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Actionable Insights

Actionable Insights

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Actionable Insights

Actionable Insights

Actionable Insights

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Just as fast as the seasons can change from summer to fall, so can changes in the markets of an online merchant. It's because of these changes that everyday we are learning and growing to help you stay on the latest trends and information. Empowering merchants.

Latest Episodes

This sofa is different. Find out why.

TL;DR Industry West sells furniture—online. Few furniture companies are digitally native, let alone bootstrapped.Photography is a critical tool to helping the customer understand what they are getting.Product descriptions are written by someone who lives and breathes furniture—and that’s obvious. Actually, the entire company is comprised of this type of person. Meet Ian Leslie CMO at Industry West (connect on LinkedIn and Twitter).Industry West is now 10 years old. However, they run the business like a startup.Ian does pretty much everything when it comes to marketing: digital marketing, owned media, working with the PR team (and the website fits in there too).You know what’s inspiring? It’s seeing your furniture in public. Industry West’s furniture is everywhere. Oh, and he gets to work with some really cool people every day.He’s guided the marketing arm of a company through a global pandemic (COVID-19, as we are all-to-familiar with). He did a great post about this on Medium. At the time of recording, Industry West was working with a group in Buffalo to make masks. What sets Industry West apart? In the furniture vertical, there are a literal bazillion brands. From manufacturers like Thomasville to retailers like Nebraska Furniture Mart all the way to the small-town furniture dealers, finding furniture is not a difficult task. Industry West is different. Yes, it sounds cliche to say. Most of the participants in this category are focused on brick and mortar. Industry West is digitally native and just recently opened a store in SoHo. They are one of the first (if not the first) in this category to start online. We are so meticulous about how pieces are presented to the customer.Ian Leslie Online furniture retailing is unique in that you have pay close attention to how products are presented. Photography takes center stage. Industry West has been meticulous showing products in a way that resonate with their customers. Industry West also carries a large selection of inventory. This means that they can fulfill rush orders faster. If a restaurant needs new chairs quickly—they won’t have to wait for weeks. Yet, this carries the problem that inventory is money (but not in the bank). This is possible because Industry West is bootstrapped. Those that take venture capital are beholden to the investors and investors usually want quick profitable turn-arounds. Inventory on the shelf is not liquidity. Industry West lives out a long-term vision for their company—and that is one reason they continue to see steady growth after 10 years in business. The founders, Jordan and Anne, curate the Industry West catalog. Each piece has an incredible story. It’s safe to agree that Industry West is different, so we are able to get an inside look as to how they approach marketing, their website and content development in a different way. May I introduce to you… the furniture: This furniture is for a specific segment of the market (we talked about this in Episode #10, regarding who is this product for?). Oftentimes, a number of furniture brands will co-exist under the same roof. Industry West has fortified their position with how the product is presented. They also describe the product in intricate detail: type of wood, finish, fabric, etc. It’s hard to understate how important the photography is.Ian Leslie They also work to get the pieces into their applicable context. This represents more money as locations need to be scouted, product shipped, photographers scheduled, etc. One thing that Industry West has been successful with is crowdsourcing pictures. This allows them to make use of the value that others are generating. This is why they launched a store in SoHo so that customers can come and touch and feel the product. How COVID-19 is affecting the furniture market. Ian quotes an influencer: “a successful startup in 2019 is all about

53 MIN3 w ago
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This sofa is different. Find out why.

Putting data behind your gut instinct's voice.

TL;DR Test big. But expect small successes.Verify all gut instincts with data.If you are asked to do a “dumb” test, do it. You might be wrong (or right). Either way, the company wins. Meet Guido Guido is a cognitive psychologist (please read the wiki article—you might want to become one yourself, it’s pretty neat!).He has spent years learning how people work with environments (ecom is an environment) and how environments affect people. With ecommerce, we need to ensure that our buyers know whey they are getting and they don’t get lost in the purchase process—this is a valuable set of skills.He has spent years applying this research to many merchant experiences.And he comes here today to share a few of his findings with you. “My gut says that we should…” I’m sure we’ve all worked with “that CEO” who runs his business according to his gut. Gut instinct isn’t all bad. But it’s demoralizing when this is the only means of decision making. Dilbert on March 30, 2014 We all know that gut instinct is just that—it’s rooted somewhere deep in our being but often has little basis in reality (sometime it does, though!). When making a big decision, like a job change, this might be our only source of guidance. But, in online selling, we regularly have more sources of data. Gut instinct can provide the hypothesis for A/B tests. By just making decisions on this “source of truth from who-knows-where”, we can fall majorly short. We then see the data that proves our instinct wrong, but then have to massage it to ensure that it supports our beliefs. Guido makes a case that this idea you have should be the foundation for better understanding your customer’s behavior. As you are able to accommodate, the goal is that you become more profitable. He also suggests that A/B testing should not be simple color or textual changes. Why? There is nothing learned or gained that isn’t already known. A red “add to cart” button draws more attention, but if a customer is already looking to purchase, they will find the button. That goes without saying that the add to cart button must be readily visible (if it’s hidden or hard to find, then please fix that). Side note: The smallest, hardest to find checkout button. A cart button that is smaller than the Customer Account login (in the upper right corner) should be immediately fixed. No A/B test is needed here. I am working to preserve the privacy of this company, otherwise, I’d show the entire header so you can get a perspective of just how small this is. A/B test research Whether or not have a gut instinct directive, your next step is research (Guido mentions that this is quite boring). Google Analytics: hopefully you have enhanced ecommerce enabled. Are there products that have a higher bounce rate? What is the drop-off in your cart? In the checkout? What are people searching for? Where is the audience dropping off?HotJar/FullStory: what do people click on? How do they browse the website? Are they getting stuck in a particular part of the website? does it seem like they can’t find a product?User interviews: what is your moment of inspiration? What are your pain points on the website?Better yet, ask to talk with people in-person, and watch them use your website. You’ll quickly find where they get stuck.There are also agencies that will perform user studies. With this research, you should now have a list of improvements. Prioritize them. Go for the biggest fish first. But, don’t just run to an A/B test! Try to figure out several different ways to improve it.”Guido Jansen Don’t just stick with your first idea and run with this. Exercise yourself to come to multiple solutions. Expand beyond your customers. Be creative in locating those who have never purchased from you. For example, you coul

38 MINMAY 20
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Putting data behind your gut instinct's voice.

Back up and push

TL;DR You’ll make it through this.Be creative.Be willing to make tough decisions.Focus on what is most important.Keep connecting with your customers. Meet Alida Sholl: Connect with Alida on LinkedIn. She is the director of operations at Rep Fitness. She is responsible for sales, customer service, account management and the entire tech stack. This covers pretty much all customer touchpoints, so this is a very important role for making happy customers at Rep Fitness.She has an incredibly diverse background: industrial engineering, process improvement and animal welfare. All of this has prepared her to take on the excitements and challenges of her current role. Meet Rep Fitness: Rep Fitness is NOT like Gold’s Gym equipment (the latter might break if you use it, the former won’t).Rep Fitness focuses on the home/garage gyms. The goal is to make functional fitness accessible for all. While not at the top of the price point, the product they offer is very durable.Rep Fitness strives to have excellent customer service. They want happy customers. As such, they support the customer through the entire sales cycle, including set up after the purchase. It is admirable that they help customers find the right product instead of the most profitable product.Alida points out that equipping a home gym is never complete. Very true, indeed. Keeping your customers happy through this process will ensure they keep coming back.Rep Fitness was started by two brothers—they bought a container of barbell weight plates, and everything went from there. Setting the stage. Rep Fitness is high growth. They are used to new challenges (maybe even enjoy the adrenaline dump from growing fast—just a little bit?). This episode will focus on adapting to challenges. Through this COVID-19 pandemic, many merchants have faced the challenge of less sales. Rep Fitness has had the opposite challenge—”too many” sales. As we look into this, you will see that the techniques for dealing with too many or too few sales are similar. It comes back to adapting and being willing to make really difficult decisions. For most online retailers, Black Friday is the big day of the year. If a sales record is to be set, it’s going to be on Black Friday. We as a team, are very scrappy and willing to just get in and make those quick decisions to keep us moving forward.Alida Sholl Rep Fitness has blown their Black Friday sales records for days and days through the lockdowns associated with COVID-19. Joseph wonders if this is like Black Friday on steroids (pun intended, possibly). Alida said its the “best steroids ever”. Getting into the challenging weeds. Rep Fitness has had to deal with unprecedented order volume. On the surface, this sounds like a dream—tons of orders coming in, all while lockdowns are forcing many other businesses into closure. However, Rep Fitness has had to come to grips with how this affects them: 24-hour fast shipments—no longer possible.Order fulfillment process—completely rebuilt.Customer expectations—must be reset. Rep Fitness’s fulfillment team takes pride in getting all orders shipped on the same day. They go home knowing that they got their orders out quickly—and the customer will be all the happier. What are the goals we can set for today?Alida Sholl Alida’s team had to focus in on the here and now. They adapted from long-term to the short-term. While this sounds counter-intuitive, you do what you have to do. When a tsunami hits, you don’t focus on long-term business goals. You focus on today. If your business has lost the majority of its revenue, your adaptation is still the same. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Look at today. What can be cut? What can be promoted? Customers have quickly adapted to realizing that delays are inevitable. They are giving extra slack to brands. For the record, Amazon themselves are facing major del

26 MINAPR 29
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Back up and push

Your homepage is irrelevant.

TL;DR. Roughly 20-30% of website visitors first visit your home page. Have you forgotten about the other 70-80% of landing pages?Establish a pipeline from your customer service department. Find out how people find your products and what they have to say about your offering.Take advantage of multiplying your content: written, video, images. This 3x’s the opportunity that someone will come across your brand. Meet Keenan Davis: Connect with him on LinkedIn. He has been in the digital marketing space for over 20 years. That’s back in the days of Yahoo! being “the star” search engine. And, you could use meta keywords to get to the top of that search engine (it was a big deal).Then, banner ads were all the rage… but Keenan got past that hype pretty quickly. The internet today is a young adult’s age. Especially when you compare it to newspapers (since 1690). Or when compared to the radio (since 1895). As such, it’s natural to see things come and go. Side note: my (Joseph’s) daughte...

28 MINAPR 8
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Your homepage is irrelevant.

Selling online is like living in a closet

Summary Be consistent: call one customer every day.Be authentic: embrace who you are and publish that to the world.Continue the conversation through the customer journey. About Andrew: Worked on the Muppets show (the one from space).Ran his own agency in the early 2000s, then focused on marketing.Maybe his orange glasses came from his Magento work (just a little).Has an outstanding YouTube channel, Loyalty Loop. Please watch and subscribe. The challenge of online Joseph has enjoyed watching Andrew’s journey of finding a new bank (spoiler alert: it’s not been an easy process). It has been particularly interesting because so much of banking is done online. So, we jump into online vs offline (brick/mortar store). Andrew says that you walk into a physical store and you immediately see/know who this person is. You can ask them questions and quickly learn what they are looking for (ie, qualify them). Yet, being online is “like you’re sitting in a closet.”Andrew Davis He then proceeds to say something that likely sounds scary to any online retailer: you want the buying process to be self-selective. You want people to come to the website and say “this is not for me”. But here’s the big challenge: doesn’t every merchant want EVERYONE to like their products? After all, the more that like your products means the more sales we will get. Andrew puts it bluntly: “when you are for everyone…you do not stand out.” Take, for example, LingsCars.com: LingsCars.com We would all scream, “THAT IS A HORRID, UGLY, DESPICABLE WEBSITE. THEY WON’T SELL ANYTHING.” And, then, we run away from it. However, LingsCars.com is incredibly successful at leasing cars (they are the 3rd largest lessor of cars in the UK). Why? It looks different. It’s not like any other car leasing website.It communicates low budget—and for their target audience, this is exactly what they want to communicate. In other words, if they were to redesign with a fancy, clean design, their leasing agreements may fall as they no longer cater to their audience. “If you have an e-commerce platform and follow all the best practices, you are doing a great job of just blending in. You are like every like mall in America.”Andrew Davis Lean into your audience. Embrace them and their values. Make it an authentic part of you. How do I know what resonates with my customers? Pick up the phone, every. single. day. and call a customer. (as the CEO speaking here) “I wanted to call and thank you for ordering with XYZ Toilet Paper companies. I know this is in massive shortage right now. I know you have plenty of options, but you chose to buy through us. Could I ask what inspired you to purchase from us?“ Or, you can learn more about them and their preferences by asking something like this: “As a side note, are you a fan of Post Malone? No? Who are your favorite artists?” What inspired you to purchase from us? Andrew feels that this is one of the most important questions you can ask a customer. It brings out the story of why they are now here. Why did they just purchase from you? Read the story of how a famous fan company came to their name (warning: possible language alert). You need to be ok with this possibly offending some people. Your “target audience” might shrink a little. But, your real, true core audience will become more loyal and love your brand, more. Empathic copy makes a difference FYI, that’s jargon for “put words on your website that resonate.” When you are coming up with product descriptions, share the story of how this will affect life once this is purchased. Andrew uses the example of goofy product catalogs he used to get 20 years ago (before Amazon made the catalog irrelevant… wait, quality catalogs are still very relevant). He compares the fa

37 MINMAR 18
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Selling online is like living in a closet

A offline-to-online success story

Summary: AudioAdvice established a solid reputation in a region, then leveraged that online.The ecommerce transition was not a “copy our success and paste it online.” Instead, it took massive soul-searching and question-asking to understand how, what and why would their customers buy online.They embraced competition with other online marketplaces.They effectively communicated a compelling value proposition through their website.They are available to provide advice at almost any time in a given week.They reach their audience throught targeted content pieces. Meet Jonathan Stephens, with AudioAdvice Jonathan is the general manager of AudioAdvice.com. He was one of the main instigators in moving AudioAdvice from two premium showrooms in North Carolina (and thus serving the local population) to online.AudioAdvice was founded in 1978, and launched their online store in 2015 (37 years later). Instead of splurging on a Harley, AudioAdvice’s midlife crisis meant going for a Magento site—and it is paying off.How did Jonathan come on board? While in school to get his MBA, Jonathan was mentored by the CEO of AudioAdvice. AudioAdvice “back then”… Audio Advice was started by Leon Shaw in 1978. HIs vision was to provide an exceptional world-class experience while focusing on high-performance goods in the audio/video space. At the time, there were 18 other competitors in his geography. Now, AudioAdvice has eclipsed the competitors in many ways—all through patient trial-and-error. High-performance audio is another luxury market. You really want to love this $50k audio setup that you are going to get installed. Or, you want to appreciate the beauty of the $100k home theater configuration. Their showrooms in Raleigh, NC and Charlotte, NC are just that. But, serving local markets is only so scalable… unless you want to drop a new store in every major city in the US (and that can be expensive). AudioAdvice goes online. Hearing perfect sound or seeing a beautiful image on a TV is not something you can easily replicate online. After all, the only headphones you might have could be from that flight back from Amsterdam last month—and you know they had to have cost Delta less than $0.10. They seem better at playing muffled static than actually hearing what was intended. Locally, obviously, we have a very well-established brand but at a national level, Audio Advice was an unknown brand, for sure.Jonathan Stephens They went online in a strategic, calculated way: They could not ignore Amazon and other marketplaces.They had to replicate, as best as possible, their core value proposition. How did they compete with Amazon? Free, fast shipping.No-hassle returns. (which, by the way, this is not cheap or easy to do in itself) As they came to see, these offerings would reduce the friction to purchasing, but it wouldn’t necessarily ensure a sale. The sale comes from a compelling value proposition: Superior knowledge in the industry.Effectively sharing that knowledge.Leveraging that knowledge in only selling the very. best. products. They see the validation of this migration all the time: Their repeat visitor purchase rate is very high.A customer was taking pictures in front of one of their stores. This is not normal behavior as parking lots are typically there to hold vehicles, while the driver goes inside. This customer was a massive fan of the AudioAdvice YouTube channel, and was super excited that he was in town and just had to stop by. When we were looking at the e-commerce space in general and thinking about inspiration for the type of experience, the creative experience that we wanted to develop, we looked well outside of our existing industry for inspiration.Jonathan Stephens Many retailers look to their own industry: what is my competitor doing? I need to copy them so I can take their sales. The key question that this misses is “what if

30 MINFEB 21
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A offline-to-online success story

Reaching the unreached

Summary Gen Z (2000 and younger) is growing up and becoming a viable segment of the market.CARLY (Can’t Afford Real Life Yet) is the persona of many in this generation (but isn’t limited to Gen Z).In an impersonal world of the internet, CARLY deeply cares about a brand’s authenticity. Be bold with who you, as a brand, are. Take risks.By doing so, you may alienate some, but you will make your core audience customers for life.Social media is excellent for sharing this personality—and for what you stand. While there has been a lot of study and research on how to reach the millennial generation, there is a new one creeping up unawares to everyone. This generation is considered generation Z. Follow through to hear of the new research that is happening and how you can gain a larger and more loyal customer base. Meet Phillip Jackson, with Future Commerce Phillip is considered a legend in this industry. His motto is: always be learning. Phillip’s love for learning is contagious, and he shares with others what he is learning in the Future Commerce Podcast as well as their Future Insider’s newsletter. In today’s podcast, article, Joseph discusses with Phillip about his study of this new generation: Gen Z. His findings have brought him to name a persona, CARLY (similar in idea to HENRY). We will seek to better understand who Carly is today. The differences between Gen X and Gen Z Gen X (typically 1965 to 1980): Are expensive customers to acquire (as others have spent much money trying to attract them).Shop all the time. Have many options.Are older and more established in their career.Loves premium brands (who doesn’t?!). Gen Z (typically 1995 to ?): Is young and many fit into the Can’t Afford Real Life Yet (CARLY) persona.Likes premium brands she relates to. Associates with aspirational brands that are personal and tailored to her. Who is Carly? CARLY (the acronym for persona who Can’t Afford Real Life Yet, from Gen Z) and the things that matter to her will help you reach her. The world in which she has grown up in (post 9/11) has created an unsafe environment: new security measures, recession and public dissatisfaction around mass media, government, politics and religion. Carly’s conversations and friendships are authentic, and she’s open about the things that she cares about. She likes the brands that join into public conversations and are willing to take a stand (along with the heat associated with that) for being part of important social concepts and contexts. She loves authenticity. Authenticity is NOT SAFE But, then again, in many ways, Carly also doesn’t feel safe—so that would be considered alignment. In conversations with merchants, I often hear the fear of being authentic: “if I show how I am religiously aligned, or my political beliefs, it will alienate my potential audience.” Phillip shares that this comes back to authenticity. Who are you as a company (Start with Why by Simon Sinek)? Who do you wish to align with? Being authentic is not an overnight change. Being authentic takes months and years to prove. Ultimately, being authentic is best if that is truly who you are. Your customers will eventually see that you are trying to spin a yarn of authenticity—and that doesn’t work. While many do not agree with Nike’s stance on Kaepernick, their alignment on this social issue has continued their growth: NKE Chart by TradingView Yet, fears can be realized when something is not authentic. Risk is mitigated when you know your loyal customers How many conversations do you have with your customers? Do you know your customer inside and out?How well do you align with this base?What if your base becomes fired up (in a good way) about their similarities to you? Being authentic is more than the products you sell. It comes back to how you present your brand. What issues do you take up as important?

29 MINFEB 1
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Reaching the unreached

Empathy... a key for propelling your business forward.

Summary Teamwork is critical between a merchant and an agency to keep the ultimate goal: selling things.Communication saves time.Equip with tools to effectively communicate about issues to save everyone time.A developer thinks technical, a merchant thinks dollars.Empathy is invaluable between a merchant and developer relationship. Whether you are a merchant or developer, I’m sure you’ve had frustrations with communication. Your agency may not be taking your website outage as critical, while the developer is annoyed because they can’t replicate the problem. I think you will find helpful tips to unite together and be a team to use this website to grow your business. Mark Lewis, netalico.com Mark’s motto is: EmpathyFocusDevelopment Empathy Is the Key to Teamwork Important to keep the mentality developers create the product to sell a product.Listen to the concerns and desires of the merchant.Blaming does not bring teamwork. “There is so much to be gained by partnering up in teamwork. No matter where one lives geographically: it takes empathy, trying to understand where other people are coming.”– Joseph Maxwell How Communication Can Save Time Merchant, are you communicating with your agency on a regular, even daily, basis? Regular communication will help prevent little things from boiling up to be a big crisis. It will also ensure the developer stays on a good trajectory and free from wasting time on trivial projects. Problem: Communication takes time.Time is money. Solution: Train the merchant on important details that matter when website issues occur.Give the merchant proper tools to effectively communicate.Value each other’s time. Outcome: Won’t go back and forth so frequently in emails and phone calls. “The most frustrating thing for a developer is when you can’t reproduce an issue. Whatever everyone can do to communicate, how can you reproduce this issue, saves so much time.”– Mark Lewis Let’s Take a look at Merchants Versus Developers Developer: Detail oriented.They think in “If/Then” statements.Sees bugs as their lot in work. Merchant: Thinks dollars.Don’t have enough time.Sees bugs as a thief of food from their table. Takeaways Always be thinking of ways to save the merchant time and get the project done as quickly as possible.Use EMPATHYListenNever blame each other! Mistakes happen. We are all human. Example Merchant emails, “The checkout is down. The website is broken. Developer responds, “ Nope, you’re wrong. I checked it, it’s fine.” Note: the developer checked the checkout and it was working perfectly. Instead consider: “I checked something. It seems to be working, but maybe there is another issue that we can’t nail down.” Outcome Listening matters. Merchants are rightly concerned with the stability of their website. Their website puts food on the table. They put a lot of trust into their developers. Treat them with that same respect. If it’s a big deal to the merchant, communicate and prioritize what’s necessary to make them feel heard. The Practical Takeaways from this Episode Giving your developer the necessary information saves time and money.It’s a 502 errorThe page just locked upThe drop down menus don’t workTake screenshots or a screen video to send to the developer or the developer to the merchant when the issues can’t be duplicated.Empathy builds a team spirit. This tool can save both the merchant and developer hours of time! Loom.com Final advice We’re all human. We have our good and bad days, but empathy for all parties involved unites and creates a powerful team producing some really great stuff. Even though the merchant and developer think very differently, they still share the same goal: to sell more. Let’s do what we can to respect each other’s time and use the tools available

20 MINJAN 10
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Empathy... a key for propelling your business forward.

Creativity is best with time—with Johanna Miller

Summary Creativity takes time. Keep a creativity journal.Strive to make an emotional connection with your customers.Make sure they know that they are buying “from you” (a person or people) and not from “a website”.Vulnerability, within reason, is exceptionality important. I think everyone enjoys a good story of an entrepreneur who has invested blood sweat and tears to make their endeavor a success. Of course, many accept capital in the process, and that accelerates growth. But, I am often more impressed by those who hold off capital as long as possible. This is one of those stories—someone who has gone from “zero to hero” and has experienced a great degree of success in the process. Johanna Miller, Chief Artisan, PotionYarns.com Johanna started this business with almost no money. and through her creativity, her ingenuity has built it up to a place that it’s at today. This episode will focus on the content management side of her findings, and what she’s learned over these pa...

22 MIN2019 DEC 20
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Creativity is best with time—with Johanna Miller

A podcast with Ethan Thompson detailing clear strategies to growing your website.

Summary Ensure that you are tracking as much data as possible (HotJar, both product and brand reviews, listening to phone calls, interaction with sales people).Mine data from all sources available to learn what customers are saying is meaningful to them.Observe your competition. Not to just “be like them”, but better, what are they not doing?Put aside presuppositions and listen to all voices in your organization. It may be that they have advice that doesn’t make sense at the time, but ultimately can yield impressive savings. On this episode, we are joined by Ethan Thompson, digital marketing manager at Simplified Safety Europe. Ethan manages eight websites—four are focused on B2C and four on B2B. As you will see, Ethan has the unique capability to zoom out on a given problem and see the big picture. The place Ethan works, Simplified Safety, sells… (you guessed it) safety equipment. Simplified Safety specializes in products that help people get back home to their families. Businesses also need the help to ensure they are compliant with regulations thus reducing massive financial liability. It is this type of product that really does make a difference every day and could be the reason a mother or father comes home from work. Of course, there are others in this space, so Ethan has to employ every strategy to ensure that this brand does stand out in that particular field. More leads, please! B2B can be challenging—particularly because it often requires a hands-on approach with sales. Many B2C websites have products that work out of the box. Sure, you might need to pull instructions together or even video. Yet, B2B products are regularly custom and designed for a specific situation. How do we get through the “iron curtain” of the internet and begin an interaction to determine the fit and the right price for this installation? What we normally do: Make sure the “Contact Us” page works.Put popups all over the website.Maybe a chat box too? What worked for Ethan: Watch what people read on the page (HotJar). Many people read with their cursor, so you can “see” what they are reading.Put the information on the page that people are wanting to know. Ask the sales team to document questions they are asked.Highlight benefits (“this railing’s coating will keep you compliant longer”) rather than features (“this railing has a ABC123 certified coating”).Match your ad copy with highlights on the page.Resulted in a 50% increase in leads. A lot of the products that Simplified Safety sells need guidance or consultation, so that can’t be just “sold online” like many B2C merchants. The problem is that getting a visitor to commit and enter their contact information. Often this is at least some level of a commitment because our inner nature thinks: “what are the risks?” OR “am I going to be spammed??” So, providing contact information can be a big ask. This particular example is about their KeeGuard product. This is a railing that is placed on a rooftop to protect someone from falling off the roof. As you can expect, this is a highly custom product. Simplified Safety had to provide enough information but not so much as to scare them off. They have been on an interesting journey to hone their message and figure out exactly what resonates with our customers in addition to giving them the confidence that they the right person to work with (that they aren’t some popup brand). Originally, Simplified Safety had a lot of information hidden behind buttons. You had to click a button to get to more information. A lot of the people who clicked those cards converted. They ended up requesting more information. But if someone did not click on one of the buttons, they were less likely to convert. Simplified Safety found that information that is provided in these is really important and it ma

31 MIN2019 NOV 30
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A podcast with Ethan Thompson detailing clear strategies to growing your website.

Latest Episodes

This sofa is different. Find out why.

TL;DR Industry West sells furniture—online. Few furniture companies are digitally native, let alone bootstrapped.Photography is a critical tool to helping the customer understand what they are getting.Product descriptions are written by someone who lives and breathes furniture—and that’s obvious. Actually, the entire company is comprised of this type of person. Meet Ian Leslie CMO at Industry West (connect on LinkedIn and Twitter).Industry West is now 10 years old. However, they run the business like a startup.Ian does pretty much everything when it comes to marketing: digital marketing, owned media, working with the PR team (and the website fits in there too).You know what’s inspiring? It’s seeing your furniture in public. Industry West’s furniture is everywhere. Oh, and he gets to work with some really cool people every day.He’s guided the marketing arm of a company through a global pandemic (COVID-19, as we are all-to-familiar with). He did a great post about this on Medium. At the time of recording, Industry West was working with a group in Buffalo to make masks. What sets Industry West apart? In the furniture vertical, there are a literal bazillion brands. From manufacturers like Thomasville to retailers like Nebraska Furniture Mart all the way to the small-town furniture dealers, finding furniture is not a difficult task. Industry West is different. Yes, it sounds cliche to say. Most of the participants in this category are focused on brick and mortar. Industry West is digitally native and just recently opened a store in SoHo. They are one of the first (if not the first) in this category to start online. We are so meticulous about how pieces are presented to the customer.Ian Leslie Online furniture retailing is unique in that you have pay close attention to how products are presented. Photography takes center stage. Industry West has been meticulous showing products in a way that resonate with their customers. Industry West also carries a large selection of inventory. This means that they can fulfill rush orders faster. If a restaurant needs new chairs quickly—they won’t have to wait for weeks. Yet, this carries the problem that inventory is money (but not in the bank). This is possible because Industry West is bootstrapped. Those that take venture capital are beholden to the investors and investors usually want quick profitable turn-arounds. Inventory on the shelf is not liquidity. Industry West lives out a long-term vision for their company—and that is one reason they continue to see steady growth after 10 years in business. The founders, Jordan and Anne, curate the Industry West catalog. Each piece has an incredible story. It’s safe to agree that Industry West is different, so we are able to get an inside look as to how they approach marketing, their website and content development in a different way. May I introduce to you… the furniture: This furniture is for a specific segment of the market (we talked about this in Episode #10, regarding who is this product for?). Oftentimes, a number of furniture brands will co-exist under the same roof. Industry West has fortified their position with how the product is presented. They also describe the product in intricate detail: type of wood, finish, fabric, etc. It’s hard to understate how important the photography is.Ian Leslie They also work to get the pieces into their applicable context. This represents more money as locations need to be scouted, product shipped, photographers scheduled, etc. One thing that Industry West has been successful with is crowdsourcing pictures. This allows them to make use of the value that others are generating. This is why they launched a store in SoHo so that customers can come and touch and feel the product. How COVID-19 is affecting the furniture market. Ian quotes an influencer: “a successful startup in 2019 is all about

53 MIN3 w ago
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This sofa is different. Find out why.

Putting data behind your gut instinct's voice.

TL;DR Test big. But expect small successes.Verify all gut instincts with data.If you are asked to do a “dumb” test, do it. You might be wrong (or right). Either way, the company wins. Meet Guido Guido is a cognitive psychologist (please read the wiki article—you might want to become one yourself, it’s pretty neat!).He has spent years learning how people work with environments (ecom is an environment) and how environments affect people. With ecommerce, we need to ensure that our buyers know whey they are getting and they don’t get lost in the purchase process—this is a valuable set of skills.He has spent years applying this research to many merchant experiences.And he comes here today to share a few of his findings with you. “My gut says that we should…” I’m sure we’ve all worked with “that CEO” who runs his business according to his gut. Gut instinct isn’t all bad. But it’s demoralizing when this is the only means of decision making. Dilbert on March 30, 2014 We all know that gut instinct is just that—it’s rooted somewhere deep in our being but often has little basis in reality (sometime it does, though!). When making a big decision, like a job change, this might be our only source of guidance. But, in online selling, we regularly have more sources of data. Gut instinct can provide the hypothesis for A/B tests. By just making decisions on this “source of truth from who-knows-where”, we can fall majorly short. We then see the data that proves our instinct wrong, but then have to massage it to ensure that it supports our beliefs. Guido makes a case that this idea you have should be the foundation for better understanding your customer’s behavior. As you are able to accommodate, the goal is that you become more profitable. He also suggests that A/B testing should not be simple color or textual changes. Why? There is nothing learned or gained that isn’t already known. A red “add to cart” button draws more attention, but if a customer is already looking to purchase, they will find the button. That goes without saying that the add to cart button must be readily visible (if it’s hidden or hard to find, then please fix that). Side note: The smallest, hardest to find checkout button. A cart button that is smaller than the Customer Account login (in the upper right corner) should be immediately fixed. No A/B test is needed here. I am working to preserve the privacy of this company, otherwise, I’d show the entire header so you can get a perspective of just how small this is. A/B test research Whether or not have a gut instinct directive, your next step is research (Guido mentions that this is quite boring). Google Analytics: hopefully you have enhanced ecommerce enabled. Are there products that have a higher bounce rate? What is the drop-off in your cart? In the checkout? What are people searching for? Where is the audience dropping off?HotJar/FullStory: what do people click on? How do they browse the website? Are they getting stuck in a particular part of the website? does it seem like they can’t find a product?User interviews: what is your moment of inspiration? What are your pain points on the website?Better yet, ask to talk with people in-person, and watch them use your website. You’ll quickly find where they get stuck.There are also agencies that will perform user studies. With this research, you should now have a list of improvements. Prioritize them. Go for the biggest fish first. But, don’t just run to an A/B test! Try to figure out several different ways to improve it.”Guido Jansen Don’t just stick with your first idea and run with this. Exercise yourself to come to multiple solutions. Expand beyond your customers. Be creative in locating those who have never purchased from you. For example, you coul

38 MINMAY 20
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Putting data behind your gut instinct's voice.

Back up and push

TL;DR You’ll make it through this.Be creative.Be willing to make tough decisions.Focus on what is most important.Keep connecting with your customers. Meet Alida Sholl: Connect with Alida on LinkedIn. She is the director of operations at Rep Fitness. She is responsible for sales, customer service, account management and the entire tech stack. This covers pretty much all customer touchpoints, so this is a very important role for making happy customers at Rep Fitness.She has an incredibly diverse background: industrial engineering, process improvement and animal welfare. All of this has prepared her to take on the excitements and challenges of her current role. Meet Rep Fitness: Rep Fitness is NOT like Gold’s Gym equipment (the latter might break if you use it, the former won’t).Rep Fitness focuses on the home/garage gyms. The goal is to make functional fitness accessible for all. While not at the top of the price point, the product they offer is very durable.Rep Fitness strives to have excellent customer service. They want happy customers. As such, they support the customer through the entire sales cycle, including set up after the purchase. It is admirable that they help customers find the right product instead of the most profitable product.Alida points out that equipping a home gym is never complete. Very true, indeed. Keeping your customers happy through this process will ensure they keep coming back.Rep Fitness was started by two brothers—they bought a container of barbell weight plates, and everything went from there. Setting the stage. Rep Fitness is high growth. They are used to new challenges (maybe even enjoy the adrenaline dump from growing fast—just a little bit?). This episode will focus on adapting to challenges. Through this COVID-19 pandemic, many merchants have faced the challenge of less sales. Rep Fitness has had the opposite challenge—”too many” sales. As we look into this, you will see that the techniques for dealing with too many or too few sales are similar. It comes back to adapting and being willing to make really difficult decisions. For most online retailers, Black Friday is the big day of the year. If a sales record is to be set, it’s going to be on Black Friday. We as a team, are very scrappy and willing to just get in and make those quick decisions to keep us moving forward.Alida Sholl Rep Fitness has blown their Black Friday sales records for days and days through the lockdowns associated with COVID-19. Joseph wonders if this is like Black Friday on steroids (pun intended, possibly). Alida said its the “best steroids ever”. Getting into the challenging weeds. Rep Fitness has had to deal with unprecedented order volume. On the surface, this sounds like a dream—tons of orders coming in, all while lockdowns are forcing many other businesses into closure. However, Rep Fitness has had to come to grips with how this affects them: 24-hour fast shipments—no longer possible.Order fulfillment process—completely rebuilt.Customer expectations—must be reset. Rep Fitness’s fulfillment team takes pride in getting all orders shipped on the same day. They go home knowing that they got their orders out quickly—and the customer will be all the happier. What are the goals we can set for today?Alida Sholl Alida’s team had to focus in on the here and now. They adapted from long-term to the short-term. While this sounds counter-intuitive, you do what you have to do. When a tsunami hits, you don’t focus on long-term business goals. You focus on today. If your business has lost the majority of its revenue, your adaptation is still the same. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Look at today. What can be cut? What can be promoted? Customers have quickly adapted to realizing that delays are inevitable. They are giving extra slack to brands. For the record, Amazon themselves are facing major del

26 MINAPR 29
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Back up and push

Your homepage is irrelevant.

TL;DR. Roughly 20-30% of website visitors first visit your home page. Have you forgotten about the other 70-80% of landing pages?Establish a pipeline from your customer service department. Find out how people find your products and what they have to say about your offering.Take advantage of multiplying your content: written, video, images. This 3x’s the opportunity that someone will come across your brand. Meet Keenan Davis: Connect with him on LinkedIn. He has been in the digital marketing space for over 20 years. That’s back in the days of Yahoo! being “the star” search engine. And, you could use meta keywords to get to the top of that search engine (it was a big deal).Then, banner ads were all the rage… but Keenan got past that hype pretty quickly. The internet today is a young adult’s age. Especially when you compare it to newspapers (since 1690). Or when compared to the radio (since 1895). As such, it’s natural to see things come and go. Side note: my (Joseph’s) daughte...

28 MINAPR 8
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Your homepage is irrelevant.

Selling online is like living in a closet

Summary Be consistent: call one customer every day.Be authentic: embrace who you are and publish that to the world.Continue the conversation through the customer journey. About Andrew: Worked on the Muppets show (the one from space).Ran his own agency in the early 2000s, then focused on marketing.Maybe his orange glasses came from his Magento work (just a little).Has an outstanding YouTube channel, Loyalty Loop. Please watch and subscribe. The challenge of online Joseph has enjoyed watching Andrew’s journey of finding a new bank (spoiler alert: it’s not been an easy process). It has been particularly interesting because so much of banking is done online. So, we jump into online vs offline (brick/mortar store). Andrew says that you walk into a physical store and you immediately see/know who this person is. You can ask them questions and quickly learn what they are looking for (ie, qualify them). Yet, being online is “like you’re sitting in a closet.”Andrew Davis He then proceeds to say something that likely sounds scary to any online retailer: you want the buying process to be self-selective. You want people to come to the website and say “this is not for me”. But here’s the big challenge: doesn’t every merchant want EVERYONE to like their products? After all, the more that like your products means the more sales we will get. Andrew puts it bluntly: “when you are for everyone…you do not stand out.” Take, for example, LingsCars.com: LingsCars.com We would all scream, “THAT IS A HORRID, UGLY, DESPICABLE WEBSITE. THEY WON’T SELL ANYTHING.” And, then, we run away from it. However, LingsCars.com is incredibly successful at leasing cars (they are the 3rd largest lessor of cars in the UK). Why? It looks different. It’s not like any other car leasing website.It communicates low budget—and for their target audience, this is exactly what they want to communicate. In other words, if they were to redesign with a fancy, clean design, their leasing agreements may fall as they no longer cater to their audience. “If you have an e-commerce platform and follow all the best practices, you are doing a great job of just blending in. You are like every like mall in America.”Andrew Davis Lean into your audience. Embrace them and their values. Make it an authentic part of you. How do I know what resonates with my customers? Pick up the phone, every. single. day. and call a customer. (as the CEO speaking here) “I wanted to call and thank you for ordering with XYZ Toilet Paper companies. I know this is in massive shortage right now. I know you have plenty of options, but you chose to buy through us. Could I ask what inspired you to purchase from us?“ Or, you can learn more about them and their preferences by asking something like this: “As a side note, are you a fan of Post Malone? No? Who are your favorite artists?” What inspired you to purchase from us? Andrew feels that this is one of the most important questions you can ask a customer. It brings out the story of why they are now here. Why did they just purchase from you? Read the story of how a famous fan company came to their name (warning: possible language alert). You need to be ok with this possibly offending some people. Your “target audience” might shrink a little. But, your real, true core audience will become more loyal and love your brand, more. Empathic copy makes a difference FYI, that’s jargon for “put words on your website that resonate.” When you are coming up with product descriptions, share the story of how this will affect life once this is purchased. Andrew uses the example of goofy product catalogs he used to get 20 years ago (before Amazon made the catalog irrelevant… wait, quality catalogs are still very relevant). He compares the fa

37 MINMAR 18
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Selling online is like living in a closet

A offline-to-online success story

Summary: AudioAdvice established a solid reputation in a region, then leveraged that online.The ecommerce transition was not a “copy our success and paste it online.” Instead, it took massive soul-searching and question-asking to understand how, what and why would their customers buy online.They embraced competition with other online marketplaces.They effectively communicated a compelling value proposition through their website.They are available to provide advice at almost any time in a given week.They reach their audience throught targeted content pieces. Meet Jonathan Stephens, with AudioAdvice Jonathan is the general manager of AudioAdvice.com. He was one of the main instigators in moving AudioAdvice from two premium showrooms in North Carolina (and thus serving the local population) to online.AudioAdvice was founded in 1978, and launched their online store in 2015 (37 years later). Instead of splurging on a Harley, AudioAdvice’s midlife crisis meant going for a Magento site—and it is paying off.How did Jonathan come on board? While in school to get his MBA, Jonathan was mentored by the CEO of AudioAdvice. AudioAdvice “back then”… Audio Advice was started by Leon Shaw in 1978. HIs vision was to provide an exceptional world-class experience while focusing on high-performance goods in the audio/video space. At the time, there were 18 other competitors in his geography. Now, AudioAdvice has eclipsed the competitors in many ways—all through patient trial-and-error. High-performance audio is another luxury market. You really want to love this $50k audio setup that you are going to get installed. Or, you want to appreciate the beauty of the $100k home theater configuration. Their showrooms in Raleigh, NC and Charlotte, NC are just that. But, serving local markets is only so scalable… unless you want to drop a new store in every major city in the US (and that can be expensive). AudioAdvice goes online. Hearing perfect sound or seeing a beautiful image on a TV is not something you can easily replicate online. After all, the only headphones you might have could be from that flight back from Amsterdam last month—and you know they had to have cost Delta less than $0.10. They seem better at playing muffled static than actually hearing what was intended. Locally, obviously, we have a very well-established brand but at a national level, Audio Advice was an unknown brand, for sure.Jonathan Stephens They went online in a strategic, calculated way: They could not ignore Amazon and other marketplaces.They had to replicate, as best as possible, their core value proposition. How did they compete with Amazon? Free, fast shipping.No-hassle returns. (which, by the way, this is not cheap or easy to do in itself) As they came to see, these offerings would reduce the friction to purchasing, but it wouldn’t necessarily ensure a sale. The sale comes from a compelling value proposition: Superior knowledge in the industry.Effectively sharing that knowledge.Leveraging that knowledge in only selling the very. best. products. They see the validation of this migration all the time: Their repeat visitor purchase rate is very high.A customer was taking pictures in front of one of their stores. This is not normal behavior as parking lots are typically there to hold vehicles, while the driver goes inside. This customer was a massive fan of the AudioAdvice YouTube channel, and was super excited that he was in town and just had to stop by. When we were looking at the e-commerce space in general and thinking about inspiration for the type of experience, the creative experience that we wanted to develop, we looked well outside of our existing industry for inspiration.Jonathan Stephens Many retailers look to their own industry: what is my competitor doing? I need to copy them so I can take their sales. The key question that this misses is “what if

30 MINFEB 21
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A offline-to-online success story

Reaching the unreached

Summary Gen Z (2000 and younger) is growing up and becoming a viable segment of the market.CARLY (Can’t Afford Real Life Yet) is the persona of many in this generation (but isn’t limited to Gen Z).In an impersonal world of the internet, CARLY deeply cares about a brand’s authenticity. Be bold with who you, as a brand, are. Take risks.By doing so, you may alienate some, but you will make your core audience customers for life.Social media is excellent for sharing this personality—and for what you stand. While there has been a lot of study and research on how to reach the millennial generation, there is a new one creeping up unawares to everyone. This generation is considered generation Z. Follow through to hear of the new research that is happening and how you can gain a larger and more loyal customer base. Meet Phillip Jackson, with Future Commerce Phillip is considered a legend in this industry. His motto is: always be learning. Phillip’s love for learning is contagious, and he shares with others what he is learning in the Future Commerce Podcast as well as their Future Insider’s newsletter. In today’s podcast, article, Joseph discusses with Phillip about his study of this new generation: Gen Z. His findings have brought him to name a persona, CARLY (similar in idea to HENRY). We will seek to better understand who Carly is today. The differences between Gen X and Gen Z Gen X (typically 1965 to 1980): Are expensive customers to acquire (as others have spent much money trying to attract them).Shop all the time. Have many options.Are older and more established in their career.Loves premium brands (who doesn’t?!). Gen Z (typically 1995 to ?): Is young and many fit into the Can’t Afford Real Life Yet (CARLY) persona.Likes premium brands she relates to. Associates with aspirational brands that are personal and tailored to her. Who is Carly? CARLY (the acronym for persona who Can’t Afford Real Life Yet, from Gen Z) and the things that matter to her will help you reach her. The world in which she has grown up in (post 9/11) has created an unsafe environment: new security measures, recession and public dissatisfaction around mass media, government, politics and religion. Carly’s conversations and friendships are authentic, and she’s open about the things that she cares about. She likes the brands that join into public conversations and are willing to take a stand (along with the heat associated with that) for being part of important social concepts and contexts. She loves authenticity. Authenticity is NOT SAFE But, then again, in many ways, Carly also doesn’t feel safe—so that would be considered alignment. In conversations with merchants, I often hear the fear of being authentic: “if I show how I am religiously aligned, or my political beliefs, it will alienate my potential audience.” Phillip shares that this comes back to authenticity. Who are you as a company (Start with Why by Simon Sinek)? Who do you wish to align with? Being authentic is not an overnight change. Being authentic takes months and years to prove. Ultimately, being authentic is best if that is truly who you are. Your customers will eventually see that you are trying to spin a yarn of authenticity—and that doesn’t work. While many do not agree with Nike’s stance on Kaepernick, their alignment on this social issue has continued their growth: NKE Chart by TradingView Yet, fears can be realized when something is not authentic. Risk is mitigated when you know your loyal customers How many conversations do you have with your customers? Do you know your customer inside and out?How well do you align with this base?What if your base becomes fired up (in a good way) about their similarities to you? Being authentic is more than the products you sell. It comes back to how you present your brand. What issues do you take up as important?

29 MINFEB 1
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Reaching the unreached

Empathy... a key for propelling your business forward.

Summary Teamwork is critical between a merchant and an agency to keep the ultimate goal: selling things.Communication saves time.Equip with tools to effectively communicate about issues to save everyone time.A developer thinks technical, a merchant thinks dollars.Empathy is invaluable between a merchant and developer relationship. Whether you are a merchant or developer, I’m sure you’ve had frustrations with communication. Your agency may not be taking your website outage as critical, while the developer is annoyed because they can’t replicate the problem. I think you will find helpful tips to unite together and be a team to use this website to grow your business. Mark Lewis, netalico.com Mark’s motto is: EmpathyFocusDevelopment Empathy Is the Key to Teamwork Important to keep the mentality developers create the product to sell a product.Listen to the concerns and desires of the merchant.Blaming does not bring teamwork. “There is so much to be gained by partnering up in teamwork. No matter where one lives geographically: it takes empathy, trying to understand where other people are coming.”– Joseph Maxwell How Communication Can Save Time Merchant, are you communicating with your agency on a regular, even daily, basis? Regular communication will help prevent little things from boiling up to be a big crisis. It will also ensure the developer stays on a good trajectory and free from wasting time on trivial projects. Problem: Communication takes time.Time is money. Solution: Train the merchant on important details that matter when website issues occur.Give the merchant proper tools to effectively communicate.Value each other’s time. Outcome: Won’t go back and forth so frequently in emails and phone calls. “The most frustrating thing for a developer is when you can’t reproduce an issue. Whatever everyone can do to communicate, how can you reproduce this issue, saves so much time.”– Mark Lewis Let’s Take a look at Merchants Versus Developers Developer: Detail oriented.They think in “If/Then” statements.Sees bugs as their lot in work. Merchant: Thinks dollars.Don’t have enough time.Sees bugs as a thief of food from their table. Takeaways Always be thinking of ways to save the merchant time and get the project done as quickly as possible.Use EMPATHYListenNever blame each other! Mistakes happen. We are all human. Example Merchant emails, “The checkout is down. The website is broken. Developer responds, “ Nope, you’re wrong. I checked it, it’s fine.” Note: the developer checked the checkout and it was working perfectly. Instead consider: “I checked something. It seems to be working, but maybe there is another issue that we can’t nail down.” Outcome Listening matters. Merchants are rightly concerned with the stability of their website. Their website puts food on the table. They put a lot of trust into their developers. Treat them with that same respect. If it’s a big deal to the merchant, communicate and prioritize what’s necessary to make them feel heard. The Practical Takeaways from this Episode Giving your developer the necessary information saves time and money.It’s a 502 errorThe page just locked upThe drop down menus don’t workTake screenshots or a screen video to send to the developer or the developer to the merchant when the issues can’t be duplicated.Empathy builds a team spirit. This tool can save both the merchant and developer hours of time! Loom.com Final advice We’re all human. We have our good and bad days, but empathy for all parties involved unites and creates a powerful team producing some really great stuff. Even though the merchant and developer think very differently, they still share the same goal: to sell more. Let’s do what we can to respect each other’s time and use the tools available

20 MINJAN 10
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Empathy... a key for propelling your business forward.

Creativity is best with time—with Johanna Miller

Summary Creativity takes time. Keep a creativity journal.Strive to make an emotional connection with your customers.Make sure they know that they are buying “from you” (a person or people) and not from “a website”.Vulnerability, within reason, is exceptionality important. I think everyone enjoys a good story of an entrepreneur who has invested blood sweat and tears to make their endeavor a success. Of course, many accept capital in the process, and that accelerates growth. But, I am often more impressed by those who hold off capital as long as possible. This is one of those stories—someone who has gone from “zero to hero” and has experienced a great degree of success in the process. Johanna Miller, Chief Artisan, PotionYarns.com Johanna started this business with almost no money. and through her creativity, her ingenuity has built it up to a place that it’s at today. This episode will focus on the content management side of her findings, and what she’s learned over these pa...

22 MIN2019 DEC 20
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Creativity is best with time—with Johanna Miller

A podcast with Ethan Thompson detailing clear strategies to growing your website.

Summary Ensure that you are tracking as much data as possible (HotJar, both product and brand reviews, listening to phone calls, interaction with sales people).Mine data from all sources available to learn what customers are saying is meaningful to them.Observe your competition. Not to just “be like them”, but better, what are they not doing?Put aside presuppositions and listen to all voices in your organization. It may be that they have advice that doesn’t make sense at the time, but ultimately can yield impressive savings. On this episode, we are joined by Ethan Thompson, digital marketing manager at Simplified Safety Europe. Ethan manages eight websites—four are focused on B2C and four on B2B. As you will see, Ethan has the unique capability to zoom out on a given problem and see the big picture. The place Ethan works, Simplified Safety, sells… (you guessed it) safety equipment. Simplified Safety specializes in products that help people get back home to their families. Businesses also need the help to ensure they are compliant with regulations thus reducing massive financial liability. It is this type of product that really does make a difference every day and could be the reason a mother or father comes home from work. Of course, there are others in this space, so Ethan has to employ every strategy to ensure that this brand does stand out in that particular field. More leads, please! B2B can be challenging—particularly because it often requires a hands-on approach with sales. Many B2C websites have products that work out of the box. Sure, you might need to pull instructions together or even video. Yet, B2B products are regularly custom and designed for a specific situation. How do we get through the “iron curtain” of the internet and begin an interaction to determine the fit and the right price for this installation? What we normally do: Make sure the “Contact Us” page works.Put popups all over the website.Maybe a chat box too? What worked for Ethan: Watch what people read on the page (HotJar). Many people read with their cursor, so you can “see” what they are reading.Put the information on the page that people are wanting to know. Ask the sales team to document questions they are asked.Highlight benefits (“this railing’s coating will keep you compliant longer”) rather than features (“this railing has a ABC123 certified coating”).Match your ad copy with highlights on the page.Resulted in a 50% increase in leads. A lot of the products that Simplified Safety sells need guidance or consultation, so that can’t be just “sold online” like many B2C merchants. The problem is that getting a visitor to commit and enter their contact information. Often this is at least some level of a commitment because our inner nature thinks: “what are the risks?” OR “am I going to be spammed??” So, providing contact information can be a big ask. This particular example is about their KeeGuard product. This is a railing that is placed on a rooftop to protect someone from falling off the roof. As you can expect, this is a highly custom product. Simplified Safety had to provide enough information but not so much as to scare them off. They have been on an interesting journey to hone their message and figure out exactly what resonates with our customers in addition to giving them the confidence that they the right person to work with (that they aren’t some popup brand). Originally, Simplified Safety had a lot of information hidden behind buttons. You had to click a button to get to more information. A lot of the people who clicked those cards converted. They ended up requesting more information. But if someone did not click on one of the buttons, they were less likely to convert. Simplified Safety found that information that is provided in these is really important and it ma

31 MIN2019 NOV 30
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A podcast with Ethan Thompson detailing clear strategies to growing your website.
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