Shopify Store Launch Success Guide (Part Two)

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We're excited to share Part Two of our 4-Part Shopify Store Launch Guide!

If you followed our initial Shopify Store Launch Success Guide Introduction post, then you've picked a date for your Shopify store launch. And if you've followed our Shopify Store Launch Success Guide Part One techniques you've begun working on the 4-Core Topics. If you haven't done those steps yet, then go back and work on them now. 


Part Two of our guide assumes you are 12 days away from your store launch. It will give you specific instructions about what to do in our four areas under review:

  1. Site Technical Setup: How ready your site is for "real" customers.
  2. Product Plan: How complete your product strategy is.
  3. Promotion Strategies: How you are going to draw a crowd to your site for the launch (and beyond).
  4. Communication Plan: How you'll announce your promotion to your friends, followers, and even new prospects. 

 

Site Technicals

With 12 days left before your launch you need to confirm that your site is going to work properly. The Shopify Blog has a very good site launch checklist that covers the basics of getting your site ready for launch. It is a great resource. Rather than re-create it, let me simply share it with you and encourage you to use their 13 point list.  

However, they gloss over one of the most important pre-launch tasks when they say, "install only essential apps". But they don't tell you which ones are essential and more imporantly why they are essential. So with 12 days before launch, let's make sure we do a deep dive on this topic so you understand the remarkable value of the Shopify system and how to take maximum advantage of it.

In Part One of this guide I already mentioned the Apps I believe are essential. Hopefully, you've gone through the effort to install them. Let me re-state that list and explain exactly how to prepare to use these critical apps so we make sure you get maximum value from your new Shopify store.

Why is it so "essential" you set these apps up correctly?

"The battle for traffic, customers, and long-term online sales success is won by organizing small systems, put together correctly, and optimized, that lead strangers to become acquaintances, acquaintances to become site visitors, site visitors to become buyers, and buyers to become long-term loyal patrons. That is how you "win" in the long run online, there is no other method."

- Jason Miles 


Yes, I just quoted myself in my own blog (yes, I agree that's weird, but let's keep going). Let's "unpack" the Apps that are essential and discuss the strategic use of each one.

Email Opt-In: The most powerful marketing tool you can build online is a vibrant email marketing system. Therefore, we should spend the most time working on this app strategy and making sure it works really well. There are only two parts to such a system. 

Part One: Acquiring email addresses

Part Two: Sending frequent emails to those people

The Email Opt-In App you install on your Shopify site is your primary system to achieve "step one". It is a numbers game. And if you ignore how big a deal this is - your new Shopify site might die a quick death.

A great question to ask yourself is, "if you have 100 visitors to your new site, how many join your mailing list?" The higher the percentage, the better your "Part One" strategy is working.

So, choose an Email Opt-In App carefully! Technical advancements in email opt-in tools is super important to pay attention to as a Shopify site owner. Most people don't like "Pop Ups" when browsing websites. So a few years ago a "break-through" referred to as "Exit Intent Pop" was created. Those are the pop-ups that don't bother you until you are about to leave a website. These are smart to use!

But recently the Wheelio Email Exit Intent Pop App was created and offers website visitors a "Game like" opt-in technique that many Shopify site owners are finding incredibly effective compared to the old exit intent "pop-up" opt-in forms. Wheelio claims their opt-in rate averages 9%, compared to .5-2% for other pop-up tools.

The Math Matters Tremendously: To understand the importance of this mathematical difference, just consider this question,

How many people would have to visit your site (using Wheelio) to acquire 1,000 names?

Answer: 11,110. 

How many people would have to visit your site (using an older pop-up tool that gets 3% opt-in) to acquire 1,000 names?

Answer: 33,333

Now, if you're paying .50 cents a piece to get those people to your website (using paid ads or contests or some other strategy that requires money) then you can quickly see how big a deal this is. The difference would be,

Acquisition Cost For 1,000 Subscribers With Wheelio: $5,500

Acquisition Cost For 1,000 Subscribers With An Inferior Email Opt-In Tool: $16,666

The Difference between those two choices? $11,110. 

The Ethical Bribe: The other part of your email opt-in strategy is referred to as your "ethical bribe". It is the item you offer customers in exchange for them signing up for your newsletter. Different bribes work better for different people. Generally, you want to give people a taste of your product. If you sell information, then consider having an information based ethical bribe such as a "free Report" or "Ebook". If you sell physical items, consider entering them in a raffle to win a free item from your website. Or just give them a coupon code or a buy-one-get-one offer. You'll want to test various bribes and see which ones work best for your audience.

Let's quickly discuss the strategy for the other Apps we discuss in Part One of this guide:


Engagement Apps: 
Loyalty Apps & Review Apps are what I call "engagement apps" because they are designed to make your site "sticky" to customers and get them to return for another visit. Using Google Analytics you can begin to see the details about your site visitors including whether they are "new" or "returning". The chart on the right shows the Pixie Faire New Vs. Returning visitors for the last 30 days. If you're wondering about the actual numbers - they are:

New Visitors: 23.7% (a total of 38,664 people)

Returning Visitors: 76.3% (a total of 124,434 people)

You want to use these types of Apps so your one-time customers have a good reason to return to your site. Why is this so important? Every repeat visitor you can get to your site (that shops) is one less "new" visitor you have to acquire with scarce marketing dollars. So,

Done Right - Returning Traffic Is Cheaper Than New Traffic

You would be surprised how many times I hear people say, "I tried Shopify, but I couldn't acquire customers profitably, so I shut it down."

I always wonder when I hear that - how good their loyalty program and review apps were set up. In other words, I wonder if they knew how to get return customers to visit their site. In the long run, it's this re-engagement skill that is infinitely more important than knowing how to get a customer to visit you in the first place.

There are other (more advanced) engagement apps that you should explore after your site is up and running (including recurring order and recurring member apps to name two).

Engagement Apps are designed to help you increase the money you receive from every customer (by helping them revisit your site and spend more). So they help you with an important metric called "Long-Term-Customer-Value" or LTCV. 

Average Order Value (AOV) Apps: The other type of App I recommend as essential is designed to help you with a more immediate task - increasing your "Average Order Value". Or simply put, how much each customer spends as they go through your shopping cart / checkout process.

The best AOV App (in my opinion) is the Product Upsell App. There are various versions. We like and trust the Bold Apps Product Upsell App. These Apps offer your customers a second item in the checkout process.

This is, like with email acquisition, a numbers game. If 20% of your customers take the upsell, and it increases the AOV for those customers by 50%, then your total website revenue just went up by 10%. This is a big deal! Here is how that math works:

  • If 1,000 customers purchase something at $18, that equals $18,000

Vs. 

  • If 800 customers purchase something at $18, and 200 customers purchase something at $27, it adds up to $19,800. That is almost $2,000 of extra revenue simply by installing a product upsell app.

As with the Engagement Apps, there are more advanced AOV focused apps that you should consider after your site is up and running such as Quantity Breaks or the "Sales Motivator" app. Both are offered by Bold Apps - a company we know, like, and trust.

Product Blueprint

With just 12 days until your launch, you're unlikely to be able to create, order, or organize any new products. But you should organize what you have as carefully as possible to achieve the AOV and Customer Engagement goals we talked about earlier. One way to do that is to look at your products from a pricing point of view and analyze what you have. Here is a template you might try using: 

Let's touch briefly on the strategic value of each of these four:

Free: People LOVE free! It is the magic that makes most things happen. The question is - can you identify something that your ideal customer will want - and give it to them for free? If at all possible, you'll want to make sure you have something in the free box. If you don't have a free product (ebook, special report, PDF, etc.) then be sure to substitute in a coupon or other ethical bribe as mentioned above. 

Low-Tier: Your low priced items can be purchased without much scrutiny by the customer. They are impulse purchases and as such, don't have to be sold very hard. But they still have to be very appealing to your ideal customer. 

Mid-Tier: Chances are, most of your products will be in the 'mid-tier' price box. This is the price range that your customers expect and are comfortable with. The price where you compete with most competitors.

High-Tier: Having a few expensive products is a fantastic strategy. It gives your customers something to upgrade to - it also gives you an anchor price. In other words, the high price makes your mid-tier and low-tier items seem like a good deal. The simplest way to sell a high-tier items is to simply bundle your mid-tier items and sell them as a set. Rather than selling a quantity of one, sell a quantity of three!

Ascending Up The Pricing Table: The logical use of a Product Upsell App is to offer customers an ascending set of options.

  • If they start in the free box, offer a low-tier item as the upsell. 
  • If they start in the low-tier box, offer a mid-tier item as the upsell.
  • If they start in the mid-tier, offer a high-tier as the upsell.

With just 12 days before open your store, it's time to set these items up and think through the best way to organize it. Your "launch" will really be a test of this strategy. If it works, and you're able to convert people from freebie getters to higher priced buyers, then you have a terrific system.

In that case, your best strategy might be to simply advertise your free item and let your awesome ascending upsell system move them up the value ladder. This lowers your cost of customer acquisition and gives you an "easy" first sell. The free item, if done well, also endears you to the new customer. They'll think you're cool - and they'll tell their friends! 

Promotion Strategy 

With just 12 days left before launch, it is time to kick your promotional strategy into high gear. Here is how we can do that effectively: 

Contests: If you've followed the directions in Part One of this guide then you've already completed an online contest to try and get early prospects, or maybe you're still running your first contest. If so, I'm sure you've learned a lot about the responsiveness (or non-responsiveness) of your ideal customer. If you haven't taken that advice yet, then plan a contest today.

Contest Doubler: Of course, if you've done a contest and gotten new fans, followers, and email subscribers, then the logical thing to do is to do another one and inform these new contacts about your next contest. With their help - you should begin to escalate the reach, and value of each contest you do. So if in your first contest you collected 100 email addresses. In your second contest, you should see that number increase because of the participation of the 100.

Site Launch Contests, Prizes, and Rewards: Set aside a full afternoon and brainstorm ways you can turn your site launch into a party. The best way to do that is to reward people for a series of behaviors including:

  • They win if they show Up To Your Site! These "Everyone is a winner" type contests are best done by using a free gift, ideally a digital gift so it doesn't cost you anything. You can also have a "Free+Shipping" offer. Where an item is free if the customer simply covers shipping. 
  • They Win If They Purchase Something. This is most simply done via coupon, which you can send to your friends and followers in advance. But it can also be done by setting up a buy-one-get-one free offer or a "Free Shipping" offer.
  • You can also create fun and simple giveaways by using things like comment contests. One-Day Raffles (using Rafflecopter) and other "grand opening party" activities. 

Influential Bloggers/Vloggers/Instagrammers: Another fantastic way to get early buzz is to identify key influencers in your niche or industry and connect with them. What do you say?

Let them know you're a "real entrepreneur" trying hard to launch a new site in the niche/industry and let them know you're giving away launch kits that include some of your best products - and that you'd like to send them one. Send them some of your good stuff - and include a nice handwritten note. 

Be cool - sometimes if you "demand" that they immediately return the favor by talking about your site - they'll decline the deal. It's better to be friendly, send them items, and hope they wear your swag, talk about you, or give you some good "press". 

More sophisticated vloggers/bloggers/instagrammers won't take these types of deals - and will instead tell you exactly how much they charge for this type of promotion. You'll have to decide whether it's worth it.

One strategy to consider is to find the "up and coming" influencers - before they have lots of deals. If you can get to know them early, and work effectively with them, then as they grow their influence, the value of your relationship with them grows.

Media Outlets: There is very little difference between reaching out to bloggers and vloggers in your niche and media that cover your niche. The tool most commonly used is a Press Release, which you can easily create with online templates. But frequently media outlets have email addresses you can send items to. Just remember, if the media outlet doesn't have an audience that aligns very tightly with your ideal customer, then forget it.

As part of your pre-launch effort, make a list of Bloggers, Vloggers, Instagrammers, and Media contacts that you can contact. Organize it by "highest potential". Polish up your best message and start making contact. Refine your strategy as you get feedback.

Communication Strategies

If you took action on the first set of communication steps in Part One of this guide, then you're well on your way to having a good communication strategy. You've decided on your email newsletter frequency and style.

Launch Related Communications: In addition to the plan for normal communication, you'll also want to plan on a special communication plan for the launch of your site. 

Size Of List Does Not Matter: You should send emails in advance of your site launch regardless of the size of your email list. If you only have 25 names on your list - then do your very best to influence those 25. If you've been lucky enough to gather a few hundred names, or even a few thousand, then the same rule applies - do your best to influence those subscribers. If you learn to do the work - you get better at it.

  • After 18 months on eBay (in 2008/2009) we had 125 names on our list to launch our first (Wordpress based) site.
  • Four years later, as we prepared to launch our Shopify site, we had over 20,000 names.
  • Today, we have over 120,000 names.

Don't despise the day of small beginnings. Be faithful to do the work and it will pick up speed. Learn to master email marketing with a small list and it won't be too long until you have a larger list.

What To Share: If you've planned some amazing contests for your launch day - then the messaging is simple - Tell people what you're going to do on launch day. But I wouldn't tell them all at once, I would "reveal it" over several emails. That way you have something to talk about - build anticipation and enthusiasm - and position yourself as a "fun party thrower". I would create an email schedule something like this:

  • 12 Days Until Launch
  • 7 Days Until Launch
  • 5 Days Until Launch
  • 3 Days Until Launch
  • 2 Days Until Launch
  • 1 Day Until Launch 

Be A Real Human Being! In addition to the launch contest details. You can also include small bits of content that helps you bond with the customers - and more importantly, helps them bond with you. Here is my best suggestion,

  1. Be a real person. Write in a first person style, "Hi, I'd like to invite you..." ...
  2. Sign your first and last name at the bottom of the email - so they know who you are. If you have a hang up about this - get over it. You're in business - you are a public person.
  3. Include a headshot and/or nice casual photo that conveys you are a "real person" trying to put a dint in the universe. 
  4. Tell them where your offices are located. Ideally a real street address, but not your home. Use a P.O. Box as needed, but at least include your city and state too.
  5. Include some of the back-story behind your entrepreneurial efforts.
  6. Let people know about your family, pets, and hobbies.
  7. Remember - people buy from people. You want your prospective customers to begin to know, like, and trust you. You do that via writing style. 

Two Warnings: 

  1. Do not needlessly alienate people. Be smart about your word choices and how they attract or repel people. Work to attract your ideal customers, and (if you want to wisely try it) repel people who you know are NOT part of your ideal customer base.
  2. Don't lie or overhype things. Don't pretend to be a big company when you're not. Be an awesome tiny company and people will respect you for it. 

Take Heart: These are NOT easy steps to take. That is why most Shopify sites start with a whimper and never take flight. The contest strategy, communication with influencers, promotional planning, and email writing all require creative energy, imagination, and business savvy. This is hard work! So give yourself plenty of time, stay hydrated, get lots of resst, and focus on your goal. 

You can do this!


Keep Learning!

If you love this content and want our personal help and coaching, consider joining our Inner Circle program. You get personal support, a vibrant community of peers, and access to all our training programs.

 

If you'd like additional training and coaching to achieve your Shopify goals, consider applying for our coaching program today!

Jason Miles