So retail is down and e-commerce is up. This presents entrepreneurs the chance to make an end-run around mass retail. At Little Pim we have been scaling the retail wall since we started selling four years ago, and we rapidly realized we could grow our own customer base online by being creative, focused, and um, entrepreneurial.
As a new brand in a crowded children’s space, we have been uber-focused on online sales, and this holiday season we’re seeing the payoff. For the third consecutive quarter, we have seen a 40% rise in our Direct to Consumer sales. Here is what is working for us:
• Understand the buyer’s journey.
In the past we had many different lead offers using only discounts; everything from 20% off to buy-one-get-one-free. Take a minute to understand your potential customers’ decision chain, and what’s most important to them. Once you do that, you can match the right offer. We now offer a free trial of our product to get leads to the top of the funnel. Then we try and educate them about the value of language learning, and throw in a tasty offer offer from time to time. With this multi-staged approach, we’re beginning to see much higher conversion rates and lower CPA.
• Use Google, and learn how to use it well.
Take a webinar in Google’s host of tools, and make sure to keep up with the rapidly changing services they offer. Ask fellow CEOs what is working for them. Google ads, SEO and YouTube marketing can make or break your online presence. Analyze what is working and what isn’t with rigor and tweak often, not just the offer but the creative too.
• Turbo-charge your customer service.
Make sure whoever is answering phones is prepared to upsell, offer special discounts and incentives and take orders on the phone. Getting the customer to call or click is only half the equation. Take a page out of Zappos’ book and make sure your customer service people understand your product, understand your customers, and are a pleasure to talk to.
• Quality vs Quantity: Stay focused.
We have had greater success cultivating a smaller number of people and guiding them through a very intentional sales funnel, than when we cast a wide net to people who might not fully align with our target customer.
We set aside 25% of our marketing budget to try new things. There are so many new tools, services and mediums to try. Unless you are strict about setting budget aside, you can keep doing the same thing over and over and miss opportunities to discover new things that could end up seriously paying off.
Having just seen Life of Pi, it occurs to me that online marketing for small businesses is like being that young man in a tiny boat at sea. You have a set number of things you can use to survive and thrive – a net, a spear, resilience and creativity. Use them all and get to safe shores. You may even find you can outrace the big cruise ships in reaching your customers.