I run www.firelake.co.uk a T-Shirt and Hoodie shop specialising in designer graphic, movie and tv (this isn't my niche) and my local football team.
I've been up and running properly for about 6 months, I took a break over X-Mas with a view to step away for a bit and re-focus after the family stuff was out the way - this thing is a time-sink and whilst I'm committed to it, didn't want to be at it every day over the festive period (plus I knew not much would happen anyway).
So... I've learnt soooooo much over this time, things I know now that I didnt' 3-4 months or even weeks ago, my expectations then were very high, expecting quick sales etc, but now I know that's not necesarily how it works and that building solid foundations, getting the basics and mechanics right is more important.
Store look is one thing, SEO etc are another and whilst I'd built a great looking website, I neglected the latter - thinking if I promoted enough on Twitter, FB, Instagram that the sales would come - well they don't, at least not like you want, and self promoting takes a LOT of time and energy!
My question is, and I suspect the answer will be along the lines of 3-5 years - how long does it really take to become established online, to feature more in searches through natural organic growth - I've gone from an average of 3-4 customers a day (some of those were probably me!) to 50-60, so I'm seeing that rise and it's encouraging - even if sales don't come instantly.
I had a mini-crash using an app the other day and it broke all the links to my variant images, I'm working through fixing these, but as you know - it's a very time consuming process.
I'll share some stats, especially as I know it helps newbies like myself :-)
Since I launched I've had around 5,000 visitors and achieved £1.5k of sales - which for me is a big achievement - I went from spending 2-3 months wondering where my first sale would come from to now aiming for £10k of sales and really building good foundations.
And when I think about it, this was also done OFF PEAK - although T-Shirts are an all year product, there are still peaks and troughs and we didn't start until after summer last year - so I'm excited (and nervous) entering this years.
Any recommendations would be very welcome at this time, sales are a bit weird at the moment with the odd one here and there, but nothing consistent (very frustrating) so I am focusing more now on the technical / SEO side of things rather than spending so much time socially and designing (I've been very active in both areas).
Best wishes with all your ventures!
Paul @ Firelake
Grace from SEO Doctor here.
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Hi Paul, tha'ts a great post and good to see you are making some progress after putting the work in. I've just started and I'm looking where to concerntrate my efforts. The learning curve is quite steep when you're first starting out and it can be quite dishartening when you have no traffic or sales.
I've actually used a few SEO apps (including SEO Doctor) and my site apparently doesn't have any issues - go me!
What I have focused on, is writing proper descriptions on key products and collection pages, rather than using a generic `amazing t-shirt 100% cotton blah blah blah` message - this seems to have had a good impact on organic traffic (unsurprisingly) but I'm seeing very few cart adds right now.
I know it's not summer, but weather is warming up, holidays are approaching so we're entering key planning time and should start to see an increase soon / now - I'd like to understand what my customers are doing on site more and how I can get them through to the checkout more often.
Having sold a fair few tees, I know the designs and quality of product are liked and receive amazing feedback from people that have bought, so I'm struggling a bit to understand why conversion are so low right now - although there seems to have been a few threads on this lately (I hope it's not Shopify related - i.e. somethings broken, people like to tweak, try more apps, pay for more apps etc).
I run with the basic and most functional, I don't pay extra for apps on top because my business just isn't established enough yet - guess I can just keep plugging away and generating awareness / build the brand :-)
I did try ads by Varinode and found it irrelevent, although I've removed it - I can still see its name popping up in the progress bar - is this hijacking my traffic? (edit - found the little bugger in my theme.liquid still pulling a snippet to link to their site - I hate this kind of crap with apps! if it doesn't uninstall properly, then it shouldn't be on the appstore)
I installed a little app yesterday called `Cart Activity` - this thing is a godsend in terms of seeing what people are doing on the site cart wise...
Last night I watched 4 people add items to cart and then not complete check-out - I have no idea why, one of them even came back later, added the same item and then dropped out again...
Shopify should provide some basic level of visibility of what your customers do in store, without having to pay $10-$20+ on top - if I openened a retail store, I would visibily be able to see what my customers were doing - it feels like Shopify deliberately leave you blind to get you to buy apps?
I know that more expensive packages may allow more reporting etc but I don't know if they let you see what people are doing in real time? Although I suspect I can do a lot of this with Google Analytics (that takes time to learn), I think you really need to look at the graveyard of dead stores that people with less tenacity have given up on, as missed opportunities and failed customers - there's a lot of people that get sucked into the whole `ecommerce is easy` thing and setup stores daily (Shopify must see a LOT of these open/close).
There's nothing worse than staring at your store page and not knowing if someone is `in your shop` or `what they're doing` and therefore I would advise people to try the above app so you can at least see when customers are adding to cart.
I doubt I'll be paying monthly for it, it doesn't have enough features and I suspect I can get similar results with GA - but it gives you some confidence that people are actually considering purchasing from you, especially when you're staring at a £0 sales figure for the day :-)
I guess for me the most frustrating thing with this, and something to learn the best way to handle, is that with 15+ years of retail high street sales and management experience - I know each of those 4 people that `walked around my store` with goods in their hands, wouldn't have left empty handed - there would have been engagement from myself/staff and the sales would have been closed.
Unless you force people to create an account before adding items to cards (nobody wants to do that) you have no way to re-capture those lost opportunities - unless there's an app I haven't seen? (I have Tidio / Messenger etc installed, although I don't think these are very intuitive - again unless you pay for Tidio, you can't specifiy when you're `open` and customers get a `we're not here right now message` when you are)
GA also seems handy in showing you people that made it to cart, but again, there's no way to capture their detaisl to re-establish contact...
My recommendation is - AUTOMATE anything you can. So it keeps running without you.
It automates your social media marketing for you i.e Designs your social media posts and posts them across all the social media channels for you. Thus, your brand stays kicking and alive, and visible to your fans and followers without any effort from you.
It's cheap at $10/mo approx. Start with a free trial.
How OrangeTwig helps:
First off, it covers all social media channels - Twitter, Fb, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr.
Next, it lets you set a posting schedule, like 2 posts daily across all channels for a month.
What's unique is - It places your products in designs you choose to make your social media posts eye-catching.
Messaging - You can add CTAs like "Buy Now" and "Shop Till You Drop" to your social media posts to drive conversions.
It helps you create occasion based posts, like for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day etc
It helps you schedule and push sales, and Daily Deals like 5% Off on a different product daily. Shopify itself does not allow you to do this.
If you do not want to offer sales, it helps you make and schedule engagement posts like "Tag a Friend Who'll Rock This Dress <insert dress image>", and "Quote of the Day".
Make posts like this for your store:
Thanks for the sales pitch, however, I'm well versed in social media automation... Instagress / Tweetfull / Tweepi / PinPinterest / Crowdfire.
For anyone else reading this, here's a big tip - avoid automating followers, you'll end up with hundreds / thousands of people that `follow` you but don't give a damn - even if you target their / your market.
Social media is like junkmail through your door now, unless you connect very specifically to people, there's only one place you're going to end up and it aint at the checkout :-)
Part of me still thinks, farm 10's of thousands of followers, based on people that like our type of product, the more stones you throw the more chance you have of hitting, right? but then I can also tell you that ONE very targetted post in the right place will drive more quality traffic than 10,000 people you followed / unfollowed in the hope that one day they will buy and you'll end up staring at your social media account wishing you could ditch the majority of those accounts and SEE who actually cares about you / your brand :-)
To clarify: OrangeTwig does not add followers. It keeps the one already following you engaged.
What people do is go about acqusition but forget to show their products to people who already like their brand. So it is a good idea to keep showing them your products, and giving them offers (free shipping or discount).
One guy had asked in another thread - Shall I buy traffic?
The ans was obviously NO, because that traffic is useless, it will never convert. Just like you seem to be saying.
Same thing here. Don't add followers by way of automation for the heck of it; don't know how that is possible even. But keep people following you engaged and involved.
I'll check out the app names you shared.
Sorry I wasn't suggesting that's what you were implying - it was just some general advice :-)
The other apps all do various things, from automating post content (very useful as you can spend 30 minutes creating 2-3 days worth of posts across various platforms).
Automating followers works by mass following / unfollowing - but with those apps you can be more specific about the markets / interests you follow - again - you may pick up 1-2 sales from that, but more likely you'll end up with an account full of 1000's of others that do exactly the same thing - or - just aren't engaged with you - throwing content at them continuously afterwards as well to try and engage them, is a turn off and comes across as junk.
I've worked in retail and sales for a long time and know that service wins over pushy sales tactics, it's just harder to build that online. You need people to find your product and then sell them on your service, not shove it in their face and push them to buy :-)
I'll have another look at your app later incase I missed some features, but I'm closer to giving up trying to engage people on platforms such as Twitter & Instagram and will just use them to post regular updates / new designs to build awareness "oh I've seen that company posting on twitter", in favour of going old school and spending my time in online communtities / forums related to the designs I do - it's a lot more painful and time consuming to do this, but at the same time, applying a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing doesn't work either :-)
Don't get me wrong, I've made most of my sales from Twitter actually, but it hasn't been through `engaging` with people individually, its been about raising brand awareness and having people see your name / product often (which is what your app appears to do)
P.S. I'm a marketing newbie, it was never my strength or role that I performed in any of my `jobs` so it's a real learning curve and definately the HARDEST part about running your own business.
@orangetwig - one question - can you literally leave the app to it - can I tell it to promote (with a pre-defined message) any of my products (it picks them from my product range randomly) on a given interval (say hourly) and leave it to it? if it does, then I'm sold - if it doesn't, then you need to make this happen :-)