5 Surefire Growth Strategies for E-Commerce Entrepreneurs
From Facebook updates to email marketing, supercharge your business with these proven tactics.
I dropped out of college to pursue entrepreneurship full-time. My first breakthrough came two years after with an e-commerce business that sold grillz. Through grueling trial and error, I learned everything from product sourcing and customer service to marketing, web design, financial accounting and more.
It’s how I made lifelong friends and met ultra-successful people I never dreamed I’d meet. But, like I mention all the time here, trial and error is a costly and inefficient way to learn. Better to learn from others instead. One great way to do that is by attending conferences. Anthony Mastellone's Digital Growth Summit was the latest one I attended, and what follows are five of my favorite takeaways from that trip on how to supercharge your e-commerce business.
1. Build an attribution plan
For e-commerce entrepreneurs, it’s important to always keep an eye on what’s working (and what’s not). Attribution is how to do it. The Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB) definition of attribution is “the process of identifying a set of user actions across screens and touch points that contribute in some manner to a desired outcome, and then assigning value to each of these events.”
Benton Crane, CEO of the Harmon Brothers (creators of the legendary ads for Squatty Potty, Purple and others) was the first to speak at Digital Growth Summit, and he gave a high-level breakdown on how to leverage attribution as you grow your e-commerce business to make smarter business decisions. It advised:
Learning ad blitz. (This is testing all the different features and benefits to see what works together. Examples could include pricing, sizing, portability, function, etc.)
Scale up, i.e. roll all winning elements into one.
Then build your hero campaign and go big.
2. Target smarter
Matt Schmitt of Skup simplified a problem a lot of entrepreneurs have: targeting. They may have a customer avatar in mind, but aren’t sure how best to reach them. Schmitt recommends silos. These are four of his examples that will allow you to get a clearer picture of where to find your target consumer:
What magazines do they subscribe to?
What associations or groups would they belong to?
What celebrities or influential figures would they follow?
And what brands or products are they using?
3. Leverage Campaign Budget Optimization
Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) is a new advertising system by Facebook. Their machine-learning algorithm monitors targeting and performance of your ad sets, then allocates your budget to the best-performing sets based on the objective or pixel you’ve applied, using real-time data, automatically.
As per Facebook: “CBO uses your campaign budget and your bid strategy — which might be, for example, lowest cost per action (CPA) or highest return on ad spend (ROAS) — to automatically and continuously find the best active opportunities for results across your ad sets. Then we distribute your campaign budget in real time to get those results."
In short, if you’re new to Facebook advertising, this is a great way to get in the game as cost-effectively as possible, without having to micromanage your campaigns.
4. Start using Messenger ads
Harvard Business Review conducted a study back in 2011 on online lead generation and discovered that failure to respond in less than five minutes to a new lead decreases your odds of qualifying them by a staggering 400 percent. Yet, according to Chatmatic founder Travis Stephenson, entrepreneurs shy away from Messenger.
But by leveraging Messenger (the most downloaded app in the world in 2019, FYI) with ads and an auto-responder, you’re doing instant, direct follow-up with potential customers, thus increasing your lead-qualifying and conversions capabilities. Or you can just use them to rapidly capture emails and build a relevant list. Which leads to takeaway five....
5. Use email marketing
Email averages $38 in for every $1 spent according to a Direct Marketing Association 2015 Client Report. For those new to email marketing, it can feel overwhelming at first, but remember this: It costs more to acquire new customers than recapture existing ones. And email is the easiest way to recapture, because the entire process can be automated. Email expert Jess Chan of Longplay recommends you build an automated customer journey. Do this by setting up:
Abandoned-cart emails (69.57 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned).
Order confirmation and shipping confirmation emails.
Post-purchase emails (e.g. a thank-you note or letter from the founder).
Upsell and retention emails (e.g. cross-sells, testimonial requests, etc.).
And other email auto-responders.
To capture emails more effectively, use:
Lead magnets (e.g. “Subscribe for our free 14-page social skills guide”).
Quizzes (e.g. “What kind of traveler are you?”).
Discount codes (e.g. “Subscribe for 20 percent off your first purchase").
Related: The 'Amazon Effect'
To wrap things up, use attribution to test your messaging and silos to target smarter, leverage CBOs to spend smarter, activate messenger ads to supercharge your follow-ups and, for goodness sake, stop leaving money on the table by neglecting email marketing. I’m using all of these growth strategies in tandem, and you should be too if you’re serious about supercharging your e-commerce business.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor