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4 Unusual E-Commerce Growth Hacks To Outdo The Competition

06/01/2017 1:11 PM IST | Updated 09/01/2017 8:50 AM IST
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Growth hacking is a fancy term which exploded in the last five years among marketers, SAAS (software as a service) companies, and tech entrepreneurs. While the word growth hacking may seem esoteric, it is a simple concept. It is the notion that every strategy, action, idea that you develop and implement for your business revolves around growth. While every business is focused on growth, growth hacking is giving this growth "wings."

The whole point of growth hacking is to get enormous growth on a shoe-string budget.

The whole point of growth hacking is to get enormous growth on a shoe-string budget. Growth hacking mainly revolves around developing and running tests, campaigns to find out which channels, segment, ads work the best and to focus on them to achieve rapid growth.

As growth hacking focuses on developing low-cost strategies, any business can use it. It is not limited to SAAS companies and tech-savvy marketers. Even a small e-commerce business can use it to fuel its growth.

Viral is vital

The best growth hack out there is making your product or brand viral. How to make something go viral? Get more and more people sharing it! Well, it is not that simple, though. We marketers and business owners would like to believe that the web is ruled by us, but in reality, it is ruled by funny cat memes and the weird-coloured dress.

To get the maximum reach at the lowest possible cost, your campaign should revolve around shareability. The best growth hack examples out on the web have shareability at their core. So, how to make a content shareable and viral? Most people who generate content believe that if they produce useful content, people will share. But that is far from reality.

To produce content which has the smallest chance of going viral you have to be creative and different from rest of the herd. Viral content has the following characteristics:

• Surprising

• Interesting

• Intense (it makes you go "Oh!")

• Positive

• Actionable

If you have created a video which revolves around how awesome your product is and how useful its features are, no one will be interested. Instead, think creative. Make a video keeping the above factors in mind, but don't try to sell your products. Keep it natural. No one likes being sold to.

Another way to make people share your product is giving them rewards. Everyone loves to be rewarded and when the reward comes with just a click, why not? Dropbox is a very well-known example in growth hacking. They gave rewards to people sharing Dropbox services with their friends in the form of additional storage space. It worked like magic.

If you have created a video which revolves around how awesome your product is and how useful its features are, no one will be interested.

Rewards can also be offered in the form of contests. Most of the people reading this will say contests doesn't work. If you think so, you are wrong! Contests are still one of the best ways to make people share. The contest works if it is executed correctly and coupled with the right content.

Growth hack tips to rock your contest:

• Start with an exciting prize— of course, the more valuable the product, the more attention it will get. Think outside the box and give away products which your customers like and not the one which you want to sell.

• Make the participants share the giveaway. Make ads for the giveaway and ask participants to share it. This way you will reach two times more people than normal.

• Partner with a company which sells related products for the giveaway—ask them to promote the contest on their sales channels and split the leads. This way you get to give a more valuable prize, double promotion, and more leads at half the cost. This is the BEST method for a small e-commerce business wanting to do a giveaway.

Unconventional PR

Let's face it. PR can make you or break you. Going unconventional is higher risk and can cost you time and money, but if executed successfully, you will never have to worry about your sales.

"With great risks comes greater returns" – Batman, entrepreneur and growth hacker.

What does unconventional PR mean? It means creating a buzz about your business or product in every possible way, even if it makes a lot of people or your competitors angry.

When we discuss unconventional PR, we have to mention Richard Branson. Richard Branson is the master of unconventional PR. He turned boring product launches into PR stunts which made headlines in the leading newspapers. How can media ignore a man who put on a wedding dress to publicise his retail store Virgin Brides?

Again, unconventional PR is related to viral marketing, which we already discussed above. It has to be remarkable and unrepeatable. I have compiled some basic characteristics every unconventional strategy has:

Tell stories: Data is necessary, but people like stories and respond to them.

Be creative and unusual: Let's face it. No one is interested in reading about your product launch even if it is the best. To make people interested, you have to think of something creative and unusual which people have never seen before.

Choose the right channel: It will not be possible for you to be there on every channel out there. Choose the right ones where you can have maximum impact.

Do whatever it takes: Period.

Special content

Special content is what will make your product special. People tend to respond more to people than products. Having content which talks about how good your product is and its features is a must, but that content doesn't sell.

When all other businesses are slamming the same generic ad message on a poorly designed banner ad, if you do something different, you will be noticed.

To make the content personal and exclusive, you need to add a twist to it. Make videos showing the numerous uses of the product, or if your product is something which needs to be assembled show your customers how to do so.

A personal connection with your audience will have more chances of converting than normal product descriptions. When all of your competitors are throwing the same content at the audience and you offer something special, it will not only improve their customer experience but also will make them your loyal customers forever.

The best example I recently saw was from VAT19, a company that curates and sells interesting products. This means that the products are available at other stores and the competition is high. To stand-out from the competition VAT19 produces exclusive content in the form of videos. I recently came across their video on a Gummy Bear that weighs 5 pounds.


How do you describe a Gummy Bear which weighs 5 pounds in words and normal pictures? You can give it a shot but how effective will it be? The video strategy has proven highly successful for VAT19, which is reflected in their massive following on YouTube.

Retarget – Retarget – Retarget

Not retargeting the customers who showed interest in your product is like leaving your own money on the table. Everyone who is reading this article will know what retargeting is and what its advantages are—if you want details, go here.

Most e-commerce business owners make a simple mistake while doing a retargeting campaign; they show a generic banner with dull offers to the people who have not completed their purchase. Let's face it, we are trained to ignore banners. We see them everywhere on the web and we have become ad blind. To make your retargeting campaign work, you need be different from the rest of the herd.

When all other businesses are slamming the same generic ad message on a poorly designed banner ad, if you do something different, you will be noticed.

One of the ideas to make your retargeting content stand out is showing customer testimonials in the ad. The customer already knows about you and what you offer—rather than showing a general product and its features (which the customer has already seen) show something which establishes trust. The customer did not buy the product because the content on the website failed to impress them, and if you show the same message in the ad as well, it won't work to its full potential. There are chances that there will be some conversions with this strategy but the rate will be low.

The secret to getting higher conversion rates via retargeting ads is to have exclusive content with definitive call-to-action which stands out from the rest.

Another idea is to use video in your retargeting campaign.

As Robert Weiss, president of MultiVision Digital puts it, "Business decision-makers LOVE online video because it gives them the most amount of information in the shortest amount of time."

Use video retargeting ads instead of a normal dynamic retargeting ad. This idea is somewhat crazy and untested, but you might want to give it a try.

Let's say you are retargeting using Facebook ads, you can keep the title as "Hello awesome human, this video is made for you, yes you! I know you are looking for XYZ product and I am here to help." Or any text which has a call-to-action to make a person watch the video.

There is no golden recipe for success; you have to keep on testing until you hit the jackpot. Work hard and test hard.

The video should not be animated and should include YOU saying the following words:

"Hello! I am the founder of ABC Company, and I was informed by our secret spy that you visited our website but did not make a purchase (sad face). But hey, you have your reasons for it. I just wanted to thank you for considering us for your purchase. At ABC Company we serve the best quality products at the most reasonable price. If you have any questions regarding the product, feel free to message me. If you have not yet purchased the product you were looking for, you might want to give us a second chance. If you want to complete your purchase now, click on the Shop Now button below. Well, that was it. See you on the website."

This message looks more personalised and better than a banner ad. I think has chances of getting better conversion rates, but I have NOT TESTED it yet. Although this is under plan and I will update the figures as soon as I have them.

If you plan to implement this strategy, let me know the results so that we can share it with everyone. The secret to getting higher conversion rates via retargeting ads is to have exclusive content with definitive call-to-action which stands out from the rest.

Conclusion

It is already 2017, and eCommerce is growing faster than ever. Keep in mind that there is no golden recipe for success; you have to keep on testing until you hit the jackpot. Work hard and test hard. I also wrote an article about psychological hacks which you can use on your e-commerce store to drive more conversions—do check that out. If you implement one of these growth hacks, I would love to know the results so that we can make the community better. In the meantime, keep growing!

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