how to get strangers to growth hack your business

Yes, strangers. We may feel uncomfortable getting chummy with people we aren’t on a first-name basis with, but reaching out to people you don’t know can help grow your ecommerce business and bring in a slew of new customers. You just have to ask the right questions.

So, before we get in to how to use strangers to growth hack your business, let me tell you a story.


Let me tell you about how I became a customer of Chateau La Paws.

I am in a group on Facebook for professional women in my area. Group posts range from professional to personal advice, and which restaurant has the best barbecue in town (very strong opinions about this).

Recently, a young woman working on behalf of a niche wine label posted to our group, and proposed an offer I could not refuse.

This savvy marketer (let’s call her Lea) introduced herself and her affiliation with Chateau La Paws, a wine label that proudly supports No Kill shelters around the nation and boasts adorable rescues right on the bottles.

Lea was looking to see if we were willing to share photos of our rescue pups in costumes. Chateau La Paws would get unrestricted rights to our pictures that they could use on social media at their own discretion. In return, we would get a complimentary bottle of wine.

Now, Lea phrased this in a manner that was much friendlier and less corporate, but that was the gist of the exchange. As an avid fan of good wine who has also, to the chagrin of my poor dog, taken many photos of my pup in various sweaters, this was right up my alley. I promptly sent Lea an email with a file of 20 photos of my dog in hats, hoodies and pumpkin costumes.

growth_hack_your online shop_small_business_social_mediaShortly after our exchange, my pup Melia was featured on the Chateau La Paws Facebook page in a post about Fashion Week (the CLP team is savvy and and timely).

Immediately after seeing this post, I liked it, commented, shared it to my page, and followed Chateau La Paws on social media.

Do likes and shares directly earn customers? Hard to know.

But having my dog featured on Facebook did get me to share, both via social media and verbally, to just about anyone within earshot. As an owner of a rescue dog, I am all for supporting businesses that support causes I care about.

I am Chateau La Paws target customer, and I will purchase from them in the future and share my experience. My word-of-mouth recommendation is valuable to Chateau La Paws, and helps growth hack their online shop to reach a broader market of like-minded customers.

All Lea had to do was find the right audience, offer an exchange that benefited both parties, and wait for the referrals to come through. 


How to Get Strangers To Growth Hack Your Online Shop

To do what Lea did and get strangers to growth hack your ecommerce business, follow these steps.

  1. Find relevant groups and bookmarking sites. Check Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, forums, blog rings, etc. Determine where your potential customers are hanging out, and meet them there.
  2. Introduce yourself, your affiliation with your company, and a little about what your biz does. This should be short and sweet – try to keep it to just one or two sentences. Make sure your introduction matches the tone of the audience you are speaking to.
  3. Tell them what you want. Do you want pictures relevant to your brand to use on social media, like Lea? Do you want to collect emails to add to a distribution list? Are you hoping to get honest reviews of your product?
  4. Be willing to part with something. Maybe its a sample, small gift, or really great discount on their first purchase. Your part of the bargain should be equal to what you’re asking. Yes, Lea only asked for pictures to share on social media, but she knew that people who willingly dress their dogs to take pictures would also willingly share said pictures to their own followers and networks. For free and eager publicity, Lea and Chateau La Paws offered complimentary wine.
  5. Be personable and follow up. When I emailed Lea pictures of my dog, she wrote back to ask for my pup’s name, tell me she was cute, and just interact with me like a human might. Don’t get the details you need and bolt. The person on the other end of the conversation may very likely become a new customer. Spend a couple of minutes to steward that relationship.
  6. Create a community, whether its on your social media channels, website or both, where customers are invited to share posts of themselves with your product. We all love to feel like we’re a part of something, and connecting with a business is no exception. Studies show that when brands can establish an emotional bond with its audience, they are able to successfully charge up to 200% more than competitors. Yes, that’s 200%, with two zeros. Parting with a small token of your appreciation doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?


Be Bold and Put Yourself Out There

Push past the discomfort you may feel when reaching out to strangers. There are many entrepreneurs for whom shyness is their natural inclination, and that’s fine. But if you don’t act boldly and put your brand out there, you won’t be able to speed up growth. The more qualified leads that know about your business, the faster you can win sales and establish a base of loyal customers. Growth hacking your online shop is worth getting out of your comfort zone.

Interested in more growth hacking ideas? Check out our intro guide to word-of-mouth marketing.

Have a great growth hacking story of your own? Let us know – we’d love to feature you!

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