/ Predictive Analytics

20 tips for epic e-commerce growth

Epic growth for your e-commerce store is about delighting your customers. Sales boil down to personal relationships with them. These relationships are built on simple and relevant conversations.

Considering the different sources of e-commerce value creation, we've categorized our tips into four types.

General principles are fail-proof principles to follow for any e-commerce store trying to generate sales. Customer acquisition is the way you create new customers for your store. Customer retention is the ways you make these customers come back for more. And finally, things you can do with your e-commerce site itself to aid sales growth.

This is a live article, which means that we will be updating this page with new tips from time to time.

Enjoy!

Table of contents

General principles
1. Convey your brand value clearly
2. Personalise
3. Run A/B tests
4. Plan for obscure seasonal promotions
5. Contextualised marketing
6. Collect your subscribers' emails and SMS contacts

Customer acquisition
7. Aim for a CLV:CAC ratio of 3:1
8. Set up a Facebook store
9. Use referral codes

Customer retention
10. Win back disengaged customers
11. Browse abandonment emails
12. Recommend products after a purchase
13. Abandoned cart emails
14. Birthday reminders
15. Loyalty programs
16. Upsell your products

Website
17. Localise
18. Use Google Analytics e-commerce tracking
19. Update your FAQs frequently
20. Incentivise customers to review your products

1. Convey your brand value clearly

In today's era of e-commerce, it can be difficult to stand out. Having a brand that customers recognize and love can be that differentiator to push members into making their first purchase, and to keep loyal customers coming back for more.

Promotional products are a fun way to signal quality in your brand, strengthening your brand image. This makes it more likely to nudge customers into making their first purchase. These products can also be related to the image your brand wants to convey. Del Monte, a food production company, gave away high-quality stress balls in the shape of peaches.

Find a promotional product that fits your brand image, and use them as an incentive to make purchases on your site. This way, you grow your brand, and you grow your customer base.

2. Personalise

No-one wants to spend money at a faceless company. So why be one? A personalisation strategy is paramount to building a strong customer relationship.

Address them by their names in emails, send them things specific to them, share unique videos or pictures with them - anything to make your customers feel special. Every little bit of personalization goes a long way to creating loyal, repeat customers who resonate with your brand.

Finimize, a colloquially written daily financial news company, is great at this.

With the subject header 'Hi - I'm one of the founders of Finimize :)', customers really feel important and part of the brand.

3. Run A/B tests

From the subject line to the time of email delivery, just minute variants of your emails can have substantial effects on open and click-through rates on your emails.

An A/B test reveals which variant of your emails generates the most conversions, sales, views and more. By testing the emails that have the biggest impact on your customers, you can significantly improve your sales growth.

This isn't just restricted to your emails either. Even different layouts of your web pages or the content can be A/B tested too.

4. Plan for obscure seasonal promotions

Whether it be specific national holidays, or seasonal periods, tying promotions to events like these can be a great way to attract attention to your business during periods of calm or activity. Increasing interest at unique times of the year also provides you with the chance to convert those one-time customers into loyal, active ones.

Don't offer promotions for every single event though - you don't want your margins constantly cut. Try to find events that are relevant to your brand image and your customer base - events that won't be oversaturated by the marketing of other e-commerce competitors out there.

Check out this simple but effective 'Back to School' campaign specifically targeting students and teachers:

5. Contextualised marketing

Nowadays, you've got to be smart, dynamic, and adaptive with your marketing. Taking advantage of ongoing events is a great example of this. It's a great opportunity to connect to your target demographic and connect with them on a higher level.

Here is a clever campaign by Excedrin following the recent hype of the American Election, targeted at working adults who may find their product useful:

6. Collect your subscribers' emails and SMS contacts

Email and SMS are among the best channels in marketing anyone can ask for. They drive traffic to your store, supplement targeted campaigns, and generate more sales than just general ads alone.

But first, you need to collect these email addresses and contacts. How? Promote your regular newsletters, and make it easy for site visitors to sign up. Take a look at Huckberry's prominent sign up bar:

7. Aim for a CLV:CAC ratio of 3:1

Should you be trying to capture every single customer out there? Not if it's not worth it. As a general principle, most businesses aim to have a CLV:CAC ratio of around 3:1.

What exactly does this mean? A customer's CLV is their lifetime value. This is the profit that you expect to make from a customer over their lifetime, discounted by the expected churn rate (the rate at which this type of customer becomes inactive). The Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is how much you spent in order to acquire that customer.

Optimizing your sales growth is about getting this ratio as low as possible.

Again, Google Analytics is an amazing tool to help you with this. It gives some of the data you need to help calculate CAC (e.g. cost per click) and allows you to compare this to the average size of orders placed by that customer.

8. Set up a Facebook store

Facebook is a brilliant place to advertise your products and is a great traffic source. But there's more! Now you can sell your products directly on your Facebook Page with a Facebook Store. Being such a large source of traffic, setting up a Facebook Store will definitely boost your sales figures.

Take a look at Southern Swim's Facebook Store:

9. Use referral codes

Who wins with referrals? Everyone. You, the referrer, and the referee.

According to ReferralCandy, 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer a product or service but just 29% actually do. If you can motivate the other 54%, it makes conversion a breeze: 92% of consumers trust referral over ads.

Dollar Shave Club really emphasises referrals in their emails:

Why would anyone not do this? Using a referral system is a no-brainer.

10. Win back disengaged customers

Being composed of your highest value customers, losing any proportion of your well-established, active customer base is bad news for sales growth.

To make sure you retain this sustainable source of sales, winning back at-risk customers that are slipping away is important. Boden's great use of colors and visuals reasserts their brand story, reminding their customers of why they loved them in the first place.

Similarly, JOY's triggered discount email is a fantastic way of incentivising customer activity following a recent purchase.

11. Browse abandonment emails

Ideally, everyone who visits your site becomes an active customer. Sadly, around 98% of site visitors don't buy a single thing. Don't worry, browse abandonment emails are a tactic you can employ to acquire some of these customers.

Browse abandonment emails are aimed to lure existing customers back onto the site, remind them of the items they were interested in, and drive them to make a purchase.

Here, Pacsun reminds a recently browsing customer of the products they were viewing with a small sense of urgency ('before your size runs out'), introducing some other similar products in the sizes they searched for as well.

12. Recommend products after a purchase

Great! A customer has just used your store. How do you make them come back for more?

Some customers who have just bought from you are probably ready to buy again. House of Fraser adds a simple 'you may also like' recommendation box to their post-purchase email. This is a clever, subtle way of coaxing customers into making a quick follow-up purchase.

But for some, maybe quick follow-up purchases are unlikely. Try offering seasonal discounts like Schuh. Customers purchasing in December were sent vouchers to be used in spring. Come February, they sent them reminders to say that these vouchers were live. What a smart way of retaining customers.

13. Abandoned cart emails

According to a survey by SaleCycle, an astonishing 74.4% of all shopping carts are abandoned. With such a large pool of potential sales waiting to be exploited, a simple abandoned cart email is a great way to boost your sales.

How effective are these emails, you ask? Very. According to this same survey, 13.3% of abandoned cart emails are clicked through and over one-third of these are converted into sales. That's an increase in your total sales by over 12%.

Dot & Bo is an e-commerce store that has done exactly this. Take a look at one of their emails:

14. Birthday reminders

In a recent study by Experian, it was shown that birthday emails outperform regular promotional emails. They boast a 481% higher transaction rate, a 342% higher revenue per email, and a 179% higher unique click rate.

These inherently sentimental and delightful birthday emails are not only great for generating sales, but are also a brilliant way of enhancing customer relations.

Check out Alternative's Birthday promotion email:

15. Loyalty programs

Did you know that it costs between 5x to 10x more to acquire new customers than it costs to sell to existing ones? Not only that, but active, loyal customers spend 67% more than first-time customers. If you want to grow your sales, you must focus on activating these one-time customers.

A loyalty program can do just that. Check out Gilt's Insider Program. Here, it shows you ways to earn points, benefits you can gain with these points and use of a tier system. This increases customer engagement and encourages them to spend.

Customers feel like they're part of an exclusive club, they'll feel happy about the benefits they're receiving, and so they'll continue to come back for more.

16. Upsell your products

Anytime you've bought something from the store, and the person at the checkout asks: "Would you perhaps be interested in an upgrade?"

This is the art of upselling - and it works, and according to Econsultancy, it's 20 times more effective than cross-selling. Suggesting an improved, related, but not an out-of-budget product to your customers can encourage them to buy that higher margin item of yours.

See how Apple sells its iPads. Every option highlighted below is an attempt by Apple to lead you to buy an iPad with slightly higher margins.

17. Localise

Development of multilingual marketing campaigns especially in areas of growth is becoming a staple of digital marketing strategy.

According to the Common Sense Advisory, 75% of customers prefer to purchase products in their own language. Another study by Digital Turbine found that 86% of their localized campaigns outperformed purely English ones.

Localization is powerful: it provides meaningful information relevant to a customer’s location and can act as a key differentiator. When a visitor is presented with content that is localized to their native language and is relevant, the content automatically gains trust, increasing the likelihood of a click-through.

18. Use Google Analytics e-commerce tracking

By setting up eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics, you can get all sorts of information about your store. Use this data to create your strategy for optimizing sales.

Take this Traffic Sources report for example. Seeing which sources generate the most revenue and the most views, you can direct your marketing strategy and resources to the sources that bring in the most sales for you. For example, Google is bringing you 28 views and revenue of $2,411.80, while Bing is bringing you 3 views and no revenue. This means that you should balance your ad spending more on Google than Bing.

19. Update your FAQs frequently

The FAQ section of your website is so much more than just answering your customers' queries. Not only does it save you time answering the same questions again and again, but there are hidden benefits of having an FAQ page.

Having an FAQ builds trust and confidence in your brand image. It shows that you are an expert in what you do, and makes it more likely that a casual visitor will convert into a customer. It's also an opportunity to include hyperlinks and improve site navigation.

Finally, you can use analytics to check your visitor data: how long they spent on each FAQ page, which queries were most common... You can use this data to further improve your site to make it more relevant and easier for your customers to use.

Nail your FAQ, and you will have customers who think your site is trustworthy and reliable, and are confident to proceed with a purchase.

20. Incentivise customers to review your products

It's unanimous: product reviews have a positive impact on your product sales. After running an email-based review promotion on 90,000 products, Argos found that products with reviews had a 10% higher conversion rate than products without.

Figleaves also reported a 12.5% improvement on their products with reviews compared to those without, and a staggering 86.5% increased conversion rate on products with over 20 reviews.

It's clear that product reviews are brilliant for your store. But how do you encourage customers to go out of their way to add a review? Amazon makes it super simple for customers to rate their recent purchase with this automated yet personalized email sent a few days after receiving their purchase. In just a single click, customers begin the review process without feeling like they're sacrificing all their time.

If that's not enough, offer a competition-based prize to further incentivise customers to leave a review, just like this brilliant email from Snapdeal.

Over to you

So here are 20 of our favorite tips. Like them? Dislike them? Have any questions? Leave a comment below. Remember, we'll update this page with further tips so bookmark and watch this space!

Justin Yek

Justin Yek

Partner & cofounder at Altitude Labs, creator of Metisa, former investment banker, public speaker, hobbyist musician

Read More