There’s no one “right” path to business success. Each entrepreneur’s journey is different, and the strategies that may work for one store may not be the best for you. That said, the only way to truly find out what works for your business is to try new things.
To help you do that, we picked the brains of not one, not two, but three high-volume Ecwid sellers. We asked them about their most successful tactics and strategies, and the biggest contributors to their growth.
Have a look at what they had to say and see how you can apply their lessons to your business.
Meet the Merchants
Before diving into tips and best practices, let’s first get to know the Ecwid customers featured in this article.
We had a chat with Steve McCulley, owner of Apollo Olive Oil, a small family-run business in Northern California. They produce and sell olive oil that’s both certified organic and extra virgin, which is quite rare in California. Apollo’saward-winning olive oils are raw, unadulterated, and 100%cold-pressed on a vacuum mill designed in Tuscany to preserve the highest levels of flavor, nutrients, and antioxidants.
Learn more at: www.apollooliveoil.com
Ecwid also caught up with Brian Masters, President at HOPE Coffee. They sell high-quality Honduran coffee and partner with churches both in Honduras and in the United States to spread the love and message of Christ, and to help fund clean water projects and housing in Honduran communities.
Learn more at: www.hopecoffee.com
Last but not least, we spoke with Jeff Denton, founder and CEO of The Lions Pack, a company that enhances people’s lives by providing healthy alternatives to products like cookie dough, muffins, and pancake mixes. The Lions Pack produces and sells edible cookie dough, high-proteinpancake mixes, muffin mixes, and high-protein peanut butter in small batches that guarantee freshness when they arrive on your doorstep.
Learn more at: www.thelionspack.com
Now that you know a bit more about our featured customers, let’s dig into their success secrets:
1. Use first-time buyer promotions to acquire new customers
Encourage first-time purchases through special offers or coupon codes. That’s one of the things that Apollo Olive Oil does, and it has worked quite well for the business. UsingEcwid’s discount coupons, Apollo offers a $10 discount to new customers who enter the code “FirstTimeBuyer” at checkout.
Giving your first-time buyers a significant discount will help convince them to give you a try. That’s been very successful for us.
Steve stressed the importance of marketing to first-timebuyers:
You might think: “Why get a first-time buyer if they don’t purchase from you again?”. But you need that movement because a certain percentage of those first-timers will become repeat customers.
Steve estimated that about 30% of people who buy from them for the first time go on to become regular customers, which is quite significant and demonstrates the value of attracting new customers.
2. Follow-up with buyers to encourage repeat purchases
Once you’ve acquired a customer, don’t forget to follow-upand encourage them to buy from you again.
This can be done simply by sending them a quick email after their purchase and reminding them about your business’ mission and the benefits of your products. You could even take things a step further and offer additional incentives for their next purchase.
Just look at HOPE Coffee’s post-purchase strategy. When someone completes a purchase for the first time, HOPE Coffee sends a follow-up email telling the customer about the individual and group discounts they can take advantage of later on.
3. Enable ratings and reviews
A great way to encourage purchases is to display ratings and reviews. This is especially true if you’re selling online. Since shoppers can’t touch and feel your products, social proof, and third party validations become big factors in their purchase decisions.
A study by PowerReviews found that nearly all consumers (94%) look at reviews throughout their buying journeys, and 86% believe reviews are a significant component of the decision-making process.
Clearly, ratings and reviews are essential in e-commerce,so make it a point to incorporate them into your site. If you’re using Ecwid, you can easily do this through appslike Yotpo, Disqus Products, and Product Reviews by Stamped.io.
In the case of Apollo Olive Oil, Steve says they use the Yotpo integration and they’re quite pleased with the results:
One thing I really like is the Yotpo connection for reviews. I think it’s very nicely designed and it shows up well on the site. That third-party validation is just about the most important thing a small company can get. Also, those reviews make us look like a really up-to-datecompany.
4. Join competitions
In addition to customer reviews, Steve added that entering competitions allowed them to build third party trust.
That’s why if there are any competitions or awards in your industry, take the time to enter them. At the very least, doing so will put you in front of your peers; and if you win, you’ll reap awards, recognition, and a badge of honor that you can proudly display on your site.
5. Use newsletters to come up with new ideas
Newsletters aren’t just great for keeping in touch or showcasing your products — you can also leverage them to gather feedback and ideas from your customers. Jeff at The Lions Pack told us that email marketing has been a great tool for soliciting customer comments and ideas:
We send out newsletters, throw in some questions, and then get suggestions. From there, The Lions Pack team will test those suggestions in the market, and if they’re successful, we’ll incorporate the ideas into their regular product line.
6. Use newsletters to drive traffic and sales
Speaking of newsletters, if you’re not sending them regularly, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. These emails can be a powerful driver of sales.
Just ask Steve of Apollo Olive Oil. They send a monthly newsletter to their customers and doing so helps them drive website traffic and sales.
Every newsletter that goes out increases our sales by about 10-15%,” he said. “That’s why email is really important for us. If we don’t send out a newsletter, people forget that we’re here.
7. Tell your stories through social media
While social media can drive traffic and sales for businesses, let’s not forget that social networks are also some of the best platforms for telling stories. If you have some interesting narratives surrounding your business, spread the word through social media.
Craft engaging posts and throw in some images and videos to make them more enticing. HOPE Coffee is an excellent example of a business telling stories through social. According to Brian, sites such as Instagram and Twitter allow them to showcase all the great things that they’re doing for the Honduran communities.
Twitter and Instagram are great for us from a brand recognition standpoint. We use them a lot for the accountability side of what we do. We share stories about the families that we’re helping, and our customer base loves that.
8. Encourage customers to post product photos
Speaking of social media, if you and your customers are on any of the big social networks, be sure to encourage them to engage with your brand and talk about your products.
One company that does this well is The Lions Pack, which has a very active Instagram account. Their secret? They encourage customers to take photos of their products so they can re-post their images.
Instagram is probably our biggest platform, and it’s our most engaged platform. We repost a lot of customer pictures, what they are saying, and reviews. We really encourage them with a thank you page that comes with every order to post our hashtag. That way, we can get a large amount of people basically promoting our product for free.
Hint: Want to implementing something similar in your business? Check out this Ecwid app that allows you to redirect customers to a custom ‘Thank you’ page after they’ve completed a purchase.
9. Run giveaways and ask questions to build your following
Another great social media tip from The Lions Pack is to run contests. According to Jeff, they regularly use Snapchat to do giveaways or solicit feedback; doing so has increased their followers and engagement tremendously.
What I’ll do is, I’ll take a picture of a peanut butter jar or a cookie dough jar or a screenshot or something, and I’ll let them know that the 250th viewer of the snap wins the product. So they’re always checking Snapchat all day long.
Sometimes I’ll throw up a picture of a question ‘Hey, have you guys thought of any ideas of what you’d like to see in a cookie dough flavor?’ I’ll get hundreds of snaps back with different ideas and flavors. If I see a lot of trends or a lot of popular ones, that’s something that we could start thinking about.
10. Consider affiliate marketing
If you have brand ambassadors and plenty of engaged followers, why not enlist them to become affiliates? Get your affiliates to promote and sell your products then give them a cut out of each sale. Doing so will enable you to tap into the audiences of other people, expand your reach, and generate sales.
HOPE Coffee is one example of a company doing affiliate marketing. They give their affiliates an Ecwid store HTML code that each affiliate can use on their respective sites. HOPE Coffee attaches the affiliate’s name into their codes, and this allows them to track where their sales are coming from.
If you want 2017 to be a great year for your business, be prepared to test new tactics and strategies. We hope that this post gave you some ideas that you can put to action.
Also remember that Ecwid is loaded with features built to help your business reach new heights. From discounting and affiliate marketing capabilities to omnichannel features, our solution has everything you need to start and grow your business.
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