In times of recession, what is the most affordable way to create traffic to my eCommerce website?

Which would be the best way to create traffic to my eCommerce website without having to pay Google Ads or Facebook Ads? My country, South Africa, is going through a tough recession and we need to find every available way to save and yet still keep the business up and running.

I don’t have much marketing experience on my own yet so this is all anecdotal but I think it really has to do with what products/services you’re selling. For example:

  • If you’re doing fashion, then connecting with people on Instagram seems to do very well especially if you can pull it off without “hard selling”
  • For things people use often, like electronics, connecting with people on Twitter/YouTube seems to me to be a good fit
  • For things people need occasionally, like household things, Google/Facebook Ads is probably the best way unfortunately as their algorithms will show your ads to people who most likely need what you’re selling right then and there

For free, I think you can’t beat connecting with people via social media. SitePoint has really great articles that might help you get started: (skip to the “Latest” section).

Nowadays (in my experience) people connect strongly with stories, so you might be able to use the fact that your country is going through a recession to build a story and connect with people globally.


Thank you for your input. Believe me, I have used all forms of social media available, but the sales is just not happening! So frustrating.The link you sent is very helpful, still busy reading.

You asked about “traffic” but obviously you’re more interested in conversion - “sales”. Increased traffic does not necessarily correlate to increased conversion.

If the economy is indeed suffering, it makes sense to me that more would take more care with discretionary (non-essential, luxury) spending.

I think maybe the best approach would be to present the product as an investment instead of a luxury. That is, by spending x one would be able to sell for eg. 3x.

Still a narrow target audience, but you may have better luck if you try that approach.

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Your explanation or opinion is very clear and to the point. You make a lot of sense. Before this recession, I invested a lot of money on google ads, Facebook, etc. I now find I need to rely or find a way to use Social Media to keep my business afloat. I deal with underfloor heating and its not the easiest to promote on Social Media.
Thank you.