5 E-Commerce Hacks You Probably Aren’t Using (But Should Be)

Taking a break from existential exploration and getting hyper tactical this week. It’s time to roll up our sleeves.

We are entering a period of unprecedented disruption, which usually is followed by breathtaking reinvention – and much of it will take place online. I believe the pandemic set in motion digital trends that will not reverse in the new normal. 

Meanwhile, all of planet earth is killing time on the web and suddenly receptive to your message and product. The problem: Many brands who haven’t traditionally relied on e-commerce have no idea where to start, and the others are cutting their ad spend. This is one area in life where tactics actually matter even more than big picture strategy. You can have the most brilliant creative, but because you didn’t realize that your page won’t load on an Android, your marketing campaign yields a big fat zero conversion rate.

I recently did a masterclass session with my friend and resident ecomm growth hacker Sabir Semerkant. This one-hour session is pure gold, and I promise you, if you watch it, you will extract at least one takeaway that will improve your business. But assuming you ignore the last sentence, I’m distilling five crucial points below:

 1. Leave Your Ego at the Door: Don’t fall in love with your own creative. The beauty of online is that barriers to entry are low, and it’s the land of AB testing. Come up with a plan. Try something. If it doesn’t resonate it, pull the plug. Kill it unmercifully. Companies suffer when some decisionmaker becomes so enamored with their own idea, or so afraid to acknowledge a miss, they won’t abandon it. In which case, as Sabir notes, all you’re doing is wire transferring money from your account to Facebook, with nothing but a receipt to show for it.

2. Get Your House (i.e., Website) in Order: Don’t spend precious ad dollars driving traffic to a site that takes five clicks to complete a sale. The most common website mistake? Building for desktop without paying attention to mobile. Over 50% of global website traffic comes from mobile devices (likely significantly more when it comes to your target consumers). Sabir summed it up: “If your site is not optimized for mobile, you’re not going to deliver a great experience to a consumer, so you’re not going to get conversion out of it.” And if you don’t have the capability in-house, it’s worth hiring someone to make sure you don’t lose out on over 50% of your site’s traffic.

Before spending a single dollar on ads, you want to optimize your site for search engines and take advantage of all that organic interest in your industry or business. Start by auditing your entire website and pages on third-party sites like Goldbelly. It requires an upfront investment of sweat equity, but yields a massive ROI. To start out, Sabir suggests visiting Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest to receive a full (free) report card on how your site stacks up when it comes to SEO – and then fixing your mistakes and updating your copy to include critical key words.

3. Repeat After Me: Do Not Cut Ad Spend: With businesses losing money, the first impulse is to cleave ad spend. Big mistake. By doing that, you’re missing out on the lowest customer acquisition costs we’ve seen in a long time. “Right now it’s incredibly cheap to buy ads,” Sabir said. Why? The more people who are engaging online (ecommerce web traffic was up 63% from February to April), the cheaper and more efficient it is to target them, and the less it costs to do paid search, Facebook ads, Instagram stories, you get the picture. Why would you cut back spending now, only to resume later when everyone returns to work and rates go up?

4. Old School Email is Still King. Capture Coveted Inbox Attention with the Uncertainty Principle: This is one case where you actually want to bury the lede and flash your smile but nothing more. Be a bit coquettish. Stop sending boring, literal subject lines. Everyone is sending out email marketing right now. Delete. To cut through a sea of spam and get what Sabir considers a good open rate of 15-20%, use the uncertainty principle. Your subject line should spark a consumer’s curiosity. Consider, which email are you more likely to open?

(A) “15% off Site Wide” – direct, but doesn’t make me curious

(B) “Is cabin fever making you lose it?” – relatable and piques my curiosity

The trick is what happens after someone opens that email. Carry on the conversation by giving them something of value that leads to a call to action, and then leads them to the most relevant section of your website. According to Sabir, if you get all of this right, your open rate can swell to 60%.

5. Optimize For Amazon: The days of questioning whether to be on Amazon ended with the pandemic. More than half of all product searches on the web begin on Amazon, even if the buyer plans to purchase elsewhere. So let’s admit into evidence that you want to peddle your wares on Amazon, but doing so successfully requires you to master some simple principles.

It’s all about optimizing for Amazon SEO, since the No. 1 activity on Amazon’s site is search. Here’s what to check off the list:

  • Product title and description optimized for search
  • An above average number of reviews, compared to your competitors
  • 7 photos (including at least one video) that show off your product, how it’s used, etc. Not a brand infomercial.
  • A Q&A section that overcomes any consumer uncertainties – and if you have a question you get all the time, Sabir advises addressing it in those first couple of bullets at the top of your page.
  • Set up email automation to go out within 7 days of purchase. It’s a common myth that Amazon does this for you, but it often does not.

I could write volumes on Sabir’s tactics, but hopefully I’ve convinced you that when it comes to ecomm, the details make all the difference. If you’re a business pivoting online, arm yourself with best practices so you can make some lemonade out of lemons. Sabir is a generous soul, and has given me permission to post his email. And please make me proud by writing a captivating subject line that gets him to open it immediately!

What else would you add to this list? Share with the #ManifestorMindset community below.

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