Ecommerce Gems. Setting up a successful ecommerce store.

Here we are with the owner of The Indulge Store, Alisha Wray with what it takes to have a successful e-commerce store. You know what we do: we find the people who know “da code” and we give you “da code” so that you can be successful in your business.

We’ll get to that interview in just a second. 

First, let’s talk a bit about the e-com movement. E-commerce is a massive part of how to make money online. The rising generation especially is like, hey wait a second, working 9–5 for someone else kind of sucks. I’d much rather work for myself. 

Just to give you an idea of the amount of money that e-commerce boasts—$2.3 TRILLION in 2017. TRILLION people—Trillion. And it’s expected to rise to $4.5 trillion in just a few short years, 2021. That’s pretty ridiculous, and it gives you the idea that despite a lot of competition—e-commerce is still on the rise and has lots of opportunities. 

But, as you’ve probably noticed, there are a lot of online stores and the competition can be pretty crazy. 

So now, we turn to successful entrepreneur, Alisha Wray with how to be successful in e-commerce.

DaCode: Alisha, thank you for joining us. How long have you been in the internet world?

Alisha: Hey, thanks for having me. We’ve been in the internet world for a little over five years now. 

Five years! That’s incredible. 

[Laughs] It hasn’t been all glitz and glamor. It’s taken a lot of work to be able to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

So how long do you think it was before you discovered what works?

It’s one of those things where the knowledge and practice comes cumulatively, if that makes sense.

Sure.

So, the first while we just kept going until we figured out what works. I mean, for a while it was operating at a loss, right, and then we started figuring out how to break even, and then—finally—how to make a profit.

So tell us a little bit about that journey. Did you try trainings, or affiliates, or something like that?

Yeah.

Can you say which ones you tried?

[Exhales] Which didn’t we try? We probably got shiny object syndrome there for a while and tried just about everything. ClickFunnels, Mage Omega, sheesh, I don’t even remember all of them. A bunch of cheap ones and a bunch of expensive ones.

Awesome. So what did you find in the e-commerce world? Where do you start?

Most people start with the product that they want to sell. But I’m going to say you need to figure out first what type of store you’re going to have up. Are you going to have a very niche-specific store like selling A/C units? Or are you going to have more of a general store where you sell a bunch of different products? This is very important, and there are great reasons and arguments for which types of stores work better than others. The truth of the matter is that there are successful stores that are specific or generalized; some sell super expensive items, other a variety of inexpensive items—and yet they work. So decide which route you want.

Then once you figure out the type of store you want to have—it’s time to figure out products. 

For niche-specific we’ve found that products that are more expensive tend to create a more successful store than cheaper products. We’re looking at the $150–$1000 range, with around $300 or $400 to be the sweet spot. And the cool thing is, is that you don’t have to sell a ton of volume to start having a successful store. Start looking at Amazon to see what’s hot. They’ve got several different lists from movers and shakers to best sellers and so on. Amazon is a gold mine of information. 

From there, you want to see how many pages there are on Amazon of the products you’re interested in. If there are less than 20 pages, you’re probably going to be okay. If there are hundreds and thousands—probably not. You’ll be surprised though at just how many good products there are that aren’t saturated with sellers. From there do a Google search. And see how many ads come up and who the top sites are. If they’re all giant sites like Walmart and Amazon—steer clear. But if there are a lot of unknowns, that’s where you know you’ve got a potentially good product. 

Also, it’s cool, because Google offers coupons when you first start selling (like when you start a free AdWords account). So you’ll get $100 to start advertising your product. Pretty cool.

That is pretty cool. Wow, that’s a lot of information. And I love that it’s not just the same rehashed information that I keep seeing!

Yeah, it can be a lot to take in at first.

So what if you want to do the general store route?

For sure. First of all, start looking for products similarly to how you would for the big stuff. Look for trending types of things. There are loads and loads of ways to find trends: Amazon (again!), popular shows or movies, gadgets, and toys. But remember, make items a bit more novelty items.

What do you mean novelty?

I mean, if it’s easier to go to Walmart and buy it, why would someone want to buy it online and have to wait? Pick things that are bit more novel. A good example is when fidget spinners and cubes first came out. They came out online first, and they exploded! We know people who made millions off of these. Then they hit Walmart and your local grocery store, and it’s pretty much just easier to get a generic fidget spinner at the local store than waiting a few days or a few weeks for the fidget spinner. Now, if you can make your fidget spinner something cool or unique that you can’t find at Walmart, that’s great.

Take our Nordic Ring, for example. It’s a cool ring. It’s trendy (we’ve got Thor and Vikings in the media spotlight). We sell a lot of these. Hmm, come to think of it, I think we’ll add some more of these.

[Laughs]Nordic Ring

Or another example is our 3 bff necklaces. How many people have more than one bff? 

Right?3 bff necklaces

So why not do a three-way necklace? 

This is fantastic. I love it! Where do you go from here?

You know, the next thing and this can be time-consuming, but it’s totally worth it, is to find out the search volumes for the different types of products you’re wanting to sell.

You’re talking AdWords?

Yep. There are tons of trainings, so I won’t bog you down with how I look up the search volumes there, but do this. It’s so important. Because what happens when you’ve spent 100 hours putting together your website and your presence, but then nobody comes because no one’s searching for it? Or maybe you’ll see that there are ten million searches every month for this. How likely is it that your brand new site is going to get found when the searches are so inundated? 

Not very likely. Alisha, this is fascinating. So is there a number that you’re looking for or a range or something?

It’s going to depend on the product and the niches that you’re in. But if you’ve got a few hundred searches a month, great—that product is probably going to get found. Or it’s going to be a lot easier anyway. 

So do the research and the work. It’s so worth it and can set you up for success.

So we’ve done the research. We’ve found products. What about suppliers?

Good question! If you’re going to do the general store approach it’s really easy to just hop on AliExpress find the products that you’re wanting and use them. Look for sellers that have a lot of social proof so how many sales they’ve had and how many reviews they have. I like to see around 100 reviews at around 4.5–5 stars. Make sure you can get “e-packet,” which is the trackable form of shipment and is between 12–18 days shipping. So start there.

For the niche specific store, hop on WayFair and type in your product and see who comes up. A lot of those are the actual brands, i.e. your vendors/manufacturers. From there, look those companies up. A lot of them will have terrible websites made back in the Nineties or early  2000s, but that’s okay, because you’ll be able to call or email them and ask to carry their brand.

And is there a better way to contact them or something specific you need to say?

You know, it’s best to have your website up when you contact your manufacturers and suppliers (other than AliExpress, that one doesn’t matter) because when they ask who you’re with, you can confidently say, “I’m with theinduldgestore.com,” and then they go there and it’s a real site. 

But since we’re on the topic, if you’re opening a new store, you can tell them something like “I’m with The Indulge Store, and we’re moving into the wig industry and we’d like to see about opening up a drop shipping account with you.” Most of the companies I’ve dealt with have been great. There’ve been a few that have crazy restrictions and I’d say leave them alone because there’s always going to be another manufacturer or another winning product who then has a different manufacturer. 

So then, if wait to contact the manufacturers, what do you do next?

I research different storefronts and see what they look like and try to get a feel for the names and logos and just how the site feels if that makes sense.

Absolutely.

Then what I do, and this can be a huge—huge—tip that helps you get your store off the ground fast, is I buy an auctioned domain.

An auctioned domain? Do you mean something like going to GoDaddy Auctions and getting one of theirs?

Yes, you’ll need an account there, and it’s super cheap, only like $5 a year. But trying to find the domains like that is pretty crazy. There are just so many and it’s hard to see the metrics. What I do is I get an account with Register Compass. It’s only around $30 a month and you can cancel at any time. You can see what niche the domain is in, which is great because that will give you a boost. Look for domains that have around 80–100 websites linking to them, and watch out for hundreds of thousands of links. Those are spammed. The next thing is get a trial account at ahrefs and this is where you can see the backlinks and see if they’re spammed.

Wow. This is the type of training you pay good money for. Folks, I hope that you’re enjoying the gold Alisha’s dropping here.

Thanks. 

So what do spammy links look like? Are we talking adult content or—?

Yes. Anything that looks like it’s from the porn industry, the pharmaceutical industry, casinos, make money online, that type of thing. If it doesn’t match what the site should be about and you see tons and tons of backlinks vs how many websites are linking to it, just watch out. Or if there are hundreds of thousands of websites linking to it, and it’s just up for auction at like $12, watch out. I’d just avoid it.

Mind. Blown.

[Laughs]

What you can do to further check is go to archive.org and that’ll tell you what the website used to look like. If it looks like it was a naughty site—don’t get it. 

[Laughs]

If the site looks like it has really thin content, look at the backlinks. If it looks like someone selling vitamins or oils or something like that, stay away. It probably got penalized. And you don’t want a penalized site. 

If you don’t want to do all of this legwork, there are a few services that you can Google and find an auctioned domain. It’s going to be more expensive, but if you’re feeling out of your depth, that’s okay, let someone else do the work for you. 

So at this point, is this then where you build the site?

Yes. Remember those sites you found that you wanted to match the storefront of? Hopefully you made a list and you can then start building your site to match the successful ones out there. Shopify makes it really easy. WordPress takes a bit more to get used to and learn, but it’s super versatile and there are lots of plugins. A couple things to look for, is bright, warm, inviting colors. Have models looking straight at you on your homepage. And also, have a chat box show up. If you’ve got a sale, let everyone know—or even better—in exchange for their email, you can take 25% off their first purchase.

Yes. I love getting the email list!

For sure. Because then when you launch a new product, or have a sale—

You’ve got an audience to send it to.

Exactly.

Wow. Alisha. Just wow. I wasn’t expecting to get so much. This has been so helpful. And inspiring.

Thank you.

Any last words you’d like to say?

Just keep at it. Don’t get discouraged. And attend a lot of the trainings, because eventually, you’ll get enough pieces of the puzzle that you’ll be able to win. 

 

—Da Code of Business

Strategies for Sales Funnels and Split-Testing

Over here at DaCode, we’ve been reading up a lot about sales funnels and split testing.

From what we understand, these two terms can be quite the intimidating terms. Funnels can seem so ambiguous, and so time consuming to build that some don’t even want to try. Split testing can sound super hard to actually implement that business owners basically lose money not doing it.

So today, we’re going to go over these two terms and hopefully clear up some of the ambiguity—and even more so, give you a few strategies that are easy to learn and easy to implement.

Funnels

Jordan Belfort—aka The Wolf of Wall Street—explains that basically funnels are the customers’ journey through the buying process. As you can see in this picture, the idea starts to make sense pretty clearly. Lots of people poke around, see if your or service is something they’re interested in, and then it narrows down and down until the buying process, and then finally the conversion process.

Sales Funnel Picture

We’re making the distinction between buying and conversion. Buying is a one-time thing. Conversion is when people come back and share again and again.

We’ve listened to Jordan Belfort a few times—and it’s pretty clear, the guy’s brilliant, gutsy, and knows what he’s talking about. It’s important to remember that with sales—and hence funnels—you’re not talking to the people who will say no and getting them to say yes. That’s not sales. Sales is talking to the people who are on the fence and getting them to say “yes.”

How do we do that?

The strategy we’re going to talk about is—

The Hero’s Journey

Why the hero’s journey? If you’re not familiar with Joseph Campbell’s work, it’d be a good idea to acquaint yourself with it. The basic idea is the mythic hero starts out ordinary, a problem comes, the hero acknowledges the call to action, goes on a quest, and comes back with an elixir. We’re dumbing it down quite a bit, but you get the picture.

But why? Because it’s psychology. Our brains are hardwired to think like the hero’s journey.

In other words—don’t be like 99% of everyone else and start saying why your product is the best right from the get go—show us through the hero’s journey. It doesn’t have to be long.

Take a look at Jordan Belfort’s site. Notice he’s got a video right there on the front—and guess what it does? Tells the hero’s journey. Look for it, and you won’t be able to miss it.

I have a friend who lives in Idaho Falls, ID, and we were talking about this the other day. So let’s say you realize the need for video production in Idaho Falls. You’re a small business, sure, but you understand the value of video and the hero’s journey. So you take that Idaho Falls videographer and shoot a three minute video.

What you don’t want to do is just be like a dumb infomercial. Instead, tell a story about where you were, the problem you encountered, how you surmounted it, and now that you’ve “returned” from the other side of the problem.

This is not your résumé.

It’s your story.

Now you’ll notice something else on Jordan Belfort’s site—what is it? His freaking landing page is used to build his email list. Everyone’s heard of the list. Learn from a master and look at what Belfort’s doing.

In order to watch that awesome video on Belfort’s site—you have to put in your name and email. Then you get instant access—and—you’re now on the Wolf’s list. You’ll get his updates with copy that’s written to make your brain scream for more information, and he gets your money.

Pretty cool, right?

Split Testing

So how does this work with Split Testing?

First of all, Split Testing is basically having the same product but just showcasing that product in a different way. So going back to the Wolf’s site, it would be two different ways of saying what you’ll get if you put in your information. You’ve got A and B and then you test and see which one gets you more emails.

[Insert Picture]

Pretty simple, right? So why don’t people do it more often? It can be challenging to figure it out.

ClickFunnels and UpViral make it pretty easy to  do fast split tests and email captures. We highly recommend them—even though we don’t get paid to promote them.

But here’s what we wanted to share. Add a thank you and share after you’ve captured their email.

So after they’ve given themselves over to your list—thank them—and then entice them to share your product with a friend or friends. The enticing bit can be a contest, a free product, a coupon, etc—there are a lot of options. This is where UpViral and ClickFunnels make it easy because then you can unique links, so you don’t get people hacking the system.

So if you have a giveaway and say that if your “buyer” will share it with friends, he or she’ll get 5 more entries in the giveaway, ClickFunnels and UpViral give that buyer a unique link so that your buyer can’t just share it with themselves and get the extra entries.

ClickFunnels is around $1000 per year.

UpViral is around $300 per year (if you get the webinar pricing).

Both are worth it.

Now, take your split test just a bit further and have A and B but then add in that “thank you and share” page we’d mentioned and split test that one as well.

Take your data and run with the one that’s best.

And, as always—enjoy the process.

—DaCode of Business

The Business of Domes

The Business of Domes: How a dome repair company is creating multiple sources of revenue

Believe it or not, there is a code to construction companies, and here at Da Code of Business–we want to make sure that we hit a few angles.

This particular article is going to be talking about domes. What type of domes? Big ones. The type you see at industrial fertilizer plants or cement factories. And here’s why–it shows a fundamental part of running a successful construction company, and that fundamental part is multiple streams of revenue.

See, a few years ago when the owners of DRS got together and conceived their company, they realized there was a big need in the dome industry. Right now, there’s a ridiculously small number of dome building companies worldwide. (It’s something like seven.) And here’s the thing, none of them do dome fabric repair. Typically, the structure of the dome stays good and strong for a nice long while. The domes are low maintenance. They’re pretty much natural disaster proof, even missile proof.

What they’re not is UV proof.

Domes with failed airforms

Their skin lasts around 20 years, and after around 20 years or so, the dome’s skin begins to deteriorate because of the UV damage. What then happens is water and bugs and chemicals (if its storing say fertilizer) leaks and burrows into the foam, which then becomes saturated, which then leaks into the concrete, which then leads to cracking.

Domes fail because of UV damage.

See, another name for the dome’s skin is the airform. This is put up first, pressurized with air so tightly, you can stand on it. Then the dome is sprayed with closed-cell insulation foam, and then finally shot with concrete (also known as shotcrete). And this airform failing (usually because of UV damage) is the number one cause of domes failing.

Pretty interesting stuff.

Okay, maybe not. But here’s where it gets interesting. Companies like Domtec and Monolithic don’t repair the domes.

What? Seriously?

It’s pretty common in the construction niche to just focus on one thing and do it really well. And for a small, one-man crew, that generally isn’t a bad idea. But, if you’re wanting to expand, then multiple streams of income become pretty important.

These other companies are in the perfect place to have multiple sources of revenue. And here’s why:

You’ve heard of the classic term “Build your list!” In some circles, this is spoken and repeated like a mantra.

These big dome companies have thousands of customers on their lists. But then what happens? Instead of picking the low-hanging fruit, they turn up their noses and say, “We only build domes. If you want them repaired, find someone else.”

There are domes in need of repair just about every day, and every new dome that’s built is going need repair in a few years. What could be an excellent program is to make repairs on the dome’s airform after about ten years after construction. The maintenance director (if that’s what you want to call the position) could call and schedule a year in advance to ensure that funding is available.

Even when the dome is constructed, the dome company could work in a maintenance program at the start. The customer won’t get blindsided; the contractor has more work; the dome keeps its integrity; everyone is happy.

This is where DRS realized it had the potential to make millions of dollars. So what did it do? DRS became the company the customers needed. Dome airform repair? No problem. Dome foam repair? No problem.

Here’s also something smart that they did. DRS got in touch with some of the dome building companies and developed a relationship with them. One or two of them sent over their lists to DRS–and they were happy to do so. Business is made by referrals, right? (Yes, actually!) And some of these building companies were given commission for setting up easy jobs for DRS. Easy because the customer would call the builder saying, “help, my dome is leaking!” (You’d think everyone would want customers coming to them!) And to basically just get things rolling, DRS gave a 5% commission.

Now, what about multiple streams of revenue? What did DRS do to make sure that they also had multiple streams of revenue?

They weren’t picky on their clients.

The dome niche isn’t Walmart huge, so it if someone were to further specialize and do say dome home repair and upturn their noses at a chemical plant in need of fixing their fertilizer dome, they’d have a lot more downtime. Make sense? Good.

But beyond that, every industrial roof will need repair at some point. Every one. So DRS wisely said, we’ll basically have our dome department, our concrete roof department, our metal roof department, and so on. What this has done has secured a powerful income to the business and, most importantly, to the people employed by the business.

Remember, to every business, there is a code.

And multiple sources of income is a part of that code.

–Da Code of Business

Business Marketing

State of SEO in Today’s Market

At Da Code of Business, we’re always trying to figure out some of the best tips that we can provide for you. We’ve been reading some of Timothy Ferriss again, and love him or hate him, he’s got some great ideas. Among the myriad of things he’s outsourced, he’s talked about outsourcing SEO. A lot of the “vogue” SEO strategies used to work, some still do, some never did.

So I wanted to give a scope of the state of SEO in today’s market.

Back then

About ten, maybe fifteen years ago, optimizing a website and getting ranked happened pretty fast. Companies would hire an SEO, like Search Spartan, and within a couple of weeks, boom! their site is up on the first page, sometimes even position one. It was a good day for the Optimizer. Results happened quickly, everybody was buying, and horror stories of getting de-indexed were yet to be seen.

Well, then the recession happened, and a lot of businesses cut on one of the most important areas for traffic: marketing. In fact, this led to some stupid articles I came across a couple years ago about how SEO is dead, which has even led to some memes about how SEO is now obsolete, especially in bigger cities like Bakersfield, CA. This is, of course absurd, but unfortunately true–any business with a marketing need, needs search engine optimization.

2015 Penguin

So after the recession, businesses started really getting involved again in search engine optimization and we saw an increase of firms and horror stories until around 2015 when the major Penguin update hit like a bombshell, and then the horror stories really started coming in. See, Google got smart and changed their algorithm so that many of the old tactics wouldn’t work anymore. No longer could you set up a site just to throw a hundred links and nothing else on.

It frustrated a lot of SEOs and got sites de-indexed right and left.

Want to know the power of Google? They control about eighty-percent of the internet’s searches. Just see what happens to your business’s traffic if all of a sudden no one can find you on the web. Yikes. See-ya sales.

But really, Penguin was a good move on Google’s part because their goal is to give their users the best experience possible–and that means some of the best and most relevant information. I don’t know if you’ve ever come across a site that really doesn’t seem like a real site–it looks awful, there’s no navigation, information’s shoddy, etc–but it’s awful. Well, Google’s wanted to change that. And good for them.

Now

There have been some other significant changes to the algorithm, such as the YLYM update, or the most recent Fred update. Right now, a lot of businesses are seeing their listings bounce around. So even though Jane and Fred’s Emporium may have been on page one for the past few months, all of a sudden they might find themselves on page two. Well, pretty much no one goes there. And how is the average business owner supposed to know about these updates, what they mean, or how to work with them? Really, you’re not.

Today’s SEO is pretty complex. It’s not like the common lists you see floating around where there are 200 things to focus on in order to have good SEO, but there are a ton of things to learn and stay on top of. If you don’t understand what’s happening, then what’s most likely going to happen is you’re going to get lost in the sea of trillions of web pages that are out there. And, if you don’t have a web presence, and by that I’m also including getting found on the internet, you’re giving money away to your competitors.

But hey, maybe you’re more charitable than me.

The fact is, is that a good SEO firm can help you navigate the proverbial sea and get you found.

What to Look For

Let’s take the Search Spartan example again. Here’s their Facebook – Search Spartan.  If you were needing a Bakersfield SEO expert for example, then what you would do is go to their site, check out what they have to say, maybe even look at their references, and then contact them. Your initial strategy session is super important because it’s going to tell you a lot about whether or not this particular firm is right for you and your business.

Now you’re not going to understand all the nuances of SEO, and you’re not supposed to unless you’re an uber geek, which is fine. But here are some things to talk about. Do you need help getting your website built? A lot of search engine optimization experts and beginners include some website building. But remember–just because someone can build a website does not make them an SEO. Does your potential agency include a social profile strategy? What about business citations? What about names and anchor text? How do they link out to other sites and stay white hat? These are all things to consider. And if your potential SEO firm doesn’t discuss these things with you–be wary.

Da Code of Business