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This will vary from one entrepreneur to another depending on what excites you the most about your business. Outsource whatever you don’t want to do or aren’t good at. Nine times out of ten, you will never regret buying back your time and that’s what outsourcing lets you do.

Find the overlap between tasks you don’t want to do and valuable business functions. An example a member of our Facebook community gave is outsourcing the first contact for B2B wholesale. You don’t have to be doing that. It’s time consuming, but it’s also potentially hugely valuable if you get a few good accounts out of it.

Pro tip: If you are looking to outsource bookkeeping, I use Bench.co. I need someone to keep my books, but no way do I want to do that. So paying to have this done and getting a nice easy packet of tax prep documents is worth it for me!

There are a lot of variables to consider that make it difficult to come up with hard and fast numbers. In my client experience, these are some light guidelines based on the type of e-commerce store you are running.

Drop Shipping Stores

This is a tough business as far as gross margin goes. You’re essentially working on commission, so you’ve got a really tiny profit margin. I think my largest client in this category takes home around 8%. A great way to boost sales and margins here are upsell opportunities.

Private Label

Private label is when someone else manufactures the product, but it is under your brand name. These do a lot better than drop shipping. If a store is set up really well, about 50% is what they’re gonna take home. This won’t include advertising or the costs to acquire traffic. That’s always the wildcard.

Your Own Goods

This one is the real magic out of the three. You make and design your own goods and have them manufactured for you, or you manufacture it yourself and sell it. If it’s a luxury good, that could sell at 10x the cost of goods sold. Since, these goods could be 5x to 10 COGS, there is a way bigger profit margin. Although in this circumstance there could also be higher spend on materials.

Yes, instilling scarcity and urgency with your customers 100% works, but you need to be authentic and do it right. There are plenty of scam apps or widgets out there that fake scarcity, lie and just aren’t believable. Beware of those, because they actually violate Shopify’s terms of service in the app store.

As humans we are attracted to urgency, scarcity and social proof. The combination of those three things just makes you want to buy stuff, but it is not okay to lie to people to achieve that end. So, how do you achieve this authentically? Train your customers. Let them know your stuff sells out fast and there is a short purchase window.

We created two apps that can help with this legitimately.

Ship Timer: Ship Timer shows your customer a countdown to a shipping cut off. For example, if you order in the next three hours, you’ll receive it by Tuesday. Well, if you don’t order it, you gotta wait all the way till Wednesday? Come on! Just do it now.

While Supplies Last: While Supplies Last makes your products more attractive by showing your customers when their availability is limited. Whenever your product's inventory drops below a threshold you specify, it automatically adds a note to the product's page stating the remaining inventory, like this: "Only 19 left in stock - order soon. (10 are in shopping carts)"

Resolution One: Plant a content marketing garden as a SEO play

The best way to organically increase your website traffic is to get creative with the different types of high quality engagement pieces that fall under the umbrella of content marketing. These pieces could be blog posts, partnerships with influencers, reviewers or videos.

The key here is to remember that this won’t happen overnight. It takes time and work. Think of your blog posts as seedlings, you’re going to hit publish and nothing is going to happen until at least two months later when traffic starts showing up from Google.

Invest

Don’t underestimate the value of investing in good creative, especially when you need it to be curated and used across different platforms. One good piece of creative can generate excellent content, be repurposed and linked out across organic and paid channels.

Experiment

There are so many different channels it is impossible to nail all of them. Try out different mediums and find the one that works for you.

Be Consistent

Once you find the channel that works, be consistent. For example, podcasting was the tool that worked well for us and stuck. We have published a podcast every Tuesday since 2014 and it now has 1.4 million downloads. It takes time.

Beware of the snake oil SEO

You might see people promote SEO strategies such as, manipulating results with industry secrets to help you rank super high. Don’t fall for it! Necessary SEO support will make sure that your content is correct on your website so that when people view your page everything is being read properly.

Have a strategy to make money today and a strategy to make money tomorrow.

Since creating quality content for organic traffic is a long play, you are going to need to have some income strategies now. A great way to do that is with a newsletter. Even if your list has only 50 or 100 people on it, treat it and your business like the professional that it is. Build communication and promotional habits, because you can get those people to buy. You can get them to talk about the product and share it.

Resolution Two: Work on your brand story

A brand story that resonates in the voice and language of your customers will end up being the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. It will help you work through positioning, it will turn into your welcome story and I bet it will be one of your most effective email series.

Remember, you will naturally think and speak like a marketer, because this business is your baby. You need that natural language and core benefit from the person who is actually opening up their wallet to pay for your product.

But Kurt, how do I figure out the voice of my customers? A great place to start is with surveys. Ask them why they bought and how it makes them feel. It’s incredible because they will tell you how to market your product.

No customers yet?

If you don’t have any customers yet, start reading Amazon reviews, forums, subreddits or Facebook groups. You can start finding out how people talk about a similar product or problem that your product solves. You’ll start to notice recurring phrases and phrases you like. Pull that language for your brand story and it will make life much easier.

Easy win: After accumulating some results, take your customer’s voice and paste it into the headline of your website.

Recommendation: If you need some additional help coming up with the framework for this, StoryBrand can be helpful. There is a book, course and website that helps you develop your brand story leveraging the customer’s voice.

Resolution Three: Send more email

It’s often said in digital marketing that the value of the business is the list. The value is in the audience, because that list generates money. For most of our clients, email is the number one revenue channel.

You are in control

Social media channels can block audience reach or deny sends for a multitude of reasons. Even if something was just typed wrong. You don’t have the control in those scenarios to truly maximize the potential. Even if you are simply collecting and sending automated emails via your own list, you have the power to control that reach.

It keeps you top of mind

Email is what keeps you top of mind. If LEGO sends me an email and I had not previously been thinking about LEGO, now I’m thinking about LEGO. For a good number of people they send it to they’re going to say, “Oh yeah, I was thinking about ordering that thing.” and then just go do it.

Resolution Four: Utilize money as a tool to buy back your time

There are a lot of quality Shopify partners that can help you do pretty much anything you want in your store. By hiring someone to tackle projects or purchasing software automation tools, think of it as a way to buy your time back. This allows you to focus on the key priority areas that you love doing in your business and will help you continue to scale.

Resolution Five: Think long term and avoid shiny object syndrome

A lot of times business owners have so many ideas and jump from one to the next without being strategic about it. Pause and take some time to see the bigger picture. Be less myopic and think longer term.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How is revenue being generated?
  • Where is it coming from?
  • Where is revenue falling with the opportunity to increase?
  • How is the product being built?

These are the actual lynchpin foundations of the business, and don’t pay as much attention to the other stuff.

Pro tip: Be patient, businesses usually take two years to become profitable. Experiment with ideas, learn from them, double down on what works and revenue will incrementally grow over time.

An unsolicited EatNuggs.com teardown– it's "the Tesla of chicken."

Nuggs, rebranded as Simulate this year.

Since starting in early 2019, chicken nugget replacements a bit over a year ago, the company has sold 1 million pounds of nuggets.

Their investors include Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and former Whole Foods chief executive Walter Robb.

eatnuggs.com

Gymshark is a British fitness clothing and accessories brand started in 2012 by Ben Francis and Lewis Morgan when they were 19 years old. In August 2020, US private equity firm General Atlantic purchased a 21% stake in the company, taking the valuation of the company in excess of £1 billion. [Source: Wikipedia]

High end brands don’t go around offering 20% off or coupon codes. Here are a couple options in those scenarios.

Membership Club

Membership clubs can feel even more exclusive associated with an already exclusive brand experience. You can offer a permanent 5% off, free upgraded shipping options or early access to new releases.

Free Gift with Purchase

To make this work, the free gift needs to be exclusive and something that the customer can’t get otherwise. Someone who does this really well is Hoonigan. Last year around Black Friday they had a promotion where every order that day received a free lapel pin. The lapel pin was one of their brand cars, but they didn’t tell you which car was going to be on which day. It changed every day, so you just had to always watch and check it. If you wanted that pin, that just became an easy excuse to place an order. This strategy also improved their email open rates.

I consider a successful welcome series around five emails plus a shadow newsletter.

What’s a shadow newsletter?

Let’s say you’ve been operating for two years. You’ve sent out a lot of newsletters, have great social posts or you have a lot of blog posts. Go back through your content library and pick the top 10-15. Then you schedule them to go out every week after that welcome series ends.

To the recipient, this looks like a fresh newsletter, but it really isn’t. The advantage here is that after your welcome series you have weeks of email content. Weeks of building a relationship and staying top of mind. At the end of that shadow newsletter flow you could do another discount offer that expires.

A solid welcome series

  1. Thanks for joining our list, so glad you’re here
  2. Story of how we got started
  3. If you need help at this step, Story Brand gives a great framework to get started.
  4. Social proofs, stories, quotes and reviews from customers
  5. Common questions about the product
  6. Sale or coupon code for the product that lasts 48 hours
  7. Reminder to use the coupon code that expires

If at any point they purchase, remove them from the series. If they don’t purchase, then you can say “Hey, saw you didn’t make the purchase. That’s okay. Do you mind if we put you on our newsletter? If not, here’s the link to unsubscribe.” I promise you, this email will probably have the lowest unsubscribe rate of anything you send. If they don’t unsubscribe, great, that will kick them into the shadow newsletter flow.

It keeps you top of mind and at the bottom of the emails you can always include “PS If you’re ready to buy, here’s a link.”

Pro tip: Always mention that if they have questions, they can just hit reply. It is so important in the relationship building journey.

Recently, Shopify added a tool showing store PageSpeeds, so we have been having even more people reach out worried about this one. Let me be clear, PageSpeed is NOT a good way to measure speed of a store. For example, on my podcast, we ran a page speed test for Gymshark. They scored a six on mobile! A store with a PageSpeed score of six has an obscene amount of cash on hand and is extremely successful by all measures.

There are bigger fish to fry in your business, where you can see more return on your money and energy instead of worrying about PageSpeed. If you put together better email sequences, that’ll get you ten times as much money as lowering your PageSpeed score by a second.

A good and fast site doesn’t hurt. A slow site doesn’t help. I don’t think it is the be all, end all, that it’s been made out to be. Just don’t over-prioritize it at the expense of other higher ROI activities.

Rule of thumb: If your homepage is less than five megs and loads in less than three seconds that’s great!

I anticipate that everything will be happening way earlier this year. People are at home and shopping online vs retail. Shipping is at its peak and there are already delays within the logistical process. Think about your production, inventory and shipping times as we approach the season.

A good target is to start November 1st.

Week 1: dry run your Black Friday cyber week sale for your VIP customers
Week 2: expand the sale to a broader audience
Week 3: tease the sale to your who email list
Week 4: run your sale again

Overall you’ll run your Black Friday sale multiple times in November, but you are doing it through email segmentation.

Klaviyo email automation tip: Decrease the time between your browse abandonment and abandoned cart email sequences. Fire those out a lot faster so that they get it quick and then your abandoned cart sequence will kick into gear.

These tips are just a quick highlight. You can purchase my full Black Friday guide here.