E-commerce growth hacking is all about leveraging the resources at your disposal to achieve the maximum traffic, sales or sign-ups.
It focuses on the continuous improvement of all the growth levers at your disposal using experimentation and data.
Scaling and automating processes has never been easier, and today you can work a few hours on a campaign that will run by itself days, weeks or months without your intervention.
Does that sound like the type of ‘hack’ you want to use to grow your online store?
Here’s a list of seven e-commerce growth hacks you can try:
When it comes to getting your customers involved in your product and business, giveaways/contests are one of the most effective tactics. That’s because it’s human nature to want free stuff.
In a BeardBrand case study, they ran a giveaway for seven days to celebrate “No Shave November.” Over the seven days, they gave away eight prizes worth $70 each. By the end, they had doubled their email list and quadrupled their sales on the contest launch date—it was the best sales day yet for BeardBrand.
The key to a successful giveaway is your setup. You need to have specific goals in mind. Then, use contest entries and promotions to reach those goals.
For example, if you want to gain email addresses, make that the main focus of each giveaway entry. If you want to increase sales, add the giveaway entry to the end of each purchase, “If you purchase one of this you enter for a chance to win a free vacation to the moon!”
Just one example is Sirens & Triton. They used Rafflecopter to host a giveaway on their website for October. To enter, they made their goal to increase their social media networking by encouraging fans to tweet, pin, and follow Sirens & Triton on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
To compliment your giveaway, you need to promote it—that’s the only way you’ll actually gain entries. There are a variety of different promotion possibilities:
- Send an email
- Share a newsletter
- Create a banner ad
- Write a blog post
- Share a press release
- Add it to a contest directory
- Share on social media
- Conduct a blogger outreach
If you want to engage your customers, then a giveaway is an excellent and affordable option. You don’t need to give away thousands of dollars worth of merchandise to get your customers interested. Instead, start small and see what happens.
Further giveaway reading:
- Top 6 Secrets to Hosting a Successful Blog Giveaway
- Warning: Are You Making These 11 Mistakes with Your Giveaways, Sweepstakes and Contests?
- How to Run a Successful Social Media Sweepstakes
At its most basic, remarketing is the process of tracking your website visitors and then targeting them with your content after they leave your site. The goal is to re-engage them and bring them back to your website.
Retargeting is a great opportunity to remind visitors who are already interested in your website, who you are and what you offer. According to Forrester Research, 96% of people who visit a website leave without completing an action. So, retargeting brings them back.
When you remarket you have the opportunity to:
- Transform bounced visitors into leads
- Improve ROI on marketing budgets
- Increase brand awareness and recall
- Increase repeat visitors and increase site engagement
- Improve SEO and content marketing
And the good news is three out of five visitors notice ads for products they looked up on other sites.
Image courtesy of Blue Fountain Media.
To get started on your remarketing campaign, there are a few things you need to do:
- Sign up for an ad exchange platform: A few self-serving platforms that support remarketing include Google Display Network, AdRoll, and Rubicon Project.
- Add Website Tags: Specific code should be added to your website, particularly on specific web pages, that will allow you to track visitors. The snippet of code will be generated by the ad exchange platform you use.
- Create Your Target Audience List: You will need to build multiple audience lists and connect those lists to ads that will follow your visitors around the web. Examples of lists include visitors who:
- abandoned a shopping cart
- filled out a contact form
- watched a video
- shared a product on social
- Set Your Budget: Cost-per-click and cost-per-impression are two different ad budgets that you should plan for. Cost-per-click marketing is typically more expensive, since you are only paying for the action. A/B Testing works well to determine what budget you need to achieve the results you want.
- Create Your Ad: Creating the right type of add to follow your targeted list around is key. Depending on the ad exchange platform you choose, you can get very specific with your lists and your ad so that your ad matches exactly to your customer. For example, you could target customers who viewed a specific shoe and then follow those customers with an exact image of the shoe they looked at and tell them to “Go for it!”
A few tips to improve your remarketing campaigns:
- Choose Your Web Pages Carefully: Don’t tag every page on your website. Instead, set your remarketing goals first—generate more leads, increase your cart checkouts, etc.—and then tag pages that relate to your goals and target bounced users who visit those pages.
- Split Up Your Campaigns: Treating all of your website visitors the same is the worst thing that you could do. Instead, split up your audiences based on time on the page, how many pages they visited, and the actions they performed. Then, create an ad group and call-to-action that matches specific visitors.
- Make Multiple Ads: Don’t make a one-size-fit-all ad. Instead, make different image sizes and copy so your ad can appear on different ad networks. Facebook has different ad requirements than Google and YouTube.
- Bid More on Conversions, Less on Homepage Visitors: You shouldn’t place the same bid and budget on all of your remarketing campaigns. You should be willing to pay more to increase your shopping cart conversions and less to transform homepage visitors into customers.
- Focus on Content and Education: Instead of focusing only on getting the sale, remarket with content that nurtures your relationship with your customer—a much more subtle approach.
- Offer Coupons to Repeat Visitors: Visitors who are on your website regularly should receive different remarketing incentives. Someone who is regularly in your online store but rarely buys anything could be provided a coupon to increase the likelihood of a conversion. Such as the offer from Zulily below.
And don’t forget to track and tag your campaigns for appropriate and easy A/B testing because, at the end of the day, you need to know which remarketing target audience, ad, and budget, was ultimately most successful. Google makes it easier with their URL Builder (check out this guide to the new URL builder)
When it comes to remarketing, it’s all about keeping your website and your products in front of your customers for as long as possible.
Additional remarketing reading:
- 12 Advanced Remarketing Tactics for the Successful Online Marketer
- Need More Conversions? Time to Do Remarketing
- 7 Steps to Master the Google Display Network
3. Drip Email Campaigns
Emails are still the king of marketing. So, it makes since to invest in an email campaign, and drip emails are excellent e-commerce growth hacks.
According to a study by ExactTarget, 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email. Beyond that, 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotion email. And 82% of consumers will open emails from a company according to Litmus.
Whenever someone gives you their email, you should have a series of emails that get sent to them on a predefined schedule. It’s called a drip campaign because the emails consistently drip to your customers one at a time. An email is a great way to get new information to your customers that will follow them throughout their lifecycle with your brand.
For example, when a customer signs up for your email list, a single email should be sent out immediately welcoming them to your company. Then, three days later you can send out a follow-up email with special products, deals, and information. Then, the next emails can be sent out based on specific customer triggers or based on a specified time frame.
Don’t get too stressed out by the thought of creating and following through with a drip email campaign. There are countless apps available to help you out and automate the process. A few favorites are Drip, Sendloop, BombBomb, MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, SendWithUs, and Mad Mimi.
There are three key reasons why drip email campaigns are so effective:
- Timely Information: They allow you to deliver the right information to your customer when they need it. You can trigger the campaign based on customers visiting your store or heading to their shopping cart, so they receive only relevant emails.
- Lead Nurturing: Drip marketing starts customers at the very beginning, when they may not be ready to make a sale. Then, it follows them along the process to provide leads to your sales team and maximize the effectiveness of your marketing.
- Easily Automated: Unlike many other marketing and growth hacking campaigns, drip emails can be completely automated using one of the software programs recommended above. This gives you more time to focus on other growth hacks.
For more ideas on your drip email marketing, take a look at this excellent infographic from Pardot and Salesforce.
For further reading on email marketing:
- Recognize the Power of Email Personalization
- Emailing Is Very Powerful. IF You Measure and Test
- 5 Common Sense Rules to Convert More with Emails
- How to Design an Automated Email Campaign to Lower Your Abandonment Rate
- Three Key Principals for Successful Drip Marketing Campaigns
4. Epic Content
Content is king. At least that’s what every marketer claims, and it does have a solid foundation in truth—as long as it’s epic content.
70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company through content rather than ads. But it’s important to note that you have only 8 seconds to get your customer’s attention—that’s 1 second less than a goldfish’s attention span—before they move on.
When it comes to content, it needs to be easy to find, engaging, and epic. And if you’re expecting to get to talk to your customer before they view your website or your social media, think again.
Buyers go through 57% of the purchasing process before ever talking to sales, which means that your content has to speak for you. Even worse, your customers will manage 85% of their relationship with you without every interacting with a human.
That’s why creating the right type of content is so important if you want your company to grow. There are a few key elements to epic content marketing.
Define Your Mission
Your content marketing should all link back to a single mission statement/goal. It should define who you are in every letter, word, image, and video.
For example, when you think Red Bull you think extreme sports. You also always remember “Red Bull Gives You Wings.” And when you go to the Red Bull website, that’s exactly what you see.
Hold Attention Don’t Grab It
Epic content marketing is not about who can scream the loudest. It should be a gradual building of awareness and trust so that your customers are drawn into your brand and they stay there. While catchy headlines and slogans are effective at grabbing new customers, they’ll only stay if you offer them something that promises clear benefits.
No one likes to be click-baited constantly without any payoff.
Fill a Need
Don’t create your content without a specific purpose. Epic content fills some type of unmet need or answers a question. Content needs to be useful and provide a meaningful value exchange.
Every brand has something of value to offer, you need to figure out what your value is and why it’s compelling for your consumer. For example, Forbes is a leader in business information. Their content is always about helping executives and business men and women lead better and more productive lives.
Be Unique and Be Human
Epic content marketing puts a face to a company. It should express your viewpoint while eliciting emotion.
Epic content is not encyclopedic nor should it sound overly pompous. Content that consumers’ want is relatable and a little bit human. Humor is appropriate—depending on the brand—and so is deep emotion.
For example, Chipotle’s video The Scarecrow was a runaway hit online. It told the story of a scarecrow who couldn’t find real food. It fit with Chipotle’s brand while giving them a face to their company.
Avoid Sales Speak
There is no such thing as epic content that is salesy. It’s just not going to happen. People typically don’t enjoy used car salesmen and constantly being told, “buy now,” “get it today,” or “don’t wait.”
Instead, the less you talk about yourself the better. Content should be focused on your consumer and not on you. Give the consumer what they want first, and then they’ll remember you when it comes time to make their purchase.
If you’re looking for content ideas, the following content ideas are a good place to start:
- Use Interactive Content: Interactive content such as apps, assessments, calculators, configurators, and quizzes generate conversions moderately or very well 70% of the time, compared to just 36% of the time for passive content.
- Share Blogs: According to HubSpot, Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13 times more likely to have positive ROI, and yet just 31% of Fortune 500 enterprises maintain an official blog. Blogs can be anything from buying guides to “how to” posts to detailed product reviews.
- Use Vanity URLs: Brands that use shortened URLs with a “vanity domain” experience 25% higher click volume than brands that use long or generic URL shorteners.
- Share Videos & Images: Videos and images drive 13% more traffic than traditional content, according to MediaPost.
- Make Infographics: Infographics require time and energy to create, but they can be a powerhouse of information. An infographic combines the share-ability of an image with the detail of a blog.
For further reading on epic content:
- How to Create Epic Content
- The 5 Pillars of Successful Content Marketing
- How to Build a Successful Content Marketing Strategy
- 5 Lessons Learned in 6 Months of Content Marketing for a Start Up
5. Referral System
Creating a customer referral program takes time but it’s an effective way to garner additional and repeat business. Things like affiliate programs, customer referral programs, and partner programs are all referral programs.
The key to a good referral program is creating a program that is easy and enticing for your customers to use. There are three main customer referral programs
1. Refer a friend and receive: Dropbox is an excellent non-eCommerce example of this option. When you refer a friend to Dropbox you get additional space for every friend you refer. This saves you money.
2. Give and Receive: Wayfair is a great example of a successful “give and receive” referral program for an eCommerce site. When you use their program, not only does the referrer get $20 off if their friend makes a purchase, their friend receives 20% off. It’s a win-win.
3. Share Your Purchase: Referrals don’t have to be direct email referrals. Asking customers to share their purchase on social media is one way that Etsy encourages referrals. They allow their customers to tweet, pin, Like, or even post on Tumblr about their favorite products.
An effective referral program should have a few key elements:
- An evocative header image to draw you in.
- A personal invitation from the referee when the invite is sent out.
- A clear call to action at every step of the process
- A wide reach—don’t limit your referral program only to individuals who login to your site or sign up for your special program.
To learn more about setting up a customer referral program:
- Referral Program Examples—An Epic List of 47 Referral Programs
- 5 Tips for a Successful Customer Referral Program
- Referral Programs, What Makes One Great?
6. A/B Testing
To find the e-commerce growth hacks that work best for your business, it comes down to A/B testing. There’s no better way to find out what works for you and to optimize your marketing.
In an Adobe Digital Marketing Optimization report it found that marketers spend $92 to acquire traffic and $1 to optimize it. If you’re using the recommended growth hacks but not A/B testing for optimization, you could be wasting 92% of your advertising budget.
You should consider A/B testing all growth hacks within this article, as well as A/B testing the particular ideas outlined below.
1. Test Product Images: 67% of consumers consider clear, detailed images to carry more weight than product information or customer ratings. To figure out what images your customers consider clear and detailed, run multiple tests on your website.
2. Test Recommendations: If you have “also recommended” products on your website, you need to test the conversion rates of when your customers click on the “recommended” link. In fact, only 41% of retailers know the conversion rates when shoppers click on up-sells and cross-sells.
For example, Amazon always has a list of “customers who view this item also viewed” as well as “sponsored products related to this item.” Just take a look at the GoPro Hero+ product page screenshot below. By tracking the other link clicks, they can A/B test the relatability of their products for increased up sales.
3. Page Layout: The layout of your website can have a big impact on your conversion rate and number of new customers. Skype completed an A/B test with three different versions of their landing page. They found that the simplest variation (plan c) had a 5% increase in downloads.
4. Test CTAs: You should not only test your specific call-to-action, but also how it appears on the page. When Unbounce.com tested their CTA and changed only a single word “Start your free trial” to “Start my free trial,” they discovered that “my” had a 90% improved click through rate.
Another study on WhichTestWon looked at changing the CTA button color from green to yellow to see which was more effective, the yellow and black button won.
5. Test Pricing: Not only should you test if the price “$1,500.00” works better than “$1,499.99,” you should also test how the price appears on the page.
A study by the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that including commas and cents in pricing can change how your customer responds to your pricing. Typically prices ending in 9 perform better, and prices with fewer numbers (without decimals and cents) also do better.
Just take a look at Givenchy, no nickels and dimes.
While playing with different pricing models, don’t forget to keep an eye on the competitors using tools such as Work IT Software in order to make sure you maintain that competitive edge.
When it comes to making sure that you’re not wasting your marketing money doing things that don’t work, A/B test every e-commerce growth strategy. All it takes is a little initial setup to track which images, prices, CTAs, landing pages, and wording works best.
For more reading on A/B testing, check out:
- A/B Testing vs. Multivariate Testing: Which One Works Better?
- Top Places to Start A/B Testing
- The Frequency of A/B Testing-Infographic
- A/B Testing Beginning Guide for E-commerce
- Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Ecommerce A/B Testing Program
Video marketing is one of the fastest growing business advertising segments. According to Forrester Research, “a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.” And really, it’s worth more than that if the video is well thought out and executed.
And the good news, Kantar Media says that only 24% of brands actually use video to market to their customers. Since so few businesses are using this growth hack, your company has the opportunity to stand out.
So, how can your company use video to stand out? The LemonStand recommends using “Unboxing Videos” to show your product to your customers because comScore reveals that 64% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it. And a Google survey revealed that one in every five customers has watched an unboxing video.
Even something simple like a Kinder Egg can have an unboxing video. In fact, Fluffy Jet unwrapped boxes of Kinder Eggs and received over 42 million views.
Unboxing videos are exactly what they sound like. You take your product, packaged and ready to ship to a customer, and then open it while recording a video—like this video from Xbox. An unboxing video walks your customers through the product process from the moment they receive it until they begin using it.
A successful unboxing video has a few key elements:
1. Gorgeous packaging: An unboxing video will not work well if you don’t invest in your packaging. Just look at Apple, the packaging experts.
2. High-Quality Video: If you want people to watch your unboxing, the video needs to be HD quality and optimized for a mobile.
3. Influencers: If your YouTube channel doesn’t have a lot of subscribers or viewers, reach out to popular YouTubers, and offer them free product in exchange for an unboxing video. The key is to find influencers who unbox or use products that match your brand and industry.
4. Recruit Customers: Don’t forget how valuable your customers can be. If you have great products with loyal followings, offer incentives for your own customers to share their unboxing videos. You can transform it into a giveaway, “Post your unboxing video for a chance to win $1,000 in merchandise” or offer to promote their channel when they share.
There are hundreds of different ways videos can be used to growth hack your business and unboxing videos are just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more about using videos to grow your ecommerce business, take a look at these links:
- 6 Ways to Execute an Ecommerce Video Strategy to Increase Your Sales
- 7 Ways to Leverage YouTube Marketing to Improve Sales
- 5 Video Optimization Hacks to Boost Conversions
- How Can Your Use Video for Your 2015 Marketing Campaigns
When it comes to e-commerce, you’re dealing with a highly competitive marketplace and if you want to stand out, the seven ideas presented above are a great way to kick start your growth.
In this article, we barely touched the surface. There are many more actionable ideas to grow your online store, which I will talk about another time. But if you want to stay updated on future blog posts, go ahead and subscribe to our newsletter by opting into the sidebar form to your right.
To recap, here are the seven ideas once more:
3. Drip email campaigns
4. Epic content
5. Referral system
6. A/B Testing