Everyone wants to grow their business but sometimes it is difficult to decide which business growth tactics to use. Before coming up with the right growth tactics, it’s important to understand the difference between strategy and tactics.
A strategy can easily be defined as a goal or an idea.
For example, “getting more customers” is a strategy. How you go about getting more customers is a tactic. To get more customers (strategy) you might want to use a referral program (tactic), get more active on social media (tactic), research your positioning in the market to see if a change is necessary (tactic) or run advertisements (tactic).
Next, each strategy that you choose should be very specific.
Getting more customers is pretty generic. You might want to be specific so that you can measure whether or not you are reaching your goal. You might say that your strategy is to “get more customers,” and to spell out your goal it is to “increase customer base by 20 percent within 12 weeks.”
Now that we’ve covered the difference between strategy and tactics, let’s talk about the various ways in which you can influence e-commerce growth. All of the below are growth strategies that a business can choose from.
- Get more customers
- Find another target audience
- Increase sales to current customers
- Create more products
- Raise prices
- Increase each order size
These are all strategies that need tactics to bring them to fruition. That’s the part that is the “doing” part or actionable part of any goal that you make. If you want to experience business growth you’ll need to do something to make it happen. No matter what strategies you choose, it takes action to make them work.
Let’s take one of these at a time so that you can get a good idea of how to create tactics that work to achieve your strategy. First let’s look at…
Getting More Customers
Mentioned in the example above, this one seems rather obvious, doesn’t it? Of course you want more customers; who doesn’t? This strategy is literally every single business’s strategy and it’s one that they all want.
We discussed earlier that you need to have very specific and measurable goals as your strategy in order to know if you’ve achieved success or not. In the examples here we’re not adding in that information; that’s for you to do for your particular business.
However, it’s important to note that when you decide that you want more customers, you also develop business growth tactics that align with the values of your company so that you can truly not only be successful but also feel successful.
As one of the most effective form of marketing, referral sales essentially involve word-of-mouth marketing. A friend tells a friend about your product, who then purchases your products and/or services and a referral sale has been made. You can incentivize referral sales by offering discounts to customers who tell others about you, or even by offering out-and-out cash to people who refer you to others.
Another very effective form of marketing to get new customers is good old-fashioned advertising. Today, you can place ads online in multiple forms as well as offline to make online sales. Only your budget dictates how far you can take advertising as it can be very costly. For some people, most forms of advertising are out of their budget. However, even people with small budgets can place ads on social media and even run Google Ads if you know what to do. Check out Facebook for some really effective and inexpensive options.
Content, in all its forms – blog posts, articles, guest blog posts, social media updates, white papers, videos and more – is used to get more traffic to your websites. It is mostly used on your own website or blog to attract search engine traffic but it is also used strategically on other websites and blogs to provide inbound links to your e-commerce site.
Content marketing is probably one of the most recognized forms of marketing for people with online businesses because it really works, is inexpensive, and you can get started today.
Anyone who wants an e-commerce business must use this tactic for marketing. However, don’t stop with only content marketing. Content marketing is the long game of online marketing. This means it takes time for it to start working, but it does work.
Social Media Marketing
Really an offshoot of content marketing, social media marketing is a way of getting attention through your posts on social media so that people click through to your e-commerce site to make orders. You’ll push all your blog posts, guest blog posts, and any content through your social media sites to help with marketing all that content.
You can also get help from visitors of your websites, blogs and shopping carts by offering easy share buttons as well as encouragement and incentive to share. For example, create easy to grab memes that your fans and customers can grab and share on their own social media sites.
Adding to or changing your positioning can be risky. It involves a fresh analysis of your target audience as well as research to find out if your products and or services will work for other markets that you didn’t consider before. When you do this, don’t throw out your old positioning unless it’s not working at all. Instead, add new marketing materials for the audience that you want to attract.
A great example of new positioning is Dove. Dove sells soap and other body products to a specific market. Imagine for a moment if Dove had stuck to their old positioning the last 50 years. Would they now be offensive to their target audience? You decide. A periodic studying of your audience can help you determine if you need to market in a new way from a new perspective or position.
If you want to grow, one of the best ways that come to mind is to get new customers. The ideas about getting new customers will work if you focus your efforts and have a specific goal in mind.
Once more, you don’t have to pick just one tactic to get new customers. Doing all of the above will help you get more customers and will lead to exponential e-commerce growth.
– John P. Kotter
Find a New Target Audience
The very best way to ensure success for any product is actually to find the target market first, then create something especially for them that solves their problems and fills a need. However, if you already have a product or service that you’re marketing to a specific audience, it is possible to find a new target audience or expand on the target market you currently market to.
It’s not the ideal way to get started, but it is the ideal way toward e-commerce growth when you already have a product that is selling to a specific niche.
For example, for years Vitamix was only known by professional cooks as the blender of choice. Today, average home cooks understand what a Vitamix is because the company discovered a new audience due to the wave of cooking shows and the word-of-mouth power of the internet.
Even online businesses can market on a more local basis. You don’t have to pick just one location either, but it works well to start with your own location as a test. Try incorporating local information and local keywords into your content. Use LinkedIn and other social media to target locals that might need what you’re offering. Even use local ads to find a new audience. Ask local people to offer testimonials, write content that has local keywords, and plan other locally focused activities.
If until now your focus has been in your own country, try attracting consumers from other countries by offering your website in other languages. Be sure to check the laws in your area and the new country to ensure that you have all appropriate licensure and follow the laws about what can be sold online. If you simply start offering shipping to other countries as allowed by law, you can become an international company overnight – which automatically gives you another target market.
Choose Another Niche
Sometimes there are other niches that just seem to spring forth outside of the niche you are currently targeting. Complementary niches that promote to your same audience can increase sales by offering new product lines.
An entirely new niche can mean that you create entirely new products and services to promote. In very small niches this may be the only way to grow your e-commerce. Note that it can be risky if the niche is too different from the niche you are currently marketing to.
Broaden Your Market
In most cases narrowing down a niche means better sales, but in some cases you might need to broaden or expand your market to get more sales. There are often more people who want your products that you can market to if you keep your eyes open and do your research. This works very well for small niches and products that can be easily sold to other niches. In most cases you shouldn’t even need to change the product, just add to the way you market.
Another way to approach this is to market to someone who might buy the item for your target audience. Let’s use jewelry as an example. You know that the jewelry you make is for a specific person but your marketing should reflect the facts of who will buy the jewelry.
Retail Sales versus Wholesale Sales
If you are currently only involved in retail sales, then you might want to switch to wholesaling which involves selling in bulk for a lower price for the chance to make more money by selling more items. You can do this vice versa too; if you are currently only into wholesaling then you can break into retail. Doing both will automatically expand and change your target audiences depending on which one you’re promoting at the moment.
If your website and your shopping cart aren’t mobile friendly then you must immediately stop everything and make your website, blog, and shopping cart mobile friendly, no matter what tactic you choose from this guide. The use of mobile devices has exploded, and is still outselling personal computers. If you don’t change this one thing, you won’t grow; you’ll lose business.
When you expand to mobile, you can also market on mobile devices with great effect. But, just the fact of making all your online real-estate not just mobile friendly but working completely on mobile the same as it works on a PC, will help you create new target audiences and grow your e-commerce presence.
Whether you have a physical or digital product, you can benefit greatly from having an affiliate marketing program. This is a program you run where you offer people a percentage of sales to those who sell your items to their own market. An affiliate program can immediately increase your reach and broaden your market by making your affiliates’ market become your market.
This is an enormously successful way to get the word out about your products. It takes software, graphics, and a willingness to train sales people to market your products in a manner that acknowledges your values.
Joint Venture Partnerships
You likely know people who market non-competing products to the same niche audience that you do. If you can join up with one or more of them on a short-term project, you can immediately expand your market to their customers.
It’s a brilliant way for both of you to broaden your markets, and what’s great is you can do it over and over again if you know enough successful people or want to work again with the same person. Make the project short term, with a clear beginning and ending, and be clear on the expectations of each participant in writing.
If you sell physical products, finding a new channel is easy. Sell through platforms like Amazon or try to get your products on other channels. If you have hand-crafted items, try Etsy, or eBay and other online shops that sell other people’s merchandise.
If you sell digital products, find ways to sell your product on other people’s websites through such deals as affiliate marketing discussed above. This can be a very lucrative avenue to take depending on your product. Looking for new places to list your product is a great way to grow.
Finding a new target audience can grow your business very quickly, so be ready with enough products and the right marketing budget to make this work. You don’t need to do every single thing on this list to get results, either. Just pick something to do and make it work.
Increase Sales to Current Customers
One of the most often overlooked e-commerce growth strategies is to make more sales to existing customers, but it happens to be one of the least expensive methods and the most effective. It costs a lot less to sell more to the customers you have than continually finding new customers and then convincing them to buy. A current customer already understands the value of your products. They already trust you. Half the work is already done.
The lifetime value of a customer is an important number to understand in business. Essentially it’s how much you can expect to earn off every single person you bring into your product funnel if they bought every item you sell. If your items aren’t set up in a manner that anyone could buy all your items, then you need to study this further to determine what is most likely to happen.
Reform Your Product Funnel
You may need to reform your product funnel to better work with the idea of lifetime value and repeat sales. If your product doesn’t get used up, then you have to figure out what other types of products (or services) your core audience needs and add those to your product funnel. Then heavily market the new items to your customers. At every entry point of your funnel, you should create companion products to go with the entry product. You also want to create many price points of entry.
There are many ways to remarket to your current customers. One is to ensure that they are on the right email lists; another is to use retargeting ads that are triggered by a code on your site that can be given to you by your ad delivery system, including Google Ads. So, don’t worry; you can do this even if you don’t know how to code. The system does it for you.
You’ve noticed remarketing probably because it’s happened to you. You went to a website, put things in your cart, and then notice all the ads being delivered have to do with what’s in your cart. Maybe you filled your cart but did not buy, so you receive information in email to not forget about your shopping cart.
Promote More Aggressively
A sure-fire way to get more sales from your current customers is to promote to them more aggressively. This means that you should be religiously following up after a customer makes a purchase. Thank them; move them to a new list of those who purchased that particular product, and follow up to see if they have questions about the product. Send a survey to find out what they liked about the product and recommend other products you have that might go with or enhance the product they bought.
It’s important to stay in touch with your customers as often. If someone is on your email list, they expect to get updates. When someone buys from you, they know they’re going to get a follow up. If someone signs up for your site and leaves a full cart, they want a reminder.
Start a Loyalty Program
You are probably familiar with the cards you can get from department stores and grocery stores. Those are essentially loyalty programs. Only people with the loyalty card get the discounted price.
You can offer the same thing without the bothersome card. Just ask for an email address so that they can sign in before adding items to their cart, and then give them the discount codes through email or automatically based on prior purchases. They can earn points for purchases, points for sharing, points for referrals and so much more.
Daily Customer Only Deals
Once someone is on your email list as a customer who has purchased, you can send them daily customer only deals. Alternatively, you can ask them to sign up for a special list that only offers the daily deal information in the email so that they don’t miss it.
It’s up to you how you do it, but daily customer only deals can up your customer sales exponentially. It can be limited too. For example, the first 100 people who buy get this new item at 1/2 price.
Early Bird Customer Deals
With this type of deal, your customers will be signed up for a customer list by purchasing any of your products. Then, when you are having any new product launches, offer these customers special deep discounts for new or add-on products and services that you think they would be interested in. You can drop them an email, “Pssst, hurry and get this new deal before launch day comes.” Give them a great discount that others won’t get and stick to that.
Offer Complementary Products
When you think about what your customers buy from you, you should be able to create items that are complementary. If you sell pedometers, you might branch out to selling weight loss apps, or walking exercise routines.
If you sell televisions you might sell TV stands, or TV earphones, rabbit ears, or Blu-ray players. If you sell a service, think of items that go with that service.
For example, if you sell image editing services, you might also consider selling storage for the images. It can go on and on, so be sure you rein it in as needed.
Increasing sales to current customers is an often overlooked way to increase revenue and boost e-commerce growth. But, it’s one of the most efficient and effective. It will cost you less to market to existing customers than it does to get a new customer. They already like you, know you, and understand what kind of quality they’ll get. It’s a much easier sell.
Create More Products
If you currently only sell one product, or few products, it can be difficult to grow your business. For real e-commerce growth, consider finding ways to create more products or offer more products to your customers. There are many ways that you can do this.
Some other business likely sells products that your audience would enjoy using. As mentioned earlier, many of these businesses would pay you a percentage of sales to market them to your customers.
If you can find items that are complementary to what you offer, and that you can stand by in terms of quality and earn a little percentage of sales, then affiliate sales is a great way to grow your e-commerce sales. This is a way to create more products without actually doing the work. Test the products first to ensure quality before recommending them
Develop New Products
Developing new products is also a great way to expand growth. When you have more for your customers to buy that fit into a particular niche or appeal to a particular target audience, it’s a great way forward for e-commerce growth. Spend some money on product development at all times to keep up with your competitors and grow your business. If you’re not sure what to develop, try asking your current customers what they would like to see you offer. The answers may surprise and delight you.
Develop Companion Products
Whether you currently sell your own products, affiliate products or offer services, you can create companion products that help your customers use the products they currently have or that work well with the products they have.
For example, if you sell tea and spices, why not sell teapots, cups, mortar and pestle and electric grinders too? This makes finding new products to sell easier, since you are keeping the line close to home.
Create More Choices from Old Lines
If you currently sell four colors, come up with more colors. If you currently sell two types of widgets then try selling four types of widgets. If you sell services instead of products, find ways to offer them in different configurations. By giving your audience more alternatives, you’ll increase your sales and grow your business.
Creating more products has costs associated with it that require you to decide upon a budget and perhaps even gather a team to help with product creation and discovery. But, it can pay off in a big way in terms of e-commerce growth.
Raise Your Prices
One of the tried-and-true methods for e-commerce growth is to simply raise your prices. But, it’s important that you tread lightly on raising your prices by giving thought to what your audience can afford, your own costs, how costs have gone up since you introduced the product and a myriad of other factors before using this method to show growth in your business.
Mark Up All Prices
Many businesses mark up all their prices as a matter of accord. It happens every year and is based on the cost of the product and maintaining the current profit margin. If you want to improve profit margin, you might have to raise it slightly higher than the costs dictate if your audience can take it.
Mark Up Selected Prices
It might seem like it doesn’t make sense but if you have some products that haven’t been selling as well as you want them to, try raising the prices. Use some of the known psychology of pricing to mark up the prices such as using .99 or .97 at the end of the price and anchoring the product between other choices.
A really good way to raise prices without seeming to raise prices is to start offering product bundles that are less expensive than the singular prices when combined. Raise the single prices first, and then make your bundles. You will sell more products because of course the bundle is more expensive than a single product – plus your customers will appreciate the deal.
Raising prices is something that you will need to do anyway throughout the life of your business. It doesn’t matter if you sell products or services – costs go up. If you want to keep making money off what you’re selling, your prices will have to rise. Just remember to study your audience and test just a few items at a time.
Increase Each Order Size
If you’ve ever shopped online yourself, you know that often at checkout you’re offered other add-on items or given suggestions of what else you might like to buy. It even happens at fast food joints and restaurants. “Would you like fries with that?” “Have you seen our dessert tray?” This is a great way to increase each order size. Increasing order size is an essential way to grow your business.
This is a way of selling that requires mentioning to your customer another product that costs more, or is an upgrade to the current product or service which ultimately makes the entire purchase more expensive.
For example, you might sell a report that explains how to lose weight and when they click on that to learn more, you suggest the book that is longer and more expensive. If you sell items that need servicing, you can offer a service contract with the purchase.
A good example of cross-selling is the weight loss book example. Sell the weight loss book and offer additions such as a pedometer, a weight loss diary, a scale, vitamins and even one-on-one counseling and support.
If you sell jewelry and someone clicks on some silver earrings, you might also suggest some titanium earrings that are more expensive or a better quality. If you sell any physical items, you can always suggest the more expensive item.
This is a great way to sell more items by giving a special price for selling more than one. This works great during the holidays when people are looking for gifts to give to their employees and clients. It can even work for people with large families. Offer a discount for ordering more or for bundling more items into one big purchase.
Increasing order size is a great way to expand e-commerce growth. It’s a tactic that works for all kinds of businesses – whether they are product or service focused. Give one of these ideas a try depending on what types of products you are selling.
Choosing Your Business Growth Tactics
In order to choose an e-commerce growth tactic, it’s important to first choose your strategy. Then choose the tactics that match that strategy.
There may be strategies and tactics for your particular niche that aren’t listed in this guide, but these ideas should get your juices flowing on how you can affect your growth.
But, before you do anything else, make sure you:
- Know your numbers
- Study the market
- Understand your audience
- Know your product
- Understand the technology (or have someone who does)
- Set your goals
- Define a strategy
- Choose your tactics
- Take action
As you can see there are many things you can do to increase your e-commerce growth. The tactics you use will depend on your particular strategy and the type of business that you have.
A good way to tell whether or not your business is growing at its optimal rate is to study your industry. How fast do other businesses like yours grow and how big can they grow?
As an e-commerce business you’ll need to look into both e-commerce businesses and specific niche businesses that sell similar items.
Decide what business growth tactics you want to use, and then do it.
Your success is my business,