Table of Contents
Hitting €100K in sales might seem like the sweet spot when talking about ecommerce but think again! The difficult times are not over. On the contrary, they begin now.
Because the next target is €1Μ in sales.
In a time where Facebook is absolutely broken and cannot give you insights as before, the game is even more difficult.
Today I want to share our strategies that worked and brought measurable results and allowed us to increase our revenue. All done via optimizing most of our digital marketing channels.
I will begin by explaining how a perfect website is structured and then I will analyze the particular channels.
Our goal was to hit €70K/month with 4+ marketing channels working together. The reason is explained below…
But first, let me show you the proof:
Unfortunately (or not) the previous year (2021) had a lot of issues, both in businesses in general and in marketing.
Fortunately, we all have to go through this together and solve the issues.
I will begin with the biggest issue of the year: iOS 14.5 vs Facebook. A war which affected a lot of ad accounts (ours also) and left businesses blind causing them losses. Even for us, Facebook was responsible for almost 90% of our sales.
Some of our results (before):
- CPA around 3-5€
- More than 100 orders per day
- Conversion Rate around 7-8%
And many more lovely stats that no longer exist.
Are we sad? Yes
Are we sweating? Yes
Did we get punched in the face? Big time
Did we have to? Apparently yes!
Because we have to learn to expand and strategically advertise everywhere!
I assume that a lot of business owners that relied only on Facebook in order to generate sales have been punched in the face just like us. And not only them, but marketers as well who are forced to report on their results and promises.
And it makes sense, because if you’re putting all your eggs into one basket (aka Facebook), you risk a lot. Who could have thought that a decision made by Apple would corrupt all of our attribution and thus our businesses? But it happened.
I won’t go into details about iOS 14.5+, there are a lot of articles online and this blog post isn’t one of them. The main issues caused though on the Facebook algorithm are the following:
- Lots of data are lost and cannot be measured properly by the Pixel resulting in non-optimized campaigns. We also got ourselves digging new procedures in order to connect the Pixel via the Conversions API, a process that is still difficult or even unknown to most people.
- We don’t have a clear attribution and we have no idea which channel or campaign/adset/ad is bringing the conversions so we have no idea where to invest our money and how to optimize and scale.
- We lost breakdowns: We can no longer see from which country or which gender brought us the most conversions.
As a result:
🚫 We don’t know what ads to create / who to target / how much budget to spend since we no longer have a full picture of the data
🚫 We lose a TON of money on ads
🚫 We have to learn whole new procedures
🚫 We see our revenue and profits decrease
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Since March/April ’21 when we first saw the changes rollout, things have been improved for sure but not completely. Facebook ads performance has a “rollercoaster” performance without steady results.
History has taught us one very good thing: In every crisis, there’s always an opportunity. And our opportunity was to learn how to stand on our feet. Multiple feet.
No we didn’t fix Meta’s attribution issue! There, I said it.
And I truly believe that it won’t ever get fixed, even from Meta.
With all the fuss about personal data, I don’t see anyone finding a true solution. Even worse, I think that all the big companies like Google, Tiktok, Apple etc. will continue to enforce data protection layers to cut out advertisers from tracking users’ behaviour.
So it’s time for a new strategy: Let’s build a marketing “umbrella”
My grandma used to say “don’t put all your eggs into one basket” and I can see that now clearly.
I think it’s pretty obvious now that every business that wants to be profitable and healthy must invest on as many channels. Relying on only one channel can lead you to amazing losses.
Being in the ecommerce space for quite some time me and my team have built plenty ecommerce websites and customers always ask us:
- “Do you know how to do Facebook ads so I can make sales?”
- “Can you do my Social Media so I can sell?”
- “Which channel should I use to advertise?”
These are all very subjective questions since every for every ecommerce business the channel that works the best varies. There’s not 1 way to do it and there’s not a secret recipe! People tend to want short term profits rather than long-term establishment in the market.
So what you should really ask yourself is:
“Which is the channel that I can afford to start with and how can I build a presence on the other ones so I can have a sustainable business?“
For our business, based purely on our knowledge and resources we chose:
- Google Ads
- Email Marketing
This means that we left out on purpose:
- Organic Social Media
- Influencer Marketing
- and more…
Below I will analyse the strategies for each channel, but first let set some goals.
When we began our sales per channel looked like this:
So our end goal looks like this:
So even if Facebook “dies”, we would only lose 20% of the revenue, instead of 90%. A number much more sustainable for a business.
Chapter 1: Website
First things first…
In order to maximise conversions and for all the above marketing channels to actually work, the one thing that should be working like a good-oiled machine is your 24/7 salesman. Yes I’m talking about your website and your funnels.
This is where your traffic goes and completes their orders.
So what do you need to have a perfect ecommerce website?
First thing you need to care about is having a really good UI/UX. User Interface & User Experience play a major role in driving sales nowadays. In our case (since we are a design and development agency) we designed the website from scratch in order to:
- Provide a nice & useful experience to our users
- Achieve a coherence between the brand and its online presence
- Build trust with new and existing customers
- Present our products beautifully
- Drive out users towards a purchase as easy as possible
- Increase our AOV through up-selling & cross-selling
- Make sure that all the channels can work towards increasing our sales
The CMS we used is Shopify.
And the reasons are a lot. I’m not going to compare Shopify to WooCommerce or other CMS today but our choice was based on this:
As a business owner you want what works. And Shopify just works. #Change_my_mind.
As a developer I “fought” a lot with me not to go with WooCommerce since as a team we have a greater experience. The team working on the operations and marketing though need to work on a stable system without complications or downtimes. Shopify is for sure much more user friendly, as well as the apps.
With Shopify you avoid situations like:
- “The server is down”
- “The plugin updated and everything broke”
- “Call the developer”
- “Speed is slow”
This time we avoided large and complicated decisions regarding the design, the custom sections, apps etc. and we went for a nice theme and apps that worked and gave us what we wanted fast and hassle-feee.
Below are some Shopify themes that we’ve tested:
Whereas some Shopify apps that we suggest are:
- Zipify or PageFly for Landing Pages
- FB Track or Trackify to connect your Facebook Pixel properly
- Avada SEO Suite for – you guessed it – SEO
- Klaviyo App to connect Klaviyo and send Email Campaigns and setup Flows (more on this later)
Respectively, for WooCommerce we suggest the following:
- Elementor to build your Landing Pages
- PixelYourSite to connect your Facebook Pixel
- Conversios by Tatvic to connect Google Analytics + Ads
- RankMath for SEO
- Klaviyo App to connect Klaviyo (Email Marketing)
The positive thing about our Stack is that you don’t need a lot of apps to begin selling. A lot of people tend to believe that apps bring sales. That’s a mistake.
The funnel brings the sales. The apps just help and support the funnel (to increase the AOV, Conversion Rate etc.)
The most important when you begin is to have 3 things on point:
- Product-Market Fit: Right product in front of the right audience
- Offer: The price and the sale
- Content: The photos, videos and copies on the Product page & Ads.
Only these 3 are more than enough to bring you a lot of sales (and be profitable).
We’re in 2022 and we still see stores with an empty or a semi-developed homepage.
Of course you’re not going to sell directly on the homepage since it’s a few clicks away from the checkout but the homepage plays a fundamental role: Show your audience that you “exist”, show your story, show your best selling products, show some recommendations, your blog posts. Show that you care about your customer.
Today, if someone sees a half-empty homepage with 0 value, then this won’t convince him that it’s a legit brand.
Let’s dive into how we structure and design our homepage:
- A Cover section with the current offer or a new Product / Collection:
- A section with the Best Selling/New Arrivals products in a nice carousel/grid:
- Collections that we want to push more:
- Few words about our brand and maybe a photo from a physical store (if any). That way we provide an extra layer of trust towards our customers.
- USPs and Benefits for example “Express Shipping”, “30-day Guarantee”, “Free Shipping for orders above 50$”, “Secure Online Payments”, etc:
- Testimonials from happy customers:
- Some recent blog posts, always related to your target market, the brand or your products:
- A Newsletter Subscription Box to collect emails:
These are just some examples which when built altogether you can have a pretty decent ecommerce homepage.
And this is where you’ll ask me: “why shouldn’t I just copy ASOS?”
There are a lot of experts who have talked about the perfect ecommerce product page since it’s the most hot topic since 2020.
Personally, I hope that I won’t ever see product pages like that:
So I will begin with some nice references:
And I will continue with the elements & sections that I consider a must on the product page:
1. Buy Box
- Photos: There must be high-quality product photos both with white background and while in use. That way your visitors will understand how it’s working/looking. Let’s not forget that people tend to be convinced more visually than via text and manuals.
- Distinct title and price
- Call to Action (Add to Cart) that stands out
- A short bullet list or description with benefits
2. Benefits / Use Cases
Instead of a long and boring description – which in most cases looks like a wall of text – we always try to explain the benefits and which problems does the product solve.
Copywriting Tip: Our goal isn’t just to sell the product. Our goal is to sell the solution to our customers’ problem and make them feel nice and safe. We just want to sell what the customer wants to achieve offering him our product. For example:
🚫 We don’t sell shoes
✅ We sell comfort and style
🚫 We don’t sell an acne cream
✅ We sell clear skin without scars and pimples
🚫 We don’t sell a pillow
✅ We sell deep and restful sleep
With this in mind, we analyze and explain the benefits in our products.
The use of GIFs & Videos is recommended! As I mentioned above, the power of visual content is capable of convincing the visitor to buy if they are interested.
3. Reviews / Testimonials
It’s now mandatory to include real-life testimonials from past customers.
Due to a large number of competitors out there, more and more people are doing their own due diligence based on reviews before making the judgement call. People are trying to read real life stories from people who actually bought the item they want.
We see that happening a lot on Amazon.
Testimonials are a very fundamental and essential section on your product page since it is capable of eliminating any doubts your customers might have before buying.
Personally I would suggest collecting testimonials from your existing customers and import them into your product page.
A nice and useful app for Shopify is Stamped.
Hmm why do we mention features now? Don’t they need to be visible at the start?
There is a very obvious difference between benefits and features.
Features explain what the product is, whereas benefits explain the why. Why should you buy the product?
Well guess which one is more important?
The features are the points which explain the tech specs of the product (eg. material, battery, colour, etc.) where benefits explain how these features help the customer solve his/her problem and eventually improve his/her life.
Back in 2000s when all tech companies where bragging about the capacity/battery/speed of their mp3 players, the iPod ad looked like this:
You can read more about features vs benefits here.
5. FAQs & Policies
Last but not least, it’s important to include some frequently asked questions that help customers understand the nature of the product and inform them about shipping, returns and policies.
More specifically, it is quite useful to answer some reasonable questions that someone might have about the product: how it turns one, how is it used, how does it charge, etc.
Some questions that should be answered regarding your store and your policies are:
- How can I return the item?
- What’s the guarantee?
- How much does shipping cost?
- How many days till I receive my order?
These FAQs are basically “securing” a relationship of trust between you and your customer.
Upsell & Cross-sell
One of the most important KPIs that we improved on our website was the AOV (Average Order Value).
The difference might seem low but when you have a large number of orders (100+) this difference starts making sense since:
- Your net profit margin increases
- The costs are decreasing (shipping, ad spend etc.)
Having a better and higher AOV is a non-stop race since you have to be creative in order to find and create bundles and offers. Below we are mentioning some of the best placement scenarios for Cross-Selling & Upselling:
Volume Discount in the Product Page:
We use this to sell more than 2+ pieces of the same product but with a discount.
Bundle in the Product Page:
Our goal here is to create a nice bundle offer with products that look alike and can be sold together.
Cross-Sell on the Thank you Page
And why not, a last chance after someone completes their purchase!
Placements could also be:
- Popup in Cart Page
- Carousel of Items in Collection Page
- Banners & Carousel in Blog & Articles
- In the Search Results page
- … even in 404!
What can we upsell and cross-sell (examples and ideas):
- Similar products (eg thermometer-oximeter)
- Products from the same category
- Products we’ve seen them often bought together (maybe it’s time to do a little analysis)
- A better or more expensive product
- A bundle (e.g. Facial cleansing device + moisturizing cream)
- A small complimentary product (eg batteries for an electric device)
- Extra warranty (Service)
- Below are the apps I recommend (and have tested) for Upselling & Cross-Selling in Shopify:Priority shipping (Service)
Παρακάτω τα apps που προτείνω (και έχω δοκιμάσει) για Upselling & Cross-Selling σε Shopify:
- Bundle Bear for Volume Discount Offers and more
- PickyStory for Product Bundling
- Frequently Bought Together for Cross-Selling and more
- Limespot Personalizer for Cross-Selling in all placements
- Honeycomb Upsell Funnels for Popups
- HA: Upsell, Bundles,Cross‑Sell for unlimited Funnels (Upselling και Downselling)
And for WooCommerce, Thanasis (our lead developer) suggests:
Finally, let’s not talk about mobile. Duh, it’s 2022.
Chapter 2: Email Marketing
I will say it until the end of this world… if you’re missing out on email, you’re missing out on free money!
Email marketing is one of the most profitable channels ever!
Let’s begin with some 90 days results in 2021 and the account we’re talking about today:
Our email revenue is 11%.
In comparison to March 2021 which was at 3%:
As I’ve said in an older Case Study, there are 2 ways to monetize our email list:
- With Campaigns (aka Newsletters)
- With Flows (automated emails)
Let’s talk about Campaigns…
For many people and marketers out there, campaigns/newsletters are the mean to announce offers and sales. That’s why customers think they’re annoying or spammy. Well that’s wrong!
Sending email campaigns is a continuous and never-ending A/B testing until we maximise our results! A/B testing can be done:
- On subject lines to improve the Open Rate
- On the email content to improve the Click Rate
- On the audience to not only improve the above 2, but the Order Rate as well
- On time and days
Furthermore, when sending email campaigns you should never forget the fundamental rules of communication: speak to your customer with a serious yet friendly tone of voice and don’t try to force the sale! Show your customer what he wants to see. The days where we sent a spammy newsletter are long gone.
To achieve this, it’s very important to segment our list. You can (and must) segment your list in a lot of groups, like:
- Engagement Level
- Purchase History
- Funnel Stage
- Open & Click Rate
And these are just some examples.
In our case we not only A/B tested our audience but subject lines and content as well. Let’s see some examples and results (don’t mind the Greek language):
Test #1: Personalisation on the Subject Line
By addressing our client’s name in the Subject Line we have managed to improve not only the Open Rate but also the Click Rate & Order Rate.
Test #2: Text vs Images in Email Content
While we would have expected better results by making an introduction to our audience, in the end the textless version had a better performance. This particular test is the proof that my opinion doesn’t count, only the numbers!
Test #3: Product vs Collection in Content
The winner of this email battle was Collection! When advertised Collection vs a specific Product we saw a better click rate and apparently more orders!
So back to the original statement… email campaigns is just an endless A/B testing!
It’s too important to keep being organized when it comes to preparing and scheduling your campaigns. That’s why we used a simple calendar spreadsheet to prepare the campaigns and track our results as well.
Use our Email Calendar Template that we use.
My personally favourite part! Email Flows aka money on auto pilot!
Email flows once again proved to be a money-making channel for our business.
As you can see the revenue above is more than 17.000€ with a 0€ cost (ignoring the klaviyo fee ofc). This is a great source of revenue that was set up once and now runs on auto-pilot.
The most important flows are the following:
The perfect flow to recover abandoned carts! In this sequence we send an email reminder 2-3 times to people who almost completed their checkout. We can also offer a 10% discount to push them towards completing the sale.
How does this flow look?
It begins with an email reminder after 1 to 4 hours after abandoning the cart.
24 hours later, a 2nd email is sent including a 10% discount coupon so we can get the sale!
The concept and the implementation is simple: We offer a 15% discount to all new customers for their first order. This way we get to keep their emails plus we increase our revenue.
However, we do not send only 1 email but more so we can warm up our audience and get them to know our brand.
After the first email (the one that contains the coupon) we can send more emails that:
- Tell the story of how the brand was created in a personalized and friendly tone
- They include real-life testimonials from happy customers
- They undertake to educate the public about the products and solutions they provide
- Include blog posts to educate our audience
- Contain surveys for better segmentation etc.
This is where our chance to upsell & cross-sell is hiding!
Is there anything better than increasing our customers’ LTV by selling 2 or more times to the same customers.
We are already at the final stage of the Funnel where the customer has already trusted us and from then on he/she can buy again with almost 0 cost.
A post-purchase flow is not limited to this goal only but for several others as well:
- Educating your audience on the use of the product
- Sending Surveys to collect data
- Collecting Testimonials
- Referrals to grow your audience for free via word of mouth (check Viral Loops)
One more powerful flow which can turn a visitor into a customer in case he is doubtful.
In the Browse Abandonment flow the emails are sent to people who just saw a product (without adding it to the cart) and our goal here is to eliminate any doubt about the product.
Ways that this can be done:
- To explain the essential benefits of the product
- By adding a time-sensitive offer
- Apply scarcity tactics (e.g. Limited Supply)
Chapter 3: Google Ads
Google is a channel that once again showed its power. We moved on to a very effective strategy by activating Google Shopping Ads in combination with GSN ads.
Let’s begin with results and then we shall proceed to a further analysis.
Beginning from August until November we had:
Total Cost: €11.2k
Total Orders: approximately 1.600
Cost per Acquisition (CPA): €5
which equals to a total ROAS of 3,33
Google Shopping for those who don’t know are the image carousels that appear primarily in search results but also across the Google network.
The way it works is to display products related to the user’s search, thus helping conversions in a visual way.
Since the business hadn’t ran Google Shopping Ads before we implemented Smart Shopping Ads.
- Google has a very large and powerful ad display network and super-enough data so that with AI it finds the appropriate placement and maximizes the conversion value.
- 4 channels are used: Search, Display, YouTube and Gmail. So our ads play everywhere.
- We preferred to let Google set up automatically: biddings, targeting, negative keywords, placements and remarketing.
Differences between Smart Shopping vs Standard Shopping Ads are:
- Advantages: Smart Shopping Ads need little to no intervention from us as Google takes over the bid strategy and optimizes the campaign through AI.
- Disadvantages: As we do not have absolute control for optimization the period until ROAS improves is quite long. Especially when the list of products is large.
- In conclusion: It is recommended to use it on a large product catalog where there are already 50+ conversions made to help the optimization process. An increased budget will help.
At this point let me add that patience is a virtue, as results can be seen after 2+ weeks. We are not here for a sprint but for a marathon.
- Start gradually increasing the budget to keep CPA & ROAS stable.
- Exclude SKUs that do not bring results.
UPDATE: Google is officially removing Shopping Ads and replacing them with Google Max Camapigns.
GSN (Google Search Network)
Our strategy here evolved even further.
Apart from the GSN campaigns that we implemented based on a keyword research και competition analysis, we proceeded to one more strategy:
Since the Smart Shopping campaign started collecting data and bringing sales, we used this data to see which products sell well. We then created specific GSN campaigns for these particular products.
This way we “naturally” scaled the products in order to maximise conversions.
Chapter 4: SEO
SEO could not be absent from our strategy! What is better than sales with 0€ CPA;
In a previous ecommerce case study we analyzed extensively the methods we follow when it comes to SEO. So this time, I won’t deep dive rather than show you the step-by-step process.
Let’s begin with some results and then we dive into the analysis.
We started doing SEO in July. Before this month our results were looking like this:
- 400-600 organic users / month
- Approx. 30 orders / month
But from August and on we had:
- 1000 users / month (100% increase)
- 55+ orders / month
Als, as seen in Ahrefs, the number of organic keywords has clearly improved over time:
We began our SEO plan by executing a preliminary audit in which we checked:
- Technical: Speed, Sitemap, SILO structure, Errors etc.
- Organic Keywords
- Content: Duplicates, descriptions etc.
More specifically we focused on:
⚡️ Speed: In Shopify, our capabilities are not the same as those of other CMS as we do not have access to servers, caching, etc. However, we can very easily do image optimization and choose a theme that loads quickly and uses resources correctly.
🔍 Organic Keywords: Since we started with a minimal number of keywords (less than 20) our strategy here was to reverse-engineer the competitors’s SEO strategy. Using Ahrefs, we downloaded a list of the competitors’ organic keywords – which are keywords for which the website is found in the search results. We studied their performance and completed a large part of the keyword research.
Our methods do not change, they evolve!
Using Ahrefs and Google Keyword Planner we did a detailed Keyword Research to find buying-intent keywords.
To make our lives easier we created a list with:
- Products + URL
- Search Volume
- Secondary Keywords
Use the Template we created for free.
So in our strategy we used exactly the keywords that had a good performance among the competitors.
Let’s discuss a more important matter regarding SEO.
As I initially stated, the 3 things you need to have in order to make sales are:
- A Good Product (PM fit)
- Funnel & Offer
And they are all equally important! Since we made sure that our products are appealing and found the audience, it was time to craft our content, and more specifically the product descriptions.
In an era that competition can crush you like an ant and consumers do a very detailed research before buying, the content on the website can have a drastic impact on the conversion rate.
In chapter 1 we analysed the structure of a high-converting product page. More specifically though I will explain what makes a description that sells:
- Title: Make sure to include an above-the-fold title to introduce your product. Write a problem-solution sentence including your main keyword. For example: “Improve your sleep with the anatomical “Ultimate Pillow” and sleep like a bird”
- 1-3 descriptive sentences: Explain what is the product, what is it used for and whom is it for. For example: “The fluffy and anatomical Ultimate Pillow is made from memory foam which helps spine and neck alignment while relieving stress on your body. The Ultimate Pillow is the ideal choice for those with neck or back problems”
- Benefits: Create a bullet list with 2-4 benefits that explain what the consumer will gain if he uses the product. We basically list the reasons for them to buy it. For example:
– It offers excellent sleep quality
– Prevents and relieves neck and back pain
– Aligns the neck and spine
- Use Cases: Enlist the steps that are needed to operate the product. For example:
1. Open the package and put on the cover
2. Place the pillow under the neck
3. Clean it every 2 weeks
- Features: Note down on a bullet list the products’ tech specs, eg. dimensions, material etc
- What’s included: Write down what is included in the package so that the customer knows.
- Testimonials: Include 2-5 testimonials from past customers.
How we crafted a description that stands out:
- We avoided mainstream descriptions (eg excellent quality) and instead explained the features as benefits. (eg light & soft memory foam pillow)
- We used “vivid” words that can explain a true feature (eg. soft pillow)
- We used bullet lists
- We used bold words
Even though I believe Shopify has a lot to catch up in terms of SEO – compared to WordPress – there are a lot of useful apps. The app we used is Avada SEO for Schema, Sitemap, image alt tags etc.
If you’re using WooCommerce then you should probably check out RankMath which has quite a lot capabilities, a large community and an exceptional developers team.
One more thing…
Trying to overcome the Facebook attribution issue I came up with some 3rd party apps that help a lot solve the problem:
- EasyAutoTagging – helps a lot with UTM tagging the ads
- [Advanced] Elevar – for fully tagging your events via Google Tag Manager
- HYROS – very good AI event tracking attribution tool but quite expensive for SMBs (We use this)
- WickedReports – quite worthy but also expensive
Ecommerce is an industry that is rapidly growing year after year and so does ecommerce marketing. No matter the issues that come up, we need to be taking decisions fast or else we get left behind.
The change that came with Facebook and iOS 14.5 showed us that change is inevitable and an omnichannel presence is mandatory!
After our journey and after a lot of implementation and testing we managed to make our traffic look like this:
For sure, by increasing the traffic from other channels we had a drop in the Conversion Rate. Personally, I prefer a lower conversion rate but more “legs”.