September 29, 2020
Growing eCommerce Business $30M-$100M+: Strategies, Lessons, and Frameworks
Think you know a thing or two about scaling businesses?
We’ve found that there’s a very clear difference between growing your company from:
- $0 to $5M/year
The sky’s the limit, really…
Over at Sugatan, we’re quickly becoming a full eCommerce growth-machine, and eventually, we’ll be able to plug-and-play eCommerce businesses that have a proven concept of their products and scale them to 8 figures in yearly revenue.
And running our own multiple eCommerce businesses, we’re learning these lessons as we speak.
Because one of our core beliefs is radical transparency, we’re going to be sharing all the lessons we’re learning scaling multiple eCommerce businesses in this guide.
Instead of just fluff information though, we’re going to be sharing valuable insights, behind-the-scenes info, and provide you with actionable processes and frameworks that you can apply to scale your very own eCommerce business.
But don’t let the title scare you. We’ll also cover eCommerce hacks you can apply today, no matter your business/revenue size, and gain a considerable boost in revenue.
More specifically, here’s what we’ll cover:
- The product fit
- Tweak your offer
- Know thy audience
- Optimizing for success
- Define and flesh out your eCommerce sales funnel
- 7 psychological triggers to include in your sales funnel and eCommerce store
- Increase your AOV
- Create stunning, high-converting creatives (with the right processes)
- High-level Facebook ads overview made simple
- Generating $350k+/mo with influencer marketing
- Creating effective Snapchat ads (based on $300k/mo profitable ad spend)
- Email marketing best practices
- The $30M Ceiling
- 3 Deadly Sins to Avoid While Scaling
- Management and Framework Processes Overview
- 3 Biggest Needle Movers to Scale You Past 7 Figures (and Other Things Worth Mentioning)
This is going to be a very long one (no, really), so, hope you’re ready.
Before we dive deep into all the fun eCommerce growth, marketing, and ads stuff, there are some things we need to do to prepare.
First, you need to lay down the foundation (bricks) for your eCommerce business.
Now, we won’t start at the very beginning like choosing a logo and registering your business (I’m assuming you already did this).
Instead, let’s start with another essential part of any eCommerce business.
The product fit
Choosing a product to base your whole business off might seem overwhelming.
Long story short is that you need to cover the following bases:
- Addressing a need – Is there a need or a pain point that’s not being fulfilled for your niche?
- Getting into the customers’ shoes – Do you know your customers inside out? Are they interested and willing to buy?
- Is it easily sourceable? – If not, your sales may come to a screeching halt when you’re just building momentum. Think about the logistics as well.
- Will it be profitable? – Having a higher margin early on will help you stay afloat and scale. Products with little overhead provide a low-risk way to get started. So, when you’re pricing your products, you need to account for the total resources that you’ve put in to sell the product or your cost of goods sold (COGS).
- Are you passionate about it? – Ideally, if you’re going to be scaling all the way up to 6 figures and above, you should be passionate about it! This way, you won’t burn out along the way too.
Let’s take a look at some starting blocks for your products in more detail.
Addressing a need
Is there a need that’s not being fulfilled?
Or if there is: Can you make/sell something that’s better than anything else being put out there?
If you work in a particular area or you’re passionate about something – that’s a great start.
You’ll know better than anyone what you’re looking for.
Even if that’s not the case, all you have to do is listen to people complain about something.
Active Hound is a great example of a brand that solved a pain point in the market – dog toys that were too expensive and not durable enough.
The founders noticed that fellow pet owners at their local park were frustrated that the pricey dog toys they were buying lacked the durability to withstand the wear and tear from their pets.
So, they decided to create a line of ultra-durable dog toys and eventually expanded into selling treats, and other variety of dog products.
And all they did was find something that someone else was doing and did it better.
Once you find something there’s already a demand for, all you have to worry about is making something better.
On a more practical level, we covered the approach to finding the winning product and building an eCommerce brand structure around it in one of our podcasts with Kris.
In it, Kris explains her contextual process, which goes something like this:
- Research different products that are scaling or have done high volumes.
- Look for keywords related to the niche to find products with high engagement (e.g. more than 1,000+ shares).
- Then, check the AliExpress dropshipping price, compare it to the retail price and note down the AliExpress COGS (cost of goods sold).
- If it’s worth pursuing, the next thing she would look into is the capability of re-skinning the product.
- Ideally, the winning product would have less than 25% COGS, $60+ AOV (Average Order Value), and the capability to be re-skinned
If that’s the case, Kris explains that she would then capitalize on marketing the product and test-run the ads (e.g. with a $500 ad budget). Then, she’d move the product into white-labeling and out-market the competition.
In the 6 months of white-labeling it, Kris explains that she’d try to really understand the customers, find the missing gap in the market, and then develop the innovative product.
Along the entrepreneurial journey, you’re going to encounter speed bumps here and there. But what’s important is that the dips aren’t long-term.
Listen to the full podcast for more info on how to overcome obstacles and specific KPIs to look out for when growing your eCommerce business.
Have a product in mind?
Good. Now, it’s time to research it inside out.
We’re going to be looking at a few different types of research here. But it’s important to note that you shouldn’t spend too long on this step. Some people overdo their research and don’t spend enough time on actual product development.
Let’s take a look at our top four steps for successful eCommerce research:
- Identify your top competitors.
This will help you better understand their tactics and which markets they are targeting.
2. Market overview
To quickly assess the market opportunity, you can use Google Trends to gauge the interest and relevant keywords your customers use to search your products.
This is also a great way to identify if something is a gimmick, you should capitalize on it while you still can, or if it’s still relevant.
As an example, certain products have spiked in interest during the COVID quarantine period.
Note: Google Trend uses interest over time, in which the numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. 100 is the peak popularity and 50 means that it’s half as popular.
When looking at trends though, you should think long-term.
If you can identify a trend and beat everyone to the market, you can position yourself as an authority and generate a lot of sales quickly.
To succeed at this long-term though, you need to have products that are part of a strong market. And not simply a flashy fad or a gimmick of the month that blows up one day and is gone the next.
Remember those fidget spinners and how they were everywhere?
A lot of people made money from them, and a lot more lost a lot of money and ended up with garages full of them because they jumped on a fad that died quickly.
This is also a great way to find niches, relevant product categories, research keywords people use that’s related to your product (and their monthly search volume), seasonal trends, and so much more. You can even filter niche topics by region. Check out this article on Google Trends for more research tricks you can use.
3. Analyze their top converting ad campaigns and creatives
This will come in useful later (when you’re running your own ad campaigns).
But for now, it will help you come up with potential pain points and angles those products focus on.
You can use SocialPeta, AdEspresso, or even the Facebook ads library to see what kind of ads are working best and put them into your Swipe file to inspire your own advertising and copywriting angles. By creating a swipe file, you’ll never run out of ideas and you’ll have a special place you can always tap into for more inspiration.
Make note of the language, creatives, and angles your competitors are using in their ads.
4. Copywriting research
From there, you can create a research sheet and write down any biggest pain points, desired outcomes, objections, and other notes to understand how the target audience better (also what language they use).
You can also review the top Amazon bestseller list to see what’s already popular and working.
As a bonus, also look into their reviews to better understand the customer.
Find what was lacking, what could have been better, and what language they use when talking about the product.
This will be useful for your ads as well as your general understanding of your potential customers.
In the reviews, look for:
- Motivation themes – E.g. what they were hoping the product would do for them/desired outcome..
- Anxiety themes – A.k.a. Their pain points and objections.
- Natural language – Look at how they speak, and if you find anything note-worthy, write it down in a separate spreadsheet. This will be extremely useful when writing ads or your product description.
Usually, 3 star reviews are going to be more objective, and 5 star reviews the most descriptive (features/benefits your target audience prioritizes the most). Filter accordingly.
Use your information gathered to analyze the results and think of new angles.
Depending on how competitive your market is, you’re going to spend more or less time collecting meaningful data. And as you make your copywriting quantifiable, it’ll be easy to understand what your customers want the most and how to easily communicate with them.
In the end, this is a never-ending process of research and testing.
But it’s still an invaluable strategy that can yield very profitable results down the road. Make sure you take your time to do research so that you can develop meaningful campaigns with impactful results.
In God we trust, all others bring data.
Tweak your offer
This is important. If you don’t have it – nothing else will work.
Even if you have the best copy in the world, your media buying strategy is on point, your creatives look convincing…
So, let’s think about it.
What makes a highly appealing offer?
The pricing? Free shipping? Product features? Something else?
Well, the truth is, there’s A LOT.
Customers should be able to purchase from your business without having to worry about any objections and trust you in case something goes wrong (free replacement, returns, etc.).
Some things to consider include:
- Free shipping promotion.
- Percentage based discount (let them know exactly how much they’re going to save with your discount).
- Buy something, get something else for free.
- Up-sell, cross-sell, and down-sell.
- If they trust you: trust seals, certificates, guarantees, etc.
- Risk reversal.
- And more.
Now, this is just scratching the surface.
The truth is, your offer is part of your entire eCommerce ecosystem.
Look at your landing page and analyze each element on it with your offer in mind:
- Your offer – Many companies have a default, go-to offer which may be very similar to what their competitors are doing. You’ve probably seen it everywhere at this point (free shipping, free trial, risk-free guarantee, etc.).
- Website flow – Do first-time visitors get all the information they need at a glance? Or do they have to scroll through 3 separate pages just to see what your product is about? We’ve found that having the product info up front (so that the customers don’t have to search for them) was the best approach in terms of conversions.
- CTA Copy – Popular call-to-actions within eCommerce include “Checkout”, “Buy now”, “Add to basket”, and more. Goes without saying there is no single one-size-fits-all CTA that will magically skyrocket your conversion rate. You should experiment with a few options to see what works best.
- Price point – If you want a quick 1% increase in the conversion rate, provide your users with a lot of clarity in terms of what they’re getting and what they’re paying for (exact amount) before the checkout. There’s nothing more annoying than when you think you’re paying a certain amount only to get hit with added extra hidden charges during checkout.
If you follow these tips, you should also see an increase in your website conversion rate.
The point of this little detour about the conversion rate is just to highlight how important your offer is.
For one of the accounts we were growing, we found that tweaking the offer (along with the site visuals and copy), the conversion rate shot up considerably.
We did a total of 23+ tests – and that’s just on the top fold of the website.
Mostly, we experimented with the headlines, the price calculator (part of the offer), product info and text, and the design.
In short: We found that presenting all the information up front (product info, package purchases, price, etc.), led to a much higher average order value as well as conversion rate.
The product in question is protein coffee. We were told there was no hope for it. But we ended up growing it from 0 to 7 figures in around ~7 months. For more info on that (as well as structuring your eCommerce offer), read the full article on that here: eCommerce Growth Saga: Scaling an eCom 0-7 Figures – Part 1
Now, to get back on topic, here are 5 questions you should ask yourself to see if you truly have a highly-appealing offer.
- Is it something that they want? This is the most important part of your offer. Note the difference between ‘Want’ and ‘Need’ (will explain this more in-depth below).
- Does it tap into the current trend? Refer to the above section about doing research and Google Trends. Crypto investment was all the rage a few years ago. Now, it’s info-products. 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.
- Does it already sell well? Here’s the thing with brand new, “market-disrupting” products: they’re risky. If something is brand new, it’s very risky as you don’t know if it’s going to sell well. Which is why some competition to spy off of is healthy.
- Does it increase their status? Does your product have a high appeal because of the status increase people get by earning more money? More money usually means more approval. For example, look at beauty offers. Nine times out of ten, their offer is to make customers look more beautiful, something everyone around them will recognize and increase their overall status ranking.
- How done-for-them is it? Consider your features vs benefits. Which of these sounds more appealing: “How to get your ex back” vs. “Text your ex back (3 messages that will get your ex back)”. Obviously, the second one.
Knowing how to structure your offer is critical to scaling.
And a lot of it is based on knowing your audience.
So, let’s now discuss how to find out what people want and make sure every product (and offer) you come up with is a homerun.
Know thy audience
Knowing thy audience is crucial. If you do it well.
The problem though is that this term has been thrown around for so long now it’s become partially meaningless.
What does it even mean to know your audience? How do you do audience research? Who IS your audience?
When you DO know your audience, you know exactly what to say in your marketing and copywriting.
In this section, we’re going to be looking at defining your audience in a more practical way.
Let’s take a look at another example and define the whole ‘Wants’ and ‘Needs’ a bit more.
So, as an example, let’s say you’re selling a weight loss program and the target audience is older people who NEED to exercise.
They know they need to exercise, move around, and be generally healthy.
And we assume they need it. So, we create an exercise program they can follow at home, adjust our messaging, create eye-grabbing creatives, and make sure the whole funnel looks convincing.
Only for the whole thing to completely flop.
Why did that happen?
Because what they WANT and NEED are completely different things. Even though they might need to exercise, they probably don’t WANT to.
How do we figure out what they DO want?
Well, usually, the best way is to just ask them directly.
Let’s say you have a list of people in your demographic and you have 5-10 ideas of the product you’re thinking of releasing.
What you should do is list those ideas, make them as clear as possible, and have very similar price points for each of them.
Then, you set up your typeform, contact your list, and ask them a simple question:
Would you buy this? Yes or no.
Make sure you’re not incentivizing them as this will skew your results.
Using this method, you’ll see which products are actually in demand and your customers WANT without you making assumptions.
As a bonus point, give your customers a coupon code for completing your quick survey. Just make sure you don’t reveal they’re getting a coupon code before they take the survey.
Just make sure you’re not doing this too often and you’re not spamming your list.
For one of the accounts we grew, we incentivized the customers to answer by saying we’d refund them $1 for answering a 1 second question survey (which takes 5 seconds at most).
Let’s take a look at another example and say your audience is the following:
- 23-34 year old Male | White Collar | lives in NYC | high-income | works in finance
- He is too busy to eat breakfast, leading to concerns about his health
Which would you rather know about your audience?
Well, both, right?
All of the information is crucial for your ad campaigns.
Step 1 is knowing who your audience is.
And step 2 is knowing why they buy.
Interpret the data, hypothesize, send out surveys, watch your audience, join their communities (Facebook groups, Quora, Reddit ,etc.). Do whatever it takes to understand them.
Once you think you know enough information about them (worth noting that you should never stop researching as there’s always something you can learn), you can start creating customer avatars.
Your customer avatar is a detailed profile of your ideal customer. Not a group of people (i.e. your audience), but rather, a single person you think needs your product.
With a customer avatar, you’ll be able to:
- Develop, structure, write copy for your ad and sales funnels.
- Speak directly to your audience with the same language they use and be extremely specific.
- Know who to avoid to avoid costs (people who won’t buy no matter your product/offer).
- Save a lot of time and money in the long run.
There are million templates for customer avatars out there. But as a rule of thumb, here are some key elements you might want to include in it:
- Pain points, and what they’re struggling with.
Here are some more quick tips you can incorporate into your business to better define your audience:
- Already making some sales? Good. Now, install Enquire and set up a post-purchase survey that asks them either: main reason they bought your product or what nearly stopped them from buying your product.
- Install Hotjar Poll that detects when someone on the website is about to leave and ask them something like: “What is ONE THING you want to know about (your product) that is missing from the website”?
- Send out a newsletter to your email list every now and then asking your customers either of the following: how they would rate the overall experience, what you can do to improve it, what they loved the most about the experience, and so on.
- Look at reviews and customer testimonials. If you have them, save them as they’ll come in handy when you’re running social-proof angle ads later on. If not, look at reviews of similar products for your niche to really understand the language the customers are using.
- Don’t forget about psychographics. Demographics focus on external or physical factors like age, ethnicity, location, gender, etc. While psychographics focus on internal factors like motivation, beliefs, priorities, etc. When comparing the two for your audience, you might come across the realization that an audience’s interest and preferences can split across different demographic classifications. You might have an audience that shares the same interest, but their age range and income levels might be drastically different. Demographic information often provides a starting point you need in order to develop a “rough sketch” of your audience. And then, psychographics will come in handy when you’re looking for deeper insights into what makes your ideal customers tick and stay up at night.
To recap this section:
- Start with your ideal customers.
- Check out the competition. Look up forums and sites related to your niche product to see what potential audiences have to say about their problem. How can you use these worries and pain points in your social media, website, and ad copy? How can you position your product and brand as the solution to their issues?
- Join Facebook groups, forums, and read reviews. Take note of the type of content they share and what questions they ask each other (advice, sympathy, worries, etc.).
- Create surveys.
- Think about their demographics and psychographics.
Now that you know who your audience is and why they buy, it’ll be much easier to break through the clutter.
SO, we can finally move onto the next part of the journey now.
Alright, here comes the fun stuff.
Why is it fun?
Because you’ll be moving fast and breaking things faster in order to test everything.
That’s one of the best ways to scale.
You double, triple test everything to find what works.
For one of our accounts we scaled, we did 23+ tests to only top fold of their website (testing conversions) and we regularly test up to 30+ variations (different 1-3 seconds, opening shot, caption, visuals, etc.) for some of our Facebook ads.
All this, to find the winning combination and scale it all the way up (sky’s the limit).
So, where do we start?
The answer: your website.
First, it needs to be ready to convert all the traffic you’ll be getting from ads and your user-experience needs to be on point.
Optimize for success
Half the challenge is getting the traffic to your website.
Then, you have to make sure you’re converting that traffic.
So, let’s start with your website first and then focus on your ads and creatives.
Every eCommerce business is dependant on the following 3 things to scale:
- New customers acquired.
- Average order value (AOV).
- Frequency at which your customers buy.
All eCommerce businesses that have a high AOV and new customers acquisition rate will be able to spend more money on ads and outbidding their competitors.
And for that, your store has to be optimized.
Let’s start with the essentials of user-experienc and some must-haves for eCommerce sites.
- Main page
On the main page, all the main information has to be visible at a glance.
When you’re selling online, you want to make sure your website best represents who you are (your brand) and what you do.
After all, it’s your first chance to make an impression on your customers. And if you do it right, you can make a lasting one.
Keep in mind that customers are often lazy and don’t have a high attention span. They’re not going to spend 30+ seconds waiting for the site to load and comb through countless text to find what they’re looking for.
At a glance, hebe’s main page has all the necessary info:
- New season.
- Clear call-to-actions (Shop now, check reward, contact).
- Featured products just a scroll away.
- Product in action.
To make the experience as personable and relatable as possible, make sure you’re relating to your ideal target market as well – in terms of their demographics (gender, age, race, etc.).
2. Product page
The product page should be the page you’re spending the most time on optimizing.
One way to increase your AOV is to encourage your customers to buy in bundles (e.g. get the whole look), up-sell by displaying related/similar items like on Amazon.
Video often adds more credibility to a brand and keeps the customer longer on your website.
Revzilla does this quite well (usually for higher-priced items) and videos also allow for greater attachment and make the customers trust the brand even more.
Speaking of trust…
3. Trust and social proof (reviews)
Social proof is one of the best ways to alleviate any doubt your customers might have regarding your product.
If 100+ people are satisfied with this product, then it probably works well after all…
People are social creatures and tend to like what other people like or buy.
The same way we also pay attention to recommendations from friends and influencers – hich leads to higher credibility and psychologically triggers people to buy.
4. Trust badges and signals
This applies to your whole site.
People can tell if something is shady a mile away. And if it looks shady, then it probably is.
One of the things that can increase trustworthiness is security badges.
Other types of trust badges include:
- Safe checkout badge.
- Free shipping and return badge.
- Accepted payment badges (people love options. E.g. PayPal for quick transactions is a no brainer).
- Third-party endorsements (Amazon bestseller, Google verified customer reviews, etc.).
- Money-back guarantee badge (possibly the most effective trust badge of all). This badge is completely free too. You can make one yourself so that it matches your branding or find a free version online.
If you have a money-back guarantee – display it loud and proud. Every single customer should be able to see it and take note.
Trust badges can boost your conversion rate and decrease your abandonment rate.
5. Add to carts
Have you noticed how whenever you go to the supermarket, right by the counter there’s always instant products to buy?
This is rooted deep into consumer behavior and it’s called habitable buying behavior.
We don’t take the time to think about buying things that are convenient, close, and cheap.
eCommerce stores should follow the same strategy by adding small-budget products on their add to cart page to increase the AOV.
6. Email collection
Can’t stress this enough: email marketing is essential in eCommerce.
For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average ROI of around $38-$42.
Not every eCommerce store visitor will be ready to buy your products straight away.
By offering them a discount you can acquire their email address so that you can have another source of marketing and promotion later on.
So, make sure you have a few different ways to capture emails on your site. Such as:
- Pop-up offer.
- Email sign-up form in your site’s navigation or footer.
- Lead magnets (e.g. free PDF in exchange for email).
- Exit pop-up.
- And more.
Remember: Capturing an email is easier than making a sale.
7. Add other payment methods
This concept is extremely easy to replicate – yet, not many eCommerce businesses are doing it.
Give your customers the choice to purchase how they want to!
It can be a simple check out with PayPal button, Buy Now Pay Later with AfterPay, international checkout, and more.
8. Add (creative) product description
In order to write product descriptions well, you need to know your customers inside out and include what information they need in order to make a purchase.
New Balance thinks about their customers’ motives and concerns.
Fashion products’ descriptions tend to be easier to understand and state information about the quality and the material.
For one of the accounts we grew to 7 figures, we found including product health information (health benefits, nutritional value, etc.) really helped increase the conversion rate.
Because the target audience here was females who wanted to lose weight (health-conscious), presenting this kind of information up front made sense.
Here are some other quick wins to improve your product descriptions:
- Include a short description in the beginning and follow the PAS (pain, agitate, solve/solution) copywriting formula. Before: Agitate the problem. After: Paint the picture of what it’s going to feel like having that problem solved and how they can bridge the gap via your product.
- Don’t ask your users to sign up before buying. The less steps there are to check out and purchase page – the better. Don’t ask them to create an account (people are lazy) and don’t ask them for any unnecessary info. What can you get rid of in your funnel to make it easier for them to buy?
- Improve the quality of your photos on your website. Selling high-end products? Your website, product pictures, and design should reflect that!
- Use product reviews to your advantage. If you look at Hotjar recordings, you’ll find that most people scroll straight to the review section. That’s one of the most powerful tools (and persuasive) tools you have at your disposal as a marketer. Use them where you feel necessary.
- Include explanations on how to use your products. A quick ‘how to’ description goes a long way, especially in the right industries (skincare, healthcare, etc.).
- Include a before/after. Most before/after ads don’t get approved by Facebook. But you can always include them on your website to show your customers what they can expect.
- Optimize for mobile first. Around 80% of purchases happen on mobile. It makes sense to have your site ready for that.
- Optimize your site speed. If you only have one thing to do to improve your conversion rate – this is it! Compress your images, make it clean, and remove any unnecessary site plugins. Site speed is also an SEO ranking factor and if your site doesn’t load fast enough – most people will click away.
9. Chat bots
Chat bots aren’t anything new.
They’ve been in the industry for over a year already and we’ve seen many different use cases for them (for social media, websites, etc.).
One of them is to integrate them with an eCommerce website to provide customers with more quick options of customer support (as well as FAQ, and other common topics).
Now, there’s A LOT that goes into optimizing your website.
The above is only a quick overview.
It goes without saying that you should be testing everything to find what works best for your own eCommerce business.
Once you have actual findings based on data – you should focus on that.
From there, you should be regularly observing your site and data to see if there’s anything new you can apply.
And then, once your site is ready, you can focus on the bigger picture of fleshing out your sales funnel…
Define and flesh out your eCommerce sales funnel
Not all website visitors are the same (or equal).
Some of them just landed on your site, some are ready to buy, some have objections, and so on.
For the most part though, hardly anyone makes a purchase straight away. They will interact with your eCommerce ecosystem/brand first, decide they trust you, and then click your CTA.
Let’s take a look at what that journey might look like top to bottom.
- Top of the funnel – cold audience
Top of the funnel includes people who have never seen an ad from you or heard from you.
This audience is the hardest to sell to because they don’t trust you yet. So, you shouldn’t be selling to them just yet.
A common mistake many marketers make for this audience is that they ask them for an email, to download a lead magnet, and so on.
That hardly works here.
Instead, you should be focusing on educating or entertaining them.
We create the top of the funnel audience by doing our target research and target by behaviors, interests, or lookalike audiences.
Here’s what usually works best here:
- Content: 5 top-selling products, blog articles, PR articles, tracked with snip.ly so we can retarget the ones who visited the link.
- Call-to-action: “Add to cart” usually works better for lookalike audiences than “purchase”.
- Placements we’re using – Facebook newsfeed, Instant articles, Instagram feeds and stories.
Additionally, you can separate the following audiences from the rest of the funnel: people who engaged, visited the site, watched the video, etc. Since this would be a warmer audience you can retarget.
2. Middle of the funnel – warm audience
Depending on the website and budget – you can separate the middle of the funnel into 2 parts: middle of the funnel up (warm) and middle of the funnel down (warmer).
Middle of the funnel (up) – warm audience
MOF Up is people who engaged with your Facebook page, watched videos, engaged with your Instagram, messaged you, visited your landing page, etc.
- Automatic placement.
- News feed.
- Instant articles.
- Audience (product view, add to cart and initiate checkout)
Since the middle of the funnel audience doesn’t know much about the company or products they’re dealing with, the goal here is to send them interesting facts and educate them about the company or their products.
Middle of the funnel (down) – warmer audience
The audience in the middle of the funnel are people who visited your site and maybe even checked out your products.
For this, you can use dynamic ad product ads to show them the exact product they viewed or create a new creative and segment the product by the product they visited.
In terms of copywriting, here you should show all the features/benefits, they might have missed on the product page, special discounts, colors, sizes, etc.
Free shipping also works great here. As well as unboxing videos and testimonials.
3. Bottom of the funnel
Finally, we made it all the way bottom.
If everything was done right, people should have seen videos about your brand, all the interesting facts, they’re educated, and know how to solve their problem.
Our BOF audience is usually people who added the product to cart but didn’t check out.
Reasons for this might include:
- Timing wasn’t right to buy (maybe too inconvenient, credit card wasn’t near, etc.).
- Weren’t convinced yet.
- Hidden costs that changed their mind.
- And more.
This is where we tend to be more direct and give them a special offer to seal the deal. Something like:
- Free shipping.
- 10% OFF for a limited time.
- Buy 2 get 1 free.
- Only 7 left.
That pretty much covers the top-to-bottom marketing sales funnel. But we’re not done yet.
Here are some other quick campaigns you can run for that sweet, sweet post-purchase experience.
- Bounce back – Dedicated to people who just bought your product and probably still have their credit cards in their hands. This means they’re still likely to buy. So, you can target them with the following offers: Buy 1 more, get another for free. Buy 2 more, get another for free. Get 50% off your next purchase. And so on.
- “Thank you” campaign – The concept of this is to interrupt their flow with a simple “thank you” ad and create an intimate relationship with the customer (from the face of the brand or the CEO who thanks the customer for buying and asks to share a photo or video in order to get a discount).
- One-Two punch – After your customers bought something, show them something that might complement what they just bought. Create a dynamic product ad for people who bought product A but not B (related products). Then, show them the ads on the same day or closer to their purchase date.
- Stacking campaign – You can start showing these ads 20-30 days after their purchase and start increasing the discount as the length of the time between purchase and offer gets great. For example – 30-40 days: 10% Off. 40-50 days: 15% Off. 50-60 days: 20% off + free shipping.
- VIP – This focuses on your most loyal customers. To identify them, segment his audience by using third-party tools (like Google Analytics), extract emails, and upload to Facebook as a custom audience.
- “Please come back” audience – It’s easier to sell to existing customers than to acquire new ones. WIth this, you target customers who last purchased 90-120 days ago. 1. Create an audience who has bought from you in the last 120 days. Exclude the audience who hasn’t bought from you in the last 90 days. The copy usually goes something like this: “We haven’t seen you in a while…” or “We have some new products you might like…”
Let’s not get too off topic here. The truth is there’s a lot of different offers and campaigns you can launch when it comes to Facebook ads and eCommerce. So, if you want to read more on that, check out our article on: Spending $1mm/month+ on Facebook Ads for eCommerce
Now, are you ready for some timeless tips you can apply to your funnel to really connect with your customers on an emotional level?
7 Psychological triggers to include in your eCommerce sales funnel and eCommerce store
Here’s the thing:
Platforms change. Technology changes.
But human psychology never changes.
Once you master human psychology, you’ll be able to sell ice to an eskimo, let alone 10x your eCommerce business sales.
This section is largely based on Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” (check out that book if you haven’t by now) and it touches on the following 7 psychological triggers which makes people to buy or act in a certain way:
- Commitment and consistency.
- Social proof.
Let’s go through those 7 triggers piece-by-piece and explore what they mean for your eCommerce business.
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
We as humans feel obliged to return the favor whenever someone extends their generosity to us.
Here’s how you can use this in your business.
- Product buying guide – You create valuable content that you give away for free, all your customers have to do is opt-in via their email to receive it. As long as you deliver valuable content, in return, the likelihood they’ll buy from you will be much higher.
- Gift of a product – Buy 1 product, get 1 free. Some companies give away a product and only pay shipping to create interest in the product and get them to try what the company has to offer. This also boosts the customer’s life-time value (LTV).
2. Commitment and consistency
This principle states that we, as individuals, must align our outer actions with our inner-choices.
Meaning, if we try something for free (interest, shows desire), we’re more likely to buy it (follow up on the interest).
You can include free 30-day returns in your eCommerce product description to let customers know “this one’s on the house. I trust you to try it out first for free.”
This makes the customer buy the product without having less objections (“if I don’t like it, I’ll just return it. It’s a win-win.”) and usually, they’ll find they have no problems with the product and end up keeping it.
We like people similar to us.
This is so simple.
This is the same reason people trust celebrity endorsements.
Here are a few ways to make this work for your eCommerce business:
Tell them your story and make it relatable.
People love stories. Especially ones that relate to your customers – including their deepest desires, pain points, and more.
Here is an example of The Toms story (About us page).
Show relatable models
Aligning core values
Using celebrity or influencer marketing in your business?
Make sure their values (and audience values) align with that of your business.
People like an expert endorsing a brand.
By associating with the expert (or celebrity/influencer), people start believing your brand has similar qualities/core values.
This is why influencer marketing in general works so well.
And it’s also tied in with the next point.
5. Social proof
People are social creatures and like what other people like or buy.
We pay attention to other peoples’ recommendations and trust websites more if they have higher social proof (reviews, following, tribe, etc.).
Amazon triggers this by having a “Customers who bought this item also bought…” section.
Many eCommerce sites have a “Someone from X country just bought Y product” pop-up (using Sales Pop, Live Sales Notification or another plugin).
And some sites have a “Bestseller” list for first-time customers visiting the site.
To build social proof FAST on your Facebook ads, you can:
- Run the same ad on two or more campaigns – Start with a Post Engagement campaign, to build likes and comments. Then, set up a conversion campaign. Transfer your engagement post ID to conversion ad campaign
- Serve product ad to existing customers who bought the said product – This encourages them to comment about how much they love the product. Once you collected enough social proof, recycle the ad targeting a completely cold audience.
Scarcity (and FOMO) goes hand-in-hand with eCommerce marketing.
People hate missing out on opportunities because things are limited.
Even if it’s a never-ending sale, a lot of eCommerce sites keep re-using the scarcity sales approach.
Because it works!
Filipo Loretti managed to create artificial scarcity by releasing a certain number of watches for each edition.
And plenty of fashion, luxury brands have built their businesses on exclusivity. This is why they often sell out their collections within 24 hours.
7. Risk removal
People are scared to buy online. You should give them as many reasons as needed to remove that fear and doubt.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to include a simple “30-day free returns” or a “no-questions-asked-guarantee”.
This allows the customer to make a mistake and send the product back if needed.
But here’s the thing:
And as long as your product is actually good and high-quality, most people will never ask for their money back!
Sprinkle these psychological triggers here-and-there in your eCommerce funnel and watch your sales skyrocket.
Another great way to boost your overall revenue is to focus on your average order value (AOV).
Here’s how to do that:
Increase your AOV
If you manage to increase your AOV, and you’ll see a noticeable increase in revenue.
Even if it’s a small AOV increase, the difference adds up depending on the size of your audience.
Using the following principles, we saw a 6x growth in a matter of 4 weeks with one of our accounts.
The brand went from $10k daily to $60k.
Now that’s an increase.
Here are the 2 main strategies responsible for that growth:
This was responsible for an AOV increase of $10.
From $105 to $115.
And it took less than 30 mins to set it up.
This allowed us to acquire more customers and scale the creatives from $2-$3k to $6-$7k.
The app is super simple too. All it does is shows smart related products that increase sales .
People that buy online are impatient.
Using Recomatic, you display related products and get those sales back.
2. High AOV bundles
When you have a super high AOV bundle, people will be more likely to choose a smaller price product.
As an example, for one of our accounts, many people were buying a lot of single products, and only a small percentage of them were buying kits.
But there were also “premium” spenders who bought only the best.
So, even if there won’t be many people buying your premium products, they will still increase your AOV by a lot.
Example: Deividas combined all of the products for a client in a single bundle for $399. Within 2 hours, we got 1 purchase of the high AOV bundle and during the weekend, 5 more people bought it. AOV went up from $115 to $135 over the weekend. And when we started to scale this account, we went from making $25k in daily revenue to $50-60k in a matter of a few days!
By using the above 2 simple strategies, we managed to increase the daily revenue from $10k to $50-60k.
To add onto this, you can also experiment with price anchoring.
Consider this: What’s the best way to sell a $2,000 watch? You place it next to a $10,000 watch!
The principle at work here is a cognitive bias called anchoring.
In the book Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value, the author describes a study by MIT for a mail order business. In the first mailing, one of the women’s clothing was priced at $39, the second mailer offered the item at $34, and the third at $44. The outcome: the $39 price point generated higher sales. 23% more people bought the dress at $39 than at $34. Check out some more quick pricing tips for eCommerce here.
Create Stunning, high-converting creatives (with the right processes)
There’s only one thing that will scale your store to 6-7+ figures. You guessed it – your creatives.
We’ve covered creatives A LOT on our blog (including the processes, our approach, Facebook ads structures, and more). Processes that convert at 2x at ice cold traffic.
This is the single most important step that contributed to scaling brands to the amounts we managed to scale them to.
Each step is more important than the other. So, make sure you’re taking notes here.
- Do your (damn) research!
Seriously. This is important. Don’t skip it.
At its core, what Facebook advertisers do with media buying is they distribute the message.
Your goal in this step is to understand EXACTLY what are your customers’ desires, pain points, and objections.
Where do you find this information?
- Send a survey to your customers and ask them why they buy from you, what you can improve, etc.
- Analyze the industry/niche as a whole. Look into Amazon books dealing with the topics, read the reviews, capitalize on gaps and note down their pain points (as well as language).
- Look at the comments on your Facebook ads and feedback on your site (also on your competitors’ site and ads).
- Spy on your competitors – look at their reviews, ads, testimonials. Try to identify why they buy their products, what they like about them, and so on.
- Find and read magazines in your niche. Almost no one does this and you’ll get 100+ ideas (for headlines, copy, pain points, ads, etc.) super easily.
- Create a swipe file with all of your findings which you’ll use for future reference.
Out of all of them, reviews tend to be the most informative. They tell you exactly what feature(s) the customers like about the product, and more importantly, what problem(s) it solves.
Once you have your research down, you start coming up with the angles for your ads.
Many products solve more than one problem.
Multiple problems can be broken down into multiple solutions and multiple angles. Meaning, one ad can focus on how your product solves a dull, dry skin problem. And another on how it can get rid of those pesky, dark circles under your eyes.
Not sure what features about your product to focus on? Listen to your customers and thoroughly read their reviews!
Once your angles are fleshed out, you put the ideas in a neat document and go into the production phase.
3. Conversion principles for video ads
Now, the next challenge is to create ads that actually convert.
This is another one of those things that we can talk about forever and make this article much longer than it has any right to be.
So, instead, we’ll just summarize the main points.
Creative angles that’s worked for us almost every single time for high-performing ads:
- Testimonial videos. Customers speaking directly in front of the camera and telling people about their journey. Here’s what they should be talking about: 1. Introduce themselves. 2. What they tried/used before. 3. Their lowest point with the problem (really agitate the pain points here). 4. Why they decided to try the product in question. 5. How it changed their life.
- Comparison videos. If you have a particularly good Unique Selling Proposition, you can focus on what makes your brand/product different from your competitors with this angle. E.g. it’s healthier, cheaper, more convenient, here’s why…
- How-to and demonstration videos. This type of videos tend to convert well across all industries. Why? Because it’s not a hard sell, and instead, shows the average customer going through their journey of using the product in a step-by-step process. If you make these videos relatable, your viewers might sit through the whole thing – glued to the screen.
We’ve also tested story video ads, benefits-without-the-sacrifice angle, five day vlogs, GIFs, and other angles that ended up generating >$100k in revenue.
So, if you’re looking for a more detailed analysis on our winning Facebook ad angles, be sure to opt in and receive our Top Facebook Video Ads value bomb here.
And some conversion principles we’ve had success when creating these videos:
- A “meme bar” at the top of the video with some attention grabbing copy like “You NEED to watch this!”
- Unique, attention grabbing first few shots. Usually, the 1-5 seconds of the video determine if your viewers will stick around.
- Close up shots of the product. Your product should be the first thing your eyes go to in every shot. It’s the star of the show and your viewers need to know about this.
4. Original video production and footage
Most agencies rely on clients for video content.
We take the entire process in our hands and do it ourselves.
Original production ads are when we create the entire video ad from scratch instead of using content we have access to.
After pre-storyboarding and writing the copy, we start storyboarding.
This involves laying out each shot we want to capture. We include all of the conversion principles mentioned in this article and then, our video team has meetings between them to present our storyboards to each other to make sure each shot will be effective when it comes to selling the product.
In terms of actors, we look for people who embody the target market so that they’re relatable and look like our ideal customer (or what they want to look like in the future).
The setting as well as the props need to support the product as well and need to be “on-brand” for the customer.
In order to scale brands past $5-8 million in yearly revenue, creatives will play an important role. Because of that, we’ve added influencer marketing (covered below) into the mix so that we get enough material to work with for the creatives.
Editing can be pretty time consuming.
So, to make things more convenient for us, we have two tiers in the video ad team – lead videographer and editor.
This way, we simply refer to our storyboard to piece our shots together, and then put other pieces in there like text, animation, graphics, music, so on.
As for the actual editing, we tend to experiment with a few different edits:
- Increased contrast and saturation to make the video pop more.
- Adjust the speed of the video shots. For example, certain action is more engaging when it’s sped up and some is better in slow motion.
- Thumbnail has to stand out and stop the scroll.
- We always add captions if there’s dialogue as most people play videos on mute.
- And finally, music is also nice to have but it’s not essential.
Oh, and yes, as you might have guessed. All the conversion principles covered in this article apply here as well.
The text should appear on the screen immediately and our lead strategist/copywriter writes a killer first line so that people scrolling by will be able to notice it.
There’s a lot more to talk about when it comes to creatives, so be sure to check out the other article too.
Now, let’s move on to Facebook ads.
High level Facebook ads overview made simple
Let’s break this down into 3 easy to understand categories for this section: Testing, optimization, and scaling
Let’s take a look at 2 cases.
Let’s say we got 5 video ads from our creative team.
We ask them to create 4-6 different versions with different captions for each ad. This way, out of 5 ads we get around ~30 variations of it.
How do we narrow this down?
First, we take our top 4-8 performing copies at our disposal as well as the headlines. We start using variations with copies and headlines and start moving the ads to our top-performing ad set to the cold audience.
We then test them on our best or second best audience and start with a $80-$100 daily budget. If we get the expected ROI from the get-go with 3-10+ purchases (depends on the account), we start scaling them.
For the metrics, we look at:
- Cost per landing page view.
- Relevance score.
Depending on the account though, some of these details might differ.
2. Testing audiences
This is a constantly evolving process of testing and iterating.
One way to test the audience is to:
- Split the audience into separate ad sets – use Conversion campaign objective.
- Use no more than one interest, behavior, lookalike audience per ad set.
- Once you start seeing some traction, move the ad-set into higher budget campaigns.
- Once we find audiences that work, we combine them and put them into one CBD campaign, LLA into one ad-set, interest/behavior into another and have a broad ad-set.
- Set a minimum and maximum budget, so that in the first 3 days, they get approximately the same budget.
- After 3 days, kill the ads not performing well. Increase the maximum budget limit and start scaling the CBD.
Another thing you can do here is stack the audiences on top of each other and leave it in the same CBD (instead of testing one-by-one).
So, for example, instead of having 18 audiences spread out, we’d have only 4-6.
Since Facebook keeps most 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.
To determine to kill the ad-set or not, we usually wait to spend 3x of our target CPA and look at the same metrics:
- Cost per IC.
- Cost per Add to Cart.
- Cost per Landing Page View.
Here, try to apply the optimization and conversion principles covered above.
Other Facebook ad optimization hacks to keep in mind include:
- Optimizing your ad schedule – There are always days and hours that outperform the rest. To see which weekdays contribute the most to conversions at the lowest CPA, go to your ads manager, Breakdown, By Time, and select Day.
- Fight ad fatigue with ad rotation, try expanding your audience, going international, creating more creatives with different angles, adjust your targeting, tweak your offer, and more.
- Always A/B test your ideas. Such as: ad design, copy, headline, unique value offer, ad placement, CTA, objectives, etc.
Without the right strategy, your advertising dollars go right into the drain. Check out this article on optimizing your facebook ads for conversions for more info on this.
To start scaling our ads, we usually look at the following data:
- Website purchase conversion value.
- Purchases ROAS.
- Website purchases.
- Website checkouts initiated.
- Website adds to cart.
Then, we check if the ROAS and CPA are below our KPIs (depending on the account). If they are, it’s usually because of:
If everything checks out, we measure our ad performance on a 1, 3, 7, 14, 30-day window.
As for the actual scaling part, there’s a few different ways to do this. You can:
- Use the least risky method of adding small “salary bumps” to your Facebook ads (10%-20%) every 4-7 days when the results are good.
- Boost spending on your most profitable Facebook audience segments.
- Replicate winning Facebook ads but target different audiences.
- Automatically allocate Facebook ad spend with CBO.
- Rotate multiple offers to find the winning combination.
- Scale vertically or horizontally.
This is when we increase our daily ad spend or budget under an ad set.
We start by increasing the budgets gently 20% every 24 hours. We don’t want Facebook to get too excited and start showing the ad to everyone, so we play it safe and keep it to 20%.
Another method is to simply duplicate the ad sets and increase its original daily budget up to $150 per day.
This is one of the most widely used and reliable methods to scale Facebook campaigns.
With this tactic, you replicate the same winning ads but target them to different groups.
In other words, you pick ads that are highly profitable, create new ad sets, and reuse the same ads. In each ad set, you choose different targeting.
The steps are simple.
- Create new campaign to test new ads. Test new ad concepts, copy, and creatives work. If they work, go to step 2.
- Create another campaign to apply horizontal scaling. In it, select ads that worked in the first campaign into multiple ad sets, each targeting a different audience.
When you start testing 10-20 ads at a time, you’ll see the benefits of this system and won’t lose track of the ads you’ve applied the horizontal scaling method to.
Now, that’s about it for Facebook ads for this article.
If you’re looking for even MORE info on scaling your Facebook ads, be sure to also check out:
- This article on Facebook video ads based on video ads that generated $10M+.
- This podcast on How to Generate $12M In Monthly Revenue Using Facebook Ads, Mindset Change & Mental Health.
- Our private Facebook group where we’re constantly sharing all the latest insights, news, and lessons we’re learning as we grow. Join here.
Now, let’s finally take a look at some other marketing channels.
Generating $350k+/Month with influencer marketing
Done right, influencer marketing can be a huge needle mover for your eCommerce business and help you scale up.
It provides a higher ROI than most marketing methods and allows you to reach a bigger audience you otherwise might not have had the access to.
The reason it works is because it’s based on trust, social proof, and because people buy relations, stories, and magic over good and services.
When consumers are taking extreme measures to avoid your ads (AdBlock, etc.), influencer marketing can be a great way to bridge that gap.
Now, we have a separate article on this in which we go in-depth and reveal our influencer marketing process based on generating $350k+ per month.
So, check out that article, as well as our podcast on influencer marketing if you want to hear more about our process.
But the main insights are as follows:
- 2 Main metrics from influencer marketing are as follows: generating revenue (tracked through discount codes, purchases or Google Analytics) and user-generated content. UGC is any content (text, videos, images, reviews, etc.) created by people (influencers). People see it as much more authentic compared to traditional ads, and you can re-use UGC for your ads (e.g. as testimonials, how-to demonstration, unfiltered reaction, etc.).
- In most cases, you’ll be working with micro (3,000-10,000+ followers) and macro influencers (authoritative experts in your niche, 100k or more followers) and your main goals will be generating leads and sales. If you’re looking for UGC, it’s better to pay nano-influencers for the footage as they’ll do it for way cheaper.
- Tool stack: We use Scope to generate a list of influencers (depending on our requirements for the account for the followers, engagement rate, etc.), store everything in a Google Sheet and Yesware for email outreach campaigns. A lot of the influencer info we either outsource to UpWork for $5/h-$10/h or do it manually (depending on the campaign). In the Google Sheet, we usually store the following influencer info: Instagram link, name, number of followers, email (contact info), discount code, their rate, deliverables, notes, status, posting date, content approved/status, cost per thousand impressions (story view), revenue generated, and ROI – when we have it.
- Managing relationships: If their rate is less than $3,000 – we almost never do contracts as they’re too time-consuming and no one has vanished without delivering their post so far. You can always pay 50% up front and 50% after they make the post. If the rate is more than that, we try to include the following info in the contract: timeline and dates, scope of work and deliverables, approval workflows, exclusivity.
- Measuring results: After each push with your influencer, it’s essential to track the results to see if it was worth it. Go to WeThrift and look up your discount code to see how many times it was used.
- As an example, if your influencer averages around 100,000 story views, around 3% of that (3,000 people) will go to your website. And 3% of that (90 people) will actually end up buying. Then, you multiply that by your AOV. If your AOV is $100, you’d be getting approximately $9,000 in sales. So, if the influencer’s rate was $3,000, you’d still generate $6,000.
Creating effective Snapchat ads
Before, if you wanted to run Snapchat ads, you would need to go through one of their ads partners. Now, you can create Snap ads yourself through Snapchat ad manager.
Snapchat even includes an awesome video creation tool in their ad manager to make creating engaging, vertical-looking videos a breeze.
Here’s what you need to know when it comes to Snapchat ads:
- Snap ads: 3-10 second full-screen vertical video ads. Snapchat users can swipe up anytime in the app when the video is playing for their CTA – watch the long video, read an article, install an app, so on.
- Snapchat has an active user base with up to 166 million Snapchatters who use the app daily and on average, spend more than 30 minutes in the app and open the app more than 18 times per day!
- Huge portion of their audience can’t be reached on Facebook (35%), Instagram (46%), Twitter (81%) and other major social platforms – according to App Annie.
- With Snapchat’s data, you can reach their users based on their demographics, online (and offline) interests and behaviors. Most of them fall in the 18-24 age range.
- Snapchat users are more ad-friendly in that they’re more likely to purchase a product after viewing the ad, they pay more attention to the ads (as they’re full screen), the swipe up rate is five times higher on average than the average CTR on other social media ads. And over 60% of Snap ads are played with sound on.
- Snap ads follow the same structure as Facebook ads – campaign, ad sets, and ads. When creating ads, you’ll work your way down the structure: campaign -> ad set -> ad.
- Snap ad main objectives are as follows: Drive traffic, drive install of an app, grow awareness, and drive video views.
- When creating ads, content that is native to the platform works best. That is to say, short content, 5-6 seconds, with one clear value proposition and CTA. Fitness, skincare, and beauty products are all perfect industries for the platform with little to no competition.
We haven’t experimented with Snapchat ads a lot (yet), but luckily, we know someone who has had success with it…
Fares Benouhiba (spending $300k/Month profitably on Snap ads) recommends starting with influencer marketing/user-generated content and simple “swipe up” ads.
And the most valuable thing is to track and understand the people who didn’t buy from your ads. You can use UTM on your ads or Hotjar on your site to track these people and get soft data. Then, you can retarget them, give a discount, and try to gain as much information as possible.
At the end of the day, to produce better creative ads, you need to be a member of the platform first – no matter what platform ads you’re running. You follow the niches you’re in, see what the influencers and publishers are posting, and consume ads from the users’ perspective.
Safe to say, Fares knows what he’s talking about.
For more info on the channel and to learn what most people get wrong about Snapchat ads (there’s a lot) how to optimize for purchases, and how Fares launched a new successful account on Snapchat from scratch, with cold traffic and 0 influence – check out our podcast with him here:
Email marketing ROI remains on top compared to other channels. On average, for every $1 you spend, you gain $40 from email marketing.
Email is one of the most (if not THE) most profitable channels and one of the most widely used one too.
In short: it’s an incredibly effective channel, especially when it comes to eCommerce and a lot of the best practices are obvious (clear subject line, irresistible offer, CTA, etc.).
For eCommerce, the average email marketing statistics are as follows:
- Open rate – 15.68%
- Click-through rate – 2.01%
- Hard bounce – 0.19%
- Soft bounce – 0.26%
- Unsubscribe rate – 0.27%
One of the most valuable steps of growing your eCommerce business is to build an email list and actively work on growing it.
We will most likely record a separate podcast on email marketing (and maybe a separate article as well).
But until then, here’s a brief overview of the channel:
- For the platform of choice, we use Klaviyo. Apply best copywriting practices to your emails, use Automizy to grade your email subject lines, and always send the email to yourself (as a preview/test) before your subscribers.
- There’s a lot of different kinds of email marketing campaigns you can use to grow your business. Such as: Welcome (discount) email series, exclusive discount or loyal customers, promotional sales emails, flash sales, abandoned cart emails, asking for reviews, educational videos, and more.
- There’s a lot of different types of email segments for your list, not all of them are going to be relevant for you. Few main ones to keep an eye out for: new subscribers/welcome email, preferences, interests, location, open rate, inactivity, lead magnet, abandoned shopping cart, purchase history, and more. A lot of times, you’ll just have to test and see what works and what doesn’t.
Email elements to focus on:
- Top bar CTA – Having a “Shop now” CTA at the top of your email can be a quick way for people to get to your site right away (if they’re so enticed by your subject line).
- Big, bold hero section – This is like a landing page. It features a large hero section that shows off the email’s main benefits (e.g. 50% off) and provides another CTA.
- Product grid – Can be a great way to show off multiple products, depending on the email type. Also to show your subscribers a product photo, name, and the sale price.
- (Optional) Links to individual products – Another thing a product grid allows you to do is to feature all the individual products. People are more likely to click on the specific image they’re interested in this way.
We’ve found that educational, soft sell, how-tos, advertorials (advertisement + editorial), and testimonial angles worked best.
And sometimes, quick scarcity and FOMO sales angles work great for that sweet, sweet ROI.
Some other email drip flows we’ve had success with:
- Abandoned cart email – Either remind them about the cart or send a quick “what stopped you from buying” survey. Take the opportunity to learn more about your customers.
- When someone viewed the product – Send a quick “did you see something you liked?” email with a 10% off discount after 2-3 hours.
- Customer ‘Thank You’ – After someone placed an order.
- Non purchasers – If someone hasn’t placed an order before. Comes with a 10% off discount email.
- Repeat purchase customer – If someone has purchased before. Comes with a 10% off discount for the next order.
- Edutainment (educational + entertainment) content – If you can hold their attention while educating them, you can hold their hand all the way to the checkout page.
Simple drip flow campaigns, combined with natural copy and design go a long way.
Here’s a great example of an edutainment email:
It’s extremely curiosity-driven and the CTA is to read a blog post. And the CTA of the blog post is to ‘buy now’.
Note: The above email newsletter examples about protein coffee are from our eCommerce growth saga Part 2 article. You can find the whole thing that goes into detail (email as well as other sections) on how we scaled that account to 7 figures on our blog.
High Level eCommerce Management Frameworks and Processes to Take You to the Next Level of $30M-$100M+
So, where do we go from here?
Well, from here on out, it’s a lot of theory, management, frameworks, and being patient.
It’s a marathon not a sprint.
For entrepreneurs who can create momentum out of thin air and suddenly grow to $30M – proper management suddenly becomes essential.
And that’s where most businesses stop: the magic $30M number.
Let’s take a look why:
The $30M ceiling
In our podcast – Lessons Learned Scaling Past $30M/y and Hiring Experienced Management, Deividas shared his experience with this.
He explains that he can scale businesses up to $30M/year using his ‘ugly method’, and after that point, he needs to hire competent people who can run the business. He says he’s not a very good manager. So, this is where he needs other people to come in and help him scale even further.
Listen to the podcast for the full story, Kris’ inputs, and other lessons the two reveal when scaling businesses past 7 figures.
To sustain growth, a company needs to reach new markets, with better products, through more efficient channels… While supporting customers of the first gen product. Entrepreneurs get blind-sided by this speed bump and the financial forecast based on exponential growth goes sideways.
The reality turns to an S-curve and the company finds itself unprepared to drive the next wave of growth.
People and teams reach a plateau in their productivity, market and specific customers get saturated, technological progression tops out, or something else goes wrong…
Meanwhile, it’s important to note that the search for the next source of growth is never over and companies can’t start too soon. The time to search is when the current product is hitting its stride.
A growth company has an innovation window to develop and launch new growth strategies before the current business matures.
Unfortunately, a lot of companies develop a few roadblocks during this critical window. The most common ones fall into:
- Market – Either market barriers, market isn’t ready or big enough.
- Product – Why should someone buy your product? What’s your value proposition? What problem do you solve with what benefits in cost reduction, revenue enhancement or operational improvement? Many companies fail to grow because customers don’t know about the product that could help them.
- Business model – Is your business model sustainable? Also think of your positioning in terms of: your messaging, tagline (what is your ONE thing?), credibility, social proof, your story, and platform. After a while, you have to stop trying to compete on price, and instead, position yourself as THE go-to solution for those who want the best service and quality, period.
- The team – A team needs more than just the right skills. It must be a well-oiled, learning machine that can respond and adjust on the go, without your input.
After a certain period of time, you need professional operators who have the experience to step in and make sure things are in sync with your team. Especially when you’re managing a remote team, everything has to be done seamlessly with no bottlenecks along the way.
This way, you can truly relinquish control.
Before we take a look at the management frameworks, let’s take a look at some other major mistakes businesses make.
3 deadly scaling sins to avoid
- Sin #1: Putting branding principles first, direct-response principles second
A lot of new entrepreneurs aspire to be just like Apple, Nike, and so on.
So, they start looking at their branding principles, design, and the general look of their business.
But businesses like Nike and Apple had decades of experience to get to where they are in terms of their finished product.
For eCommerce businesses that are just starting out, the #1 thing they should focus on is stabilizing top-line revenue growth.
And you do that by selling a product, not your brand.
Look at it this way:
- Direct response principles are about your customers – the people you’re trying to serve.
- Branding is about YOU.
Which one generates you revenue?
That’s right. The customers.
No one cares about your logo as much as you do.
Many eCommerce businesses flatline because they want their videos and ads to “look and feel aesthetic.” They experiment with different visuals and re-do their landing pages, only to end up not generating any revenue.
Meanwhile, there are companies in the beauty niche with an ugly landing page generating more than $600k/month in monthly revenue as long as the product solves the problem (we’ve seen this happen).
Don’t commit this first sin and focus on generating profitable revenue with a working product first.
One important concept to keep in mind when dealing with direct-response principles is the customer lifetime value to help identify key points of leverage in your business and where to direct resources for testing and optimizing..
Check out Babak Zad’s video on bridging direct response with your branding for a more in-depth look into customer acquisition and proper customer experience.
2. Sin #2: “I need to approve every single thing so that the business isn’t making any mistakes”
We get it, relinquishing control is hard. But it’s an essential step you have to eventually take.
The key to growth hacking is doing one thing at a time at high speed and at high frequency.
And the only way to do this is to test everything. Test today, tomorrow, the day after, and so on.
The higher the quality and the frequency of the tests, the better. And the speed of execution of these tests is what sets apart one media buyer from another.
For every test you’re missing daily, you’re leaving behind a day’s worth of profitable revenue.
This boils down to the same old excuse that entrepreneurs give – “I have to approve every single decision to give each department the proper guidance…”
For more info on this, check out the article on delegation strategies by Lex Sisney (author of Organizational Physics).
Many entrepreneurs think it’s their duty to guide each department.
In reality, it’s the other way around.
Your only duty is to give each department a KPI to hit in order for the business to grow and scale profitably.
3. Sin #3: “I’m firing my media buying agency because they can’t hit the ROAS!”
Sounds like an oddly specific sin?
Maybe. But this is only a problem if your media buying agency is NOT testing video ads.
If they ARE, then it’s not a media buying problem. Frankly, it’s a YOU problem or a product problem.
Many entrepreneurs keep repeating the same mistake of going from media buyer to media buyer, agency to agency, trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist within media buying!
They start from scratch and continue with this cycle.
When the actual problem is in the product or the entrepreneur himself.
Management and framework processes overview
So, where do we start with this.
As a wise leader, you’ve learned to trust your experience. But you also have to keep an eye and an ear open for valuable insights and perspectives. With that said, there are countless management theories and organizational practices to choose from.
There’s a top-down approach, bottom-up, agile-iterative, data-driven, design-first, customer-oriented, decentralized, centralized… You get the point.
If you ask a dozen entrepreneurs and CEOs which framework is the best model, you’ll probably get as many different answers.
Here are some of our own takeaways:
- Short-term oriented people should not be reporting under long-term oriented people. You have to structure things so that producers who are thinking about short-term revenue are not reporting under people thinking about long-term revenue (e.g. sales team shouldn’t report to branding manager).
- Learn how to map out things (at least) 1 year ahead. In terms of clear roles, responsibilities, KPIs, and more. For every new hire, think about how well they’d integrate into your organization and consider having them take a PSIU assessment, Clifton Strengths or something else.
- Companies can outgrow people. One of the companies we’re working with signed an $11M contract deal for a warehouse manufacturing facility. The company wanted to innovate with their product at a fast rate and didn’t want to use 3rd party manufacturing. So, they fired their entire production team, because the team that got them to $30M couldn’t keep up with their growth.
There are very different types of braids in each organization that can find a problem and approach it in different ways.
According to Organizational Physics, there are 4 types of people that you need for any teams:
- Producers – Someone who’s super hands-on, focused on results, and can work 12+ hours a day.
- Stabilizers – Always asking the ‘How’ questions behind projects and decisions. Takes the time to have meetings and carefully decide how to approach projects. Doesn’t get along with producers.
- Innovators – Comes up with great ideas and is annoyed when people aren’t listening to supporting their ideas.
- Unifiers – People-person who makes sure everyone is getting along and are working together.
For an organization to grow, you need all of them in your team.
When you’re faced with challenges, opportunities, and choices, how can you decisively lead your organization where you want it to go? When can you trust your past experience and when does it blind your next move? What’s the right approach for your specific situation?
The answer is to first understand what’s really going on.
For example – a good doctor understands how the body really functions. Instead of focusing on the symptoms, the doctor will work to understand the systematic causes of a disease first.
Similarly, if you understand how your business and team really work under the hood, you can get the underlying cause of what’s making them fail or succeed.
Consider the following 6 laws of organizational physics (excerpt from the book):
- An organization is a complex adaptive system.
- An organization is subject to the first law of thermodynamics (Energy is always conserved, it cannot be created or destroyed. If an organization is to get new energy, it must get it from its environment. For a business, energy is any usable source of power such as money, resources, and market clout).
- An organization is subject to the second law of thermodynamics (everything falls apart over time. An organization’s available energy first flows to manage and counter the disintegrating force of entropy. If entropy in the system is high, then it costs the system a higher amount of its available energy to maintain itself and get work done).
- An organization must shape and respond to its environment as a whole system, including its sup-parts.
- An organization is subject to the conditions in its environment.
- An organization is subject to the laws of motion.
For growing accounts to 7 figures and above, we’ve used the Agile methodology in the past.
With the following process:
- 1-3 days before the Monday meeting, the eCommerce strategies, ad buyer, or someone who just knows the product (and niche) inside out releases an Epic (an overarching angle the video team will base stories on).
- Every Monday, each team meets in Sprints (short, time-boxed team works to complete a set amount of work) and discuss what happened in the last 7 days and adapt deliverables accordingly. Everyone presents their top 1-3 ideas (ad angles, creative ideas, etc.) and gets to work.
- Friday: All the deliverables are finished and for every angle, variations are produced. We come up with different variations for the first 3 seconds of footage (first thing we test during creative testing).
- Saturday end of day: All the creatives are approved and ready to go.
- Sunday: Ad buyer uploads the creatives and schedules them to go live at Monday 3 A.M. (account time).
This way, all the team members collaborate with and motivate each other, meetings run on track, and everyone knows their deliverables/KPIs they have to hit.
From there, you see what works, analyze the results/data behind the creatives, and repeat the cycle.
3 Biggest needle movers to scale you past 7 figures (and other things not mentioned)
Finally, to leave things on a practical note, here are 3 biggest needle movers you can focus on to help you scale past 7 figures and some other comments not mentioned in this article.
- YouTube ads
- Still much cheaper compared to Facebook.
- Just as scalable as Facebook and more stable. Once you find the creative that works, you can let it run for months on end. Unlike Facebook where you constantly need to test the creatives as their shelf life is much shorter.
- Original production and creating creatives for YouTube takes more time and expenses.
The strategy is similar to Facebook. You start small and once you figure it out – scale it up.
Find the exact videos your potential customers are watching to educate themselves and start testing creatives on those people (you can use Adzoola instead of collecting URLs manually).
Once you have working creatives, expand horizontally and show it to broader audiences based on their interests and move to similar/lookalike audiences.
Start with view-through optimization as Google will charge you ONLY if people watch your ads past 30 seconds or click on it to land on your page.
Check out our podcast on YouTube ads here for more info.
2. Influencer marketing
Covered this above. But here are some added benefits of influencer marketing besides the immediate ROI:
- User-generated content:You can start working with influencers for them to create content for you that they don’t publish on social media. You then use that content for ads or branding. From our experience, for 10-20 pieces of short videos we can expect to pay around $400-600 per month depending on the influencer.
- Micro communities – Influencer marketing is essentially just a modern version of word-to-mouth marketing. It seems more natural and is based around the opinions of influencers your target audience looks up to. By involving influencers, you’re capitalizing on their following. Meaning, you’re capitalizing on a small tribe they’ve built around them.
Small tribes then turn into bigger ones, which makes the whole brand scale.
That’s why giveaways, contests, and challenges can be such a powerful tool for scaling and going glocal – global with a local approach.
For more info on scaling through influencer marketing (and going international), check out our podcast on Influencer Marketing, Scaling Up, and Going Glocal.
And the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg for more marketing strategies on achieving (and handling) explosive growth.
3. Advertorials (and content)
Advertorial is a page where you can warm your audience by educating them. It’s a mix of education and a sales page.
A lot of eCommerce brands have been using it forever now, but none of our clients had them ready so we decided to test them out and we had massive success.
Advertorials helped us scale an account from making $8-$12k in daily revenue to $25-$35k. And we went from getting 150-220 emails per day to generating 700-1100 emails – only due to the help of advertorials.
Here’s the process:
- Analyze our best-performing blog articles (through newsletter opt-ins or Google Analytics) and use tools like BuzzSumo to find engaging or viral content in your niche.
- Find similar content our audience will enjoy. Write the whole thing and make sure the headline acts as a hook.
- The bottom part (footer) of the advertorial is always the same. There, we usually tell the story of the owner, slowly introduce the products, show testimonials (reviews/social proof), and officially introduce them to the brand. CTA: buy the product and/or join the email list.
2 types of advertorials we’ve used include:
- Emotional storytelling – Stories from customers or the founder of the brand that apply pressure to their pain points and then provide a solution. When we survey our customers and ask for the number one reason they bought the product – they tell us the owners’ story resonated with them.
- Educational content – We take an umbrella approach here and educate the readers on many issues. We test dozens of articles and see which one resonates with them the most. When we come across a winning article, we get our copywriters to expand on them and create a long-form, SEO-friendly version of it.
So, where do you go from here?
This was a long article. Hope you found it useful.
If there are 2 things you should take away from this is that you should test everything to see what works for you by moving fast and breaking things. There are probably 100+ things you can focus on your business daily, yet only a handful of them will bring you the desired results. And to identify them, you need to develop strong decision-making processes or have the right team help you along the way.
If you want to learn more about our current work and the lessons we’re learning, join our private Facebook community where we share our successes and challenges or drop your email below and we’ll update with any new eCommerce business scaling related lessons we’re learning along the way.