If you’re already selling on Amazon, you’ve probably wondered what’s the next step? How can I grow my business and my brand even further?
The answer is to take the brand and products you’ve already created for Amazon, and expand by launching them on your own ecommerce store.
The Ecommerce Opportunity is Huge
In the third quarter of 2015, total ecommerce sales were $101 billion. Amazon.com accounted for $17.1 billion, meaning that $83.9 billion dollars were spent outside of Amazon.com, directly on the ecommerce sites of various brands.
How can you grab your piece of the action?
The first step in launching your online store is to pick a shopping cart provider. There are tons of options out there, but we recommend Shopify, it has a ton of features, is easy to set up, and has plans starting at just $19/month. They power over 175,000 stores and are the clear leader in ecommerce. Save yourself the headache of comparing 100 different cart providers and go with Shopify. You’ll thank me later.
But there’s plenty of advice out there on how to design an ecommerce site. Our topic today is how to drive sales once you have your store set up. To do that, I’m going to introduce you to my 3-step method for working with influencers to drive traffic AND sales to your ecommerce store.
What is an influencer?
An influencer is anyone with an audience who can influence the behavior of that audience. Influencers can build their audience in all kinds of places, here are just a few examples of influencers you may have heard of: Tim Ferriss, Logan Paul, Mike Rashid, and Michelle Phan. All have built huge followings on their own blogs, Instagram, YouTube, or Vine.
So why are influencers important? They’re important because they have an audience, and if you want customers for your online store, you need to go where the customers already are. Which brings me to our 3-step process.
Step One: Borrow
Your first step is to get your product in front of an influencer’s audience to borrow that audience’s attention for a minute. Most influencers are open to product placement, and many will even do it for free if you pitch them well and your product is relevant to their audience. Look for bloggers, instagrammers, and YouTube stars in your niche who your customers already look up to. What types of influencers are your potential customers already looking up to? Those are the influencers you need to work with.
You can also let influencers come to you. There are a number of marketplaces for influencers that have audiences and who are willing to showcase your brand – for a price. Check out FameBit, TheShelf, Kickstagram, and Tomoson, all will allow you to connect directly with influencers in various niches who are willing to promote your brand to their audiences. You can also do direct outreach – grab a contact email address from their website and make your pitch. Try to describe why their audience would care about your product and why your product can make them look cool.
Once you’ve got an influencer interested, send them a free sample of your product so they can use and review it. Your goal is for them to make a post, picture, or video saying how much they like your product. Here are a few examples of promotional influencer posts:
But you don’t just want the influencer to recommend your product – you want their audience to take action. Which brings us to Step Two!
Step Two: Bait
Once you have an influencer showcasing your product to their audience, you need to bait their audience with an offer to get them to engage and potentially purchase. Two popular types of bait are a coupon code (“Get 15% off by using code TIMFERRISS”) or a giveaway (“Enter your email for a chance to win a $100 gift card”). Both options allow the influencer to deliver value to their audience, and allow you to bait their audience into interacting with your brand.
Your single goal from being featured by an influencer should be to get their audience to give you their email address. I typically drive all traffic from an influencer to a dedicated landing page offering a 25% off coupon in exchange for their email address. This has the dual advantage of giving a coupon to people who are ready to purchase now, while capturing email addresses for people who may not want to purchase right away, but may be interested. My lead capture form looks like this:
Even if you don’t get the sale right away, you now have hundreds of email addresses from people you know fit your target demographic (because they were following your influencer) and who are at least somewhat interested in buying from your brand. Which brings us to Step Three!
Step Three: Close
After the influencer’s audience has taken your bait, you might already have closed several sales just based on the discount code and the influencer’s recommendation – hurray! But you’re not done yet. You still need to close the sale with all the other people who gave you their email address but weren’t quite ready to buy. The best way to continue to sell is with what’s called a “drip campaign”. A drip campaign is a series of emails you “drip” out to your email list over time to convince them to buy. A great drip campaign for addresses obtained through influencer marketing looks like this:
- Immediately – Deliver the bait (the coupon you promised them). This will let you capture the people who are ready to buy right away and just wanted to enter their email to get the coupon.
- 24 hours later – Send a content-based email talking about some unique attributes of your product. This is a sales-focused email. You know they’re already interested, now you just need to continue to convince them how great your product is. Also make sure this email includes a reminder of the coupon they already have.
- 48 hours later – Send another content-based sales email which further outlines how great your product is. This is also a great time to highlight any other influencers you’ve worked with that also recommend your product. Again, remind the potential customer of the coupon they still have outstanding.
- 1 week later – Escalate your offer. At this point the potential customer knows about your brand and probably has all the information they need to purchase, so give them a little push over the edge. If you initially offered a 20% off coupon, offer them 30% off for 24 hours only – give them the push they need to make a purchase, and add some urgency with a deadline.
Once you’ve written the above four closing emails, you can reuse them over and over again with as many influencers as you can find to work with. Your entire goal becomes finding audiences and groups of customers who are already out there, borrowing those audiences, baiting them, and closing the sale through email.
I’ve seen this process take at least 10 brands I know of personally from zero to over $1 million in ecommerce sales in their first year, with NO reliance on Amazon. Not only will influencer marketing jumpstart your sales, you’ll also jumpstart your ranking in Google, since you’ll get tons of quality backlinks to your site. Influencer marketing is the single fastest way to launch your ecommerce website from zero to six figures, bar none.
Now is the time to take action. Set up your Shopify site and reach out to your top 5 niche influencers. Got questions? Comment below!