In 2011, I thought I would like to start a business where you don't have to hear the customer say no, where you only hear the customer say yes. Previously, I had founded brick and mortar fine jewelry stores and then I became an executive coach with Vistage. Hearing a customer say no was always difficult.
If I were going to start a business where I didn't hear the customer say no, I knew it needed to be an internet business. So all I would "hear," or more accurately, see would be YES's from the customers. I remember the first time I received a notice on my cell phone from Shopify that I had sold a pair of hoop earrings, I did the happy dance in the streets of Philadelphia where I was walking from the bus to my home office. It still gives me the very same thrill.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
I decided I was going to do "guerrilla marketing," meaning spend as little as possible. So I didn't do google ad words or respond to any of the companies who told me for a price they would guarantee first page google search. I decided to try to grow organically.
I began a newsletter via MailChimp (free) and entered 3-400 contact names including friends, family, and business associates. I began to send weekly newsletters with either featured earrings around topics like Christmas or anniversaries, or I featured human interest stories, for instance, a reunion with my childhood friends on the farm I grew up on or the time my jewelry was stolen from my carry on bag at the airport. I opened a FB page (free) and began posting hoop earring choices twice a week there as well as posting our newsletter stories. We began a blog on our site, featuring celebrities spotted wearing hoop earrings, and many articles on how to wear and care for hoop earrings.
We posted some of those on our FB page. We sent hoop earrings to bloggers who promised to make a review of our site and our products. We got featured by Corporette, a very well-read blog on fashion for professionals in the first 6 months of our business, which gave us a spike. Then in October 2013, Coastal Living magazine found us and featured us in their magazine in "What's in Your Beach Bag?" We sold many of those particular hoops they chose to feature. Shortly afterwards, we noticed we were organically on the first page of search for sterling silver, yellow gold, AND white gold endless or continuous hoop earrings! We have over 1000 different styles of hoops on our site, yet most of the ones we are selling are continuous ones! The simplest, most traditional look that is still strongly in fashion!
Now we target a lot of our marketing efforts toward selling endless hoops to all the women looking for them. Our mission is "Adorning women everywhere with beautiful hoop earrings."
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
I love checking my Shopify dashboard almost every day. I look at what my total sales are for the day, the week, the month, and for the past 90 days. I do a quick mental calculation as to what the average sales per day are in each time category and it gives me a mental snap shot of how we are doing.
I offer a standing discount to existing clients. I now have a separate mailing list to send specials and articles to my customers, rather than the general mailing list culled from my family, friends, and business associates. I recently began using their reporting of key word/phrase searches to help create my blogs. I just decided to bring my credit card processing to Shopify because I like how they don't "fee me to death." They keep it simple and seem to design things in their business from the customer's perspective.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Build a beautiful site with a lot of white space, don't junk it up, make the buying decision-making process as simple as possible for your customers, treat them like gold from the moment they place their order until you check in with them after they have received it.
Always remember how important they were to you when you first began your business and continue to act the same way toward them as the years go by. Have a sense of urgency, give them a little wow, and treat them the way you would want to be treated.