Being a business owner who codes is an advantage in some ways, but also a major disadvantage.
It’s great to be able to build your own products without paying someone else, and do it on your own timeline. The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to pull yourself away from the code when it’s time to grow the business.
I’ve had my nose stuck in product code on and off for 3 years now, but recently I’ve decided to shift my focus to marketing. This is something I’ve done before, and it seems to come in cycles, depending on what my business needs.
Over the years I’ve tried many different things related to marketing, most of them have fallen short. A few things have worked, I thought I’d share some of my journey up to this point.
What Has Not Worked
Most of what hasn’t worked for me can fall in the “Little Stuff” category. A/B testing button text and site copy, testing a new paid tool (like cart recovery), minor website changes, and half-ass content efforts.
I tried a cart recovery tool, and it “recovered” one sale in two weeks. I’m 99% sure I would have recovered that sale without the tool, because the tracking methods for these type of tools are way too biased.
I know others who have had success with cart recovery tools, I just have a single product and no one is going to forget what they put in their cart. Cart recovery is useful for an eCommerce store with lots of products, just not mine.
I’m a big fan of the idea of dunning, but it’s more for SaaS businesses doing monthly payments. Dunning basically retries failed subscription payments multiple times, and sends the customer several emails trying to get them to update their payment info.
I have been using a dunning system, and have had “$798” recovered in 2 months. I put that in quotes because the payments were recovered with retries, which Stripe does automatically anyways. I don’t think the dunning system really did anything.
I charge for yearly subscriptions, and the volume is not high enough to make dunning worth it. I think if you are doing a high volume of recurring subscription payments (several per day), then it could be worth it.
I’ve seen some success with A/B testing, but only when I test major changes. Changing button text, or a small block of copy has not produced significant results.
I believe in A/B testing, but I think it’s important to focus on big changes.
Minor site changes
Changing a few lines of text here and there doesn’t make a noticeable impact.
What works really well is re-thinking your entire website based on knowing what your customers are looking for. We re-thought our entire message and mapped it out from the homepage to the checkout page, and re-wrote most of our site copy based on that message. That’s the type of big change that can make a difference.
Other things that haven’t worked well are basically anything we haven’t put our full effort behind. That includes paid ads, affiliate marketing, and regular blog posts. We just don’t have the time to optimize multiple channels, and it is clear that we need to focus instead of using the shotgun approach.
What HAS Worked
I’ve seen the most action from major changes like major product version releases, pricing changes, and rewriting site copy.
When your company is young and you have a small team, you have to focus your time where it will make the most impact. A/B testing a minor change is a waste of time if you could be preparing for a major product update.
Creating a better product
Obvious, but so important.
AppPresser 3 is such a huge improvement, it overshadows any marketing efforts to date. Marketing is important, but only if your core product is solid. If it isn’t, it doesn’t matter how many people you can drive to your site with a few ads or blog posts.
We raised prices about 15% a month ago, and introduced a higher tier.
Any time you raise prices, you get a bunch of sales from people trying to get in at the lower price point. It’s a great way to generate a bunch of sales without providing a discount.
After we raised prices, sales did not dip at all. We essentially just got 15% more revenue without doing anything else. We introduced a higher tier because our most expensive package was the most popular. We added a very desirable feature to the new package, and increased the amount of apps you can create. So far about 20% of purchases have been of this new higher tier, which is 56% more expensive than our previous highest tier.
It’s important to add the caveat that this pricing increase was well justified, well thought out, and executed transparently. We didn’t just raise prices for the heck of it, we added a tremendous amount of value before upping the cost.
I never attend webinars personally, but other people love them.
I do webinars a couple times per month for AppPresser, and usually get 100-300 people registered, and about 40% of registrants attend live. We don’t have free trials for AppPresser, so demonstrating it is important. I don’t think webinars would be as important for someone selling a premium WordPress theme, but it works well for me.
I recently put some extra effort into my email marketing, and I think it has paid off.
I created an ebook that I thought my audience would be interested in, which is basically just a compilation of old blog posts. I created an image and a form in ConvertKit, and put it in conspicuous places on my site.
So far it’s not killing it, but I have a steady amount of signups each day. I think if I try some other ebook ideas, I could increase signups even further.
I’ve also worked hard on segmenting my email list. Each person who signs up gets a tag in Convertkit, then I tailor my messages based on those tags.
For example, I know who signed up for a webinar, who already purchased, who signed up for my ebook, etc. I have automated follow up messages based on what they did, that give them more relevant information.
If they interact with a message, I can move them to a “hot leads” segment that is more sales focused. I can also be more selective on my email broadcasts, for example I exclude customers who already purchased from any emails about discounts.
Many of my recent marketing efforts stem from the advice of Syed Balkhi to focus on the bottom of the funnel. That means I’m working hard to convert the visitors I’m already getting to my site, instead of trying to generate more traffic.
I’m no marketing guru, but here’s what I have gleaned from my experiences thus far.
Make big changes if you want big results
Don’t over-optimize if your revenue is small
Focus your marketing efforts, instead of the shotgun approach
I would love to hear your experiences with marketing fails and wins in the comments.