How to Grow an Ecommerce Business | 9 Actionable Tips

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We often see new online businesses struggle to generate vital early leads or produce any value from the few they do manage. Even more often, we see businesses getting too comfortable with the levels of traffic they generate without taking into consideration the value they miss out on due to poor optimization. In such a technical industry, it can be difficult to have all the answers, so this article attempts to clarify a few important considerations.

While the process of scaling an ecommerce business can be technical, there is in fact a system and a methodology. This article proposes several different strategies that you can implement today, to help grow your ecommerce business.

1. Targeting the Correct Audience: 

A particularly relevant topic in ecommerce is attempting to do too much and missing your mark as a result. This belief that more is better can be counter-productive as it may coincidentally attract the wrong audience and repel those you do want. While it is possible to attract new visitors through this broader approach, deriving any value from them may prove to be impossible. This reveals inefficiency in our ecommerce function which needs to be addressed with immediacy. With accurate audience targeting, we see more responsive marketing and customers with high conversion potential.

As an example, when we improperly understand search intent, we may either incorrectly target a particular set of keywords or even select keywords that have no tangible potential.


The bulk of audience targetting involves understanding which content formats are most effective, which marketing channels are most responsive, and understanding search intent. A great starting point is using your existing customers as a foundation and progressively enriching content for those particular visitors. This would result in a topical authority and pave a path for future content and marketing strategy

Growing an ecommerce business begins with identifying customer personas and adding additional dimensions specific to ecommerce. Keywords are an unavoidable component of ecommerce as each organic visitor and paid visitor originates through a keyword.   

Customer Persona illustration

2. Customer Retention: 

We can only ever expect a limited amount of visitors to our ecommerce store per month. It takes time to build the technical component of our ecommerce business. A lot about ecommerce is restrictive due to its technical nature, we place an emphasis on customer retention because it happens to be practically simple. There is a general theme that says that gaining new visitors is expensive in ecommerce and retargeting existing older customers is much cheaper. Repeat purchases represent the process of retaining shoppers, expanding your database, and actively communicating with them.


You cannot consistently force your ecommerce growth by injecting jet fuel with paid ads and since organic methods require time, it pays to be economical with leads. Having a growing database of customers means that you are able to build long-term relationships with customers with proven interest in your brand. Imagine a water reservoir, where we collect water for future usage and where we can only expect a certain amount of rainfall per year.

graph demonstrating the effect of customer retention

3. Website Optimization and SEO: 

A website is essential for a growing ecommerce business and often serves as the center piece of their entire online operation. As a result, factors like SEO and apps are crucial for ecommece growth. SEO is often considered the backbone of ecommerce; which represents factors like keyword integration, link building, and page design.

Apps on the other hand are how we elevate our store's performance without the headache of having to hire entire teams of programmers to create new features. As an example, the basic Shopify store is often a blank canvas and will lack a lot of the most effective features. Fortunately for us, because of the large number of apps available, we have a ready-made solution for practically anything we need. Below are just a few examples of the sort of integration you can include into your growing ecommerce business that can boost your online store’s performance.

4. Excellent Customer Support: 

At each stage of the sales funnel, we lose a proportion of our potential customers, which is perfectly normal in ecommerce. Global ecommerce conversion rates average around 2-5% and customer service is a practical way of alleviating pain points that might be affecting those conversion rates. Customer services is meant to be a way to reduce the number of customers that exit your store without completing their purchase. While customer service is primarily considered a salvage operation, it is an essential component of growing an ecommerce business.


Ways of Providing Customer Service:

  • AI Assistants: are a great way to provide solutions to common problems and can be easily implemented with apps. 
  • Live Chat: customer service through live chat is one of the quickest and most effective ways to resolve customer inquiries.
  • Email Inquiries: email can be used in a variety of different ways and customer service is one of them. A series of automated updates or templates would be more than sufficient to provide an elevated customer experience.
  • FAQ and Knowledge Base: Anticipating customer issues can be a great way of identifying and resolving common issues. A FAQ section or knowledge base with important questions or how-to’s is a great of resolving these problems. 

5. Omnichannel Marketing:

Finding and testing multiple channels can be a great way of growing an ecommerce business as it expands your marketing reach and reduces your reliance on any one marketing channel. Omnichannel marketing is the most common strategy used for growing an ecommerce business. For an effective omnichannel approach an ecommerce business should have; a complete content strategy for each channel, consistent branding across channels, and the ability to process or funnel customers toward purchase. It's perfectly common for businesses to see one channel outperform others which can affect future plans. It is also common for customers to seek multiple channels to verify the authenticity of a brand.

Most Common E-Commerce Channels:

  • Search Engine Optimization: SEO is central to growing an ecommerce business. This involves developing your web page's core metrics, improving your link portfolio, page speeds, keyword selection, and user experience. All of these factors when exercised correctly, result in stronger ranking factors and general improvements in your leads and conversion potential. SEO is widely considered detrimental to the success of an ecommerce business but can be very technical to implement.
  • Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing and its main features are highly advantageous. It is best used as a detached marketing tool where your affiliates work to generate leads for you in exchange for a commission. Much of the value of affiliate marketing comes from its autonomy and the expertise of your affiliates. 
  • Content Marketing: Content marketing is best categorized as an organic marketing method that can help you generate targeted traffic and help you scale your ecommerce platform through quality. Since it is mainly an organic channel, the traffic happens to be stable and inexpensive to produce. Additional advantages include high relevance, link generation, and consistent leads generated through keyword integration. 
  • Paid Advertisement: Paid ads are king when it comes to generating large quantities of immediate traffic. While there is a sharp cut-off and a hefty price tag associated with paid ads, they can be effective for growing an ecommerce business. It's important to understand that paid ads are different from organic traffic, whereas leads are contingent on ad spending.
  • Social Media and Influencers: Social media is all about building a community around your brand and is probably the fastest way to communicate new information to interested parties. With the right content strategy, it is possible to accumulate followers and create a direct channel for your most committed shoppers. Influencers can be great to tap into new communities based on their interests, with the added bonus of their vote of confidence.
  • Email and SMS: Active forms of communication are game changers and no ecommerce growth strategy is complete without either email or SMS marketing. Staying top of mind is essential and these cost-effective marketing channels are ideal for the job. They happen to be automated and customizable to fit virtually any ecommerce growth marketing strategy. Remember also that email marketing ranks as one of the highest conversion rates in all of ecommerce.
  • Mobile Optimization: Mobile traffic accounts for a significant bulk of global ecommerce traffic which makes it a serious opportunity. As many businesses neglect mobile optimization, they also lose out on the potential value that exists there. Here we want to focus on the traffic we are pushing away with poor mobile practices.
  • Referral Programs: Referral marketing is a simple way to drive high conversion potential traffic to your ecommerce store. With automated tools like double reward programs, it's possible to leverage word-of-mouth to automatically drive traffic from existing customers.

6. Promote Customer Reviews:

Since trust is so important for the growth of an ecommerce business and since collecting reviews can take time, starting early can be a great choice. Businesses with strong review profiles benefit in both technical and marketing terms, as reviews boost SEO and also help to build credibility. Building customer expectations is easy, but making them believable is hard. Reviews and their alternatives like testimonials are essential for proving value in what can only be a positive step forward for growing your ecommerce business.


Businesses with strong customer reviews often outperform businesses without them. We see this difference most prominently when looking at smaller or newer ecommerce businesses since they tend to have smaller audiences and a general issue with trust. There is a general upward trend for businesses with larger review profiles as most customers look for more comprehensive information about a product and confirmation of a product's quality. Furthermore, the quality and quantity of reviews often mark a stage in an ecommerce business's growth, this is most notable in competitive markets as a point of comparison between customers.

7. Expanding to New Markets:

Ecommece businesses of all shapes and sizes now have opportunities to scale their operations into other regions and foreign markets. Due to the scalable nature of ecommerce and the openness of global commerce, it's possible to target consumers outside of your domestic market.

Contrary to traditional physical businesses where traffic is limited by travel and location, ecommerce gives shoppers quick access to their favorite brands from anywhere in the world. This enables them to shop some of the top brands from across the globe, so long as you can actually fulfill their order. This major boost in reach can be greatly advantageous for a business looking to boost its earnings just by changing its marketing strategy for new markets.

This unique principle of ecommerce allows digital business to be anywhere at any time, removing any and all previously held restrictions to a particular location. An effective way of growing your ecommerce business is embracing the digital-first mindset which allows your business to scale its operations without major investment into resource-heavy physical stores.

Expanding into new markets:

  • Ensure that your website is translated and searchability is optimized for your new region.
  • Adapt your marketing so that you are reaching your target location.
  • Ensuring your payment system accepts foreign transactions and provides product details in different currencies.
  • Enable shipping to your new target market and ensure timely delivery.

8. Product and Catalog: 

When growing your ecommece business it's important to put customers first, as such it's important to think about how your catalog fits into the market. For the same reason why we construct customer personas, we also need to know precisely what customers are looking for in the deliverable product. Learning from the market and customer feedback can give us a better idea of which direction demand is moving and give us some context when adapting our product and catalog.


If we observe the market for shoes we will find that styles are more or less similar across the board. If we look a little deeper we see that much of the value behind our catalog has to do with the product's details, quality, materials, etc. All Birds for example found fame and fortune through small tweaks to their product's comfort and build quality. This resulted in a sharp increase in their popularity and growth fueled by their ecommerce reach.
While it's true that marketing can be attributed to rapid growth, there must be intrinsic value to be sustainable. As a result, a major part of growing an ecommerce business has to do with the product itself and ecommerce is primarily the manner as to which we accomplish our goals.

9. Promotions and Discounts:

While we prefer to make recommendations that create intrinsic value, which is what we believe to be the real driving force for a growing ecommerce business, there is legitimate cause in promotional campaigns. Discounts and points have proven to be effective in motivating customer behavior and engagement. Much of the value of discount programs is their ability to catalyze growth, which may be necessary under certain market conditions.

Loyalty programs are an example of tools that leverage points or discounts for customer retention. With the addition of other email personalization tools, it's possible to drive an effective repeat purchase program. Loyalty programs have shown their ability to increase metrics such as AOV, repeat purchases, and CLTV.

Conclusion

Growing an ecommerce business can be a challenging undertaking, but there is a clear trend towards the positive. Once the system and its technical nature is better understood, it becomes more than possible to see quality growth. This article discusses how to grow an ecommerce business in today's competitive environment with strategies being used by some of the top ecommerce brands.

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