If you’re involved with eCommerce, whether you are an independent store owner or a part of a bigger brand, you have certainly come across Andrew Youderian’s eCommerce Fuel podcast. eCommerce Fuel is the leading podcast for small to mid size eCommerce stores and boasts over 30,000 downloads a month. Andrew, an eCommerce store owner himself based out of Montana, hosts leading eCommerce professionals to discuss topics from customer service to running Google AdWords campaigns. It’s an amazing wealth of entrepreneurship inspiration as well as master classes for running a successful online business.
This year Andrew and his team hosted their first conference, eCommerce Fuel Live, for independent store owners right here in Austin, Texas. The Video Review Labs crew are avid eCommerce Fuel fans and active forum members so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet with eCommerce store owners and learn from some of the best. Keynote speakers included Eric Bandholz of BeardBrand, Ezra Firestone of Smart Marketer, Brandon Eley of TwoBigFeet, and Bill D’Alessandro of Rebel CEO.
Video Review Labs co-founders Charlie Rall and Eric Winchester led a breakout session on Selling through Visual Commerce. We discussed the value in publishing your own video content as an eCommerce store owners and gave some tips to a few owners who wanted to experiment with producing their own product videos back home.
There was an immense amount of great knowledge and tips as we rubbed elbows with indie store owners from all over the globe, but we distilled it down to our top three takeaways.
1. Pick the social channels that make sense for your brand
Social media is a huge undertaking for an independent store owner who is already trying to juggle multiple roles in the business. You’re trying to push content, start conversations, and respond to customer feedback across multiple social platforms.
Eric Bandholz, founder of BeardBrand, may have said it best during his keynote: “Social media is a boat”. You board the boat with a destination in mind, but your audience is steering the journey whichever route the deem fit. Publishing content can feel risky as you want to make sure it’s taking your business the right direction online, especially if you are working with a third party social media manager or agency.
Bandholz gave us a breakdown of where his top traffic comes from across his different social channels. The key to engage your customers online is to consistently provide value. Don’t simply publish sales or redeemable rewards content. Give them something entertaining and educational. Identify the channels that work for your brand. It’s better to have high quality, focused content across a few channels than trying to cover all the bases over every social channel available.
2. Own your niche
“Dropshipping is dead.” Those were some painful words to hear from Bill D’Alessandro. True, the margins are lower when dropshipping products and dropshippers have the toughest competitor of all, Amazon. But is the business model dead? Bill emphasized the importance of building a brand whether you are a dropshipper, manufacturer, or buying a pre-existing online shop. Consumers are surely always looking for the best price, but they are also trying to find the best value. Creating a great eCommerce experience backed with educational content provides a lot more value to your customers than Amazon ever will. Creating content and positioning your brand as a thought leader and resource for your customers is inexpensive, but generates a ton of power long term in your niche online.
3. Know your customers
“People don’t fail at media buying. They fail at targeting.” Ezra Firestone of Smart Marketer summed up the way independent store owners utilize Facebook advertising pretty well. Brands pump tens of thousands of dollars into their Facebook advertising every month as it can fetch a pretty great return on getting new customers to their site. The key to make Facebook advertising really work for your brand is to thoroughly understand your customer base.
Facebook advertising provides tools to narrowly target your ad reach down to things like annual income, geographic location, and interests. Utilizing the data from your site as well as insight gathered from your personal interaction with customers will help you get to know who is buying your products online and grow your reach to as many of the right people as possible.
eCommerce Fuel Live was an amazing experience. If you are involved with eCommerce either as an independent store owner or as a service provider then you need to be on the eCommerce Fuel forum and make it out to the conference next year. It’s the best place for practical eCommerce knowledge and best practices as well as home to an amazing community of entrepreneurs.