MailChimp is pretty limited in this regard.
If you want more control over your popups, you might want to look at a 3rd party product such as Opt-in monster or Justuno. These will also allow you to add tags/segment new subscribers based on the form or page they opted-in from.
If you're interested, I cover this and many more topics in my Udemy course on MailChimp for Ecommerce
Hope that helps!
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We started on Mailchimp but moved to Klaviyo a little over a year ago. Here is an objective review and comparison of the 2 platforms.
I still think MailChimp is a great option for stores just starting out. I actually have a full course that goes over using Mailchimp for e-commerce, including the automation features.
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I've worked with both Shopify and Magento and I agree with your assessment: Shopify is better for small brand driven stores, while Magento is better suited to large, diverse catalogs. It also seems to be easier to find cost-effective Magento shops than Shopify developers (as opposed to designers), though I have only dealt with the former.
Were you on Magento 1 or 2 when you decided to switch?
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There are a few numbers you will need to work out before you can answer this question definitively.
The first would be your lifetime customer value, which would be the average reorder rate times the average order value.
Second, you would need to determine your overall gross margin (before marketing costs), then multiply your gross margin times your lifetime customer value cost to get your gross margin per customer.
Once you have that number, you will want to make sure all your campaigns are set up to segregate new and existing customers. This can be easily done by creating a custom audience of previous customers (it can even be automated using a low-cost app)
When determining your budget, you should be targetting a new customer acquisition cost that is 1/5 to 1/3 of your gross margin per customer.
in other words, if LCV is $200 and your gross margin is 50% ($100/customer) then you should aim to acquire a new customer for between $20 and $33 on average. Spend less and you are likely missing opportunities. Spend more and you are likely to go broke.
It can take some time to get to the point where you can measure all this, but you should be working to get a system in place.
Hope that helps, Jeremy
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it may be marketing, but in most cases like this, the main issue is with the product itself.
You may find this questionnaire helpful for getting feedback...
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I think it comes down to the product.
There is nothing wrong with your site, but at the low end, fashion has become largely commoditized with the rise of cheap overseas manufacturing and fast fashion brands like H&M. The products are nice but not particularly differentiated (to my somewhat untrained male eyes). They are inexpensive, but people are also factoring in the risk of ordering from an unknown website and getting the wrong size vs. hitting a nearby old navy/H&M/Zara.
Here are some of my thoughts on the dropship/reseller model in general.
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If you are getting into the e-commerce game in 2018, drop shipping is likely to be a tough go. There are a few ways to succeed, but you are much better of trying to build a strong brand around original or "tweaked" products.
Heres my analysis of the pros/cons/opportunities of reselling online
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Reselling is a tough gig. Online you are competing almost entirely on price - and then once you've cleared that hurdle, you still need to earn trust, which is hard to establish, though it sounds like your facebook page gives you a head start.
It is still possible to succeed with this model. Here's an article where I lay out the pros/cons as well as the success factors.
Hope that helps!
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Here's what worked for us:
1) Create a lookalike audience of your Facebook page engagement list
2) Market to that audience with Video Ads that are short and engaging (These cost 1/5 the price of some of our other ads). They don't need to be professionally shot but should have lots of dramatic movement. Use a quick editor like Quik (by gopro) which can make the process simple and fast. The best performing ad we have is a video of a cute girl throwing our lunchboxes at the camera
3) Have retargeting in place. This is a no-brainer but you're probably not going to get sales on a first visit.
4) You should have a strong email opt-in in place. Here's a video that can give you some ideas.
5) Finally, create a second facebook campaign inviting people to win a juicy prize package of your product. and target people who have engaged with your Facebook page. This is essentially targeting people who engaged with your video campaign to turn them into leads.
6) Build out your email automation with long funnel campaigns. This is essential for turning subscribers into buyers.
Ultimately, you need to lower your expectations from generating sales to generating leads. Then have a great set of email funnels in place. It's a lot of work but once it's set up it's automatic
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Hi Guy, I created a free questionnaire you may be interested in, that can help you determine what marketing will work best for you. You can find it here:
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I know a lot of people use MailChimp - it's easy to connect to Shopify and easy to get campaigns up and running. But I'm curious to know what people think about it and how many are using some of the more advanced features like automation. Some of the questions I have are:
Are you happy with the emails you design?
How do you feel about your opt-n offer / list building efforts?
Are you using much automation?
If you are using automation, was it easy to get going?
What do see as the biggest opportunities to get more out of MailChimp??
I'd love to hear about your Mailchimp experience!
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There are tons of good CRMs out there. Hubspot (mentioned above) is an industry leader but is quite expensive and is designed primarily as a marketing automation platform.
A true all-in-one ERP system can cost millions of dollars in licensing and consulting fees to customize to your business (Oracle, SAP etc). However, in this day and age, it is possible to get many of the benefits of an ERP by stitching together your website, accounting, inventory and CRM systems in the cloud
I just launched a course on Udemy which specifically addresses your question. I am offering free coupons to generate reviews.
All I'd ask is that you please review it when you are done!
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We use Klaviyo, which is designed specifically for e-commerce and has great integration with Shopify. It's more expensive than MailChimp but also more powerful and easier to use once you get the hang of it.
Hope that helps!
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In my opinion, Facebook fans are a bit of a vanity metric. Yes, it can provide some credibility to have a decent following and you will technically reach some of these followers with organic posts. However, that will probably amount to only 10% of your total followers at most - unless you are a viral marketing superstar (which you probably aren't).
To reach the remainder you will have to PAY Facebook. This sets up an interesting dynamic where you are promoting to get fans, which you will then have to pay Facebook even more $$$ to actually market to. So the more followers you have, the more it will cost you to reach them. If they are low-quality followers, as many are, this could essentially be the equivalent of trying to beat the house. At the end of the day, Facebook owns all your traffic, and they ain't giving it away for free.
I would suggest using Facebook to drive new buyers directly to your site where you've set up a really strong Opt- in to get people who don't immediately purchase to join your email list: which you own. I describe the processes we use here:
Hope that helps!
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This is an interesting case with so much traffic and so few sales.
As a few people have mentioned, there is a huge credibility gap here between:
Traffic click bait, like a photo of Ariana Grande wearing a fake fur coat
The resulting product page, which is a hodgepodge of images and is obviously NOT endorsed by Ariana Grande. (BTW, you're probably crossing the line legally with some of the images you are using)
Bottom line: you can't "borrow" brand credibility from a bunch of photos you found on the web. It will have the opposite effect and give visitors the impression that you're an imposter.
If you're selling lifestyle/fashion products, you have to build a vision around a curated product selection featuring your own photos. This will allow you to build a theme in your art direction, models, styling etc that is the foundation for a unique brand. This is not easy to do and honestly, you're no longer starting from zero - you're in negative territory.
If you're up for it, you'll either have to learn fast or engage a partner who has a better idea of branding. I wouldn't spend any more money on advertising until you've rebuilt your site and business around a coherent vision.
I have some other branding tips here
And brand positioning ideas here that might help you develop an overall vision:
Hope that helps, Jeremy
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In assessing Google vs Facebook advertising for consumer product brands, I’m going to share my experience in marketing our line of lifestyle bags. Other products and businesses may experience very different results
How and why we use Google and Facebook advertising
We primarily rely on Google and Facebook for top-of-funnel activities. In other words, this is where we first lure a potential customer to visit our site. To align with this goal, we set up all of our campaigns to prioritize click-throughs to our products.
For a full explanation of the marketing funnel and some examples of other techniques we use, see the post: How to increase website traffic and conversions
Some other context
We do not have a good way to track the ultimate effectiveness of various types of traffic since we assume that a first time visitor will make several more visits before actually purchasing a product. So, by the end of the sales funnel people may have come through one channel, been retargeted by another and then Googled our brand name to make their actual purchase.
We also use a service called Criteo for retargeting, which does offer better tracking of purchase activity. However, the majority of our “new” traffic comes through Facebook and Google. I will not be covering Criteo here but may in a future post.
I’ll start with Google because they are the incumbent, and for many years have dominated the online ad space.
The Pros of Google Advertising
1) Search Intent
Google’s unassailable advantage is that it owns the world’s most popular search engine, giving it the ability to target people as they seek a product just like yours. Someone who enters a search query tends to be a much more motivated buyer than one who happens to stumble upon an ad the you’ve served. Because of this, some businesses can build a very valuable stream of traffic off of just a few key search terms.
Google’s advertising products have the ability to reach 90+% of the sites on the internet.
3) Accurate analytics
Because it is free and extremely powerful, Google analytics has become the defacto standard for tracking your online traffic and performance. Google’s ad products integrate seamlessly with Google Analytics to provide a single dashboard for assessing your campaigns, though you will probably end up spending a significant amount of time in the Adwords dashboard also.
4) Variety of products
Google’s wide variety of products can get a bit confusing, especially as they continue to evolve under new names and with enhanced features. I’ll just cover the main concepts/products that would be relevant to indie consumer product brands.
Adwords/Text Based search campaigns
This is Google’s “classic” product: campaigns that serve up a text based ad alongside organic search results. This approach can be extremely effective if you are selling a niche product that does not have a lot of competition for keywords.
Google Shopping/Image-based search campaigns
Like AdWords, this is an ad with a product image that is served in response to a specific search query, where you control the keywords. This is best for lifestyle and fashion products, where a visual image can be a key differentiator. Since you will only pay for click-throughs to your site, it can be more cost-effective if you have a product that will only appeal to a certain segment of the audience for that keyword. For instance “Leather tote bag” – will only attract buyers who respond to your preview image in the search results.
You can use video both as pre-roll to a requested youtube video and as a banner ad. We have tested video on youtube but did not see a lot of click-throughs. I think the issue is that people are interested in seeing the selected video – not yours – so they are unlikely to leave the site unless you have an unusually novel product or video ad. I think this channel would be best for established consumer product brands, who want to reinforce their brand image without needing to drive website clicks.
Retargeting is a key component of any online marketing campaign. Once you’ve paid to get someone to your site the first time, retargeting places a cookie in the visitor's browser allowing you to continue to serve ads across numerous websites. Google has a product that can automatically serve ads for the specific products that a visitor has viewed. It can be a little complicated to set up, but if you are using Shopify, there is an app that makes it fairly seamless.
Google does offer phone support and will even assign an account person to help you optimize campaigns. My experience with their support has been mixed however (see conclusion below). The end result for me was spending a lot more money to achieve essentially the same results – despite the best of the ad words team.
The Cons of Google Advertising
I’ve found Google to be significantly more expensive than other platforms, however, we are in an extremely competitive category. Terms like “backpack” and lunchbox are simply too expensive and generic to be effective for us. This will likely be true for many lifestyle products that are differentiated primarily on the basis of style or design.
Search marketing can be very valuable to a brand targeting more niche/less competitive terms. If you fall into this category, you can use google Adwords to get a better understanding of which search terms are most valuable to you and double down on those to reach the most valuable traffic.
Part of the reason google has become more proactive whit their customer support is that their interface has become monumentally complex as they’ve layered in more products and features. (apparently, a redesign is in the works) While the AdWords is learnable with some coaching and dedication. Many people who don;t see results end up wondering if google simply ineffective for their products- or don;t know how to run them right.
I did fall into the camp who was wondering if there was something I could do to achieve better results, so when Google called and offered to help me build optimized campaigns, I jumped at their offer. Unfortunately. The campaigns Google built were a complete dud and Google’s account team came off as a bunch eager sales beavers who, while they understood the interface, did not show a good understanding of marketing. They also overspent on our assigned budget and offered poor account management to address the issue.
Facebook Advertising for Consumer Product Brands
Facebook’s advertising platform has come very far in a short period of time and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. For anyone looking at advertising online, Facebook deserves a serious look.
The Pros of Facebook Advertising
1) Ease of use
Compared to google, the Facebook ads interface is surprisingly simple. This is largely because facebook advertising is built around audience demographics, which are a predefined set of attributes, rather than keywords, which are potentially endless.
Facebook’s ad interface also allows you to reach other platforms such as Instagram and third party sites. You can easily upload videos or create ads with multiple images. Facebook’s mobile app for advertisers is surprisingly good and allows you to make quick edits to your campaigns on the fly.
2) Demographic targeting
If you have a clear idea of your audience characteristics, as we do, facebook offers powerful tools to target them. For instance, I can target women age 27 – 45 with kids between the ages of 3 and 10 who have a university degree, enjoy shopping online and appreciate fashion.
Facebook also has a feature that allows you to upload the email addresses of past purchasers called lookalike audiences. This, in turn, will scan Facebook’s database for the unifying characteristics of your audience and look for other potential users that will match with them. I’ve used this feature and, while it sounds cool, it has not delivered a lower cost per click.
For us at least, facebook traffic is much less expensive than Google’s. According to facebook, our cost per click is a low as $.35 – but in reality, only about half those clicks translate into website visits, at least according to Google analytics. However, even at twice the cost, a click from a Facebook ad (some of which may appear on sites beyond facebook) is still less than half the price of a Google ad.
The Cons of Facebook Advertising
Limited ad formats
Facebook only allows you to upload images in sizes that fit its platform’s strict format. Also, your image cannot have more than 20% of its area covered with text or your ad will not be approved. Headlines and text must confirm to facebook’s standard format.
Since our products sell primarily on visual appeal I’ve found that our lifestyle images do well on facebook. I haven’t had much issue with the limitations, whose intention is to keep ad quality high and non-spammy. Depending on
What Facebook calls traffic and what Google calls traffic are not even close. I have more trust for Google analytics then what Facebook cause a click to our side. Essentially we see a large proportion – like 50% or more – of clicks unaccounted for, leaving me feeling a little bit skeptical of Facebook’s reporting.
Facebook tracking code – or “pixel” – seems spotty and mostly useless in terms of tracking convrsions. However, we are using the old version of the pixel which has since been updated. I’m in the product process of migrating to the new pixel and may update this post if and when it is up and running
There is absolutely no way to contact Facebook by phone. Any issue you might have will require submitting an email through a standard form, to which you may or may not receive a reply. I did receive a call back from a Facebook person at one point after sending an email inquiry and she extended an offer to call her anytime I had a question – I have often a regretted not noting her number.
In the battle of Facebook vs Google advertising, Facebook has proven a more cost effective way to drive new traffic for our business. While there is no definitive across the board answer as to which is right for your brand, my impression is the Facebook is better suited to brands like ours, who are able to arouse interest with compelling lifestyle images or a catchy and novel value proposition.
If you have a very strong content strategy and are publishing regularly around your products, you might also find that Facebook is a good way to build relationships by promoting your content – this is not something we have invested much in, but I have seen other brands very successful with this approach
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When I came on board at SoYoung, one of my first tasks was to migrate our eCommerce platform from Magento to Shopify, with the goal of being able to manage all of our e-commerce requirements in house. Magento, while functionally powerful, was going to require a fair bit of outsourced support to keep running and achieve the high-end brand image that I was seeking for SoYoung.
I have been using Shopify hands on for a little over two years now and, overall, I like it. I’m a brand guy at heart and I love the way Shopify takes it all the technical issues off the table so that I can focus on photography messaging and the little details that make the site sing. But it’s not without its issues. Below I cover the pros and cons of Shopify – the good stuff first, and then the things that really bug me!
What I like about Shopify
Speed to launch
Shopify makes it easy for even a web novice to launch a professional e-commerce presence in a matter of days or even hours. The user interface and architecture of the product is intuitive, allowing a small business owner to effectively manage his/her online store without expensive development help. Despite being completely newbie, I got our first site up by myself in about a week and subsequent versions have been even quicker.
Shopify has a wide selection great looking themes, allowing you to put together a very professional looking site without hiring expensive designers. Premium themes by third-party developers will run you $150 or more, however, Shopify also has a growing number of beautiful, free themes available. Note that creating a well-branded site will still depend on having high-quality photography and visual assets in place. But if you do, you’ll find that Shopify’s themes present them in an ideal light.
Payment Gateways Support
Whether you’re simply selling locally or looking to take your business to international markets, Shopify takes the pain and confusion of setting up payment options for multiple currencies in multiple countries off the table. You can literally just enter your banking information into Shopify and begin selling in whichever market you are targeting
Market adoption and development community
Shopify is clobbering the competition when it comes to hosted e-commerce solutions. In addition, Shopify had a successful IPO two years ago, meaning it is well funded to tackle competition. When committing to a software platform, it’s good to know that yours is likely to be around for a while.
Shopify’s dominance in the entry-level e-commerce space has given birth to a vibrant community of 3rd party developers who create apps that enhance Shopify’s out of the box functionality. If there’s something you’re looking to do with your store, chances are someone has developed an app to accomplish it. While these will add to your monthly fees, the large pool of contributors ensures competition meaning most are reasonable and priced according to the value they deliver.
Excellent customer support and product investment
Shopify’s deep coffers have allowed it to invest heavily in product development and excellent customer service. New features are constantly being added and if you ever have an issue, a helpful “guru” is just a phone call or chat screen away. I’ve found their customer service to be consistently excellent.
What really bugs me about Shopify
Limited Shipping cost models
Since it was designed primarily to meet the needs of single orders for small businesses, Shopify does not do well with complex orders, such as those made by wholesalers. For instance, if you are looking to calculate the real time cost of shipping for an order that involves multiple boxes and product sizes, forget it. We currently pay over $100/month to a third party app developer – this is more than Shopify charges us for its entire platform, more than doubling our monthly base costs.
Limited Discount models
Another frequent complaint about Shopify is its ability to handle complex discount models. Currently, Shopify only allows you to offer one simple discount code per order – a dollar or percentage amount off. Any other upsell scenarios, such as a buy one get one free offer, involves purchasing a premium app. This essentially hacks Shopify into creating multiple variants of a product at different prices, which in turn can mess with internal systems such as our inventory system. Because of this, SoYoung has been limited to offering only the most basic of discount models.
Requirements for multiple instances/ storefronts
If you have more than one warehouse and set of inventory to manage, as we do, you will need more than one Shopify site. SoYoung actually has four sites -one for our US retail, one for our US wholesale one for Canadian retail and one for Canadian wholesale- which makes our web presence cumbersome to update and manage.
Limited options for customizing site architecture
Shopify’s ease of use is largely due to the restrictions it imposes on site architecture and.customizability. While anything is possible with the help of the developers, this means incurring additional costs and opening yourself up to further complications by messing with the core code. In the end, Shopify does many things well enough that you may find its limitations are bearable, but sometimes I just want to add a sidebar promotion to a specific page, rather than the whole site – which is a no-go.
Shopify does have a vibrant community of developers and experts that can help you achieve nearly any goal you would like to with your Shopify site. However, since Shopify employs a proprietary code language, Shopify experts will typically cost you more than a WordPress or HTML developer. In addition, messing with Shopify’s code breaks the software’s warranty, so any future problems you run into may be even costlier still. Also, alterations may limit your ability to use third-party apps that depend on Shopify’s out of the box code base.
Fees & Payments
When you are first looking at the Shopify, you’ll primarily be concerned with the monthly service charge. However, once you start selling in significant volume on your store, the transaction fees really start to add up. – typically as high as 3% of your order. This calculation is not so much of a factor if you’re selling say $100,000 in product a year, however at $1,000,000 the calculation changes, and you may start looking for cheaper options. On the other hand, you will always be paying some level of transaction fees, so if you’re looking to save a percentage point, you would have to be selling a significant volume for it to represent a substantial difference.
Shopify has raised it credit card fees in the past and while our sites were grandfathered, when we needed to change the service level on one of our sites (ie. pay them more per month), we lost our grandfathered credit card rate and got bumped up!
There is also a delay of 7 calendar days (In Canada) between the date that an order is paid and the date that the money is deposited into your bank account. Other territories may have a different payment delay.
Shopify is a very strong content marketer itself, and they are constantly promoting the benefits of this approach on their own blog, but its product does a lousy job of supporting content marketing. After becoming frustrated with Shopify’s blogging capabilities We set up a separate blog on WordPress, but it’s poorly integrated with our storefront and represents yet another platform for us to manage.
Conclusion: The Pros and Cons of Shopify
Despite some of my pet peeves with Shopify, it is the system I recommend to anyone launching an e-commerce store, and I believe it is the leading solution on the market today for small to medium sized business. No software is perfect for everyone and I guess I just have to take my lumps with Shopify like nearly every other system we run.
More on www.indiebrandbuilder.com
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This post originally appeared on indiebrandbuilder.com
My wife, Catherine launched SoYoung nearly 10 years ago. At the time I was running a design and marketing agency so I helped her design SoYoung’s initial branding and online presence. As SoYoung began to grow significantly and eventually became too much for Catherine to manage by herself, I came on board full time.
In watching SoYoung succeed where numerous other brands and products failed, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are three key factors that are essential to the success of a consumer products brand.
I call these the “3 Ps” of consumer products brand success.
The products you develop are the single biggest factor in determining your businesses success. While you will always have to work to get the word out about your product’s key features, a strongly differentiated product will generate instant interest and remove much of the friction of launching into a crowded marketplace.
On the other hand, the marketplace is crowded and you shouldn’t give up just because your product doesn’t immediately set the world on fire. Keep an open mind to feedback that you receive from buyers and potential channel partners such as retailers or sales reps. These people may provide you with a golden insight on how to tweak, refine our rethink your product that will lead to long-term success.
You shouldn’t give up just because your product doesn’t immediately set the world on fire.
For instance, SoYoung’s first diaper bag product did not get our company where it is today. Catherine spent nearly 3 years developing and peddling an initial design before a sales rep gave her the idea to develop a unisex style bag instead. This led to the development of the Charlie diaper bag, a completely new diaper bag design and our first bona fide hit.
In my opinion, coming out with a “me too” product is less likely to earn you long term success than developing an innovative design that sets you apart. The best way to do this is to think of a problem that you’ve experienced and design a product based solution.
You’ve probably heard people say “it’s all about the marketing”, but having a strongly differentiated product is your biggest marketing asset, allowing you quickly communicate the value and difference of your brand.
Nobody has all the answers and nobody can do everything. Over the long term, the success of your business will depend to a large extent on the people you choose work with, both as suppliers and as employees
It can be difficult to assess the people’s abilities in an area where you don’t have previous experience. The process of manufacturing overseas can be particularly dicey since it involves dealing with people who speak a foreign language and come from a foreign culture.
It is wise to pick your key business relationships carefully. Do your homework and get references before working with people. Don’t go all in on a new relationship until you’ve worked on a trial basis that you can easily walk away from.
When hiring employees, have a clearly defined a process in place. Check references and make sure you take the time to talk to enough candidates to get a good feel for who you think will be best suited to fill the role. I often find I get more clarity on what the role will be and its potential for the business as I’m doing interviews.
I would also strongly suggest having an accountability chart in place defining key roles before you hire employees or suppliers. This will give you a better idea of how to structure your business, what the key responsibilities are and which responsibilities you would like to delegate first.
When her first product failed to gain traction, Catherine considered giving up. However, she chose to persevere and eventually launched her first successful diaper bag which was followed in close succession by SoYoung’s linen lunchbox. The latter was an immediate hit with bloggers and brought SoYoung to an even bigger audience.
Launching and running your own business requires a lot of hard work, overcoming self-doubt, and perseverance. The so-called “overnight successes” get a lot of press, but none of these companies succeeded without a significant amount of hard work. I guarantee that they also had to persevere through serious doubts and challenges to get where they are today.
Launching and running your own business requires a lot of hard work, overcoming self-doubt, and perseverance.
The best way to ensure you don’t give up in the face of adversity to build strong personal networks with other entrepreneurs facing similar challenges. Catherine is currently a member of a mastermind group with other successful entrepreneurs and I meet regularly with a group of online entrepreneurs who are building knowledge-based platforms. Catherine has also successfully used trade shows to network and stay in touch with the broader community of entrepreneurs in her space.
For more on Catherine’s story of perseverance in building SoYoung, listen to my podcast interview with her here.
Starting your own business is not easy, but has great rewards for those who can put these three key elements together. The 3 ps are also a reminder that with the right amount of perseverance you can overcome any product or people issues in the long run. You just have to stick with it and learn from your mistakes – and everyone makes mistakes!
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Here's a post outlining the details of how we ran our successful Black Friday campaign last year that increased sales by over 800%
Hope that helps!
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This post was originally published in www.indiebrandbuilder.com
I’m proud to say that we hit it out of the park last year with SoYoung’s Black Friday email campaign, surpassing what I thought was an ambitious revenue goal. In fact, our black Friday campaign delivered an 800% sales boost with 5 just emails.
With Black Friday 2016 coming up fast, I’m providing a play-by-play of what we did last year, which can be used as a successful campaign example for any event-driven, or secret sale to your email list.
Back to school is very big for us, so the timing of U.S. Thanksgiving is ideal for us to clear out more seasonal merchandise. We almost never go on sale throughout the rest of the year, though we do offer select subscriber discounts to incentivize list growth. This is important because it allows us to maintain a high perceived value for our products, and makes the sales we do have that much more exclusive.
The strategy was to run an exclusive sale in advance of Black Friday that only our list would have access to, during which they would get an additional 15% discount. This accomplished 3 goals:
It allowed us to reward our subscribers and make them feel like they had an exclusive relationship with SoYoung
It incentivized more people to become subscribers since we were promoting a “secret sale” through our social media channels
It allowed us to get out in front of the glut of Black Friday choices people would have by starting our promotions nearly 1 week early
We picked a door crasher, clearance items and dates
We have lunch boxes that can be purchased as a set with our toddler backpacks – but a lot of people buy the backpacks without a lunch box, so we had quite a few left over. We priced these at $7 – an irresistible deal (regular price is $20). We also picked the other merchandise that we wanted to clear out, which in our case was about 25- 30% of our SKUs.
I promoted the door crasher 4 days before the sale started.
The Subject line was: Black Friday Preview – $7 Toddler Lunch Boxes. Having a number – especially a low one – in the subject line got people’s attention and built anticipation for the sale. This email saw an extremely high open rate – nearly 40% on average, and even higher in Canada (we segment our list between Canada and the US).
I sent the “VIP launch” email Monday morning
The launch email included a link to a private page displaying our sale items along with a discount code. ( If you are using Shopify – and if you aren’t you should be – the private page is easy to set up. Just create a collection with the items you’re putting on sale but leave it out of any navigation). The headline and subject line touted the exclusive, limited time opportunity. As Monday tends to be a prime day for online shopping, and having successfully built anticipation with the previous email, this was our biggest day of the entire sale.
I re-sent the launch email Tuesday evening to Monday’s “No-opens” with a different subject line.
Mailchimp allows me to create a sub-segment of my list based on open activity so I only sent this email to people who did NOT open the previous email. I changed up the subject line to focus on the doorcrasher so that it would appear to be a new email. This predictably had a much lower open rate than the original (about 12% vs nearly 40%) but these were all net new opens. This is a great trick to get more out of your email correspondence when you are promoting a one-time sale or event. Note also that I sent this at a very different time of day – in the evening vs the morning for the previous launch email.
I sent the “Last chance for VIP access” email late Thursday morning
While the sale was going to continue through the weekend, this email was intended to create some urgency for subscribers to realize the additional 15% savings that would expire at midnight that day. I sent it a little later in the morning due to the US holiday, which I assumed would have people rising later. ( I have no idea whether this made any difference)
I sent the “Sale ends tomorrow” email – with a specific inventory number on Sunday night.
For this email I picked a low-priced item with low inventory and featured it in the subject line: The subject line for the US was: “Only 13 Left: $7 Blue Dino Lunch Boxes”
The idea of using an actual number, which builds credibility, and introducing scarcity was key. This email also saw a relatively high open rate and we got a final sales surge, even after Black Friday fatigue had set in for many people.
This Black Friday email campaign lead to not only our biggest online revenue week of the year, but our biggest online week ever – even surpassing the weeks in August when we also do large volumes online. Our Black Friday email campaign driven clearance achieved online revenues of more than 8X our weekly average, though margins were lower due to the volume of discounted merchandise.
This successful Black Friday email campaign example can be used as a playbook for any clearance sale that we’ll definitely be using again this year, perhaps adding a few more nuances now that we have the basics down.
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Here's a case study on our Black Friday campaign, which increased our average sales by about 600%
Hope that helps!
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If you sell products which are not strongly differentiated in terms of features, or that are available through other sellers in identical or similar form, you are engaged in the online reseller business model.
Advantages of the online reseller business model.
The advantage of the online reseller business model is that you have no product development costs and are not taking on the risks of production. You are also not as constrained by minimums when it comes to ordering, so you will not have nearly as much risk with carrying inventory. This allows you more freedom to try out new products and categories until you find the most profitable mix
It is significantly easier to get set up as a reseller. You can start as a drop shipper who doesn’t carry any inventory whatsoever in order to test out the market. As long as you can cover your marketing costs with profits you’re in the black. Once you understand your marketing costs and what products are most successful, you can then capture greater margins by stocking and fulfilling products. You may even transition into developing your own branded products once you have a deep understanding of your Niche and audience needs.
Disadvantages of online reseller business model.
Lower barriers to entry mean that it may be extremely difficult to gain traction in a competitive niche without a significant upfront investment in marketing. With the rapid growth of e-commerce over the past 5 years, it is increasingly rare to find a niche that has not already been saturated and where marketing costs (ie the cost of traffic divided by your conversion rate) are consistently less than the profits from a sale.
If you happen to find a new niche and be among the first to sell in a category, you may see your early success gradually eroded as more and more competitors enter the space. Owning a search term can be extremely valuable, but puts you at the mercy of search engine algorithms that are beyond your control. There is a higher degree of risk involved with this approach as changes in the search engine or competitive landscape can seriously impact your ability to generate profits without warning.
How to succeed as an online reseller
Here are the 3 strategies that can lead to success as an online reseller. While each may work on their own. these strategies will be most successful when combined to create an insurmountable competitive advantage. On the other hand, much is dependent on the product you choose and category that you are selling in.
1) Find a niche that depends on very specific search engine terms and own it.
If you are adept at search engine marketing, or willing to learn, it is possible to build a mostly automated business by becoming a highly effective online marketer for a specific search term/product solution.
This approach will only work in a category in which there is search engine activity but little to no competition, allowing you to own key organic search terms. You may also be able to build a model in which you can generate a reasonable amount of paid or affiliate traffic that is more than covered by your profit margins. However, this may require a fair bit of research and testing. You will need to constantly manage and track your performance to ensure your marketing costs are covered by your margins, with enough leftover to justify your time and the risk involved.
This a largely numbers driven approach that may demand that you set your personal preferences aside and sell products for which you don’t have a personal affinity or passion.
Steve Choe teaches this approach on www.mywifequitherjob .com and uses his wife's wedding linens business as an example. Steve definitely knows his stuff but be warned that much has changed in the e-commerce landscape since he and his wife launched their site in 2007. It is now a much more competitive landscape and much harder to find valuable search terms that are not already owned by someone else.
2) Build and reinforce a strongly differentiated brand
No Matter what business you are in, the ability to build a distinct and differentiated brand is one of the strongest strategies for long-term business success. While commodity products may present more of a challenge, it is still possible to build a unique positioning around your selection of products.
Strong brand positioning arises from the ability to focus your message, create a unique positioning and tell a compelling story about your brand. Developing visual, written or video content that reinforces your brand can go a long way towards creating a competitive advantage, but it is likely to be more of a long-term play rather than an instant traffic generator.
You should understand that creating a powerful brand around undifferentiated products (or any products for that matter) is an art than a science, and not everyone has the creative talents or insights to effectively and actively shape a brand. Be honest with yourself about whether this is where your true strengths lie.
Read: how to create a strong brand positioning and how to enhance your brand image.
3) Build an offline sales force
In some cases, the answer to succeeding in the online space is to build a human sales force that can actively engage one-to-one with potential buyers. This is particularly effective if you sell supplies for businesses, who have bigger budgets and are likely to make repeat purchases. If you have the margins with your products, a salesforce can help you sell more products through offline retailers who may not have the time or connections to source your products.
This can be cost effective if, once a salesperson has closed a new client, they then continue to order the products online. You will need to develop a strong understanding of the potential lifetime value of your customers, since upfront selling costs may be high, and you will want to make sure they are justified over the long run.
While it is easiest to get set up with the online reseller business model, and still very possible to succeed, it can be very tricky to get traction without an upfront investment in marketing and advertising – unless you are able to own a search term. The best approach is to build an unassailable brand for long-term success. However, the less differentiated your products are, the harder this is to do.
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Also, since you are selling high-priced discretionary items, it will be much harder to establish the level of trust and credibility to generate online sales without a relationship with your brand. I would strongly suggest looking into wholesaling your products to build awareness and brand credibility.
That's largely how we built our brand - by treating wholesale as a marketing channel
>> Here's an article that goes into more detail on this.
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Here's an article I wrote on the various methods we use at www.soyoung.ca which generates well into the 6 figures annually. We've also recently been experimenting wth Pinterest for top-of-funnel traffic generation and are seeing good results.
READ 6 Strategies for increasing traffic and conversions
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