The tipping point comes to all businesses at one point or another: grow or stagnate. If stagnation isn’t your thing – have you tried growth hacking your ecommerce business yet? Here are some clever strategies that can help you accelerate your ecommerce business growth. From user-generated content to link building – try them out for yourself.
Invest in video
There are so many fantastic things about video: the immediacy, the warmth, the connection, (and the increasingly low production costs). For ecommerce businesses, online video can help increase web traffic, up engagement levels, and attract more social media followers. Video is also a central customer service tool, working wonders for brand perception.
- Social media is increasingly video led, as more and more platforms invest in the instantaneous nature of video. Invest in video as part of your social media growth strategy. Don’t expect everything you create to ‘go viral’ – virality is hard to predict and manufacture. Just focus on creating a variety of video content, spanning from customer service queries to funny soundbites. Live video is a fantastic way to tell real and immediate brand stories – but don’t just ‘go live’ for the sake of it.
- User generated content is content that comes from your audience; UGC is more real than branded productions and is powerful mouth marketing. Invest in social media campaigns where users upload their own videos. Maybe your customers could share how your products have impacted their lives? Is there a ‘fun’ element to your products you could capitalise on? Are customers able to style or customise your products themselves?
- Find multimedia influencers who are able to naturally promote your products as part of their videos. Working with influencers is a great way to growth hack your brand and create some fantastic PR. (For more ideas, check out these video marketing tips.)
- Video testimonials are also super powerful, and work especially well for B2B products. Use videos to help build trust in your brand and products.
- Videos are a great way to show people how to use your products – use them as customer service tools. Videos could encompass products demonstrations, user FAQs, use cases, or more technical demonstrations.
Save money on the ‘boring’ stuff to spend more money on the good stuff.
Businesses are literally throwing money away because they haven’t optimised their logistical processes. Take time to conduct a logistical inventory of your business to make sure that suppliers, inventory, packaging, and delivery are all operating at optimal levels. Getting stuff like this right will make a big difference to your margins and revenue.
- Working with overseas suppliers? Take time to really get to know them during factory visits. See if they offer any other products that might be of interest to you. It’s often a good idea to consolidate investment into a few core suppliers. Having good relationships with your suppliers means that you will be able to get more out of them. (And don’t ignore domestic suppliers either – you might save on shipping and delivery costs).
- Shipping costs getting you down? Make sure your shipping options are fit for purpose. Practical things like how you organise your products on a pallet can make a big difference to container shipping costs. (It might be worth taking your products apart further if they are bulky).
- Keeping in mind that delivery is central to great customer experience, make sure that you aren’t wasting money on postage. Explore different courier options, and don’t forget to factor in convenience too. If you are having to wait around all day for unreliable couriers, you are wasting valuable business time.
Make it social
Use the power of relationships to take your sales to the next level. Social selling and leveraging social connections is a great way to sell in a more ‘natural’ way.
- People always love free stuff, but a recommendation from a friend is much more likely to be compelling. Make like Uber , and offer friends-only offers, discount codes, and referrals. Make your product easy to share to help your store ‘go viral’.
- Focus on building relationships with existing customers through email and social – offer them real value for being loyal. Make them look good for shopping with you. Launch a VIP club to build a group of loyal brand advocates. These are the customers who will engage with your products and content on numerous occasions.
- Try to offer products with a social ‘hook’. Take a subscription box for example– it’s a great way to reframe your product as a gifting ‘event’. Social media is full of unboxing videos and posts – people love the excitement of opening a package with their followers. It’s all about trying to make shopping into a collective event – driven by bloggers and social media.
- Offer a percentage of product sales to a local community group or charity – giving back is a great way to build real relationships with the community, and it can also be a source of some old-fashioned PR.
Try going a little ‘rogue’ with your marketing– you might just land on a goldmine.
- Could you take on some challenges on behalf of your brand and film your journey?
- What about starting your own meetup or matchmaking service?
- People love confessional or storytelling pieces – get people to share their experiences and confessions with you.
- Humour is a powerful way to forge connections – laughter just might the the cure for your brand’s marketing.
Sell with the seasons
Don’t just be clever about how you sell – be clever about when you sell too. Make sure that you have a content and sales strategy that takes into account what’s happening around you.
- For lean budgeting, invest more money into advertising and marketing when it will be most impactful. Don’t waste all your money during the summer months if you most of your revenue comes in during the holidays. Focus on attracting the right kind of web traffic at the right time.
- Be in tune with the real online conversations around you. Spend plenty of time on customer forums, social media, and speaking to customer service representatives to see how customer queries change with the seasons.
- Selling in tune with seasonal events is a great way to organise your marketing calendar. Seasonal content means that you will find it easier to become part of people’s life events. But be careful about gratuitously jumping on a bandwagon – it can make your brand look awkward and could go viral for all the wrong reasons. Don’t just push products with a seasonal hashtag – that’s not the way to look cool.
Don’t go chasing after flashy and new marketing trends, neglecting the fundamentals of growth. Good SEO can achieve a huge uplift in rankings and online sales. You need good links to increase your domain’s authority, and you need optimised content in order to rank for your key terms. In addition to content and links, you need a good technical environment that allows for easy indexing on a user-friendly backdrop.
- Check out your store’s backlink profile. Is it varied and does it look natural (branded keywords etc.)? Be careful with over-optimised anchor texts or low authority links – they could be a sign of spam for search engines.
- Guest posting (or guest podcasting) is a great way to share your knowledge of running a business with the world. You could even share your product passion with the world, but don’t go in too hard with a sales pitchy – it will come across as promotional, which is a big turnoff for editors. If you are invited to be a guest on someone’s domain, try to offer them value while you’re there.
- Getting links from online directories and blog comments is a great way to diversify your link profile, but don’t get into anything spammy or automated.
- Product reviews are an important trust signal for users and search engines – make sure you ask for reviews from your customers as often as you can.
Show up everywhere
Diversify to get your brand and products out there as much as you can this year. Now is the time to embrace being a multichannel seller: develop relationships with retailers, resellers & affiliates, open your own store, sell on marketplaces, sell on social… Be everywhere in order to succeed.
- Not on marketplaces yet? There are loads of different marketplace options – find one that will work for you as a concurrent source of income. And don’t neglect smaller, more local marketplaces either. If they have the right customer base, it could be a great way for you to up sales revenue.
- If you are mainly selling on marketplaces, 2017 is the year to start building your own brand to have a source of income you’ve got more control over. Start slow with a customisable solution like Shopify to get a feel for running your own ecommerce business – there is loads of support and information out there for first-timers.
- Use advertising and promoted products to help you grow your market share. Make sure you aren’t throwing clicks away – create compelling and high-quality ads and use retargeting and personalisation.
Growth hacking successfully is all about being able to spot opportunities, be agile, and finding brand advocates. Don’t be afraid to start small and build up your own brand from the ground up. But even established brands can benefit from the growth hacker mindset – never stop optimising and refining your processes. A bloated business will only spell trouble down the line. What methodology do you think will work best for your business in 2017?