Setting up an e-commerce store is a big achievement. Once you have launched your products in the market, it is time to work for traffic to pour into your site. This particular phase is the hardest one for an e-commerce merchant – especially a new one.
Moving from the launch to carving your place in the market is a process that takes time, effort, money and strategy. The customers and relationships you gain in the early stages of your business are crucial for the development of your brand in the long run.
While e-commerce is here to stay, you need to learn how to stay on top of your game. The easiest and most cost-effective way to spread the word about your store is to hack that growth process.
Growth hacking is the process through which you experiment and implement clever techniques that will boost your business quickly. Growth hacking is different from marketing in that it only concentrates on the “growth” of your business.
The term “growth hacking” was coined by Sean Ellis in 2010. Sean was the person behind the amazing growth of Dropbox and other startups. According to him, the true north of a growth hacker is growth.
For this purpose, any strategy can be adopted. The absolute, laser-like focus on the growth of an e-commerce business relies specifically on tools, methodologies and best practices that traditional marketing can’t achieve.
In a world where web entrepreneurs are looking for ways to grow their businesses, growth hacking is both simple and promising for early success. Just make sure that you are frequently A/B testing new and old pages on your site and paying the utmost attention to user experience. Here are some measures you can adopt to hack the growth process of your e-commerce business:
We all hate websites that don’t load in a few seconds. In e-commerce, slow site speed is a sure way to drive customers away. A one-second delay is going to cost you a 7 percent reduction in conversion rates.
Maybe your site is facing a two- to three-second delay. While that may appear to you to be a short time lapse, it may be affecting your conversion rate more than you think. You need to reduce this delay as much as possible, and then note the difference in your conversion rates.
You can probably increase your rate 15 to 20 percent by simply fixing the site speed. Imagine what small changes like this can do to a business?
Ideally, your website should load in under two seconds. For the majority of websites, this time is manageable and affordable. This speed is absolutely fine unless you have something revolutionary in store to achieve an even shorter load time. New to the idea of speeding up your site? Check out this guide to maintain site speed.
Bugs are the worst thing that can happen to your website. Bugs can disrupt any page or functionality of your website and drive customers away. Make sure that your site is optimized adequately for browsers.
Mobile optimization is also a big part of this process. Many marketers spend so much time and effort A/B testing the channels that result in traction, that they forget to check if the site is functioning properly.
First, check your website’s performance on all browsers. Find out which browser is having problems displaying your site. If you have installed Google Analytics on your website, go to Audience>Technology>Browser & OS Report.
Next, look at only one segment at a time (Desktop, Mobile or Tablet). When you narrow it down to a specific browser, you will see which one is not converting enough (you will find out that people still use Internet Explorer).
You can summarize the performance of each browser on a report or spreadsheet. Finally, point out the browsers with lower conversion rates and identify issues like browser updates, navigation problems, etc.
This is a good way to prioritize your effort to remove bugs and other technical glitches. Either you can contact a developer with the report of all bugs in your site, or hand them over to your in-house team.
Later, record the improvement in your website after the bugs have been fixed. Did you see a jump in your conversion rate? If yes, the effort was worth your time. If not, you need to test other parts of the website.
Enable customer contributions
Do you know that YouTube was just another website when it was first launched? It had little to no visitors, and that was a worry for its creators.
To get instant growth, the developers first shot videos and uploaded them. They then tried different techniques to attract people to the site, but nothing seemed to be working. Later, they thought of enabling people to participate, and that is when YouTube started to grow. That was when people started pouring in to make and share their own content, and YouTube got its organic and dedicated online traffic.
E-commerce retailers can do something similar by announcing people’s favorite items on the store. Asking users to rate and comment on a product is a way to get that support. Retailers can take this strategy a step further by making an online community of people who can help each other on the site and solve problems.
When people know that there are genuine users out there who also bought and liked a product on your website, they will feel encouraged and satisfied to buy. By improving the shopping experience, you can grow your business community quickly.
Apply funnel approach
Startups and small businesses grow only when they find people to buy their products or services. However, if startups learn the art of retaining customers, they can grow into enterprises.
The process of conversion surely takes some time, but your store should manage the viral coefficient in the meantime. Your website should be both a selling and educating medium to help people make better decisions.
Better product photos, good product descriptions, compelling prices, simple site navigation and context branding are some things you should prioritize on your site to be able to drive more conversions.
Use social networks
Nobody in this age can deny the power of social networks. These channels can bring in organic traffic to your website for little or no money invested. Harry’s is a brand that sells men’s grooming products online. They started their marketing by word of mouth only.
They brought people to the site and collected their email addresses before their launch. The next step was simple and effective – at launch time, they emailed all the people who had signed up to promote Harry’s on their social media to receive free goodies.
In one week, the company collected 100,000 email addresses and started their online business. You too can use this tactic on your website to get new customers through existing ones.
Promote your story
This method hasn’t been explained enough online. Your unique story can hit a raw nerve with your users. Humans process visual content 60,000 times faster than text, so add visual content along with the story to amplify its effect.
Visuals also have higher chances of being shared through social media, emails and messages. The one type of visual which resonates most with people is video. It can work so well that you can get lifetime advocates for your business if you do it right.
One brand that did it exceptionally well is the Dollar Shave Club. They created one entertaining video that made the business run out of inventory in six months. The video has 21 million views by now. DSC launched their product via the video and this one piece of content was enough to get them 200,000 active members on their website. Good content, when displayed perfectly, can do wonders for your e-commerce store.
Use a barebones homepage
The home page is the most difficult page to design on your store’s website. There are so many videos, photos, links to many internal pages, calls to action and other items that a first timer would want to put on the homepage.
It may be overwhelming for new business owners to analyze the most important items to put on the homepage.
Think from the user’s perspective and help them make the decision of doing business with you easier. The average user will turn away from your site for any reason at all, but you will make a user stay by using a barebones homepage. You have seen many big brands do this before.
A barebones homepage consists of your most unique selling proposition accompanied with a call to action. That’s how simple it is. For example, look at the page for Dropbox:
No fooling around here. Watch a video and download Dropbox. Another great example is Twitter. Nobody can deny the importance of this social forum, but to explain itself, Twitter isn’t putting much on the homepage.
This is both easy and difficult at the same time. If you want people to buy your product, make it simple and easy to buy. Coming up with one unique thing about your business will make it easy for you to create a place in the market with authority.
Use email marketing
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tactics you can try. You should collect as many email addresses on your site as possible. Businesses grow through initial email lists when you keep updating the subscriber about your new products.
Digital Marketing Association UK reports that email marketing has an average ROI of $38 for every dollar spent. It’s not only a growth hack, but a whole growth channel. When users subscribe to this channel, you keep them attracted to you for as long as your emails are effective. You can plan drip email campaigns where you can announce seasonal discounts, pre-launch discounts, product review campaigns and post purchase emails.
Bonus tip: Whenever you send an email, utilize the email signature to put in all the links that matter for your business. This includes your social media, your YouTube channel (if you have one) and links to any charity programs your business donates to. It is an effective way to build a following on your other profiles.
Use referrals in your favor
The good thing about a referral is that people like to follow the advice of people they trust. When you use this basic human instinct in your favor, it leads to the growth of your business. The highest number of invites are sent during the first few days of signing up for a program.
People are still in the discovery phase and want to learn something new. Groupon, a daily deals site, uses this formula to get referrals from people. They have a simple home page where a person has to invite at least ten people to be able to see the deals.
This strategy helped Groupon grow quickly. When you refer someone, their email address gets listed on your website. Use this email address to keep the user updated on the latest deals.
Retailers can use this pricing model on their sites. This model will give bigger discounts if more people come together to buy the same item. Even if it doesn’t lead to more sales, it will generate more traffic for your website.
You made all the right decisions when you decided to invest in an e-commerce business. Growth hacking is going to be an addition to your list of right decisions, if your goal is to become a user-friendly brand.
The ways mentioned above, if applied with consistency, can pave the road for your success. Keep testing, and improve your site speed and user experience to achieve healthy growth.