No eCommerce business exists without customers. That’s why growing and retaining your customer base is extremely crucial.
There are lots of ways to get customers.
In this article, you will learn the 14 proven, age-old strategies that have successfully worked for several eCommerce businesses.
Let’s get started.

Strategies to Grow Your Customer Base

1. Find Market Demand For Your Product

So, you’re excited about a new product idea. Great! But before you start selling it, you have to be sure if the market needs it.
Whether you’re new to the business or expanding your product line, it all begins here — finding market demand for your product.
Let’s understand the term market demand before we proceed.
Market demand means demand for a given product and the audience that wants to purchase it.
How do you find market demand for your product?
There can be so many ways to do that. But, to start simple, these three methods can help.

1. Conduct Surveys

Run surveys targeting a specific audience — also consider their demographics here. A lot of that audience will be on social media channels. So social media platforms are excellent places to post your surveys.
The wider your scope, the better your survey results will be.

2. Use Google Trends

Google Trends is a free tool. If you are a small business with a small marketing budget, it can offer you many insights.
Type in keywords relevant to your product idea to see how frequently users search for those related terms. You can filter results by time period, country, and even city.
These give you insights into where you should sell your products should you decide to move forward.

Related : Powerful Ways to Use Google Trends for SEO

3. Use Social Listening Tools

Social listening means gathering data from social media conversations about products, interests, industries, brands, etc.
These tools give you deeper insights than Google Trends. They will pull out social media posts that mention or are related to the keywords you are searching for.
You can see what the sentiment (positive or negative or neutral) is, where exactly people are talking about it, and what they’re saying about it.

2. Target The Right Customers

Now that you are clear about the market demand, the next important thing to do is targeting the right customers. There are so many ways that you could go about defining your ideal customers.
Source : Freepik
The first thing you should do is take a look at your current customers. Because, to be honest, it is them who can give you the fundamental idea of who exactly you want to target. So, get to know them more.
I’m talking about understanding their characteristics and needs.
How are your products helping them? Are they willing to come back and buy from you again?
Finding answers to such questions gives you the dynamic of problems and solutions of your products. With that, you can start looking for other people similar to them to sell to.
Note : If you’re new to eCommerce or do not have any customers, stalk your competitors. If you offer a similar product, get to know whom they are selling to. If possible, interview your competitors’ customers. Get to know who they are, what their interests are, and why they bought from them.

3. Generate Organic Traffic to Your Website

It’s no surprise that any eCommerce store relies primarily on its website. That means generating traffic to your site is more important than doing anything else. Sales and customers only exist if you have a constant visitor base. There are a few ways you can bring traffic to your website.

1. Search Engine Optimization

When people search for your products on search engines, you want your website to show up in the top search results. This is because over 50% of all clicks happen only to the top 3 results on Google.
Source : Sistrix
Put your efforts to rank well at the top, and you will practically grow your customer base on autopilot. It sounds easy when saying that. But here are three things you need for great SEO — relevant keyword research, optimizing page URLs, and writing long, meaningful product descriptions.

2. Content Marketing

Content marketing is not just about having a blog. It’s more than that. You have to branch out your content into multiple forms — blog posts, videos, podcasts, eBooks, guides, etc.
The more places you are present out there, the more opportunities you get to grow your customers.
For example, if you are a clothing brand, make content around styling, especially YouTube videos. This makes your prospects more likely to visit your site whenever they want to do clothes shopping.

3. Paid Advertising

Paid ads cost you more money than SEO and content marketing. But, since they are highly targeted, they bring in relevant traffic faster.
You can target four major ad platforms — Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and Pinterest Ads.

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4. Make Your Website User-friendly

First impressions count a lot. Whenever a visitor lands on your website, the first thing that they see is your website's look and feel.
Ensure that every page on your website gives a visually appealing look to your visitors. That means focusing on those design elements that compel the visitors to stay. Here are a few:

1. Fast Loading Time

We cannot emphasize this enough — nobody likes a slow-loading website. Online shoppers get impatient when they don’t see what they want soon enough.
Check out the above infographic, and you’ll realize why page speed is really important. You can run a quick test using Google’s page speed tool to check how your website currently performs.
How do you improve page speed?
Aside from the suggestions that Google’s page speed tool provides, here are some more:

2. Easy Navigation

Any eCommerce website's ideal product category structure should look like this — categories, sub-categories, and deeper variations to list the products. Your site architecture should include no more than three levels.
Source : Kissmetrics
Your visitors must find what they want in as few clicks as possible. One of the easiest methods to do this is by carefully choosing the grouping of your product categories.
However, if they have not found what they are looking for, include a search option.

3. Availability of a Search Bar

Your visitors use the search bar to look for something specific. Therefore, it should be apparent on your website. And it should look the same on every web page.
One more thing to note is that it should have a text box with a button next to it. People are used to such design. So, make sure that you build it based on their understanding of how search works.

4. Easy Checkout Process

Once a visitor finds what they want to buy, the next steps should be fewer and easy.
Ask only for their most important information. Do not make them fill out the same information more than once.
If possible, show a progress indicator that tells your visitors which step they are located in the checkout process. It is important to show them that they’re almost done making the purchase.

Related : Must-Have Features for Ecommerce Checkout Pages

5. Optimize Your Website For Mobile/Tablets

Quick question. What’s that device that has taken over our lives?
It’s the smartphone indeed.
And eCommerce is no exception to this. Mobile shopping has been growing at a staggering rate every year. And it’s only projected to go higher.
So, you, as an eCommerce business owner, need to recognize and accept this fact. With everything moving towards mobile, your business will only reach its full potential if your website is optimized for mobile.
And how do you do it?

  • Make sure that your website is responsive. In other words, your site’s navigation, images, videos, buttons, and tabs should all work well on mobile as they do on a desktop.
  • See that the pages load fast. Your website visitors won’t have high-speed WiFi internet all the time. So, you must optimize your pages for 3G and 4G speeds as well.
  • Reduce pop-ups and sidebars. The screen space is already less on mobile. Don’t make it cluttered with unnecessary elements.
  • Remove any words that you don’t need. The copy should only include words that sell.
  • Reduce the number of forms. Typing on mobile is not easy. Make use of the autofill feature wherever you can.

6. Run a Referral Program

Referral programs are nothing new to eCommerce. A referral is simply a strategy that encourages your current customers to tell others to buy your products.
Source : Freepik
It is the secret recipe that fueled some of the most successful eCommerce companies.
How Do You Run a Referral Program?

1. Choose a Reward.

For a thankreferral program, rewards can be of different types — discounts, points, cashback, free gifts, etc.
Discounts are really popular. This is how they work.
Customer X suggests your product to Customer Y. Customer Y will receive, say, 20% off of their first purchase. At the same time, Customer X will receive the same 20% off their next purchase when Y finishes their purchase.
If a customer refers somebody new, they’ll receive a certain number of points. They can redeem these points for offers, freebies, etc.
This is becoming popular lately. Your customer recommends your product to another person. If that person does make the purchase, the customer gets some cashback to their account.
Free gifts
Another great way to encourage referrals is to offer a gift to customers. You have to make your customers feel special for bringing you a new customer.
These rewards are also a great way for your customers to get hooked on your product.
However, before you finalize one of these rewards, make sure to test all of them. Experiment with each reward for a certain period of time to see which one brings you the best results.
And, provide your customers with a referral link so that they can easily share it with others, and you can track the performance.

2. Spread The Word Out

Once you’ve figured out which reward to go with, it’s time to launch the referral program.
During the launch, you also need to market the program. It is just like any other marketing campaign. It works only if it gets enough attention.
For starters, spread the word on email to all your customers. Explain to them how they’ll be rewarded. Aside from email, promote the program on social media too.

3. Monitor Your Referrals

Now that the program is running, it’s time to track how it is performing. Is it going as expected? What needs to be improved? You need to find answers to such questions.
And as you obtain more data, find out where it can be improved and make adjustments.
For all the successful referrals, thank your customers. They are doing a lot of work for you. And reward them as promised.

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7. Provide Great Customer Service

In today’s world, customer service is not just nice to have. Rather it is mandatory for success. A 2018 report by Microsoft shows that 95% of consumers said customer service is crucial for brand loyalty.
Source : Freepik
These days customers are more inclined to complain more about issues than ever before. So, offering high-quality customer service should be a priority.
Follow these tips to improve your customer service game.

1. Create a Process

Customer service is one area that can get chaotic if not organized well. You might have a highly motivated team. But as you scale, your system will develop cracks without a proper process.
Let these steps help you

  • Identify channels that work best for you.
  • Set up KPIs to track and measure progress.
  • Implement the process.
  • Look back and analyze it regularly.
  • Optimize with the data you have gathered.

2. Improve Response Time

Your customers like their issues resolved as fast as possible. It’s your responsibility to prioritize the issues at hand.
Serve your customers faster, and you will turn them into loyal followers.

3. Encourage Self-service

As your customer base grows, you won’t have the time to resolve all of their issues. This is when you need to harness the power of a live chat tool.
While you are away or busy handling issues on priority, your live chat can talk to your customers and address their problems. Aside from this, you should also have a knowledge base of frequent issues with possible solutions.

4. Optimize, optimize, optimize

The first version of the process that you have set will not give you the best results. You need to be proactive to gather data and optimize it as you proceed constantly.
Once you become a brand that provides top-class customer service, word of mouth kicks in, your customers will spread the word out, and that will bring you a whole new bunch of customers.

8. Encourage Brand Loyalty & Build Your Brand

We just spoke about customer service. That’s one way to make customers stay loyal to your brand.
Other than that, you need to encourage them to engage with and talk about your brand. Doing this can turn one-time customers into brand evangelists.
They will be open to encourage others to buy your products.
Now, how do you turn your customers into brand evangelists?
Before proceeding, you need to remember this: not every customer can become an evangelist.

1. Build a Relationship with Your Customers

When a customer has a positive experience with your brand, they are very likely to help you. Use this moment to ask for reviews. This user-generated content will make them come back to you for more.
At the same time, this will prove to others that your brand is trustworthy.

2. Ask for their Feedback

Since it’s the customers that use your products, they will have a unique perspective on your brand and products. So, ask them for feedback. They will be happy to know that their concerns are being heard.

3. Create a Community

Creating an online community around your brand is a great way to build brand loyalty. Use social media to create a group centered around your brand where your customers can interact, share stories, and even invite their friends to join.

4. Treat them Well

When your customers go out of their way and do something nice for your brand, be sure to appreciate them. You can provide special offers like free shipping, early access to new products, or discounts.
This way, they’ll remember you and, in turn, return the favor by referring their friends to you.

9. Be Active on Social Media

Nowadays, you cannot imagine any new business without a social media presence.
Source : Freepik
Consider the following ideas to create a strong social media presence. They’re a mix of organic and paid ideas.

1. Create User-Centric Content

You will not build a trustworthy and follow-worthy brand if you only post links to your product pages. Nobody wants to be sold. But they like to be educated.
Therefore, the aim of your content should be about finding topics your audience cares about. So, create content around them.
For example, if you sell keto diet-related products, you can educate your audience about the benefits of healthy food, keto diet, being in shape, etc.

2. Connect with Influencers

With so much happening on social media every day, building a following from scratch is difficult if you are new to the business. That’s why you should connect with influencers in your niche and build relationships with them.
For starters, start interacting with their content. Sometimes, even little things like reacting to their posts, commenting on their content, or sharing that on your handles are great.
Do that consistently with a list of influencers, and you will slowly develop a relationship with them. This sets up future partnerships that benefit both of you.

3. Set up Your Store on Social Media

Social media platforms have also made it convenient for eCommerce businesses to make shopping on their platforms possible.
Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest have built-in features that allow you to connect your eCommerce store to your social media pages. This will greatly shorten the buying cycle.

4. Expand Your Reach Beyond the Organic Route

Generating organic reach is becoming increasingly difficult on social media. Everybody is fighting for the same space on your audience’s news feeds.
That’s why you have to consider the paid reach route also. A major benefit of paid reach is targeted advertising. If you are clear about your target audience, you can run paid campaigns that yield great results.

10. Promote Your Website Through Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a strategy that lets your business increase sales by promoting its products on other websites that target the same audience. These websites earn a commission every time they help you make a sale.
Source : Affiliate Pro
If you want to run your first affiliate program, do the following

1. Find Affiliate Networks in Your Domain

An affiliate network is a marketplace where business owners like yourself can find affiliates to promote your products. Some of the most popular ones are, Share-a-Sale, and Commission Junction.

2. Contacts those Affiliates

Once you list down the affiliates in your niche, reach out to them. Make your email personalized for each of them.

3. Decide on the Commission

If you’re just starting, you need to be generous with commissions. Only then will you have a chance of signing them up
You can even customize it from one affiliate partner to another.

4. Launch the Program and Optimize It Regularly

Now that you’re set, launch the program. After letting it run for a considerable amount of time, look back at its performance.
See who is bringing you the most traffic and sales. Make improvements wherever required.

11. Implement Exit-intent Pop-ups

An exit-intent pop-up is a pop-up that appears on the visitor’s screen when they are about to leave your website.
It’s a last-ditch effort to retain your potential customers on that page.
The visitor lands on a page on your website and then explores it to see some of your products. If they find nothing that interests them, they drag the mouse toward the “Close” button in their browser.
That’s when the pop-up appears.
Some studies have revealed that these pop-ups work well. A digital marketing agency called Fastrack Digital reportedly recovered 53% of its abandoning visitors using exit-intent pop-ups.
Source : Boxed
When designing your pop-up, it’s important to understand what a visitor’s motive is, how they landed there, and what they’re expecting. Based on that, you can create the best offer for them that makes them change their minds.

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12. Improve Your Marketing With Social Proofs

According to some recent surveys, 92% of online shoppers read reviews before making a purchase. That’s a big number! Interestingly, 47% of them only buy products that are rated above four stars.
These numbers show the impact social proof has on consumers.
Source : Myleene Klass
You can incorporate social proof on your page using some of these elements:

  • User reviews
  • Testimonials with people’s faces
  • The number of customers who bought that product
  • Influencers and experts who recommended that product
  • Other trust elements that are relevant to your industry

13. Make Your Product Pages Persuasive Enough

For an eCommerce website, product pages are the most important pages. You need to make them as compelling as possible.
Now how do you do that?

1. Use high-quality photos and videos

Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce stores do not have the advantage of showing products in detail. You can’t touch or feel them.
But using high-quality photos for your products can help close that gap. Take photos from different angles. Shoot a video that presents all its information in one place.
Source : Lavender Sage

2. Write detailed product descriptions

Providing detailed information about your products makes it easy for your prospects to understand what it is you’re selling.
An effective way to write great product descriptions is by using the journalist’s approach. Answer the six questions in each description – Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.

3. Use clear calls to action

You cannot convert a visitor into a customer if you cannot tell them where they have to click. So, put a clear CTA with a copy that evokes action.

4. Show social proof

We already spoke about this in the previous section. Never neglect social proof on your page.

14. Use Smart Remarket Tactics To Reach Abandoners

One more smart way to increase your customer base is by targeting those who have abandoned their shopping carts. You should go after them with remarketing campaigns.
Abandoners are your website visitors who have added items to their shopping carts but left without making a purchase.

Related : Proven Ways to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment in Ecommerce

Targeting them gives you another shot at converting them to customers. If you’re not doing that, you’re restricting yourself by giving them only one chance to be your customers. And, in today’s crowded online environment, it is an almost impossible task.
Source : Bearsville Soap Company
You can remarket to them using Facebook ads, Google ads, or email.

Increasing eCommerce Customer Base - FAQs

1. I Just Launched My eCommerce Website. How Can I Get My First Customers?

First of all, congratulations!
One of the fastest ways to get your first customers is by spreading the word about it in your immediate network — your friends, relatives, etc. Once they purchase, get feedback, testimonials, and reviews from them. Use those as trust elements to get new customers.
But if they don’t fall in your target market, you have to look at other places.
First off, run an advertising campaign at places where most of your target market exists. This can be on social media, print, radio, or TV.
Source : Freepik
Since you’re new to the market, you have to sell the fact that you can be trusted. So, make sure that you include trust elements in your campaign.

2. How Can I Build a Lead Pipeline for My eCommerce Website?

Build your email list. To do that, put email collection forms in the right places on your website. Here are a few:

  • On the sidebar
  • In your blog posts
  • On the footer
  • In the pop-ups

Have a landing page for these lead generation forms. The page should have a persuasive copy, genuine social proof, and the benefits of joining your email list.
Once you have the leads coming in, you have to segment them. You will have email subscribers with different interests.
Segment your email list by:

  • Types of Customers (potential customers, new customers, loyal customers, occasional buyers, etc.)
  • Demographics (age, location, education, income, etc.)
  • Behavior

Source : Freepik
You must delete subscribers who are not interested in your products at all. This will help you focus your email marketing efforts on only the interested people. It will also reduce the spam rate and increase your open rates as a result.

Wrapping up

Growing your customer base is a process. It requires skill, creativity, patience, and hard work. Implement these strategies in your business. You will see results eventually. You will find out the ones that are working for you. Continue to improve them and ignore the rest.
You can get in touch with us to get those customers!

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