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5 Sure Ways to Grow Your E-Commerce Business in Canada

Summary: The secret to growing your e-commerce business has always been smart marketing and SEO. However, there are a few shortcuts you can take along the way that involve customer referrals, TikTok, and a bit of market research. These tricks aren’t foolproof, but they will significantly increase your chances of success. Read on! 

Online businesses have almost unlimited potential, but growing your online sales from zero to the first million takes an incredible amount of work. And some luck.

But like everything else in life, there are a few cheat codes you can use to bypass the hard levels while growing your small business online. We know you’re a busy person and are probably overwhelmed with everything, so we’ll keep this brief and to the point.

While at it, remember to host your online store with a reliable and responsive cloud service provider. Just one bad experience from slow loading websites, service downtimes, or DNS problems can permanently turn away customers from your site.

You’re selling online, so it figures that the best way to increase your sales is to increase the number of new and repeat visitors to your website. If you were to grow from 100 to 10,000 visitors a month and just 3% of those make a purchase (conversion rate), that would certainly improve your online sales revenue.

Unfortunately, most e-commerce store owners don’t like SEO or content marketing. We get it, you want immediate returns and growth without all the hard groundwork.

Content marketing is about playing the long game and may take a year for your website to rank. Link building strategies offer faster results, but those are expensive and can backfire if you’re not careful.

A better shortcut strategy to increase online store sales is to use social media and online forums.

I particularly love using Reddit. Many subreddits in our niche are very active and lively, so my posts or comments get decent engagement. Interacting with other people on the latest in IT and technology opens up many opportunities to talk about our cloud hosting services and generates interest about our other services.

Social media icons on phone

Another strategy we use a lot involves niche communities and forums. Here’s how we do it:

  • Find a forum or community that’s active in a specific niche. An easy way to do this is to type forum:keyword into the Google search bar, where the keyword represents the niche. For example, forum:motorcycles
  • Repeat the process by searching for groups and communities around the same niche on Reddit, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
  • Find out which communities are most active and suitable to our brand. I typically join the five best ones and interact with the members for about two weeks to get a feel for the group.
  • Join discussions and subtly draw attention to our product or brand. However, this doesn’t always work and some groups do not allow advertisements or endorsements.
  • Another strategy that works quite well is to offer the most active members or leaders free products or large discounts in return for an honest public review. If you know what you’re selling is good, this is often a surefire way to get new customers quickly.

Follow our example and refine your strategy as you go along. At the same time, continue posting regularly on your regular social media channels. Use hashtags and follow prominent people in your niche. Experiment with humor, inspirational posts, trends, news, and other topics until you find a formula that works for you.

However, remember to separate your personal and business social media accounts. That’s super important because platforms like Reddit can quickly turn into a nightmare if you’re not careful.

Bonus Tip: Consider creating a lead magnet. That means a free item or service that will help attract attention to your brand, like a special discount, an interesting e-book, template, quiz, waitlist, gift card, or contest. It won’t cost you much, but it will get you engagement with hundreds or thousands of new customers on social media.

The second best way to drive tons of business growth is to work with people who already have an established audience. They don’t have to have a million followers on Instagram to be valuable—sometimes a Twitter account with 10k followers could be the key to unlocking your success.

The beauty of it is, you don’t even have to spend thousands to pay influencers. What you need is a referral program that rewards people who refer customers to your site. You can even set up an automatic referral system using website plugins like AffiliateWP (WordPress) or Affiliatly (Shopify). 

Depending on your product and sales volume, you may decide to give 3–15% of the sales value as a referral bonus for each successful purchase. You can even offset part or all of this commission by adding it to the product price. That way, it’s a win-win-win situation for everyone.

It can be difficult to find the right partners to help grow your business, but that’s part of the process. We recommend taking your time to interact with different influencers in your niche. Follow their hashtags, leave comments on their posts, and even DM them to get a feel for their brand and personality. 

When the time is right, bring up the possibility of a partnership and negotiate favorable terms. Established influencers may be expensive, so look for the micro-influencers whose audience is steadily growing and who have very good engagement. That’s the magic trick.

You can maintain this strategy for weeks or months with very little cost to your business. However, we recommend using a different referral link for each platform and each influencer to make it easy to monitor sales growth.

If your e-commerce business already has some customers, you can leverage user-generated content (UGC) to quickly increase sales.

UGC works because it creates social proof for your product and brand. People tend to follow what others do—it’s an evolution thing. It helps us feel accepted as part of a community, and that makes it an incredibly powerful psychological phenomenon.

User-generated content, such as reviews or testimonials, is proof that other people already use your product. This reinforces trust in your brand and overcomes buyer hesitation. That’s why reviews are a big part of e-commerce business.

Truehost reviews

Another growth hacking strategy is to entice people to identify with your brand by creating a movement around it.

Remember the massive Barbie movie marketing campaign? The whole world seemed to go pink for weeks before the movie’s premiere. The marketers made extremely effective use of UGC by encouraging people to create Barbie-themed content using special pink filters and sounds.

Some people speculate that Warner Bros spent $150 million on marketing for that movie. The executives deny it and say they simply spread breadcrumbs around and encouraged people to follow.

You may not have $150 million to splash on e-commerce business marketing (we don’t either), but we can learn a few free lessons from the massively successful campaign. 

  • Target a specific feeling, such as nostalgia. Find those powerful emotional triggers that you can influence to create emotionally charged buying decisions. Some of the most effective triggers are frustration, belonging, friendship, and guilt.
  • Leverage FOMO by creating anticipation and excitement using scarcity marketing. Examples include exclusive products, flash sales, reservations, and exclusive communities of users.
  • Have a unique visual to go with the campaign, which can be as simple is a brand mascot or a special brand color
  • Use strategic partners to increase brand awareness, amplify your reach, and generate buzz.

At the very least, encourage customers to create videos and take pictures with your product then share on social media. Most people are happy enough to do this, and they will be even more excited if you offer an additional discount for the next purchase. This strategy turns your customers into brand advocates with little effort or cost.

You’ve probably heard this before, but work hard on delighting your customers. They will be your biggest source of repeat revenue and can play a big role in referring new business. 

However, there’s a strategy that most e-commerce businesses ignore, and that’s the psychology of customer loyalty.

The complexity of marketing psychology makes it pretty much impossible to predict what customers will do. But one thing is guaranteed: if you make your customers happy, they will be back.

Here’s how we do it:

  • Research customer demographics. Use website traffic and other data sources to figure out who your main customers are, how old they are, their gender, income bracket, and anything else that may be important to your marketing. Carry out a survey if you can.
  • Take a moment to really think about why these people buy from you. Is it because of convenience or cheap prices? What are their values? What do they expect from your business? Learn how to use a Jobs to Be Done Canvas to strip your unique value proposition down to the bare minimum.
  • Use the insights gained to improve your products and services, work out customer pain points, and create new and exciting products that you can upsell.
  • Tailor all marketing efforts to this core demographic until you feel confident that your business has reached solid footing.

The main problem I find with many internet entrepreneurs is that they try to do too much too quickly. Their strategy is to try everything and see what works, but that’s often a waste of time and effort. Instead, settle on a few proven e-commerce business growth strategies and build from there. 

Why do big brands flirt with controversial marketing? It’s called shockvertising and it can work wonders. McDonald’s has been chastised endless times for objectifying women, Calvin Klein for overly sexualized ads, and Pepsi for its insensitive ad campaigns. 

But the result has almost always been massive commercial success. It’s the old “any publicity is good publicity” mantra at work all over again.

I’m trying to say that you shouldn’t be afraid of being different or even a little controversial if it puts your brands on the map. Tap into your imagination to make your brand go viral and turn it into traffic, engagement, and money on your website.

Here’s one blueprint you can follow to grow your business online:

  • Start slow. Film “a day in the life” videos, behind the scenes snapshots, and clips showing your product in action. Post these at least thrice weekly on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter.
  • Create or share a funny video or post now and then; bonus points if it includes a cute cat or dog.
  • Follow and respond to popular hashtags and TikTok challenges. Be sure to interact with others on popular comment sections and channels as well. Use social listening tools so that you never miss an opportunity.
  • Work hard at creating and sharing videos that provide real value to users, such as tutorials, recipes, crafts, or even science experiments.
  • If the four tips above don’t work, it’s time for the big guns. Dig into a hot-seat issue of the day with a particularly clever, insightful, or even unpopular opinion. Some topics that have worked in the past include health care reform, gender balance (Hello, McDonald’s), racial discrimination (like Heineken), and social inequality (most luxury brands).

Of course, this is purely informational and you shouldn’t hold us accountable for any negative results that may arise. The point is, sometimes it pays to be bold and in-your-face when it comes to social media marketing for your e-commerce business.

If nothing else works, consider switching to more lucrative online business ventures.

What’s the point of driving 10,000 visitors to your online business if it can’t handle the traffic? You need a perfectly optimized website and reliable hosting services to ensure that as your online store grows, you can keep all the new customers happy.

It all starts with having a secure and scalable website hosting provider who can guarantee 99.99% uptime in Canada and throughout the world. If you’re just building your online store or you’re unhappy with your current hosting company, work with Truehost Canada today.

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