Open your Shopify dashboard and check out your revenue. What do you see?
Maybe you’re seeing a small, embarassing number. Maybe it’s a number you’re still proud of, because you know you’ve recently increased it.
Whatever the case, let’s not talk about that number right now. Right now, I want to talk about how much money you could be making—if you knew all the right moves to promote your store.
Look, it’s not easy to promote an ecommerce store. It’s hard enough just to run one. If it were easy to promote and grow an online store, you’d see a lot more successful businesses out there.
But it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we make it. You can grow your ecommerce store if you spend just an hour or two a day, steadily working on making it more attractive to your visitors.
If you want to achieve your potential and learn how to increase your sales, there are some simple ecommerce growth hacks you can implement today.
To be clear, we call them hacks, but these are not quick fixes or silver bullets. They’re merely proven, effective marketing strategies that can add up to lift your ecommerce store to a new level of popularity, sales, and revenue.
Table of Contents
#1: The Power of Other People
People like believing they are special. It’s what Mister Rogers taught us, after all.
I bet you think you’re special. I definitely think I’m special.
But the funny thing is, as unique as we like to think we are, there’s a psychological contradiction: We love following other people.
I remember some of my childhood buddies who liked following a popular kid from school. Whatever that kid did—a particular haircut, clothes, mannerisms—all my classmates would imitate him. I never understood why they did it. They couldn’t even explain it themselves. They just did it.
Years later, I would read about a concept that explains it, and one that most marketers know all too well: social proof. Social proof describes a psychological bias that makes us believe what other people do is the correct way of doing things.
Take a look at this ad from Prudential (which I think is based on an old psychology study):
Bizarre? You betcha. That’s how social proof works. Even if the behavior doesn’t make sense, people will follow if everyone else seems to do it.
Social proof is powerful, and there are a few ways you can leverage it in your store.
Showcase Your Customer Reviews
People love buying products other people like.
So your visitors need to know who else is buying your products. That’s where customer reviews play an essential role in persuading your visitors to buy.
A study done by BrightLocal found 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Customer reviews give your visitors confidence that they are doing business with a company that’s great. If other people say so, it must be right, no?
I know some people buy products precisely because no one else buys them. That’s what drives the collectibles industry, for example. But in the majority of cases, people like making purchases knowing other people like them would make similar purchases. The key words here are “other people like them.”
If you want to get customer reviews, there are two simple things you need to do:
- Collect each customer’s contact info
- Send them an email asking for a review
The first one should be obvious; every ecommerce platform does that for you automatically. Better yet, every customer review app or plugin allows you to automate your emails once a certain period of time has passed after a purchase.
Zea Relief, one of the student success stories of our Start & Scale course, shows their customer reviews on every product page.
Your product reviews don’t need to be too fancy and don’t have to read like the New York Review of Books. As long as they feature real customers and their opinions, it’s enough.
Di Bruno, a company that sells gourmet gifts, shows simple reviews on almost every product page.
A few sentences praising their products, and social proof is already working. That’s what you want.
One of the industry’s top companies for capturing customer reviews is Yotpo. Their platform helps you “turn your customer’s content into sales by collecting and leveraging reviews, ratings, and Q&A.”
After you install their tool, Yotpo works like a standard email marketing provider, sending a series of emails to contact your customers at a certain customized point following a purchase. The service provides the option to decide how many stars they want to give your product and leave a review on your site.
Your customer can leave you a review in just a few clicks, helping you boost your product’s credibility. Here’s a handy guide explaining how Yotpo works and how you can use it in your Shopify store:
Bonus Hack: Make sure your customers get the review email after they receive the package
This may sound obvious, but you don’t want your review email to arrive before the customer even gets your product. You can’t always determine when your customers receive your product, and Yotpo doesn’t integrate with the logistics companies’ systems.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way you can hack this process, using a service called AfterShip. This company allows you to track the exact date your customers receive your products and then trigger your emails (not only from Yotpo, but from any standard email marketing service provider) accordingly.
The best part is that it tracks a huge number of couriers, 471 to be precise.
You can install it in your Shopify store as well as any other major ecommerce platform, including Magento, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce. Then wow your customers with your precise timing, and land those crucial reviews.
Leverage User-Generated Content
If people like buying what other people buy, they love seeing other people using what they buy.
That’s why user generated content (UGC) matters.
User-generated content is any kind of content created by a company’s audience. That content can range from images to videos to blog posts. The user, on the other hand, can be a past customer, a site visitor, or just a social media follower.
The power of UGC works hand-in-hand with online reviews. The only difference between them is that they are more visual and look more realistic than written reviews.
“Show, don’t tell,” is the mantra of UGC.
You can tap into UGC just as you do with online reviews, with the help of a tool like Yotpo (see previous section). All that changes is the ask. Instead of asking for a review, you are asking for a photo of them using your product.
Since you are asking for something that can take time and effort (at least, in internet time), there will be more friction; more users will resist it. An Instagram picture may be a tougher ask than a 50-word review.
Because of that, you may want to add an incentive to “loosen up” your users. Giving them a discount or a free gift card can help to get the reviews you want.
In the example above, you can see how Charming Charlie asks their email subscribers to tag the brand in their posts. Also, they incentivize the ask with a chance to be featured on their site. While it’s not a powerful incentive like a discount, it can still work for this audience.
Just by asking your customers to do something as simple as tagging you in one of their posts helps you get the social proof you need. If this sounds complicated, with the help of Yotpo, it’s not. All this work of adding tagged photos to your site can be done automatically, you only need to choose the customer photos to add and you are done.
One of the best companies that masters the use of UGC is GoPro. On their Instagram page, you can see how they show buyers using their cameras, like in the example below:
You should also show the images in your product pages, as MVMT does when they feature the chic women who wear their glasses.
Alert the Media
Here’s one thing you need to know about the press: they need content. Lots of it. And they need it now.
If you sell interesting products, with an original twist, and great appeal, there’s a chance there’s a media outlet that wants to talk about it.
Keep in mind, when I talk about using the press, I don’t necessarily mean you need to get The New York Times to write about your products. Of course, that would land you some attention, but it’s probably not going to happen. That, and an influential blogger or two in your industry would almost certainly be better for your conversions.
The power of media is based in two elements: reach and influence. Traditional media has a large reach (that is, they get a lot of people to see their news), and they influence people with their content.
The problem with old-school media is that they are too general. People want content that’s created for them. If possible, by people like them.
When you look to land press coverage, you want to start with your target audience. You probably know this already, so if you have a document where you have all the details of your audience, use it to determine the kind of sites they’re going to read.
Once you know the top sites your target audience likes, find the people to contact at those sites. You can do that with the help of LinkedIn or simply by browsing through the masthead, which every news site has, like The Huffington Post.
Then, set up a press kit, where you will show all the key information about your company. Finally, you will need to write the pitch you will use to contact the editors. As always when contacting busy people, your pitch needs to be concise, laying out everything the journalist needs to know about your company and why your story matters.
Rotimatic, a company that manufactures machines to automatically create roti (a type of pita-like bread popular in India), shows all the large media outlets they’ve been featured in. What makes their company so special (and what explains their media mentions) is the ease with which a user can create a roti. It’s a highly useful and practical bread-making machine that speaks to a specific audience, and that’s led to media coverage.
John Lee Dumas, the popular blogger from Entrepreneurs On Fire, used this same hack when he launched the Kickstarter to fund his Freedom Journal. On his page, you can see he shows all the places that have featured John, including top bloggers, television networks, and influential online news sites.
While he doesn’t explain whether those press mentions are about his Freedom Journal or his personal site, he still uses them to give his product, as well as himself, a social proof boost. The Freedom Journal would go on to raise $453,803, dwarfing the $25,000 goal John had. Not too shabby for a journal, right?
Another interesting case is Jack Rudy Cocktail & Co. They display some large outlets, like GQ and The Wall Street Journal, yet they also feature smaller and niche-focused sites, like Tasting Table and Garden & Gun.
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#2: The ‘Popular Kid’ Marketing Campaign
Remember that popular kid my classmates would follow around and imitate? We know that’s a result of social proof. And while social proof is powerful, there’s another way you can use that popular kid’s magic to your advantage.
Back in the day, we may have called him the popular kid, but now, we call that kid an influencer.
Marketers are in love with influencer marketing for good reason. Just like on the playground, people listen to every word an influencer says and follow every step they take.
Influencer marketing is so powerful that Tomoson has found businesses make an average of $6.50 for every one dollar invested in influencer marketing.
That’s a 650% return.
Here’s how you too can tap into the influencer’s persuasive power.
Step 1: Find Micro-Influencers
When you think about an influencer, you may think about a celebrity like Kylie Jenner, who has been known for promoting products to her huge audience in the past.
While there’s no doubt she has a massive influence, her fee will also be massive. What’s more, her influence won’t be directly related to your industry (think of her like the New York Times of influencers).
Even if you sell fashion products, an industry associated with Kylie Jenner, you can find influencers who are more targeted and less costly, who can drive enough results to make your investment worthwhile.
You want to find “micro-influencers.”
As the name suggests, these are accounts that have less influence, but dominate a specific niche or audience.
You can find micro-influencers by searching on Instagram. In the top search bar, write the name of your industry or some keywords related to it.
Let’s say I was selling supplements. Here’s how I’d go about searching for micro-influencers in this industry.
Start scrolling down, checking every post that doesn’t look like spam or an ad. Look at each post and its engagement, which we can gauge based on comments and likes. If you see a post has a large number of likes and comments, check the profile of the user. If they have a following above a few thousand, consider them a micro-influencer. Generally, micro-influencers have followings of fewer than 100,000, but this term is loosely defined by the industry.
For example, looking for micro-influencers in the supplements industry, I found this account:
The account has 624,000 followers and follows some other accounts, but it seems to be a motivational account. Therefore, this is not a micro-influencer we want to work with.
I kept scrolling down, and I found this account:
Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can see she has tons of followers, her posts have high engagement, and her account includes her email. Also, it looks like she works with companies like Adidas and Garmin, which is a green light.
The next step in this situation is to contact her.
You should continue searching for more accounts until you have a few dozen. Some influencers can be even smaller than the account I showed you before. Some may be even larger and more professional.
What matters is that these influencers work within the confines of your industry, have substantial followings, and high engagement rates.
Step 2: Find Their Contact Information
Once you have your influencers list, you need to contact each one. There are a few ways you can do so—a displayed email, the influencer’s site, or good old Google.
In the final case, search for the user’s name and see if you can find anything about them—a Facebook account, a LinkedIn profile, or a Twitter account, for example—which you can then use to contact them.
Step 3: Pitch Them
Now it’s time to send the pitch. As always when you contact someone of influence, you want to focus on what’s in it for them. Even if you are going to pay them for their service, you want to show them how your product will benefit their audience.
The pitch can be as simple as getting them more acquainted with your brand and setting up a time to talk.
Here’s a template pitch you can use:
It’s a pleasure to meet you. I like your Instagram account, you’re doing a great job! We are huge fans of the content you put out.
I am the founder of [YOUR COMPANY] and we [EXPLAIN YOUR COMPANY]. I think there’s a good fit between your audience and ours.
We’d love to work with you. If you are interested in a partnership, let me know and we can set up a time to chat.
Some influencers require payment but others will work with you in exchange for free product, especially if they are already a fan of your brand.
If the influencer requires payment, consider how much you are willing to spend. For example, influencers with 100,000 followers may charge $1500 for a shoutout post while others with a similar audience would do so for free.
The way to decide is to assess the return you would receive from working with the influencer. If the former brings you $3,000 worth of sales and the latter brings you $0, the former is worth every penny (a 100% ROI isn’t too shabby) while the latter isn’t even worth your free product.
Ask the influencer for previous similar partnerships so you can measure their engagement. You can do this with the help of a tool like Phlanx. The higher the engagement, the more return you will receive on your investment.
You can find more information on influencer marketing in this in-depth guide.
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#3: Mind-Reading Product Copy
Ever had a magician read your mind? It always goes something like this:
You pick a card from a deck, without the magician looking at it. Then you return it to the deck. The magician shuffles, and all of a sudden, picks out a seemingly random card. And you guessed it, it’s your card!
How did he do that?!
Well, unfortunately, I’m no magician (and if I were, I wouldn’t reveal the secret anyway).
But I can tell you this: You can make your visitors experience that same feeling when reading your product copy.
Here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Check Your Customer Communications
You probably have a lot of channels of customer communications, including emails, live chat, social media, and more. Each of these channels represent a great window into your customer’s mind.
Let’s imagine you sell wooden sunglasses. You might think your customers would call your glasses “cool.” But then, you’d see that your Instagram followers use words like “hip,” “flashy,” or “eco-friendly.”
If you saw those same words repeated over and over on other social media sites, you could safely say your customers consider those words as essential to describe the glasses.
You can take your analysis even further and check sales and customer support calls, reviews from your competitors on their sites and other ecommerce stores, and even the comments people make in online communities like Reddit and Facebook.
Step 2: Create a List of Their Words
As you browse through the different customer communication channels, you’ll start to see certain words and phrases repeated consistently. You may even find a phrase or two you like a lot.
Write these words, phrases, and expressions down in a list. Don’t leave anything out. If you think the word might not work, add it anyway. You want to have a broad list of words and expressions that show how your customers express themselves in relation to your products.
Continuing with the wooden sunglasses example, let’s try to find some words by mining reviews on Amazon. When I search for “wooden sunglasses,” here are three products I see.
For the first product I found the following review:
The words “wood tones,” “stylish,” and “vibrant” are interesting, and I’d have never thought of them before.
In the second product, I found the following review:
More interesting words to add to the list.
Finally, in the third product, I found an even more interesting review:
Lots of interesting expressions to add to my list.
Continue this process across every communication channel you have.
Step 3: Pick the Best and Add Them to Your Copy
Great copywriters know their job isn’t to write copy that converts; it’s to make their buyers see themselves represented in their copy.
What analyzing your customer communications allows you to do is prioritize your ideas, find a new and more diverse set of words for your copy, and discover what matters to your customers.
From the list you’ve developed, you’ll see a certain group of words and expressions come up over and over. In those cases, you want to consider adding them to your copy, even if you don’t personally love them.
Take your list, take a good look at it, and pick a few new words. Then, add them to any marketing copy you have, especially your product descriptions.
Wrapping up the example of the wooden sunglasses, based on the research we’ve done, our copy would look like this:
Looking for a trendy addition to your sunglass collection? Made from lightweight sustainable wood, our unique unisex sunglasses come with polarized UV protection. What’s more, they also float in water, which makes them perfect for your next adventure. The vibrant wood tones of our sunglasses will look stylish every time you wear them. Buy them today!
#4: The ‘Be Everywhere’ Trick
When I was a kid, I used to love watching old Droopy cartoons. I remember in one episode, there was a villainous dog who escaped from prison, and the police called in Droopy to apprehend the escapee.
I’ll never forget a scene where the dog escapes to a small cabin in the middle of the snowy mountains, slams closed a dozen doors, and swallows the key. Who does he find sitting in a chair inside the cabin? Droopy!
That trick of Droopy’s, to effortlessly be everywhere at once, makes him quite the lovable scamp in the cartoons. But you can use this trick in your marketing, by tagging your visitors and casually showing up everywhere they hang out.
The marketing technique I’m referring to is called retargeting. Here’s how you can use it.
Step 1: Install the Tag
There are two ways you can use retargeting:
- You can install a pixel in your site that adds a cookie to your visitor’s browser and “follows” them around.
- If you have information from your visitors (like their email addresses), you can add them to a list and use that information to retarget them.
In this case, we’ll focus on the first technique. While less focused than list-based retargeting, it can help you tap into a larger set of people.
You can get a tag by signing up with one of the retargeting software companies. AdRoll is one of the most popular in the industry, although Perfect Audience is also well known. After you sign up, get the pixel (code snippet), and add it to your site.
Step 2: Define Your Audience
You can retarget a wide variety of audiences, depending on their demographics, behavior, geography, and more.
One of the most commonly retargeted groups are visitors who have shown interest in your products but didn’t purchase. This includes:
- People who have visited your product pages more than twice in the past month
- People who have added a product to the cart but abandoned it
- People who have signed up for your list but didn’t add a product to cart
- People who have signed up for your list but haven’t purchased yet
The audience you choose will depend on your current situation.
For example, if you see that 20% of people adding products to their carts are abandoning them, you can imagine that’s a large audience that’s likely to become profitable. Getting them to convert will help you increase your sales without having to spend large sums of money on acquisition.
Considering that a website visitor who’s been retargeted is 70% more likely to convert, you can imagine what a great investment your retargeting campaign is.
If, on the other hand, you have a large email list but your conversion rates are low, you can retarget your email subscribers who haven’t made any purchases.
Taking a look at your analytics will give you a hint at the best audience to retarget.
Step 3: Develop the Ads
With the audience defined, you now need to develop the right ads to draw them in.
These ads will look pretty much like any other ad you may have created before. What’s important is that they are connected to the audience at hand and the desired action.
For example, if you are retargeting people who have visited your store a few times but never added a product to the cart, you can create an ad showing the last product they saw, plus a small discount to incentivize a purchase.
Here’s an ad I got from One Kings Lane after I recently visited their site.
As you can see, the ad is pretty simple and straightforward. Given that I only visited their site for a couple of minutes and didn’t look at any of their products, this retargeting campaign works more for awareness purposes than driving a sale. Still, it’s a good example of a well-timed retargeting ad.
Your retargeting ads will help you follow your visitors around the web, getting them to take the next step. From a visit to an email sign up. From an email sign up to a sale. And if that doesn’t happen, from the cart to a purchase.
If you want to get started with your Facebook ads retargeting campaign, this handy guide will help you get started.
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Apply These Ecommerce Growth Hacks to Boost Your Sales
The time has come. You need to boost your store’s sales and today is the day to start.
There’s no reason to be overwhelmed with marketing your ecommerce store. Just pick any one of the ecommerce growth hacks you saw in this article, and make a plan to implement it sometime in the next seven days.
Then pick another. And another. The results will add up.
As the saying goes, “Plan your work and work your plan.”
Plan your growth hacks, and you’ll grow your store.
What ecommerce growth hack will you implement in your store? Share it in the comments below!