3 Bottom-Line Boosting Strategies to Skyrocket Online Sales

Money Mindset Series: 3 Bottom-Line Boosting Strategies to Skyrocket Online Sales #digitalmarketing #smallbusiness #smallbusinessmarketing #profitfirst #onlinesales #onlinebusiness #beingboss #beboss #moneymindset #samcart #entrepreneur #smallbiz #techtutorial

If you run a business or blog and sell products/services online, you probably spend a LOT of time driving traffic to your website and building your audience. I know personally, at least 50% of my time each week is dedicated to social media marketing, managing Facebook ads, maintaining my Pinterest posting schedule, email marketing, networking with other business owners to get more exposure and cross-collaborate, write blog posts...the list goes on and on!

It takes a lot of time, effort, and often money to nurture someone along in a marketing or sales funnel, and get them to the point where they are interested in making a purchase. Often this is called “customer acquisition cost” or “cost per sale”. It can be EXPENSIVE to get new customers interested in your business when you really start looking at the numbers!

Maybe this isn’t something you think about that often or really track or analyze every month. It’s definitely not one of the more “fun” parts of running a business...however, understanding these costs and doing what you can to maximize the “return on investment” for your marketing efforts will help you build a more profitable business in the long run.

Today, I want to share three things on the sales side that can help you make the most of each sale of a product or service for your online business. These three strategies ensure that once you’ve done all the hard work of:

  1. Getting someone to your website
  2. Capturing their interest in your product or services
  3. Establishing and building trust with that customer, and
  4. Convincing them to purchase from you…

...that they ultimately follow through and complete the checkout process with you.

As you may know if you’ve read my blog for a while or attended one of my workshops in the past, my sister and I own a local bakery together in Oak Park, IL (just outside Chicago). Several times per year, we accept online orders for major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and 4th of July. These online pre-order sales are HUGE revenue drivers for our business, and I am always strategizing new ways for us to increase pre-sales for these big holiday seasons.

One thing I have been struggling with for the past couple months is that a lot of our less tech-savvy and older customers have a difficult time understanding the concept of an online checkout process. Time and time again, I am getting calls from customers who added items to their cart...but don’t understand that they actually have to enter their credit card information to complete the transaction.

Now, to a lot of people who are on the Internet all the time, and extremely used to buying things online, this may seem ridiculous. BUT, after going through all the work to acquire a customer...losing the sale to something as simple as a technology barrier is super frustrating.

There are all sorts of reasons potential customers decide not to purchase from you, and technology barriers or usability of your checkout process is just one of those reasons.

The point is, once you have done the hard work of acquiring a customer...the easy part should be making sure the checkout process is seamless once they want to make a purchase from you.

That is why I started using SamCart for my own business, and why I have implemented it for several of my clients now, as well. Their checkout pages are gorgeous, streamlined, and (my favorite part) … only one page long. No opportunity for lost sales during a multi-page checkout process. Perfect.

SamCart's checkout page templates are streamlined & user-friendly.

In addition to the simple, well-designed checkout pages and user-friendly checkout process, there are THREE features included with SamCart that help you increase sales:

  1. Upsells
  2. Cart abandonment follow-up
  3. Creating true scarcity & urgency

I wanted to talk about each of these features and give you a quick demo. I am super impressed by how easy SamCart has made it to implement these features into your checkout process, so you can maximize the value of each sale once you have done the hard work to get a customer “in the door”.

Upsells & Cross-Sells

Upsells & cross-sells are the digital equivalent of asking someone if they want to “supersize” their order with you. (I hate that expression, but hopefully it is one that most of you can understand to conceptualize this strategy!)

Basically, SamCart allows you to upsell a totally separate product on your checkout page, that may be related to the product they are currently purchasing. You can offer the upsell product at a reduced price if they bundle it with the product they’re currently purchasing, or sell it at the full price.

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 12.07.00 PM.png

The reason I love this feature is because it allows me to get my related products on customers’ radar right at the point they are most interested in purchasing from me. Even if they don’t end up purchasing the product right then and there, they at least see it and become aware that it’s available. Really, planting a seed in their mind and starting to build interest in that next product they might be interested in buying.

Once a customer has bought from you ONCE, they are much more likely to buy from you a second time.

One company that does a GREAT job of offering upsells during the checkout process is Amazon. If you’ve ever added an item to your cart on Amazon, you’ve probably seen the section for “Customers also bought…” that includes links to related products.

I recently bought a new cash box for our store, and when I added it to my cart I was presented with offers to buy a security pen (the pen that tells you if large bills are real or fake), a price scale, and a locking cash drawer. Honestly, these are ALL things I would consider purchasing or at least felt reminded that I should think about.

Amazon is one company that does a great job offering upsells and cross-sells after you add an item to your cart.

SamCart makes it easy to offer upsells with just a couple clicks when you are setting up your product checkout pages. Love this!

Cart Abandonment Follow-Up

This is a newer feature of SamCart, and I love that they decided to add this in. This is something that I felt was missing from their checkout page toolkit before...and I am excited to implement this feature now that it is available.

Have you ever shopped online, added something to your cart, but then didn’t actually make a purchase? Sometimes, you will get an email a couple hours or days later reminding you that you added the item to your cart, and asking if you want to complete the purchase.

I can’t tell you how many times I get interrupted (especially when I am impulse-buying in the middle of the day!), and forget to check out.

By sending a reminder email, you will be more likely to get that customer interested again, and remind them to actually go ahead and make a purchase from you.

Consider also taking it to the next level by offering a coupon, add-on offer, or some other incentive for them to go back and make the purchase.

SamCart has an integration with Zapier that allows you to connect SamCart to ConvertKit, and when someone visits your checkout page and begins to fill out the form (but fails to complete the transaction), you can tag them in ConvertKit and send them through a reminder sequence to complete their purchase.

SamCart and Zapier allow you to integrate with popular email marketing platforms, project management software, messaging apps, and texting tools. This means you can automatically follow-up with customers who don't complete the checkout process on your website...increasing conversions up to 35%.

This is so easy … you don’t even have to do any manual work once you set this up, and it will help increase your sales on auto-pilot for you. SamCart has said that their tests show 35% increase in sales using cart abandonment reminders, which is pretty impressive!

If you don’t use ConvertKit, they also integrate with tons of other email platforms...MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, AWeber, etc.

Zapier & SamCart can also integrate with Facebook Messenger, Trello, Asana, and tons of other apps so you can create a custom workflow that makes sense for your business and team, if you don’t want to use email for the cart abandonment follow-up.

Pretty neat!

Creating Scarcity & Urgency

This sales strategy is nothing new, and you may already be using it to increase sales and encourage people to buy your product or services.

Until SamCart integrated this feature into their checkout software, I was using a clunky, manual workflow to turn off and on pages of my website to manage cart open and cart close deadlines. I had no good way to cap sales of digital products (or services), either. This was an issue when I was selling one of my courses in the fall that had a start and end date...I didn’t want more than 10 students enrolled, and I had no way other than turning off the checkout page when I hit 10 enrollments to cap enrollment.

Now, SamCart allows you to automatically close checkout after a certain date AND stop accepting orders once you have hit a limit.

With SamCart's built in deadline and purchase cap features, you can create true urgency and scarcity in your offers.

This allows you to create true scarcity, without hacking together a clunky workflow or manually managing it yourself on the back end.

Very slick!

If you’d like to check out SamCart, they offer a 14 day free trial of their Basic or Pro accounts, as well as a 30 day free trial of their Premium plans. I use their Basic plan, and find it more than sufficient for selling digital products and services, but if you are selling subscriptions, need to accept recurring payments, or want to use advanced upselling or cross-selling functionality, I recommend looking into their Pro or Premium plan.

Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions

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How To Get Started Using Facebook Ads to Market Your Business or Blog

5 Steps to Complete BEFORE Hitting Publish on Facebook Ads Campaigns (for Facebook Ads beginners)

So -- you want to use Facebook Ads as part of your marketing strategy?

Welcome to the club!

There are over 2 billion active monthly users on Facebook, so chances are your future customers are hanging out on the platform. Using Facebook Ads to connect with your customers, readers, and future clients is a great way to broaden your reach...often for much cheaper than other advertising outlets when done correctly.

The problem is, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. There are TONS of tutorials out there that show you how to use Facebook Advertising to market your business, plenty of examples and ideas, and countless success stories to provide inspiration. But if you're starting from scratch...where do you begin?

This post will teach you the five practical steps you should take BEFORE hitting "publish" on your ads. If you do these things first, you will be set up for success when the time comes to actually start running your Facebook Ad campaigns!

PS -- If you want to read more about running successful & profitable Facebook ad campaigns, check out my posts here and here!

Let's dig in...

1 - Install the Facebook pixel on your website

Install the Facebook Pixel on your website BEFORE you run Facebook Ads!

If you haven’t heard of a Facebook pixel before, basically it is a small code snippet that you install on your website to track who is visiting your site.

Once you start using Facebook ads to market your business, you will use your Facebook pixel to do all sorts of things -- from helping you figure out who should see your ads, to tracking how your ads perform, to figuring out whether your ad dollars have resulted in sales (and what your Return on Investment is).

Before you start running Facebook ads, make sure you install the Facebook pixel on your website.

I promise this isn’t as hard as you think, and it won’t take long!

Here are the instructions for installing a Facebook pixel on Squarespace.

If your site is hosted on Wordpress, you need to install the pixel code in your header tag. You can either do this manually (if you have access to your server and are a bit tech savvy), or get a plugin that will let you do this easily via the Wordpress admin UI.

2 - Set a budget

Set a budget before you start running Facebook Ads.

Budgeting with Facebook ads can be very tricky.

Especially if you’re just getting started with Facebook ads, it can be tough to know how much to spend to see good results.

Typically, people are surprised to see how much it can cost to run effective Facebook ads. I highly recommend coming up with a system for how you will measure ROI and cost-per-sale (not just cost-per-click or cost-per-lead) with your ads.

If this all sounds like gibberish to you and you have no clue where to begin, remember: The most important thing to do is come up with what you can (realistically) spend on Facebook ads right now.

If it’s $50 a month -- that’s OK.

If it’s $1000 a month, that’s also OK.

Remember you are NOT going to be just boosting posts for $5 or $10 a time. Boosting one-off posts is a great way to burn through your budget quickly, without seeing results!

For now, just decide on your budget and commit to it.

If you truly don't know what a realistic number to begin with would be, I would recommend starting with a budget of $20 a week for your ads, and growing from there as you start to get comfortable that your ads are resulting in sales or leads. Once you’re able to measure your ROI and cost-per-sale, you will be able to more confidently budget for future ad spend.

3 - Get clear on WHY you want to run ads

This is a step that a lot of business owners sadly skip.

I have seen many, many people simply start boosting posts for $5, $10, $20 here and there...only to feel like “Facebook ads don’t work”.

Well - duh!

In those cases, generally the person failed to have a strategy in place before diving in headfirst to execution.

If you were planning to go on vacation, would you just get in the car and drive to the airport?

Of course not!

You’d do some research and decide where you want to go, probably spend some time saving up for your plane ticket, book a hotel, maybe read some guidebooks about where you’re going, pack your suitcase, etc etc.

The same goes for Facebook ads!

Don’t just start boosting posts or running ads before you know what you’re trying to get out of it. Your outcome goal should be very specific.

  • If you’re trying to increase sales -- what are you selling? How much do you want to sell?
  • If you’re trying to build awareness for your business -- what do you want people to know? How will you know if you've increased awareness in your target market?
  • If you’re trying to drive more traffic to your site -- what do you want them to see when they land on your page? By how much are you hoping to increase traffic, and what do you want to do with that traffic?
  • If you’re trying to book more clients -- what services do you want to sell? How many clients do you want to book?

Be as specific as possible with your target outcome.

If you have more than one reason for wanting to run Facebook ads, that is totally OK!

Capture each reason as separate outcome goals, and make sure you think about how that might impact your budget (advertising multiple things could mean more marketing spend).

These outcome goals will become your Campaign Objectives once you get into setting up and publishing your Facebook Ads using the Facebook Ads manager. Don't overlook this step!

4 - Identify your target market: who are you trying to reach?

Hopefully, you already have a good understanding of who your target customer is or who you are trying to reach. If not, make sure you get super crystal-clear on that before you start running ads.

One of the first things you’ll do when you set up your Facebook ads is build an audience (the people who will see your ad).

Try to be as detailed as possible when identifying your target customer. If you can, include geographic information about where they live, demographic information such as age, gender, marital status, lifestyle info such as whether they own a home, whether they have kids, income range, and even other companies they may shop at or “like” on social media.

If you've installed the Facebook pixel and are already getting traffic to your site (or if you have a list of past customers who've purchased from you), you can use Facebook's built in "Audience Insight" tools to learn more about the people who already visit your site or buy from you (aka "warm traffic"). 

5 - Set yourself up to capture emails

Whether or not you plan to use email marketing for your business, set yourself up to capture emails if you are going to be using Facebook ads.

This will make re-targeting with your ads much easier in the future, and you will save money in the long run if you show your ads to a “known” audience (aka "warm" audience).

Put a form on your website or landing page where visitors to your site can enter your email address. If you want to feed these into an email marketing platform, you can do that. OR, just have them save to a Google spreadsheet if want to keep things bare-bones simple.

Psst … if you need help deciding on an email platform, I wrote a post that can help you with that!

Small business owners and bloggers with limited marketing budgets CAN be successful using Facebook Ads...it just takes some careful planning, research, and commitment to testing and iterating on your plan. I hope this post helps you get started using Facebook Ads to market your business or blog!

Have you run Facebook ads for your business? What was your experience like? If you haven’t run ads before -- what’s holding you back? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

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How To Use Facebook Custom Audiences to Improve your Marketing Strategy

How to use Facebook custom audiences to improve your marketing strategy, maximize your marketing budget, and connect with future customers.

It is truly incredible what you can do with Facebook ads these days. The platform has come a LONG way over the past several years, and now it is easier than ever for small business owners and bloggers to leverage Facebook ads to grow their business (even on a small budget).

There is so much to learn when it comes to Facebook ads...from strategy, to technology, to tracking their performance...it really starts to ad up! It can all become super overwhelming quickly, especially if you have never used Facebook ads before.

Now, I don’t know about you...but in addition to having limited time to learn a new technology like Facebook ads, I also don’t have an enormous marketing budget for my business. I am always reluctant to invest in paid marketing unless I can be sure it is going to produce results.

Honestly, that was one of the reasons I started using Facebook ads in the first place -- because it was dead-simple to track your return on investment (ROI), and I could very clearly see whether or not my marketing investment was resulting in sales. Unlike some other marketing options out there, this made using Facebook ads to market my business a no-brainer.

Even if you have a tiny marketing budget, you can be successful using Facebook ads to market and grow your business. When I was starting out, I sometimes spent as little as $10 per week on ads. One of the cool things about Facebook ads, is that once you find a strategy that works for your business...it is easy to scale. So, if you play around at a lower budget price point and find something that works, then you can start investing more and more money into your ad strategy as you become comfortable that you are getting a positive ROI.

Like I said, there is a TON to learn when it comes to Facebook ads. Most small business owners who I have worked with in the past will dip their toes into the world of Facebook ads using the “Boost Post” or “Promote Event” button, which you may already be familiar with. This button gets a bad rap, because often people start using it before they have thought through their ad strategy, and properly set up the back-end tech to track ROI for their Facebook ads.

Today, I’m going to be talking about how you can maximize your marketing budget with Facebook ads by using custom audiences. This will help you rest assured that you are NOT wasting money, and give you plenty of control over the results you're seeing with Facebook ads and flexibility to experiment as you grow!

What is a custom audience?

When you are working with Facebook ads, there are three main components I recommend you think through BEFORE running your ads:

  1. Audience
  2. Outcome
  3. Creative

#1 on that list is audience!

Quite simply, your audience basically means the people who will be “served” your ad. These are the folks on Facebook who will see your ad in their feed.

Simple enough, right?

Ideally, you want to make sure you are only spending money to show your ad to people who fit your ideal customer persona. If you aren’t careful, it is very easy to show your ad to lots of people who are not your ideal customer. This ends up wasting your valuable marketing dollars VERY quickly, and you can burn through your entire budget without seeing results.

This is one reason why the “boost post” button gets a bad rap. If you don’t take the time to set up custom audiences, Facebook basically guesses who they should show your ad to.

I don't know about you, but when it comes to my budget ... I don't want to waste it on guessing!

You have a lot of flexibility in Facebook’s platform to create different audiences, depending on what you want to advertise.

As your marketing strategy matures and you get more advanced with your Facebook ad and sales funnel strategies, you will see that you can really get into some fancy stuff with Facebook ads. Targeting warm vs. cold traffic, retargeting website visitors who didn’t make a purchase, retargeting past customers with related product offers, etc.

It’s pretty impressive when you consider everything you can possibly do with Facebook ads!

I’m don't want to get ahead of myself here, or overwhelm you if you’re new to Facebook ads. This should give you a basic overview of what a custom audience is in Facebook.

Let’s move along!

What can you use custom audiences for?

As I already mentioned, you can do some pretty nifty stuff with Facebook audiences when it comes to marketing & sales funnel strategy.

But getting back to basics, I want to cover three basic options for custom audiences that you can use right away to benefit your business:

Option 1 - Gain insight into your existing audience

By creating a custom audience in Facebook’s ads manager tool, you can get insight into a ton of useful information about people who visit your website, “Like” your Facebook page, buy your products, attend your events, etc.

Facebook has a powerful audience insights tool that lets you view demographic information, online activity, even detailed lifestyle information that can help you pinpoint who exactly your followers and customers are.

Option 2 - Run Facebook ads to “warm” traffic

One thing that you will quickly learn if you run Facebook ads regularly, is that it can be expensive to advertise to “cold” traffic. Cold traffic basically means people who (until they see your ad) have NO idea who you are, and what your business is.

It costs a lot more to get cold traffic to convert into a customer, than it does to convert warm traffic.

Warm traffic means people who already know about your business, maybe already “Like” you on Facebook, might have visited your website, or perhaps have even purchased from you in the past.

Running Facebook ads to “warm” traffic will almost always yield better results (in terms of higher conversions / more sales), for cheaper.

Option 3 - Creating “Lookalike” audiences to reach new people

I love that Facebook includes an option to create “lookalike” audiences. Basically this means that after you create a custom audience in Facebook, you can use Facebook’s tools to create a bigger audience that is similar to your custom audience.

So for example, if you have an email list of 1,000 subscribers that you load into Facebook, you can tell Facebook to create a “lookalike” audience that is similar to your existing email subscribers. Presumably, this lookalike audience will also be interested in your products or services, since they are so similar to your existing subscribers/customers/fans.

This is a neat feature that you’ll get to play around and experiment with if you use Facebook custom audiences!

Now, before you dive in and start creating a custom audience in Facebook, there is one step you should take the time to complete first...

Install the Facebook pixel on your website.

PS -- For all the screenshots I included in this tutorial, I used a test ad account. However, I still redacted some identifying information such as account numbers, names, etc. Just letting you know!

This is really quick and easy (I promise!).

Before you install the Facebook pixel, you will need to sign up for a Facebook Business Manager account. You must have a Facebook business page set up before you get a Business Manager account.

Visit business.facebook.com to get that rolling.

Once you are logged into your Facebook Business Manager account, you may have to create a new ad account for your business if there isn't already one listed. Create an ad account, then click into it to load the ads manager.

^^These steps are about 10 times harder than installing the pixel! If you made it this far, you're almost done!

Once you have the ads manager loaded, click the hamburger menu in the upper left-hand corner of your screen, and choose Pixels from the dropdown menu.

How to install the Facebook Pixel on your blog or website

Create a new pixel if there isn't already one listed on this page.

Once you have a pixel created, click into it. Then, click the "Set Up" button near the upper right-hand side of your browser window:

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 4.24.26 PM.png

Facebook has built-in integrations for a bunch of different websites and checkout platforms. You can use their built-in integrations if there is one available for the platform you use, or you can manually install the code yourself on your site. Up to you!

How to install the Facebook Pixel on your blog or website

If you're manually installing the code, choose the second option. You're going to need to install this code in the header of your website.

Copy the pixel from the next page under "Step 2":

How to install the Facebook pixel on your blog or website

Now, go to your website and find where to insert header code.

In Squarespace, you'll follow these steps:

  1. Click "Settings" in the left-hand menu
  2. Select "Advanced" under the Website section
  3. Click "Code Injection"
  4. Paste the pixel code in the header section on this page
  5. That's it! There is no "save" button in Squarespace 

In Wordpress, I recommend using the plugin called "Insert Headers and Footers" to make it easy to install the pixel code on your site. Install this plugin, then:

  1. Under Settings, click Insert Headers & Footers
  2. Paste the pixel code in the Scripts section, under the Headers box
  3. Click Save

If you're on a different platform and aren't sure how to install the Pixel -- Google is your best friend! There are tons of tutorials out there that show you how to install the pixel if you need additional help. OR just ask in the comments and I'll try my best to assist you, if I can!

Now, to check if the install was successful ... go back to the pixel page in Facebook ads manager, and look under step 3 to test your pixel traffic. Sometimes, it takes a while for Facebook and your website to start communicating and the connection to be complete. 

[insert instructions for installing FB pixel]

How to install the Facebook pixel on your blog or website

...aaaaaaand, you're done! 

Now, you’re ready to create a custom audience in Facebook.

There are two main methods I will go over here for creating a Facebook custom audience:

  1. Creating a custom audience based off your website visitors (using the Facebook pixel you just installed!)

  2. Creating a custom audience based off your email subscribers, past customers, or other list of person data

To create a custom Facebook audience of past visitors to your website, you'll again have to go into the Facebook ads manager.

Click the hamburger menu in the upper-left hand corner, then click All Tools at the bottom of the dropdown, then choose Audiences:

How to create a Facebook custom audience in Facebook ads manager

Click the blue "Create Audience" button near the center of the page, then choose Custom Audience from the dropdown that appears:

How to create a Facebook custom audience using the Facebook ads manager

Next, choose Website Traffic (the second option) from the list of options:

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 4.29.03 PM.png

The pixel you just created will show on the next screen. To start, select the settings for All Website Visitors for the past 30 days. Give your audience a memorable name, then click the Create Audience button.

That's it! You're done.

Your custom audience may take up to 72 hours to fully populate and appear in the Audiences list.

To create a custom Facebook audience based off your email subscribers, past customers, or other list of personal data, the process is very similar.

Instead of selecting Website Traffic on this screen, choose the first option -- Customer File:

How to create a Facebook custom audience using the Facebook ads manager

Next, choose the first option -- Add customers from your own file or copy and paste data:

(Facebook has an integration with Mailchimp ... so if you want to sync your email list and you use Mailchimp as your email marketing platform, choose that option and follow the steps. Otherwise, choose the first option.)

How to create a Facebook custom audience using the Facebook ads manager

On the next page, upload your CSV file that includes your customer information. Then, click Next to finalize: 

(The more information you can include, the better. But most likely -- you will only have the email address, and possibly the first and last name. Just upload what you have!)

How to create a Facebook custom audience using the Facebook ads manager

Pretty simple, right?!

If you follow these steps, you are well on your way to creating a profitable Facebook ads strategy that works for your business. Now that you have your pixel installed and have created a custom audience, there is so much you can do with Facebook ads.

Hopefully this post got you excited to use Facebook ads to market your blog or business online! Again, there is SO much to learn and experiment with when it comes to using Facebook ads. I have been using ads for almost 2 years to help grow my business and sell products online (and offline), and still feel like I am learning something new every week. Don't get overwhelmed by all the information there is to learn. Take it one step at a time, and you will be on your way to growing your business with Facebook ads!

As always, let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the information I shared today. Thanks so much for reading!

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