The marketing world is a buzz with its latest obsession: growth hacking.
Known as the strategy that helped brands like Facebook, Uber, and DropBox achieve astounding growth during their start-up phases, growth hacking is the art and science of finding relevant ways to use your product, data, technology, content, and analytics to achieve sustainable, scalable growth. Growth hackers start with the existing data about their customers, evaluate which strategies are and aren’t working, and identify creative and often ingenious ways to leverage all of this information to their advantage, acquiring more customers and achieving incredible growth.
The marketing process of growth hackers typically takes a user-centric approach–focusing on solving for the needs of users and eliminating the barriers of adoptions. User-experience focused design and development take precedence in a growth hacking model.
Although growth hacking can be applied successfully to any industry and type of business, it is especially relevant for growing and driving traffic to your Shopify eCommerce site. Here are five smart hacks to get you started:
1. Get your customers to spread the word.
A core and highly-effective growth hacking strategy is to incentivize your existing customers to share your site with their friends online. For example, when DropBox first launched, they offered existing users 16GB of free space if they invited their friends to use the service – and it worked. Through the application of that tactic, users bred more users, and DropBox grew exponentially in a very short period of time. To replicate their success for your eCommerce website, consider offering customers an incentive such as a discount code or free gift if they share your store on social media or if one of their friends makes a purchase.
2. Identify your customers’ favorite sites and leverage that data.
This tip is inspired by a famous growth hacking strategy by Airbnb, a website that connects tenants and landlords. When the service first launched, they created a software that automatically posted their rental listings to Craigslist with a convenient link back to their website. They knew their target customers frequented Craigslist looking for apartments and short-term rental options, so it was a smart way to get the word out about their service and drive traffic back to their site.
To make this hack work for your site, identify the other websites your customers frequent and think of creative ways to reach them there. For example, if your site sells formalwear for weddings and special events, consider reaching your target customers on websites that are dedicated to the planning of these events, perhaps with entertaining and informative content.
3. Create high-quality, compelling content.
This is a growth hacking strategy that marketers will be very familiar with. Create high-quality content, tools, and resources to drive people to your site and inspire them to buy your products. For example, if your eCommerce site sells furniture, décor, and household items, consider creating entertaining and educational videos to help your target customer improve, redesign, and reorganize their home. Optimize your videos for SEO and share them on social media and related websites for maximum exposure to your audience.
Shopify allows for stores to maintain a blog. The Shopify built-in blogging engine can be customized to fit a store’s brand. Blogging can be a very effective form of content to help customers better engage with your store. Blogging allows for your company to demonstrate your expertise, connect with customers, share tips and insights, inspire and strengthen your shop’s search engine rankings.
4. Time product launches with events and seasonal changes.
In many cases, timing plays a huge role in the success or failure of your launches. That’s why we recommend timing your launches strategically, so they coincide with major events and seasonal changes.
For example, if you’re an online retailer of alcohol, consider timing new product launches and campaigns so they run alongside local and national events where people tend to drink alcohol, like summer concert season and major sporting events. Then, look for clever ways to tie your launches to these events. For example, gain a presence where your customers buy tickets online or purchase related merchandise. Or, consider a relevant free gift or entertaining content, such as a series of funny videos designed to build buzz for the event while simultaneously driving new traffic to your site.
5. Use email to your advantage.
A strong email list offers a huge growth opportunity for eCommerce sites because it enables you to acquire new customers and keep your existing customers happy with ongoing content and offers. To achieve rapid email growth, first incentivize users to subscribe by offering a free gift, coupon, or relevant content. We also recommend getting existing subscribers to share the newsletter with their friends using similar incentives. Then, use personalization and marketing automation to appeal to specific audience types, remind users about their abandoned shopping carts, and inform them about relevant sales and product launches.
Shopify allows for email integration with third-party services. We recommend Chimpified or, for more serious email marketing, try Hubspot, which provides full-funnel visibility of your marketing outcomes.
6. Use an iterative design and development process
Often organizations do not think of web design and coding as part of a marketing process, but it should be. Using data from shopping cart transactions, Google Analytics and your other analytics tools, an effective eCommerce company will continually improve and invest in their user experience in order to power growth.
Study trends and changes in shopping behavior. Explore the pathways of mobile users versus desktop users to better understand the needs of your shoppers. Connect your Shopify store with a marketing automation system to gain insights all the way through the acquisition to sales funnel. Data should be your primary design tool–not Photoshop.