Hacking growth is a term that is used to achieve the objective of super-charging sales in a business. Understanding the best tactics to hacking growth that you need to deploy in ecommerce is essential if you want your business to succeed.
There are many examples of ecommerce stores that have got this right and this has lead to crazy growth for these ecommerce businesses.
But what are the growth hacking strategies that will actually make a material impact on your business, as opposed to wasting your time or having little effect?
When thinking about growth hacking, it is critical you focus on approaches that have been proven to work and which can be implemented easily, though some discipline and organisation will be required.
So let’s get started to identify the growth hacking tactics you should be using today in your ecommerce business.
Step 1: See What Works with A/B Testing
With ecommerce business, there are so many parts of the process that need to be optimised and work together in tandem in order to make the overall proposition work.
This includes copy, images, website design, colours, pricing, to name just a few. Hacking growth is in some ways not so much about one killer approach; rather, it is about doing lots of smaller things better.
Given there are so many variables, how can you understand what you need to change in order to benefit your business? In many instances, it is small tweaks that will lead to big results in conversions and sales for your ecommerce store.
A/B testing is effectively the principles of offering two different variables to visitors of your store and looking at the data to see what converts best. You can then go all in on the version of the website that converts better.
This is a well-tested approach to growing businesses and if you are not A/B testing then you are missing out.
The key thing about an A/B test, much like a science experiment, is to ensure you only change one thing at a time so that you can identify what is actually making a difference.
At a very basic level you can A/B test by making changes you think are affecting traffic or conversions anecdotally.
For example, you may not be happy with your copy because you think it doesn’t get the message across properly. Or some of the imagery may not quite hit the mark, as you would want.
You can use this information to change one thing and see how this affects visitors and conversions over a period of time.
We advise that any test should be done at least over seven days but ideally longer so you can see the likely impact. Then you can go on to make other changes.
If you’re struggling for ideas on what to test and how to test you can check to see what other businesses have tried and the results they have seen.
Cart abandonment is a big issue and as such your cart page may be a priority page to look at to see if there is a drop off here unnecessarily.
There are many software tools that can help with A/B testing that include more established brands such as Optimizely, VWO and HubSpot, and services from providers that are more suited to smaller ecommerce businesses such as Zoho Page Sense, Leadformly, and Convertize.
Step 2: Influence by Identifying Best Sellers
Ecommerce stores need to continuously influence customers to make decisions that drive them to buy, and ideally, buy repeatedly.
Even though getting visitors to your site is important and the starting point for ecommerce success, influencing those visitors when they are at your site is critical for sales.
One way in which this can be done is by making more use of your best sellers. ‘Best seller’ is a marketing term that has been coined to help people make up their mind, initially in retail, but now in online sales. Amazon, unsurprisingly, takes advantage of this the best.
One of the biggest impediments to sales is indecision. If people cannot decide on what to buy, the result will be that they will buy nothing at all.
Best sellers circumnavigate this problem by influencing customers to buy something because other customers have bought this before and it seems to be a product that is well regarded.
By page, you can see which page gets most visits and which carts convert best. This information is helpful to understand which products you should push forward as best sellers.
Step 3: Push FOMO & Scarcity
Often, the problem may not be visitors to your store, but rather converting those visitors to customers.
If this is the case, then a critical tactic to use is scarcity value in order to get people to convert their interest into sales.
This is another one of those marketing strategies that have been used for decades in sales and is extremely effective if done with authenticity. If you want to ‘hack growth’ for your ecommerce store then taking advantage of this principle will be key.
A good example of FOMO is if you only have low stock of a particular product, highlighting this will get people who are interested to act quicker.
Similarly, if you are running a promotion or discount which is only available for a discrete time, this is also helpful to drive people to act.
Depending on your store hosting site, there will be tools you can search for that allow you to display scarcity. If you use Shopify for your store then there are Low in Stock Alert and Cart Countdown plugins that you can use to get you started.
Step 4: Overcome Objections with Live Chat
In any sales conversation (online or offline) a consumer will have objections that need to be overcome along the way if you want to convert interest into a sale.
When selling online, it is somewhat harder to accomplish this given you are typically not engaged in a face to face, real-time conversation with the customer to be able to put their mind at rest.
However, there are tools and techniques you can use to overcome objections.
Some of the more common ways in which you can overcome objections is by having a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section on your website. The FAQ addresses some of the obvious questions you know customers typically ask before buying.
You may have received emails of these questions in the past or when you have been able to dialogue with potential customers.
Questions could be around delivery or around size concerns etc. These are the predictable and good to know bits of information that you can easily answer.
Along the sales cycle, certain pages on your website may also share more information to try to allay concerns and convert customers. Typically this could be on the cart page where most abandonment occurs, but which also shows most intent.
One method to use to overcome objections in real-time that can also help you learn more about your business and ecommerce store is to use live chat.
This is software you can easily integrate with your website in order to allow customers to contact you via chat to ask questions that are on their mind.
Typically, these will be questions relating to products you have on the store. As such, they are high-value questions as they are the thing that stands between you and a sale.
This clearly requires having some resource that can answer the questions although you can set availability limits for when people will be around to answer questions. Alternatively, you can outsource this function to a third party to ensure there is someone available all the time to answer questions.
In so doing, you can get a much higher conversion rate of sales and move your business to the next level. There are many different tools to choose from and you should assess what works best for your circumstances.
Hacking growth with live chat is still an opportunity, as so many ecommerce stores are still not taking advantage of this yet. Consequently, it gives you and your business a chance to differentiate yourselves.
Step 5: Increase Conversions with Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is immense at increasing conversions for ecommerce stores. Our view, unsurprisingly given we offer customer feedback solutions, is that customer feedback done correctly is perhaps the ultimate growth hacking tactic for ecommerce. The problem is so many businesses get this wrong.
Check out the bedsheets below which have received nearly 90,000 reviews on Amazon (with an average of 4.5 stars). If you were in the market for bed sheets, these would be difficult to ignore.
There is a lot of data that talks about the influence of customer feedback on sales.
- The purchase likelihood for a product with five reviews is 270% greater than a product with zero reviews
- 48% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the past two weeks
- customers read an average of 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a local business
As you can see, customer feedback can be a super tool for ecommerce stores but is typically incorrectly used.
Most ecommerce stores download a plugin for their site and believe their job is done. If this is how you are trying to collect customer feedback then you are doing it wrong and not properly taking control of the value from customer feedback.
The problem with this approach is it is reactive. You are waiting for customers to write a review… if they want to.
However, if you’re serious about growing your business then being proactive and asking for reviews in a strategic manner is the right way to go about things. This is essential given 76% of customers who get asked to leave a review, go ahead and write one.
More feedback translates directly into higher conversions and more sales. And being proactive ensures you are constantly getting fresh reviews for your business, another indicator that customers look for before buying.
The correct approach for an ecommerce business is actually to try a ‘multichannel’ approach, that is, to show reviews via a plugin on your own site, whilst also directly seeking feedback from customers.
At Syntellio, we help ecommerce stores with this by being the service provider that takes care of all review collection from the majority of customers who will not automatically leave a review for your business.
We show the reviews on a dedicated page on our site for your business and link back to your site, increasing your search engine optimisation (SEO) in the process. Given we are an independent third-party who verify customers we get reviews from on your behalf, you also foster greater customer trust as we try very hard to eliminate fake reviews.
Step 6: Sell More Quantity with Cross-sell
Getting the customer to buy from you for the first time is the most difficult thing. Thereafter, it becomes easier for them to spend money with you psychologically.
As an ecommerce store, you need to leverage off this information and ensure you provide opportunities to cross-sell to your customers once they have decided to buy one product. At this stage, the customer is much more likely to buy from you than as a ‘new’ customer again.
Cross-selling is when you sell a customer a related product to what they have already decided to buy.
If your store sells bikes, for example, you may also offer cross-sells such as helmets or a pump.
What you cross-sell will clearly be dependent on your own product range. This proposition works best when the item of cross-sell is related to the product the customer is buying.
To revisit our earlier example, if you sell a bike, a book as a cross-sell item is clearly not going to convert as its not directly relevant.
In terms of how to cross-sell, the cart page may be the best page on which to offer this. You don’t want to impede the customer journey to buying, but after the cart page, the sale is done.
You may think to offer a cross-sell once the customer has made the initial purchase, say on the thank you page. Following on the earlier point of A/B testing, testing this hypothesis as well will be important to see what works best for you and your business.
Subtly offering a cross-sell for a product depending on what the customer buys is a good idea in order to further boost sales, and to increase the average customer value with your store.
Step 7: Sell Higher Value with Upsell
In addition to the idea of a cross-sell, there is the upsell that is also extremely important in retail.
Where a cross-sell allows you to sell a complimentary product to something the customer is buying, an upsell encourages the customers to buy the next model up because it has additional features, though it costs more.
This is not going to be suitable for all products. If you have nothing relevant to upsell then clearly you cannot deploy this strategy.
However, if you have varying ranges of products doing a particular thing, then upselling is an ideal initiative to try out with the rationale being that you are offering customers more value.
In terms of how to offer an upsell, the principle is similar to a cross-sell in the sense that you should aim not to impede consumer journey, but obviously you will need to get to the customer before they buy what they initially intended to.
As such, the cart page is the best place to offer your upsell so the customer can clearly be directed to another product that solves the same problem but has greater functionality.
Step 8: Get Recurring Customers with "Buy Again"
With any business, having repeat customers is the Holy Grail.
The reason for this is because if you are able to get customers to buy from you again and again, you guarantee income for your own business.
Not only this, but you also reduce customer acquisition costs as you are not having to ‘buy’ a new customer all the time, as some of them already know you and will happily buy from you repeatedly.
Repeat customers also happen to be better advocates for your business and so can work wonders in convincing others to buy from you.
As with upsell and cross-sell, there will be some products where ‘buy again’ is well suited, and others where it may not be.
Harry’s the shaving company does this well. Their business model operates on a subscription basis because their product is such that it is required on a recurring basis.
If you subscribe, you are sent a reminder depending on your usage requirements that tell you that another order of blades, say, will be shipped out and when.
In your business, assess if ‘buy again’ can be used with any of the product set.
If it can, set up a suitable repeat buying program that you share with customers to allow them to buy automatically so they don’t forget. This can be announced, for example with an email list that you should be developing in any case.
Step 9: Go Viral with a Referral Program
With ecommerce, the key to success is to increase conversions to sales and reduce the cost of acquiring new customers.
If you can optimise conversions to sale and streamline the cost of acquisition of new customers, then you have the makings of a successful ecommerce business that can become profitable.
A referral program can help with this.
Referral programs encourage existing customers to act as your marketing team.
Existing customers are incentivised to help you get more customers. In return, they are given some discount or special offer as an incentive.
The logic is that if they refer a friend who is a warm lead, they are more likely to convert than cold targeting by your company.
There are some great examples of referral programs that worked well that you could study to see how you may want to start your own referral program. Some of the best referral programs in ecommerce include:
- Harry’s – men’s grooming brand automatically adds customers to their referral program so they can invite their friends
- Athleta – activewear brand for women that offers a discount for the referrer and the referee
- Glossier – makeup and skincare brand offering rewards in return for referrals
When considering your own referral program, consider the below checklist to ensure you use this as best as you can:
- Identify which product you want a referral program for – ideally this should be for your flagship product
- Decide what the incentive is to offer existing customers who make the referral
- Share on social media and with your email list to let customers know.
Done correctly, and marketed in the right way, referral programs, including some of the examples given above, can go viral which is the aim. Once this happens, it can make a material difference to your own business.
Step 10: Retarget 'Window Shoppers'
‘Window shoppers’ are folk who have been interested enough to come to your ecommerce store and will have browsed your product range, but then did not progress any further.
As such, they are warm prospects that need to be targeted again in order to help familiarise them more with your company and to convert them to actual buyers.
One step you need to take if you haven’t already is to set up Google Analytics properly.
Once set up, Google Analytics can help you to track visitors and assess the level of activity those visitors have on your site. This information is extremely valuable for an ecommerce store and this data should be used to make decisions. You can then use Google Ads to ‘retarget’ those visitors in order to get them to buy.
This can also be done with Facebook given many brands sell on Facebook or at least, market on Facebook. A Facebook retargeting pixel is a great way to be able to track visitors to your store so you can market to them later.
Once you’ve put the right analytics and retargeting in place with Google and Facebook, you can use their retargeting tools in order to remarket to those customers.
This is powerful because those visitors have already been exposed to your brand and have familiarity with your business. As such, there is a greater chance of them responding and eventually buying from you.
Step 11: Build Trust with Visitors
Trust is one of the most important components for growth in an ecommerce business. This is more important for new and younger brands given established brands have had time to develop trust.
But what do we mean when we talk about trust in ecommerce?
Fundamentally this is about being a legitimate business that would do the right thing.
If customers are handing over their hard-earned cash, will they get the product they have ordered, and will it be of the quality they expect? Will it be delivered in a reasonable time and will the company stand behind it if things go wrong?
These characteristics represent the fundamentals of customer service and give assurance to customers that they can safely buy from you.
So how can you build trust, especially if you are a new or young ecommerce business?
Some of the ways in which you can do this come about indirectly from points already raised such as overcoming objections, developing authority and showing customer feedback on a repeat basis.
Without a doubt the one criterion that consumers are increasingly looking for when buying is the experience of validation of others who have already bought.
If you can build up and keep building up strong customer feedback, learn from it, and do what you say you will, then over time you will see how you can build trust, grow your business, and be respected in your niche.
More visible signals of trust in an ecommerce business, in particular, can be badges that show you are verified by a third party. This could include badges to demonstrate safeguarding of customer data, of payment security and of customer satisfaction.
Having a telephone number for your store on site is also a sign that can foster trust as it shows the customer that this is a real business that can be contacted if things went wrong.
Think through what you think will foster trust with your customers given who they are, and based on what you sell. Then work towards giving all the right signals to put their mind at ease. With this approach, you will be on your way to building a meaningful and transparent relationship with your customers.
Hacking growth in ecommerce is not easy, though when you look at tactics individually, you can see how this can be achievable.
Clearly there are a number of things ecommerce businesses need to be doing in order to supercharge growth and to encourage customers to buy from them.
If you follow the points highlighted above you will give your business a great chance at increasing website visitors as well as converting those visitors to paying customers.
Although this doesn’t happen overnight, many of the initiatives and tactics outlined above will ensure you develop solid foundations to grow a sustainable and prosperous ecommerce business.
Let us know in the comments which of these tactics you are already using and which ones you are excited to try out.