An ecommerce growth strategy is an online store’s plan to boost sales, scale, and expand its buyer roster, resulting in increased revenue and success.
12 ideas for an effective ecommerce growth strategy
- Determine your key performance indicators
- Create personalized experiences
- Embrace omnichannel marketing
- Create a long-term SEO plan
- Nurture post-purchase customers
- Invest in innovative tech
- Automate where you can
- Think mobile-first
- Make customer support a priority
- Integrate sustainable practices
- Optimize your site and content
- Create the ultimate checkout experience
Anyone can open an online store on Shopify, but only brands with a solid ecommerce growth strategy can maintain sales and scale revenue.
With a little TLC, focus, and intention, you can take your ecommerce brand from being an obscure gem to dominating the digital marketing jungle. So, where do you start?
We tapped into the mind of HawkSEM Director of Account Performance Jess Weber for expert insights into how to make your ecommerce strategy the most significant growth driver in your business.
What is an ecommerce growth strategy?
An ecommerce growth strategy is an online store’s plan to boost sales, expand its customer base, and generally scale and grow.
Activities within a growth strategy include steps to reach your target audience, convert them into bonafide customers, generate repeat purchases, and create a user-friendly shopping experience.
Alright, let’s dig into the details.
1. Determine your key performance indicators
How can you tell if your strategy works or not?
Look at the numbers, specifically key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success. Ecommerce KPIs assess quantitative performance in areas in various areas, including:
- Ecommerce sales, gross revenue, and net profits
- Average order value (AOV)
- Customer retention rate
- Ecommerce site traffic volume
- Conversion rates
- Customer lifetime value (CLV)
- Return on ad spend (ROAS)
- Cart abandonment rate
- Customer acquisition costs (CAC)
- Organic search rankings
- Customer satisfaction rates
- Site session time
Don’t get us wrong: qualitative goals (like brand awareness or market influence) are equally important. However, you can’t measure these directly with numbers, which makes it harder to use these insights to inform your strategy.
We believe the strongest strategies are backed by data.
“Data analytics is arguably one of the most important aspects in developing and shaping a growth strategy,” says Weber. “Without data, informed decisions cannot be made about investments.”
Just ask our ecommerce book retailer client ThriftBooks. It saw a 50% increase in AOV through PPC A/B testing and a data-backed strategy.
When you nail your KPIs, you can monitor and quantify every site visit, customer journey, and transaction to get unparalleled insights into your business.
2. Create personalized experiences
The time of generic, one-size-fits-all marketing has come and gone.
Today, it’s all about personalization.
People want to feel valued by the companies they buy from, which is why over 60% of customers want tailor-made buying experiences, according to Twilio Segment’s The State of Personalization 2023 report.
Plus, 80% of businesses saw higher order values when they personalized the shopping experience. Cha-ching!
Personalized content is about product recommendations and exclusive offers. The secret sauce? They’re informed by data about customer preferences, behavior, and demographics.
One brand doing this flawlessly is the B2C music streaming giant Spotify.
With machine learning and AI algorithms (we’ll come back to this), Shopify gathers listener insights and dishes out personalized playlists curated to listeners’ music tastes.
As the top revenue-generating music streaming service with nearly one-third of the market share, it’s clear this strategy hits all the right notes.
But to do this, you need to know your audience on a deeper level.
The more you know, the more intel you have to create experiences that truly resonate. That means digging into data like their browsing history, past purchases, geolocation, session time, and more.
Here are some ideas to get the goods:
- Encourage shoppers to create accounts and customer profiles. Hello, buyer personas.
- Use tracking cookies to create personalized landing pages
- Capture visitors when they’re about to leave with exit intent popups
- Use A/B testing to see what works better for specific audiences
Another game-changer? Going beyond your ecommerce platform.
3. Embrace omnichannel marketing
You might get tons of traffic from your Instagram ads to your website, but ecommerce growth strategies are most effective when you invest in multiple marketing channels.
Weber says brands miss opportunities when they exclude TikTok and other channels from their strategy.
But it’s not just about cross-selling on other sites and social media platforms. Omnichannel marketing benefits your ecommerce brand in four vital ways:
- Boosts your search engine rankings
- Builds better brand awareness
- Ramps up conversion rates
- Increases purchase amounts
Diversifying your marketing channels doesn’t mean investing in every channel, either.
Focus on platforms you know your customer base spends time on. For instance, if you know your audience hangs out on TikTok and Instagram, ease up the marketing spend aon LinkedIn.
As for tracking progress, Weber says many brands struggle to understand how each channel impacts their bottom line.
This is where our proprietary tech, ConversionIQ, really sets your strategy into overdrive, unifying all your data into a single, user-friendly dashboard.
“ConversionIQ brings all data together with customized KPIs, metrics, and data point combinations to help brands move beyond tracking ROAS in Google Ads platform (which isn’t accurate anymore as Google has moved into Pmax, GA4, conversion modeling, and MTA) into tracking actual omnichannel performance, trends, and overall growth,” says Weber.
Speaking of Google: how high do you rank on the SERPs?
4. Create a long-term SEO plan
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a core element for ecommerce success. Why? Organic search (I.e., your everyday Googlers) is the top source of traffic for ecommerce.
We can chalk this up to the fact that some demographics, particularly younger segments, don’t really pay attention to paid social media ads. (Plus, they’re quite expensive, and we promised you some low-cost, low-lift alternatives).
Enter SEO, a collection of keyword research, backlinking, on-page optimization, and content quality improvements to boost visibility and search engine rankings.
It’s an affordable and potent way to ramp up traffic, conversions, and, of course, sales. But remember: the SEO landscape is malleable. For long-term effectiveness, you must continually monitor and pivot your SEO efforts.
5. Nurture post-purchase customers
Every ecommerce business owner wants loyal customers first in line for new products and online sales.
That’s because when it comes to ecommerce, customer loyalty is golden. Repeat customers help you boost revenue, reduce acquisition costs, and amplify brand awareness through word-of-mouth.
Some tactics you can try to foster customer retention and loyalty are:
- Referral marketing (incentivize past shoppers to send you new customers)
- Loyalty marketing (reward past shoppers to make repeat purchases)
- Email marketing (curate email sequences for existing customers)
Sure, waves of new customers are great, but savvy brands know loyal customers hold much more power.
Just look at Starbucks—their loyalty program rewards repeat customers with stars for discounted drinks. And customers love it, accounting for an impressive 16% year-over-year (YOY) growth.
Venti flat white with an extra shot of ROI, anyone?
6. Invest in innovative tech
Remember when we touched on consumer demand for personalization earlier? That same report showed that 92% of online retailers use AI-driven personalization to make it happen.
According to Weber, AI and automation for enhanced shopping experiences continue to lead trends in ecommerce. This includes everything from web and content personalization to chatbots that act like personal shoppers.
Then there’s augmented reality.
Ecommerce brands like Amazon and Wayfair let you pluck items right off product pages and see what they’d look like in your home or space.
These immersive customer experiences bridge the gap between brick-and-mortar and online shopping. Plus, it’s another unique selling proposition to add to your roster.
We know adopting new tech isn’t always straightforward (or cheap), but as AI continues to expand, staying competitive and scaling up means making a choice: get on board or get left behind.
But with growth comes the need for automation.
7. Automate where you can
Consider this: you’ll only take on more time-demanding tasks as your brand grows. The longer your task list, the less time you can dedicate to each.
And if you want a high-caliber ecommerce growth strategy? You can’t afford to cut corners.
Here are some ideas to streamline your operations:
- Add a FAQs section to your site and get ahead of common inquiries
- Use workflow automation tools (like Asana or Zapier) to manage administrative tasks and projects
- Automate email notifications regarding cart abandonment, order tracking, fulfillment, and customer loyalty
- Integrate fraud detection and filtering to avoid millions in lost revenue
- Hire marketing experts to manage SEO, content creation, social media, and all your marketing needs
When you’ve got the back end of your operations on autopilot, you can shift your focus to higher-impact projects... like making your ecommerce store mobile-friendly.
8. Think mobile-first
Thanks to post-pandemic life, consumers shop from their mobile devices more now than ever. In fact, mcommerce (mobile-commerce) now accounts for over 87% of online sales. This means it’s not just nice to have a mobile-friendly site; it’s a must if you want to stay in the game.
What are some ways to boost your site for smartphones and tablets?
- Avoid pop-ups
- Accept multiple payment options
- Optimize menu navigation
- Ensure clear, readable messaging
- Add a handy-dandy search function
- Optimize your visuals for mobile browsing
A mobile-friendly ecommerce website does wonders for the user experience, but that’s not all. It also boosts your SEO strategy.
Google has been a fan of mobile-friendly sites since 2015. They even created a Mobile-Friendly Test to help you check your site’s mobile-friendliness. If this doesn’t tell you how seriously the search engine titan takes the rise of mcommerce, we don’t know what does.
Another game-changing growth strategy? Making your customers feel like VIPs.
9. Make customer support a top priority
From ignoring customer inquiries to not protecting customer data, lousy customer support is literally bad for business.
According to HubSpot, 90% of U.S. shoppers say customer service makes or breaks their buying decisions. That same article shows that 94% feel top-tier customer service encourages brand loyalty. Those are no small potatoes.
Here are a few tips to take your customer service to the next level:
- Be quick, responsive, and clear in your messaging
- Prevent customers from having to repeat themselves
- Collect and track customer satisfaction scores
- Integrate live chat or help desk software
- Offer different ways to connect with customer support
- Make key info accessible (remember that FAQs section we mentioned?)
- Outsource customer service to external staff
Your online store would cease to exist without your customers. They deserve support that’s as top-tier as your offerings, don’t they?
10. Integrate sustainable practices
Customers who connect with your values are much more likely to open their wallets. In fact, a survey from Salesforce showed that 66% of consumers stopped buying from brands because of mismatched values. That’s more than half of your potential customer base.
And when it comes to values that resonate, sustainability remains top of mind for consumers.
So, what can you do to integrate sustainability into your ecommerce business? Here’s some inspiration:
- Add products that encourage sustainable practices
- Minimize packaging waste
- Adjust pricing to donate a percentage to environmental conservation
- Create and maintain recycling policies
- Reduce the need for returns with detailed product descriptions and photos
A marketing strategy that’s good for your brand and the environment: who can’t get on board with that?
11. Optimize your site and content
Nothing makes audiences X out of a site faster than poor design and jumbled content. If you want your ecommerce marketing to be top-notch, you need to optimize every pixel of content and website architecture. Otherwise, everything else on this list is pretty much useless.
In addition to SEO, you want a website that’s intuitive, easy to navigate, and user-friendly. That chatbot and augmented reality we mentioned earlier won’t hurt either.
Then there’s your content. Slapping witty words on a site and calling it a day just doesn’t cut it in today’s competitive ecommerce landscape.
To stay competitive, you need to execute fresh content marketing campaigns on the regular: blog posts, social media posts, video marketing, email marketing, even user-generated content (UGC).
That’s right, let your customers create content for you!
“UGC is becoming a must-do in ecommerce,” says Weber. “This includes reviews, social posts, video, and photos.”
Just peep Adobe’s #AdobePerspective campaign on Instagram. The hashtag encouraged content creators who use Adobe to share their work. With this UGC campaign, Adobe showed off its offerings while connecting with audiences around the world.
Now, let’s wrap up where the magic happens: your shopping cart.
12. Create the ultimate checkout experience
Cart abandonment is a common letdown in ecommerce. This is when a customer starts the checkout process but changes their mind before completing the purchase. Not only is this a buzzkill, but it reflects a loss of a sale, affecting your revenue and profits.
This usually happens for one of two reasons: either potential customers were caught off guard by surprise fees, or the checkout process was simply too confusing.
So, how do you dodge abandoned shopping carts? Create a frictionless checkout process. Here’s how:
- Offer one-click check-out
- Provide progress indicators in each step
- Show taxes and fees from the jump
- Offer a wide range of payment options
- Allow guest check-out
- Show estimated delivery dates
And don’t forget, this is your last chance to upsell. Use your shopping cart page to highlight relevant product recommendations and increase your AOV. For instance, beauty brand Glossier offers a small discount for customers who purchase pre-paired sets vs. a la carte items.
Why is an ecommerce growth strategy important?
Along with boosting brand awareness and attracting new customers to your online store, it also:
- Gives you a roadmap for launching new products or campaigns
- Helps you weather dips in traffic or revenue and know how to get back on track
- Gets you ready to scale and seize new opportunities as they emerge
- Sets you apart from competitors, helping you stand out to target audiences
- Improves ecommerce operations and marketing cost efficiency
The best ecommerce growth strategies are comprehensive, adaptable, and tailored to your business goals. When done right, it’s your foundation for ecommerce success.
It takes a combination of lower-cost wins with strategic higher investment tactics to build out a well-rounded growth marketing strategy.
Weber says smaller companies should focus on localized strategies, like local inventory ads, radius targeting, and both paid and organic socials. Their smaller budgets may stretch to the national level, so they have to be a bit savvier for brand presence expansion.
But what about bigger brands with substantial budgets?
“A balanced strategy brings the most stable growth,” says Weber. “Finding the optimal split between paid and organic, ecommerce and in-store, and conversion focused vs. brand awareness.”
Every ecommerce business is different. That means there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to developing your ecommerce growth strategy.
The good news? We’re here to help you side-step common pitfalls.
Ecommerce strategy mistakes to avoid
Ecommerce is competitive with over 24 million online stores in the digital ether. The good news? That gives us plenty of data and experiences to learn from.
“There are many different suboptimal decisions made in ecommerce,” says Weber. “Many of them root in the unwillingness to adapt to change and move out of ‘what they’ve always done’ or ‘it’s good enough.”
Weber shares a few more common ecommerce strategy pitfalls:
- Not updating site design or user experience periodically
- Failing to leverage feed management tools (like Google Merchant Center and Feedonomics)
- Using Google’s metrics as the only source of truth
- Not embracing automation or AI in creative or ad management practices
- Neglecting to offer free shipping
- Not focusing on customer reviews (putting effort into getting them and responding to them)
- Not investing in UGC (influencer marketing on social media and streaming platforms like YouTube)
- Investing too much into retargeting because they look better on paper. According to SME, this creates a downward spiral of brand awareness loss.
Look at it this way: You wouldn’t go on a cross-country road trip without Google Maps, right? You could miss quicker shortcuts, accident advisories, and incredible sites.
It’s the same for your ecommerce business. Without a plan, you might get lost and miss golden opportunities to improve and expand, or worse — make mistakes that hurt your bottom line.
Your ecommerce growth strategy is your roadmap to scale your online store into a full-fledged business. The more comprehensive, the better.
At HawkSEM, we’ve helped countless ecommerce brands extend their online reach and hit that average of 4.5X ROI we’re best known for.
Got your sights set on epic ecommerce growth? We’ll help you chart the course.