A Year of MailChimp


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.

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A Little Newsletter Experiement

Lady Sitting on Couch

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.

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Append OptinMonster to Post Based on Tag

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.

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A Little Social Media Experiment After My Book Launch

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.

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The Importance of Pre-Orders in E-Commerce

Calendar iPad

There’s a big difference between people saying they’ll definitely buy your product and people actually pulling out their credit card and spending some of their hard earned money. You could very easily talk to ten people who are excited about your product and then have only one of them follow through. If you’re creating an online store this can be a big problem. You’re investing your time and money into this venture and of course you want to know if it will work out.

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Packaging Your Products

Tools on Table

So you’ve thought about what you want to make and who you’re going to sell to. Now, how do you organize your products? Do you list every single component as a single product? Or do you package them in some way?

You can sell products individually, in bundles, as add ons, as configurable products, or even as monthly subscriptions. Each of these work under the right circumstances. If you package your products wisely you’ll be able to upsell your customer without them even realizing you’re doing it.

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Choosing an Audience for Your Product

Person Under Street Light

Running an e-commerce site isn’t easy. You have to do a lot of planning before you can open the doors and expect any sales. The first step is to pick the product that you want to sell which isn’t easy. After you pick the product you need to focus on a specific audience for that product. It’s not surprising that people don’t want to part with their hard earned money. People aren’t really interested in buying products. They’re really interested in the end result or what the product can do for them. People don’t care about the weight loss pill they just want to be thin.

You need to think about the problems that this product solves. Instead of looking at it from your point of view try to look at it from your customers point of view. Once you have the customer in mind you can create a site to communicate that message to the audience.

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Choosing a Product to Sell

Building e-commerce software means that I see a lot of success stories: people that quit their day job, get their store up and running, and start growing their own business and that’s awesome. Really awesome. But for each success story there’s a story of someone who tried to open a store and it didn’t go well. Maybe they made a product that no one is interested in, maybe their product isn’t different enough from competitors products, or maybe they didn’t take into account item breakage and returns into their pricing.

There are a lot of facets to e-commerce and thinking about your business model before you start thinking about the e-commerce software will help you make sure it really is the right venture for you. By thinking about the different types of products within an industry you should be able to pick the right product for you. We’re all in different situations with different amounts of time, skills, and money to spend so you need to pick the best option for you.

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