How To Start an Online Store with Shopify in Less than 30 Minutes!

How To Start an Online Store with Shopify in Less than 30 Minutes!


This article is a handy step-by-step guide to help you learn how to launch your own ecommerce store. Oberlo co-founder Tomas Slimas created this tutorial based on what he learned from his own ecommerce success story. In this post, you’ll find dozens of great tips that’ll allow you to focus on making sales as quickly as possible. The best part is that you can complete the whole process in about half an hour. Who knows, the next 30 minutes could mark an exciting turning point in your life as you embark on a journey as an ecommerce entrepreneur. Let’s get started.

To be honest, it took me 12 months to launch my first ecommerce store! I followed conventional strategies to begin with. I incorporated myself, looked for wholesalers, underestimated my marketing budget, developed a great looking store, manually added thousands of products… and never made a sale.

Today, after selling my ecommerce business with $3M annual sales and with seven ecommerce stores on my CV, I understand what I did wrong, and found a way to fix it.

I did what most people do — I concentrated too much on creating a great looking store instead of actually trying to make a sale.

People think that if you’re launching an ecommerce business, you should do it the hard way. When you’re a first-time entrepreneur, figuring out how to start your online store seems pretty complicated. 

What I have found is that it’s much more productive to learn and create along the way. Your first step is to launch your ecommerce store. You can explore ad campaigns and logo designs at a later time, like once your store is up and running. 

One of my favorite quotes is: “Get going, get better.”

Below I’m sharing a detailed tutorial about how to start an ecommerce store with dozens of products in under 30 minutes. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll be exactly what you need to get started.

In this article, we’ll build a full women’s jewelry shop that sells various accessories. I strongly suggest that you follow the guide as it is written and try implementing additional features and ideas after you know how to launch a Shopify store.

How to Launch an Online Store: Set up a Shopify Store With Oberlo (~ 5 Minutes)

Decide On A Business Name

Picking a business name is essential, but don’t spend too much time on it. Think of something random and simple. For my women’s jewelry shop, I came up with: Utopia Jewelry, Blackwell Jewelry, and Forever Jewelry.

I recommend adding ‘store’ or ‘shop’ because you will need to find an available internet address (domain), and it’s easier to find an available one when there are several words in the name.

A useful tool for coming up with an ecommerce store name is the Oberlo Business Name Generator. You can add a keyword or two that you’d like to have in your ecommerce store name, and it will provide you recommendations. Then you can simply scroll through the options and select your desired business name and launch your business. 

oberlo business name generator

Not only is the Oberlo Business Name Generator free, but it’s also easy to use. That’s one less thing to worry about when starting your own business. 

Come up with a list of 10-15 brand name ideas. And make sure the name you end up choosing isn’t trademarked and has an available .com domain address. Dot com domains tend to rank better in the search engines, and most professional brands use this domain extension as well. You can use Shopify’s Domain Name Registration tool to search for available .com domains. You can also check how much a domain costs, as well as buy and install one on your store. 

Create a Shopify Account

In the old days, you had to get a server, upload an ecommerce system to it, hire someone to customize it according to your needs, and pay to maintain it. It was expensive, time-consuming, and the final result was still a slow and ineffective website.

Thankfully, Shopify has simplified the process. You can create your ecommerce store in just a few clicks, and all of the server setup and maintenance is taken care of for you.

Go to Shopify.com, click ‘start your free trial,’ enter your store name, and create your shop.

how to set up a shopify store

Your store is now ready!

Sign up for Oberlo

A traditional ecommerce model works like this: First, you buy several hundred products, then you wait for them to be delivered, stock them in your garage or a small warehouse, and when someone places an order, you ship them to your customer.

This model works well for bigger companies, but for new entrepreneurs, it can have extra costs (storage space), risks (unsold stock), and annoyances (not having a popular item in stock and ready to ship, which means you’ll miss out on potential sales).

Luckily, if you’re looking to start an online store today, there is an alternative to this model: dropshipping.

Dropshipping allows people who are just figuring out how to start an ecommerce store to get started quickly so that they can spend more time and energy on generating sales. With dropshipping, you aren’t required to hold any inventory and don’t need to worry about shipping products, which also saves you time and money.

Simply add products to your ecommerce store, and when you receive an order, pay the supplier who will then ship it directly to your customer. There is no need to pay for extra storage space and no need to worry about what to do with unsold stock.

From here onward, we’ll focus solely on the dropshipping business model because the alternative requires extra capital, time, and risk. Also, dropshipping apps make it easy to import products directly from a database within minutes. Oberlo is an app that allows you to import dropshipped products from AliExpress to your ecommerce store within minutes. Any orders that your store receives will be shipped directly to your customers in just a few clicks. 

Here’s how you can sign up for Oberlo:

First, you’ll need to make an Oberlo account. Go to the Oberlo homepage and click “Get Oberlo Now.” 

Fill in your email and make a password. Then click “Sign up for free.”

oberlo homepage signup

And boom, you’re in. You’ll now be taken to the Oberlo dashboard. Once there, click ‘Search products’ in the sidebar on the left. 

Oberlo dashboard

Poke around this screen, as Oberlo will show you loads of high-potential items in different categories. Also, enter as many products as you want in the search bar. 

Let’s say I’m interested in necklaces. Here’s what I see when I type it in.

oberlo add products

Upon clicking a product’s page, you’ll see helpful information like how much the item costs, how much shipping costs, and how long each shipping method takes to get to customers in different countries (click the arrow to explore the various options and times). A safe strategy is to choose products that have high ratings, plenty of orders, and lots of good reviews. Thus, showing that they’re popular items that people like.

How to Launch an Online Store: Fine Tune Your Settings (~ 10 Minutes)

You’ll need to tweak a few settings to get your Shopify store functioning smoothly. In the bottom left corner of your Shopify, click the ‘Settings’ button with the gear icon.

Shopify admin Settings

First, go to ‘General’ and fill out all your store details. 

Then set up payments.

Set Up Payments

I highly recommend using Shopify Payments, no matter where you’re based. It allows you to accept various forms of payments, including credit cards, Google Pay, Shopify Pay, and more. You can sign up for Shopify Payments by providing Shopify with your business information, personal details, product information, and bank account number.

shopify payments

You can also choose to accept payments via PayPal. Add your PayPal email address under Shopify Settings > Payments Section. Later, you can change, remove, or add additional payment options.

If you don’t have a PayPal account, register at PayPal.com. It will take about 5 minutes.

Set Up Checkout

Shopify also lets you see and modify your checkout settings. For new store owners, I recommend keeping customer accounts as optional so that customers can also check out as guests.

setup shopify checkout

Generate Required Policies

Shopify offers handy tools for generating terms and conditions, standard privacy, and return policies. You can access them from Shopify Settings > Legal > scroll down to Refund > Privacy > Terms of Service > Shipping statements section to generate each policy sample.

Shopify legal pages

Add Free Shipping Rate

If you’re looking to start an online store, I highly recommend that you offer your products to customers with a free delivery option. You can set this as default from your Shopify account settings.

Go to Shopify Settings > Shipping and delete all shipping zones that are “Domestic”. Next, click the “Add shipping zone.” If you’re offering free shipping, just type that in and then choose “Rest of world” if you’re ok with shipping to other countries. Now go to “Add rate” under the “Price based rates” section and select the ‘Free shipping rate.’

Shopify free shipping setup

When everything’s set up, don’t forget to click “Save” as always. 

Create an Online Store

Shopify allows you to sell your products across multiple channels like Online Store, Facebook Store, Brick & Mortar store, etc.

Right now, we want to create an Online Store. Go to Shopify Settings > Sales Channels and add Online Store as your sales channel if it hasn’t already been added automatically.

How to Launch an Online Store: Add Products and Content (~ 10 Minutes)

Before you import products into your store from Oberlo, customize them with your product names, descriptions, the right photos, and other details like assigning them to collections or adding tags. Trust me when I say that it’s a massive headache to import first and customize later. Just don’t do it. So before you start, watch this video that explains the anatomy of the Oberlo Import List and what you should do before you click that powerful little “‘Import to Store”’ button.



In addition to your products, the content that you use to customize your products is crucial. This is an area that should get a lot of love from you in the future, as you test and tweak your store. 

Remember, people can’t touch or hold your products. So the only way to help them get a sense of how amazing they are is to write good content that sparks their interest.

We’re going to look at some tips for customizing these things:

  • Description
  • Images
  • About Us page
  • Pricing and Inventory 
  • Categories

Product Description

Create a product description that provides customers with enough information to make them want to buy your products immediately. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What problems do the customers have that my product solves?
  • What do customers gain from using my product?
  • What separates my products from others on the market?

Your brief description needs to answer these questions in a way that is easy to read.

Keeping it casual and positive can also help your descriptions stand out. Also, try breaking information into short, digestible chunks. Headings, bullet points, and visuals are a great help for making this happen.

Product Images

While I strongly recommend taking product photos of your own, it’s not 100 percent necessary if you’re dropshipping. That’s because dropshipping suppliers often include decent product photos in their listings. I also recommend checking out stock photography websites like Shopify’s Burst if you’re selling a popular product. And if you’re keen to take your own images, follow our guide, how to create high-converting product images, before you get started.

About Us

This page on your online store eventually needs to look unique, but this will take quite a bit of time to create. In the meantime, copy and paste one of the pre-generated ‘About Us’ pages from the list below and edit it to suit your store later.

About Us Page Templates ->

When you write an About Us page in the future, make it personal. Tell a story about why you started the brand. Show pictures of yourself to show that there’s a human behind your eCommerce business. My favorite example of a company that has created a fantastic About Us page is Luxy Hair.

Product Pricing & Inventory

Shopify’s pricing section has three fields: price, compare at price, and cost per item. Use the second field if you want to inform customers that the product is on sale. Enter the initial price in “Compare at price” and the price after the sale in “Price.” But don’t just list a random sale; make sure you’re covering costs while still making a profit.

You can also tell Shopify that you want to track the inventory of your products. To do this, click the ‘Track quantity’ checkbox and define the number of items available to buy. So if you sell 30 units of a product, Shopify will display “‘out of stock”’ and stop people from placing orders until your suppliers refill the stock.

Shopify inventory

Create Collections

Product categories are called collections on the Shopify website. If you’re selling women’s jewelry, your collections will be (from top to bottom): Earrings, Rings, Necklaces, Watches, Bracelets, etc.

Just go to Products > Collections > Add New Collection, enter your collection name, and select your collection conditions.

How to Launch an Online Store: Create Your Layout (~ 5 Minutes)

Mastering design is an integral part of the process of creating an ecommerce store. How you present your ecommerce business helps build trust with customers. Thankfully, Shopify automatically assigns a default theme to your ecommerce store, and it already looks great, so you do not need to change this unless you want to spend the time to customize it. A customized site can help enhance your brand, but it is not necessary to do that when first launching the store.

Don’t buy a new theme until you’ve generated enough sales for it to be paid for through your ecommerce business. There’s no need to make big purchases in the beginning. You can still create a beautiful website through your banner graphic, color scheme, and other visual elements. You can also use Shopify tools like Hatchful to create a free logo for your store in a matter of minutes.

Shopify hatchful

Create the Main Menu/Navigation

The main menu shows up on every page of your website. It’s usually displayed as items across the header, or as a list of items in the sidebar. People will probably use your main menu to find information about your store. To set up your main menu, open your Shopify admin > Navigation section > select edit ‘Main Menu’ card and list all your collections there. 

 

Shopify main menu

Upload Main Banner

You can create a cool looking banner in just a few minutes. You can search on Google for the term “banner editing tools” or click here: Canva.com. Select banner dimensions (1200x360px), upload an image of one of your products, choose your background, insert a few lines of text, add a “Buy Now” button, and you’re finished.

You can also use Canva’s templates to design something visually appealing. They have shapes you can incorporate into your design to make things pop. Don’t be afraid to look through Canva’s templates for inspiration to design a banner that wows. Their website is user-friendly and allows even someone with little design experience to create a unique banner.

design banner in canva

You can now insert this banner into your ecommerce store by going to Online Store > Themes > Customize Theme > edit Homepage Slideshow.

Editing Featured Products

If you navigate to Customize Theme > Home page > Featured Products; you can choose a collection for featured products. If you create a collection, as you did earlier, name one featured, use tags called ‘Featured.’ Every time you add a new product that you want to showcase, add the ‘Featured’ tag to the tags section, and it will automatically appear on the Home Page under ‘Featured.’

You can set up a footer in Online Store > Navigation > Add menu. Write “Footer menu” as the title and then decide what you want to see in your footer. I usually hide ‘Latest News column,’ because we haven’t created any blog posts yet.

Now go to Online Store, Navigation section, select Footer Menu, and list all the page you created before:

Conclusion

Congratulations, you’ve just launched your first eCommerce store!

Although it didn’t take a long time, it’s still an excellent achievement. You’re now running your own online store and can officially call yourself an ecommerce entrepreneur

You should also remember that you’ve only figured out how to start an ecommerce store, now you need to figure out how to take it to the next level. Owning an ecommerce business is about trying to improve your sales, customer service, customer experience, and, most importantly, yourself.

To run a successful ecommerce store, you’ll need to focus your energy on marketing your store via ads, content creation, and building an audience on social media. When combined, those three things can have a powerful impact on your brand in the long-term. Right now, you need to put your brand out there for everyone to see as people won’t just magically find you. Just as Shopify and Oberlo make running your ecommerce business easier than ever before, there are plenty of accessible marketing tools and tutorials available online. We recommend using Facebook Ads to boost your sales. Remember, it’s best to jump right into this aspect of your eCommerce business because learning by doing will be more effective than coming up with an elaborate marketing plan right from the onset.

Write down a list of things you want to achieve with your ecommerce business, and begin the learning process. Begin by committing one hour every day to improving your eCommerce store so that you can further edit your website, find new ways to boost sales, and continue learning how to grow your ecommerce business.

With hard work and a sales push on your side, the possibilities are endless. Focus on why you started this ecommerce business in the first place and let that drive your determination to succeed. No matter where your ecommerce adventure takes you, rest assured that you’ll learn so much more about yourself and witness your levels of creativity, determination, and perseverance reach new heights.

Want to Learn More?

Is there anything else you’d like to know more about and wish was included in this article? Let us know in the comments below!



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19 Easy Steps to Setting Up a Killer Facebook Business Page

19 Easy Steps to Setting Up a Killer Facebook Business Page


With all the options at your fingertips, setting up a Facebook Business Page can feel like prepping a rocket ship headed to outer space.

But if you want to do business online, having a presence on Facebook is a good idea. 

Really, it’s more of a must.

With 2.45 billion monthly users and 1.62 billion people logging on daily, it’s by far the most popular social network.

facebook statistics

Still, as Facebook has grown, so has the complexity of its features.

Don’t waste another day poking around Facebook, trying to figure it all out. This article will walk you through everything you need to know to get your Facebook Business Page up and running like a social media marketing pro.

But before we dive in:

4 Facebook Business Page FAQs

Here are the answers to four commonly asked questions about Facebook Business Pages.

1. What is a Facebook Business Page?

A Facebook Business Page is where you manage your brand’s presence on the largest social network in the world. Your page allows you to connect with your customers and nurture prospects by:

  • Sharing content
  • Responding to customer service inquiries
  • Collaborating with customers and other brands
  • Having personal conversations with followers
  • And more…

The image below shows Oberlo’s Facebook Business Page:

Facebook Business Page Oberlo

2. Can I Use a Personal Facebook Profile for My Business?

There are many well-intentioned entrepreneurs out there using personal Facebook profiles for their brands, instead of an actual Facebook Business Page.

This is a bad idea.

If you create a personal profile, you’ll miss out on a whole suite of content creation tools, analytics, and paid promotional opportunities that come with a Facebook Business Page. What’s more, users would need to send you a friend request to engage with your brand.

And you don’t want to make it more difficult for your customers to engage with you on social media.

So, harness the power of Facebook Business Pages.

“Um, Tom – I’ve already made a personal profile for my brand…” Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered:

3. How Can I Convert My Profile to a Facebook Business Page?

Facebook allows you to easily create a new Business Page that’s based on your profile.

Afterward, you’ll have both a profile and a Page.

Facebook will copy over your information, profile picture, and cover image. Plus, you can select which friends, followers, photos, and videos to transfer to your new Facebook Business Page.

What’s more, if you convert a verified profile, the verified status will also be moved to your new page.

There is one main drawback: Any video views or other metrics will remain with your profile and can’t be transferred to your new Facebook Business Page.

To convert your profile to a Facebook Business Page:

  1. Click this link or head to “facebook.com/pages/create/migrate”.
  2. Click “Get Started” and follow the on-screen instructions.
  3. Your new Facebook Business Page will be published once the conversion process is finished!

Note: If you’re currently serving as an administrator for any other Facebook Pages or groups, then you must add more people as admins for those properties. This is just to make sure those pages and groups are not left without an admin in case anything goes wrong during profile to Business Page conversion.

For more information on how to convert a profile to a Business Page, check out Facebook’s help section.

4. How Much Does a Facebook Business Page Cost?

Just like Facebook profiles and groups, you can set up and use a Facebook Business Page for free – regardless of how many followers or likes you have.

Even if you spend money on Facebook Ads, there’s still no charge for the organic aspects of your Facebook Business Page.

What’s more, Facebook doesn’t even charge a fee to add a storefront to your page!

So why does a Facebook Business Page cost nothing? Well, it doesn’t.

In exchange for using the platform and engaging with your customers, you help Facebook acquire even more attention from your audience.

Facebook then sells this attention to advertisers in the form of Facebook Ads.

Now, let’s build you a killer Facebook Business Page!

How to Create a Facebook Business Page in 19 Easy Steps

Step 1: Create Your Page

To get started, click this link or head to “facebook.com/pages/creation”.

Facebook provides you with two Page options:

  1. Business or brand
  2. Community or public figure

Business of Community

Each type of Page comes with a different set of features. Choose “Business or brand,” and click “Get Started.”

And you’re off!

Next up, you need to complete the basic details of your business or brand:

  • Page Name
  • Category
  • Address

Facebook Business Page Setup

Do your best to pick the most appropriate category for your business. But don’t worry if you change your mind, as you can always change it in the future.

If you like, you can add your business phone number. You also have the option to hide your address from Facebook users.

Once you’re done, click “Continue.”

Step 2: Add a Profile Picture

Next, Facebook will prompt you to upload a profile picture.

Facebook Business Page Upload Profile Picture

Most businesses use their logo as a profile picture, as Shopify does on their Facebook Page:

Facebook Business Page Shopify

If you don’t have a great logo design for your business, check out Shopify’s free tool, Hatchful. It’ll help you create a professional-looking logo in minutes.

What’s more, Hatchful will create an entire brand package from your logo design. This includes images perfectly formatted for all of the most popular social media platforms.

Hatchful Logo Maker

Bear in mind that your profile picture is often shown as a circle throughout the platform.

So make sure there are no vital elements on the fringes of your image and that it looks great when displayed as a circle or a square.

Round Profile Pictures

Finally, the ideal size of Facebook profile photos is 360 x 360 pixels, but they must be at least 180 x 180 pixels.

Step 3: Add a Cover Photo 

Now it’s time to add your Facebook cover photo.

Facebook Business Page Add Cover Photo

Your cover photo is often the first thing visitors notice. So it’s best to choose an image or video that immediately conveys your unique value proposition and brand personality.

Here’s Oberlo’s current Facebook cover image:

Facebook Business Page Oberlo

The image delivers a unique value proposition, and the product images and design convey our brand’s personality.

At this stage, Facebook prompts you to add a cover photo, but if you’d prefer, you can upload a cover video once you’ve finished creating your page.

To do this, click “Skip,” and you’ll be presented with your brand new Facebook Business Page in all its glory.

Then, click the “Add a Cover” button and click “Upload photo/video.”

Facebook Business Page Edit Cover Photo

Cover art displays at 820 x 312 pixels on computers, and 640 x 360 pixels on mobile devices.

Videos must be between 20 and 90 seconds long and have a maximum 1080p resolution. You can upload them in .mov or mp4 format.

Below are some Facebook Business Page tips to keep in mind when uploading either:

Keep it fun but on-brand: It’s fine to have fun with your Facebook cover image or video, but don’t get too unprofessional as it may distract users from the unique value proposition of your company. 

Center the text: Since you’ll be cropping and dragging your Facebook cover to the correct size, try to place text or objects in the center, so they are visible.   

Make videos pleasant for the auto loop: Remember that Facebook cover videos play on a loop. Once they end, they automatically play over if the viewer is still browsing your Facebook Page. Make sure whatever content you upload is pleasing to see when played over and over.

Step 4: Identify the Key Aspects of Your Facebook Business Page

Congratulations, you’re now the proud owner of a Business Page!

At the top of your page, you’ll see links to the different Page management sections:

  • Page: The link back to where you are now
  • Inbox: Where you can manage your messages with other users
  • Notifications: A summary of your page’s interactions
  • Insights: Where you can track page metrics
  • Publishing Tools: Schedule new posts and review past performance
  • Promotions: Manage and track your Facebook Ad campaigns

Have a quick look to familiarize yourself with each of them, and then come back to your page.

Go ahead; I’ll wait a minute.

Facebook Business Page Dashboard

All good? Okay, in the left sidebar, you’ll see your Page’s different tabs.

And at the top-right of the page, you’ll see links to Facebook’s Help section and your Page settings.

Step 5: Learn How to Login to Your Facebook Business Page

To navigate back to your personal Facebook profile, simply click your name or profile picture in the top blue bar.

Then, wherever you’re on the platform, you can access your Business Page admin by clicking the drop-down arrow in the top-right corner of your screen.

Facebook Business Page Admin

This will bring up a list of the Pages you manage – just click the one you want to use!

Step 6: View Your Facebook Business Page Settings

Now that you’re familiar with your new page let’s take a look at the Settings.

Facebook Business Page Settings

Facebook gives you a lot of options:

Facebook Business Page Settings

But thankfully, these settings are all fairly straightforward, and you can leave most of them as they are.

For now, have a read through the settings and change anything that seems particularly relevant to your business.

For example, if you sell children’s toys, you may want to turn on the profanity filter. Or, if you have an international target audience, be sure to enable the ability to write posts in multiple languages.

Step 7: Add and Edit Page Roles

If you have other members of your team who you’d like to manage your Business Page, you add them to the settings.

First, click “Page Roles” in the left-hand sidebar. Then type in their name or email address to find them.

Facebook Business Page Assign Roles

Next, Facebook’s drop-down menu provides five different page roles for you to choose from:

  • Admin
  • Editor
  • Moderator
  • Advertiser
  • Analyst

Each one allows page managers to access and use certain features. To understand the differences, choose one of the options and read the description under the bar.

Step 8: Change Your Facebook Business Page Template

Facebook provides ten different Facebook Business Page templates for you to choose from. Each is tailored to best suit the needs of various organizations and individuals.

  1. Standard page
  2. Business
  3. Venues
  4. Movies
  5. Charity
  6. Politicians
  7. Services
  8. Restaurants and cafes
  9. Shopping
  10. Video page

To access these, click “Edit Page” in the left sidebar, and then underneath “Templates,” click “Edit.”

Facebook Business Page Template

To find out more about each template, just click “View Details” as you scroll through the options.

Facebook Business Page Templates

The primary difference between the templates is the links in the tab section and the buttons on the toolbar. 

For instance, choosing the “Shopping template” will add a “Shop” button on your Business Page. Clicking it will display the products you’ve added to your Facebook Shop.

It’s best to choose the business template unless you have a specific reason to select one of the others. 

Of course, you’ll still get the option to move tabs around, i.e., customize the order they are in and which tabs are visible.

Once you’ve selected a template, Facebook then provides a tour to help you familiarize yourself with it.

Step 9: Add and Rearrange Your Tabs

After taking the tour, scroll down to see your Facebook page tabs.

Here, you can change the order of your tabs or add new ones for your particular needs.

Facebook Business Page Add Tab

Remember, these are the tabs that show up underneath your profile picture in the left sidebar of your page.

Facebook Business Page Tabs

Step 10: Create a Facebook Business Page Username

Facebook Business Pages allow you to choose a unique username to use on the platform.

To set this, click the “About” tab in the left sidebar, and then click “Create Page @username.”

Facebook Business Page Username

Branding 101: Use your business name.

Remember, this name will be seen and used in many of your Facebook interactions. Plus, it’s what people will use to tag your Page in images and posts.

You want to make it easy for people to find you.

However, your business name may already be in use by someone else. If this is the case, Facebook will tell you and display a red “X”.

In this instance, you’ll need to get a little creative.

If your business is locally-focused, try adding your location to your business name. For example, “@SkyrocketApparel” could become “@SkyrocketApparelLondon.” Just make sure that the brand name isn’t trademarked. 

This can also help to build trust and credibility among your local followers.

Alternatively, you might be able to add a suffix that describes the type of business you are. For instance, “@Oberlo” was unavailable on Facebook, so we opted for “@OberloApp.”

Whatever you choose, keep it simple and memorable.

And if you’re struggling for ideas, take assistance from the Oberlo business name generator.

Ideally, it’s best to use the same username on all of your social media profiles. This makes things much easier for your existing audience to find your other profiles and pages.

Facebook Business Page Username

Your business page username must be at least five characters long and made up of numbers and letters only.

Many people have found that Facebook won’t allow them to create a page username.

If this happens to you, they recommend adding another Page administrator to change it for you. Bizarrely, this seems to work!

Step 11: Input Your Information into the About Section

Next, input your business information in the About section.

Facebook Business Page Details

Make sure to include your mission statement as well as links to your website and other social media profiles in this section.

This will help people find your Facebook Business Page, and provide additional context when new followers are keen to learn about your business.

Step 12: Add Your Story

This is showcased prominently on your Facebook Page in the right-hand sidebar.

Facebook Business Page Story

To edit your story from the “About” tab, just click “Tell people about your business.”

Facebook Business Page Story

Facebook allows you to include three elements:

  • Header image
  • Title
  • Body text

Facebook Business Page Story

Most brands will simply copy and paste their website’s “About Us” page to this section. To learn more about creating a killer About Us page, watch the video below:

 

Once you’ve finished creating your Story hit “Save,” and don’t forget to publish it when you’re ready. It’s easy to make edits in the future.

Edit Story Facebook Business Page

Step 13: Add Your Team Members

This is an additional feature to the Page roles I mentioned earlier.

These are page managers who also choose to have the page appear on their personal profile, and their name and profile picture shown in this section of your page.

Facebook Business Page Team Members

Why add team members?

Well, doing so improves trust and credibility. Plus, adding team members will help to promote your Facebook Business Page to your team members’ networks.

Step 14: Add a Call-to-Action Button

Don’t skip this step.

Your Page’s call-to-action (CTA) button is one of the best opportunities to capture prospects and leads.

Most business page templates will display the “Send Message” button to start.

To change this, click the pencil icon and then click the “Edit button” on the drop-down menu that appears.

Edit Button

Facebook provides different CTA options to choose from:

  • Make a booking with you
  • Contact you
  • Learn more about your business
  • Shop with you or make a donation
  • Download your app or play your game

Facebook Business Page Edit Button

If you run an ecommerce business, it’s best to choose “Shop with you or make a donation.” You can then select “Shop Now” or “See Offers.”

Once you’ve chosen your CTA button, click “Next.”

Then, you can use the button to link to your website or to send customers to the Shop section of your Facebook page.

Facebook Business Page Edit Button

If you’d like to allow people to shop on your Facebook page, you need to integrate your Shopify and Facebook accounts.

For now, you can just input your website link and then click “Finish.”

Step 15: Create Your First Post and Pin It to Your Page

Facebook allows you to pin one post to the top of your page so that whenever users view your page, it’s always the first post they see.

Facebook provides plenty of post options.

Page Post

Use this opportunity to promote your current offer or a key value proposition.

Pin Post

Once you’ve created your post, click the three dots indicating the drop-down menu, and click “Pin to top of page.”

Pin to Top of Page

You can check it’s worked by looking for the blue pin icon.

Facebook Business Page Pin Post

Step 16: Add Photos and Videos

Before you begin promoting your Business Page, it’s best to upload some content for new viewers to check out.

To add photos, simply click the “Photos” tab, and then click “Create Album.”

Facebook Business Page Photos

And to add videos, just click the “Videos” tab and then click “Add Video.”

Facebook Business Page Add Video

Step 17: Like Other Pages

Okay, it’s time to get social.

Liking other pages will add their content to your Page’s News Feed.

This will enable you to engage with other Pages and attain more reach. When you interact with another Page’s post, the engagement will show up in other connected News Feeds.

This is a great way to begin building your network.

Navigate to the Page you want to Like, and then click the three dots indicating the drop-down menu underneath the Page’s Cover Art.

Then click “Like as your Page.”

Facebook Business Page Like as Page

Facebook displays three of the Pages you’ve liked at random on your Facebook Business Page. You can see these at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar.

Liked Pages

Step 18: Review Your Page as a Visitor

Okay, you’re nearly finished setting up your Facebook Business Page! But before sharing your Page, it’s a good idea to check how it appears to visitors.

Thankfully, Facebook lets you view your Page as a visitor without having to log out.

To do this, click the three dots indicating the drop-down menu, and then click “View as Page Visitor.”

Facebook Business Page View as Visitor

To switch back to managing your page, simply click “Switch back to your view” at the top of the page.

FB Normal View

Be sure to do this from time-to-time to check that you’re happy with how your Page appears.

Step 19: Invite Your Friends and Start Promoting Your Page!

Your Page will appear more credible to new followers if it already has some likes and interactions from other people.

This is because of social proof.

So to get your Page off to a good start, invite some friends to like it by using the tool in the right-hand sidebar.

Invite Friends on FB

Once your friends have helped you get your page off to a good start, you can link to your Facebook Business Page from your website and other profiles and begin promoting it!

To learn more about promoting your Page, check out our guide, “15 Ways to Increase Facebook Followers and Likes in 2020.”

Bonus Step: Familiarize Yourself with Facebook Insights

Finally, Facebook tracks your page interactions to provide you with a suite of useful analytics.

You can find this data by clicking “Insights” at the top of your Facebook Business Page.

Facebook Insights

It’ll be blank until your page accumulates interactions, but after a while, it will be full of useful information!

Facebook Business Page Insights

While having all this data at your fingertips is nice, it’s only beneficial if you understand which Facebook metrics matter the most to your business. Below are three key metrics you should track and improve upon.

  • Reach: This indicates the number of Facebook users who saw your content on Facebook. It’s normal to have a low reach since Facebook presents your posts to just 6 people out of 100 who like your Facebook Business Page. That being said, you can always use Facebook ads to bump up the numbers.
  • Post engagements: This metric is a crucial part of Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm. Consistently high engagement on your posts means people like your content, and you should only make minor changes to your strategy.
  • Videos: This metric shows the number of times your videos were played for at least three seconds. A low number indicates the need for new intros and captions that entice audiences to watch entire videos.

Conclusion

Facebook is the largest social network in the world – by far. So if you want to expand your business online, it’s well worth taking the time to set up a Facebook Business Page.

This marketing tool has a lot of moving parts, but for best results, be sure to configure your page correctly.

And remember, before you start promoting your Facebook Business Page to customers and prospects, it’s imperative to have plenty of content ready-and-waiting for them to enjoy.

Do you have any questions about Facebook Business Pages? Let us know in the comments below!

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The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Video for Businesses in 2020

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Video for Businesses in 2020


Businesses are cashing in with online video.

In fact, studies show that 54 percent of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support. So, it’s no surprise that video is on the rise.

Plus, while photos generally outperform videos in terms of engagement, video engagement is growing at a faster rate than photos.

And with more than 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram deserves your attention. Since Instagram’s video application, IGTV, is still in the early stages of widespread adoption, those who get on board now could reap the rewards later.

This guide will share everything you need to know to start using Instagram video to grow your business.

Let’s dive in.

The 4 Types of Instagram Video

Yep – there are four different types of video on Instagram alone.

And it’s important to understand the differences and quirks.

Each type of Instagram video has different specifications and suits some situations more than others, although the best Instagram video format is MP4.

Here’s a quick rundown of the four types of Instagram video and the recommended specifications for each.

1. Feed Instagram Videos

Standard Instagram videos have been viewable in the Instagram feed since way back in 2013. You’ll see them while scrolling down your feed or browsing the explore tab.

Most brands use feed videos to share their more professional and planned-out Instagram videos.

These videos can be vertical, square, or horizontal.

  • Instagram Feed VideosLength: Ranges from 3 seconds to 60 seconds
  • Orientation: Vertical, square, or horizontal
  • Aspect Ratio: A minimum of 1.91:1 and a maximum of 4:5
  • Dimensions: 1080 by 608 pixels for portrait / 1080 by 1350 pixels for landscape

2. Instagram Video Stories

Instagram Stories launched in 2016 to compete with Snapchat Stories.

These vertical video snippets tend to be rougher around the edges than feed videos. Many accounts use Instagram Story videos to showcase the more personal side of their brand to their Instagram followers.

Instagram Video Stories

  • Length: Up to 15 seconds per Instagram Story video
  • Orientation: Vertical
  • Aspect Ratio: 9:16
  • Dimensions: 1080 by 1920 pixels

3. Live Instagram Videos

Instagram Live lets you broadcast a live video stream to your followers.

This is a fantastic way to interact with your audience in real-time in an effort to deepen customer relationships.

Like Instagram Stories, Instagram Live videos are often spontaneous and uncut. As a result, most viewers won’t expect an Instagram Live video to be as professional or as polished as a Feed video.

Instead, it’s all about genuine connection and authenticity.

Instagram Live Videos

  • Length: Instagram Live video can be up to 60-minutes long
  • Orientation: Vertical
  • Aspect Ratio: 9:16
  • Dimensions: 1080 by 1920 pixels

4. IGTV Videos

IGTV is a relatively new Instagram video format that was launched in 2018 in an effort to meet the growing demands of video content consumption.

The service can be accessed from the Instagram app or from a dedicated IGTV app.

IGTV is still in the early stages of widespread adoption, but it’s likely that IGTV will continue to grow as more Instagram users start using the medium.

IGTV Instagram Videos

  • Length: Between 15-seconds and 10-minutes long (unless you have a lot of followers or get verified, in which case videos can be up to 60-minutes long)
  • Orientation: Vertical
  • Aspect Ratio: 9:16
  • Dimensions: 1080 by 1920 pixels

How to Post a Video on Instagram

Follow these eight simple steps to upload a video to Instagram.

1. Go to the Instagram app.

2. Tap the “+” icon at the bottom of the screen.

How to Post an Instagram Video: Step 13. Select the video you want to upload, and tap “Next.”

How to Post an Instagram Video: Step 24. Choose an Instagram video filter, and tap “Next.”

How to Post an Instagram Video: Step 35. If your Instagram video is more than  60 seconds long, trim your clip, and then tap “Next.”

How to Post an Instagram Video: Step 46. Select an Instagram video cover image, and tap “Next.”

How to Post an Instagram Video: Step 57. Write an engaging caption, tag people, add a location, and select the other social networks you’dlike to share your Instagram video to.

8. Tap “Share” to publish your Instagram video.

How to Post an Instagram Video: Step 6

9 Instagram Video Ideas

Now that you have the basics figured out, let’s take a look at nine different Instagram ideas that you can use to grow your business.

1. Share Something Entertaining

Give the gift of a smile.

Many Instagram users are simply scrolling down their feed looking to be entertained. So, entertain them!

The best part is that entertaining Instagram videos are the perfect opportunity to showcase your brand personality. In turn, this helps you to deepen relationships with your followers.

Plus, if you actually make your followers laugh, they’re far more likely to interact with the Instagram video. They might like it, share it with a friend, or leave a comment – all of which help to boost your standing with Instagram’s algorithm.

It doesn’t need to have blockbuster effects or production quality either. For example, check out this video from the apparel brand Chubbies that perfectly conveys their fun, vibrant brand personality.

2. Share Something Inspiring

Similarly, people love to be inspired.

So, create inspiring videos that will inspire and motivate your followers to feel better, go after their dreams, and get more out of life – without being too cheesy.

These types of Instagram videos are a perfect way to showcase your brand values and let followers know what you care about, and they should resonate deeply with your target audience.

Here’s a fantastic example of how Nike used an Instagram video to inspire and resonate with its female followers.

3. Tell a Story

Stories are a powerful way to connect with people.

From a young age, we learn fables, fairy tales, and stories – it’s what makes us human.

The famous copywriter and salesperson Gary Halbert once said, “Do you know what is the most-often missing ingredient in a sales message? It’s the sales message that doesn’t tell an interesting story. Storytelling … good storytelling … is a vital component of a marketing campaign.”

In this Instagram video, watch-brand Daniel Wellington shares a story from brand ambassador and actor Drew Ray Tanner.

4. Teach Something

You can also create an Instagram video to share and teach your followers something new related to your brand.

If you sell fitness gear, you could share workout routines. If you sell makeup products, you could offer makeup tips. Whatever your business does, there’ll be something you can teach your followers.

It doesn’t have to be a skill either. You could also share wisdom, advice, or a thought-provoking idea.

Let’s look at a great example from the apparel brand So Worth Loving. This brand is all about promoting love, compassion, and acceptance.

5. Promote Your Existing Products

You can also create Instagram videos to promote your existing products, which can be incredibly effective.

There are tons of different ways to do this. You could get technical and show the ins and outs of your product’s best features. You could show your products being used out in the world. You could also share a customer review or testimonial of a specific product.

In this short video, Herschel Supply showcase their Nova backpack as part of their summer product range.

6. Tease and Launch New Products

Instagram is a great place to promote new product launches.

You can use Instagram Stories to share teasers for an upcoming product or line. You could create mini-trailers to showcase your product’s benefits and features. Then, you could launch the product on Instagram Live to build hype and interest.

Check out this product launch video from razor and cosmetics brand Dollar Shave Club.

7. Share a Behind-the-Scenes Video

It’s always interesting to find out what goes on behind closed doors. So, why not take your followers on a journey into the inner workings of your business or life?

This is a great way to deepen your customer relationships and build brand trust. And don’t be afraid to get personal – authenticity and transparency are key.

In this example, fitness apparel brand Gymshark offers its Instagram followers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into its renowned pop-up events.

8. Promote a Sale or Promotion

Promoting a discount is a quick and powerful way to boost sales.

However, make sure to do so sparingly. Constant sales can devalue your brand and reduce the impact of urgency and scarcity tactics.

In this Instagram video from Luxy Hair extensions, the brand promotes a $10 discount to coincide with prom.

9. Conduct a Poll or Ask a Question

Instagram videos can also be a great way to gather feedback from your followers while also promoting your products.

You can use the dedicated Instagram Stories poll or question stickers to make it easy for your followers to interact with your Instagram video.

Here’s a great example from Kylie Cosmetics that invites followers to share their opinions in the comment section.

8 Instagram Video Tips

Now that you have some ideas under your belt, let’s take a look at eight tips to bear in mind when creating and sharing Instagram videos.

1. Get Comfortable With Vertical Video

Although horizontal video looks and feels more natural, the way that people consume video on mobile devices is changing the landscape of video. In other words, vertical video is taking over. A whopping 57 percent of video views worldwide come from mobile devices. Plus, mobile devices are held vertically 94 percent of the time.

And Instagram is a mobile application.

What’s more, IGTV and Instagram Stories are purely vertical formats. So, if you’re not already comfortable with vertical video, it’s time to hop on the bandwagon.

2. First Impressions Count

There’s an incredible amount of interesting and engaging content on Instagram. So, why should your followers watch your Instagram videos when there’s an infinite amount of alternatives available?

You have to earn their attention.

When a user is scrolling down their feed, you only have a split second to catch their attention and entice them to watch and engage with your Instagram video.

So, make sure the first few seconds of your Instagram videos are compelling and eye-catching.

Here’s a great example of a powerful start from camera makers GoPro. The view from the top of the mountain tempts us and makes us want to see what happens next.

3. Don’t Always Rely on Sound

Many people watch social media videos without listening to the sound. In fact, a massive 85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound.

What’s more, Instagram feed videos play automatically – without sound. Users have to tap the video to enable the sound, and the majority just won’t bother.

In other words, you need to make sure many of your videos work just as well without sound. For example, most of GoPro’s videos work fine without sound because they feature action shots.

However, when your Instagram videos feature people talking, it’s often a good idea to add captions like in this video from Oberlo’s Instagram account.

4. Brand Your Instagram Videos

Branding is an effective way to stand out from your competitor’s Instagram videos.

A powerful brand aesthetic requires consistency over time. By sticking to the same colors, fonts, style, tone, and formats, your Instagram videos will begin to feel more familiar to your followers.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to use Instagram templates.

Your branding doesn’t need to be over-the-top either. For example, Shopify has chosen to end each Instagram video with its logo.

5. Use Apps to Edit Your Instagram Videos

There are countless amazing Instagram apps that can help you create incredible Instagram videos.

You can use apps to edit video clips together, add captions to your videos, or create templates for branding.

Here’s a list of five amazing video editing apps for Instagram.

  1. Clipomatic: Allows you to add captions to your videos.
  2. Jump Rope: Perfect for creating “how-to” videos.
  3. Adobe Premiere Clip: Great for automatic video editing.
  4. KineMaster: Enables you to create multicam edits on the go.
  5. PicPlayPost: Awesome for creating video collages and acapella videos.

For recommendations, check out our guide to 29 life-changing Instagram Story apps.

6. Use Stickers, GIFs, Emojis, and More

Instagram provides tons of tools to help you keep your audience engaged, such as GIFs, text overlays, stickers, emojis, and other design elements.

For example, overlaying text onto Instagram stories can help drive home the message you want to convey. Or why not use the “Sound On” sticker to prompt viewers to turn the sound on?

As mentioned, the poll and question stickers can be incredibly useful when trying to boost engagement on Instagram.

In the Instagram Story below, watch as brand MVMT uses a text overlay, emoji, and the poll sticker to engage viewers.

MVMT Instagram Videos7. Pick an Eye-Catching Cover Photo

When you upload an Instagram video, you have the option of choosing a cover photo.

This is important.

Although Instagram videos autoplay in the feed, your cover photo is responsible for enticing viewers to tap and watch your videos in IGTV.

Eye-Catching Instagram Video Cover PhotoAfter you’ve spent ages creating the perfect Instagram video, don’t fall at the last hurdle by using a bad cover photo.

So, don’t just pick a random frame from your video.

Take the time to choose a great image. You should also make sure that your Instagram video cover photo clearly represents the overall message and content of the video – no one likes clickbait.

Take note from Calvin Klein’s Instagram video cover photos, which are simple and inviting.

Calvin Klein’s Instagram video cover photos8. Put Your Instagram Insights to Use

If you’re not putting your Instagram Insights to use, you’re missing out.

Instagram Insights SnapshotThis free analytics tool is available to every Instagram business profile, and it will reveal how your Instagram videos and pictures are performing.

When you check your Instagram Insights regularly, you’ll be able to tell what works and what doesn’t. It’ll be clear which type of Instagram videos your followers enjoy the most, and you’ll be able to spot clear trends.

Then, you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

The result? Your following will grow and people will engage with your content more.

To access Instagram Insights you need to have a business profile. For more help, check out our guide on how to use Instagram Insights to fuel growth.

Summary

Instagram video marketing is an effective way to reach your target market and grow your business.

But it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.

To do so, you need to consistently share compelling Instagram videos that engage and delight your target audience.

Entertain and inspire your followers, teach something, promote your products, and engage viewers directly with questions and polls.

When creating Instagram videos, bear in mind these eight tips:

  1. Get comfortable with creating vertical videos – most users hold their devices in the upright position.
  2. Focus on the first few seconds of your video – you need to catch people’s attention and entice them to watch.
  3. Don’t rely on sound – feed videos autoplay without sound, and many viewers watch videos without the sound on.
  4. Brand your Instagram videos – develop a consistent brand look to make your videos stand out and feel familiar to your followers.
  5. Take advantage of apps – there’s plenty of apps that can help you to create incredible Instagram videos.
  6. Use GIFs, stickers, emojis, and more to engage viewers.
  7. Take some time to choose a great Instagram video cover photo – people judge books by their covers.
  8. Put your Instagram Insights to use. These analytics can provide invaluable information about how to improve your Instagram video content and strategy.

Lastly, don’t forget to have fun!

When you enjoy creating videos and engaging with your audience, you’ll almost certainly put more time and effort in. Plus, you’ll develop more genuine and authentic customer relationships.

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On a Tight Business Budget? Here’s How to Make It Work [Podcast]

On a Tight Business Budget? Here’s How to Make It Work [Podcast]



Let’s go back a few years. Chris was working 30 to 40 hours a week at a minimum wage job. He had no drive and no idea what he wanted out of life.

Things took a turn for the worse when his long-term relationship ended. He was so knee-deep in bills, he had to resort to eating crackers for dinner.

Attempts to make some extra income on the side weren’t very successful either. That was until he came across dropshipping.

Here’s Chris’ story about how found success in dropshipping and above all, how he persevered through failure. He also shares some insights and advice on coping with an ecommerce store amid the coronavirus.

Life Before Dropshipping

Chris’ first taste of dropshipping began in 2017. Back then, he was receiving minimum wage and had no real focus in life. Faced with a seemingly insurmountable stack of bills, he tried to make some extra income by selling things on eBay, starting a PC repair company, renting out his driveway, and even gambling.

All of these attempts saw limited to no success and things were looking pretty bleak. 

Then, he discovered dropshipping.

As with all successful dropshippers, Chris failed in his first few attempts in starting a dropshipping business. After five failed tries, he decided he needed a breather so he took a break and cleared his head. 

But what’s failure but a path to success? Refusing to let this knock him down, Chris decided to give it one last shot.

Setting a Humble Goal With Limited Funds

Financially strapped, Chris set a $300 budget on his dropshipping ecommerce store. Such a tight budget meant he had to acquire most of his knowledge about dropshipping from the host of free online content on YouTube, Shopify, etc.

His initial goal was to make an extra 200 pounds per month, which would have made a world of difference given the financial rut he was in then.

Dejection took over when he failed to make a single sale on his first day.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘I can’t afford to do this. Why am I doing this? I’m an idiot.’”

But just a day later, he made his first sale. That got the ball rolling and sales eventually grew to $10,000 over the next month and a half. Over the following two years, his store generated over half a million in revenue.

Realizing He’s Made It

Chris’ moment of realization that he’d made it came one morning after waking up to find that he’d made 200 pounds in profits overnight while he was asleep. That started becoming a nightly affair, which soon ballooned into 1,000 pounds and then 5,000 pounds in a single day.

Despite this success, there was always a nagging doubt at the back of his mind: “How long can I sustain this for?”

But for Chris, it was a natural thought to have and one that was part of the success because it was so different from anything he’d ever experienced.

A Financial and Psychological Boost

From his dropshipping success, Chris’ life improved in more ways than one. Not only did he see financial gains, but his confidence levels have also grown.

He’s stopped worrying about life so much now that he’s in a more comfortable place. Thanks to his newfound confidence, he’s since gone in front of the camera to do interviews, launched his own YouTube channel, and even started a dropshipping academy.

In his own words, 

“It’s all because of what dropshipping has done for me personally that allowed me to take those steps and really just take a leap out of my own comfort zone.”

Coping With COVID-19

Chris' new-found confidence from dropshipping lessons

Armed with the knowledge and experience Chris has today, he has a few words of advice for dropshippers going through a rough period of time amid the coronavirus and its impact on businesses and shares what he’s been doing:

How Chris Is Managing

  • He’s reduced his ad spend to lower his risks during this period of uncertainty.
  • Though his suppliers in China may be back to 100 percent operating capacity, there’s still a risk because dropshipping still relies on distribution networks around the world.
  • Chris reckons things are going to get worse before it gets better. The smartest thing for him to do now is to limit his risk until the situation has passed its peak.

Advice for Dropshipping Businesses

  • Think twice before advertising on Facebook now. Though CPMs may be cheap, customers are generally warier of spending money. 
  • When it comes to advertising, it depends on what you’re seeing across the platform.
  • If you’re profitable, keep it going. But to avoid logistical delays, communicate with your supplier to understand what processing and shipping times are like.
  • Focus on tracking your product to make sure they are getting to customers.
  • Take it day-by-day and make decisions as you go along and as the situation plays out.

Advice for New Dropshippers

  • Though masks may seem like an attractive product to start selling, do not do it because you don’t know what the quality is like and above all, it’s morally wrong.
  • If you’re starting with a low budget, hold off on advertising to limit your risk.
  • In the meantime, learn as much as you can and improve your store.
  • Get everything on the backend side ready so you’re ready to go when things return to normal.

“I’m trapped in the house and haven’t really got much else to do other than work on my business, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m just using this time as productively as I can, really.”

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The Secret Ingredients to Building a 7-Figure Meal Service Business — Podcasts

The Secret Ingredients to Building a 7-Figure Meal Service Business — Podcasts


Spencer Donaldson is a serial entrepreneur who’s hectic schedule made it difficult to cook healthy meals, so he launched Eat Well Nashville, a meal service business to meet his personal need. In this episode of Shopify Masters, Spencer Donaldson shares his journey of building on community feedback, acquiring a competitor, and finding the ideal frequency for contacting his customers.

For the full transcript of this episode, click here.

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Show Notes

Dietary changes that inspired the start of a business 

Felix Thea: Tell us about the idea behind this product and how Eat Well Nashville started. 

Spencer Donaldson: My partner and I are entrepreneurs our whole lives and we’re were busy all the time, not able to eat healthy and we felt that it was kind of unfair that on every single corner you have a fast-food restaurant yet you don’t have an easy option to eat healthily. So here in Nashville when we launched, there was really no one that offered what we wanted. We tried every service, we tried all the national services, we tried CSAs and we tried Blue Apron and nothing was quite convenient enough and nothing quite resonated with us in terms of product quality and how natural the ingredients were. We were looking for something that was healthy with clean ingredients that we could just pop in the microwave or the oven.

Felix: How did you guys get into the food business?

Spencer: Our backgrounds are in technology marketing. We’d start a lot of different companies around our own personal needs somewhat selfishly, but we just wanted to solve the problem of eating healthy. So we had no food background at all. We just really wanted to drive health and wellness because we weren’t seeing it for ourselves. We were so busy and tied up with building companies that we didn’t have time to eat healthily or take care of our own wellness. We pushed forward with the idea and launched just to friends and family to see how it would go out of a small commissary kitchen. And very quickly we realized it was going to take off because we thought we’d only start with 30, 40 customers and we had close to 100 customers within the first month and we had only told friends and family. So we knew we had something then and decided to scale it even more and make it something that would really resonate with the community and drive that wellness all over Nashville.

A group of 5 friends eating meals prepared by Eat Well Nashville.
Eat Well Nashville was born from a personal need for convenient healthy meals. Eat Well Nashville

Felix: What do you recommend other entrepreneurs focus on during the very early stages of starting a business?

Spencer: So one thing that I did that I see as a major problem with other entrepreneurs is they don’t do enough research upfront. There’s a lot of people in our space is very similar businesses that have failed. And I listened to a lot of podcasts and read a lot about those companies. So what I did was just reach out to the founders of the companies that failed and some of the companies that we’re succeeding in the space to see exactly what they recommended doing and what they recommended us staying away from and we learned a lot from that. Not only that, we flew to other markets to see what other companies were doing in the food delivery space to figure out what was working and what we liked and what we didn’t like.

The key ingredients to research and feedback 

Felix: When you were doing this research, what kind of questions did you want to have answered?

Spencer: All kinds of questions about the scale of the business. We wanted to view as much of the operations so we would ask some folks if we could check out the kitchen. And a lot of them would allow us to tour their kitchen and see how the operations worked. And that helped us tremendously because we had no clue really where to start on the operational side. Because we were hiring chefs here in Nashville that was coming out of high volume kitchens, like hotels and things like that, but they had never done meal prep at all. So we were starting from the ground up. So by doing that we were able to gain a lot of knowledge and grow the business based on the anecdotes we got from those visits.

Felix: What did you do to prepare for entering the food industry? 

Spencer: Reading as much information as you can about what’s happening in any given industry. And then also networking is the biggest part. I’ve been in Nashville now for 10 years and I’ve been able to develop a network that’s very open and I think the market you’re in has to be an open market. And that’s the great thing about Nashville is everyone’s very open to sharing ideas and to driving success within the community.

Felix: What was the vision at that early stage before things blew up?

Spencer: We saw it as just being in Nashville and kind of focusing on the fitness and health community, and this is one of the biggest mistakes we made early on is that we thought everyone was going to want brown rice and plain chicken that had very little flavor. And we realized really quickly that that wasn’t the need. First off the food and the product has to be amazing. It has to be flavorful. So the number one thing about the product is you have to have something that folks want to eat, whether it’s healthy or not. So when we started, we got the fitness crowd interested in the business and then we realized there was a much greater market with busy executives and just other people who had families and not much time that didn’t necessarily want it to be plain. So we had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to make healthy recipes that tasted amazing.

Felix: What made you decide to do that kind of pivot rather than just moving forward with your original hypothesis?

Spencer: I think the biggest thing was just the feedback we were getting from our customers. We were pretty relentless about surveying our customers and figuring out where they want to be, what they want. We realized from those surveys that, the people who are ordering are not necessarily just people in the fitness industry or people who do CrossFit. These are single mothers who have two, three kids. These are CEOs of major companies in Nashville and they’re asking us for these other things. So there’s a much bigger market. And from those surveys, we realize the customers that we’re trying our food, were not necessarily just the fitness people. That’s when we really quickly decided to make a little bit of a pivot to where we were providing healthy natural options but increasing the flavor, increasing the spice content and things like that.

A meal consisting of chicken, sweat potatoes, and salad from Eat Well Nashville.
From customer feedback, Eat Well Nashville was able to shift focus and incorporate more recipes to cater to a wider customer base. Eat Well Nashville

Felix: What are some of the most important questions that you guys asked customers?

Spencer: It’s all relative to the product that you’re selling, but for us, it’s all about product quality, product consistency. The other thing too that we ask our customers is how they want to be marketed too. And I think a lot of companies forget to ask that question. We had a lot of people ask for text message marketing for instance, because they were forgetting to order by Friday, which is our order cutoff day. So they couldn’t get their meals. When you’re a community-based company that’s focusing on a local market, it’s a lot easier to get customers who are willing to share that information because they want you to be better and they want you to be around for a long time.

Felix: Where do you begin the research and what are the important questions to ask for your industry?

Spencer: The number one thing about what we do is the product. So we’re relentless when it comes to product quality, product consistency. And so a majority of the focus is around our product, how consistent it is, the quality of the product, what sides they like, what they don’t like about different sides, what they don’t like about proteins. Because our customers are eating this food on average seven meals a week, every week, every other week. So we need to be very consistent, especially when they’re reordering the same meal. So for us, being our own customers and eating our own food, we realized that that needed to be the focus.

How growth and scaling took place 

Felix:  How did the idea gain momentum within the first month? 

Spencer: Yeah, we had over a 100 customers in the first 30 days. About double what we thought. And then the first year it grew very rapidly. We actually acquired a competitor in our first year of business, which then increased the size of the company pretty quickly because we acquired their customer base as well. So the first year we were serving thousands of customers and we had become a seven-figure company within our first year of business.

Felix: What do you think happened that allowed you to blow up so quickly? 

Spencer: Really it comes down to that being conscious of the product and putting out an amazing product and focusing it and eating the food ourselves. Word of mouth has by far been our number one marketing channel. And it’s just because the food is good. If you focus on your product and you’ve got an amazing product, your customers want to share that information. They want to refer other customers to your business. So that by far was one of the biggest things, and then the other aspect was just the B2B model that allowed us to go into businesses and pitch not just one customer but pitch to entire companies which really allowed us to scale the business very quickly. Because companies want their employees to eat better. So this was one way for us where we would go into a company and introduce them to the product and let them know what we were doing. Do a lunch and learn, maybe give them some snacks or some sample meals to try and that really helped tremendously.

Felix: How do you get the customers to try it out for the first time? 

Spencer: I mean there’s a couple of ways to do it. We’re discounting for first time buyers, which helps, a 15% discount is what we would offer to get someone to come in to purchase. But also I highly recommend for any entrepreneur with an eCommerce program using some sort of a reward points program or referral program. We use smile.io. They’ve been great for us. But that will allow customers to refer and the new customer gets a discount on the order, which helps tremendously.

Felix: What’s worked as an incentive for the rewards program to get existing customers to spread the word?

Spencer: So typically they’re getting 2% of the order value and points and then it’s basically like 1,000 points get you $10 off. So since our customers are coming back frequently, they’re getting access to that. And typically for the new customers that are being referred, they get $10 off their first order.

Felix: When it comes to this B2B model, when did you recognize that this was an opportunity? 

Spencer: We knew right away just because of our background in B2B marketing and sales that it’s easier to sell to 500 people versus selling to all of those people individually. So that was something we knew was going to be an opportunity upfront and that was one of the first things that we knew we were going to do is just go in and promote this with companies, especially a lot more companies having wellness programs and things like that. It’s made it easier for us to become a thought leader in the space and drive wellness within the companies, not just with food but with information. So, we’re constantly bringing our partners along. Like we might partner with a gym and have them come teach the company about fitness and we’ll teach them about nutrition.

Felix: What made you decide to acquire a competitor? 

Spencer: This company came to us and they were struggling financially, but they had a great customer base in the fitness space. We can capitalize on their customers. They’ve got a decent retention rate. They’ve got customers coming back. The other thing was just the knowledge from that company. They had been doing it for two to three years ahead of us. So we actually brought in one of their founders as our COO and took that knowledge and used that to grow.

Felix: What are the challenges that you face when you are integrating another company into yours?

Spencer: It was probably the hardest week of business because they were on a quick timeline, we were on a quick timeline to get the deal done. And basically we brought them into our kitchen and ran both processes side by side for two weeks and figured out the weaknesses in their process, but also where we could improve, which helped us in the transition but the biggest thing is the expectations of the customers may be different. So you have to realign on the marketing side and on the communication side. You have to realign thoughts on the product in general. They were expecting one type of product, more of the fitness-related product and we were focused, again, more on flavor, less just plain chicken and brown rice. So for us, we had to re-educate them on the fact that food can have spice and it can have flavor and still be healthy. It’s not like you just have to eat plain chicken and brown rice every day, every meal. So we had to realign those expectations and that was difficult for a while. We did lose some of the customers that we brought on but kept a majority of them. So it ended up working out well.

A group of three customers eating Eat Well Nashville meals on a picnic table.
An opportunity to acquire a competitor came up and Eat Well Nashville went through the process of syncing up two different processes, menus, and customer base into one. Eat Well Nashville

Felix: What is the development process to build on the menus and make sure you’re always staying fresh with your products?

Spencer: Most restaurants and other companies that do what we do, they start with the kitchen. They let the kitchen come up with all of the ideas around products, but we do it where our marketing and customer service teams look at the information of those surveys that we spoke about. And then they distill that into ideas and then they give that to the chefs and then the chefs come up with all the other menu items and options and we’ll come up with tasting menus for us all to try within the company. And that’s how we’re adding things to the menu.

Felix: How long ahead of time do you need to be basically doing all of this before it actually hits the shelves ready for customers to purchase?

Spencer: It took a month, two months, whatever to get the products ready. But now we have such a database. We have over a thousand different menu options in our database with all of the nutritional information, all the ingredient information lined up. So now we can bring in some old top sellers for us. So it makes it easier where we might be on a two-week turnaround versus a one-month turnaround on those menu items.

The logistics system behind the scenes 

Felix: How do you work with local farms as well to source the ingredients?

Spencer: As much as we can. We’re at a scale now that it’s been difficult for us to obtain enough product from local farms. So we’re working with regional distributors for the most part and we work with some local farms as well.

Felix: How do you handle the delivery of food products?

Spencer: It operates very much similar to like a Postmates or Uber Eats model where the drivers are coming in and picking up a certain amount of bags and then dropping those off at customers’ houses. And we have routing software and a way to track all of the deliveries so we make sure everyone is delivering to the right homes and that kind of thing. But yeah, it’s a very complex process, especially on the weekend. That’s when a majority of our work happens at Eat Well because our order cutoff is Friday for delivery on Sunday or Monday. So it gets very involved late Friday into Saturday and Sunday when we’re getting everything ready for delivery. We’re delivering everything in cooler bags, with ice packs to keep the food nice and cold. But that’s all a process. Bringing in the ice packs, bringing in enough bags, getting the bags out, scheduling the drivers. That’s all something that we’re managing within our company. So for us, that adds basically another aspect of the business. But luckily we’ve got a pretty good system locked in now. Originally, we’d have issues where drivers would drop the bags at the wrong houses and things like that. And we haven’t had that as of recently because of our delivery tracking or delivery software and the way we manage our drivers.

The balance between helpful reminders and marketing communications 

Felix: What are these multiple touchpoints throughout the week that allows you to not rely on a subscription model for your business?

Spencer: Our biggest things are email marketing and engaging in some drip process. I definitely recommend for any business where anyone who hasn’t ordered is getting a reminder to order into later in the week because most people are procrastinators. So what we’re finding is most of our orders are coming in on the last day that we allow orders. So for us, we have to stay on top of them. So that comes down to email, drip marketing and then we have this really cool tool called Emotive that we’re using now, which allows you to drip market via text which we’re seeing some great results with.

Felix: What is the email process and frequency? 

Spencer: We’re sending them roughly about five emails a week right now, but the thing is if you’ve ordered early in the week, you’re not going to get all that communication. So at the beginning of the week, we’re introducing them to our new product items showing them customer testimonials, introducing them to our new gym partners that we might be cross-promoting with that kind of thing. And then by the end of the week, it’s more like a timer countdown, And then the same thing via text. It’s introducing them to the product and then telling them that the timeline is getting closer and driving that sense of urgency in the ordering process.

Felix: How do you systematize the content that you’re sending out over email and text?

Spencer: Yeah, we have it all templated out and we set it up ahead of time. It is a full-time job for our marketing and community coordinator. And he’s doing a great job with it. Coming up with creative content, cross-promotions with other brands. But it’s tedious, it’s a lot of work, but you can template it out. You just want to make sure you’re adding value via whatever communication channel you’re using, whether it’s text or it’s email, make sure that you’ve got some value to add. I think that’s the biggest thing there, and then the other channel that we’re utilizing is push notifications via web browsers and that seems to be working pretty well for us. If you haven’t ordered until the end of the week, you might get 10 messages from us. What we’re working on right now is allowing our customers to pick and choose how we’re marketing to them. That way it’s not intrusive. If they don’t want to receive a text, we’re letting them opt out and make sure that we’re not intruding on them.

Felix: Are there any limitations that you are presented with via text compared to email?

Spencer: There are not as many limitations as you would think. I mean it’s just getting the opt-ins for text and so like if you go to our website, you’ll get a pop up that says, “Hey, would you like to receive a 10% discount? Opt-in to our texts list.” And then they get a 10% discount texted to them. From that point they’re opted-in to the drip and then we can start, sending more offers, showing them more menu items. But this tool is great. It gives us a lot of flexibility, gives us a lot of functionality.

A meal of chicken, brussel sprouts by Eat Well Nashville.
Text, push notifications, and emails, all ingredients to how Eat Well Nashville contact their customer base. Eat Well Nashville

Felix: What are some of the pros and cons of web notifications to your customers?

Spencer: So with push notifications, it’s really just about frequency because some customers will opt into it and then they get upset that they continue to receive those push notifications. You just have to allow them to opt-out. And with the tool we’re using push out, it really allows us to do a great job with that. So we haven’t seen too many limitations with that either.

Felix: What are the most important pages or parts of your website for getting conversions, whether that be the first time customers or returning customers?

Spencer: All comes down to the menu, and a lot of it honestly is just photography. Your eyes have to have a response to the way the menu items look because we’re introducing a lot of new items and if those items don’t look great, we’re not going receive orders even if they taste great. So our menu pages, we’ve got a handful of menu pages. We’ve got our regular breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, which is our highest converting page. But we also have build your own options where customers can pick the protein and the two sides they want for their meals. We’ve got family-style options, we’ve got kids options, bulk options. So all of those pages really convert well. But it’s all on the main menu page and then the sub-menu pages are where all the conversions happen.

Eating with our eyes and the importance of photography 

Felix: What changes have you made to improve the conversion rates by improving photography?

Spencer: Plate setting has been big for us. We’re very conscious about the colors on the plate, which you wouldn’t think about, but you got to have a variety of colors. So that changes the entire architecture of a dish essentially. You’re putting different things in the dish to make it. So there are hints of red, there are hints of green, garnishing. Those things are very important. Making sure you’ve got a good lighting studio’s important because the lighting is the number one key to a great photograph and making those images really pop. So for us that has been key is just building out that lighting studio and just adding in little things that add pops of color.

Felix: Has the store design been the same or have you guys also made tweaks to the actual layouts or to the different pages that you’ve created?

Spencer: We’re constantly changing the makeup of the pages. Originally, we didn’t start on Shopify, we migrated to Shopify and it’s been really easy to use and great for us in terms of just being able to quickly make small edits, like having the breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the same page, having them on different pages, testing out different ways of combining the menu. That’s been really important to us.

Felix: How did you know to categorize products together in different meals will help with conversions?

Spencer: It was all feedback from the customers, they basically gave us all the feedback we needed and told us, in terms of diets, like the keto diet, we didn’t carry until this past summer and we got an overwhelming response from our customer base asking to have the keto menu on there. If you’re creating that communication level with your customers, they’re going to tell you exactly how they want the site and how they will convert.

The ever-changing role of the founder 

Felix: Since you guys have grown so quickly, what do you spend your days working on these days?

Spencer: A lot of it is the strategy and then coming up with larger deals in terms of sales. Working with companies to roll out programs where they may be buying meals for their employees. I’m still doing a lot of sales and I still do a lot of the day to day because I think it’s important as the CEO of the company to continue to see all aspects of your business because it’s so easy as a manager or CEO of a company to not understand the thought process of your team. Myself and my COO will operate in all roles at some point throughout the month. And that gives us an idea of where we need to improve because another challenging aspect of the business is just hiring. Finding great people, especially when unemployment rates are so low and when we have such a labor shortage when it comes to hospitality and restaurant jobs in Nashville. So for us, we really need to understand how the employees can thrive and what they’re going through. So we’re still doing a lot of that stuff. I think it’s very important to see where your employees are coming from.

Felix: What are some of the early signs that you recognize in a high performer or hire that will do well at the company?

Spencer: It might sound obvious, but the number one thing we look for is attitude. It’s very easy to see upfront whether someone has a great attitude or not. And we feel that we can train anyone to do a great job within our business as long as their attitude is phenomenal. So we don’t take that by chance, we actually bring in our candidates for test drives and allow them to see how the work is before they actually sign on and come in as an employee. And that allows us to test drive them and them to test drive us to make sure it’s a good fit. That way we’re not wasting our time bringing someone into the company who’s unhappy.

A group of four friends eating Eat Well Nashville meals together.
Even though Spencer Donaldson’s role is everchanging, his main commitment is to stay close to customers’ feedback. Eat Well Nashville

Felix: So what do you focus on these days to scale to the next level?

Spencer: Really it comes down to the biggest thing is just hiring and then scaling outside of our market. So adding more and more communities within the middle Tennessee area. Right now we’re serving about a 60-mile radius around Nashville. But we’re constantly adding new cities because we’re getting requests on our website from folks who are like, “Hey, please bring your service to our city.” So we’re focusing on building out those communities, but really we just want to do an amazing job here before we start thinking about scaling to a new market for instance.

Felix: What are some of the challenges that maybe you didn’t see coming when it comes to expanding to another market?

Spencer: How we do it, might be a little bit different, but we start with a pickup location. So we’ll go into a market and open a pickup location. So I have it delivered to a gym in a city that we want to market to. And then we have the gym promote it, see how that does and then decide whether or not the response is good enough to open it up as a city we’re going to deliver to. And so once we see that, if we see the response’s great, then we’ll open it up for delivery. But it isn’t always that clean-cut and it’s not always that easy. And sometimes the cities you go to just don’t work out for whatever reason. They’ve got other competitors in the market or maybe folks aren’t as interested in healthy natural options as you would hope.



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18 Competitor Analysis Tools To Spy On Your Competition

18 Competitor Analysis Tools To Spy On Your Competition


Have you ever envied James Bond for his impressive ability to infiltrate his nemeses? Rifling through filing cabinets, unlocking secrets, and discovering hidden intel—that’s the kind of stuff that gets you ahead of the competition.

While you shouldn’t go rifling through your competitors’ filing cabinets, there are still some ways you can (and should) keep tabs on your competition. And unlike James Bond, it doesn’t have to be a life-or-death adventure.

When you keep an eye on what your competition is up to, you can stay ahead of the game by utilizing your competitor research to fuel your business decisions. After all, it only makes sense to take a leaf from the books of brands that are already successful.

In this post, we’re listing the best tools you can use to spy on your competition so you can make better decisions for your business.

Let’s dive straight in.

What are the Benefits of Competitor Analysis?

Competitor analysis is time-consuming so you might be wondering, why bother? The simple fact is that you can’t effectively compete when you don’t know your competitors. You need to know what your competitors are doing so you can stand apart from them.

For ecommerce businesses specifically, competitor research can help you:

  • Identify industry trends
  • Adjust your pricing
  • Create benchmarks for you to aspire to
  • Make informed marketing decisions
  • Find gaps in the market to capitalize on

This kind of information continually evolves as the market around you changes. This makes competitor analysis relevant not just to first-time business owners but to anyone that wants to stay ahead in their industry. This is why making a habit of researching your competition regularly is a wise decision. Check-in with your competitor analysis at least quarterly.

How to Get Started with Competitor Research

The first and perhaps most crucial time to conduct competitor research is before you even start your company. By analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your intended competition, you’ll be more likely to spot gaps in the market where you can give yourself an edge.

Identify Your Competition

First things first, you need to identify who the most relevant players in your niche are.

To do this, open an incognito/private browser window. This will enable you to search the web with a clean slate that’s not influenced by your past searches or location so you’ll be given the most accurate results.

To start your investigation, enter keywords and phrases into Google that are relevant to your brand. Not sure what to search? Ask yourself, “What will my customers be searching for?” Make a list of your ideas, search for those keywords and phrases in Google, and see which brands come up as the top results. And voila, you’ll be identifying your competitors!

You could also do similar searches on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit or any other social media platforms or forums that are relevant to your niche. Once you find some competitors, you could even use SimilarWeb to identify others.

There really is no limit to how you can search for your top competitors so think outside the box—these suggestions are just a good starting point.

Categorize Your Competition

Throughout your search, you’ll find plenty of brands that are authorities in your industry. While it’s wise to know as many of them as possible, you’ll just want to focus on your direct competition so you don’t get too overwhelmed.

Try categorizing the competitors you find into the subsections below:

  • The Primary Competition: These are your direct competition. They target the same audience as you and might offer a very similar product or service. We suggest identifying 3–5 primary competitors to become your main targets.
  • The Secondary Competition: These brands offer a similar product or service to you but specialize in something slightly different such as a higher or lower-end variant or maybe they appeal to a different type of customer. While they’re still your competition, their target market is somewhat different from yours.
  • The Tertiary Competition: This includes businesses that are related to your industry but aren’t exactly the same. Tertiary competitors are useful for expanding your product catalog or just help you keep an eye on market shifts and trends. While they’re not usually actively competing with you, it’s worth keeping them on your radar to watch their development. For example, if you sell office furniture, a tertiary competitor might be a brand focusing on stationery.

When categorizing your competition, create a spreadsheet (like the ones on Airtable, check out our Airtable Review here) to document the following information:

  • The name of the brand
  • Their location
  • Their mission statement
  • Their strengths and weaknesses
  • Their category level (Primary, Secondary or Tertiary competition)
  • What they’re selling

Having all of this data in one place will make it easy to refer back to later on.

Investigate Your Competitors’ Websites

Once you have a list of your top competitors, you can start browsing their website to find out crucial information, like:

  • How they emphasize their value proposition
  • What their shipping options and prices are
  • What their calls-to-action are and how obvious they are
  • How they build their email list (do they use lead magnets?)
  • How their product prices compare to yours

You can also find more relevant information by browsing the brand’s and founder’s social media pages and blogs—you’d be surprised at what some brand owners/founders share on their personal channels so it might be worth your time to do some digging!

If you want to go into even more detail with your competitor analysis—or if you’re particularly trying to improve your SEO or marketing strategy—you could also look for the following:

  • Any special features on their website that you might want to add to yours
  • The quality of their customer experience like their cart abandonment strategy, how they provide customer support, whether they have a mobile app, etc.
  • Their content marketing tactics like what blog topics they cover or the types of content they produce
  • Their marketing tactics such as the types of promotions or discounts they offer
  • Their email marketing approach—do they send newsletters, promo codes, updates about their blog, or something else?
  • Their approach to social media like what platforms they’re on, how frequently they post, and how they engage with and respond to their followers
  • The reviews they get from customers and whether they get recurring complaints or which products are highly rated

All of this information will give you things to think about so you can make better decisions for your business to reach your desired goals.

How to Research Your Competition Yourself

If you’re trying to analyze competitors without the help of any tools, you’re in for a considerable time investment. But, it can be done.

Below are some of the ways you can do the legwork yourself:

  • Subscribe to Your Their Email Newsletter: This will help you keep track of how your competition uses email marketing (if they use email marketing at all).
  • Check Their Ratings & Reviews: Read up on Trustpilot, Glassdoor, and Google, as well as forums and social media. The reviews and comments on these platforms will help you understand what their customers are loving or hating.
  • Follow Their Social Media Accounts: Keep up with their social media marketing, content strategies, and promotions on all their platforms. Observe how your competitors use different social media channels to promote their products.
  • Purchase One of Their Products: Purchase a product and keep in mind the pricing, shipping costs, and packaging when it arrives. Shipping costs, in particular, are a primary reason customers abandon shopping carts, so pay attention to how your competitors combat that issue.
  • Almost Purchase an Item but Abandon Your Cart: By abandoning your shopping cart during the checkout process, you can check whether they’re using abandoned cart emails with incentives to try and save sales.
  • Research Their Funding: Look into whether your competition receives crowd-sourced funding via Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and look on Crunchbase to see if they have an investment portfolio. This information can give you an idea of what kind of cash flow they’re working with so you can anticipate how they plan to scale.

Now that you know what the legwork looks like, let’s proceed to what we’re really here for—the exciting spy gadgets that make competitor research a whole lot easier.

The Best Free Tools to Spy on Your Competitors

Google Alerts

Google Alerts Competitive Research

Google Alerts is a standard tool that you can use to monitor virtually anything online—like your competitors. Enter your competitor’s brand name and/or any related keywords and Google Alerts will email you when they’re mentioned online. This will help you keep track of when they’re in the press and, more importantly, for what reason!

Whois

Whois Domain Search

Every website is registered in the Whois Database so head over there and type in a competitor’s domain name and you can possibly learn who registered the domain and when. We say “possibly” because the information can—and often is—redacted for privacy reasons.

If you can find out who registered the domain, however, it can help you identify the founder’s personal social media accounts and/or blog where you can possibly find out more information about their business and future plans for it.

Twitter Advanced Search

Twitter Advanced Search

This tool wasn’t exactly created to be a competitor research tool, however, it can be used for that purpose with a little bit of creativity. You can use Twitter’s Advanced Search feature to discover people and brands that are operating in the same niche as you and as a “social listening” tool to keep an ear on what consumers are saying about your competitors. You can get pretty in-depth with it so with a little imagination, you can likely get some valuable competitor research done with it.

The Best Paid Spy Tools for Conducting Competitor Analysis

If your budget allows you to spend money on tools to conduct competitor analysis, these are what we recommend using.

SEMrush, Ahref & Spyfu

SEMrush Competitor Research

These powerful SEO tools—SEMrush, Ahrefs, and SpyFu —allow you to research your competitor’s keyword usage, as well as how their ad campaigns are performing. They index a large number of websites for you to browse and observe.

You can also enter the keywords you’re considering for your own content, see how competitors have optimized for them, and how much traffic it has gained them.

You can even view which pieces of their content performed best, and what didn’t work as well. Then, once you’ve identified the weaknesses in their strategy, you can improve upon them for your own store.

Besides keyword research, you can conduct backlink research, too. This enables you to get a look into your competition’s complete SEO strategy (both on-page and off-page) by seeing the websites that are linking back to your competitor’s website. Backlinks powerfully boost SEO and using these tools can give you insight into how your competitors are getting traffic and where exactly it’s coming from.

Out of the three tools, SEMrush is the one we’ve used the most often. We’ve used it to massively improve our own SEO results and it does competitor research thoroughly and powerfully. If you’re interested to learn more about what exactly SEMrush does, check out our SEMrush Review.

Mangools Tools

Mangools SEO Research

Some of our favorite tools to monitor and improve our own SEO are made by the Mangools team, and their suite of tools can also be used to perform competitor analysis. Our favorite is KWFinder (KWFinder Review) which can be used to find out which sites are ranking for which keywords and roughly what amount of search traffic they receive because of it, but you can also use:

  • SERPChecker: This tool is specifically designed to help you find weak spots in your competitors’ search engine ranking positions.
  • SiteProfiler: Check the domain authority and trustworthiness of any website so you can see how important search engines view the site’s content. You can also use this tool to find your competitor’s top-performing content.
  • LinkMiner: This tool checks the SEO power of the backlinks your competitors are getting so you can target them too. Save a list of the backlinks your competitors are getting and contact those sites to hijack the backlinks.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo Competitor Analysis

BuzzSumo is a tool that analyzes content based on how popular it is. Use it to search keywords and discover where those keywords performed best around the web—on what website, in what kind of content, where the content was shared, and how often it was shared.

BuzzSumo analyzes content from all over the web as well as social media to bring in the results. Not sure what we mean? Try it out right on their site! You just have to search for a keyword.

The information BuzzSumo generates can help you discover brands and websites that are also targeting your keywords so you can either partner with them (if they’re influencers) or compete against them (if they’re brands). It’s a way to get your eyes on all the top-performing content out there for search terms related to your brand and products so you can make better-informed business decisions.

Monitor Backlinks

Monitor Backlinks Competitor Analysis

Monitoring your competitor’s backlinks is a valuable way to find blogs and websites that present potential linking opportunities for you as well. Tools like Monitor Backlinks identify which of your competitors have a strong network of backlinks, who linked to them, and what content invited more links. Some of the software’s features overlap with the SEO tools we mentioned above but it’s their main specialty so Monitor Backlinks is worth a mention.

Owletter

Owletter Competitive Research

Owletter captures, stores, and analyzes your competitors’ emails. If you’re curious about their newsletters and promotion ideas, use this tool to see what they’re sending out and learn from their strategies.

VisualPing

VisualPing Competitive Analysis

VisualPing takes daily screenshots of any websites of your choice and will notify you if and when anything changes.

You’ll be one of the first to know whenever your competitors update their design, upload a new product, or start a new promotion. This tool makes analyzing their website trends and keeping on top of their updates so much easier!

WP Boom

WPBoom Competitive Analysis

WP Boom works similarly to VisualPing and also compares before-and-after screenshots. Its primary purpose is to identify changes after WordPress updates—making it easier to catch any undesirable changes—but you could also use WP Boom to monitor other WordPress sites (like your competitors’).

Change Tower

Change Tower Competitor Research

Change Tower is also used to monitor websites. Again, you can set up alerts for when competitors make specific changes to their website but best of all, you can receive multiple notifications at different points in the day, even on their free plan.

Awario

Awario Competitor Research

Awario works similarly to Google Alerts. It notifies you when your business (or a competitor’s business) is mentioned anywhere on the web and takes note of keywords relevant to your industry. This means that you can be the first to respond to consumer questions, suggest your product to solve a problem that consumers are having, and monitor feedback on competitors’ products.

Mention

Mention Competition Analysis

Mention is another solution you can use to watch the web for conversations related to your brand or product. It also provides in-depth brand intelligence depending on your marketing goals and visualizes data based on your KPIs. Their automated reports make it easy to share your results with clients and management.

WooRank

WooRank SEO Competitve Research

WooRank wrangles all the data so you can monitor the success of a website. This means you can track your competitors’ promotions, content, or ad campaigns when they launch to see how they perform over time. This tool isn’t necessarily meant for this use-case—it’s meant to track your own website’s SEO progress—but spying on the competition is an alternative use-case.

Panjiva

Panjiva Competitor Research

This is a bit more of an advanced competitor spying tool, however, it’s worth a mention because it’s pretty unique. With Panjiva you can track where your competitors are sourcing their products from via their importing and exporting data.

Trade between countries is documented, and when companies bring in products or send products out, Panjiva knows about it. It’s a pretty interesting tool and you can get some useful information from it. Just note that your competitors might be trading under a name that’s different from their brand name, so if you’re having trouble finding their data make sure you search using their trade name.

Instapaper

Instapaper Research Organization

This isn’t exactly a competitor research tool as such, however, Instapaper makes collecting research about your competitors easier. The tool simplifies your bookmarking system so you can save the tabs you have open to read later in a more organized way. You can also save clippings of text, highlight sections, and make annotations so you can record your thoughts and insights as you go.

If you’re just starting out with competitor analysis and you’re learning lots from your competitor’s content, this tool can streamline the process by keeping all your research in one easy-to-access place.

Use These Tools to Stay Ahead of Your Competition

We hope you found this list of tools useful for kickstarting your competitor analysis.

So, what have we learned? In a nutshell:

  • Researching your competition is crucial for running a new business
  • Identifying the key players in your market and how they operate is vital to the future success of your business
  • Competitor research should continually inform your business, marketing, and SEO decisions
  • It’s crucial you stay up-to-date with your competitor’s promotions, pricing, and new marketing plans
  • You can use powerful tactics, tools, and software to make competitor analysis easier

With competitor analysis, you can make informed business decisions that keep you ahead of the competition and more likely to be at the forefront of consumer’s minds.





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