link in bio’ approach)
- An influencer with 13,000 followers that fits your niche perfectly and has a loyal following might be better than a theme account with 1.3 million followers
The best low-cost Instagram influencer strategy for beginners
- Search Instagram for accounts and hashtags related to your niche
- Look for accounts with a large number of followers (at least 10k), but also check for how much engagement (likes, comments) their posts get
- Message 5-10 accounts simply asking for advertising or promo rates (they may have different rates for posts and stories)
- Alternatively, ask if they are interested in free product in exchange for a shoutout or, if you have a decent following, you could even ask to exchange a shoutout for a shoutout (a shoutout is a promotional post)
- Decide which rates you’re comfortable with (it could range from $25 to $250) and agree to a deal
- Provide the influencer with the video or image ad you want them to run (try and make it similar to other things they post so it doesn’t feel like an ad)
You can apply this same strategy with influencers on other social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, too.
Depending on your target customer, those platforms might even be better for your particular product.
4. Free Instagram marketing for dropshipping
You know how I said you can get started with dropshipping for ZERO dollars.
If I really had no money to spend on the advertising and marketing strategies above, this is what I’d do.
I’d build a popular Instagram account.
Now, this is a long-term strategy. But I’ve seen people build legitimate Instagram accounts with tens of thousands of followers in a month or two.
It takes time, but it’s 100% free.
The best free Instagram marketing strategy for beginners
- Create an Instagram account related to your niche and start posting photos 2-4 times per day
- Target hashtags related to your niche. Use free photos from Unsplash and Pexels, repost other people’s images, or share funny memes and gifs
- Add the link to your Shopify store in the bio of your Instagram account and occasionally post photos of your product (in a way that it looks natural amongst your other images)
- Continue growing your niche Instagram account organically. It’s only a matter of time before you get a few sales
- As soon as you’ve made a few sales, start investing that money in paid advertising (either Facebook or Google ads)
5. Content marketing and blogging for dropshipping
Creating valuable content is the most effective way to get traffic to your online store for free.
It takes time to create, but you don’t have to spend a cent.
What’s the best type of content to create? Blogs.
That’s because blogs are hosted on your website, not on some other platform.
You want more people visiting your store, not clicking through to a Youtube video or a podcast episode on Spotify (although both of those forms of content have their merits, too).
Blogs are excellent for:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Building a loyal audience
- Establishing authority and credibility
A high-quality blog will increase your ranking on Google and provide many more opportunities for people to click through to your store.
The best free content marketing strategy for beginners
- Come up with a list of 20 blog post ideas. I recommend using a free keyword research tool or you can simply type phrases related to your niche into Google and see what suggestions pop up
TIP: Don’t just focus on keywords. Think about problems or questions that your customers might have related to your niche, and provide detailed solutions are answers to them. For example, if you sell dog toys, you could do a whole series of blog posts on, “5 Best Dog Walking Parks in [Every Town/City/State]” or something as simple as “The 20 Cutest Dog Photos on Instagram This Month”. The options are limitless.
- Write one or two blog posts per week
- Share your blogs on social media. You can even post them in relevant Facebook groups or Reddit threads to reach more people, and share them in a weekly newsletter
- Promote your products in posts where relevant and make it easy for readers to find your online store
- Try to keep up a regular blogging schedule as it’s an investment that compounds over time
As I mentioned, other forms of content marketing include YouTube videos and podcasts.
6. Email marketing for eCommerce (free strategy)
A decade ago, so-called experts were predicting the end of email. Today, it’s more powerful than ever.
Email marketing is a long-term marketing strategy, but it’s worth getting started from day one.
You start with building an email list, which means collecting people’s emails at every opportunity.
You could run a competition on your social media pages that requires people to enter using their email.
You could set up a pop-up on your website that offers visitors a discount or coupon code in exchange for their email address.
Email marketing is not the best strategy for getting traffic to your store from day one.
But having an email list is a great long-term strategy for driving traffic to your store consistently.
If you put a reasonable amount of effort into making your newsletter fun, entertaining or informative (or all three), then your subscribers will be more inclined to open your emails.
The best free email marketing strategy for beginners
- Give people a compelling reason to hand over their email address (competition, discount, the promise that they’ll get great content related to their interests)
- Use free email marketing software like Mailchimp, GetResponse, or Omnisend to manage your email list and your newsletter
- Set up an automated welcome email for subscribers that explains what you do and pushes them to your store with an offer
- Send regular emails with valuable content (ideally links to your blog posts), your latest products, or anything that’s going to educate or entertain your subscribers. An easy way to start is by creating emails for events and holidays like Black Friday, Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve etc)
- Always include a reason for them to click through to your website (but don’t make it spammy!)
7. Free Pinterest marketing for dropshipping
Similar to the free Instagram strategy above, you can use Pinterest to drive organic traffic to your store.
Pinterest is an untapped opportunity for dropshippers. Research has found that more than 50% of Pinterest users are actively looking for products to buy on the platform.
Pinterest is especially powerful if you’re in niches such as homeware, kitchenware, fashion, jewellery, health and fitness, or DIY niches as it’s a popular place for people looking for inspiration in those areas.
It’s basically a search engine for cool products.
The great thing about Pinterest, unlike Instagram, is that your ‘pins’ can link directly back to your store, which helps to generate organic traffic.
It will also help with overall SEO.
A few notes on this free Pinterest strategy:
- Use a website like Canva to create pins that look great and are consistent with your brand
- Don’t only share photos of your products. When you’re starting out you should also create boards and share pins that are relevant to the lifestyle your brand represents
- You’re competing directly with other images to grab people’s attention, so put some effort into making your pins and boards visually appealing
The best free Pinterest marketing strategy for beginners
- Create a Pinterest account under your store name (or at least something similar to it)
- Create 10-15 boards for different topics related to your niche. To use the above example of kitchenware brand, Joseph Joseph, they created boards like ‘Kitchen Organisation’, ‘Recipes’, ‘Useful Utensils’, ‘Christmas Gift Ideas’ and a whole lot more
- Upload all of your product images to the relevant boards and include links to your store (make sure to include your keywords in your titles and descriptions)
- Upload original images of your products being used in different contexts and also create pins for each of your blog posts (with links!)
- Pin images from other Pinterest users that are relevant to your boards (just be careful of sharing competitors’ products)
- Engage with and follow other Pinterest users (you can start by following people who follow your competitors)
- Post new pins regularly and focus on creating a community around your brand. Your organic traffic will grow over time
Time to generate traffic!
So there you have it, 7 proven ways to drive traffic to your dropshipping store on a tight budget.
Now it’s time to choose which strategies you’re going to use (remember I suggest using one free and one paid method) to start getting visitors and making sales.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or suggestions regarding these, or other, low-cost marketing strategies for dropshipping.
Also, drop a comment If you’d like me to cover any other low-cost marketing strategies and I’ll make sure to add it to the post.