"ecommerce
Yesterday, we invited Jordan Skole to answer your questions about ecommerce marketing via Facebook Live.
Half a dozen questions later, we had some insights we knew were worth sharing. You can watch the full, half-hour Ask Me Anything on our Facebook page (and we highly recommend you do)—but we’ve also distilled the answers into the key takeaways you can find here.

Tell us a little bit about your ecommerce store

I started my store because I wanted to learn more about how ActiveCampaign works for ecommerce businesses.
When we started working on the ActiveCampaign deep data integration, I realized that I wanted to have a better understanding of ecommerce. I really wanted to understand the ecommerce persona, to see the “behind the scenes” of ecommerce.
I’ve always worked in SaaS but admired ecommerce, and I think there’s a ton of opportunity for people who have a traditional brick and mortar store to take parts of their business online and reach a new audience.
Starting my store was a way to learn more about ecommerce and experiment with ActiveCampaign. The store became away to play around with our integrations and get a better understanding of our customers.
In my store, I sell NASA merchandise. We got approved to use the NASA logo, so we sell t-shirts and hats, and sourced a high quality print supplier to sell some fine art prints as well.

What are some of the tools you recommend for starting an ecommerce store?

For your ecommerce hub, you have a few options. I personally chose Shopify, but I know people who love WooCommerce and BigCommerce as well.
The big thing for me was learning that Shopify was more than just an ecommerce store—it’s really a hub for the whole business. I use it to offer products on Amazon and other channels, and to manage my inventory.
Of course, I use ActiveCampaign to manage all my emails, abandoned cart reminders, and automations. I also use one of our integrations partners, ConvertFlow, to put together forms, landing pages, personalized CTAs, and remind people of the coupon codes and perks that are available to them.
For advertising, I’ve had some success running some traditional Google Adwords keywords. I found that AdWords was pretty successful for me, but took a lot of time to manage.
Because I do this as a side project, I moved from keyword-based ads to to Google Product Listing ads. Those don’t do quite as well as the keyword ads, but they take much less time to manage.
I do some retargeting on Facebook, but haven’t had a ton of success with it—I know there are other stores that have had much more success.
Finally, I use Google Analytics and Amplitude to track what people are doing on my website.
In all, here are the tools I use:

  • Shopify
  • ActiveCampaign
  • Convertflow
  • Google AdWords
  • Google Product Listing
  • Google Analytics
  • Amplitude

If you’re just getting started, you could start out with Shopify/BigCommerce/WooCommerce, ActiveCampaign, Google Analytics (free), and one of the ways to drive traffic to your store.

Was it a huge time commitment to get the store up and running?

At first it wasn’t a time commitment at all, but then I really got the bug.
When you get the first taste of success you can really get sucked in. It became my Sudoku—I was just always playing with it and optimizing it.
And it’s really fun to be out and about and get text notifications that someone just put in an order.
I’d say right now I spend about an hour a week on it. I think I could get up to around 5 hours a week and I could improve my sales a bit, and it probably took me about 200 hours to set everything up in the beginning.

How do you build a loyal customer base that keeps coming back?

I spend a lot of time thinking about this.
As marketers we talk a lot about customer acquisition cost. But it’s a lot cheaper to get people to make the second purchase than it is to get people to purchase the first time.
Getting that repeat purchase is really crucial for a business that’s successful in the long term. So I spend a lot of time working on my email and automation to keep business coming from existing customers.
For example, one thing I need to do right now is work on switching the site over from highlighting cold weather gear to the summer stuff, and send an email letting people know that tank tops are on sale.
At my store I sometimes actually lose money on the initial purchase—but I have a few higher margin and higher satisfaction products that I can offer once I’ve built my list.

Do you do a lot of coupon codes in your emails?

I do a blend of coupons and other emails. I don’t really have the margins for coupon codes on some of my products, but I think a lot about complementary products.
If someone is interested in a t-shirt in a particular style, I can follow up and let them know that I also have a NASA crew neck or hat in that same style—which are higher margin products.

How can you get a nice looking site or product photos if you aren’t a web designer?

Great, great question. I’m pretty comfortable with development, but I’m not great at the design side of things. When I was first getting started (in my career), I really wanted everything to be bespoke, to be customized.
These days I pretty much go and buy a theme. I do a little customization, but I don’t have a problem getting something off the shelf.
When I spent $200 on a premium theme, I noticed my conversion rates significantly increase. If you think what not having that high-converting theme was costing me, it makes a lot of sense to spring for the theme.
You’re essentially outsourcing the development and design, and you still get to add your own touch.

Do you segment your persona marketing by demographic cohort, and what marketing advice would you give for effective segmentation?

For my store, I don’t necessarily look at demographics for segmentation. You can infer taste from demographics, but you can also guess wrong. You can’t necessarily say “this person is a millennial, so they’re going to want a nice hat.”
I think about complementary products. It’s like this—if I see someone buying cookies I’ll sell them milk, and if I see them buying macaroni I’ll sell them cheese.
When someone buys one of my products, that gives me a sense of what else they might be interested in. What else do people who get the product usually buy? I can segment based on that information to make a targeted offer.

Do you have any abandoned cart best practices to share?

Get email addresses fast.
With abandoned carts, you don’t really know your contact until you collect an email address. You can’t follow up until you’ve got their information, so I would say do what you can to collect that email address as early as possible.
The biggest way to collect email address is to use a modal on your website—you see a lot of big brands do this, offering a coupon in exchange for an email address.
If you want to be a bit more sophisticated, you can wait for someone to add a product to their cart and then have that trigger a pop-up for exit intent—so when they go to close out the page, the pop-up triggers and asks them for their email.
The more emails I collect, the more abandoned carts I can recover.

Have you made much use of the Facebook Custom Audiences integration?

I have, but unfortunately not with my ecommerce store. You really need to have a certain number of people for that to be effective, and the audience I’m working with just isn’t large enough to make that profitable.
But that’s just my store—I’ve seen a lot of people have a lot of success with them.
I think Facebook Custom Audiences can be great for ecommerce stores, especially if you use them to offer a complementary product or announce seasonal sales. It’s great because you can only send people so many emails, but you can continually reach them on Facebook.

Can you provide any examples of tripwire techniques that ActiveCampaign can support?

Very tactically, there are a couple of things you can do.
When you build a form, you have the ability to redirect them to a page. You can put an ActiveCampaign personalization tag in the URL of the page you direct them to. If you have, say, a drop-down with three choices, you can redirect them to the page that’s relevant to the choice they made.
So if they select “t-shirts” instead of “posters,” you can redirect them straight to your t-shirts page.
The other thing is that if a contact visits the first page in a funnel, you can follow up with emails that match the content on the page to keep drawing them into your site. ActiveCampaign’s site tracking can help you automate a lot of that process.

How can someone get feedback on their ecommerce store?

When I created my store I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I joined a few ecommerce Facebook groups. People post their stores for feedback there, and you can get a lot of direct feedback from people that way.
After that, I really wanted to meet with people face to face. So we looked for a Shopify meetup in Chicago, didn’t find one, and decided to organize it. And now we’ve got a meetup a couple times a month—there are a lot of people that have created great stores and are willing to share.
Sitting down with someone in person and asking “what are three things I can do to improve my conversion rate” is so important. Instead of saying “look at my score,” ask people for very specific feedback to try and achieve a really specific goal.
Once you have feedback, I would put together a little hypothesis—and test! Make a statement like “if I change this button color to orange, my conversion rate will increase.” Then see if it’s true and learn from there.