The e-commerce world is one of fierce global competition. Wherever you look on social media today, influencers are often calling the shots through strategic use of keywords, hashtags, product reviews and more. But every dream starts somewhere, and at one point in time, each of today’s influencers was yesterday’s wannabe. Here are 5 tips to get you started down the road to becoming an influencer and successful e-commerce professional tomorrow!

Tip #1: Offer a fun (and useful) freebie.

Take a look at your current store inventory and think of activities or education that relates to what you offer. Then create a free video, white paper or app to add value to a customer’s purchase.

Example: As reported by Practical Ecommerce, Columbia Sportswear created a Knot app to go along with its sportswear line. The free app teaches users how to tie different knots.

Tip #2: Ask for customer reviews.

Asking for customer reviews is not for the thin-skinned. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, someone won’t like something they buy from you. But in most cases, your reviews should be positive (if they are not, this too can give you valuable information). And reviews from customers is like free advertising for you.

Example: As reported by Entrepreneur, a full 88 percent of customers will trust a review they read online over other recommendation types. Reviews are worth their weight in future sales.

Tip #3: Use other tools that can send customers to your site.

Finding tools and apps to help you promote your e-commerce store evolves from knowing who the influencers are, how other companies are marketing their products and what is “hot” in your field. But suffice it to say, with new tools and apps being released daily, you won’t have a shortage of choices.

Example: is becoming an e-commerce mainstay for Instagram, allowing users and stores to connect by transforming Instagram pics into shoppable links.

Tip #4: Build your social media network relentlessly.

Social media has turned the world of e-commerce into an increasingly mobile, real-time world. Influencers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other avenues do not outsource their social media presence to others – they show up in person to interact and are rewarded with new fans and more sales.

Example: Postcron emphasizes the importance of posting several times daily to your social media accounts, and doing so strategically (time of day, content, number of posts, competitor analysis). If this is challenging for you, tools are available to help you pre-schedule your posts at times you can’t be available online.

Tip #5: Start a blog, guest blog and blog some more.

As it turns out, there still is no good substitute for the good old-fashioned blog. Only today’s bloggers are incorporating important elements like video, social media links, reciprocal guest blogging (where you post on someone else’s blog and then they post on yours and you both get the benefit of twice the readership) and more.

Not only should you have your own blog, which give you the flexibility to post what you want and arrange for strategic alliances, but you should seek out influential bloggers and cultivate their participation in your projects.

Example: Mashable highlights several high-class, ethical ways to use your blog to generate more traffic, including well-placed SEO (search engine optimization) keywords, meta tags, hash tags, guest bloggers, an online community, link building and much more.

In Conclusion: Generating New Traffic is a Day-by-Day Process

It is absolutely normal and natural to feel overwhelmed when you first set out to increase traffic to your e-commerce site. You will experience the most success by picking your battles (for instance, if you don’t have time to be everywhere on social media, just focus on Facebook and Instagram where you know e-commerce sales conversions are high).

After you add in one new tool, spend some time really learning how that tool works before adding another. Finally, make it your goal to build a toolkit that says “you” and invest in creating communities to make friends out of your fans. In this way, your e-commerce traffic will increase daily.