Growth hacking for e-commerce

Popularised by business bloggers and keynote speakers, the phrase growth hacking is the perfect mix of snappy enthusiasm and aspiration. Like hustle, it’s a phrase that’s never monotone. There’s a natural energy to it’s quick simplicity.

Growth – we all want that.

Hacking – getting what we want even faster and with less investment?! Even better!

This phrase is music to every entrepreneur’s ears. The promise of their dreams.

But going beyond the enthusiastic promise of easy growth, past the bright smiles of influencers and their incredible drop shipping claims, what does growth hacking really entail?

Growth hacking is when a company uses ideas, tools, technology and products in intelligent and creative ways to generate more customers or conversions. Often growth hacking stories come from start ups because being on a shoe string means they must get creative with their marketing. Creative doesn’t have to mean viral social campaigns or PR stunts though.

Growth hacking can be as simple as putting a good email sequence into place.

The best growth hacking tactics are executed with the help of data and analytics. Your business shouldn’t be throwing things out to see what sticks.


The Best Growth Hacking technique for e-commerce


Acquiring followers requires you be interesting. Converting them into paying customers requires you be trustworthy.

The most popular way to build trust in e-commerce is by using social proof. But what if you haven’t sold anything yet?

Trust is psychological, and so we can use a mix of psychological triggers to create it.

When someone gives you a gift, you feel obliged to give them something back. That’s called reciprocity, and it’s a powerful psychological tool in e-commerce.

No one in the modern age has used this quite as masterfully as entrepreneur and super influencer Gary Vaynerchuck. By giving away useful content for seven years and asking for nothing in return, he was building up a powerful sense of reciprocity in his favour. Thousands of people would reach out via social media to thank him for his good advice and how his content had helped then to change their business fortunes. Naturally, when Gary announced he was releasing a book, these people needed no encouragement to pre order. He never runs discount offers for his books because he doesn’t have to. His customers feel such a strong sense of reciprocity towards him that they are glad to buy from him and help his business.


How to use reciprocity in e-commerce


Include a surprise gift

This will not help you to make the initial sale, but it will help you to create repeat sales and customer loyalty. It can even increase the marketing reach of your brand.

The value of the gift is not really important. It’s not even necessary for the gift to be connected to the item purchased. However, it’s absolutely essential that it is a genuine gift, with no extra purchase needed. You are giving them something so they feel the need to return the favour. Don’t add things that only further your agenda, make sure you are providing the customer value that they will view as a gift.

There are a tons of ways you can ship a surprise to establish reciprocity including: free samples, thank you notes, or even candy.


Share knowledge

They say that knowledge is power, and in e-commerce it’s the power to convert sales. Stores that provide customers with knowledge in the form of content are much better off than those that don’t.

Information  is the best thing you can give your customers if you want them to reciprocate with a purchase. Potential customers out there looking for answers you can provide.

For example, I bought a very old copy of Winnie the pooh from World of Rare Books, and I wondered if I could do anything to brighten the pages a little. So, I did what any person in this position would do, and I Googled it.


using reciprocity in e-commerce



The first result was from an e-commerce book store called book riot. Their post was very useful and gave clear, simple advice for what I should do. Of course, once i had the information I needed, I began to browse their site. Book riot do not sell book cleaning services, but they had attracted one of their target audience (a book lover) by offering information that book lovers want.

Providing knowledge or content is a great way to get shoppers to your site, just don’t be too pushy. Your content should not always be focused on selling product it should be to inform potential customers so they buy from you in the future.

 A content marketing strategy is not a quick win. It can take months before you build up the SEO and credibility to make your content relevant. But stick with it, the results for your brand credibility and customer loyalty are worth it.


Reward loyalty

An online points program allows you to give back to the customers who make your business.

Your point-based loyalty program can be as simple as offering customers free shipping for x number of points. To maximise customers using your program, you should give points early. If you are starting a points program be sure to give them points when they sign up.

Make it easy for customers to determine the value of their points. Use round numbers. Don’t set up something like 27 points is worth $1.

In addition, make it clear how points can be exchanged for rewards. Customers won’t care if they can’t even determine what their points mean.

Use apps like Sweet Tooth with Shopify or BigCommerce to customise your loyalty program and have frequent visitors access it from desktop as well as mobile.


Accelerating growth

By leveraging these tactics you can encourage more sales and increase the frequency at which customers purchase from you. That’s the fastest and most cost effective way to increase your e-commerce sales.

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