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SCALE YOUR STORE:

How to Make $1 Million (with Ezra Firestone)

In 2018, Ezra Firestone generated $700K over Black Friday, with $100k alone on Thanksgiving for his Shopify store BOOM by Cindy Joseph.

This year he plans do 30% more and he's going to tell us exactly how.

I sat down with Ezra to break down the exact Black Friday and holiday email campaigns he'll be running this year to hit his seven-figure goals.

Reader Nick Colebatch writes, “I went through your training, took copious notes, and ordered them in the area of websites, to help others tear down their own websites. Here are your tips, summarized and ordered from a merchant's perspective.”

Header

  • Strip out social links and share buttons
  • Add tag line under the logo in the header
  • A toll-free number is good

Navigation

  • No “Home” on Menu - it’s safe to assume that clicking on logo navigates to homepage
  • If the difference between product categories not obvious consider putting images into a mega menu
  • Ensure Menu breaks out products as much as possible, and if you have a top secondary menu you can put non-product related stuff (e.g. About) into that
  • Check menu doesn’t take up much screen real estate when you scroll down

Footer

  • Have an exciting newsletter call to action, not “Subscribe” - provide a compelling reason to join
  • Have Media Enquiries in the footer
  • A toll-free number is good

Home Page

  • “As seen in” strips are powerful social proof and consider having them high on the homepage

Collection Page

  • Quick View lightboxes not generally recommended - adds load time
  • On a Collection page, when you scroll over a product you want a “hover effect” on that product
  • “Trending now” instead of “Featured Products”

Product Page

  • Dynamic checkout buttons
  • Add reviews under the product name
  • Strip out social links and share buttons
  • If print on demand then have some real photos and try to have photos that are different even if you just crop them differently
  • Videos to increase conversions
  • Returns policy in the description - use returns policy all over your website
  • Don’t hide text on the product page, such as “Details and Dimensions” - have all text display by default
  • When a product has options: Consider changing “Add to Cart“ button text to “Select a size [or colour or whater]” if not all options are chosen. Have default drop-down option as a “Choose” option so you force the customer to make a conscious choice for the option before they can Add to cart so you don’t get people accidentally buying the wrong thing (like a small size t-shirt just because that was the default size) - requires development
  • If different pricing for different options, then have the price dynamically change based on the option chosen (rather than showing a range of prices) - not sure if this needs a developer?
  • Financing options like After Pay can be a huge conversion boost especially with higher-priced products
  • “Only x number left” (inventory indicator when low) is good
  • If you have “out of stock” have the ability to enter your email and get notified of when back in stock
  • Add to cart navigates straight to cart page
  • Big advantage to keeping to layout conventions
  • Hex colour 444 (light black) good colour for easy reading
  • Font Size 16 point good size
  • If selling apparel add size guide as photo
  • Addressing sizing concerns and returns policy is a common area to improve for apparel stores as it is a key reason not to buy

Cart Page

  • Dynamic checkout buttons
  • “Proceed to checkout” good text to have on the checkout button
  • Have a lock icon on checkout button (on the cart page) instead of lots of trust icons - not sure if it requires development

Checkout Page

  • Dynamic checkout buttons
  • Add phone number under your logo on checkout
  • Auto-suggest on address field in the checkout
  • Make sure it’s styled (colours/fonts) as per rest of website
  • (Multiple pages) Colour isolation: Consistent button colours from product page > Cart page > checkout page with only one button on each page being key branded colour and other buttons subtle colours that don’t draw attention

Sales copy wins

  • Instead of “View All/More Details/Learn More” use “Shop Now” on any buttons
  • “You focused language” in copy
  • Don’t use “Industry Speak”. Use customer surveys and reviews - find common phrases and make those your headlines
  • HotJar Survey “If you did not make a purchase today, what was it that stopped you?” set on exit intent and limited it to fire only if the url contains “products”. Mine the responses.

This is a guest post by Nick Disabato.

Having run over 500 tests for over 3 dozen businesses over the past 6 years, I know a thing or two about CRO – and where things can go wrong.

First, though, here are some places where things rarely go wrong:

  • Getting enough traffic for statistically significant results. For online stores, you can at least run a new round of tests every month on the 2-3 pages that you get the most traffic, as well as your cart and checkout. Other lines of business are not so lucky!
  • The design & development process for a prototype. If you’re ready to start A/B testing, you already know how to actually build software, and you probably have design & development resources retained.
  • Focusing on the right metrics. You already know that AOV, CLTV, conversion rate, reorder rate, upsell take rate, and ARPU matter. Nobody is going around maximizing subscriptions to their mailing list, or views of their blog posts. Store owners care about getting a positive ROI out of their CRO activities, and that means revenue generation.

Which is great! But this isn’t enough. Most of the things that trip up store owners are around mindset, and following best practices that aren’t really great after all.

The main reason anyone tests is to move the needle for your store. So, how do you increase the likelihood that you’ll build tests that win?

Here are the 5 biggest blind spots that hold store owners back from an outsize win rate and significant gains in profit, and what you can do to not fall prey to each one of them:

Blind spot 1: Acting on instinct

Tests are most likely to win if they respond to customer needs and fix specific, observable issues. Put another way, you should have a process that researches how customers are acting on your store, figure out what motivates them to buy, and then create tests that respond to those behaviors and needs.

Evidence is a great way to find new test ideas. Instinct isn’t. “What if we tested this now?” is a great way to run tests that lose. But most stores do this, in the absence of a concrete plan.

Let’s say you have an add to cart button. You want to run a test that changes its text or appearance in some capacity. What do you change it to? Why? What do you think will happen if you make that change?

Good tests are intentional and deliberate, and every design decision that you make should have a clear reason. By researching any potential changes, prioritizing them to be built out, and creating hypotheses that connect directly to new experiments, you’re more likely to run tests that win.

Blind spot 2: Running “popular” A/B tests

Everyone has heard of the button color test that made a zillion dollars. Same with testing headlines. In fact, button colors & headlines are the most popular two kinds of tests – not only because they are well-known examples of A/B testing, but because they’re extremely easy to put together.

Popular A/B tests are generally popular because they have a popular perception of being low-risk and high-reward. And to be sure, Draft has run button color tests that have won. But those button color tests were also researched! For example, when running tests at the Wirecutter, we ran a test that changed every product’s buy button to the color of the store that it pointed to: Amazon orange, Walmart blue, Apple gray, etc.

We did this because customers often didn’t notice that they were going to other stores, and were thrown off by the disconnect between the Wirecutter’s experience and (for example) Amazon’s. Clickthrough rate increased as a result, because people knew where they were going and what they could do when there.

Rather than making your buttons brighter, change your buttons for a reason. Look into what motivates customers, and then change your headline to something that clearly meets their needs.

Blind spot 3: Not following statistics

Let’s say you run a test and find that your ARPU went up by 83¢ at 85% confidence. Does that mean you should roll the decision out to everyone, and expect that your ARPU will increase by 83¢ into perpetuity?

Not necessarily. Think of that 83¢ figure as the center of a bell curve with, in this case, a rather shallow slope. That bell curve represents the full range of expected long-term outcomes that you might get from rolling out your variant to all customers. In practice, you might do better or worse than 83¢. And an 85% confidence level is not generally what most optimizers use to determine success; in fact, most winners are rolled out if they are called at 95% confidence or above.

It’s also dangerous to peek at an experiment’s data while the test is still active. You should calculate your expected sample size and experiment duration ahead of time, check in only to fix bugs with your goal reporting, and only take action on the results after the experiment has run its course.

The best explanation of the math behind this is “How Not to Run an A/B Test” by Evan Miller. Here at Draft, we use his sample size calculator every day.

Blind spot 4: The HiPPO

The HiPPO, or “highest paid person’s opinion,” can severely harm the progress of your testing program.

Test ideas should never be prioritized by the rank of who suggested them. Good ideas can come from anywhere in the organization. In fact, the best ideas often come from people who are in the trenches every day, understanding the real problems that customers are facing. At Draft, we’ve come to trust customer support staff more than the CEO when it comes to figuring out the best things to test. They suggest ideas that win more often!

We solve this problem by giving the entire team access to our Trello board for project management, and point everyone to suggest new ideas in a specific column. New ideas are then discussed, researched, prioritized, built, and tested. This way, the CEO is given precisely as much power as the newest contractor.

Blind spot 5: Following the leader

Ecommerce has a habit of copying. Someone does something that works well, and others follow the same playbook.

This makes sense on the face of things, because nobody has any clear sense of what works at any time. But if you don’t actually lead on your own store’s user experience, you’re leaving your store’s fate in the hands of people who are playing at a higher level of the game.

Following the leader is a bad idea because of, you guessed it, a lack of research. Instead of copying what “works” for someone else, investigate why, what that means for you, and how – and if – you should respond to it.

It’s always good to pay attention to what other stores are doing. But it’s dangerous to implement others’ ideas wholesale without determining how they fit int your own big picture. Trust, but verify.

The goal is test ideas that win

The industry-wide success A/B test success rate is about 12.5%, or 1 in every 8 tests. Do you want a failure rate of 87.5%? No, of course you don’t. You’ll waste time and money on a bunch of tests that fail to move the needle for your business.

At Draft, our success rate hovers around 65% as of press time. How? Because we research our ideas, carefully prioritize new tests, and listen to the whole team.

Fundamentally, value-based design is a matter of abandoning your ego. You may know the kind of product that your customers need, but you won’t know how your customers behave – and why they buy – until you investigate them. By avoiding these blind spots, you should be able to improve your business’s optimization maturity, and create an ROI-positive optimization program in the process.

About the author
Nick Disabato is a designer & writer from Chicago. He runs Draft, an optimization consultancy for online stores. His most recent book is Value-Based Design, the definitive how-to guide for getting a positive ROI out of any design work. He's spoken at SxSW, O'Reilly Web 2.0, and eCommerce All-Stars, among a bunch of other places, and he thinks your dog is very good.

Shopify Plus merchant Tactical Baby Gear is disrupting the booming world of baby products — estimated this year to produce more than $11 billion in revenue worldwide — by specializing in military-style baby gear. Founder Beav Brodie and COO Alex Alexander Kristoff join us to discuss their seven-figure success.

Join this Q&A recorded live in front of an audience at the Chicago Shopify Plus Meetup.

What to do when you're feeling overwhelmed with busywork and not working on growing your business.

One of the top topic requests I get is around general business productivity.

People want to know how can I get more done?

Recently, Dylan Kelley from Wavebreak asked a wonderful inverse of this question:

"I'm constantly overworking myself... what are your top strategies for doing less?"

In today's installment of my Sunday Drive series, we talk about how to get your shit done (by doing less.)

I even reveal all of my inbox zero secrets since that's where most of us are losing our time.

You'll want to listen if you're feeling overwhelmed, overworked, or busy but not productive.

Shopify’s Unite partner conference hit hard in June bringing us the future of commerce.

Connect with Shopify leadership and partners to hear what's making waves.

(There was one common theme: Watch out, Amazon.)

Guest post by Joel Custer

How do you get the convenience of shopping online and the service of a brick & mortar store?

Here are 5 foolproof ways to show customers that at your site, such a feat is truly possible:

  1. Give your customers concise and accurate product information.
    Ask yourself HOW A SALESPERSON WOULD SELL IT IN A STORE. No more than 3-5 key bullet points.
  2. Pair the product strategically with other items on your site.
    If the a customer purchases MULTIPLE RELATED ITEMS , they have MULTIPLE REASONS to make a return visit, and hopefully, an additional purchase. Include “suggested items” or “customers also purchased” tag lines in the bottom of each page. If done artfully, this technique is a great way of creating a bigger following.
  3. Share online reviews from customers who purchased from your store.
    Let’s face it - we live in a world of ratings. Let them WORK IN YOUR FAVOR. If you have items that sell better than others, RECOGNIZE it and PROMOTE it. On the other hand, if you have product that receives poor reviews consider pulling it off of your site as a loss. Selling poor product will NEVER benefit your store or your future sales.
  4. Keep them wanting more.
    Does your store’s selection give them a reason to return? Consider adding assortment that relates to your best performing items. For example, if your site is peddling the next best comfy, casual, slip on shoe, do you also sell the socks to wear with them? To take it one step further, show how much quantity your store has left in these items. Nothing creates a quicker sale than a sense of urgency.
  5. Consider offering freebie giveaways with purchases.
    Everyone loves free stuff - stickers, mugs, thermoses, pop sockets, etc. You can buy these in bulk, attach your brand’s name or logo, and score some FREE MARKETING. Make sure it’s quality. People don’t use cheap stuff.
  6. Utilize word of mouth marketing.
    It’s important. It’s free. And it’s perhaps the MOST TRUSTED form of marketing out there. However, it’s not the easiest task to perform. Most people will find a reason to complain ten times faster than they will a reason to compliment. Try a REFER A FRIEND PROGRAM USING SOCIAL MEDIA or USING EMAIL TO SEND A COUPON FOR SUGGESTING YOUR SITE. Like-minded folks shopping your site are typically involved with that community. If Sophia loves to knit and shops your custom dyed yarn site, she likely knows someone else who would love that same product. Give Sophia a discount off her next purchase if she refers customers to you.

The Sunday Drive is back—

It’s a bonfire:

I’m burning down the top three misconceptions about Shopify.

We’re back from Shopify Unite!

Learn:

  1. Shopify’s vision of the future
  2. What’s it mean for small business?
  3. Your new competitive advantage over Amazon

Don’t miss out on the podcast where I sit down with Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke. Subscribe in iTunes.

Ever get stuck at home with nothing to do?

That happened to me last Friday.

My wife was napping with Prince Valium after having LASIK that morning, our kids were at school, our baby was napping, and my car was at the dealership for annual service and a couple of upgrades. And because I am clinically incapable of relaxing, I decided to do invent some work myself.

I'm fortunate to be in a position to give help, so I posted on Twitter and Facebook that I'm open to questions with hope that it might make a difference for a few people.

I thought you might benefit from some of the Q&A, so here are the most helpful or thought-proviking questions...

Is a Shopify store a good fit for a mix of physical and digital goods? A knitting friend of mine is thinking about selling kits but also digital stuff (e.g., patterns in PDF format, and "how to" video instruction)

Yes, absolutely. Shopify integrates with several services to perform the fulfillment of digital goods automatically. In fact, one of the very first Shopify apps, Fetch, did just that.

What is the largest quantity of skus that Shopify can effectively handle? I.e many auto part sites aren’t on shopify because of xxx,000’s of skus

Officially it’s unlimited. The real limitation is being able to sort through it! I recently worked on a project for store with 10,000 SKUs. We were able to easily sort it using “power tools filters” app

What are the top Ecommerce marketing strategies or tactics you'd recommend to get more *repeat* customers?

Use auto-responders to cross-promote products post-purchase. Use Klaviyo to automate "win-back" email campaigns. Offer subscriptions. Segment purchasers and retarget them separately on Facebook with cross-sells.

You have 280 characters to send a single tweet to *yourself* in 2016 about Ecommerce/Shopify marketing to grow a store.

"Your most impactful efforts all evolve around audience-building. Gain focus by fiercely shedding distractions that don't support that goal. Teach everything you know, work in public, share your journey, live your truth, be your authentic self. Profit and be fulfilled."

What do you feel are the main things that separate "successful" (7 figures) eCommerce shops from those that fizzle out?

The successful ones have a total clarity of purpose. They know (through data, not best guesses) exactly who their customers are, how to reach them, and how best to serve them. They delegate instead of micromanage to scale via standardized processes. Don't let ego interfere!

What's the service-side benefit of Shopify Plus? Besides the additional features and functionality, what type of support and resources do I get from Plus that I don't get on Advanced?

Aside from access to Plus-exclusive apps like Scripts, Launchpad, and Flow to streamline and accelerate your business operations, with Shopify Plus, you'll get:

  • A dedicated point of contact at Shopify called a Merchant Success Manager.*
  • Reduced merchant service fees with the lowest possible credit card rate offered by Shopify Payments.
  • Peace of mind knowing Plus' 24/7 priority support means someone always has your back.
  • Up to nine clones for selling in different currencies, locations, or wholesale.
  • Collaboration with other high-end merchants in the exclusive Plus Facebook community.

* I’ve seen Shopify’s merchant success managers suggest promotions and outside the box growth tactics that have made our clients up to a half million with a single suggestion

How many Shopify sites get 500 unique visitors a day? I'm struggling to get traffic to my site. Any secrets to get to 500 to 1000 uniques per day?

Use Google Analytics to determine your highest-revenue traffic source and double down on that. Each month, pick one strategy to try then evaluate at the end of the month.

Most stores get their traffic from Facebook ads though.

I think you’re a fascinating guy. I’d love to know, Where does Kurt see himself in 5 years?

Thank you, Jay! I'm fully convinced you're one of the nicest people on the planet.

I have total confidence that I have pitched my carts to the right horse with Shopify, so in five years I still envision myself within the Shopify ecosystem.

Maybe I'm being small minded in my vision, but I truly hope to be doing this at an even larger scale in 2023. It has been consistently rewarding to provide so much value to people's lives that I want to keep going. I started this business in 2009 and I'm in no way bored of it yet. The last two years we've seen incredible growth, and I want to keep that rocketship going!

What's your favorite Facebook strategy(s) to attract "cold audience traffic" to new stores?

This is flat out the hardest part of marketing a store. It's why we always say "start building an audience on day1!" We've found the best results are buying using a lookalike audience of past purchasers and then segmenting it to improve relevance when combined with highly-targeted messaging.

For example, if I was selling baby products, I would create a lookalike audience from past purchasers, then segment that to just "new moms"

I’m a podcast listener and know some of your background and your ecommerce journey. I’d love to hear more about your business/personal growth and what you focused on to level up and how you plan to continue?

That's a great question. I'm going to answer it candidly.

I've been working on e-commerce projects my entire adult life. In college, I ran not one but two gray market resale businesses. I was so inexperienced I didn't even know they were gray market.

After school, I got my first job as an e-commerce product manager for a local aftermarket auto parts drop shipping company.

After that, I tried to start my own e-commerce platform for bike shops which failed but became my current e-commerce agency. (I suppose it's not a failure if you pivot and succeed, right?)

My personal growth is a different but equally important story. Entrepreneurs are so hard on themselves and can all benefit from self-care. I was no different. Fortunately, I met a wonderful woman who became my wife...but before she was willing to marry me, she made me go to therapy with her. It was absolutely one of the best things I ever did for myself. Had I not gone to see a therapist, There's no way I'd be where I am now.

I now spent a considerable amount of time every day thinking about my mindset and mental health.

Klaviyo or MailChimp? And why?

Klaviyo because their core focus is e-commerce and Shopify. They're specialists. MailChimp is great but they're generalists. Why wouldn't you use the best tool for the job? Who do you want to perform your brain surgery: a family physician or a brain surgeon?

Is Twitter marketing at all effective?

While I have greatly enjoyed Twitter for networking, I’ve never found it to be a good source of leads, qualified traffic, or anything else that would move the needle on a growing business. I say all of that with love. I greatly enjoy Twitter, but I sincerely doubt if we all deleted our accounts today, it would make any difference in anyone’s business.

Finally, to wrap things up, Joe Glennon writes, "Don’t have a question, just want to say I love this thread as much as your podcast! Thanks Kurt."

You're welcome! Hope this helps.