How This 17 Year Old Turned a Love of Watches Into a $13,500 a Month Business

For years I’ve been advocating for people to start their own online stores.

I love helping entrepreneurs create value seemingly out of thin air and have been fortunate to mentor a few students on their ecommerce journeys.

One of my most successful students is Jonah, a 17 year old competitive swimmer from Denver, Colorado.

Jonah was like many other people I’ve met.

He wanted to start an online business, but he didn’t know how to code or have any experience doing it.

So how did he go from knowing nothing about ecommerce, to making more than $13,500/month in revenue in his first year of business?

Check out my interview with him below to find out.

How did you get your start in online marketing?

I’ve worked a few part-time jobs and never enjoyed working for other people. I like working on my own time and I’m happy to put the effort I need into things, knowing there is a reason and reward for what I’m doing.

I had tried affiliate marketing and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. One day it hit me, “Why don’t I make my own store and start selling a product I care about instead of working really hard to sell stuff on other people’s store?”

My first ecommerce store, Watch Outfitters was launched with Shopify on January 2nd, 2016. I had absolutely no experience selling things online and had to put in a lot of time to get started.

I watched webinars, followed the Shopify blog, followed Youtube tutorials, and I also asked specific questions to people in the Kingpinning and Shopify Strategy groups on Facebook when I got stuck.

It took me a little while to learn how to ask the right questions. For example I didn’t’ just ask, “How do you set up a Facebook ad?” I’d ask, “I’m setting up a new ad campaign and am looking to do some split testing—how do I know which segments to test?”

How did you decide what you would sell?

Since it was my first time selling something online, I wanted to chose a product line that I knew something about and that I had a personal interest in.

There are a lot of jewelers in my family and I personally love watches, so I decided to launch my own store based on my hobby and knowledge of watches.

Screenshot of Watch Outfitters website

Growing up I saw how different retailers would charge crazy amounts of money for watches of a similar style and quality that were a quarter of the cost.

I curated my selection for people who want a high-quality watch at an affordable price and decided to sell some popular brands as well as design and test a few of my own custom products.

How did you get your first sale?

Things started off slow and for the first few weeks I had mostly $0 in sales days, which was extremely de-motivating. At one point I even called you (Bryan) up and admitted that this wasn’t working out for me.

While we were talking I had an Aha moment and this is when my store went from selling $0 a day to $300-400 a day in product.

The mind shift happened when I stopped focussing on “selling things” and started to ask, “how can I add value to my customer?”

I began to focus on what my customer wanted and then provided specific copy and imagery that spoke to those wants.

My ads changed, my store changed, and I realized that I am not a master of my customer, but instead I’m a servant who must learn from my customer’s behavior.

What’s one of the best avenues you’ve found to grow your sales?

Knowing your customers equals testing.

Facebook Ads has been by far one the biggest growth drivers for my business.

Shopify has a great post on how to get started with Facebook Ads for ecommerce which helped me understand my customers and how to target the right groups effectively

I’ve tested a lot of different ad campaigns, from targeting people’s birthdays, to targeting ads based on specific brands they’ve liked. Most recently I’ve been testing ad targeting based on different interests people have and have been offering ads with different products for different demographics.

In the end there are four steps I took in order to maximize my Facebook Ad performance.

Step 1 – Set Up Facebook’s Tracking Pixel

If you’re using Facebook Ads you have to set up this step to track which of your ads are working and which ones are not. Sign into Facebook and go to your ad account. Click on the Ads Manager tab and under assets you can find your tracking pixel and copy the long number.

Screenshot of setting up your Facebook pixel

Once you’ve copied the Pixel ID log into Shopify and paste it into the Preferences tab within your Online Store Settings.

Screenshot of Facebook pixel performance

With this set up you can start tracking your ad traffic from Facebook and Instagram to know which ad groups are performing best for you.

Note: You can follow these steps to add the Facebook pixel to your Shopify store.

Step 2 – Find Great Product Photos and Write Enticing Ad Copy

Without great product photos it can be hard to get users to click on your ads. I found that my most successful ads had high-quality images and some message that speaks to my customer’s wants.

At first I thought my ads should be telling users to buy a watch now, but these ads don’t add value to my customer.

Facebook ad example

My ad copy later changed to say things like, “Ready to step up your watch game?” which spoke to my clients desire to have a nice watch to wear for a night out on the town.

Step 3 – Create Groups of Ad Campaigns

When I first started with Facebook Ad Campaigns I was nervous to invest my own money. With some guidance I learned how to reduce my risk and maximize my profit with these steps.

By creating 3-5 Ad Campaigns in Facebook, I’d experiment with targeting different groups of people by age, location, interests and then experiment with which creative and offers worked best for each group.

Each ad campaign was evaluated when it reached a specific amount of spend, in my case, $25, and later $75. Below you can see two different campaigns with their cost and total purchase next to them.

Screenshot of Watch Outfitters Facebook campaigns

The first campaign cost about $30, but made me $262 in revenue. The second campaign cost $75, but I only made $76 in revenue.

Comparing these costs I’d then remove any ads that did not convert into enough revenue after a week.

Step 4 – Rinse and Repeat

Every week, I’d continue the process of removing my poor performing ad campaigns and then duplicating the best campaigns to see if I could get higher conversions with new ad creative or copy.

It’s critical to constantly test new ads and make sure you are not spending more on your ads than the revenue you are receiving from them.

Outside of Facebook Ads, are there other ways you’ve grown your store?

A few other areas I’ve found to be impactful are email marketing and providing social validation for my store.

I use the Mailchimp Popup Subscription to ask visitors for their email address when they arrive to the site. By providing a special offer, like 10% off a purchase, I found my signups drastically improved.

Screenshot of email subscribe form

After I collected email addresses for a month I’d send a “Watch of the Week” (WoW) email special, which now generates about $500 in sales with each email.

I also really like the Recent Sales Notifications app which tells visitors when someone else has placed an order. These small pop-ups show something like, “John Smith from New York City, NY just purchased this watch” with a picture and link to the watch.

This helps direct visitors to recommended and popular products on the site, and speeds up the turnaround time on the shopping experience.

After the purchase, the Coopt App allows my customers to share my website to their friends on Facebook for a small discount. I set it up to send an automated email offer after every purchase, asking them to “Help us fit the world with Watches” and include a 5% cash back reward.

Since my customers typically have friends with similar interests and demographics, this “social shoutout” is a great way to generate high quality traffic.

Any advice you have to other first time ecommerce entrepreneurs?

At the end of the day you have to put in the work and will get out whatever you put in.

It took me 6 days to get my first sale and once it hit everything became real. All the energy I had put into the business was coming back to me.

I said to myself, “I’m finally making money online.”

Using Amazon FBA? Here’s What You Need to Know About Sales Tax

Using Amazon FBA? Here’s What You Need to Know About Sales Tax

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

– Benjamin Franklin

As an online store owner, tax laws can be messy, complicated, and impact your business operations unexpectedly.

Case in point: If you’re using Amazon’s Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) service for your online store, without realizing it you might be required to collect and remit sales tax in a state where your inventory is located, but your business physically isn’t.

Amazon FBA was established in 2012 to facilitate the fulfillment component for businesses of all sizes. Sourcing warehouse space, receiving orders, packing product and shipping to consumers can be very time-consuming for companies looking to expand their business and establish their brand.

With Amazon FBA, they take care of these tasks by leveraging their established network of warehouses around North America. By shipping your inventory to one of the FBA warehouses, Amazon will store, pick, package, and ship every order you receive to consumers, whether it be through Amazon or another sales channel

But as with most things, for every benefit there tends to be a drawback that needs to be considered.

In Amazon FBA’s case, for all the pros it provides to merchants, using the service may cause you to trigger sales tax nexus in more than one state, which creates potential tax collection and remittance headaches for your business.

Download our FBA Sales Tax Cheat Sheet

Save this sales tax cheat sheet for quick and easy reference to see how you should treat sales tax in every state with an FBA fulfillment center.

What is “Nexus” And How Is It Triggered?

With more states having difficulty balancing their budgets, state governments are increasingly taxing out-of-state sellers by updating their existing sales and use tax legislation to expand the concept of “nexus”.

The nexus concept has always been around, but it wasn’t until recently that the definitions have been expanded to capture out-of-state sellers.

Nexus is the minimum connection between your business and a state that is required before a state can force your business to collect and remit their sales and use tax. A state can’t tax you without some kind of link to your business. Traditionally, this connection is established when your business has a physical presence in a state.

For example, if you buy, store and sell all your products in California, the only state that can tax you is California.

However, what is considered a “physical presence” varies from state to state.

Depending on the state, nexus definitions may include:

  • Registration: Registered to do business in a state.
  • Solicitation: Meeting customers in a state.
  • Incorporation: Having an entity incorporated or organized in a state.
  • Location: Living in a state.
  • Inventory: Having your merchandise/stock in a state.
  • Warehouse Use: Maintaining, occupying, using warehouse space.
  • Fulfillment services: Storage and warehousing, order processing, picking and packing inventory, shipping, customer service and returns management.

The result is that if your inventory is being held outside your home state in an FBA warehouse located in a state that includes one of the above terms in their definition of nexus, you may have to collect and remit sales tax in more than just the state where your business is headquartered.

I’ve Triggered Nexus. Now What?

Once you’ve determined that you’ve triggered nexus in a state, the next step is to determine if the product you’re selling is considered taxable in that state, which if you’re using Amazon’s FBA service is likely a ‘Yes’.

States consider tangible personal property (TPP) to be taxable items. The definition of TPP varies by state, but is usually very general so that almost all physical products that you can see, touch, and smell fall into the definition.

Destination vs. Origin Based States

So you’ve figured out that you should be collecting and remitting sales tax in more than your home state, but how much tax should you be charging your customers in this new state(s)?

Depending on the state, sales tax may be charged on an origin basis or destination basis.

Origin basis requires that you charge your customer sales tax based on your business location’s combined state/county/city sales tax rate. Very few states use origin basis for taxing out-of-state sellers. It’s typically only used when both the merchant and customer are located in the same state.

Destination basis requires you to charge sales tax at the rate in the state where your product is being delivered. This is the most commonly used method, and is the main reason merchants are required to register and begin collecting out-of-state sales tax.

If That Sounds Confusing, Here’s an Example

Let’s say that you’re the owner of Colouring Comics Inc. (“CCI”) and you sell adult colouring books through your brick and mortar store located in Phoenix, Arizona.

All your inventory is located at this store. In fact, this is your only physical location in the United States. You charge sales tax on all sales from your brick and mortar store based on the rates for Phoenix, Arizona.

Looking to grow your business after a successful holiday season when adult colouring books were flying off the shelves, you opened an online store to expand your sales outside the Phoenix area.

In order to fulfill orders faster on the east coast, you enrolled CCI in the FBA service and sent a portion of your inventory to Amazon’s FBA warehouse in Ohio.

Over the year, sales increased substantially across the northeastern US corridor, with Ohio representing the state with the largest growth.

Since you’ve sent inventory to Amazon’s FBA warehouse in Ohio, from a technical position CCI has triggered sales tax nexus in that state. Given CCI’s success in growing sales in Ohio, your tax liability may be significant if CCI is audited by tax authorities and you don’t register to collect sales tax from customers.

In this case, you should register for sales tax in Ohio. And, as a destination-based seller (selling from Arizona to Ohio), when a sale is made to an Ohio customer, you should charge sales tax based on the customer’s shipping address in Ohio. You will continue to charge sales tax to Arizona customers based on the sales tax rate that applies to their Phoenix location.

Since CCI has no connection with any other state (besides selling their product to customers there), you are not responsible for collecting sales tax from any other state.

If you continued to expand your operations with CCI, and began using additional FBA warehouses, there may be further sales tax implications to consider.

Below is a list of all states where an Amazon FBA warehouse is currently located and how they deal with sales tax.

FBA Sales Tax (By State) 

Click here to get these Amazon FBA sales tax guidelines as a downloadable PDF. 

Note: Whether origin or destination based, county/city taxes are applicable on all sales. The State’s Sales Tax Rate does not reflect the county/city rates, given the number of counties/cities in each state.

Arizona

  • Basis for Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis for Sales Tax (remote sales): Origin Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 5.6%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Fulfillment

California

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based*
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.5%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

*Modified Origin state – State/County/City taxes are based on origin, District taxes are based on destination. If you sell to a customer in the same district as the FBA warehouse, you’ll charge the district rate to buyers located in that district. If you sell to a customer outside the district, you will charge the California state rate, no district rate is applicable.

Connecticut

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.35%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

Delaware

No sales tax, no issues!

Florida

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Georgia

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 4.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Illinois

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based (out of state buyers don’t pay)
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Origin Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.25%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Indiana

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 7.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Kansas

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.5%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Kentucky

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Maryland

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

Massachusetts

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.25%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse

Minnesota

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.875%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, Fulfillment

Michigan

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, Fulfillment

Nevada

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 4.6%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

New Hampshire

No sales tax, no issues!

New Jersey

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 7.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

New York

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 4.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

North Carolina

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 4.75%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Ohio

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 5.75%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

Oregon

No sales tax, no issues!

Pennsylvania

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

South Carolina

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Tennessee

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 7.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Fulfillment

Texas

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.25%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Virginia

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 4.3%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse

Washington

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.5%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Wisconsin

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 5.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

How to Manage State Taxes Within Shopify

As intimidating as this all seems, your business’s exposure to additional sales tax may be limited!

From a non-technical standpoint, it is likely not worthwhile to register in a state where you have only made a handful of sales. From a state’s perspective, this is unlikely to trigger an audit given the low dollar amounts being considered.

Disclaimer: This is not formal tax advice. It is best to speak with your business tax advisor.

One approach would be to set a state-by-state threshold based on your total sales for your fiscal year, and if you cross that threshold for a given state, only at that time would you register for sales tax and begin collecting and remitting to the state tax authorities.

If you do find yourself exposed to several states and don’t have a great understanding of sales tax, don’t have the time to crunch the numbers and file the returns, or simply don’t care about taxes (who can blame you?), there are Tax Apps that integrate with Shopify, such as:

Keep in mind, the Tax Function within the Shopify dashboard will need to be set up properly in order to trigger tax to be charged on all sales made in states where you’re deemed to have nexus (check it out on your Dashboard, under Settings → Taxes → Tax Rates or learn how to change your tax settingshere).

 

Next Steps

If you’re looking to use or expand your use of Amazon’s FBA program, remember to ask these questions:

  1. If I send inventory to an FBA warehouse outside my principal state, have I triggered nexus in this state?
  2. Am I selling a taxable product?
  3. Does this state tax on a destination basis or origin basis?
  4. How much in sales am I making from this state, specifically over a 12 month period (or quarterly in some cases)?
  5. Can I track and remit sales tax on my own, or should I use an App?

Okay. Deep breath. There’s lots of information in this article, which can be intimidating.

Fear not, consider this a resource that you can bookmark and come back to from time to time to refresh your knowledge!

9 Social Media Marketing Pros Share Their Best Advice for Today’s Entrepreneurs

Ten years ago, social media marketing was a lot different.

Competing online simply meant establishing a compelling presence that would spread organically. Choosing your channels involved only a handful of popular options. Creating “media” mostly meant writing posts and designing images.

But today, there are roughly 2.34 billion social network users around the world—a third of the global population.

New players are crowding the scene as it gets harder to tell the difference between Snapchat and Instagram. Brands are now paying just to compete for a few seconds of their audience’s attention. And the content they’re pushing now includes live video and augmented reality (e.g. Snapchat’s video lenses).

Social media is a constantly changing game where yesterday’s rules don’t necessarily apply today.

[Click to Tweet]

So, I asked nine social media savvy folks who understand the landscape for their thoughts on the current state of social media marketing, where it’s headed, and how entrepreneurs should approach their social media strategy today.

Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz

rand fishkin social media marketing

What is the biggest change/challenge you foresee in the near future of social media marketing?

Standing out from the crowd, amidst an increasingly noisy, competitive field. People only have so much time in their day to consume media and content, and social channels are fast becoming overwhelmed.

The deficit of attention means content creators and social marketers will need to be massively more unique, more valuable, and earn more loyalty from their audiences in order to maintain or grow their presences.

What channel should entrepreneurs be keeping their eyes on and why?

Facebook’s organic (and even paid) reach is getting much tougher. Video is working a little better, but everything else is working less well. Instagram is finally seeing some decline in participation/reach as well, after years of being the outlier. I’m also suspicious of whether Snapchat can maintain its reach and engagement numbers long term, especially for brands rather than individuals.

On the upswing side, podcasts look like they’re continuing to grow and be a remarkable channel for attention. I think that’s got a lot of growth, perhaps up until self-driving cars take over.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for entrepreneurs who are starting from scratch with their social media marketing plan?

Find the intersection of three things:

  1. Channels where your customers and their influencers are actually active and paying attention
  2. Channels where you can provide unique value beyond what anyone else is doing
  3. Channels where you have personal passion and interest.

If you meet those criteria, you can have a real shot at great social marketing. If not, it might pay to pursue other investments and leave social until you can find those intersects or hire folks who can.

What social network do you spend the most time on and what social media marketing tool could you not live without?

Twitter! I love the variety of content, the freedom of interaction, the character limit, and the quality of people you can find there. As for tools, I’m nuts for Buzzsumo. It’s an amazing source of discovery and inspiration for me.

Kara Burney, Director of Content at Track Maven

kara burney social media marketing

What is the biggest change/challenge you foresee in the near future of social media marketing?

The near future of social media marketing is all about creating immersive user experiences.

Businesses have gotten really good at distributing content on social media. But most are still not very good at creating content worth distributing in the first place. As the bar is raised for immersive content, broadcasting the same static content across each and every social channel won’t cut it anymore. Businesses have to figure out how to plan and invest in a channel-specific social media strategy.

What channels should entrepreneurs keep their eyes on and why?

Right now, Instagram is the channel to jump on.

At TrackMaven, we analyzed 51 million pieces of social media content from 40,000 brands on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. We found that the engagement ratio for businesses is 10 times higher on Instagram than on Facebook (and dramatically higher than LinkedIn or Twitter).

But Instagram won’t stay that way for long; the engagement rate for brands on Instagram is already starting to come down to earth as the network monetizes. Now’s the time to build your Instagram brand quickly and cheaply.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for entrepreneurs who are starting their social media strategy from scratch?

To paraphrase Picasso: Good marketers copy; great marketers steal. The easiest way to scale a social strategy from scratch is to learn from the big players in your industry.

Conduct a competitive audit of the brands you compete with directly, the big players you aspire to disrupt, and major industry influencers. That will give you an understanding of the right channels to prioritize and relevant content topics. Then exploit the white space for brand differentiation and thought leadership.

What social network do you spend the most time on and what social media marketing tool could you not live without?

Twitter plays a major “second screen” role in my life — both professionally and personally. This year’s live stream of the 2016 Wimbledon tournament on Twitter forever changed my tennis and Twitter fandom.

Our marketing team couldn’t live without our own product, TrackMaven, which we use to track the impact of our marketing and keep tabs on competitors, or Sprout Social, which we use to distribute all of our social media content.

Peg Fitzpatrick, Author & Social Media Strategist

peg fitzpatrick social media marketing

What is the biggest change/challenge you foresee in the near future of social media marketing?

Keeping up with all the crazy changes. Facebook is getting more complicated as time goes on and I think this will make it harder for entrepreneurs and small businesses to keep up with managing their social media platforms wisely and effectively.

What channel should entrepreneurs keep their eyes on and why?

Snapchat is evolving into something really cool. It’s been snowballing with growth. I love that they keep it fresh by rotating filters in the app.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for entrepreneurs who are starting their social media strategy from scratch?

Don’t hop on every single social media platform. Figure out where your target audience spends their time and if that platform works with your product or service. It’s better to be amazing at one or two social platforms than suck on five or six.

What social network do you spend the most time on and what social media marketing tool could you not live without?

Instagram is my fave social media app at the moment followed by Pinterest which is technically not a social network but gets lumped in with them a lot. My new favorite social media tool is Planoly for Instagram and my constant daily driver is Sprout Social.

Casie Stewart, Lifestyle Blogger

casie stewart social media marketing

What is the biggest change/challenge you foresee in the near future of social media marketing?

Audiences and platforms are constantly changing so knowing what content to put where can be a challenge. You want to go where the people are, but their habits are changing too.

Should your video content live on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, IG Stories, Snapchat, Vine, Periscope? Platforms are moving organisms, adding new features all the time. If you wait too long to put a piece of marketing content together, you can miss the window of opportunity for something to be ‘cool’.

I was part of 12seconds.tv, a short video platform in 2011–12 before it was bought by AOL. After that, Viddy came along and was the “Instagram for Video”, but when Instagram added video, they were done.

Last month everyone was crazy about Snapchat and then Instagram Stories happened, and now Twitter Moments are rolling out. In one app update your whole strategy can be thrown off, you need to be agile, and ready for curveballs.

I also think we’re coming up to a shift in influencer marketing. It grew so fast, and now it’s like the wild wild west out there!

What channels should entrepreneurs keep their eyes on and why?

Never take your eyes off Facebook! They have the biggest audience and will buy up new technology (Instagram, Oculus, WhatsApp, MSQRD) so they can keep users engaged and checking the app.

They’ve made video a big priority and are constantly adding new features you’ll find on other apps (e.g. Instagram Stories, Facebook Filters). I like to think you don’t want to get too caught up in the specific app. Think about the content; the apps will change. A photo, video, gif—they can all be shared anywhere with a good narrative.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for entrepreneurs who are starting their social media strategy from scratch?

It’s important to hire smart people that really know the social space, platforms, advertising, and have their finger on changes as they happen. Also, know what you want for your brand and why. Remind yourself about that when you’re making content and think about who you’re making it for.

What social network do you spend the most time on and what social media marketing tool could you not live without?

I use Snapchat a lot, it’s fun, raw, the filters and features are great. I feel it’s the least edited version of my life. My heart belongs to Twitter though, I’d hate to live without it. I’ve been on it since 2008. I remember the race to 1M followers between Ashton Kutcher and Larry King. The first real breaking news story when a plane crashed in the Hudson River.

I’ve shared and experienced so many things with the platform. In the early days 2008–2010, the Toronto Twitter community was really small and we used to hang out together at Tweetups a lot. I made some really awesome friends, we’ll always have those Twitter memories.

Jay Acunzo, Host of Unthinkable

jay acunzo social media marketing

What is the biggest change/challenge you foresee in the near future of social media marketing?

Great content is always the biggest challenge to a great social media presence.

Corporations—especially large ones—are historically used to interchangeable parts. This is how you “scale” a team – you iron out processes and train people to be as interchangeable as possible. However, when the name of the game is creating content that stands out and deeply resonates (and that game is quickly becoming multimedia rather than text-centric), finding and retaining enough Creative Talent with a capital T is going to be THE differentiating factor.

This isn’t about programmatic. This isn’t about technology. This isn’t about quick-hit conversion-centric marketing. First and foremost, this is about building things that are meaningful and that others actually love in the world. You need really great creators for that.

What channel should entrepreneurs keep their eyes on and why?

If I’m the only one who says “Snapchat” in this list, I’ll run naked around my office … on Snapchat though, so it disappears 🙂

As of today, right now, while you’re reading this, more human beings will log into Snapchat in the next 24 hours and use it than our beloved Twitter. To ignore where all that attention is going would be foolish. We need to stop writing it off as “for kids” and stop avoiding it because “the analytics aren’t there yet”, and instead just dive in and start playing around and having fun with it. That’s the best way to learn.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for entrepreneurs who are starting from scratch with social media marketing?

Ditch all strategy decks and headlines you read and find a whiteboard. Write down your most important goal as a startup at the top – your business goal, not a marketing goal. Now write as many hypotheses as you can about what you think might hit that goal as it applies to social or marketing more broadly.

Then pick the 3 that just feel the most likely to succeed and test them quickly. If one works, drop the rest, double-down on the successful test, and add a few more tests while you’re at it.

In other words, startup marketing is much more about knowing how to find the answer than me sitting here saying, “THIS is the answer that applies everywhere.”

Also? Read Traction by Gabriel Weinberg or listen to his wisdom here.

What social network do you spend the most time on and what social media marketing tool could you not live without?

Snapchat all around! (I’m @jayacunzo over there.) I goof off, I show behind-the-scenes of my show, and I generally have more fun on that app than anything I do. It also doubles as tremendous marketing for my show, Unthinkable, since I show so much of my process and thinking (good and bad). The app allows for tremendous creativity and storytelling, and the people are just that—people—unlike so much of the behavior you find on other channels.

Neil Patel, Co-Founder of Crazy Egg & KISSmetrics

neil patel shopify

What is the biggest change/challenge you foresee in the near future of social media marketing?

Social networks have been adjusting their algorithms and making it harder for companies to do well “organically”. Essentially it is turning into a “pay to play” game which is going to take a lot of companies out.

What channel should entrepreneurs be keeping their eyes on and why?

Snapchat. It’s hard to say how you can make money from it or use it to drive more ecommerce sales, but the one thing we know is that Snapchat users are really engaged.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for new entrepreneurs who are starting from scratch with their social media marketing?

Don’t go for large follower counts. Focus on engagement. If you have extremely high engagement for the number of followers you have, your content is much more likely to spread virally.

What social network do you spend the most time on and what social media marketing tool could you not live without?

I spend most of my time on Twitter because it is an easy place for me to find out what is happening in the world.

As for tool, I love Buzzsumo as it shows me what type of content I should be creating.

Brian Peters, Social Media at Buffer

brian peters social media marketing

What is the biggest change/challenge you foresee in the near future of social media marketing?

One of the biggest challenges right now in social media marketing is figuring out ways to stay relevant in a social media landscape that is moving from organic to paid fairly quickly.

Brands and entrepreneurs with small or no social media advertising budgets can benefit from being scrappy with their marketing. The ability to pivot and jump on new tools, trends, opportunities before big players move into that space can offer a huge competitive advantage.

What channel should entrepreneurs be keeping their eyes on and why?

As many of your readers probably know, Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social media channels out there. It’s an authentic and engaging platform that offers brands an opportunity to connect and interact with their audience for free.

At Buffer (@buffersnaps) we receive anywhere from 400–600 views on any one of the Snaps that we put out and it doesn’t cost us a dime in advertising. Right now, Snapchat’s API is closed for 3rd party integration, but I can see that changing in the near future, offering brands even more ways to get creative in a space where younger generations hang out.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for entrepreneurs who are starting from scratch with their social media marketing plan?

If I had to pick one piece of advice for entrepreneurs just starting out on social media, it would be to choose 1 or 2 channels and get really good at them. Try not to stretch yourself thin on too many platforms at once. It’s unsustainable and may lower the quality of content you put out.

The bonus piece of advice to that is to choose the 1 or 2 channels your audience is on most. Don’t create a Facebook account just because “everyone else is doing it.” If your product or service is targeted at younger folks, start an awesome Snapchat account. If your product or service is for older folks, Facebook or Twitter may be a great play.

What social network do you spend the most time on and what social media marketing tool could you not live without?

It’s a dead tie between Snapchat and Instagram! Snapchat because that’s where all of my friends are, and Instagram because it’s my favorite channel to actually market on. Both are big players in the social media world and are two that I don’t see going anywhere any time soon!

Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion

marcus sheridan social media marketing

What is the biggest change/challenge you foresee in the near future of social media marketing?

I think the biggest challenge today, and in the future, comes down to where organizations can afford to put their time, attention and resources.

There are more and more platforms coming out all the time, and knowing “when” to focus on a new platform and invest time/resources into it is a major struggle for organizations.

The fact is, if a company tries to be a jack of all social media trades, they’ll very likely become a master of none. This is why you’re much better off being a “master of one”– dominating a single social media platform and putting all your effort into that instead of spreading yourself too thin.

What channel should entrepreneurs be keeping their eyes on and why?

This may sound lame, but we should all be paying attention to Facebook. They evolve better than all the other platforms when it comes to the marketplace. Plus, they are changing on a daily basis. Keeping up with that, and all the opportunities therein, is a challenge. Frankly, I feel like paying attention to other platforms at this point is oftentimes a distraction, and not a productive endeavor.

That being said, what we really need to be paying attention to on platforms like Facebook is the incredible evolution of video, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc. That’s where we should be spending our time and attention learning. That is where the future lies for all of us.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for entrepreneurs who are starting from scratch with their social media marketing plan?

Become a “master of one”.

Be leery of the “shiny object” syndrome most marketers suffer from.

Focus on results, not what’s “cool” or “sexy” or what everyone is talking about. Do what works. Focus on that which brings the greatest returns. Move past the rest.

What social network do you spend the most time on and what social media marketing tool could you not live without?

I spend the most time on Facebook, which has frankly become a religion to millions at this point. At this point, being on Facebook is almost like saying “I’m on the internet”

But personally, the reason I like Facebook is for its private groups. If you get in the right groups, it’s amazing.

The only major tool I use is HubSpot. Why? Because I can track the results. I want to measure ROI, and that’s my tool for doing it.

Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist at Canva

guy kawasaki social media marketing

What is the biggest change/challenge you foresee in the near future of social media marketing?

The biggest change that I foresee is the inclusion of live video in social media marketing. For my efforts, Facebook Live is already the most powerful platform. Nothing increases my reach like Facebook Live video.

What channel should entrepreneurs be keeping their eyes on and why?

The social media channel is important, but still less important than the product or service. Entrepreneurs should primarily focus on creating something great. It’s easy to market something great. It’s hard to market crap—and no social media effort can fix crap.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for entrepreneurs who are starting from scratch with their social media marketing plan?

My #1 piece of advice is to build up your company’s social-media following on Facebook. This would be my primary focus because nothing comes close to Facebook’s power and utility, because there’s nothing that enables such precise targeting.

What social network do you spend the most time on and what social media marketing tool could you not live without?

I spend the most time on Facebook—as you would suspect. There are two tools that are indispensable for me: Social Champ and Canva. I use Social Champ to schedule most of my posts and Canva to create graphics. Note: I am the Chief Evangelist of Canva.

Change is Constant in Social Media Marketing

The common theme here seems to be that the social media landscape is an ever-evolving one. One player makes a move and the rest react—it’s a wildly unpredictable scene.

Facebook seems to be one of the strongest players due to its focus on encompassing new media formats. But when it comes to what consumers want from a social platform, there’s nothing quite like the authenticity that Snapchat encourages.

The only advice that stands the test of time is to focus on the quality of content you put out, and to make objective decisions about where you spend your limited resources.

As newsfeed algorithms change, as channels rise and fall, the companies that will continue to win will be the ones that can adapt quickly, produce intelligently and focus relentlessly on the people they’re trying to reach.

Branding Secrets from 14 Fashion Industry Experts

On my walk to work, a runner whisks past me on the left. She’s a blur of snug-fitting black and fuchsia performance fabric. At the intersection of the criss-crossed straps of her top, is a small, almost undetectable reflective checkmark.

That checkmark, dubbed the “swoosh” is the symbol of one of the most iconic brands in history. The wearer of this particular instance of the Nike logo embodies everything the brand aims to convey: strength, endurance, motivation. It’s not a check mark. It’s incentive to run one more mile. It’s teamwork and sportsmanship. It’s a reminder to “just do it”.

When does a sneaker become more than a sneaker? What makes a consumer choose one seemingly identical gown or coat or swimsuit over another? Emotion. Branding at its best, speaks to its intended audience like a BFF – it, like, really gets you. And in fashion, it stands up for you, becoming the outward-facing expression of your personality.

For small brands and emerging designers, widespread logo recognition is an unattainable (or at least very far-away) goal. But branding is more than a logo. It encompasses values, voice, and design choices that run like a continuous thread through product and packaging and online presence. Good branding is storytelling – a consistent and continuous message, weaving meaning into every piece.

How do your nail branding for your own fashion brand? 14 experts weighed in on the discussion. These are their words:

1. Joey Ng

VP of Marketing, Naja

“Branding in fashion is key to helping the customer solve the problem of expressing their individuality within the context of assumed dress codes. If you can’t communicate who you are as a brand and the type of person who would identify with your core values and aesthetic, then you won’t be able to sell it to them.”

“Whenever I approach a new brand or business that I’m working with, I always start with describing it in 3 words (or less!). Take the time to brainstorm every single adjective that you believe belongs in the world of your brand. Then keep eliminating them until you have 3 favourites left. I went through this branding exercise for a record label’s merchandise arm and we landed on “Y2K B.E.T.” In just 2 words, we had pinpointed the permeating theme of all the visuals, sounds, textures, and feelings a consumer would experience when engaging with their brand. Find your niche and define in very few words what makes your brand distinctive, then Pinterest and Tumblr away. If something doesn’t fit those original 3 words – even though you might like it – scrap it. Establish the core message, nail it, then expand.”

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“Here’s a test: if you cover up the logo or name in the ad, can you still name the brand? Classic fashion ads from Benetton, Calvin Klein, and American Apparel come to mind for nailing this test. If you can spot the billboard image from a mile away without seeing the small print and know who is speaking to you, that’s effective branding. A lot of branding from emerging fashion, streetwear, or start up companies are becoming so interchangeable nowadays. How do you get your consumer to feel something differently instead of glazing over in the infinite scroll of their social media feeds?”

Here’s a test: if you cover up the logo or name in the ad, can you still name the brand?

2. Yan Wang

Founder, XYZ Impression

“Great branding can help with larger profit margin. There are a lot of identical items in the fashion industry. Often times, people are purchasing more for the label than for the actual product.”

“People spend more time with their computers and phones. Digital marketing is huge in today’s market. That’s why great online presentation and content is key for people to remember you. For startup companies, a good way to get traffic is through working with social influencers. It’s all about finding your niche market and exposing a good quality product or service to them.”

Often times, people are purchasing more for the label than for the actual product.

3. Gail McInnes

Communications Director, Stylist Box

“Having a strong brand with compelling messaging helps customers connect to the clothing and accessories they wear. If a consumer relates to the brand, it creates a connection; the wearer feels as though the brand is an extension of themselves or at the least what they wearer would like others to perceive in them. What we wear plays a big part into how we are perceived straight off the bat. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, first impressions do count.”

Branding should be established from the start; from the overall look of the product to social media content to how customers experience and shop the brand, but it needs to be consistent from the get-go. If you are an exclusive luxury brand, your language and imaging needs to reflect that luxury feel and voice – using blacks, golds and more refined and elegant language and tone. If you are an independent, ethically-sourced brand, you may want to use softer colours in your marketing material and have a softer tone in anything written.”

First impressions do count.

4. Dawn Del Russo

Fashion & Lifestyle Expert, Founder Bella Dawn & LiveTheGlamour.com

“Branding is everything in business, especially fashion. It is part of the statement you make. It defines the brand more clearly. Keep your brand consistent on all social platforms. Consider the look, style, color of your branding – how are others affected by it? When starting out, ask what is the first thing someone thinks of when they see your brand. When you do finally have your brand image, get it out there. As much as you think you are marketing yourself, you can triple it.”

Keep your brand consistent on all social platforms.

5. Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart

Founder, President & Creative Director, Vaute Couture

“Fashion is an outside expression of who you are on the inside. So branding is everything for fashion. It’s how you shout to the world: if you’re like us on the inside, you might express that in the same way on the outside. For us, in production, it’s with ethical textiles, treating and paying workers fairly, fittings with an all female team trying things on our bodies. It’s serious, it’s playful, it’s geometry, it’s nature. It’s vintage-inspired and the future too. We are all about dichotomies and having it all. Being vegan isn’t a sacrifice. Caring isn’t a chore. It’s empowering.

We can’t outsource our voice. It’s our heart it’s our soul, it’s our story. It’s important to ask yourself as a label “what do I have that big corporations don’t?” Where do we win naturally where they will try to fake it and always fall short? This is where you have to go loud. We are here as activists who want to change the world of fashion for animals. We are currently an all female team in Brooklyn doing our best with limited resources. And it’s fun and it’s challenging. We find inspiration everywhere and our processes are experiments. And we love it. And this is what we can share that a big company cannot.”

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6. Chris Ngo

Owner, The Leverage Showroom; Co-Owner, Embellish NYC, Haus of JR, Crysp Denim, Lifted Anchors and Foundation Footwear

“Social media plays a big part in branding and it’s also the most inexpensive way to build a brand. You can reach a big demographic and audience virtually free. A garage t-shirt company that prints on a blank can build a following based off of their own Instagram. Instagram is the new print ad, it’s the new commercial in which you can utilize your followers as customers.

Today in this fast fashion market, they want to see what’s in now. So many brands are hopping on trends and pushing similar looks that it’s all about who’s first to deliver and first to market. But it’s not who makes it first – it’s who makes it better.”

It’s not who makes it first, it’s who makes it better.

7. Carolyn Delacorte

Co-founder, Boxwood Press

Fashion has long been an aspirational industry – many brands, from Chanel to Anthropologie, have developed a cult following so robust that just the mere sight of a logo inspires a feeling of tribal belonging. Nowadays, a collection is more about culture than it is about draping and perfectly sewn seams. With bloggers and reality TV stars usurping influence away from conventional magazines, TV shows, and celebrities, an infusion of meaning has come to surround each popular brand. The person who faithfully carries a Louis Vuitton bag is often expressing a statement about wealth and class, while the J Crew devotee is probably more about creativity and trend. These are all messages that have been expressed through branding and morph into a personal message for each consumer.”

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“Over the past ten years or so, we’ve seen a dramatic uptick in the number of fashion companies enter the marketplace. Differentiating a line from a plethora of similar brands is more of a challenge than ever. Unless there’s a frame of reference to attach to a name, it’s really difficult to navigate the congested buyer’s marketplace of boutique and store buyers. Buyers invariably want to introduce lines to their retail floors that will sell through quickly, and the fastest route to clearing racks is to ensure that there is a ton of brand recognition for a particular audience.

Trying to be everything to everyone is a recipe for disaster unless your brand has many, many extensions. Know who your buyer/consumer is and play to the elements of pop culture that appeal to them. This takes a fair amount of market research and marketing discipline, and does not happen overnight.”

Trying to be everything to everyone is a recipe for disaster.

8. Madelyn Chung

Style Editor, The Huffington Post Canada

“A great example of a brand that understands the social media scene right now is Calvin Klein. How many people do you see on Instagram posing in the classic cotton sports bra and underwear, tagging #mycalvins? By enlisting the “it” models and celebrities of the moment (Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner) and social media influencers to promote their brand in a simple, yet fresh way, they created a want in the market that would eventually turn into free press and advertising. And, their latest campaign features such a diverse cast of individuals, more and more people feel like they too, can rock their Calvins with pride and confidence.” 

9. Odessa Paloma Parker

Fashion Editor, The Globe and Mail

“Branding is important because it helps tell the story of your product – it communicates what your values are, your perspective, and helps illuminate small character elements that are part of the bigger picture of your business.”

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“Take your time! I feel like creatives and entrepreneurs rush themselves because we all operate at such a crazy pace these days. If your business and brand are something meaningful – and creating such a thing doesn’t happen overnight – then the world can wait, because it’s worth it.”

10. Nick Ede

CEO, EastofEden London

“Fashion is all about identity and establishing a strong tone of voice that makes you stand out from other brands. It is one of the most competitive markets and important for brands to understand who their target market is, what they want to provide their customers, and how to become the go-to place for fashion fans. Its also important to look at how a brand can evolve.”

“My advice to new brands it to carefully research your target market and see who your competitors are. Having a strong social media presence is a must – this can be a really cost-effective way of selling product and communicating to your target customer. It’s very important to look at price point – if you are high end you still need an affordable item that can get featured in shopping pages, as more and more glossy mags will look for products under 200£.”

11. Helen Rice

Creative Director & Co-founder, FUZZCO

“Fashion is constantly changing, so it’s important for brands to work hard to establish and defend their niche in the changing landscape. Due to the dynamic nature of fashion, brands must be incredibly aware of themselves and the market. Their ability to embody the lifestyle that their audience aspires to is developed through every decision the brand makes, from choices in materials, design, production, customer service, cultural associations, etc. All of these things inform the relationship that the brand has with consumers.”

“Brands should consult with a branding agency right in the beginning. This allows the brand to gain insights into the best strategy for the shopping experience, merchandising, positioning, voice and tone, and visual balance between the graphic identity and the product.”

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“We see the best results when the relationship between the brand and agency continues for the life of the brand. The agency can really help the brand navigate the changing landscape of the fashion industry. Having been there from the beginning, they are deeply familiar with the history of the brand and it’s original intentions. The agency can help the brand navigate challenges, as well as point out when there need to be realignments.”

“Now that so much business is happening online, creating interesting content is becoming more and more important. This is where an agency can help a brand realize its full potential. We believe that the power of design thinking is often the difference between having a good business and a great business.”

Brands should consult with a branding agency right in the beginning.

12. Andrew Coimbra

Creative Director & Designer, Andrew Coimbra

“The most important thing when starting your own label from scratch would be to know your brand. People always think that they know what they are aiming at, and what vibe appeals to them, but people rarely consider what that means beyond the basics. Who are your clients? What is your ultimate objective? Where do you see your label in 5 years? 10 years?”

“These questions feel like cliches from a high school business class, but at the end of the day they offer core concepts that define the direction of every single step you decide to take in producing and promoting your business. The answers to those questions act as everyday tools to accomplish your goals.”

“Part of knowing your brand is knowing who can help your brand. I’ve been extremely lucky in growing really special friendships with people in my life who I can trust and whose perspectives are well-curated and valid. I would suggest finding a core group of friends, or a “team” of people who have skills that are not only beneficial to you, but are beneficial to them, too. Grow and learn with each other.”

“Proenza and Celine, brands that have proven longevity, have both achieved particular success in the luxury division, and although their collections are distinctive season to season, they still maintain a really great balance of continuing a staple carry-over/through. Beyond that, their branding has evolved in a way that feels natural to their brand, and reflective of their values.”

Part of knowing your brand is knowing who can help your brand.

13. Sara Koonar

Editor-in-Chief, 29Secrets.com

“When most shoppers are faced with a choice, whether to buy this black tote bag or that black tote bag, they’ll choose the one they’ve heard of. It’s as simple as that. That’s the entire basis of advertising. So getting the word out there about your brand and what makes it unique it crucial to your sales. And sales are crucial to keeping your business afloat.”

“Lost-cost, guerilla marketing is better than it’s ever been with social media. You don’t need to place expensive print or television ads to get the word out about your fashion line. Collaborating with influencers or creating your own social media brand can be very effective in building business. Plus, you can keep it local and have a closer relationship with those people endorsing your brand. Of course there are benefits to having an expensive PR firm and schmoozing fashion stylists to get your clothes on the backs of A-list celebrities. But, you’ll be surprised how influential these social media stars can be.”

When most shoppers are faced with a choice, whether to buy this black tote bag or that black tote bag, they’ll choose the one they’ve heard of.

14. Alex O’Byrne

Director, WeMakeWebsites

“Building a fashion business is all about creating a brand. Sure, the product is important, but the brand is much much bigger. Ask yourself this: do people buy Nike sneakers because they’re better than other sneakers? No. They buy them because Nike has created an extremely desirable brand; they buy them because they’re cooler; they buy them because of what wearing Nike sneakers says about them — and they’re happy to pay a premium to do so. A great example I like to use when talking about building a brand is P&Co. Take a look at their Instagram – the bikes, the beards, the coffee, the tats; they’ve nailed the hipster look. And all you need to do to become a part of their cult brand is buy one of their t-shirts.”

“First of all, be able to describe your fashion brand in a few words. No one seems to really be able to do this these days. You need to know how your brand makes your customers feel. Branding needs to be about the emotional experience for your target audience. Exceptional branding provides a sense of comfort, acceptance, yet inspiration to keep your clients coming back for more each season. These three questions are a good place to start: What do you want your brand reputation to be? What are your brand’s core values? How does your brand want to be visually seen? Once you’ve answered these, then you need to start executing on them.”

The Benefits of an FAQ Page (And How to Do It Right)

Question: What’s the purpose of an FAQ page?

Answer: To address frequently asked questions about your business, of course.

Actually, that’s only part of it.

An FAQ section done right can be an effective addition to your website that serves several functions, from:

  • Alleviating purchasing anxieties that your product page copy doesn’t directly address.
  • Relieving some of the burden on customer support by publicly answering common questions.
  • Improving SEO and site navigation.
  • Earning trust by demonstrating product expertise and explaining your business model.
  • Delighting customers by creatively answering their questions.

If you’re not using your FAQ page to its full potential, here are some of the questions you should be asking to get the most out of this often-forgotten section of most websites.

What is an FAQ Page?

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section is a part of your website where you address common concerns, questions or objections that customers have.

It’s different from your About Page where you tell the broader story behind your brand. The FAQ section, instead, deals with the specifics. It’s the go-to destination for finding answers to specific questions about your product or business operation.

Your FAQ page can also act as the first point of contact for customers looking for answers before they reach out to you directly with their questions.

how to create an FAQ page

Source: Cards Against Humanity

When used right, your FAQ page can benefit customers at different parts of the purchasing journey—whether they’re in the consideration phase looking to understand how you source your product or an existing customer troubleshooting a problem with their order.

In short, an FAQ page reduces the overall anxiety of purchasing online and that goes a long way in getting on-the-fence customers to buy from you.

When Is an FAQ Page Appropriate?

An FAQ page can be a distraction or an asset, depending on how you execute it.

But to ensure that it’s the latter, here are some things to consider when incorporating an FAQ page as part of your website:

  • Customers email you with the same questions on an ongoing basis, so it’s better to address them publicly and prominently.
  • You have or plan to create content/landing pages that you can link to and continue the journey from question to conversion.
  • Your product/service/business raises questions and concerns that are best handled in a straightforward manner.

That last point is especially important as an FAQ page presents a unique opportunity to directly address concerns and remove obstacles on the path to purchase.

faq handling objections

Source: Death Wish Coffee

Where Do I Look For “Frequently Asked” Questions?

Your inbox and customer support tickets will likely be the first place you should look.

But you should also anticipate objections that you can turn into questions, especially if the answer will put your customer’s mind at ease.

Consider how you can strategically raise the right questions to educate customers about your products and create demand.

When deciding how to choose the questions you’ll include in your FAQ section, focus on relevancy, utility and opportunities to turn that question into a path to further engagement or conversion.

If you end up with a long list of questions, group your questions under categories like “Shipping” or “About the Product” to make it easier for visitors to navigate.

How Should I Answer My FAQs?

How you position your answers is key here.

Even if the question is about a potential shortcoming in your product or business, try to frame the answer in a positive way.

While you should demonstrate authority through the depth of your answers, be sure you’re not losing your audience by giving them more than they need.

Write your questions from your customer’s perspective (e.g. “How do I…”) and answer from your business’s perspective (e.g. “You should…” or “We provide…”).

Focus on clear communication first and the goal you’re trying to achieve with each question of your FAQ. Are you addressing a concern about purchasing from you? Educating your audience about a part of your business model? Troubleshooting a common problem with your product? Focus on delivering that in your answer and move on.

Use images wherever they can explain your answer better than words.

If it builds your brand, you can even sprinkle in a little personality to delight your customers with a couple of “fun” questions and answers.

An often-missed opportunity with many FAQ pages is ending your answer with a call to actionthat links to other pages to push visitors back into your funnel.

Consider what the next step would be for someone interested in a specific question and try to incorporate a link to the relevant page or piece of content that moves them forward on their journey as a customer.

Can an FAQ Section Help With SEO?

Many sites treat an FAQ section as a stand-alone page that uses a question and answer format to communicate information. While this serves the most basic function of an FAQ page—to reduce the friction on the path to purchase—you can also build an FAQ section with dedicated pages for each answer to create a more search-friendly section of your website.

By hyperlinking each question to a separate page, you can help surface each answer through Google and your own site’s search. Even if your audience isn’t searching for topics related to your brand, they might be searching for answers to questions related to your industry via Google, which can help you get found if you create content or landing pages that are optimized for these specific search queries.

Read The Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research to learn more about understanding what your audience is searching for and finding the right topics to tackle.

Here’s an example from HubSpot of an FAQ page that directs to a separate landing page for each question to put the user on the appropriate path to finding an answer (and maybe even purchasing their solution). With an FAQ section structured like this, some of the pages like “How is HubSpot different from Eloqua” can also be found through Google as prospective customers search for this information.

FAQ for SEO

Source: HubSpot

Where Should I Put My FAQ Section?

It depends.

If customer service is a core part of your business, you might want to create a fully fleshed out support center or “help desk”, using Desk or Zendesk, with an FAQ incorporated as part of your customer support flow (i.e. customers check the FAQ before they reach out to a customer service rep).

But if you’re selling products or services that are bound to generate a lot of questions, it might be enough to prominently display a link to a simple FAQ page in your website navigation, like Death Wish Coffee does in the example above, to focus on reducing purchasing anxieties for visitors.

You can also consider integrating an FAQ directly into your product pages as part of your product descriptions, just like Vat19 does with all of their novelty products.

product FAQ

Source: Vat19

Shopify store owners can look to the App store for different ways to present their FAQ section.

Final Thoughts

If you want to get the most out of your FAQ page, you need to make it discoverable where it matters most in the customer journey: when potential customers are considering a purchase and when existing customers are about to reach out to you.

You might see most FAQ pages buried at the bottom of a website’s footer, but they’re better off incorporated into your site as part of your Support or Contact Us page, or navigation menu to ensure it gets found.

It’s also important to update Your FAQ page over time as new customer concerns come up or as new opportunities arise to link to other pages in your questions and continue the customer journey.

The FAQ page is often an afterthought for many websites. But, used strategically, it can add a lot of value in different ways, from reducing the burden on customer support to alleviating purchasing anxieties.

So, are you making the most of yours?

What Bots Can (and Can’t) Do for Your Online Store

It’s hard to talk about “conversational commerce”—a concept coined by Uber’s Chris Messina to describe the future of messaging apps—without mentioning chatbots.

Chatbots are essentially programs pretending to be people that you can interact with through text or even voice.

Essentially, you can talk to these chatbots in your messaging apps, much like you would any other contact in your list, to get the day’s news or even get something done.

In the context of conversational commerce, where messaging apps become a bridge between consumers and businesses, chatbots seem to be the best answer for ecommerce business owners to manage thousands of one-to-one conversations with customers.

But for many online business owners who don’t need to manage that many customer conversations at a time, “outsourcing” customer support to a robot just isn’t worth sacrificing the quality of each individual shopper’s experience or what you as a business owner could learn from them.

These smaller online businesses are often run by one or two people who, thanks to a bit of automation, are more than capable of juggling several conversations with their customers at any given time.

And with examples like Microsoft’s controversial twitter bot Tay demonstrating the current state of A.I., you might be hesitant to completely trust a bot with something as important as providing good customer service.

Instead, ecommerce businesses should look at conversational commerce as an opportunity to couple intimacy and automation to help them deliver a more personal customer experience through messaging apps.

Conversational commerce is bringing back the business-to-customer dialogue where it’s been missing most: shopping online.

[Click to Tweet]

Customer Service: Where Businesses Still Need a Human Touch

While the chatbot hasn’t evolved to the point where it could completely pass for a real person yet, the messaging app has evolved to improve a part of business that never quite carried over from brick-and-mortar to the online store: Sales and customer support.

And it’s only possible now because messaging apps as a whole have experienced explosive growthcompared to most social apps, offering users a more engaged and private communication channel than any social network.

Among these messaging apps, Facebook Messenger presents one of the largest opportunities right now.

Since its launch in 2011, Facebook Messenger has grown to 900 million users, far outstripping most other messaging apps. That makes it one of the best platforms for businesses looking to exploreconversational commerce as a channel for selling to and supporting customers directly.

Add the Messenger Channel to your Shopify store for a direct line to your customers!

With the Messenger Channel, you can add a “Message Now” button throughout your store and give customers the option to get order notifications through Facebook Messenger.

Now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

Integrating Facebook Messenger as a channel gives you a persistent line of communication that customers can access when they visit your website—creating a conversation that stays with them as they move from desktop to tablet to smartphone in a multi-device world.

conversational commerce

Source: Kigurumi

In one chat with a customer, you can:

  • Help someone make a purchase decision.
  • Handle any objections personally.
  • Upsell or cross-sell other products.
  • Offer discount codes.
  • Answer questions about “out of stock” products and notify customers when they’re available again.
  • Get customer feedback.
  • Deliver shipping notifications.
  • …All at the fast pace of instant messaging.

conversational commerce

By coupling hands-on service with some degree of automation—shipping notifications and auto-responders, for example—you can manage customer relationships more easily and on a more personal level.

Get Shopkey by Shopify for quick access to your store right from your phone’s keyboard.

With Shopkey, you can add products in conversations with customers, wherever they happen, as easily as you’d add an emoji (iOS only for now).

Get Shopkey

 

That’s not to say bots don’t have a place in business. Far from it—chatbots are already fulfilling their promise of creating more time for business owners, albeit in a different way.

Marketing & Operations: Where Bots Are at Their Best

While chatbot AI isn’t quite smart enough to become the “face” of your brand in a sales or customer service role, it is at a point where it can take on some of the many burdens that come with running a business—particularly when it comes to executing tasks for marketing and operations.

While many chatbots out there leave a lot to be desired, the best ones right now work because they serve a specialized function.

These bots usually offer a user experience that starts you off with a few options or yes/no questions, before branching off to ask you further questions as required or executing an action based on the information that it’s gathered.

The NBA’s Messenger bot, for example, offers video highlights and answers to questions about recent games. The CNN news bot, similarly, will give you a quick summary about the day’s top news stories if you ask it.

But for businesses, it’s the concierge-style task fulfillment—duties usually outsourced to virtual assistants—where bots can offer the most utility.

Take Kit, for example, a virtual employee recently acquired by Shopify.

Kit conversational commerce

Instead of an app for every task, Kit can interact with different apps on your behalf. All you need to do is say the word and approve the action to do anything from:

  • Create Facebook and Instagram ads with accurate audience targeting.
  • Post new products or sales to your Facebook page.
  • Send personalized ‘Thank You’ emails to customers.
  • Create business reports for a quick look at your sales stats.
  • Turn a 5-Star customer review into an ad.
  • And other things that would take some time out of your day to execute.

In this context, chatbots like Kit can give business owners back their time—time they can then spend focusing on other things.

Hire Kit, your own virtual employee, for $10/month!

Chat with Kit via SMS, Facebook Messenger or Telegram to delegate time-consuming tasks and help you run your online store. Try Kit free for 14 days.

Hire Kit

 

Conversational Commerce Is Changing Ecommerce For Both Businesses and Consumers

The easiest way to think of “conversational commerce” is as a way to turn dialogue—the natural back-and-forth exchange of information—into a way for people, apps, businesses and bots to interface with each other in meaningful ways.

While the concept of building artificially intelligent chatbots isn’t new, the amount of attention, buy-in and innovation around them at present is a product of messaging apps overtaking social networks when it comes to where we actively invest our time.

Because when you think about it, the deepest and most personal form of engagement a customer can have with a business online isn’t a Like on Facebook, an email opt-in or even a purchase.

13 Essential Instagram Tools for Social Media Marketing

Instagram is more than just a casual pastime: It’s a powerful marketing platform for business owners everywhere.

With over half a billion monthly active users, Instagram has opened up huge opportunities for brands to find new customers and get their products seen. Tactics like running Instagram ads and reaching out to influencers are effective, but, without the right tools, it can be tough to get the results that you want.

To help you turbocharge your Instagram account, we’ve put together a top-notch toolkit of Instagram apps that will set your business apart and drive more customers to your online store.

Let’s get into it.

Tools for Taking Gorgeous Photos

One of the most important parts of having an effective Instagram presence is loading your feed with stunning visuals that clearly communicate your brand’s identity and the value of your products. But if you don’t have a fancy camera or professional training, taking great photos might seem out of reach.

Even if you aren’t a professional photographer, you can still create great Instagram content with just your smartphone and a few key apps:

VSCO

Cost: Free

instagram tools vsco

Image credit: VSCO

While Instagram’s default filters were once the bleeding edge of mobile photo editing, VSCO has emerged as the reigning champ of creating beautiful photos on-the-go. Part photo editing platform and part social media network, VSCO should be at the heart of every Instagram strategy.

VSCO has an in-depth editing suite and a slew of high quality default filters that can take your smartphone photos to a completely new level. There’s also a huge library of filters available for purchase, giving you endless potential for customizing your photos and setting them apart from the pack.

VSCO is available for iOS and Android.

Snapseed

Cost: Free

snapseed instagram tools

Image credit: The Next Web

Snapseed is another photo editing app that gives you the option to fine-tune your photos. While Instagram’s default filters edit your entire image at once, Snapseed lets you apply your effects with a brush so that you can perfect the details of each photo.

Snapseed’s Stacks are another great feature, letting you save groups of filters as a template. These Stacks can then be applied to future photos, giving your entire feed a consistent look and saving you time.

Snapseed is available for iOS and Android.

Afterlight

Cost: $0.99 – $1.39

afterlight instagram tools

Image credit: Afterlight

Afterlight is a photo editing app that boasts a default set of 74 filters, 78 textures, and 128 frames, giving you tons of different options for tweaking your photos right off the bat. The app also includes 15 different tools for adjusting and editing your photos until you get them just right.

With its sleek and straightforward design, Afterlight is an easy-to-use, must-have tool for making your Instagram photos pop.

Afterlight is available for iOS, Android, and Windows.

Boomerang

Cost: Free

Developed in-house at Instagram, Boomerang is an app for creating fun, 1-second long videos with no audio. Basically, super short GIFS that loop back and forth. While it might sound a little silly at first, the results are fun and eye-catching—perfect for making casual scrollers stop in their tracks.

The best part about Boomerang is that it requires little-to-no-thought to create something that looks great. Since Boomerang videos don’t require a plot or dialogue, you simply need to capture the vibe of a single moment and click share!

Tools for Making Your Instagram Shoppable

This has probably happened to you: You’re scrolling through Instagram, a shot of someone’s outfit catches your eye and you wish you could buy everything that they’re wearing instantly.

While that might sound like a pipedream, it’s actually totally possible. With the right tools, you can transform your Instagram feed into a fully shoppable experience, letting your customers buy everything that they see and helping them get a better idea of how your products look and feel in real life.

If you have a Shopify store (and an Instagram feed filled with jaw-dropping product photos), you can use these handy apps from the Shopify App Store to make your Instagram shoppable:

Shoppable Instagram by Foursixty

Cost: $50 – $100/month

With Foursixty, you can make all of your Instagram photos fully shoppable, complete with links that attach every featured product to its product page and the ability to embed your feed directly onto your online store. Your customers can even add products to their cart without having to leave your store’s gallery.

Foursixty also lets you integrate curated Instagram feeds for specific products onto their respective product pages, giving your customers a look at your products in action and get suggestions for other related purchases.

bando shoppable instagram

Image credit: ban.do

Brands like ban.do, a fun retailer that sells everything from iPhone cases to apparel, use Foursixty to show off their products in everyday life shots, curated sets, and professional photoshoots.

bando shoppable instagram

Image credit: ban.do

When a customer clicks on a photo, they’ll be given a detailed breakdown of all the products in the photo along with “Add to Cart” buttons that let them make purchases immediately.

pura vida bracelets shoppable instagram

Image credit: Pura Vida Bracelets

Pura Vida Bracelets is another example of an online store using Foursixty to give customers a closer look at their products. They use inspiring lifestyle photos to show off their bracelets and give their customers ideas for how Pura Vida Bracelets might fit into their wardrobe.

Like2Have.it

Cost: $20/month

Like2Have.it is a great tool for creating embeddable Instagram feeds outfitted with links that drive customers directly to product pages.

With Like2Have.it, you’ll also be able to create embeddable feeds featuring photos of your current customers using your products. These user-generated feeds work well on product pages by giving shoppers some social proof and a gentle push towards adding products to their carts.

underables shoppable instagram

Image credit: Underables

Underables, an apparel shop for ethically-sourced sleepwear and intimates, uses Like2Have.it to show off their products with a dedicated feed on their store.

underables coupon code

Image credit: Underables

They’ve even used Like2Have.it to slip exclusive discount codes to curious shoppers browsing their Instagram feed.

Showcase

Cost: Free – $29/month

Showcase is similar to the two apps featured above, but what really sets it apart is its price point and, more specifically, its free option.

With the free version of Showcase, you’ll be able to embed a customizable Instagram feed onto your online store which can still help your customers make more informed purchasing decisions. However, to add links to product pages and make your feed truly shoppable, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version.

kz gear shoppable instagram

Image credit: KZ Gear

KZ Gear, an adventurous brand that sells sunglasses for outdoor living, uses the Showcase app to show customers a wide array of fun-in-the-sun lifestyle images.

Want to learn more about how social media can help drive sales? Download our free, curated list of high-impact articles.

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Tools for Measuring Your Performance

A successful marketing campaign on Instagram doesn’t end with sharing a photo. Diving deep into Instagram analytics is crucial for getting the most out of your business’ marketing strategy. You need to be able to analyze and refine your store’s performance every step of the way.

While Instagram only recently started to launch its own analytics tools, there are many platforms out there that make managing your Instagram marketing campaigns easy:

Sprout Social

Cost: $59 – $500/month

sprout social instagram tools

Image credit: Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a social media management platform with extensive content scheduling and publishing tools. Sprout Social also offers in-depth Instagram analytics, giving you access to detailed reports about how your latest posts have been performing.

With Sprout Social’s analytics, you’ll be able to track engagement and compare the success of your store’s account against the success of other accounts that you manage.

Additionally, Sprout Social has tools for monitoring hashtags and comments, helping you keep your fingers on the pulse of your community and find new opportunities for engagement.

Iconosquare

Cost: $28.80 – $499/year

iconosquare instagram tools

Image credit: Iconosquare

Iconosquare is an analytics platform dedicated to digging deep into the performance of your content on Instagram.

With Iconosquare, you can track regular engagement data like followers and likes as well as get specific statistics about your followers including their location and level of social media influence. By identifying your most influential fans, you’ll be able to discover new opportunities for influencer marketing and outreach.

Iconosquare also gives you the chance to compare your performance against your competitors, helping you get a better idea of where you fit into your industry landscape.

Websta

Cost: Free

websta instagram tools

Image credit: Websta

Websta is a free tool for managing your Instagram account and getting easy-to-understand analytics about your engagement and growth.

Websta also aggregates every hashtag on Instagram. This handy feature lets you search through all of Instagram to track down the best performing hashtags in your target audience. You can also get recommendations for hashtags that are related to the ones that you already use to help you branch out and find new audiences.

Tools for Scheduling Your Posts

To grow your audience and give your current fans a reason to stick around, you need to be updating your Instagram with fresh content regularly. But, let’s face it, constantly updating your profile with new photos takes a lot of time—something most entrepreneurs are already short on.

Thankfully, there are a bunch of great platforms out there that give you the resources you need to schedule your posts in advance keep your profile well-stocked with great content.

Schedugram

Cost: Starting at $20/month

schedugram instagram tools

Image credit: Schedugram

Schedugram is a scheduling platform with a wide variety of features, including web browser-based scheduling, for running more effective campaigns.

In addition to browser-based scheduling, Schedugram also comes with extensive photo editing features. Using either its built-in editor or Canva integration, you can tweak and fine-tune your photos well beyond Instagram’s default filters. Schedugram also allows for mass uploading, letting you schedule batches of photos at once and shaving time off of your social media marketing efforts.

Schedugram is priced on a sliding scale starting at $20/month, depending on your number of accounts and total Instagram followers.

Later

Cost: Free with Premium Plans starting at $19/month

later instagram tools

Image credit: Later

Later, formerly known as Latergramme, is an intuitive mobile, tablet, and browser-based Instagram scheduling platform.

Later comes with a diverse set of features for planning out your campaigns including the ability to explore hashtags and share user generated content. Later even lets you organize your posts with a handy content calendar and get a preview of your Instagram feed before publishing, making it simple to visualize exactly how your strategy will unfold.

Hootsuite

Cost: Free with Pro Plans starting at $9.99/month

hootsuite instagram tools

Image credit: Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a powerful social media management platform that can also schedule and publish Instagram posts.

While Hootsuite has made a name for itself by streamlining marketing for platforms like Facebook and Twitter, its Instagram tools take social media management one step further. Hootsuite lets you schedule your Instagram posts in advance, sending you a push notification when they’re due to go live. Once you’re notified, you can go straight to the app to publish your post.

Start Shooting

Now that you have the right tools for the job, it’s time to get out there and start taking amazing photos that really show the true value of your products!

Have any more questions about Instagram marketing? Let us know in the comments below!

5 High-Impact Strategies for Getting More Traffic

“How do I drive more traffic to my online store?”

That thought crosses the mind of every ecommerce entrepreneur at some point.

Maybe you’ve just sunk time and effort into painstakingly setting up your store, only to open up shop and wonder where your sales are. Maybe you’ve seen steady growth over the past 6 months, but just hit a plateau. Or maybe you’ve built a million dollar business and now you’re setting your sights on your next big goal.

Whether you’re trying to attract your first customer or your 10,000th customer, generating more traffic to your online store is a crucial part of growing your business. If your site is properly optimized for conversions, getting a jump in traffic could mean more customers and more sales.

To help you increase traffic for your online store, we’ve put together a list of 5 proven, high impact tactics for driving more traffic to your online store.

1. Run Paid Social Media Ad Campaigns

To increase website traffic for your online store, you need to be able to get your business in front of your ideal customers. With paid social media ads, you can create highly targeted campaigns that serve tailor-made ads to the customers who are most likely to click through and purchase your products.

If you’re thinking about running paid social media ads, here are some platforms you should consider:

Facebook Ads

facebook ads

Image source: Facebook

With 1.65 billion monthly users, Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world and filled with opportunities for you to reach new customers and drive them to your online store. Facebook’s robust advertising platform allows you to target users based on their interests, behavior, location, and more.

Using Facebook Dynamic Ads, you can even serve automatically-generated ads to customers who have previously visited your website, featuring the products that they’ve already looked at or added to their carts. These powerful ads can help you bring users back to your website, so that you can make the most of the traffic you’re already getting.

Instagram Ads

instagram ads

Image source: Adweek

Instagram is an incredibly popular platform, especially among Millennials. In fact, 73% of its half a billion monthly active users are between the ages of 15 – 35, making it the perfect choice for businesses whose target audiences skew younger.

With its recently expanded tools for business owners, Instagram is quickly becoming the platform-to-watch for social media advertising. It’s actually pegged to rake in a whopping $2.81 billion by the year 2017 on mobile ad revenue alone, beating out both Twitter and Google.

So, even if you’ve already built an army of followers on Instagram, you aren’t really using it to its full potential until you’ve tried its advertising platform.

Pinterest Ads

promoted pins

Image source: Pinterest

Pinterest plays a key role in the purchasing decisions of its users: 93% have used it to plan purchases and 52% have purchased something online after seeing it on Pinterest first. It’s also extremely popularity among niche groups like DIY crafts, home decor, and fashion which is ideal for businesses hoping to make in-roads with these markets.

Pinterest is home to Promoted Pins, a form of paid advertising that pushes your Pins to the top of your customers’ search results, helping you stand out from the crowd. Promoted Pins blend in with the rest of Pinterest’s content, making them a great tool for capturing your customers’ attention and pulling them to your online store.

2. Use SEO to Increase Your Store’s Discoverability

Can your customers actually find your store online?

When customers search for your products online, you want your store to be one of the top results for that search, especially since ⅓ of all clicks go to the first organic result on Google. That prized top position is a key ingredient for generating sustained, qualified website traffic for your online store.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of fine-tuning your website to increase its chances of ranking highly in search results for relevant keywords.


SEO is a fine science and only works when you put in time and effort into learning the rules that govern search engines like Google and Bing, so that you can apply those rules to the structure and content of your site.

3. Reach New Audiences with Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is the process of building relationships with influencers to get your online store in front of new audiences.

With influencer marketing, you can harness the creativity and reach of relevant influencers in your industry while leveraging the trust that they’ve already formed with their audiences.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIPwoH0Adca/embed/captioned/?v=7

Image source: Estee Lalonde on Instagram

Bloggers and social media celebrities like Estee Lalonde are highly trusted by their followers, so getting them to feature your products is an effective, organic tactic for increasing your traffic. According to Nielsen, 92% of customers actually value word-of-mouth recommendations from people they trust over any other form of advertising.

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4. Drive Excitement with Contests and Giveaways

While many of these methods may seem like long term solutions for increasing your traffic, there are ways to give your business a short term boost in numbers as well.

With viral contests, giveaways, and sweepstakes you can quickly drive more traffic to your store by offering exciting prizes in exchange for your customers’ participation. Prizes and rewards are powerful incentives for getting both current and new customers to actually visit your store.

gleam example contest

Image source: Gleam

Using tools like Gleam or Woobox, you can embed giveaways into landing pages or blog posts on your store. These contests can even use social sharing as a method of entry, giving your sweepstakes a higher chance of going viral and spreading around social platforms. Once participants are on your store, you can use different techniques to guide them to your products, like exit intent popups featuringcoupon codes.

5. Attract Customers with Content Marketing

Content marketing is about more than just having a blog.

By creating interesting, informative, and engaging content, you can organically attract customers to your online store. From videos and podcasts to guides and ebooks, there are endless opportunities for your business to branch out into the world of content and capture new audiences.

Original content helps position your business as an industry thought leader and build a lifestyle around your brand. Your business’ content strategy can include anything that your customers might find relevant or interesting—don’t limit yourself to posts or guides that include or focus on your products. Instead, consider any and all topics and resources related to your business that your customers would find useful.

google adwords keyword planner

Image source: Google AdWords

Content marketing also gives your store the chance to conquer search results beyond product and brand keywords. Using free tools like Google Keyword Planner and Keyword.io, you can identify new opportunities for your business to rank in search results and get in front of larger audiences.

Get More Traffic, Get More Customers

With these tactics in your ecommerce marketing toolkit, you should now be able to generate more website traffic for your online store.

More traffic to your online store means more opportunities to turn those casual shoppers into paying customers. Once you’ve increased your traffic, consider trying out Conversion Rate Optimization as a next step.

Have any questions about how to increase website traffic for your online store? Share them in the comments below!

5 Easy to Use Online Logo Makers to Design Your Brand

You have a product that will fly off the shelves, but are struggling with your branding.

You need a logo but don’t have any idea about how to design a great one.  You could hire a designer, but you don’t want to spend all of your startup costs on your logo.

This is a side project for you after all.  What do you do?

We’ve got you covered.  In this post, we’ve compiled a list of high quality logo generators to help you create your brand.

You’ll be up and running with a beautiful logo in no time.

Why A Logo is Important For Your Brand

Logos act as the “face” of your business.  They’re a graphical display of what your company stands for, and can be used as a way to promote your brand both online and offline.

While Shopify does automatically generate text based logos for you, it’s still important to have a custom logo to define your brand and make your store stand out from the competition.

Logo Design 101

DesignBuddy recently did a fantastic data analysis on the world’s top brands, and what their logos have in common.  Here are some key highlights from the article that you might want to consider when designing your logo using one of these generators:

  • 95% of the world’s top brand’s logos use one or two colors
  • 41% of the brands use stylized type as their logo
  • 93% are simple enough to be recognized at smaller sizes

Take a look at this article from Buffer written by Leo Widrich – “Why Facebook is Blue: The Science of Colors in Marketing” to get a good idea of what colors to use for your logo.

Here are a few important design rules to remember before diving in to these logo makers.  These tips are taken from Creativebloq’s Logo design: 60 pro tips:

  • A logo must be simple: A simple logo design allows for easy recognition and allows the logo to be versatile and memorable. Effective logos feature something unexpected or unique without being overdrawn.
  • A logo must be memorable: Following closely behind the principle of simplicity is that of memorability. An effective logo design should be memorable and this is achieved by having a simple yet appropriate logo.
  • A logo must be enduring: An effective logo should endure the test of time. The logo should be ‘future proof’, meaning that it should still be effective in 10, 20, 50+ years time.
  • A logo must be versatile: An effective logo should be able to work across a variety of mediums and applications.
  • A logo must be appropriate: How you position the logo should be appropriate for its intended purpose. For a more detailed explanation see: What makes a good logo?

Bonus: want to see the exact color codes for some of the world’s top brands?  Take a look atBrandColors.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Designing a Logo

Here are some common mistakes that we’ve come across when digging through thousands of ecommerce stores.  Avoid these design mistakes when using one of the online logo makers below.

Note:  The generators that we’ll go over in this post are fantastic for new stores who are looking to get their feet wet.  These tools are great if you’re just starting out on a bootstrapped budget, but if you can afford it, we highly recommend investing in a professional logo by some Shopify Experts who can really help you establish your brand.

With no prior design knowledge necessary, you’ll be up and running with a custom logo in no time at all.

Logo Generator by Spaces 

Logo Generator by Spaces 

Spaces is a fantastic service that is extremely simple to use and creates stunning, trendy logos.

Simply enter your ecommerce store name and describe it with a few keywords, and Spaces will automatically generate hundreds of logos that relate to your business.

One of the great things about Spaces is that they let you tweak little things like the typography and more to make a design that reflects your brand.   

Best of all, it’s free!

Logo Maker by Ucraft

The logo maker is a free app provided by ucraft for those who don’t have a logo yet! You create a logo with the help of texts and an icon and are free to export it as a transparent .png file for future use.

You get a transparent .png high resolution file, so you can reuse it everywhere.

Best of all, it’s totally free.

GraphicSprings Logo Creator

GraphicSprings Logo Creator

GraphicSprings is perhaps the most powerful of the list. The amount of customizations you can make in their online logo creator is outstanding. It’s almost as robust as having an image editor tool on your computer. 

One of the great features they have is the ability to break down logo types depending on your business.  Here are some examples: 

  • Food and drink
  • Abstract
  • Letter based
  • Many, many more.

You can also hire someone from their team to create a totally custom logo for you if you aren’t satisfied with their logo creator.

Get started with GraphicSprings for free now.

Logoshi

Logoshi

The most creative of the list, Logoshi’s Sketch a Logo service is fantastic for creating a custom logo.

All you have to do is sketch or draw what you’d like your logo to look like, enter your ecommerce store name and it will automatically create a stunning logo for you in seconds.

It’s a really great service if you’re  looking for something very custom, while maintaining a professional look.   

Logaster

Logaster

Although Logaster may not be as up to date as the previous tools we mentioned, it still has an enormous amount of logos available through their generator.

You’ll be able to browse through hundreds of logos, all of which are extremely customizable in terms of name, slogan, business type, and color.

You can get started with Logaster now.

Tip: Logo Inspiration Sources

Now that we’ve taken a look at some fantastic logo generators, it’s time to get inspired.  We’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to go online to get your creative juices flowing.

Bonus Guide: “How to Choose the Perfect Domain Name” – a free, comprehensive guide that shows you how to find and choose the right domain to build you brand on. Get the Guide.

Conclusion

Hopefully now you have a great idea of where to get started with your brand’s logo.  If you have any tools or resources that we may have missed, let us know in the comments below