Make marketing a priority. Too many business owners have marketing as a “sometimes” activity or a “When I have time” activity. But the reality is, if you want to be profitable, you need to market yourself. If no one knows who you are, what you do or what you sell, then no one is going to come to your website and buy. It’s simple maths! So make marketing a priority in your business. Set time aside every day or week to put your strategy into action. And you do need a strategy. Strategy is just a fancy word for a plan — and you do need one.
As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Highly Successful E-Commerce Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Britz.
The Spend With Us website was originally created in January 2020 by Sarah Britz, a Web Designer from the Central Coast NSW and supported through social media initiatives by Lauren Hateley, a Clinical Psychologist from rural Victoria. Simultaneously, Jenn Donovan, a Riverina based marketer was drumming up a following on Facebook with her “Buy from a Bush Business’’ campaign. The group quickly went viral with over a quarter of a million members joining, all looking to support local businesses. Because of the success of each of these entities, they joined forces and merged in August 2020 to make an even bigger impact on the rural and regional small business community.
Born from the ashes of the devastating 2019 bushfires, the Spend With Us website was developed on the back of these three passionate women joining forces to help support business owners in rural communities who had suffered through both fire, flood and drought. As the brand turns 1 this week, the three women look back and know they have a lot to celebrate.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Ihave wanted to make a difference in people’s lives for as long as I can remember. I’m a web designer with over 20 years of experience and love helping individuals and small businesses get online and make their digital dreams a reality. I grew up in the UK and spent most of my late teens and twenties traveling and working around the world and loved emerging myself in each country’s culture. I especially loved meeting the locals on my travels, experiencing how different people lived and getting inspired by their stories.
I fell in love with Australia the first time I visited and my husband and I made the decision to emigrate permanently to Australia in 2013, and we haven’t looked back. We live on acreage on the beautiful Central Coast, NSW, which is the perfect place for our two young children to grow up.
I created the Spend With Us website marketplace during the heart of the 2019/2020 Australian Bushfires. I wanted to do something to give back to the community and help Australian bushfire affected communities using my web skills. I realized that many small businesses in these areas had no online presence or ways to receive donations or continue to sell their products when their bricks and mortar stores were closed. They didn’t have the time, money or technical skills to set something up. So there was a vital need for them to keep trading, pay wages, sell their products and earn an income.
I knew I had the skills to quickly create something easy and user-friendly for people with no technical knowledge to use and set up, and the idea for Spend With Us sprouted from this. At the same time, Lauren Hateley, a clinical psychologist from Avenel, VIC had set up a Facebook page supporting bushfire affected Victorian businesses. So we connected online, and together we were able to reach out and provide support for hundreds of bushfire affected small businesses and allow them to bring their businesses online, keep trading and tell their stories of survival.
Consumers across Australia were keen to shop small and support these bush businesses but didn’t know how to do so without physically going to these areas. The Spend With Us Marketplace provided a free, simple and user-friendly way for non-tech savvy business owners to take their businesses online, tell their inspiring stories and allow Australians to find and purchase their products all in one place easily.
Spend With Us opened up an entirely new channel for these businesses. Still, more than that, my co-founders and I have created a community and marketplace that connects Australians that would like to support regional areas with the means and ability to do that directly.
After the bushfires and drought came COVID-19, which impacted even more small businesses. Again, the Spend With Us platform helped bring money back into these communities with no tourism coming through for months.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Nobody thought things could get worse for rural small businesses. They had been through drought, then devastated by bushfires, and in March 2020, they got hit for a third time by the effects of covid-19. Australia went into lockdown, and the need to get online and keep businesses trading got even more urgent! At this time, we realised that Spend With Us needed to open its platform to support all rural and regional small businesses. To help make a difference to communities experiencing trauma and income loss and finding it difficult to survive financially, not being able to sell their products in stores or at markets physically.
In August 2020, Spend With Us joined forces with the rapidly growing Buy From a Bush Business Facebook group created by Jenn Donovan, a Riverina-based marketer and farmers wife supporting drought-affected rural businesses. During the worst drought in history, in October 2019, Jenn Donovan started a Facebook group called Buy From a Bush Business with the pure goal in mind of helping small rural businesses get more sales throughout Christmas 2019. Jenn, a farmer’s wife and rural girl herself, could see that small business was suffering enormously under the stress of drought, and so she set a plan in place to help change that. Little did she know she contributed to a movement that the country was about to undertake — the movement to shop local, shop rural and support rural and regional Australia.
Jenn, Lauren and I knew that by collaborating, we would raise more awareness for shopping locally with rural communities, make an even more significant impact and support even more small businesses by bringing them more sales and recognition. So we put our heads together and planned a way to change even more lives and help even more rural and regional small businesses. We amalgamated our businesses to be what you see now as Spend With Us — Buy From a Bush Business.
Our goal is to help as many rural and regional small businesses as possible. We provide platforms and a community to help rural and regional small businesses grow their businesses, and be more profitable so they can make a bigger difference to their own communities. Rural communities can now be more resilient in difficult times. Rural families can diversify their income streams and learn new business skills without having to travel which provides both business and environmental sustainability within the local community.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When Spend With Us first launched, the most challenging part was finding the time to run the business and fit everything in amongst our main jobs (all three founders have their own businesses or are employed) and provide the level of support required to the hundreds of small businesses we were onboarding as well as responding to customer queries. It was exhausting, and at times we almost felt like giving up. However, seeing the success and sales come in for our small business owners, receiving messages from them telling us how much our platforms have helped them, and knowing we are being able to play a small part in ensuring that rural communities can be more resilient in difficult times is what has kept us going.
Being recognized that we are making a difference has also lifted our spirits when times have been tough. One of the highlights was from The Honourable David Littleproud Mp, who mentioned us, among the 12 outstanding female leaders, during his address on International Day of Rural Women in 2020. This mention was an enormously proud moment because we are about helping the economy of regional and rural Australia, but also vested in the mental health of our fellow rural community members.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Today we are one of the biggest communities in this space and continue to grow our product offerings and drive innovation.
Through the combination of the online marketplace and our Buy From a Bush Business Facebook group with over 325,000 members, our platform has helped thousands of small businesses to keep trading and sell their products through the impact of bushfires, drought and coronavirus.
Spend With Us is Australia’s first and largest online marketplace to support rural and regional small businesses. Today we have 1000+ registered Spend With Us sellers on our Marketplace website, 7000+ products to choose from, and 325,000+ members in our Buy From a Bush Business Facebook group community. Providing an easy to use, safe and secure platform for consumers to discover and buy unique and beautiful products from rural and regional Australia. People across the globe can now discover products from Aussie rural and regional small businesses all in one central place. We’ve had a wonderful reaction from Australian expats living overseas who can easily purchase sitewide e-gift cards or gifts to send directly to their loved ones back in Australia, knowing at the same time that their money is making a difference to an Australian small business in need.
In the last couple of years, many small businesses in rural Australia were forced to close their doors due to the effects of bushfires, drought, flooding and coronavirus. Businesses lost thousands of dollars in stock, and many had to close indefinitely. So many of these small businesses were just bricks and mortar stores and didn’t have a way to sell their products online or the time, money or technical knowledge to set something up. By creating a platform that helps remote small business owners get online easily, our rural communities can be more resilient in difficult times. Rural families can diversify their income streams and learn new business skills without having to travel.
The marketplace website has needed to change and adapt as more and more sellers come on board (we currently have over 1000 registered vendors in under 18 months), more and more traffic comes to the marketplace, and more sales come through. We continually add more and more features requested by both sellers and purchasers. We are passionate about helping our small business sellers and doing our best to make a difference to communities still struggling a year on from the bushfire. We are constantly inspired by our business sellers’ stories of perseverance and survival. We are always looking for ways to create a better user experience, help our sellers further, and improve the customer journey.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
The past couple of years have been an enormous learning curve for myself and my co-founders — when we first started our platform, we never imagined it would get to where it is today, and all of us have diversified and learnt new skills on our journey. There have been numerous mistakes made along the way, and we have learnt from them all — some of them we can look back on now and laugh at, whereas at the time, they didn’t seem so funny! The one that sticks out the most for me was last year when we designed and launched a Spend With Us wall calendar. We were exhausted at the time and rushed the design through to the printers. All of us checked the proof and signed off on it thinking it looked amazing! It was only after we had sold multiple copies of it that a customer contacted us to tell us that several months had incorrect days and dates on them! We have no idea how we all missed that. It was a costly exercise as we had to apologize to everyone that had purchased and get the design fixed up and reprinted. We have decided this year to start designing our calendars months in advance rather than leaving it to the last minute. We now also make a conscious effort to triple check things in the mornings, rather than late in the day when we are exhausted to minimize any mistakes or oversights.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We have targeted a unique segment of the Australian business community that has previously been underserved by technology solutions providers and allowed them to better promote their business and have opened new markets for them.
Spend With Us is a community, and we work very hard to ensure both merchants and customers have the support they need to make the most of the services we provide.
Our goal at Spend With Us is to create a marketplace experience that is accessible, affordable and supportive for all rural and regional Australian small business sellers.
One seller, Renee from Renee’s Bundalong Bears & Treasures letting us know about her transition from an American based marketplace site to Spend With Us — not only saving her upwards of 35% in fees and charges but some cases 3x and 4x-ing her sales via our platforms — the marketplace and the Facebook group.
Another seller, Lisa from Infused Catering Deniliquin, telling us via her letter of support how in just a few short months, our platforms helped transform her business. After shutting the doors to her restaurant during Covid and moving forward to selling gourmet products via our community, it saved them from despair and heartache, especially in unprecedented times.
And another seller, also forced to close their physical doors during the bushfires and Covid, found a whole new market for their locally produced Jerky and Chilli — starting a brand new business on our platforms called Punkah Delights. Again, the need to pivot and get online seemed overwhelming to do themselves, but with the support of our team, and our community, and our platforms, Lucy from Punkah Delights has survived the closure of her business.
The stories like this are many. It makes everything we do worthwhile as we know we are providing a platform that is making a difference in many people’s lives.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
That’s a hard one. I think in small business, at some stage, we all feel “burnt” out.
4 out of 5 small businesses fail in the first five years.
But they actually don’t fail; in my opinion, they burn out. Burn out because they can’t get enough people, to buy enough products (or services) and to come back enough times to make being in business profitable.
So they give up and get a job.
So my biggest tip would be to MARKET yourself.
If you want more people to buy your goods or services, then more people need to know about you!
Know how wonderful you are, how great your business is and how you can solve their problems.
With marketing, it’s important to have a strategy (fancy word for a plan) and not just rely on mediums such as social media. Think outside the box!
My next tip would be to Network!
Connect with and surround yourself with as many like-minded people as possible. Having a network of supportive minds behind you makes all the difference.
You want people who will push you, challenge you and celebrate with you.
Your NET WORTH is equal to your NETWORK in business.
Finally, Balance; Ensure you have a good work/life balance.
The first thing you should do every year is, mark your holidays on the calendar — before any appointments — carve out time for you!
Make time for yourself and your family as it’s easy to work 24/7 and burn yourself out. Delegate and ensure you have strategies in place so you can take a break without worrying that everything is falling apart.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Without a doubt, it was connecting with both my co-founders, Jenn Donovan and Lauren Hateley. Combining our diverse range of skills and identifying that together we could really do something amazing to help rural and regional communities rather than each of us going at it alone was a decision we are all so grateful we made. We have been each other’s rocks and supported each other virtually throughout the Pandemic, births, deaths, and all the other challenges 2020 brought with it. We worked together for over a year before we all were able to meet in person! Going into business with someone you have never met before for most people is a crazy idea, but for the 3 of us, it was the best decision we could have made.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that eCommerce businesses are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?
People are certainly shopping more online, no doubt about it. But they are shopping with the people they either already knew, liked and trusted, or the businesses getting in front of them are gaining their trust, letting them get to know and like them.
Ecommerce businesses have had to get savvy in the past 12 months. Just having an online presence does NOT guarantee you traffic!
You still have to work at getting traffic to your online store!
I believe many eCommerce businesses have seen the power of email marketing in the past 12 months — more so than ever before.
They’ve realised the power of creating relationships, nurturing customers until they are ready to buy and keeping front of mind with customers they already have until they are ready to buy again.
Email marketing lends itself perfectly to this type of marketing.
Human to Human Marketing is another strategy many small business owners have adapted to in the past 12 months.
Human to human marketing is all about showing up for your audience, letting them know you, like you and trust you enough to spend their hard-earned money with you!
The one advantage small business owners have over big Corporate eCommerce platforms is their ability to show up!
The business owners who have come from behind the camera to in front of it shared their stories, shared their business values, travelled this unknown journey of covid with their potential customers. They have won a bigger share of the economy than ever before.
Showing up, human to human marketing takes away the mystery of online shopping. You know who you are buying from; you are building relationships, just like if you had a brick and mortar store.
Amazon, and even Walmart are going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. NewDirect-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
Ultimately there is never any substitute for authenticity. Small business owners need to “SHOW UP” for their potential buyers. Share their stories, share their business values because people do business with people they trust and people whose values align with their own.
Today we are seeing a resurgence of small business and a desire to move and support them. There is a vast movement to shop small and shop local. Consumers are more mindful of where they spend their money and want to know more about where their products are made. People are getting weary of these massive offshore companies and are moving to a community-oriented mindset. The other thing is that never before has it been easier for a small vendor to position their goods and service directly against these juggernauts. Technology is finally starting to level the playing field, and I believe that smaller businesses will start to regain some of the lost ground over time.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an eCommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Too many business owners hide behind their products or services and forget to share “them” with their customers.
They think all the customer wants is their product or their service. So they get stuck in trying to sell the “features” and forget to sell the “benefits” to the potential customer.
Every customer just wants to know “what’s in it for them”? How will it help them, delight them, solve their problems?
We live and operate in a highly competitive and noisy marketplace, and the one thing you have different to any other business owner is YOU.
So show up. Gain your customers’ trust, show them why they need to buy from you, despite all the people who sell what you sell, they should buy from you!
Firstly, you need to do some research on who your ideal customer is.
Three marketing principles all business owners should know:
1. Who is your who (idea audience)?
2. What do you want to be famous for? and
3. Where does your target audience hang out — because that’s where you need to be spending your marketing time and dollars marketing!
Another fundamental mistake business owners make is not marketing themselves either enough or with strategy.
Marketing isn’t a tap to turn on and off — it’s a dial that can be turned up or down but never off! Therefore, marketing needs to be a priority in business if you want to be successful.
And just using social media as your only marketing tool is a big mistake. In my opinion, we shouldn’t build empires on crown land (land we don’t own).
In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Traffic. Getting traffic to your store, understanding your numbers and analysing your data.
Just putting up a website with a shopping cart isn’t enough. You need traffic.
And you need to understand how much traffic.
What’s your conversion rate?
If you have 100 people on your site per hour, how many buy, how many bounce (why do they bounce?), how do you remarket to those who didn’t buy and what’s your conversion rate of remarketing?
The more we can understand our digital data, the more successful we can be.
If we know we convert 10% of visitors to our site, and average spend is $100, and we have 100 people per hour visiting, then if we want to make 20% more sales, we need to not only increase the number of visitors to the site from 100 per hour to 120 per hour but use marketing strategies to increase the spend value of every customer.
But if we don’t know this data, then we don’t have a firm grasp on how we can reach the financial goals we set.
Of course, to increase sales, traffic and profit, we need to get great at marketing!
People really do underestimate the operating environment. Some do have a “build it, and they will come” attitude to online selling.
People underestimate Logistics, product management and marketing.
Just putting up an online store will not get you what you want.
You need to put the time and effort into understanding your target demographic, making the most of marketing opportunities, looking outside the square with marketing opportunities, and spending time making sure that anything you put online is of the highest quality in terms of copy and visual effects.
For some business owners that might mean investing in themselves. Investing in courses online or offline on how to take a great product photo, how to write engaging captions that entice people to buy, how to write good digital ads that get clicks and purchases or investing in an SEO course to help the google gods notice your content more when people are searching for what you sell.
We spend a lot of time providing support to our small business vendors to make sure they understand the importance of SEO and keyword content within their listings and offer advice on what they can do both in their store and on social media to market their products and get the most sales.
Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging eCommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
There’s a tonne of tools you could use to empower your emerging eCommerce business, here’s just a few my co-Founders and I couldn’t live without in our eCommerce business.
1. Canva — www.canva.com — The website graphically challenged people need to look, well, unchallenged!
Whether it’s designing social posts, creating videos, repurposing content, making flyers or brochures or business cards — Canva is the place to go!
What we love the most, besides the ease of use, is the fact that you can keep yourself on brand so easily.
The ability to use the same colours, fonts, graphics etc is just so effortlessly done. Of course, ensuring our brand is consistent across all platforms is just one of the ways we can ensure our audience knows the marketing is from us, the business they love and trust!
It may not be great for printing, though. I’d still support your local printer, but it is excellent for designing graphics and creating images to use on social media and in other marketing!
2. An email CRM system (Customer Relationship Management system). The reason why is in the name — to manage your customer relationships! In marketing, we need to attract more customers, nurture them until they are ready to buy, convert them into buyers and then have them come back time and time again to keep purchasing and, of course, become a micro-influencer for us by recommending us to their friends and family.
With the exception of attracting new buyers, email marketing is the perfect solution to the others! It’s perfect for nurturing, converting and ascending them into influences and referrers.
With a higher open-rate than an organic social post for campaign targeting and creating relationships — it’s a must-have tool for any eCommerce store.
If you’re not already email marketing, then here’s your nudge to start!
3. And lastly, you need a system and process for remarketing. It costs a lot of time, energy and money to get a visitor to your website, and if they don’t buy, how do you get them to come back or remind them how they should?
Tools such as Google and Facebook retargeting ads, automatic emails for abandoned carts via your back end or connected CRM system or email clicks through, without result, calls to action are such essential tools to have in your marketing toolbox.
Remarketing is new(ish) to many eCommerce platforms; however, is one of the most powerful tools. These people who visit your website but don’t make a purchase are HOT traffic. They are ready and looking to buy but didn’t. Having tools to remarket to them can help increase conversions up to 20%.
What would 20% more sales look like in your business over 12 months?
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies an eCommerce business should use to increase conversion rates?
Increasing conversion is all about nurturing.
Nurturing not only new customers until they are ready to buy, but existing customers as well, until they are ready to come back and buy again.
In my experience, it’s the customers the businesses already have that convert the easiest into a second sale that gets forgotten the quickest.
For some reason, business owners tend always to be looking for the “next” customer. They forget about those who already know, like and trust them and have purchased from them.
So if you want to convert more, you need to nurture more, which means you need to market more to them.
When marketing, we need to keep in mind that we not only an audience of buyers, but those buyers are in different stages of the buying cycle.
So we need to make sure that our marketing, overall, is targeted to different audience types. For example, Cold audience, people who have never heard of us, Warm audiences, people who may have had some interactions with us — perhaps follow us on social media etc, and Hot audiences — those who know, like and trust us, and have purchased our products at least once.
So watch your marketing — if it’s all about new customers, then you are not nurturing and converting your HOT audience and vice versa.
Remarketing digital ads via Google and Social media and email marketing are two of the best and most effective tools an eCommerce business can use to convert more sales and nurture their customers until they are ready to buy or buy again.
Social media isn’t just a selling platform either — it’s an excellent nurturing platform. If you are constantly saying “buy this, buy that, buy from me” on social media, you lose customers and possibly conversions 100%. No one likes being sold to 100% of the time!
Strategies to ensure you aren’t selling all the time are again around showing up, storytelling, leading with value, sharing tips and tricks, and simply being a human!
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that an eCommerce business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
I kind of feel like I’m repeating myself — but the point is SO important.
To create a “trusted and beloved brand”, you need to give your audience something to trust and love — and it’s NOT your products. It’s YOU! The person behind the brand, the team behind the brand, the values of the business, which for many intertwine with the values of the person behind the business.
So if you want to have a trusted and loved brand, think Human to Human Marketing (H2H Marketing).
Come out from behind the marketing strategies and the camera and put yourself out there for your audience to get to know, love and trust.
It’s not new science that people do business with people they know, like and trust — we’ve been doing it since the dawn of trade! We do business with people whose values align with ours.
So, if you want to be loved and trusted — what does your audience need to know to love and trust you?
What do you stand for?
Who are you?
Who’s your team?
In a competitive and noisy marketplace, the one thing that makes you different to any other competitor is YOU!
Don’t underestimate the power of your story, your journey, your love for what you do and your passion for the future.
Unless you have a massive marketing budget, like a business with golden arches, then you need to earn the trust and love of your audience by showing up.
Otherwise, how do I know I can trust you?
Relationship building is fundamental to life. We all want to create relationships in our life — doing business with people is no different. But, it’s still a relationship to be earned and nurtured.
One of the main benefits of shopping online is the ability to read reviews. Consumers love it! While good reviews are of course positive for a brand, poor reviews can be very damaging. In your experience what are a few things a brand should do to properly and effectively respond to poor reviews? How about other unfair things said online about a brand?
There is always going to be someone unhappy and dissatisfied with your product.
No business escapes it. If you look for the lesson (and there’s always one), you can often improve your business for the better.
If the complaint is about a broken product, then how can you ensure fewer breakages? If it’s about the fact that it wasn’t what they were expecting — look at your product descriptions — how can you do them better to ensure this doesn’t happen again?
The key is to ensure the balance of your reviews are positive and that you address any reviews, both positive and negative, with responses of your own.
Always make sure you reply professionally and courteously, even if the review is negative.
Never raise a bad comment.
Most people are adept at realising that these are outliers and will ignore them or realise that the negative comment says more about the person writing it than it does the business itself.
The biggest thing is to make sure you respond once courteously and do not get dragged into a commentary war. That’s the worst thing we see, people getting into she said; he said war, where everyone can see it.
With negative comments, take the high road. Respond once, and if necessary, take offline — in private.
We’ve often found humanising the response works well. Unfortunately, most “keyboard warriors” forget that a human is reading it on the other end.
And, as Jenn’s Year 10 Religion teacher taught her, there’s a difference between “I’m sorry it was my fault” and “I’m sorry you feel that way”. One is admitting fault; the other simply acknowledges the way the other person feels — no-fault admitted.
Some people want an apology and an explanation. Giving them both doesn’t mean that you admit it was your fault; just acknowledging their inconvenience and feelings.
And if they’re angry — you’ll never win them back, so never try. Instead, move on with your life and nurture the customers you love you.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful e-commerce business? Please share a story or an example for each.
1) Invest in a platform that will grow with your business and that you have control over.
Don’t look for the cheapest option, the free option. Instead, look for the option that will grow with you. If you are starting a business to make money, be prepared to spend some money getting that business up and running.
Too often, we are relying on the “freemium” economy to grow our business. But, unfortunately, it’s not always the best option straight out of the box.
So you want to choose a platform that will grow with you. Trust me, trying to change platforms 12 months in with all your data and projects set up will be a nightmare — invest from the start.
And choose a platform that you have control over. Yes, it might be a more significant investment upfront than some of the “pay by the month” platforms. But when you want to implement that amazing idea that will help you stand out from the crowded marketplace, you will want to control your own website to do so.
Some platforms don’t allow you to work outside their “cookie-cutter” templates and functionalities.
2) Remember NONE of this is about you — it’s all about your customer and their experiences on your platform and whilst engaging with you.
Build your empire with this in mind. Have the customer and the customer experience front and centre in all decisions you make. From the shopping experience — product to cart — the colour and placement of the buttons to the keywords you use to come up in Google searches to get traffic.
It’s all about the customer, which leads me to number 3!
3) Know your customer/audience. Who are the people you want to buy your product? Hint, it’s NOT everyone! Do your research — find out as much about the type of person you want to buy your products as you can.
Where do they hang out? What brands do they already buy from/follow? Where do they live? What’s their income? What’s their pain points in life that relate to your product? What’s their pleasure points too? Why would they buy from you? Of all the people who sell what you sell, why you?
Getting to know your audience is a step skipped by so many. It doesn’t seem important enough to spend time working out. But at the end of the day, to be big fish in a small pond, rather than a small fish in a big pond, we need to know who our target audience is to market to them and become profitable!
4) Data builds profit. At Spend With Us, the one thing we love the most about digital marketing is the data it produces. From social media insights to Google analytics and all the data in between.
If you want to grow your business, if you’re looking for new strategies to become more profitable, the answer is almost always lying in your data, just waiting to be discovered.
Take time, schedule in time, to review your data, at least monthly, if not weekly.
If you want to know the best time to post on social media — check your insights.
If you want to know which platform to spend money and time building — check your google analytics to see where your traffic is coming from.
If you want to know why you have lots of traffic to your website and no sales, your analytics will probably tell you (PS — check your bounce rate and try doing a test exercise of being your own customer to find out why!)
The list goes on. It seems so simple, and yet so many eCommerce businesses never look at the data.
5) Make marketing a priority. Too many business owners have marketing as a “sometimes” activity or a “When I have time” activity. But the reality is, if you want to be profitable, you need to market yourself.
If no one knows who you are, what you do or what you sell, then no one is going to come to your website and buy. It’s simple maths!
So make marketing a priority in your business. Set time aside every day or week to put your strategy into action.
And you do need a strategy. Strategy is just a fancy word for a plan — and you do need one.
Throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping something will stick is not a strategy. Instead, the simplest form of strategy is to set your goals and work backwards from there with a plan on how you will reach those goals — down to the daily posts on social media!
The big players in the eCommerce world have plans and strategies, so if you want to compete, you need one too.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d continue with the movement we have started — asking people to think about where they are shopping and spending their money. Raise awareness and encourage people to shop small and support our rural and regional communities who have gone through one disaster after another with little to no reprieve. I’d love to be putting more businesses “on the map” and do as much as possible to highlight the absolute talent that exists in rural and regional Australia that remains unknown and undiscovered. I’d love to provide more resources to rural and regional Australians along with business support and training to help them become more resilient in times of need.
How can our readers further follow you online?
You can check out all our small businesses and shop our amazing products on our website marketplace www.spendwithus.com.au and through our Buy From a Bush Business Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/buyfromthebush
Follow Spend With Us — Buy From a Bush Business via our social media pages:
You can follow me personally on:
For more eCommerce marketing tips, you can follow Jenn Donovan on:
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!