Ecommerce Lessons Learned Building

Build an audience before launch.  

This one was really hard for me; how do you get people's attention before you have anything to show off?! But I see new brands doing it all the time, and it makes the world of difference. I think this is one of the situations I needed to have recognized my limitations and found someone with the right skills for the task. 

As you're developing your concept; researching the competition and suppliers is front and centre. As you're finding these targets, research how they launched. Or if it's a new brand, study how they're building their audience and learn from it. 

Beware of getting caught up in the details, have a story and tell it.  

At this stage of the business, everything is a detail and requires attention. But dont get caught up in figuring out how best to manage the accounting for example and lose site of building your brand story. After the first six months I realized I had spent too much time figure out the mechanics of the business and wasn't writing the story. In my mind I have a great brand story to tell, but I had completely lost sight of it in the marketing. Which means my audience has no idea what the brand is about and less of a reason to connect with Thresherman and share the site with their networks.

Keep your costs low to maintain efficiency. Plan to scale up is easier than over building

Its so easy to jump in the deep-end and go gangbusters buying equipment and supplies to set up the office. I know it can make it feel like you're accomplishing so much, and gosh darn't a real business has a laser printer!

I made the mistake early on committing to a long-term contract that seemed to make a lot of sense at the time. Ultimately however it was way too soon and costly waiting out the terms to cancel.  

Don't focus on competitors. Do your own thing.  

Ok, its very important to know what your competitors are doing and steal the good ideas. Just don't lose sight of what your own brand. Start out with your own strategy and tactics, and then compare and contrast against your competitor's approach and adjust as needed. I think it can be far too distracting to start by looking at the competition and taking ideas from them to start your plan, you run the convenient risk of just flat out looking like the competition. Being a copy cat means you're already in second place.

I've certainly borrowed ideas from the competitors, and at times I've worried if I copied ideas instead of adapted them to the brand. We're all busy people and taking a short cut might be easy, but in the end the gains won't be as good as they could be.

Podcasts with great ideas and conversations.  

Meetups with other entreprenuers is a great way to exchange ideas and think about your business from another person's perspective. Finding a good group may not always be easy or convenient, especially while working a full-time job, so as a good substitute I've found several ecommerce podcasts to do much the same. 

Although you're not sharing your businesses specifics with other people for comment and evaluation, you can hear others sharing their startup stories. I've learned to keep my notebook nearby while I'm listening as I'm always jotting down new ideas to investigate later. 

Here's my list of recommended podcasts to try out: 

Some Great Reads of the Week

Business folks like to say, "everything is marketing" or "everything is customer service". Well here's an article from Marketing Magazine with "The case to move customer service online." In smaller companies in particular, it may be necessary for the marketing team to assist the customer service team getting online and building those digital support channels. It has often been part of my marketing plan to boost customer service online; happy customers are repeat customers! Now its nice to have some stats to back it up.

If you are not following the Buffer Blog, go do it right now. Seriously, I'll wait.

Speaking of Buffer, their latest post "How We Doubled Email Signups in 30 Days" is a nice read and break down of their process. It also happens to be timely for a project I'm working on.

Who else can't wait to try out Promoted Pins on Pinterest? TechCrunch has the lead "Pinterest Expands Self-Serve Promoted Pins Platform to More Businesses". I'm still waiting for the invite, but at least its coming soon.

Best of the Week

It was a short and stressful week, so I didn't get a chance to read as much as I'd like but here are the gems I did manage to review. How do you find time to read?

* If you haven't heard, Google Analytics has rolled out Enhanced Ecommerce Analytics. Dive deeper into your site's performance |

* On a side note, I'm getting really tired of reading articles portraying themselves as offering deep insights into marketing on Facebook or Twitter, when all they do is cover the basics. 

* Fliptop has posted an ebook about predictive lead scoring. Download it and learn how to send just the best leads to your sales team. |

 * I miss having a standing desk, so this list of excercises to make up for all the sitting is worth printing out and posting at your desk | Art of Manliness 

* Long read - FRESHLY PRESSED: Harry Holly Helped Make the the Fast Food Hamburger Possible |

Best of the Week

Like any good marketer, I read a lot. I like to stay on top of the latest news, product launches, reviews, how-to's, case studies and more to help me perform better at my job. As you can imagine I see a lot of content junk and hopefully a few gems every week. I figured I'd start to share some of those gems here.

The jury might still be out on Google+, but if its part of your marketing mix, here are 11 Ways to Get More Followers for Your Google+ Business Page via SocialMediaExaminer.

I unfortunately get dragged into the conversation about website content being above the fold, here's 3 Reasons Why Online Content Can Leave 'Above the Fold' Behind by the Content Marketing Institute.

Oh I really liked this read; having this set up would make the job of marketing so much easier in larger organizations. The Case for Why Marketing Should Have Its Own Engineers from the First Round Review.

As a B2B marketer by day, LinkedIn's purchase of Bizo has me all sorts of intrigued for what is to come. MarketingProfs lists out Three Ways it Affects You.


Oh, How Pinteresting!, Follow whatever looks interesting

Pinterest is already a great marketing platform for e-commerce sites to generate business, and now its about to get even better. They are starting to roll out a new feature letting users follow interest categories; so instead of users having to follow you to see your pins, they'll be exposed to random pins by category.

This is going to be great for increasing your content's exposure and landing even more business from the network. 

Facebook is rolling out Ads Manager for iOS and Android

Facebook announced today the launch of a mobile ad manager to give advertisers the means to better manage their accounts on the go. This is going to be an instant winner for entrepreneurs running their business from their phone.

The mobile manager will allow users of the iOS and Android apps and Facebook’s mobile site to:

  • Pause or resume campaigns
  • Edit budgets and schedules
  • View insights
  • Respond to alerts

Facebook said the new feature will be rolled out globally in the coming days and be available to all advertisers by the end of the summer.

It will be accessible via an Ads Manager bookmark within Facebook apps or the mobile site:

It’s May 2014, and Here Are Four Ways that SEO Is Drastically Changing


It’s May 2014, and Here Are Four Ways that SEO Is Drastically Changing

The only unchanging truth about SEO is that it’s always changing.

I almost didn’t write that line, because it sounds so cliche.

I don’t want to dish up half-baked cliches. Instead, I intend to deliver some stop-and-think advice. We’ve heard cliches before. Ad nauseum. Search marketing in 2014 demands more than cliches. We to need to take a hard look at where search marketing is now, and maybe why…

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LinkedIn Introduces Language Preference Targeting For Company Pages


LinkedIn Introduces Language Preference Targeting For Company Pages

LinkedIn launched two new capabilities to its service this week designed to help global brands with audiences in multiple locations around the word enhance their social media efforts with more local content and conversation on LinkedIn. The two new capabilities LinkedIn is launching are language preference targeting and the personalized page feed.

According to LinkedIn’s announcement, 67% of…

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This Generic Brand Video Is The Greatest Thing About The Absolute Worst In Advertising

Stock footage brand Dissolve puts its product to good use to call out lazy marketers peddling empty ideas. 

It’s just perfect. Everything is in there. The scientists with beakers, synonyms for progress, powerful rushing water, a baby, a blue-collar guy with dirt on his face, time-lapse footage of a city at night. Since the dawn of time, these have been the images used by marketers who just didn’t quite manage to have an actual idea. The images, when combined with a solemn voiceover, form the basis of one of the most enduring, and enduringly bad, ad templates—the old “shoot-the-brief montage.” Recently, it seems as though more and more advertisers are reaching for this chestnut, so this parody comes at a particularly good time.

More> Co.Create

Oh boy…

Three Things Digital-Savvy CMOs Are Doing Different

Marketing is changing faster and faster; its a constant endeavor to keep up with the new technologies and opportunities. This article doesn’t really point out activities you shouldn’t already know about, but what I found startling was just how many marketers are still behind the curve. Especially at big companies with lots of resources; especially in regards to big data technology.