Growing an ecommerce business can be very difficult—I know firsthand from managing dozens of stores as a marketer and creating my own from scratch. While it’s no easy task, all the tips I’ll be mentioning in today’s blog are definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to growing your store and helping your product gain more traction.
I’ve said this time and time again, the first thing you always need to do before involving any marketing is to narrow down your ideal customer. Here, you want to make sure that you understand who you’re selling to, what their problems and pain points are, what their dreams and desires are, and how your product can help alleviate their pain while getting them to their desired state. To put it bluntly, your customers don’t care about you or your company—they only care about how your company and product will help solve their problems. I can’t stress enough on how implementing this will significantly change the results you get from launching, marketing, and scaling your product. Your ideal customer is the bedrock of your company in a sense. If you’re clueless about who that person is, then no one will buy from your store, simply put.
So, now you want to dig down and actually find out who your ideal customers are? Well, it’s a hard, constant work in progress, but it’s simple to do. You just have to answer some questions that pertain to your ideal customer. I’m not going to fully list them out here—I’ve already written an article going over the exact questions you need to ask to determine your ideal customer. When all is said and done, you’ll have a clearer understanding of who your target customers are, what they want, and how you and your product will help them.
Solidifying your product, messaging, and audience all leads up to one thing that will not only help you grow your store, but will also scale your store past the stratosphere. That thing is crafting a no-brainer offer to your target audience, specifically focusing on that offer, iterating that offer, and scaling it through the help of organic and paid advertising. While the word “offer” sounds a bit vague and abstract, a good example of this would be a Charcuterie board.
Think of all the different products your store sells as if they’re different pieces of the board: the cheese, olives, smoked meats, crackers, wine, dip, etc. When you’re marketing those individual products, there’s nothing unique here. Think about how many thousands of stores already sell those specific products. But when you put all of those products together on a wooden cutting board, package it up nicely, and create a unique offer by combining those products together for a great price, that’s when you start to differentiate yourself from the competition. Plus this will be more scalable, as you’ll be able to charge a premium because it’s already put together and will have way better margins. For the people that love charcuterie boards, but don’t want to make them themselves, this is a no-brainer. They will happily pay you money for this product, not to mention you can upsell them multiple add-ons to the board to increase the AOV even more. Now that I think about it, I might as well open up a charcuterie board store, haha.
But you get the point, crafting an offer for your target audience is win win win, so I would highly recommend taking market feedback and seeing if combining two products into one would make the customer experience better. Plus the added benefit of focusing on one offer is that you can build your marketing around that one offer, thereby optimizing the messaging, creative, and targeting even further. Paid acquisition should be seen as gasoline being poured on the fire that is your offer.
A lot of ecommerce and DTC store owners love to leave money on the table as if it’s their side hustle to do so. Now, it’s not their fault—most of the time, these store owners wake up and realize their mistakes when they do want to start dropping their CPA and increasing their AOV. I’m not judging because I was in the exact same position before; too naive to understand the power of these things and let many opportunities (and cash flow) slip through my fingers. So what are they? Most you already know about, some you may already have implemented, some may have all implemented. They’re essentially things you do to your store that are a one time setup or ongoing improvement that have an asymmetric increase in your cashflow. I’m talking about email marketing, conversion rate optimization, and upsell/downsell offers. All of these are necessary to squeeze as much profit out of your store as possible while driving traffic to it.
To break it down to layman’s terms, implementing the 4 essential email marketing automations that help with reducing cart abandonment, turn subscribers into buyers, and remind old buyers to buy again is a simple framework that will need to be updated every couple years. Meaning if something like this isn’t set up—say it with me—you’re leaving money on the table. Email subscribers are free, and once you have that data, you can either use it or let it rot. Similarly, conversion rate optimization is almost in the same boat as email marketing, except it takes a bit more tweaking and is more of a process, but once it’s done you’ll see immense returns from the same traffic and number of people. For example, if you increase your conversion rate from 1% to 2%, a small percentage, that’s over double the amount of revenue you’re generating from the same amount of traffic being sent to your store. Lastly, upsells and downsells. These are, again, a one and done solution that helps increase the average order value of each customer, which in turn will bring in more revenue. Getting these implemented is almost like a free print, and in this day and age, it’s hard to see how some stores still survive without these tactics in place.
Like I mentioned previously, you should think of paid acquisition as pouring gasoline on the fire—it should accelerate your store’s performance. You should already have your ideal customer locked down and a decently performing offer. If you’re still “figuring things out,” I would advise against doing paid traffic at scale because you’re bound to blow up your store (in a bad way) and lose tons of money. Trust me—I’ve seen it happen multiple times.
If you’re testing out a new offer and want to see how people react to it outside of your immediate circle of customers, then this is where paid advertising can help you reach those audiences. Just make sure to set up a specific spend cap and test it out.
In the same way that you’d want to have your offer and target customer locked down, you’d want to make sure that you’ve also diversified your paid acquisition channels. With the recent blow dealt to Facebook, more and more stores are starting to try and gain traction on different channels. Facebook’s ad tech is still light years ahead of everyone else. If 70-80% of your traffic is coming from Facebook, then you should start to diversify into other channels because if Facebook gets wiped then that’s most of your traffic gone.
While this sounds very vague, it’s an important part of increasing your store’s long-term sustainability and becoming a big player in the space like Quip, Hims/Hers, Away, Warby Parker, Bombas, MVMT, MeUndies, and many more. These brands not only had excellent offers and products, knew their customers well, and ran really good ads, they did many other things to secure themselves long term. They used a mixture of branding, PR, great SEO, and content marketing. It sounds like a lot of work, but once you’re a million dollar brand and want to become a $10 million and eventually a $100 million brand, you have to do things that pay off in the long run.
For example, SEO will take 6 months to a year before it actually starts to pay off. While it looks like you’re just spending money, long term it will be profitable as SEO becomes more and more present in today’s marketing strategies. Same thing with content marketing. It’s a long term strategy, but if you provide value with your content, and the product matches the value, then there’s no downside and it will help with overall growth. Lastly, branding and PR are quintessential. This is how you represent your brand, as well as how people perceive your brand. There’s a quote I heard that said “branding is like art but for capitalism,” which is pretty spot on when it comes down to it. So having that in place as well as doing publications, podcast spots, youtube/instagram influence posts will help boost your brand’s credibility, make it more omnipresent, and will add to your bottom line again, in the long term.
There’s really no order of operations to do these things, but getting the first 2 points done will significantly help you achieve the last 3. Who knows, every store’s ambitions are different; some might want to become the next Warby Parker while others just want to make a steady lifestyle doing what they love. So it’s up to you and your ambition to decide on how far you want to take your ecommerce or DTC brand because, as we’ve seen, the possibilities are endless when you take things online.