If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years helping hundreds of eCommerce brands to systemize and automate their sales growth, it’s this…

… The number of Instagram followers you have has nothing to do with it.

The other day, I was speaking with an online store owner.

And I asked her what her goal was for the next year.

“Increase sales by 20%” came the response.

So my next question was, “How will you achieve that? What will you do?”

And her first response was that she aims to grow her Instagram followers.

I was confused. I was talking to someone who had been in business for a couple of years, but they were making less than $1000 a week…

…And they were worrying about how many followers they have? 

Ultimately, this sort of thing is all too common.

As is the next step usually taken…

Posting in a free Facebook group to canvas opinions about how to gain those desired followers (obviously with the assumption that more followers equals more sales, right?)

Not to be dramatic, but the internet is plagued with distractions and illegitimate experts.

Would-be digital marketers sharing misinformed opinions

And there’s so much misinformation out there, telling you to do a million different things. 

Like, post on social media 5 times a day.

Do a giveaway…

Or send stuff to influencers or brand reps…

Or email a discount to your list…

And I love this one… “just be authentic.”

So how’s that working for ya? I’m gonna take a guess – the return on effort isn’t fabulous…

And the bottom line is – none of this is STRATEGY. These are just tactics dying to have a real strategy to pull it all together.

Now, if you’re anything like me, this just isn’t good enough. You’re probably thinking “I started my business so I could work on MY terms, not to waste time hustling for peanuts.”

Now, for eCommerce sales growth, what you want is a customer acquisition and retention strategy. 

Wanna know the REAL problem, though? 

Most marketers have no freaking idea how to figure this out or design a strategy to suit eCommerce. Including 99% of digital marketers…

There’s no ‘industry agreement’ about the best or right way to do it and most people just can’t figure it out.

So, like the online store owner I was speaking to the other day, they continue working on the same kinds of activities as they did last year, but hoping for different results.

Things like: posting on Instagram, participating in ‘Insta loops’, running giveaways, maybe doing some Facebook ads or boosting posts.

And when those activities fail to deliver the desired effects on growth, they then run a discount or sale promotion to bring some dollars in the door.

Sound familiar?

As Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

Yet so many of us continue to do the same things in our business and wonder why we’re not getting the results we desire!

So, in today’s podcast episode, I want to walk you through my 5 tips to figure out WHAT to focus on in your business. 

This is not going to spell out a full eCommerce sales and marketing strategy for you, but it’ll help you to figure out where you are now, so you can at least work out whether what you’re doing so far is working. 

And over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing more specific strategies with you that’ll help you with the ‘HOW’ part!

1. Are you getting a return on effort?

Let me ask you an important question: do you know which of your current activities actually generate results?

And on the flip side: of the activities you are doing, do you know if you are wasting time doing things that give you little to no return on investment (ROI)?

So many times I speak to business owners spend hour upon hour on tasks that have little impact on sales growth. And on top of that, they have absolutely no idea that this is the case!

As Dr. Phil says, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge!”

How to identify your most effective marketing activities

Tip: Write a list of all the sales and marketing activities you spend time on, and then see if you can work out what results you got from those activities. Once you figure out the things that work – do more of that and less of everything else!

The best way I know how to work this out, is to start diving into your performance metrics. So, looking at your Shopify analytics dashboard, or your Google analytics, to see where your traffic and sales are coming from. 

If you are generating some traffic and sales from Instagram, and you’re not doing any paid advertising, work out how many hours you spend posting and engaging on the platform, then divide your revenue by the hours to see what your hourly return on effort is. 

If you are spending money on advertising, you definitely need to learn how to read the results. If you’re boosting a post, you might get a nice boost to your ego with a lot of comments and engagement on social media, but then when you look at the data you may not actually see traffic and sales. 

2. Can you guarantee results on your marketing spend?

Are you only willing to spend money on marketing or advertising if you can be 100% sure you’ll get a return on that investment?

I see many business owners putting a lot of time into free marketing activities because they’re scared to spend money, afraid they won’t get a return on that investment.

You definitely don’t need to do ALL the different marketing strategies in your business. You don’t even need to be on all the different social media channels!

But you DO need to pick one or two marketing strategies that work for your business model, implement them consistently, review your progress and make improvements based on your ongoing results.

And here’s the thing. Even if you pay an expert or consultant, you shouldn’t expect to get brilliant results straight out of the gate. You have to give yourself time to implement, test, review and tweak.

There’s this Japanese concept of Kaizen, which is loosely translated to “continuous improvement”. 

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, which is an excellent book that I’d recommend to you all, talks about focusing on 1% improvement every day. 

How to ensure you get a return on marketing investment

Tip: Record your starting point before you undertake any new marketing activities (for example, if you’re going to invest in Facebook ads, how many website visitors are you getting before you start?). Then record the results you get during and afterwards, in terms of increased visitors and sales, to see what impact your efforts have.

3. What drives sales and profit growth in your business?

The basic concept of business is relatively simple – you sell a product or service for a certain price. To grow your business, you need more customers to buy that product or service.

In order to influence that growth, you need to identify what factors drive that growth. For example, if you own an eCommerce store, what things influence your website revenue and profitability? Generally, it’s getting traffic to your site and converting that to new and repeat customers.

If you can work out the root causes of your results, or key business drivers as I like to call them, then you can focus your efforts on those things.

How to work out your key business drivers

Tip: Start by listing all the different ways your customers buy from you, and next to that, identify what are the instigators for each source of customers. For example, if you sell on your website, the sources would include email, social media, search engines, other referring websites. If you sell wholesale, the source is likely to be the number of sales calls you make.

Then, take it a step further by listing all the other factors that influence profits, such as average order value, returning customer rate and repeat purchase frequency.

4. Are you the bottleneck? 

I remember speaking with a recent client – this was before we started working together, we were discussing some strategies to improve her website conversion rate as well as traffic strategies like Facebook ads – but before then, we were having a chat about what she should do to scale up her business. And at the end of the discussion, she was really excited and on-board with the strategies, but she wanted to complete some of the work herself first. A few months went by and I reached out to her, and she admitted she hadn’t done those things, and she felt so guilty about the idea that she couldn’t do it all herself, like it was a personal failure. 

In all that time, she’d been working like a trojan, yet her sales hadn’t grown, so she still didn’t have the increased cashflow she wanted. 

At the end of the day, though, would Jeff Bezos be fixing the Amazon website or picking and packing the orders? No, of course not. 

No business can scale up with just one person. You end up running yourself into the bone, and then the minute you get sick or burn out, everything grinds to a halt and your income dries up. 

You know if you’re the bottleneck if you are taking a million years to complete projects, or you’re spending all your time fulfilling orders and answering customer service messages, or if you know that, given a bit more time, you could spend more time on growth-related projects, like marketing to drive more traffic to your site and therefore increase your revenue. 

If you’re in this position, you will not grow, no matter how many great marketing ideas are suggested to you, because you simply do not have the capacity to do more. 

The answer is to start systemizing your processes, hiring or outsourcing to increase your capacity, and use automation tools to automate as much of your traffic and sales as possible.

5. Answer honestly: Are you sabotaging your own success?

I remember years ago, I used to explain away my lack of achieving some of my goals by saying to myself, ‘I need to do X, Y or Z before I can expect to see growth’.

And that X, Y and Z usually meant ‘I need to do all the marketing things’ (and I felt like I needed to do them all myself) or ‘I need to be doing everything my competitors are doing’. Or even, ‘I need to have this fancy expensive marketing application in place before I can expect bigger results’!

But all this does is give yourself permission to stay where you are, spinning your wheels and not achieving the growth in sales and profitability that you crave.

Tip: Sometimes it’s hard to get out of our own way! Find an accountability partner, coach or mentor to help keep you focused on the things that matter so you can grow your business consistently.


Quiz: Discover Your #1 eCommerce Sales Killer

Podcast: How to know if your Facebook ads are working

Podcast: How to Systemize to Supercharge your Business

Podcast: How to Develop a Winning Business Mindset

Rockstar Productpreneur Group