I presented the Fundamentals of eCommerce at WordCamp Milwaukee 2015.
- What are you going to sell?
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
- Cost of Acquisition (CoA)
- How are you going to get traction?
- Technical hurdles
- Order fulfillment
Last week I attended a conference and Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby back in 1998, challenged the notion that businesses need to optimize for profit. What if instead they optimized for freedom? Or something else like fame? Why can’t someone choose those instead of profit? And why don’t people think about this before they start a business?
At WordCamp Denver I spoke about my blog. Specifically how it got my a job at WooThemes and a book deal.
I talk a lot about content because it’s how I drive traffic to my site. And while it can be a highly effective medium for driving traffic for certain industries it isn’t universal. There are plenty industries where it makes a lot more sense to drive traffic through more traditional means like paying for traffic.
Something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is how I can help store owners succeed. WooCommerce doesn’t have every imaginable feature but it is complete enough for a huge number of store owners. What I mean by that is that in terms of functionality WooCommerce is a very viable option. Newsletters – check, bundles – check, subscriptions – check, tracking numbers for shipping, check; you get the idea.
The problem for many store owners isn’t a lack of features it’s that they don’t know how to run an e-commerce business. And that’s no slight against them. Do you add intelligent recommendations or do you write blog posts to bring in more traffic?
There’s no right answer and no guide that can give you all of the answers. You have to learn how to run your e-commerce business. Learning from other businesses is great but you have run your own experiments and see what works for you.
While I can’t give you the perfect e-commerce quick start guide what I can do right now is tell you what not to do.
After attending LoopConf and learned all that I could about WordPress development I took the next day off and played a game of ping pong with some friends. There was the guy who’s really good at hitting the ball fast so you have to play really far back, the guy who taps the ball over the net so you have to dive towards the table, the guy who’s good with placement so you have to run from side to side to return the ball, and the guy who plays aggressively and smashes the ball with every opportunity. And then there was me the guy who has a very basic serve and very basic technique.
So who do you think won? Maybe the guy who was really good at placing the ball? Or the guy who hit it really fast?
I’ve been recommending MailChimp for years. Probably as far back as 2009. Part of that is because they have a free plan which is great for small businesses. The other part is that they have a phenomenal user experience. Everything in their system is easy to use. That’s why when I started marketing my book I signed up for a MailChimp account. As of today I’ve been using it a full year and I’ve learned quite a lot in that time. I hope you can learn from some of my mistakes.
Just over a week ago I released the WooCommerce Cookbook. And when I did that I also shared the announcement post on social media. A few days later I dug into the data to figure out exactly how many people went to the purchase page from my social media efforts. The results weren’t amazing.
A few days later I sent out the message to my newsletter subscribers. I’ve heard stellar things about newsletters out performing social media but that wasn’t exactly the case here. Let’s look at the numbers.
I started my newsletter a little less than a year ago and at the time I set it up quickly because I was just experimenting with newsletters. As I’ve done more research and as I’ve seen my list grow to 350+ subscribers without an incentive I’ve decided to take my opt-ins more seriously. That’s why I’ve been playing with OptinMonster and it’s actually really great.
It’s not a form builder and it won’t make your contact form. What it can do though is give you a really nice interface to build an opt-in form. You choose a type of opt-in (sidebar, after the post, popup, etc), define some styles, tell it when to appear (only on this page), connect it to your list and press save. It’s pretty slick.
This post though isn’t about opt-ins. It’s about being able to choose exactly where I want to place them. I write a lot about WooCommerce. In fact, 50 of my 192 posts are about WooCommerce. And I have an newsletter for people who want to learn more about WooCommerce so it makes sense to automatically add an opt-in form to any post that’s tagged
woocommerce. And that’s something that OptinMonster doesn’t handle natively. Luckily their support was great and pointed me in the right direction.
You can’t throw a stone without hitting an article praising social media. While I really enjoy certain aspects of social media it doesn’t seem like it would be a very effective marketing tool. Just looking at my own history how many times have I seen a tweet and then pulled out the credit card? I don’t know if I ever have. Are other people that much more wiling to buy stuff based off random links they see on social media? Maybe.
Last Thursday I announced the WooCommerce Cookbook on my blog and via social media. The goal of course was to let people know that my book was finally released and that they can go to the publisher’s site or Amazon to buy it. I thought this would be the perfect situation to experiment on how effective social media can be.