Growth hacking has fast become a marketing buzzword, but the phrase was actually coined in 2010 by startup advisor and entrepreneur Sean Ellis, as he searched for the help of a marketing professional whose ‘true north was growth’.

QuickSprout’s ‘Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking’ defines the practice as technology-based tactics, that sometimes push the boundaries of what is expected, to accelerate growth.

It’s just that ‘growth hacking’ makes it sound much more fun.


Install instant messaging

Also known as ‘conversational commerce’, instant messaging is one of the most effective growth hacks that turn website visitors into leads in minutes. Installing a chat or instant messaging function on your site can increase conversation for visitors who choose to use it, by 8x.

And it gets even better. Not only is instant messaging super-effective at converting web traffic to leads, but most applications on the market are also cost-effective and easy to install and use.

Apps such as Sumo, Facebook messenger and Drift won’t cost the earth if you want to start using them today and they’ll integrate nicely into your existing website. If you want to read more about instant messaging suppliers, Sellbrite compares the best in the market, along with price in their Everything You Need to Know About Chatbots for E-commerce guide.

Hack-within-the-hack: Chat doesn’t have to be instant in every case. Set up an auto response informing the customer that you’ll respond within a given timeframe and ask for their email address, so they can be notified when you reply. This way not only have you elevated your customer service, by offering chat, you also now have your visitor’s email address for further communications.



Collect social proof

If you haven’t read this blog about the importance of social proof, now’s the time.

Smart business owners understand that the majority of customers will check out online reviews before they buy, so it’s never been more important than ever to start accumulating product reviews for your products or services. Conventional routes include testimonials, reviews, case studies, comments and displaying social posts about your products.

It’s a Psychological fact that people buy products they know other people are buying, or that are rare, so a FOMO (fear of missing out) plugin can help boost conversation through the use of low in stock pop-ups, bestseller banners and time-limited offer codes.

Hack-within-the-hack: Send social engagement ask cards with your products to encourage customers to take a selfie with their new item and upload it to social using a specific hashtag. You can then track the hashtags using software such as Hootsuite or Social Alert, or even just within Instagram and share it with your network. For extra points embed the posts onto your website and really make the most of the social proof

  1. Create killer content

Buzzsumo studied 2 billion Facebook posts shared in 2017, and found that the most popular content was practical guides in video format. Definite food for thought for e-commerce, where how-to videos are particularly appropriate for generating buzz and attracting brand awareness.

Consider selling a digital product that works in conjunction with your physical offering. An e-commerce store selling sportswear, for example, may partner with a health and fitness coach to produce a nutrition guide in the form of an ebook, available to purchase on their website, or through Amazon for further reach.

Hack-within-the-hack: Writing guest posts on websites frequented by your audience, can mean quadruple the number of readers (and potentially new customers) in a quarter of the time. Kissmetrics will take you through the process in their Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging. Keep it relevant to the publication you’re guest blogging for, the audience you want to attract and your store’s offering, to see an instantaneous boost in your website visitors.


Set up an exit-intent pop-up

If a visitor to your site tries to leave without making a purchase, the exit-intent pop-up appears to offer them an incentive to either continue shopping, or interact with your brand in other ways, such as read a relevant blog article or follow you on Instagram.

Pop-ups are generally considered to increase conversation by 5-10% but they must be applied strategically and sparsely, as to not have a negative impact on the customer experience. Apps which offer pop-up applications include SumoMe, Bounce Exchange, and Gleam.

Hack-within-the-hack: For e-commerce sites, a pop-up can work wonders for cart abandonment. Instead of targeting the visitor through email once they have left your site and moved on, the pop-up hits them as they about to leave but are still in the moment, offering a discount on their purchase and facilitating a sudden change of mind.


Perform a website audit (it’ll be fun, we promise)

Stats show that every second your site takes to load reduces conversion by up to 7% and Google algorithms mark down sites with a slow loading speed, so a loading time of over 3 seconds will be losing you money. Check your site’s loading time here and if the prognosis isn’t good, help is at hand in the form of this 9 step guide from Single Grain.

As part of your audit, you should check your SEO, there are some changes you can make that’ll boost your organic traffic today. Quicksprout is a great tool to analyse your e-commerce store for major errors and warning that’ll affect your SEO rankings.

Performing an audit monthly, to see a big difference in traffic and conversions.

Hack-within-the-hack: Always crop your images to size before you upload them to your site, using programmes such as Photoshop or Canva. If you upload the full-size image every time, it’ll be adding precious seconds to your customer’s waiting time.

Remember, when it comes to growth hacking, small changes can make a big difference and ultimately a hack is not a quick fix or fast track, it’s a strategic method of increasing sales sustainably – and that’s the operative word.


Key takeaways:

  • True growth hacking means thinking outside the box and being thrifty. How can you better leverage tools, apps and software you already have in place, such as Facebook or a chatbot, to gain more value out of them?
  • Utilize the power of communication to do the hard work for you. Instead of thinking how can I market my business? Think, how can I encourage my customers, the media and social channels to spread the word for me?
  • It’s impossible to target everyone when growth hacking. The best results come from targeting a strategically defined niche of your audience…but that’s not to say you can’t change your niche, depending on which tactic you’re using.


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