7 Essential Growth Hacks for E-commerce Apps

Every e-commerce company today is offering money as an incentive to acquire and retain users. As soon as you signup, you already have coupons to spend with and once you do, you probably get more coupons and cashback to stay on. Smart companies are those that are able to figure out different growth hacks for e-commerce apps that help acquire and retain customers without having to give away real money.  

By the time you finish reading this article, you'll know:

A) What are some best ways to acquire users without spending money?

B) How to use the power of insights and research so that you don't lose any potential customers?

C) Why a viral loop and good tech are essential?

Here are our essential growth hacks for e-commerce apps

Virality and Referrals

This is the first and most important growth hack. In fact, if you do this right, as a marketer it's a dream come true. If 10 customers bring you more than 10 more customers, then you have achieved virality, in the simplest sense.  As you go viral, each batch of customers gets you even more customers. 

In marketing lingo, there's something called a viral coefficient. Simply put, if you have a viral coefficient of 1, it means that each customer will get one more person who also becomes a customer. This basically means you've successfully doubled the effectiveness of your campaign. If you have a viral coefficient less than one, it means that while you are still able to get your customers to add more customers, your growth will stall sooner or later unless you keep adding new customers. 

But here's a fact - building a proper viral loop which works is extremely difficult. For it to work, virality needs to be a fundamental part of your product and not be something that is forced in. A great example of this is Skype. Once you've started to use the product you will need someone else on the other side and that's when you invite your friends and family. 

Some other great examples of products where virality is ingrained in the product itself are Dropbox and Paypal. Once you figure this viral loop, growth can be ridiculous! 

If your business does not have a natural viral property, do not try to force it too hard. The fact is that some products are ideal for sharing while others aren't. But you should still work towards increasing your viral coefficient, maybe not greater than 1, but somewhere around 0.2 - 0.4 should also be good. 

Quirky and Smart PR

Unconventional PR is difficult - it can make or break you. There is always a chance that it can create a negative impression of your brand. Hence, this is something that has to be well thought through. Unconventional PR essentially means doing things that might seem crazy and can make some people angry but you still go ahead and do it. It's also known as guerrilla marketing.

A brilliant example of this is the brand Durex. They always come up with things that are quirky, uncomfortable to many and yet get a lot of PR and hype. One of their recent ones was the Durex Aubergine announcement. They announced that Durex is going to launch an Aubergine (also known as Brinjal and Eggplant) flavored condom! Of course this wasn't going to happen for real. This was part of their campaign where they have been asking support to add a condom emoji which now thank's to this campaign is going to be the aubergine.  


Here's another example of what we did last year. So last year we wrote a story on how we hacked Ola Cabs and made money out of thin air. This was a sensitive story to do and could lead to many outcomes. What we made sure was that we notified the company much in advance, made sure we made every effort possible to let them know about this hack and when all efforts failed, we let them know that we will be doing a story. Once this was published on our blog, the press picked it up like crazy and we were on the front page of all business dailies. The ecosystem also supported us and many more similar hack stories by independent hackers followed in the days to come. 

The 3S for Web/Mobile Apps - Speed, Support, Security

A slow site turns customers away and has a direct impact on your business. Ideally, your page should load in under 2-3 seconds. This is achievable at a very reasonable cost and will definitely get you a lot of conversions. 

It is also important to study things like browser optimization. Many marketers and growth hackers get so busy in finding new channels or A/B tests that they forget to see if the page is performing as it should. You should know in which browser and device your website underperforms. To do so, open up your Google Analytics and go to Audience -> Technology -> Browser & OS report. Dive deep into this and you'll find a lot of insights to share with your frontend and backend teams. 

It is important to also implement best security practices early on. Often, security is ignored in the early stages and that leads to tough situations later. A small security mistake can turn into a major PR disaster and then you can kiss goodbye to all your growth hacks!

Must Read: Security Analysis of Top 500 Global E-commerce Apps - Over 90% have major security loopholes

The Power of Insights

Insights can be very powerful. You can get a lot of insights not just through your campaign and analytics data, but also from other industry experts. For example, data shows that a lot of times people research for items on their mobile devices but purchase it through their desktop. Since there will be a time gap between these actions, there's also a chance of some people dropping off. So, wouldn't it be great if you could do something to ensure you did not lose these potential sales?

How can we do that? Well, we all know that so many people love Facebook, right? And as an e-commerce company, I am sure you already run some ads there. All you have to do is retarget those that visited your e-commerce website via mobile and did not convert. It's not very difficult to get this up and running. Setup two ads on Facebook, one targeting mobile visitors and the other targeting desktop. Create a Facebook Custom Audience for those who visited your website but did not purchase. Build your audience, insert your code on all the pages, and start bidding and optimizing. 


This one requires a bit more work because it will involve a lot of effort from your frontend and design teams as well. But if done well, this can go a long way in providing a great experience. We are talking about personalized homepages. The idea is to customize the look and feel of your homepage for returning visitors. Amazon does this to a fair extent.

What we are trying to do here is  present potential customers with a personalized landing page. For example, if you know they looked at a particular product but did not buy that product, you could customize their experience the next time they land on your website to specifically promote or remind them about the product they were last reviewing in your shop.

This blog post from Crazy Egg is full of ideas that can get you started on this for your online store. Once you have some idea about this and are ready to get started for your own website. There are tools like Evergage or Bunting to build out your personalization campaigns.

Content that Works

This hack is one of my personal favorites. It takes time but works best in the long run. There are so many brands that are trying to get attention of the same set of potential customers. Exclusive content is what defines a champion among all of them. One of the best examples of this is BeardBrand in UK and maybe Ustraa by Happily Unmarried in India. 

The content that they use and the images that go along with it just make you get attracted towards the brand and everyone wants to grow a beard or get better at maintaining one!

Creating exclusive content is difficult. What you can do is explore your target audience directly, find out their needs and creative something exclusive for them. The amount of effort you have to put is huge but it will pay off well, guaranteed!

Just Say Thank You

Customer delight is the most valuable thing for any brand. Sending handwritten thank you cards to new customers is an incredibly easy way to impress them, convince them to buy again, and influence them to tell others about you and your business. Especially at a time where everything is so automated, it matters if someone makes an effort to send you something personalized and handwritten. 

And with that, I think I should thank you all for reading this post. I hope some of these hacks are useful for your business. 

Published on Sep 15, 2016
Written by Prateek Panda


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