Transcript: Stop Leaving $$ On The Table – How To Automate Your Ecommerce Biz!

Hey guys, Catherine Langman here, and welcome back to another episode of the Productpreneur Success Podcast. 

Today we’re going to be discussing my absolute favourite topic – selling on autopilot! 

But before we get to that, first let me invite you to my final LIVE Masterclass for the year, which is happening this Friday, on HOW to implement my approach to Ecommerce sales success.

If you’re struggling to generate consistent traffic and sales in your online store…

Or you want to understand how the most successful Ecommerce stores are doing it…

You will want to attend this one live!

Here’s what we’ll be covering during the tutorial:

  • Discover my eCommerce blueprint that has successfully doubled, tripled (and even more!) the online sales revenue for many of my eCommerce clients!
  • Find out how to systemise and automate your website traffic and sales (time to stop the constant hustle!).
  • Learn the strategies that are working right now to DOUBLE the number of website visitors who convert into buyers without being pushy and still keeping your integrity intact.
  • Learn how focusing on the 3 essential pillars in your eCommerce business helps you to sell more consistently – on autopilot. Working smarter not harder.
  • Find out how literally ANYONE can and should do this, no matter whether you’ve tried “every marketing trick under the sun”, or you feel overwhelmed by what you have on your plate right now!

I’m excited to share this with you because it’s an opportunity for you to get ahead of your competition, systemise and automate your website traffic and sales, and put your business in the best position possible to withstand an economic downturn this year! 

And you’ll find out exactly HOW it works (and how you can do this yourself) during the Masterclass.

Be there on Friday, 18th September at 11am Sydney time.

To reserve your seat, just head to the Podcast Show Notes at >> www.catherinelangman.com/episode-35

Alrighty then – let’s get this show started!

As this episode airs, we’re getting close to the ‘Business’ end of the year. Quarter 4 is just around the corner, and in terms of eCommerce businesses, this is typically THE biggest sales season! It’s where the ‘rubber hits the road’ so to speak. 

If you’ve planned well and you’ve implemented the right marketing and growth strategies into the business, then you can expect to enjoy finishing off the year with some bumper sales!

Now – 2020 hasn’t exactly been a normal year. It’s challenged all of us in ways we could never have imagined and I reckon many of us probably never thought we could cope with. 

Yet at the same time, it’s also presented this insane opportunity for eCommerce businesses. Online retail is absolutely booming, with eCommerce sales growing at hyper-speed! 

Which begs the question – what could 2021 possibly be like for eCommerce businesses? 

My opinion is that, by and large, consumer behaviour has changed. People have become trained and accustomed to shopping online in volumes they never did before, and I think much of that behaviour will continue.

That thought is equal parts exciting and scary though, right? 

I know I’ve seen many online store owners scrambling to keep up right now, so the thought that things will only get busier can make you think ‘ARGH how will I cope? I’m too busy to handle what I’m doing now!’

And then I see many other online store owners, start-ups and small businesses, not quite experiencing that big influx of sales growth yet. 

They feel like you’re the guy wearing the sandwich board standing outside the empty café spruiking a meal deal while the joint across the road is absolutely pumping!

Whichever group you’re in – I’m here to help. I want to share with you some strategies that have worked incredibly well for myself as well as many of my clients, to automate your eCommerce business!

In today’s Podcast episode, I want to start by first sharing a bit about my own eCommerce brand so you have some context for the strategies I want to share with you. 

And then I’ll walk you through the strategies I’ve used time and time again, to automate your eCommerce traffic and sales. 

Like many good things in life, I became a Productpreneur almost by accident.

Back in 2005, I became a Mum. My first son was a honeymoon baby and boy what a life-changer he was! I thought being a Mum was the best thing since sliced bread – so good in fact that I had another son a year later.

There was absolutely no way I could go back to my corporate career after that. My background was in branding and advertising for blue chip corporate and government clients (the the Coca Colas and Microsofts of the world).

But the ethical dilemma of designing packaging for a tobacco company and the boredom of creating advertising for a bank drove me to seek a more professionally satisfying and family-friendly role.

So I started my business. But I wasn’t just creating a job for myself – I was on a mission to change the world, one nappy (or diaper!) at a time.

Inspired by my own baby, my business designed, manufactured, distributed and retailed eco-friendly nappies for babies, as well as products for new Mums.

I wanted to create a business that was lucrative, successful, and yet flexible around the needs of my family.

And that’s exactly what I did.

I went on to create one of the first eco-friendly nappy brands to hit the big time, leading the brand from a small eBay-only presence to one stocked in retailers nationally and exporting globally (from New Zealand, to Asia, Dubai, UK, Europe and the United States.)

Along the way, I grew my business from a micro operation run from the dining room table into a highly profitable business, consistently doing 5-6 figures each month in sales.

How did I achieve this?

By creating a repeatable and automated system for website traffic and sales as well as robust wholesale distribution. AND by building a brand that truly connected with my audience.

We’ll get into the specifics of the HOW in a minute. 

Now, I don’t still own that nappy brand – I sold out of it in mid 2014 – and since then I’ve had the privilege of working with many other brands through my digital marketing agency Productpreneur Marketing, and my online training and education platform Productpreneur Academy.

The basic business fundamentals

I think being a business owner is sometimes a bit like being a parent to a new baby. You absolutely adore your business (or baby) but, like a newborn baby, your business can’t exactly tell you what it needs. And there’s never a ‘right’ way to do it – every business, just like every baby, is unique.

That said, just like a baby needs milk, sleep and lots of love and cuddles, here are the inputs to my product-based business that I believe, in hindsight, had the most significant effects in terms of my own growth and sales success and what I see as the key ingredients to my clients and students’ successes.

Before we look at the things you NEED to be doing, though, let’s look at what the biggest problems or issues are that holds you back from succeeding.

The biggest mistakes or problem areas I commonly see include: 

  1. No audience to sell to (a lack of brand awareness and lack of website traffic),
  2. Customers can’t easily use your website, or find it difficult to navigate, or the product value isn’t clear, leading to low conversion rates, and
  3. A lack of effective marketing to convert new and repeat customers on a consistent basis.

Now I certainly wasn’t immune to making these mistakes, especially starting out with a really poorly designed website. Oh man was that ugly! 

But I definitely had a distinct advantage over many of my competitors given my career background in branding and digital marketing. 

Probably the biggest advantage I had coming into my business was my skill at strategic marketing planning. Most of my competitors were stuck at posting on social media, without any cohesive messaging or proper campaigns, so it was kinda easy for me to stand out…

Like many of you, I was building my business whilst also raising a family, so I definitely came to a time in my business’ growth where I was just so busy and was starting to drop a few balls with the marketing, and then I also found out I was pregnant with my 3rd child which added some extra pressure to things! 

It was at this point I knew two things: 

  1. I would need to hire more staff so that the business continued to run and grow whilst I was off having my baby, and
  2. I needed to automate as much of the traffic-and-sales-generating processes as possible. Because clearly I would be even more distracted once the baby came along!

So how do you win customers and influence sales? Preferably on autopilot?

#1 – Know your ideal customer (and how they buy)

Before you can hope to attract and grow an audience of the right people – the ones who are likely to want to buy your stuff – first you need to identify exactly who they are and why they buy, AND who you (your brand) is to them. 

There will always be a competitor for your customers’ cash – in fact you WANT there to be competitors in the market, because this is a very clear indication that there is demand for what you sell. 

But you cannot hope to attract or convert customers if your brand appears to be exactly the same as your competitors. 

You need to have a distinct point of difference – something that makes you different or better than the other competitors.

And beyond that, you need to demonstrate an understanding of your customers needs and wants that drive them to make a purchase decision. Otherwise known as your “Ideal Customer” and their “Buyer Journey”.

So, to be successful in eCommerce now, we need to niche down. We need to serve a very specific audience, and we need to be clear on who they are and how they buy.

Are you selling kids clothing?

Or are you selling funky, hard-wearing threads for the outdoor adventure-loving little super hero?

What kind of marketing messaging will appeal to your exact customer?

And what is the ultimate benefit they are buying in your product?

Once you know these things, you can attract and grow an audience of EXACTLY the right people.

You can use all sorts of marketing strategies, from paid advertising (my favourite – it’s the most scalable source of traffic), to influencer marketing, to PR to expo’s.

And because you’re communicating the right messages to the right people, you’ll attract them to your online store like bees to honey!

#2 – High converting website design

Like I mentioned earlier, having a poorly designed website that is difficult to navigate and shop or that doesn’t clearly communicate your product’s value, is unlikely to convert very highly. 

And what is the point of spending money to market your business or drive traffic to your store through advertising, if the website doesn’t convert? 

I’ve seen some absolute doozies in my time – poorly designed websites with low conversion rates.

The other day I saw an eCommerce website that actually didn’t have a Shop link in their menu AT ALL!

And as I alluded to earlier, my own first website was absolutely horrendous! I definitely learnt the hard way and made many mistakes before I ended up with something that really worked.

Equally, I’ve seen (and personally run myself) – some very high converting websites as well, and there are some clear distinctions between them. 

An average website conversion rate for eCommerce is about 2%. So if you want to work out where you sit on the spectrum, go and check out your Analytics dashboard at your average conversion rate over, say, the past 3 months.

In my last business, my last website conversion rate averaged around 5.5%, and I have clients who range between 3-7% on a consistent basis.

Here are the essential ingredients in a website that converts:

The first thing you need to ensure, is that your website design is simple, clear and visually attractive to YOUR audience.  

When a potential customer lands on your website, they should quickly understand WHAT you sell, WHY they should want it and HOW to buy it.

This is further highlighted by a recent study published in User Interface Engineering that found browsers give up after just 3 clicks if they haven’t already found what they want!

This means – you absolutely MUST understand your ideal customer and what motivates them to buy, plus what holds them BACK from buying. You simply do not have the clicks to waste on communicating the wrong information, or even “nice to have” information. 

Next, making sure your website navigation is intuitive is super important. Again, this goes to helping your customer to quickly find what they want and buy it.

Next, you must test your website thoroughly on mobile. We all need to consider mobile first, not as an afterthought, as the majority of new customers are now viewing on their smart phone or tablet.

There are many other elements of design and functionality to consider – things that help to position your brand in the market so it attracts the right audience and stands out from the competition. But it all stems from intimately knowing your ideal customer and understanding their buyer journey.

#3 – Marketing to convert new and repeat customers consistently

OMG don’t even get me started here. If I had a dollar for every time a business owner told me, “Email marketing is dead – I just focus on social media”, or “I don’t want to email my list too often because I don’t want to annoy them”.

That’s entrepreneur language for “I only send newsletters every now and again when I remember or when I find the time”…

An A+ excuse for not consistently marketing to your audience right there!

Not to mention – ONLY focusing on social media is a HUGE mistake! What you need to understand is, you actually don’t own your audience on social media. Mark Zuckerberg owns most of it, and all those platforms own the audiences that exist on them. 

To build up an audience that you own, one that becomes an incredibly lucrative and valuable asset to your business, you MUST focus on building an email list.

This does not mean you don’t also focus on attracting and engaging with your audience on social media, or using other strategies like print media, TV, expos, or anything else. 

Here’s what you should be doing:

Strategy first, channel second

Here’s what I mean by this. First, you work out what you are going to communicate to your audience. Are you announcing a new product? Or running a clearance sale? 

Then, you work out how you’ll communicate that message to your audience. Generally your marketing messages are communicated via all different channels, including social media, email, website or blog, and possibly traditional media or PR. 

That consistency of messaging via each channel means you don’t need a different content strategy for each different platform, plus the message is consistent and reinforced for your audience and customers no matter where they interact with your brand.

Automate your customer conversions

Don’t just rely on your website alone to convert a first-time customer. Take advantage of sales automation using email!

Entice potential customers onto your email list, and then use an automated email sequence (otherwise known as a sales funnel) to help convert subscribers into buyers.

Now, I know many of you are probably already inviting (or bribing) people to subscribe to your email list, but you’d be surprised how few eCommerce stores are actually properly following up with those new subscribers using a sequence of automated emails. 

Yet, the money is always in the followup! This much direct marketing experts have known for decades… 

And I’ve seen evidence that bears this out over and over again. 

Take our client Bobo & Boo, who we started working with in our agency about a year or more ago. 

Sales increased when we started running paid Facebook ad traffic to the website. 

But then when the email list-building and automated email followup went live, the sales growth really started to go nuts!

Reclaim abandoned carts

I know it can be tempting to think, “Well, if they didn’t complete their checkout, they don’t really want my stuff, so I’m not going to waste my time with those idiots.” 

This would be an enormous mistake though, because people who add a product to their shopping cart (but don’t check out) are your warmest leads! 

Usually people abandon their cart because they’ve been surprised by extra fees and charges in the checkout, or they got distracted, or they’re still just a bit unsure if it’s the right option. 

You can reclaim these lost sales 10-15% of the time by using automated email and retargeting ads to follow up with these punters.

And given the average abandonment rate for eCommerce stores sits at around 70%, the opportunity here is pretty significant!

Entice your existing customers back for more

The first sale to a new customer is rarely all that profitable, by the time you take into account your advertising costs and any discounts used to convert that first sale.

To make good money in eCommerce, and become a profitable business, you need to retain your customers and get them purchasing from you again and again.

Once you can turn a customer from a one-time buyer into a 2-time buyer, you’re well on your way!

You can automate this second sale as well, by using more retargeting ads and by sending an automated post-purchase email to first-time buyers designed to cross-sell them to something else, or up-sell them to more of the same. 

In my first business, we were able to up-sell a first time customer from a small first order to a larger bundle, and then later were able to automate the repeat purchases of consumable products.

One thing you may notice so far with this marketing system I’m describing is – so far it’s all automated. You’re consistently attracting customers and converting new and repeat sales, all on autopilot.

However, I still want you to…

Send newsletters frequently and consistently

A mentor said to me many many years ago – when you know how to write marketing emails, you’ll always be able to make money.

And certainly, my eCommerce clients who email their list weekly with new products or promotions definitely make a LOT more money than those that don’t.

Those who only send the occasional newsletter on an inconsistent basis, do not.

Frequency and consistency is key here!

But your email newsletters should be the icing on the cake. 

So there you have it – my system for attracting new and repeat customers on autopilot.

Want to learn more about automating your eCommerce Biz?

This Friday, I’m running my VERY LAST free Masterclass for the year! It’s called “My 6-Figure Per Month Ecommerce Sales Formula”. 

If you’re struggling to generate consistent traffic and sales in your online store…

Or you want to understand how the most successful Ecommerce stores are doing it…

You will want to attend this one live!

Here’s what we’ll be covering during the tutorial:

  • Discover my eCommerce blueprint that has successfully doubled, tripled (and even more!) the online sales revenue for many of my eCommerce clients!
  • Find out how to systemise and automate your website traffic and sales (time to stop the constant hustle!).
  • Learn the strategies that are working right now to DOUBLE the number of website visitors who convert into buyers without being pushy and still keeping your integrity intact.
  • Learn how focusing on the 3 essential pillars in your eCommerce business helps you to sell more consistently – on autopilot. Working smarter not harder.
  • Find out how literally ANYONE can and should do this, no matter whether you’ve tried “every marketing trick under the sun”, or you feel overwhelmed by what you have on your plate right now!

Head to the Show Notes for this Podcast episode, at www.catherinelangman.com/episode-35, where you can register for free to attend this live Masterclass!