NCO

Launch of Selling Online Basics E-guide, thanks #BNBT

The idea of creating this E-guide started when I switched from our desktop ecommerce software to the online software Ecwid (Ecommerce Widgets) for our retail secure webshop (still IMHO one of the better decisions we made).

Until recently this idea just sat on the back-burner. It wasn't until I started watching and writing about BBC's Britain's Next Best Thing (#bnbt) I realised how needed this simple guide really was. The show on fledgling designers and many mumpreneurs made me truly aware of how many other start-ups, work-from-home-persons, I-have-an-idea-lets-build-a-website youngsters and semi-retired baby boomers could be around.

6a00d8341c660f53ef015432677dfe970c-pi

What BNBT also showed us (me in any case) is how little aware many still are on free online programs they can use to start an Ecommerce Venture without having to break the bank and/or without having to know in-depth knowledge of software. You don't have to wait til a high street retailer decides to stock your product before you can start selling, nor do you have to dress down your product or idea to accommodate high street retailers desired purchase price. Just launch the darn product!

So thank you, #BNBT of kicking me into higher gear and finish the "darn" thing in double quick time:

The basics, right here

6a00d8341c660f53ef014e888803d9970d-pi

There are more Ecommerce sites being launched every single day than there are premises being opened for "old-fashion" retail outlets. More and more articles, blog-posts, magazine and even books are written on the rising tide of businesses selling products online. But none, or very few, will hand you the simple steps to launch your own Ecommerce site.

This guide will.

No need for:

  • an existing email address
  • an existing website
  • an existing webshop
  • PDQ equipment (to handle incoming payments)
  • an existing money-pot to pay for software to start selling online

All you need is:

  • your product, even if it is just one single product, be it digital or physical
  • internet access
  • passion about your product(s)
  • some writing skills to pass on your passion to your prospects
  • this guide

This guide is for:

  • work-at-home people with a ready product, by it digital or physical
  • existing start-ups without a foot in the door of existing retailers
  • hobbyist planning to turn their hobby into a sustainable income
  • people from 16 years old (due to some age limits software companies have implemented) to lively and entrepreneurial pensioners
  • anyone already using PayPal's "buy now" buttons or PayPal shopping cart and who finds this too limiting
  • anyone who knows their (new) product will excite others
  • anyone just wanting to empty their attic or garden shed but don't like Ebay
  • anyone without html coding knowledge, seo knowledge, web-design knowledge
  • anyone who wants to start selling online in one single day (half a day even)

It will hand you the online tools to start selling, it does not promise you'll be rich within a day - or a week, it's a tool guide, not a "get-rich-quick" scheme.

Who am I to write this guide?

Together with my partner I run an independent specialised retail business, he does the installation of the quality wooden flooring I sell. Besides the selling of our products through our showroom I manage our website, blog, ecommerce site and all other web marketing. Single-handedly - without an IT department, without an IT manager, even without an IT background or college grade.

However, I only use software programs that comes with an excellent customer support, be it with their documentation, training videos or email support. Some even come with their own users forum or twitter account for instant help.

The four online software programs (all award winning software) I will be discussing in this guide are free, and still have superb support available. Why? Because 3 of these programs have fee-paying account levels too. It's the principle of these companies to help you out from the start and they make no difference if you pay for your account or have a free account. Simply said: they hope you will love using their program so much you eventually become a paying customer once you realise how many more benefits a higher account level can give you. That's how I got to know all the ins and outs of the programs in this guide and on most I'm now a fee paying customer.
But for starters, the free versions are all you need to get started selling online.

The fourth free program is quite different, it has related programs - some free, some "pay-as-you-go" - you might become interested in later. The fifth essential online program you need is one of the so-called "pay-when-you-sell", no fees upfront or fixed monthly contribution.

Because of managing the webmarketing "single-handedly", I started to see/learn/experience how programs can be combined to become bigger than their own parts. None of these programs on its own will give you a complete ecommerce site, but by cleverly combining them you'll have absolutely everything you need to start selling your product or products online. Since more and more online software programs are able to "talk" to each other the combining (or linking them together) has become easier than ever.

This guide will focus on how to sell your product online as simple, quickly and easy as possible. It is therefore not an in-depth guide on all four individual programs. The title of this guide is called "Selling Online Basics" for a reason, it gives you instantly what you need to get the basics to start selling your product/products online. Later on you can dive into the single programs yourself to see what else they can do, but the "basics" is all you need for the moment. And all of these basics are covered in this guide.

So, what's in the guide?

  • An introduction to all the programs you need, the reason(s) why you can start with the free version (if applicable) and how to upgrade to a higher account level of the programs (if applicable for you).
  • A logical sequence of opening accounts for the free version of the online software programs you're going to use for your Ecommerce site (online presence).
  • Step by step screen shots of what you will see and need to do during the opening of these accounts
  • Extra information on the programs, but only if and when relevant to the essence of Selling Online Basics
  • How to combine/link the programs together into one effective working Ecommerce presence without the need to enter data all over again in separate programs.
  • An "if you already have..." per chapter, giving you shortcuts for the whole process
  • An extensive reference section for additional tactics and advice at the end of the guide to help you become a successful ecommerce business. (Remember, this guide only covers the online "basics" - but all of the basics you need.)

This guide starts on the premise of not having any the tools yet. Some tools, such as an email address, everyone might already have in place. Then still, it might be very handy, for a one-off product for instance or testing a brand new range, to sign up with the free version of the online tool discussed in this guide.

It's the simple combination power between the programs which makes the whole selling online process so simple and effective!

Karin H - proprietor of 1 Plus 1 Makes 3, managing director Wood You Like Ltd


When wood turns digital

Since I took (roughly 4 years ago) the first feeble steps into web design and web marketing I've had Statcounter embedded in every page I've made to track web statistics.
(Some say I should work more with Google analytics and don't ask me why but I constantly loose my way in the Google reporting, so although Google is tracking my websites too I still prefer to check "my Statcounter" on a daily base).

The beauty of a system like Statcounter is that you see which keywords or key phrases are used most at one point in time. When you check these on a regular base you will start to notice trends in what your web visitors are in to.

A few months ago I noticed an increase in the phrases and words about repairing/restoring design parquet floors (at that time the 'credit-crunch' started to lift its ugly head a bit higher and 'don't move - improve' started to become the new buzz-word). When you - like me - manage your own website (with or without the help of a blog-platform) you are then in the ideal position to write more dedicated pages or articles on the very subject that is so sought after.

Which (of course) I did: two new wood-guides appeared on our informative website dedicated to the repair and/or maintenance of original parquet floors.
And hardly in no time at all did one of them become the most popular and most frequently found as entry page of our whole 'static' website (including our webshops and FAQ & News site our web presence now counts 311 pages - 'only' 60 of them built in Dreamweaver).

In the guide I'd listed products we use and recommend with links to our new secure webshop and slowly we saw an increase in online orders for those particular products.

In my mind the only things missing was how to entice those reading the wood guide to become a subscriber to any of our AWeber (aff) email lists? Last week I thought I'd found the perfect solution: turn the whole context of the guide into a handy and printable PDF-file anyone interested in this could request through an AWeber webform.

Using one of my favourite simple software programs, ScreenSteps (aff) the PDF wood guide started to gain even more 'work-in-progress' pictures and more elaborate tips on how to do this or that when repairing a rediscovered design parquet floor. And with one click of the button it was exported as a perfect Ebooklet (PDF-file), ready to be attached to the first follow-up message of my new AWeber email list.

Until I mentioned this 'project' to my good friend who immediately took it one simple step further: put a price on it and sell it. Now don't take me wrong, he nor I are greedy persons looking to squeeze every penny/pence out of everyone who comes looking for information - far from that.
This simple step further is based on perceived value: turning information into knowledge or as Ed Rivis would say: Shrink Wrap Your Brain.(aff)

So I added more to the 'digital wood product' (another PDF on cleaning and maintaining your design parquet floor, our maintenance leaflet, our report "Things not to expect of your wooden floor, and even our first Ebooklet - which we sell also - "The Benefits and Advantages of Natural Wooden Flooring" and designed two new pages on our static website with images of and info on wood species mostly used in those original parquet floors), decided on the price and combined Paypal to turn AWeber in the delivery vehicle of our first digital wood product.

Ecover7steps (And Saturday I found myself another - about to become another of my favourite - simple pieces of software Quick 3D Cover)

Launched the whole new Ebooklet concept with all those extras added to it this Monday and low and behold: within 4 days the first order has come in ;-)

Now I know that's nothing world-chocking to some of you who are used to earning 6 to 7 digit figures during a 'launch' - I'm taken my own pace and am very comfortable with the formula we are using to build trust with our prospects in this simple and effective way.

For us, as a NCO - New Customers Only - business, in rather economical difficult times it is becoming even more essential to find ways to 'copy' the non-NCO businesses "tactics": offering a first trust building item that turns a prospect into a client to start that all important life-time value.

And since that is very hard to do with real wooden floors (free trial?) we are turning wood into digital products.

(And it is fun to do too.)


The Problem with "New Customers Only"

No matter which Business Advice book you read eventually they all tell you to concentrate on repeat orders to keep your business cash-healthy and growing. More and more I see the terms: Front-End and Back-End sales (or purchases) creeping up.
There are now two types of sales: Front-End (to new clients you have managed to find) and Back-End (selling more items, more frequent and for higher prices to your existing clients).

Or in other words:

Front-End = customer acquisition
Back-End = lifetime value

Last week I finished reading Richard Lomax's "The 7 secrets of Highly Effective Marketing" - not yet available from amazon.co.uk, only from his own "common-sense-marketing" website after going through the IMHO most ineffective extremely long landing-page I've seen recently, and I don't really understand why he keeps sending me emails to encourage me to buy the book and get 7 FREE marketing reports with it when I'm one of the first 100 buyers of his book?!?! He's not practising what he's preaching in free report 2: "How To Avoid The Six Most Common, Deadly Sins Of Sales Communication" - but that's beside the point now).

Anyway, back to the subject on hand: back-end versus front-end sales, marketing and strategies.

Richard Lomax states (pages 100-101, secret #6):

"The critical step at the front-end is to make it so absolutely irresistible for a targeted new customer or client to buy from you for their very first time, that they find it impossible NOT TO.

The back-end purchases are where the true profit and growth potential of your business really lies. So how do you go about achieving a powerful Front-End customer acquisition strategy?
Instead of offering your complete, normal product or service in the first instance, think of how you can make just one aspect or facet of segment of your offering available for a fraction of the normal price.

Don't focus on making your maximum income at the front-end.

Be content to gain new customers on a minimal margin or for free on a break-even basis"

Let's look at this from a printing company point of view: offering to print business cards with a 50% discount to any new qualified lead. If successful and done with grate care and great overall service a business will be over the moon and decide to have its letterheads printed by the same printing company (at normal rate of course). Then follows the envelops with logo, complimentary slips, the yearly Christmas cards with logo and seasonal wishes, one-off marketing projects, company brochure etc in the following years.

Or in other words: 50% discount on a small item (and business cards aren't the most expensive stationery you will ever buy) turns a qualified lead in a loyal client for an average lifetime of 5 years. So a true statement? The chart below does indicate so.

Chartpc

Now lets look at it from what I've come to call a NCO' - "New Customers Only" business - point of view, great example our own company: wooden flooring.

Chart below shows our standard life-time value build-up per average customer:

Chartnco

Don't focus on making your maximum income at the front-end?

Wooden flooring is a definite NCO - our maximum income does come from the Front-End first purchase of a converted qualified lead. We can't be content with a minimal margin or to just break-even on that first purchase.
And we're absolutely not an unique business.

What's your type of business: Front-End or Back-End based? I really would like to know the following of all NCO's:

How do you look at all those plentiful highly effective marketing strategy books, blogs, article, reports etc that all seem to focus on Back-End businesses?

Tell me right here in the comment box, please!


When web marketing ideas pop-up (or over)

Edrivirsbookcover_2 Last week I mentioned The Ultimate Web Marketing Strategy written by Ed Rivis and about to be available as hard-copy. Ed's book (and blog) is filled with effective web marketing ideas anyone who has some knowledge of IT and/or web marketing software can implement straight away.
Like I did with one of his tips (from his blog, even before I received the PDF-file of his book).

90% of our yearly turnover is generated from new clients, only 10% comes from existing clients (buying small extra items like maintenance products and very rarely - still - a whole new floor). That's the type of business, trade we are in: 'cos how many quality natural wooden floors do you need in a year - or in 5 years?

Now, marketing statistics tell us that is takes 7 times more effort to find a new customer/client than keeping an existing one. The same statistics also tell us that on average you'll have to send around 7 - 10 marketing messages to a prospect before he/she turns into a customer/client. Being in a what I've started to call a "New Customer Only" trade means it is of utmost importance to reach as many prospects as you can and to start a conversation with them as soon as possible.

Offering specific information is a way to do this, using an informative website. That's one message delivered. In order to be able to deliver a sequence of messages to a prospect you need their details: nowadays an email address is a good starter. Since last October our informative website has AWever webforms embedded on specific pages to do just that: we give you information in return of a small favour: you give us your name and email address so we can keep you informed with our monthly newsletter after we have emailed you the specific information you requested.

Until this month on average 1 prospect per week subscribed this way. Since this month this has increased to almost 1 a day! An increase of 700%
6 more prospects per week who have shown interest in our products and services and who we, by keeping the conversation alive with for them interesting and specific information, must try to convert into customers/clients. The odds of converting 1 out of 10 prospects is much easier when the number of prospects is growing.

And all it took to increase this number of prospects were two small changes in the "subscribe to our newsletter" webform.

The first change was our offer of free gift to all new subscribers - our E-booklet "The Advantages and Benefits of Natural Wooden Flooring" - normal price £ 3.97

Popover recipeThe second change was to add a pop-over webform (only once per visitor - but on four different and popular pages - three of them also showing the normal static subscribe option).
And as it turns out, the pop-over is responsible for the most new subscribers.
(I had to overcome my own aversion towards pop-overs, but as so often it proves that personal 'taste' is just that, 'personal')

Small changes, terrific results - now 'all' we have to do is keep them engaged in the conversation.

One idea down - many more to go.