Originally published on BetterMarketing
Before I begin, I will not be sharing the real name of the brand as I do not own this brand. All the screenshots below are, however, real. I have been managing the brand since my company acquired it.
Study the Business Model
Let me start with some introduction of the brand. We’ll call it “XYZ.” (I swear I’m more creative than this!) XYZ sells digital design assets. Think of it as stock photos, fonts, design elements, etc. Everything is created in-house and has a unique style that customers recognize.
When we acquired it, XYZ came with a freebie section that was used to accumulate traffic. Naturally, they had Google AdSense. (The $3K or $19K revenue does not include the AdSense revenue.)
The original owners had the website set up on WordPress and WooCommerce. They used the regular add-ons and marketing tools everyone does when starting out. We’re talking MailChimp, AffiliateWP plugin, Yoast, etc.
Break Down the Revenue
The number I’m sharing with you, $3,000, was mainly made through selling commercial-use licensing for the digital assets. Basically, you pay if you want to use it for commercial purposes or download it for free for personal use.
This website had the potential to grow. And how did I know that? How can you know that?
The original owners of XYZ made a Facebook group to share their handmade work with people. This community grew over time, and always organically. It wasn’t that big, but it was full of people who liked what XYZ was creating. Now mind you, a majority of them were non-paying customers.
Even though XYZ did not have a unique product, they do have a unique style. Think H&M and Forever 21. Both sell clothes of similar pricing, but both have a unique sense of style and image. One may resonate with you while the other one may not.
Everything they shared on their website was handmade, and that means that sometimes they made mistakes. But these were quickly rectified. They also had good customer support and small business appeal.
Tons of free stuff
Well, who doesn’t like the girl who brings cupcakes for everyone some Fridays?
So what did I do next?
SUBSCRIBE FOR A FREE GUIDE ABOUT ALL THE TOOLS YOU NEED FOR YOUR BRAND
I think the original owners of XYZ were not very marketing-savvy, or they didn’t think they could maximize their revenue. Their website had a lot of leaks, wasted opportunities. So I implemented the following (in nearly this order).
I realized that the subscription box was not very clear and prominent. Fewer than a hundred people were subscribing each day. There was no exit intent, no lead magnet, no toolbar pop-up. Absolutely nothing. Just one tiny embedded form right in the footer.
Rarely does anyone scroll that far.
I made sure it’s not annoying and appeared only once each session. I kept using MailChimp (I know, I know!) because it’s a process. The pop-up had one image with clear CTA, name field, and email. That’s it.
This increased our monthly subscribers by 900% instantly. The total number of subscribers increased three times in three short months. Today, one year and four months later, the subscribers have increased from 25K to 170K.
Fewer Emails a Week
Before I was given this project to tackle, I didn’t know there are people out there sending emails more than once a day. What a horrifying surprise! XYZ had been sending three emails every day to their entire list via MailChimp, which already costs a kidney!
Here is why you don’t do that:
- It’s spam!
- The cost is sky-high.
- Your deliverability will suffer.
- You are missing out on segmenting and potential revenue.
- You are sacrificing your open rate and CTR.
From thrice a day, I reduced it to twice a day and then once a day in a span of 30 days. Their business model didn’t allow me to reduce it even more (to three times a week, let’s say), but I did make other tweaks throughout the year.
Using MailChimp’s scoring system, I would send emails to the highly engaged subscribers only. I segmented the audience into paid and non-paid customers, product categories, and preferences.
See for yourself. The first screenshot (left) shows a lot of emails sent to the entire list and the second screenshot (right) shows emails sent to the very engaged subscribers.
If you’re using WooCommerce, you know that downloading freebies is the same is making purchases. The checkout and all that! It’s a long process. The original owner of XYZ kept it simple. The freebies were able to be downloaded on one click — awesome! But they forgot to track it.
Better late than never, amirite? So I downloaded a plug-in for the time being. It’s one of the free WordPress plug-ins called Download Monitor. You can upload your files over there, define the category and tag (if you prefer), set restrictions (login required, members-only, etc.) and the plugin will give you a download link to use in place of the actual file.
Then you will be able to track your downloads. It’s not the smartest tool, but it does what it says.
This helped me to know what kind of content to push, what is popular, what is not popular, and average downloads per day and per month. Which content is doing better, old or new? Why did I need this data? It was going to be helpful while scaling.
Turned out, we had over 9 million downloads. And no one had any idea. Wake up and smell the sweet scent of possibilities.
Same as above, we couldn’t track who was coming to do a clean sweep of freebies. Why do you need this data? Well, for a number of reasons. You need to know what they like so you can make suggestions, upsell, work on the UI and UX of your website, and mainly, to keep the data to create better products.
I kept using WooCommerce and allowed people to sign up. I made some free downloads (see Tracking Downloads, above) user-restricted as well. This also helped in:
- keeping track of who is downloading what
- controlling copyright infringement
- allowing customers to keep their download history
- eliminating the confusion about licensing
We had over 10,000 accounts in less than a week. This is not a result of just implementing the user account feature. This is to show that we were missing out on all this info.
Again, scroll up and read the section on tracking downloads. The possibilities were endless.
Do you ever get so confused with a product’s pricing that you don’t even bother to try to understand it? Worse, you spend minutes looking for the pricing page, but all you see is Demo or Get in Touch? Why are you doing this? Just show me how much it costs.
Then, we have the final boss. Absolute nightmare of a gumbo pot: Am I allowed to use this for commercial use? Single-seat or multi-seat? Medium-sized business or enterprise?
What did we do? They already had three kinds of licensing. Let’s call them Single, Double, and Triple. Single made sense, but it was in no way a revenue generator. The Double and Triple did not make sense to anyone I discussed them with. I swapped the Double and Triple with Recurring and Forever.
The first one (left) is the original Single, and then there are Recurring (middle) and Forever (right). Forever was going to be my prizewinning pony, but we needed Recurring to make it look good.
Even though the number of purchases for Single is nearly five times the Forever one, the revenue is 1,650% more.
Forever is a simple, straightforward, one-time payment. It automatically applies to every new product we launch. It doesn’t require you to keep track of which product has which licensing.
Forever is a simple, straight-forward, one-time payment and automatically applies to every new product we launch. It doesn’t require you to keep track of which product has which licensing.
Focus on Pinterest
Why do we forget Pinterest when we’re doing social media marketing? Pinterest is growing really fast. While there may have been some changes after its IPO, Pinterest has not abandoned everyone to please their paying customers.
Another thing I like about Pinterest is their ever-increasing features, simple integrations, Rich Pins, and, my favorite, no time restrictions for a pin to go viral. The people who come across your pins are not only the people who’re following you.
Pinterest also focuses on image SEO. The text on the image matters as much as the image title and the alt-text.
I created the same pins in different sizes. Now we all know that long pins work better and square pins just don’t cut it! I tried 600 x 900 and some even longer. After a lot of testing, I found that 1920 x 1080 works best. I mentioned the website URL right at the end of the pin, had a big, clear CTA right in the middle of the pin, and a clean frame on a simple background. It worked each time.
The ideal number of pins should be 30 a day. You can go 50 or more, but that’s discouraged by Pinterest themselves. Pinterest is also careful about the credibility of the website. Once you click on a pin, go to the site and come back, it will ask you if the website was good and relevant to the pin.
You may get marked as spam or even get your account deleted if it’s irrelevant.
I wish I had taken screenshots of the progress. We started from 60K total audience and in 30 days we were at 2 million total audience. Now we’ve grown to 5 million. Our engagement is about 1 million.
The screenshot below is of a single pin. This is purely organic. Those 4.63K clicks take you to the website. Why are we overlooking this?
This calls for a whole new article (remind me to write!), but allow me to tell you briefly: Pinterest demands some TLC, and once the motor starts running, it can keep on running for little to absolutely no cost.
Pinterest is amazing for SEO. It’s like a search engine. They have a set formula for good pins, and it always works. It demands consistency and good content, and it’s a great traffic generator for your website.
I made a ton of other changes and none of them cost a cent. We had huge organic growth on Facebook and in the area of affiliate marketing. (I think that calls for part two of this article.)
Here is a screenshot of the revenue from October 2018 till January 2019. From $3K in October (and only $2K in November 2018) we did a massive jump to $12K in December 2018 and $19K in January 2019.
Now, you may be thinking all this required a huge marketing team. Well, it did not. I have always worked on this brand alone. Allow me to write more about this particular brand in the future, where I focus on minor tweaks which made a major difference in this brand’s growth.
While there is no formula to do something like this and I would never have expected the end result, I found that being consistent throughout paid off big time.
For this particular brand and all the other brands I have worked for, I’ve realized the brand image can make or break your business. While I did all this, I made sure I stayed closely in touch with the customers, helped them through all the transitions, and kept the inbox clean at all times.