Even though 2014 is more than half over, there is still time to grow your ecommerce business this year. There are at least five strategies you can utilize.
Business growth can impact every area of an ecommerce operation. Cash flow typically rises, buying power increases, overhead expenses become a relatively smaller percentage of revenue, and, in most case, the company thrives.
The question then is not whether or not to grow but how to grow. What follows are five tangible ways to grow your business in 2014 and beyond.
1. Know your Customers
The better a retailer understands who its customers are, the better that retailer will be able to market and communicate to them. Better marketing and communication should lead to improved traffic, conversion, sales, and profits.
Writing in Forbes, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Alan Hall said, "Knowing and understanding targeted customers is the overarching rule of exceptional companies. Award-winning business builders know their customers as well as they know their own families."
While you might not want to invite shoppers over for dinner, you do want to know more about their buying behaviors. If you could know one new thing about your customers, what would it be? How they found your site? What made them decided to purchase? What made them decide not too?
Consider conducting a short survey to get the answer to your question, it could impact your business significantly. Also, check out Contributing Editor Dale Traxler's article "7 Things to Know about Your Customers."
2. Choose New Products Carefully
For many online retailers, the holiday shopping season that begins after Halloween is when a significant portion of annual sales occur. The products sold during this peak period are often selected and ordered in July and August.
For the holiday selling season in 2014, choose new product carefully. If your margins are such that you can compete with Walmart, feel free to sell mass-market products. But if you don't have that sort of buying power, consider looking for niche products that are more difficult to find at big box retailers. Read "3 Tips for Deciding What to Sell Online" and "What Product Can I Sell Online?" for more details about choosing products.
3. Be a Publisher
In an interview with Entrepreneur magazine, consultant and author Perry Marshall described successful online selling like this.
"You get the traffic, you convert the traffic, you sell the traffic, then you take your money and you reinvest it in more traffic. If you can make the process profitable then it goes around and around and your company grows bigger."
While Marshall's explanation doesn't take into account loyal customers, who typically spend three-to-five times as much as a new customer on every order and significantly more over time, he does describe the general approach well.
In 2014, there are few traffic-driving strategies that are better than publishing good, useful content. In fact, some marketers believe that content marketing -- i.e., publishing useful content -- is the single best marketing tactic available.
To get a better understand of what sort of content might work best, consider reading Jay Baer's book Youtility.
Also, remember that video is content too. Take a look at the articles "4 Reasons Ecommerce Videos Make Sense in 2014? and "4 Tips for Better Ecommerce Product Videos."
4. Use Email Marketing
Email marketing is still one of the very best tools available to ecommerce business owners and marketers.
In October 2013, consultant Francisco Rosales published "10 Reasons Why Email Marketing Should Be Your Absolute Priority."
Among his ten reasons, Rosales notes that 95 percent of online shoppers use email and that 91 percent of them check their email every single day. What's more, a survey found that 60 percent of marketers found that their email marketing was producing a positive return on investment. In fact, spending a single dollar on email marketing produces $44.25 in return on average.
See "7 Crucial KPIs for Email Marketing" and "7 Must-have Email Marketing Features" for more about email marketing.
5. Invest in Social Media
Social media is the growth hacker's playground.
Wikipedia states that "growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure."
Growth hackers often seek relatively low-cost ways to engage with customers, including investing in social media content.
To see how you might use social media, read these recent social media marketing articles.