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Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

Deividas Mikočionis | Growth Hacker | Sugatan.io 

January 15th, 2020

Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

2019 has been a year of massive change in the eCommerce business.

Facebook advertising has been more strict than ever, branding has become even more important, & businesses that want to thrive in this environment have to be looking beyond Facebook, Instagram advertising or even email marketing.

For the agency it meant having no other choice, but to grow from 7 to 30 people working full-time, and hiring even more contractors scattered around the world.We realized that the most important part when scaling an e-commerce business (excluding product) is creative, so we expanded our creative team from 5 people to 12.

The small clients that we started working with have grown from as little as $800 in monthly revenue to $300k in revenues. A few clients have reached $12-17mm+ in yearly revenue having started with $1M.

Next year is going to be even more challenging.

As for the agency, we’re quickly becoming a full eCommerce growth machine and will eventually be able to plug-in eCommerce businesses that have a proven concept of their products and scale them to 8 figures in yearly revenue.

At least that’s our goal.

 

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

And for those who don’t know us – one of our core beliefs in our agency is full transparency.

That’s why you can see how much we’re spending for our clients on the home page live (it updates every 5minutes), and that’s why we’re going to share all of the lessons learned scaling businesses.

Instead of information, we’re going to share you valuable insights and provide you with a thinking process you can apply to scaling your ecommerce business.

Here are a few things you’re going to learn by reading this article: 

How to Create Creatives to Convert at 2x At Ice-Cold Traffic

Spending over $10 million on ads last year – very early on we realized that the biggest needle mover for the account was the creatives. 

Whenever something stopped working, what did we do? 

Our creative team left everything behind and started to come up with different angles. 

I can say this one the single most important thing scaling the brands to the amounts we managed to scale them. That’s why our creative team is the biggest one in the agency, consisting of over 30% of our team. 

Videographers, copywriters, actors are all taking part in the process. 

So how do we come up with the creatives that convert at least at 2x at the ice-cold traffic? 

This process is lengthy and we’re going to break it down to 5 pieces:

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

1.1. Research. “Copy Mining”

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

Facebook advertisers have to understand one thing – what they do with media buying is one distributing the message. 

But what if the message is incorrect? 

Well, they’re then distributing the wrong message. 

Our goal in this phase is to understand EXACTLY what our customers Desires, Pain Points, & Objections are. 

Over 1.5 years we’ve tested many methods of doing this research, however, the one that suits us best was proven to be – copy mining method. 

We’ve created a google spreadsheet with which we’re able to quantify the data we collect and understand what their desires, pain points, and objections are in order of importance. 

We also insert the exact words our customers use to describe it, so we can speak in their language much easier.

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

 

But where do we collect that data from?

Here are a few places we go to:

  • We send a survey to our customers asking why do they buy from us, what they would improve etc.
  • We look at the comments on our ads and feedback on the website of our customers.
  • We move away from our own customers and start spying on our competitors. We look at their reviews on the website, and try to identify why they buy their products, what they like about them, what don’t they like using their products. 
  • We then move into looking at all of the ads that were performing well at some point in time in the industry. 
  • We move away from our direct competitors and start looking into the industry as a whole. We go into amazon and start reading the reviews of the books our people buy and try to identify what are the fascinations they use in their descriptions of the books. We assume that the authors of the books have made some research around their customers, and have already found a few golden nuggets we could be using on our own communication. 
  • Clickbank. Yes, that’s one of the best places to find out about the customer, mainly because these offers are not made by brands, rather direct response advertisers who are really good at copywriting. I personally love this resource to see what stories, what fascination bullets work for our clients. 
  • Hidden google discussion button. This one is a secret one that I’ve learned at Copy Accelerator. In order to get it, simply enter “google discussion button” on google, & follow the instructions.

Here is how it looks like:

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

Personal note – out of them all, reviews show to be the most informative. They tell us what feature(s) the customers like most about the product, and more importantly, the problem(s) it solves.

1.2. Research. Swipe file creation.

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

As we’re doing our copy mining, we’re collecting the best ads we can find online by our competitors. 

It’s a pretty simple process of going into the “Page Transparency” and going through the ads our competitors are creating.

Here is what we’re looking for there:

  • Is the content mostly user-generated content?  
  • How does it look like? How does it feel like?
  • What grabs my attention?
  • What haven’t I used before?
  • Are there any new angles I could test out?

We compile these ads to one folder and have it saved for future reference. 

Over time, we’ve tested many spying tools to see what specific ads are working for our competitors, but so far we haven’t found one tool that would be giving reliable data on sales.

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

2. Pre-Storyboarding

After we’re done gathering all the information on products, problems it solves, competitors, reviews… or, in other words – every piece of info we can get our hands on, we start coming up with angles or video ads.

Personal note – out of them all, reviews show to be the most informative. They tell us what feature(s) the customers likes most about the product, and more importantly, the problem(s) it solves.

Many products will solve more than one problem. These multiple problems can be broken down into different angles. The reviews can be filled with comments like, “My skin is so plump and hydrated” but they are equally filled with, “This helped my under eye circles so much!” then you have two solid, effective video ads right there. One ad being how the product solves a dull, dry skin problem, and another all about how it can get rid of those heavy, dark circles under your eyes.

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

You can then have the best features about the product fed to you through the review. Maybe the product has a nice, soothing smell or it doesn’t feel greasy. These are things that can bring your product and ad to the next level, but addressing the problem always comes first. 

Once the angles are fleshed out (we usually go with 3 at a time), then the ideas are put nicely into a document and go into the production phase.

But before we go into the production phase, we’ll share with you the “Conversion principles” we use for every ad we create.

3. Conversion principles for Video Ads

There are 3 types of videos that work almost every time: 

  • Testimonial videos. A customer speaking in front of the camera, and leading people through their journey. Here are the questions we ask them to answer:
    1. Introduce themselves. 2. What have they tried/used before 3. What was their lowest point dealing with the problem? 4. Why did they decide to try our products? 5. How did their life change using our products?

    We usually offer either a very big discount, or free products with their next purchase.
  • Comparison videos. We sometimes use our most fierce competitors to show what they do & what we do differently from them. It works amazingly well, if you can demonstrate the difference using their products and ours & you have a well thought out Unique Selling Proposition.
  • How to/demonstration videos. These were a very big discovery, as the ads didn’t have too many persuasion techniques in them, however, people were relating to them as the content was super native and our videos were watched until the end. 
Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

Here are some of the conversion principles that we use creating these videos: 

  • “Meme bar” on the top with a short, attention grabbing copy. For example “you NEED to see this!”. Gary Vee’s team is excellent at creating these. 
  • A weird, interesting first shot (you can increase the speed of the first 3seconds). Example: Crashing your product with a hammer.
  • High color & contrast. I’ve mentioned it in the article I’ve written last year, and we still use the same technique to grab the attention.
  • Close up shot simply showing the products. The product should be the first thing your eyes go to in every shot. We sometimes shoot the content from the top, showing how it works, assembling it etc. These kinds of videos work wonders.
  • Highlighting/bolding important words within the text.
  • Making it native. The reality is – no one comes on Facebook to watch at your ads, hence, the content has to grab the attention, and make sure that your customer is watching it without realizing it’s an ad. That’s why testimonial videos are working amazingly well, as people are talking directly to the camera, and are sharing their experience using certain products. 

One thing to mention here – the quality of the video doesn’t matter! Bad quality ads can work just as well, if not better, than highly produced ads.

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

4. Original Production Shooting the Content Ourselves

Most of the agencies rely on getting the video content from their clients – we take the entire process into our hands and do it ourselves. 

Original production ads are when we create the entire video ad from scratch instead of using content we already have access to. 

After pre-storyboarding & writing the copy, we start storyboarding. This involves laying out each shot that we want to capture. We include all of the conversion principles I’ve mentioned above. After doing that, our video team has a meeting between them to present our storyboards to each other to verify that each shot will be effective when it comes to selling the product. 

When we have this done – we start looking for the actors, and props. All of these things need to be on point, as the actors need to embody the target audience so they are relatable and look exactly like our target customer, or the way they want to look in the future (if the product is giving some kind of transformation). The setting needs to support the product and ad well, as well as be “on-brand” for the customers. Same goes for the props. 

All of the conversion principles apply to every step of the process! 

Filming should come easier since all the shots are planned out in the storyboarding process. Most of the planning and thinking should be done by this point. 

Update: in order to scale the brand past $5-8million in yearly revenue, the demand is for creatives is super high. Because of that, we’ve added influencer marketing services for our partners, so we get enough raw material to work with.

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

5. Editing

Editing can be quiet time consuming activity. That’s why we are trying to have two tiers in video ad team – lead videographer and editor. It makes it possible because we do have a storyboard done by this point and it makes it about 100x easier. 

We can simply refer to our storyboard to piece our shots together, and then put other pieces in there like text, animations, colors, transitions, motion graphics and music. 

As you probably have guessed it, conversion principles apply here too! The text should come on screen immediately, and normally with some eye-catching, quick animation. Our lead strategist/copywriters write a killer first line for a reason, so we make sure people see it before they scroll past it! 

We typically up the contrast & saturation, even pull out some specific colors to make our video pop much more. 

As I mentioned previously, we try adjusting the speed of the video to keep things interesting in the video. An abnormal, sped-up shot of someone packing a suitcase is way more interesting than at normal speed. A slow motion shot of glass breaking is far more engaging than it being at normal speed. 

We’ll stop here, as you can probably guess, there’s so much more that happens at the editing stage. 

One last piece of advice: we don’t pay attention to the audio until the last second. Most videos are watched on mute anyway… So… if you have someone speaking. USE CAPTIONS! Music is always nice to add, but in our experience, we don’t pay much attention to it. We watch our fellow editors’ ads on mute because that’s how the viewers see it. 

If you want to learn more about creating highly converting creatives – we’ve done a podcast with our creative team during our trip in Colombia. You can listen to it here

How We Generated 50% Of Our Yearly Profits for Our Clients During Black Friday

During the months of November and December, if prepared correctly, you can generate 50% of your entire years’ of revenue up to date. 

Meaning that if you managed to generate $10mm by November, you could potentially earn another $5mm in these 2 months only. 

I was even joking with Kris that we should have an agency only for this and focus only on this time.  

Because there is a lot to be done…

I’ve made calculations and here is what you need to do as your bare minimum:

  • Prepare 15 emails 
  • Have 6-8 video ads prepared for it
  • Prepare 4-6 flashy gifs
  • Have at least 3 landing pages ready
  • Prepare 2 deals you will have

And that’s only for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, excluding the entire period up to Christmas…

However, let’s go to strategy here and break it up to 4 pieces.

1. Two months before Black Friday increasing the budgets

What we’ve learned from the previous Black Fridays was that the more emails and warm audience we had – the more successful the black friday went.

This is not a big surprise, however, we’ve noticed one more interesting thing – during Black Friday, CPMs increase by 3-4x for cold audiences, BUT it only increases by 10-30% to the warm audience. 

So what we do is 2 months before the actual sale, we make an agreement between the shareholders to reduce the minimum ROAS required and ramp up the spend as long as it doesn’t affect our cash-flow, so that we build up a massive warm audience to be retargeting to.

2. One month before Black Week.

During the summer, we did a survey asking people when they are considering their purchases for the black friday. 

The answer was – the beginning of November. 

For this reason we agreed to start our cold email collection campaign to collect as many emails as possible at a certain price (ranges from client to client, but is $1.5-2.5 per email).

The bait we used? 

  • 4-8 days of giveaways for people who enter their email address and complete other tasks.  
  • Exclusive discount (5-10% more of a discount from a regular campaign) 
  • Free products (that we’ll be adding if they buy for a certain amount of $).


We start the campaign with a smaller budget on a conversion campaign and start increasing the budget before the black friday.

3. Two weeks before Black Friday

At this time we were really ramping up our budgets for our general campaigns and were running some traffic for the giveaway campaigns. However, just before the Black Week, we found a few winner ads and our regular campaigns started performing at 3x total ROAS at scale(20-25k daily spend). In addition to that, we’ve found increased our email subscription rate on the exit pop-up from 11% to 13.5%, which increased the amount of emails we collected. 

This was the perfect timing for everything to fall into place. 

As we started to scale, we decided to add 2 new marketing channels to the overall traffic mix – SMS marketing and Postcard marketing. 

We’ve sent 2000 postcards to the customers who haven’t bought from us for over 90days. This resulted in 60x ROAS from this campaign alone. The only regret we have – we didn’t send more postcards. 

We’ve used the services of PostPilot and were more than happy – they have helped us to set-up the entire campaign, shared the best practices and are helping us to create more campaigns. If you want to use their services – we have a 15% discount code for our readers. Simply enter a code “Sugatan” while registering. 

For the SMS marketing – we sent out an email asking people to send us a message to get an extra 5% on top of our Black Week deals. We’ve received 451 messages, out of which, 41 people bought our products. 

We built out ATC sequences, as well as post-purchase sequences. 

For the entire SMS marketing campaign we’ve spent $256 and generated over $6000+. Needless to say, we’re focusing on SMS marketing heavily now.

4. One week before black friday

So by this time we’re really trying to ramp up the budgets on the cold audience and have as many people to retarget to. 

We also start scheduling the ads as usually it takes 24-48hours to get them approved & it’s a risk we can not take. 

On Monday we decided to go with a sitewide discount, but direct our email communication and ads towards high AOV bundles. 

One of our clients have decided to go with a more complicated offer and that didn’t work out. 

That’s a lesson to be noted – you should test your black week offers in the summer to see whether they work or not. 

Our AOV remained exactly the same as just before Black Week – $135. 

4-6 emails were sent during this time, 4-8 different creatives used.

5. Black Friday

During Black Friday we decided to go with the same offer, however we tweaked our communication just a bit and had visuals showing Black Friday instead of Black Week. 

We were promoting Black Friday deal until Sunday and then switched to Cyber Monday. 

There were 12-16 emails sent during that period & most of them using FOMO principle (fear of missing out) – only x amount left, buy now and save later, 4 hours left etc. 

On Cyber Monday we kept the same offer, however, we did change our creatives to represent Cyber Monday rather than Black Friday.

Insights

  • No matter what you do during Black Friday, it’s super important to build up your warm audiences in order for it to be effective. 

It’s very difficult to get people to buy your stuff during the black week if they don’t know anything about your brand. Also – the CPMs go crazy high. 

So focus on the budget allocation 2 months before that, think of creative ways how you can increase the awareness of your brand to the audience before the madness starts. 

  • Also, we’ve noticed that many competitors of ours have started promoting their black week in the beginning of November, which has given them even more time. Though, it could be difficult to maintain the momentum of the sale getting closer to Black Friday itself. 

There were some brands that were doing extended Cyber Monday sales, but the same problem could arise – the momentum of it could decrease. 

  • On average, we’ve managed to generate 35% of our entire year’s revenue in November alone. Another 15% came in December. So it’s safe to say that these 2 months are the most crucial during the year… However, for them to be successful, you have to be collecting the emails, & retargeting audiences throughout the entire year.

4 Pieces Of The Highly Appealing Offer You Should Have – If You Don’t Have Them Right, Nothing Else Will Work

Let me ask you a question:

Have you ever worked with a product that no matter what you did – didn’t work? 

It has certainly happened to me before. 

No matter what kind of copy I’ve used, no matter what kind of media buying strategy I used, nor the creatives… 

Which left me questioning my abilities as a marketer and testing a bunch of things. 

However, it has never had a chance to actually perform. 

I’ll share with you the 5 most important questions to ask about your offer if you feel that it could be the cause of your frustration and inability to sell the product (these were taken from Justin Goff):

  1. Is it something that they want? (refer to the 1st part of these series if you don’t understand the difference between NEED and WANT)
  2. Does it tap into the current trend? Think about crypto investment. A few years ago it was at its peak and everyone was talking about it. If you were selling any info-products or investment opportunities back when it was at its peak – you would’ve tapped into the current trend.
  3. Does it already sell well? Whenever we get a prospect coming to us with his “brand new” product idea, we look at them skeptically. Because if it’s something brand new – it’s very risky as you don’t know whether it’s going to sell well. If there is no one selling the product – we tend to stick away from these clients.
  4. Does it increase their status? All of the business opp offers have a high appeal because of the status increase people would get by earning more money. More money = more approval. More money = prove everyone around them they were wrong. Beauty offers: look more beautiful = everyone around them will recognize that.
  5. How-done-for them is it? Justin Goff gave a great example of two products he was selling to the same audience. The first one: “How to get your ex back”. The second one: “Text your ex back (3 messages that will get your ex-back)”. Which one sounds more appealing? Yup, the 2nd one.  

Knowing these 5 crucial parts to your offer, you should be hitting as many of them as possible… 

But the most important one is the first one, and I’ll show you how to figure out what do people already want in your market:

How To Find Out What People Want and Make Sure Every Product You Come Up With Will Hit A Homerun

As I mentioned above, no matter what kind of marketing you’re using – if you’re selling people something they don’t want – you’re setting yourself for failure. 

Let me give you an example (taken from Justin Goff): 

Let’s say we’re selling a weight loss program and we know that older people NEED to exercise, they need to move around so they are healthy, etc…

We assume they need it and we create an exercise program they can follow at home. 

We adjust our messaging, create eye-grabbing creatives, and make sure our funnel is slick. 

Yet it fails like a fish trying to fly.

Because what they WANT and NEED is a completely different thing. 

Even though they might need to exercise, but they don’t WANT to do it.. 

But how do we figure out what do they want? 

Let’s say you have a list of people who are in this demographic and you have 5-7 ideas of the product you’re thinking of releasing. 

List these products as detailed as possible and have a very similar (or the same) price for each of the products you’re creating (if you have different prices, the results will be skewed and you’ll not get reliable data). 

Set-up your typeform, send your list an email & ask them a simple question: Would they buy it or not? 

Nothing else. 

Yes or no. 

Important note: don’t incentivize them as it could skew your results) & wait for your responses to come.

Using this method you’ll see which products do your customers actually WANT without you guessing about it. 

Bonus point: after they complete your survey, you can give them a coupon code, however, don’t reveal that at any point in your communication before they complete the survey. 

If you’re in the fashion business – simply have the designs you are thinking of releasing and ask people which ones would they buy.  

We’ve been using this survey for our clients and had some 7 figure launches. 

We’re still fine tuning the process of it so it might change in time, however it works well!

How to Scale Your eCommerce Business Without Compromising on ROAS

The rule of thumb is – if you’re scaling the account, it will certainly be reducing the ROAS you’re getting. 

We have seen that whenever we increase the spend – our CPMs go up. We’re not sure what it is, but it seems that Facebook are controlling in a way how much we’re going to earn. 

This is only an assumption I’m sharing with you and should not be taken for granted, although analyzing the data we can see this pattern happening over and over again.

Anyhow, back to our topic. 

Let’s make sure what we mean by the word scale – for us, scaling an account is taking it from 50k to 300k in ad spend, so I’m talking about this kind of scale. 

At this point, I’ve scaled 2 accounts to 300k monthly spend and another one from 30k spend to 150k spend. Across the agency we have more of them, but in this case I’ll be reviewing the ones I’m managing. 

Every account was completely different. 

One is driving traffic via normal CBO campaigns (7d click, 1d view), the other had manual bidding campaigns having an ad-set split into various cost cap split and the third 

For one manual bidding CBO campaigns worked, for another – a regular CBO campaign (7d click, 1d view) optimization worked, and the third one had a mixture of them all, including the video view campaigns. 

We’ve reached a total ROAS seen from Google Analytics or Shopify of 4x – 5.5x respectively. 

Their profit margins were between 12-20%, so they were really profitable. 

Here are a few things that helped us to maintain a high ROAS:

1. Strong email marketing

Knowing 30-40% of revenue comes from email marketing we put a lot of focus on there and came up with regular flows, as well as some unexpected things, like a funny “order confirmation” campaign that went viral.

2. Building a community

For one of the brands I work with – we decided to build a Facebook group. This has become a big community of women supporting each other on their current path. 

This has been the biggest game changers as we’re not only building a free platform where we can advertise – but we’re building a strong tribe. 

What content do we share there? 

Well, from day one, we actually didn’t have to create any kind of content… 

It simply exploded to 200 group members by only sending an email to our list and has grown to 2k people in a matter of a few months. 

We’re sending traffic to the group on our thank you page (after all of the up-sells and downsells) and have it in one of our thank you email sequence, as well as in our order confirmation email.

3. Push notifications

This one is the easiest to apply yet it can be easily overlooked. 

It took me 5minutes to set it up and it’s bringing around 2-3% of total sales on a monthly basis. 

Not much, but when your business is generating 1.5mm a month, at the end of the year it can result in 200k in revenue. 

We notify our customers about the sale, new blog posts, new products we’re coming up with.

4. Strong Upsells

Since we knew we had to increase our AOV, we were testing all of the possible variations on the upsell side. 

We were running into many issues like people buying extra products that they actually didn’t want to buy. 

After rigorous testing for 2 months, we increased our AOV by 10% and we’ll have to repeat the same process at any point soon.

5. Conversion Rate Optimization

This goes without saying, but will mention it to you one more time – test your website. 

However, it’s super important to mention one thing… 

I see so many advertisers focusing on testing the smallest things first, but they will not be making a massive impact on your business… 

Test big things first, like the structure of your website, landing page, lead, headline and then start focusing on the last sentence of your sales copy.

6. Testing a big amount of quality creatives

I’ve already mentioned in this article – testing creatives is the single most important thing you can do to scale the business. 

The more you spend, the more your ads are going to be seen – the more you’ll be using up your audiences. 

The more you’re going to use your audiences – the more ad fatigue you’re going to get. 

We have noticed that in order to scale the account to 300-400k monthly ad spend, you should have at least 2-3 well performing creatives. 

However, by spending 10-15k you will be burning your audiences pretty quickly, and you can expect your performance to dip within 3 weeks and by 6weeks you can completely burn out your audience. 

How do you fight that? 

  1. Expanding your audiences and going international if you’re not doing that already
  2. Creating a lot more creatives with different angles 

We’ve found that by spending 300-400k per month, we need at least 3-6 new, high-quality creatives (video preferably) to test and another 5-10 images/gifs. 

If we don’t have that – we’ll be risking our accounts decrease the spend or overall ROAS. 

At these kinds of spends – it’s more of a creative testing game… But more important – doing it super fast. 

At this moment we have 3 different ways to get content for the business:

 

  1. Own in-house creative team – self explanatory 
  2. Influencer marketing – we work with many influencers and those who are producing the biggest ROI – we’re making another kind of deal where they don’t have to be posting on their wall, rather send us the material we can be using for the ads
  3. Our own customers. We’re offering them free products/discounts in exchange for the videos they generate for us.

How to Test Creatives for
eCommerce Business

This is the part you’ve been expecting to see in this kind of post. I will not disappoint you. 

Over the year we’ve tested many different ways to have a reliable test and the one that is the most practical. 

Also, by designing it, we wanted to make it as simple as possible so that all of the members of the agency could be using it and we could be tracking the results properly. 

Dynamic Creative Ads

We’ve had many Facebook reps and consultants encouraging us to use it, however we didn’t find it useful at all. 

Here are the issues we’ve had with it: 

  • When you find a winner, it’s difficult to scale using our method of scaling the ads. 
  • It takes a long time to find a winner. We’d sometimes have to spend $700 doing a simple test get one conversion. 

By using our approach we’ve always been using we’ve found that it’s so much more scalable due to the fact that. 

It’s important to mention – we’re not saying that our approach is the best, nor that we know it all. However, our strategy in media buying suggests at this moment that it could be the best approach for now.

Testing Creatives with Facebook Ads

Let’s say we get 5 video ads from our creative team. 

We ask them to create 4-6 versions with different captions for every ad. In that case, out of 5 ads we get around 30 variations of it. 

We have a list of our top 4-8 top performing copies at our disposal as well as the headlines. 

We start testing the variations of these ads with the copy and the headline that is the most relevant to the ad. 

Once we find 1-3 variations of the ads that can work, we test different variations with copies and headlines and start moving the ads to our top performing ad-set to the cold audience. 

We test the ads on our best or second best audience and start with a $80-100 daily budget. If we get the expected ROAS from the get-go with 3-10 purchases (depending on the account), we start scaling them. 

Here are the metrics we’re looking at : 

  • Target ROAS & CPA
  • Cost per landing page view, cost per add to cart, cost per initiate checkout.  
  • Relevance score. Is above average, below average or average. We’ve seen a massive correlation here between the CPMs and this metric. If the ad is below average – the CPMs can be 2x higher. 

We can sometimes be more loose with the rules and more tight, depending on the account. It’s very difficult to describe the decision making process as there are many variables here like:

Amount we want to spend at the end of the month, is the black week coming, are we going to launch new products soon, does the account desperately need creatives or we can wait and much more. 

Unfortunately, this kind of strategic thinking/decision making comes from experience.

How to Test Audiences Using CBO for eCommerce Business

This is an ever evolving process of testing and iterating. In the beginning of the 2019 we were testing everything on a normal ad-set campaign. 

As time went on and we got more familiar with the CBO campaigns, we moved on to test the audiences there. 

Here is how our previous method looked like: 

Let’s say we come up with 10-18 audiences we want to test. We create a brand new campaign and have all of them running with 1x of our target CPA budget. 

Once we reach 3x CPA – we analyze results and leave the ones that are working and try to scale them for another 3-5 days. 

If they still work then – we combine then and we’d put them into our general CBO campaign that is always working and scaling the ad-sets. 

Here is how our new method looks like: 

We have 2 options here and we use them interchangeably, depending on the performance of the account in general. 

1st option: 

Find 10-18 audiences that you want to test and put them into one CBO campaign. Set a minimum budget and a maximum budget, so that in the first 3 days they get approximately the same budget. 

After 3 days kill the ones that are not performing, increase the maximum budget limits higher and start scaling the entire CBO. 

So what’s the difference from our previous method and this one? 

Well, the main one is – we don’t have to restart the learning phase and we can already scale this CBO campaign as it is. 

2nd option:  

It’s a very similar one to the previous one. 

Let’s say we find these 18 audiences and we want to test them all. Instead of testing them one by one, we stack the audiences on top of each other and leave it the same CBO. 

So instead of having 18 audiences spread out, we have 4-6 audiences. 

The benefit of that is – we have more data on the ad-set level. Because Facebook keeps most of its’ data on the ad-set level (other part in the ad account), we want to have as little ad-sets as possible so the data accumulates and machine learning works in our favor. 

Once again, we look at many different data points to determine whether the ad-set is good to be running for us or we should kill it off. We usually wait to spend 3x of our target CPA and look at the same metrics as we do for the creative testing. 

ROAS, CPA, Cost per IC, Cost per Add to Cart, Cost per Landing Page View. 

It’s super useful to have this kind of structure on the account as it makes it so much easier to scale when you have something working. 

By the way, I recommend you putting 3-5 different ad creatives in one ad-set like collection ad, regular video ad, photo ads, carousel etc.

Surveying Your Customers to Align Your Marketing and Make Them Buy

I’m so surprised I’m still seeing this happening over and over again with most of the brands. They’re trying to guess which message will resonate with their customers, why do they buy, why do they not buy, what kind of products should they come up with, how should they improve their website… 

And if you’re one of these brands – I beg you to stop it and do this instead. 

Every customer you acquire is your best research tool to understand all of his/her decision making process. 

But how do you do that? 

Simply, send out a survey and ASK them why they choose your brand. 

Here’re the question you should be asking your questions in order to extract valuable information from them: 

  1. When it comes to (fill in the blank), what’s the single biggest challenge you’ve been struggling with? (be as detailed as possible) 
  2. Which of the products have you bought? 
  3. Which of the following best describes your age? 
  4. What was the MAIN reason why you chose our brand over the others? 
  5. What doubts and hesitations did you have before making the purchase? 
  6. How can we make your shopping experience better? (website, emails, etc.) 
  7. What other brands did you consider before choosing our brand? 
  8. If our brand came up with new products, which products would you buy? 
  9. Overall, how satisfied are you with the shopping experience? (evaluate from 1 to 10). 
  10. Would you like to get x % off your next purchase? 

This survey serves multiple purposes. 

With the first question we can extract their biggest pain point and put all of the answers through bucket.io to see which keywords are used the most and use them in our marketing. 

As well as, we know what kind of hooks we can use for them to attract them to our website. 

The second and the third questions are closed questions, that give us some more information about the customer who is completing the survey. 

The fourth question helps us understand what kind of position we should be using in our marketing as our customers tell us EXACTLY why we’re better than their competitors. 

The fifth question help us understand what kind of objections should we overcome with our retargeting messages using email marketing, Facebook ads and other channels of communication. 

The 6th question tells us where we should improve on next. 

The 7th shows us who our competitors are so we can spy on their ads and see what they are doing in their marketing, product development etc. 

The eight question answer us the question of which product we should be focusing on developing next (and we can combine it with the survey mentioned above to make sure we’re really focusing on the right product). 

The 9th question simply gives us a score.

The 10th question brings us revenue. We actually saw that this campaign brings us 5% of our daily revenue to the business & it’s automated. However, we DON’T tell our customers we’re going to give any discount before they complete the survey. We simply don’t want them to do it only because they want to get a discount. We’d rather get less responses, yet more quality ones. 

This survey is a backbone of every decision we make in regards to marketing and product development & if you’re not doing it yet – I highly recommend you start doing it immediately. Our preferred platform is www.typeform.com.

How to Use Email Marketing to Increase Your Customer Retention Rate to 40-50% and Increase Your LTV

Thankfully, most of the ecommerce businesses already know the importance of having a solid email marketing plan. 

And for obvious reasons…. 

Email marketing can generate up to 40-50% of the entire month’s revenue! 

All of that – without paying Facebook or other platforms a dime to advertise! This makes ROI huge! 

In this part, I’m going to focus only on the most important things related to email marketing, and show you our back-end numbers.

Email marketing can be split into 2 parts – Automated Flows and Campaign. 

Automated flows – they usually bring around 30% of the email marketing revenue. The rest of the 70% usually comes from Campaigns.

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

Automated Email Marketing Flows

There are 4 automated flows we are using for every eCommerce business we’re working with

  1. Welcome Series 
  2. Abandoned Cart Flows 
  3. Winback Campaign 
  4. Post-Purchase 
  5. Browse abandonment

1. Welcome series

People get on this flow by coming on to the website and signing up for a discount from our pop-up we have. 

Here are the things we want to achieve using this flow: 

 

  1. Get them to buy. As we usually offer a 10% discount for every customer that lands on our website, we send them a code immediately to their inbox urging them to use the code and buy our products. If they don’t buy the product, we usually have a follow-up email using scarcity saying their discount code will expire within x amount of time. 

     

  2. Educate on our brand. We listed out all of the Unique Selling Points based on the importance (using the survey) and mapped it out in our email marketing campaign.

     

  3. If they don’t buy after getting the discount code and being educated on our brand, we increase our discount code by another 5%. Once again, we have one email showing the discount code, another one with scarcity. 

2. Abandoned Cart Flows

These emails go to the customers that have come to the cart, entered their email, yet didn’t buy. 

We want them to buy our products ASAP.

They’re very likely have been educated on our brand by this point, they’ve seen our video ad or advertorial, yet didn’t buy. 

Yet they’re still having doubts in their head. 

They’re thinking about whether they’re going to make a mistake buying the products are not. 

They’re thinking of whether the price actually makes sense. 

To help them to go over the fence, we send them 2 types of emails. 1. Give them another discount code to encourage them to buy the product (we give 5% more than they could usually get). 2. We send them an email saying we have a “money-back guarantee” 3. We have another email showcasing our customers using our products (social-proof). 

These series of emails are sent to them within a period of 3 days. 

The first email is sent out within the first 2 hours and the others are spread out to be delivered daily.

3. WinBack campaign

This is a series of emails that goes out to the people that have not bought from us in over a period of 60-90days. 

They were once our customers, however for some reason they didn’t buy other products of ours. 

For them we have a special sequence of 4 emails. 

The sequence goes like this: 

We send them an email on the 60th day reminding them they haven’t visited us for a while and telling them we’ve got new products etc. & we include a discount code in the email. 

The second email goes out with us saying their discount code will be expiring soon, so they have to act really fast.

On the 75th day, if they still haven’t bought from us, we send them another email with a slightly higher discount code to encourage them to buy. 

If they still don’t buy, we send them an email out saying their discount code will expire today and if they don’t use it – they’ll never be able to use this kind of discount ever again.

4. Post Purchase Sequence

This is the sequence where we have the most fun. 

In fact, we’ve had so much fun here, that the type of email we’ve written here has gone viral and has attracte us many customers without us putting much effort into it. 

4.1. Immediately after purchase. 

After our customers buy from us, we send an email saying thank you and giving them a new offer. If they buy a product from us within the next 24 hours, we’ll give them a special discount (5 or 10% more than what they could usually get at our front-end). We automate the sequences to show the products that would complement their recent purchase. 

A great example would be – if they bought tights, we would send them an email with a bra with a discount code.  

4.2. Order Confirmation Email 

This is the funniest email I’ve ever written and I’m most proud of. 

We’ve created an email explaining customers what happened after they made a purchase in a very fun way. You can do it too… 

Simply google “funny order confirmation emails” and you’ll find lots of examples of it. Pick one and write it according to the brand voice you have. 

It took me around 1 hour to write this email, yet it’s automated and makes our customers very happy plus share the email online, which gives us free advertising. 

4.3. Promoting Other Channels We Have 

So the 3rd email is sent after we’ve shipped the product and here we want these people to join our Facebook group. 

Facebook group is an amazing way to build a strong community around your brand. For us – it works wonders. 

We get to interact with our customers on a daily basis, answer their questions, ask them questions and keep them in our controlled environment.

It has been the single best decision we’ve made this year that will be paying off over and over again. 

4.4 Join Our Rewards Program 

Even though we have a reward program that we encourage people to join before even buying their first product from us – 80% of them miss it. 

Because we want to promote brand loyalty and want to increase our Lifetime Value of every customer, we encourage them to join after they buy our products. 

We can say it has been really successful, as we get around 35-50% people coming back to buy from us every month. 

4.5. Asking to Complete Our Survey 

As I mentioned before, we really care what our customers think, so we send out a survey to our customers right around 30days of them using the product.  

5. Browse Abandonment

This is the most simple flow consisting of only one email so far and is triggered when people browse our products, but don’t buy them. 

For this flow to work – we need to have their email address beforehand, so we’re not putting too much effort into it so far. However, we’ll be experimenting slightly more with it and have more extensive flows. 

Those who are wondering how to do all of these automations – klaviyo has amazing manuals and even better customer support to help you out with it.

Email Marketing Campaigns

Automated flows are amazing. They generate 30-40% of our revenue generated from our email marketing. 

However, 60-70% of the revenue from email marketing is generated from campaigns. 

Here are the types of campaigns we’re sending out:
 

  • Educational content. Whenever we have a blog post written, we make sure to send it out to our customers. This typically generates around 4-6k. So we know that every blog post we write, will pay it off immediately as we send it out to our email list.

    Sometimes, we don’t send people directly to the website, but educate them on the email itself and send them to the product related to it. 
  • Giveaways. Every month, we organize a giveaway on our Instagram account to generate some buzz around our brand, collect more followers and get people to subscribe to our Youtube channel, Facebook group or our channel of choice. Surprisingly, these emails generate quite a bit of revenue and are used as a part of our campaign strategy.

     

  • Product spotlight. These kinds of emails educate people on our products we have, where we show the unique selling propositions and drive traffic to the exact products we have.

     

  • Sales. These are the types of emails that generate us the most amount of revenue. Depending on the launch, we can see our revenues go as high as 60k per email sent. That’s especially true if we do a “VIP” launch and manage to create enough buzz around the sale beforehand.

     

  • Stories. This depends on the brand we’re working with. It doesn’t always work with all of the brands we work with, mainly because not all of them have products that solve particular problems. However, the ones that solve problems – emotional storytelling emails are working wonders and generate quite a bit of revenue.
Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

Perfect Time to Send Out a Campaign

After quite a bit of testing, we’ve found 3 times that work for us. 

7-8am in the morning is the best one by far. 

The second/third best time is at 12-1pm 

And another time we tend to send our emails is at 6-7pm at recipients’ time. 

We’ve also found that sending 3 campaigns per week works best, as it’s still not too much for the customers so they don’t unsubscribe us, but not too little so we can still generate quite a bit of revenue that we can use to increase the ad spend on Facebook ads, which will generate more traffic, get more buyers, get more email subscribers and the cycle will continue.

How These 2 Simple Strategies Helped Us to Increase AOV by $30, Outspend our Competition and Increase Our Daily Revenue From $10k to $60k

I’ll be honest with you. I was super hesitant to share these 2 strategies with anyone. They’re responsible for scaling our skincare brand from 10k in daily revenue to 60k. 

Yes. In a matter of 4 weeks, we’ve seen a 6x growth. 

That meant we’ve had to hire 6 people to help us fulfill the orders. 

And the best part… We’ve done it just before the black week. 

This means – we had a much bigger retargeting pool to advertise to during black week + our email list grew with more than 2200+ emails every day! 

In October, we planned to make $1.2mm in November… But we’ve managed to get over $2mm in the same period of time! 

That’s extra $800k we didn’t plan for! 

It’s pretty significant for a business we took on when they were making only $300k in yearly revenue and had their ‘office’ in the basement. 

And honestly… It was the weirdest feeling I’ve ever had. 

I was feeling guilty scaling them so hard… They were working 14 hours a day to fulfill all of the orders that were coming in and they were doing it 7 days per week! 

Our systems started breaking, our customers were waiting for their orders a bit longer than they expected. 

But we couldn’t lose the opportunity to capitalize on our growth. In any case, I’m going to share with you these 2 strategies that helped us achieve such massive growth in a short period of time.

1. Recomatic app

I’m not sure how I didn’t do it before. It was sitting on my ‘to-test’ list forever, yet I never took the time to test it out. 

In the very end of October I’ve decided to give it a go and saw my AOV increase by $10. 

From $105 to $115. 

And it took me less than 30mins to make it work! 

This allowed me slightly more to acquire a new customers. This + some good creatives our team came up with allowed us to scale the daily spend from $2-3k to $6-7k. 

Our revenue double and we started hitting $25k on average. That’s almost 2.5x of growth by simply installing an app… 

By the way, their team helped us to set it up extremely quickly, so it was the easiest thing we could do.

2. Super high AOV bundle

If you’re still reading the article, you should know it by now – I’m extremely focused on creating minimum viable tests. 

I’ve had an idea that I got from a book called “Predictability Irrational” by Dr. Dan Ariely. 

His theory (which has been proven again and again) is that when you have a super high AOV bundle – people will be more likely to choose a smaller price product. 

What we saw before – people were buying a lot of single products, & a small percentage of people were buying kits. 

Another piece of theory is that – there are people who will go premium.

They identify themselves as high spenders and buy only the best. Think of them as your “Louis Vuitton” customers. 

Or people who are buying coffee machines from Starbucks (yes, they sell coffee machines too). 

So even though there won’t be many people who’ll buy the premium products – they will increase your AOV by a lot. 

The theory sounded awesome, so I decided to test it. 

I combined all of the products we had for $399,  put an ugly looking product page using Zipify and tested it over the weekend. 

Within the first 2 hours I got 1 purchase of my high AOV bundle. During the weekend I got another 5 people buying them.

But what’s better… 

I saw many more people buying our bundles instead of single products. 

Our AOV went up from $115 to $135 over the weekend.

That’s another $20 more than I could spend to acquire my customers. Another $20 more than our competitors.

And we started to scale the account… We went from making $25k in daily revenue to $50-60k in a matter of a few days! 

So by using these 2 pretty simple strategies, we’ve managed to increase our daily revenue from $10k to $50-60k. 

It was a rough period of time, as we were not prepared for such a scale, yet we managed to go through it and we’re on the way to scale the account and reach our yearly revenue goal – $30mm. 

P.s. these strategies were shared with our private email list as soon as we discovered them. If you want to be on our private-email list, click here and apply.

3 Biggest Needle Movers Moving Into 2020 That Will Get You Scale Past 7 Figures In Monthly Revenue

Around September time I was desperate. 

I reached a ceiling with all the accounts I was working with. 

One was generating $350k on a monthly basis for 3 months, another one $900k-$1.1mm per month and another one $1.2mm – $1.5mm. 

And I’m not going to lie…

I didn’t know what to do to pass this mark. 

So I went into research mode and for almost 2 weeks I had daily meetings with consultants, agency owners, eCommerce owners and other people who were 10 steps ahead of me. 

Talking to them I’ve was offered to do Pinterest ads, Snapchat ads, Google ads, Google Shopping, Youtube ads, changing our creative strategy, influencer marketing, youtube ads, PR, SEO, launching new products, changing the landing page and a lot more… 

By the end of the 2 weeks I had so many ideas that my head was exploding, however, I knew I couldn’t focus on them all at once… 

So I now I started prioritizing things trying to find what will give me the best biggest ROI in the least amount of time. 

After doing it, the conclusions were obvious. 

I found out the 3 biggest needle movers that will be able to provide me with the most scale. 

I ditched Pinterest and Snapchat ads completely (for now, although we’re running some traffic from there for one account).

We outsourced SEO to another agency, hired a freelancer to set-up and manage Google ads campaigns and started concentrating on these 3 things.

1. Youtube Ads

Throughout the entire research period, Youtube Ads started to come up over and over again. 

And it made sense for us to start moving there mainly because we already have a creative team to manage this. 

Bear in mind – we have not experimented with Youtube Ads enough to call ourselves experts, however, I’ll provide you some information that I have gathered through my research and little experience I have working with it. 

The pros of Youtube Ads: 

They’re still super cheap compared to Facebook. 

They are as scalable as Facebook Ads and are more stable. So once you find the creative that works – it can run for months, unlike Facebook where you constantly need to be testing the creatives as their shelf life is much shorter. 

The cons of Youtube Ads: 

The production of the creatives is a bit slower as you usually need a person to film the video (although in some cases a simple video that you can use for Facebook too can work).

We’ve tried using the same videos that we use for Facebook without any success so far, so we’ll be moving into original production and create creatives for youtube only. 

The Strategy Behind Youtube Ads 

The strategy reminds me very much of Facebook – start small and once you figure it out – scale it up. 

Find the exact videos that your potential customers could be watching to educate themselves on the matter and start testing your creatives on these people(you can use Adzoola for it instead of collecting the URLs manually) Once you have the creative that’s working – expand horizontally by showing it to broader audiences based on interests and then moving to “similar” audiences (yes, that’s the equivalent of “lookalike” audiences on you Facebook people out here). 

Start with view-through optimization, as Google will charge you ONLY if people watch your ad past 30secs or click to land on your page. I found it fascinating because you can add disqualifiers in the first 30secs of the videos so that only your ideal customer watches past 30sec mark. 

Other Types of Creatives 

There are many types of formats of the videos, but here are 3 types that we use the most. 

Bumper ads – 6 second of video that your customers HAVE to watch. They can’t skip it. Hence, these ads have to be straight to the point. 

In my experience – these ads work best when retargeting the audience. 

Long-form ads – these are the ads that we are the most interested in it. 

Our goal using them is to introduce as many people to the brand as possible, with emotional stories and retarget them from there. 

If you want to learn more about Youtube Ads – listen to our podcast here

2. Influencer Marketing

Well, this is not a big surprise. 

Influencer marketing has been going strong for a while and there are many agencies that are focusing on this only. 

We’ve decided to build out an in-house influencer marketing team and collaborate with an external Influencer Marketing Agency –  Centus.

From what we’ve seen, influencer marketing can bring 2-3x ROI immediately, however it takes some time establishing relationships with each one of the influencers. 

However, by using tools like influee (influencer campaign management), Carro (Shopify app that identifies influencers who already bought from you), you can scale your influencer marketing efforts much quicker. 

Here are some added benefits of doing influencer marketing besides the immediate ROI:

– User-generated content. Once you find some micro-influencers that are getting you the highest ROI, you can start building your relationship even further. It’s very likely that you’ll be testing them by asking them to post a photo of them with your product on their IG feed or create an IG story.

If that works well – take a step further and offer them to create content for your brand on a monthly basis that they don’t have to publish on their personal account.

Most of the brands that are generating 7 figures+ per month – test hundreds of these ads. 

From our experience, for 10-20 pieces of short videos we can expect to pay around $400-600 per month depending on the influencer.  

Did I mention branding? 

We’re at a stage where branding is essential for any brand and from time to time it’s useful to invest in higher-level influencers. The ROI might not be immediate but in a long-term game it will pay off. 

Getting into micro-community 

Influencer marketing works so well because essentially it is just a modern version of word-to-mouth marketing. 

It seems more natural, not salesy and it is based on the opinions of people you look up to and follow.

By involving a bunch of influencers, you also involve a lot of their followers, which essentially means you are capitalizing on a small tribe they’ve built around them.

Small tribes go into bigger ones, which in turn makes up the whole brand. 

That’s why giveaways, contests and challenges with the help of influencers’ network is a powerful tool which needs to be used. 

We’ve already seen a massive success using it in terms of ROI, but what’s most important for us – to create a movement around our brand, which will result in repeated customers over a long period of time. 

If you want to learn more about influencer marketing – you can listen to this podcast with our influencer marketing manager: 

3. Advertorials

Advertorial is a page where you can warm your audience by educating them. They’re a mixture of education and sales page. 

Some eCommerce brands have been using it for a while now, however, none of our clients had them ready so we decided to test them out and we had massive success.

Advertorials helped me to scale the account from making 8-12k in daily revenue, to 25-35k in daily revenue. 

We’re scaling them by a lot now, and testing many new angles and pieces of it. 

We went from generating 150-220 emails per day to generating 700-1100 emails per day and that’s only due to the help of advertorials. 

It was the most successful test so far this year and essentially helped us to triple the business in the shortest period of time. 

Here is the process we use to ensure the success of it: 

  1. We look at our best-performing blog articles + use tools like BuzzSumo to see what content has gone viral in our industry recently. 
  2. We take only the most essential parts of it and write them in our own words. This part is is essentially our hook as we can change it again and again. 
  3. The bottom part of the advertorial is always the same (once we honed in and it works). This is the part where we tell the story of our owner and gently lead them to the products, showing the testimonials (social proof), and introduce them to the brand. There are 2 call to actions on this page – 1. Buy the product 2. Join our email list. 

Here are the 2 types of advertorials we use: 

  • Emotional storytelling. So far we’re using stories generated by our customers and by the owner herself. The later works amazingly. When we survey our clients asking them what’s their number one reason for buying the product – they tell us the owners’ story resonated with them so well, that they thought they’ll try it. 
  • Educational content. As the name says – this is the article that educates people on many issues. We take an umbrella approach here and test dozens of articles that our potential client could read and see which ones resonate the most with them. When these articles work here, we ask our copywriters to expand on them and create an extensive article for SEO purposes too. 

You can learn more about advertorials listening to a podcast with me and Nabeel Azeez

Episode #7 How To Increase Your Sales via Email Marketing & Conversion Rate on Your Website

One thing to mention though – without us knowing, we were using “advertorials” on our Facebook posts or even videos, as they all told some kind of a story, however we were sending the traffic to the home page instead afterwards. 

The 3 Deadly Sins Entrepreneurs Commit that KILL the Business, Even After Scaling Profitably

We wanted to leave it for the last part, as it’s the most important topic of them all… 

And it seems that no matter how much we keep repeating the same message to our partners, or community, these mistakes keep appearing no matter what… 

We work with all kinds of entrepreneurs: young, old, rich, poor, new, seasoned, male, female. Among all of them we’ve seen what traits multiply success and which ones cause their business to flatline. 

Being at the front seat watching some entrepreneurs cause their own wreckage is really painful to watch. And we’ve seen some of them veer on the same deadly roads despite all the warning signs that we put up. 

So if you’ve gotten this far in our article, don’t take this lightly. Here are the 3 common deadly sins entrepreneurs commit that kill the business.

1. Putting Branding Principles First, Direct-Response Principles Second

We at Sugatan care about one thing… scaling profitable revenue. 

We do that by converting an ice cold audience to become your customer profitably. 

We do that ^ by creating demand, on-demand as they watch a video ad, image ad, and/or visit your landing page. 

And we do that ^ by incorporating conversion-driven, direct-response principles. 

A lot of the newer entrepreneurs, though, aspire to become as successful as Nike, Apple, etc. So they want to look & feel like Nike & Apple right off the bat.

But when you aspire to be like Nike & Apple, you’re looking at a finished product that took decades of work. 

For eCommerce businesses that are just starting out, you have to first focus on stabilizing your top-line revenue growth. 

That needs to be your #1 focus after you’ve developed your product & started selling it. 

And you do that by selling your product, not your brand. 

Here’s a better way of saying it. 

Incorporating direct-response principles is about them, the people you’re trying to serve.

Branding is about you.

Now, which one generates revenue? Serving them or serving you

I’ve heard entrepreneurs justify their reasons for branding in all forms:

“I want to make sure we’re not just another one of those companies.”

Our answer: “You’re making $60k per month. You’re not even a company yet.” 

“Take out the [insert the conversion-driven principle that stops the thumb] & replace it with our logo.”

Our answer: “People don’t care about your logo, only you do.” 

Time & time again, we’ve seen the eCommerce businesses flatline their growth because they wanted their video ad and/or website to ‘look & feel cool.’  

This is a trap. 

Don’t commit this first deadly sin. Focus on generating profitable revenue and you can do it with an ugly landing page (we’ve seen it ourselves… ugly landing pages in the beauty niche that generates more then $600k in monthly revenue) as long as the product solves a problem.

2. I Need to Approve Everything that is Happening in the Business so Mistakes Don’t Happen

The key to growth hacking success is doing just one thing at high speed and at high frequency. 

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

Testing

Test today. Test tomorrow. Test the day after that. And the day after that. And forever & ever. 

The higher the quality of tests, the higher the frequency of these tests, and the speed of execution of these tests is what sets apart one media buyer from the next. 

Each day that passes that you’re not testing something, you’re losing a day’s worth of profitable revenue. 

And the person that slows down the rate & speed of these tests & sometimes even stop them from happening is always the entrepreneur. 

The reasons to the entrepreneur always seem valid at the time.

Example reasons that we were actually given:

“We have to get the next 20 decisions right. It’s the only way we’ll succeed.” Then the entrepreneur proceeds with asking a series of questions to gauge whether 1 decision is the right decision & goes into a back&forth debate that takes 3 days. Meanwhile, there are 19 more decisions to make. 

“I have to know everything that’s happening in the business to have knowledge on every area so I can give the appropriate guidance to each department.” The entrepreneur thinks it’s his duty to guide each department. It’s actually vice versa. The entrepreneur’s only duty is to give each department the KPI that department needs to hit for the business to grow & scale profitably. 

“As the person responsible for this company, it’s my duty to go out there & find the best options so let’s hold off on this until I know we’re going in the right direction.” (Meanwhile, revenue stalls for 3 months as the entrepreneur goes through analysis paralysis). I, myself, fell into this trap.

3. I’m Firing My Media Buying Agency b/c They Can’t Hit the ROAS

This is only legit if your media buying agency is not testing video ads. If they are, then it’s not a media buying problem, it’s a you problem or a product problem.

Instead of optimizing, entrepreneurs start over from scratch, going from media buyer to media buyer to try & fix a problem that doesn’t exist within the media buying, but rather.. Within the product or entrepreneur himself.

Sugatan Lessons Learned Generating $40mm+ for eCommerce Brands & What to Focus on in 2020

There are more deadly sins that kill the business

But avoid these 3 first and you’ll have a chance of surviving & thriving. 

In Sugatan, when entrepreneurs display #1 or #2 behaviors, we simply tell them we won’t work with them. 

As for #3, 100% of those who fired us came back to us. 

I’m sure other agencies have experienced the same. 

We’ve covered other deadly sins in one of our podcast episodes you can find by clicking here

There Is So Much Information Here, But Where Do I Start?

As promised in the beginning of the article – we shared with you all of the insights we got working with multiple businesses. 

Not only that, we’ve provided you with the processes you can take and apply it immediately. 

However, we do understand there are hundreds of things you can focus on your business on a daily basis, yet there are only a handful of things that will bring the desired scale. 

And to identify them, you need to develop strong decision making processes, or have an experienced team to do that. 

If you’re looking for a team to scale your ecommerce business fast – apply via the link here

If you want to keep up with the newest trends, I suggest you to apply to our private email list, where we share insights on a daily basis and join our Facebook community for ecommerce entrepreneurs.

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2 Comments

  1. Malar

    “Incorporating direct-response principles is about them, the people you’re trying to serve.
    Branding is about you.”

    Loved this part! Aggressive!

    Reply
  2. Hieu

    Awesome article! Thanks Deividas! I did learn a lot.

    Reply

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