11+ proven strategies to profitably grow an eCommerce business.
Scaling an eCommerce business today takes much more than simply creating an online store and running ads in hopes that people will buy from you. Whether you are selling printed underwear or cozy socks, soaring competition is a common phenomenon of an eCommerce business today.
Before we begin, let me tell you what this guide is not. This is not about horning your copy or creating aesthetically beautiful ads or some facebook hack to maximize reach. This is about a long-term strategy that will give you results in no matter which product you choose to sell.
This guide is only going to help you if you are willing to help yourself and implement and test the strategies I suggest. Over the last 6 years, I have been working with over 15+ eCommerce brands, following the same approach and this has worked wonders all the time.
No matter whether you are starting out or looking to scale your existing eCommerce business, there is definitely something in it for you.
So let’s dive in
First thing first
No amount of marketing money can bail a bad product.
So if you are already selling a product which people don’t really need or particularly like, then this guide is not for you. So if you have got some market validation and some 5-star reviews, that should be a good starting point.
For the purpose of structure, we will be following the Pirate Funnel which basically maps out the entire customer journey from Awareness to Acquisition to Activation to Revenue to Retention to Referral.
Once you have established your product-market fit then it’s about resolving your language-market fit. Essentially your positioning and how you communicate that to the end-user.
For this, you should go to the reviews of both your and the competitors’ products to understand some of the common concerns that people are having with your product.
This might sound philosophical but as you go and dig deeper in your research, you will uncover some hidden gems and that’s when this can really pay off. To understand what your positioning can be you should look for the following;
- Are there any specific pain points?
- What are your customers hoping and dreaming for?
- What are some uncertainties and barriers that people are facing?
Another lesser-known treasure is AnswerThePublic.com where you could plug in your primary keyword to understand what the public is generally searching for
The following shows results for the keyword “Air Purifier”. Some of the most common questions are around air purifiers for covid, and asthma. This can also serve as a starting point for your content marketing strategy.
Once you have identified key issues in the market, positioning the brand can still take some trials and errors before you perfect it. But this research will inevitably put you in a better position than brainstorming about the problems with a room full of management graduates.
Once you have finalized your positioning, the next step is to select the channel of choice. To begin with I would suggest sticking to search ads while you are perfecting your other part of the funnel. Since people reveal their intention to buy on Google Search, search ads can give you the most laser-focused traffic. To structure your keywords you should focus on 3 types of campaigns namely;
- Competitor: If you have direct competitors
- Brand campaigns; if your brand is already well known
- Product campaigns: This should be taking your 70% of ad spend
Simply put, this is how many people have signed up on your platform. This would essentially mean collecting the email addresses of your prospects to reach out to them and nurture them into paying customers.
Since only 3% of your market is in buying mode right now, this intends to capture the remaining 97% who are not ready to buy yet.
There are a couple of ways to go about this with no single winning strategy. Some of the most common ways to collect email addresses are;
- Sign up discounts/gifts
- Gated content
The efficacy of these tactics is dependent on the value of the content being offered. So put your best foot forward. This is your chance to showcase the value you can provide with no money being asked for. This will increase trust from users who would be more than willing to then pay you money for the main product.
Taking the case of a business selling protein powder, this could be personalized diet plans that can be offered after the person goes through some assessment.
Once you have the email addresses, the next step is to nurture these leads. To nurture leads, you should be using emails as the primary channel. You can follow my guide on Email Marketing to get a detailed understanding of how to ensure the highest deliverability with your email marketing campaigns. To help you decide between the different ESPs ActiveCampaigns has the best deliverability in the market.
For an easy gamification of the acquisition stage, you can also use opt-in monster’s gamified wheels.
Once people are acquired using the strategist mentioned above, the next step is to activate them.
This step is to identify the “aha” moment of your product and make sure that maximum people experience it with the least friction.
While a lot of sources on the internet consider people signing up to be activated, I differ here as people signing up are not really trying your product. For people to experience the AHA moment they need to use it and drive value.
For e-commerce businesses activation tactics usually need to be baked in artificially. What I mean is that we need to create an offer that people can’t refuse in order for them to try our product.
This can be some small version of the product that you can ship for free or just ask for the shipping cost.
Think of a no-brainer offer and add a sprinkle of realism to it and you have an offer that you can promote. This can be a money-back guarantee on a product that others’ are not offering or simply a “try before you buy” tactic.
Remember a few years back Myntra gave an offer to try and buy for Rs.1. Now that’s an offer one can’t refuse.
While this might sound expensive but the real beauty lies in conformism. A lot of users that buy from you will not misuse your offer and even if a few people do, the benefits of a low CPA and free PR will often outweigh the possible downside.
To create a compelling guarantee, make sure to visit this checklist;
- Study the competition: just search for competitors + guarantee on google
- Laser in on your strengths
- Be specific with no scope of any doubt or hidden terms
- Test, measure and refine
- Put it in center and front
- Give your guarantee a name
So you have successfully activated your customers, now comes the real business. The part where you get the returns of all your investments. If you have nailed all the previous steps, generating revenue becomes a natural offshoot.
The crucial step here is the checkout process.
No matter how seamless you think your checkout process is, there is always room for improvement. Improvements by removing unnecessary distractions (like the navigation menu), or reducing frictions in the buying process.
As far as the payment methods are concerned you should try and test integrating BNPL (Buy Now and Pay Later) options and also consider no-cost EMI if your product lies in the higher price brackets.
One of the very important growth metrics that you should closely focus on is LTV/CAC (Lifetime value of customer/Cost of acquiring a customer). If you are running the business for some while you will get a fair idea of the Lifetime Value of your Customer (LTV). The higher this number the better it is.
Retention particularly becomes very important if you are selling products with thin margins as you are expecting customers to give you repeated purchases to justify the cost that you have spent to get them onboard.
To ensure higher retention, you should do a channel-level cohort analysis of your retention. This will give you a high-level view of which channels are getting you customers that are buying a given number of times.
This will help you decide your optimum channel mix.
Another way to solve for retention is “subscription”. You can get your customers to subscribe to your product/service at a discounted price, so you don’t have to spend money to reacquire them.
Once you have the scale, you can also try experimenting with offering a service that gives value to your customer on a repeated basis so that when the customer needs a product that you are offering, your brand is always on top of the mind.
One unconventional example of this is Amazon Prime which gives you regular, repeated value with the TV shows, movies, and music and offers free delivery on the eCommerce platform. So if you are a Prime member and need to buy some product that’s available on Amazon, where do you buy it from?? Of course, Amazon.
65% of businesses don’t use the power of referral while customers who come through referrals are 300% more likely to buy from your band.
This is probably one of the most underutilized and under optimized channels for most businesses. Today amazon’s affiliate campaign is one of the biggest in the world. Some of the best practices for a referral campaign are;
- Always give 2 way benefits
- Keep it simple and crisp
- Personalise the experience for those who are referred
You can use some of the already established platforms like Viral Loops or ReferralCandy rather than reinventing the wheel again.
Remember, no amount of marketing can convince people to buy as much as a friend would do.
Until now we have focused only on paid as a channel for growth but for a long-term holistic strategy, paid is just a part of the puzzle.
Once you have nailed the Pirate Funnel, then it’s time to spread the word and gain authority.
Content marketing is a great way to establish authority, connect with your targeted audience and optimize your organic efforts all at the same time. To target top-of-the-funnel, you should focus on “how-to” queries related to your product. Answer the Public and Buzzsumo are great resources to research on topics that are already getting searched for.
For the middle of the funnel, target topics like how your product is better than the competitor’s product, discount coupons, and other higher intent keywords. This will be particularly useful for people in the consideration stage and our lead magnet will work wonders for them.
Nobody wants to buy from brands, people want to buy from other people. That’s where influencer marketing fits in.
If you can think of crazy ideas like this “Girls don’t poop https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKLnhuzh9uY” it can quickly generate free PR for your brand without spending a lot of ads or waiting for your organic search rankings to go up.
If you think your product is not interesting enough, think twice!
Did you know a 1-sec increase in your website load time can affect conversion rates by almost 10%?
People today have less patience than ever before so a non-responsive and slow website can often deter good ideas from giving results. To understand how you can improve your website performance go to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Note: Web Vitals have now become a part of the core organic ranking factor.
There are a couple of free chat solutions that you can integrate on your website including Hubspot chat, that can be used to answer questions that your customer might have while they are on your website. If properly managed and audited, chats can be a big source of inspiration for your product roadmap as well.
Now that you have grasped all the growth marketing strategies, the only thing remaining is to test ideas and get started with your growth journey.
Successfully testing these strategies can be transformative but require a strong understanding of consumer heuristics clubbed with statistical know-how to test for significant changes.
Want to grow your business while you relax? Book your free strategy call at www.ankitbagga.com to get started.