What’s stopping your competitors from stealing your business?
For those of you who sell physical products, this is a scary question. Because when you’ve been in the game as long as I have, you know that if you want to remain successful, you need to stay ahead of the game.
This is why I think it’s so important to go to the live events in our industry, and why I want to take you behind the scenes of eCommerce Fuel 2016 to bring you the best insights into where this industry is headed.
First off, let me introduce the main man in the room: Founder of the ultra-successful eCommerce Fuel community, Andrew Youderian.
In my opinion, Andrew brings together one of the highest quality community’s in the world of selling physical products online. When I asked him for his main takeaway from the event, this was his answer:
(For readability’s sake, I’ve given you the gist of these conversations. Watch the video for the full thing.)
So many of the business owners at this event have good reason to feel worried as manufacturing gets cheaper and cheaper and knock-offs get more prevalent.
Because unless you’re manufacturing the iPhone or some other equally sophisticated piece of technology, you know that your business is vulnerable to knock-off, 3rd party counterfeits.
This is why I wanted to bring together the best of the best in ecommerce sellers to brainstorm how to continue to grow and be successful in this new era of cheap manufacturing.
I remember in the early days when all you had to do to be successful was drop shipping. But just like the problem we’re facing today with knock-off manufacturers, in order to protect your business you needed to adapt. So we had to move to private labeling and creating our own line of products.
And today going forward, I believe protecting your business hinges on one big question: Do people love your brand?
Because in the future when manufacturing becomes easier and easier and easier, if you can make your customers love interacting with your brand, then you’ve created something that no manufacturer or competitor will ever be able to knock off: loyalty.
Building a brand instead of a business is something I talk a lot about in Smart Marketer, because my goal is to use my business to add value to a community.
One of the best assets you can give your business is a good story and a good message. And if you can use that story to create a unique product in your market, then that’s even better.
Perfecting Your eCommerce Store
The next industry leader I want to introduce you to is the brains behind the incredibly valuable blog, Conversion XL: Founder Peep Laja.
I think he has one of the best conversion optimization courses out there (which is why I put my conversion specialist through it), and I jumped at the opportunity to ask him for some real, tactical advice to give you and ecommerce business owners like yourself.
After reviewing tons of websites at this event, by far the most common issue ecommerce owners have when it comes to conversions is not including a value proposition.
I can’t stress enough how important this statement is: Why buy from you and not the other guys—or why not Amazon?
In so many cases, this value proposition was missing from the most important page of their site, the homepage, but it was also missing from their product pages and their category pages.
So the customer has no idea what store they landed on or why they’re there, and its a BIG conversion killer.
The second thing I want to tell you is that the ecommerce stores I saw are making way too many assumptions.
‘I think my customers behave this way—I think this is how they browse…’ When in reality, they don’t know because they haven’t yet tested it. So whenever you don’t know the truth, you want to seek out data to answer that question.
And here’s a few easy ways to start collecting data: You can talk directly with your customers; you can send out a quick survey; or you can even run polls right from your website.
Adding Some Behavioral Automation
But focusing on conversion optimization alone isn’t enough to evolve your ecommerce business into a brand people love to engage with.
I’m a firm believer that the future of ecommerce is in behavioral responsive marketing.
By this I mean that your success will come from your ability to communicate with your costumers based on the actions they’ve taken with you. The old days of drop-shipping and manipulating search results are over; now you have to engage in a conversation.
Behavioral automation is one of the reasons my companies are so successful, and one of the best mediums for incorporating this into your business is through email automation.
And wouldn’t you know it, if you come to a live event there are always 1 or 2 top experts in the room who can tell you all about it.
So I asked Chad Vanags (who represents Klavyio and who is a brilliant ecommerce guy himself), “What are 1 or 2 things that are relevant to every ecommerce brand?”
Here’s what he had to share:
First and foremost, you can’t run email automations without emails, so you have to start collecting them in your funnel.
One thing I always tell brands who come to us, is to prioritize this process because the more emails you can collect the more automation you can run.
The other thing I want to tell you about is email segmentation based on customer behavior.
In a program like Klavyio we’re able to email visitors based on things such as time on site, page visited and products bought.
But here’s the best thing: We now have the capability to sync up our segmentation possibilities with your Facebook advertising audiences.
If you’re an ecommerce store owner who advertises on Facebook—and I really hope you are—then with a program like Klavyio you can now personalize your prospect’s entire customer journey from awareness to loyalty with behavioral automation.
This has been absolutely huge for us, and it’s the reason why we love Klavyio, and why I think if you’re running on a Shopify store you should definitely give it a try.
The Best Thing You Can Do For Your eCommerce Business
If you’re an ecommerce business owner or you want to be, then one of the best things you can do for yourself is attend a live event.
Imagine a room with 150 individual success stories and enough collected knowledge to solve almost any problem you’re business is facing right now.
I can trace back every major milestone in my career to a few dedicated days spent at live events with like-minded people. And this is why I want to introduce you to Carole Rains.
Carole is a brilliant ecommerce business owner who understands how much value you get from attending a live event.
It’s tough to keep up to date with what’s working in the industry when you have to do it for multiple businesses. That’s why I need to go to multiple events a year.
But its not just the speakers that provide a lot of value. It’s all the attendees you meet and connect with over lunch and dinner or at the parties.
Being in the room with so much collected knowledge pays for itself over and over and over.
If you’ve been to a live event before than you know that there’s something special that happens.
You get this jolt of inspiration, because you’re with all these people who are excited. And you alway go home with a big list of things to implement in your business.
That’s why I highly recommend you attend a few, and it’s why we’re committed to doing a yearly event each August for Smart Marketer fans that we call eCommerce All-Stars.
The quality of networking that happens and the results you can get when you dedicate 2 or 3 days to growth is unbelievable.
I really hope this post leaves you wanting to get out there away from the grind and go attend a few live events, because as an online entrepreneur this is where our community gets together.
And I’m especially excited for All-Stars 2017; the content is going to be great, and it’s going to be in Austin, TX which has some really amazing food.
(Tickets aren’t even available yet—heck, we don’t even have a sales page yet—but if you really, really want to save your spot, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll sort it out.)
0:10 E-Commerce Fuel Live 2016
0:52 Brand and Community
2:10 Andrew Youderian: Manufacturing, Branding and Relationships
4:30 Peep Laja: Value Propositions and Conversions
6:18 Carol Rains: Live Event Value and Networking
7:22 Chad Vanags: Behavioral Response marketing
9:38 E-Commerce All Stars August 2017, Austin TX
10:00 Event Re-cap: Communication based on Engagement
Click Here For Video Transcript
And really the sort of conversation that’s happening in the community of ecommerce specifically, like not folks who started on Amazon but folks who are more in the ecommerce space. The buzzwords are brand and community. And the reason the buzzwords are brand and community is because most people in this space used to be dropshippers. Meaning they used to be sealing other people’s products and then they used to get their visibility for their brand via search engine optimization. So like, you know, showing up on Google and doing organic SEO. And then what happened was, as Google made that harder and harder, and you know, stopped people from manipulating their search results, it got harder to make margins work on paid advertising with a dropshipping brand.
So more and more people went towards private labeling and manufacturing. And when you’re building your own brand, you got to have your own community if you wanna have sort of defensiveness or able to make it off of platforms like Amazon and off of traffic sources like Google where you’re not getting search traffic. So that’s sort of the conversation that’s happening in this community, is that of, “How do we build brands? How do we build assets? How do we create community and engage people in conversations?” There’s a lot of stuff we talk about here in Smart Marketer, as you probably know. And so what I’m going to do is take you down and introduce you to these folks and then I’ll do a little recap of kind of what happened at the event.
Ezra here behind the scenes with anabolic Andrew Youderian. I was told not to put my arm on him for this shot. I couldn’t resist, it was just natural. So listen, man, we’re down here, we’re at your event.
Ezra: eCommerceFuel Live. In my opinion, you have the highest-quality community in our industry of like people who are actually out there, doing it. Why do you do these things and what did you get out of this event for yourself?
Andrew: We just do it to try to get people that are doing real stuff in ecommerce, together. Like you know man, like being an ecommerce merchant you get really lonely.
Andrew: A lot of people online…
Ezra: All of our friends are in the computer.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly, you know. And you build these relationships on the forum and in this community and nothing cements them like getting together basically. And it’s just like businesses in general, right? Like if you wanna do business with somebody, meeting them face to face, just there’s no replacement. You can’t do it via Skype.
Andrew: So yeah.
Ezra: In fact, you didn’t really like me very much until you met me in person.
Andrew: You always say that. It wasn’t I didn’t like you, you just…we’d never met, you kind of emailed out of the blue…
Ezra: You gotta get to know this guy personally, you gotta touch him, give you a hard time.
Andrew: Yeah, you know. So I think the biggest thing I got out of this event was…and maybe this sounds cliché but reinforces the importance of manufacturing, the importance of branding going forward. We were doing small discussions that you’re talking about even manufacturing a product. And someone was saying, “Hey I manufacture my own stuff, I create my own product line but I’m really terrified about somebody coming. And unless it’s like an iPhone or it’s just a lot of really difficult IP that’s hard to replicate, what’s gonna keep someone else from knocking me off?” And so it’s gone from, “Hey you can,” in the earlier days you can just drop it and resell that to be successful. And I think you still can be a success today with your own line of products or private label. But I think in the future the only thing that can be defensible, especially as manufacturing gets easier and easier and easier to do, is do people love your brand? Do they love interacting?
Andrew: And I think for me, like, as I think about what the next thing I want to do is…
Ezra: Who just sold the business, by the way? Congratulations. Yeah, so you’re like kind of starting fresh, you know.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. So for me, that was the biggest takeaway. And not even just realizing it’s not about a proprietary product but the brand is probably even more important than…
Ezra: Yeah, adding value in terms of story, in terms of community, in terms of messaging and also if your product is unique or different than what’s in the marketplace, even better, you know. I love this event, man, thanks for having me down. I appreciate it.
Andrew: Killer talk and I appreciate you coming.
Ezra: Hey, Ezra here behind the scenes with polarizing Peep Laja. Peep is one of the leading experts in conversion rate optimization in our industry. In fact, as you know I put my conversion rate optimization specialist through your course, absolutely loved it. And I got to see you speak here and you’re a great presenter. And you are quite polarizing. I mean you’re passionate. And so you’re in this stuff every day. If you were to give our listeners, ecommerce business owners, kind of one or two things that you think would apply to every business, what would those be?
Peep: Two things that I saw in this conference, like I reviewed a bunch of websites. By far the most common issue was that there was no value proposition. Why buy from me and not the other guys? Why buy here and not Amazon? And that value proposition was missing also on the homepage, which is typically the biggest landing page for ecommerce sites but also in product pages, category pages where a bunch of traffic land on. Like, no idea where I am, what is this site, why do I buy here? So that’s one. Two, too many assumptions. “I think my customers do this. I think that’s how they browse. They don’t know.” And of course, whenever you don’t know what is the truth, you need to seek out data to answer this question. So more qualitative research. Talk to your customer, do surveys, polls in your websites.
Peep: That’s right.
Ezra: Fantastic blog to kind of get into the conversation of optimizing the sort of performance of your site to work the best for you. So when people come, having them most likely to convert, you should be explaining this stuff, man. Thanks so much. Conversionxl.com.
Ezra: Ezra here with charismatic Carole Rains. Carol, you know, you are one of my best customers. You come to a lot of these events. What value are you getting from coming to live events?
Carole: Well, it’s so great just to be able to be with other ecommerce geeks and…
Ezra: Because by the way, you’re a brilliant ecommerce business owner yourself, so in your, you know…
Carole: I have two businesses.
Carole: So that’s why I have to go to multiple conferences a year so that I can keep up-to-date for both businesses. And it’s not only just the speakers that provide a lot of value, it’s all the attendees…
Ezra: Such a great community.
Carol …and the conversations at lunch and at dinner and at the parties. That’s what…that pays for it in itself over and over and over.
Ezra: Yeah, you can’t beat that network. And so this particular event, what are some things you got?
Carole: The Amazon panel was really, really helpful. Different ways of getting your customers to and from Amazon in your website. There were some interesting tips on that that I took away in postcards and things like that, really things that I could put take home and put into place in my own business.
Ezra: Here we are behind the scenes of eCommerceFuel Live with charming Chad Vanags who’s got a beautiful haircut, got there like the Chuck Liddell…
Chad: I got a Mohawk on it, yeah.
Ezra: Mohawk going on, if you’re an ultimate fighting fan. So Chad, you’re a representative and also a brilliant ecommerce guy yourself of klaviyo.
Chad: It’s Klaviyo.
Ezra: Klaviyo, okay.
Ezra: Klaviyo Email Marketing Automations Authority, what we use for our brand. We absolutely love it and I think that behavioral responsive marketing, like communicating with people based on the behaviors that they’ve taken, is really the future of our businesses in a number of ways. And so if you, coming from the perspective of communicating with people through email, were to give our viewers one or two things that you kind of think would be really relevant for any ecommerce brand, what would you say?
Chad: I’d say the first thing, first and foremost, is you can’t do email automation without email, right? So what I see normally…
Ezra: Collect them.
Chad: You got to collect these emails. So one of the things I always tell brands that come to us, I say, “Start collecting emails, put a focus on that, because the more emails you collect, the more automation you can do.”
Chad: So that’s the number one thing. And then in a platform like Klaviyo, we’re able to do a lot of segmentation based on the behavior, like you just said.
Ezra: You guys have crazy stuff, time on site, page visited, products bought. I mean you have a lot of cool stuff.
Chad: We’ve got a lot of cool stuff. And the best part is we can now sync that to Facebook. So all those segments that you’re able to create based on behavior, we can now sync them to Facebook. You’re obviously an ads guru, right?
Ezra: We do this. And we think that it’s incredible because basically the same type of communications you’re making in email, based on behavior and where they are in your prospect-to-customer journey, you’re creating audiences dynamically on Facebook and having those communications happening with ads as well.
Chad: Absolutely. And you’re making lots of money with it. I mean that’s a…
Ezra: Yeah. If you’re not using Klaviyo in your own like Shopify if you’re doing ecommerce, you should be. We have an affiliate link. Do we have an affiliate link?
Chad: Yeah, it’s there somewhere, we’ll get it to you.
Ezra: Reach out to us, we’ll get you access to Klaviyo through our link. And thanks so much, man.
Chad: Yeah man, appreciate it.
Ezra: Hey, we have reached the end of eCommerceFuel. And I’m gonna admit it, I have had a margarita. I don’t drink, and I think there’s some kind of rule where you’re not supposed to drink before 5:00 p.m. It’s like 4:30, I’m really, really feeling this margarita. So that’s where I’m at. There’s a special thing that happens at these events. It’s like you get this jolt of inspiration because you’re with all these people and everyone’s super excited and you’re hearing all this like cool new stuff that you can implement in your business.
So I highly recommend that you get out and you make it to some events. We’re going to be having Ecommerce All-Stars, which is our smart marketer sort of yearly event where we’re bringing the whole community together. It’s gonna be in August in 2017 in Austin, Texas. If you’re interested in Ecommerce All-Stars, we’ll be emailing you, you know, our sales page and telling you about the event and the speakers and that kind of thing. But if you’re super interested and you want to like sign up early, early, you can email us, email@example.com and we’ll tell you more about it.
So the theme of this event was build a brand, build a community. Now, I think that, kind of, where our business is going is communicating with people based on how they’ve engaged with your brand. So hey, they’ve, you know, watched 40 seconds of a video on Facebook but never actually visited your website. Communicate with them in one way. They visited your homepage or your ecommerce category page but never made it to an offer page or a product detail page. Communicate with them another way. Essentially what we wanna be doing is segmenting, you know, the milestones of our prospects to customer journey.
So people are going to be, you know, going from prospects, people who don’t know about you, to customers. And there’s like sort of steps. There’s milestones on that journey. And what we wanna do is segment those out and communicate with people based on where they are in that process on all available media channels. So, advertising is one way to communicate, email is a way to communicate. You can build lists of people in Facebook Messenger and communicate with folks that way. There’s like getting folks to download a mobile application and communicate with them that way.
But the frame that you wanna take for your business is to personalize your communications based on the behavior of the folks who’ve engaged with you. So, Ezra here at eCommerceFuel Live, the event in Savannah, Georgia. So beautiful. The trees here are huge, there’s a park right across the street. I went to those coffee shop called Sentient Bean and I had my breve lattes which I like so much and little muffins and stuff. So, great event, thank you to Andrew Youderian for putting it on. Love this community. Super happy to be a part of it. new.smartmarketer.com. Catch you in the next one.