January 21, 2014

Spy on The Competition Like Never Before

Filed under: Market Research — Tags: , — Meredith @ 5:39 pm

detective

Want to know what’s selling and who’s selling the most? While this information was always available on Etsy, the wizards over at Etsyology have made it easier than ever! This stats oriented website tells you what’s selling on Etsy and who is having the most success selling there.

Here are some of the fascinating nuggets of info you can glean from perusing Etsyology:

1. Macro Data

This site tells you how many active listings appear on Etsy, how many items were sold last month, what the average sale price was and what the average conversion rate on Etsy was. This info can help you see how much competition you have, how your prices stack up and how your conversion rate compares to Etsy at large.

2. Shops Like Yours/Shops You Want to Emulate
With Etsyology’s shop search tool you can find shops like your own or search for shops with stats you hope to have some day. You can search by monthly sales and listing category (in addition to other criteria) to find shops you want to study. Maybe you want to check out how the competition has photographed their items or tagged their listings, now you can do it!

3. Data by Sales Category
This section is probably my favorite! You can hone in on specific product categories and see which categories have the best and worst conversion rates, what the average sale price is for each category, which shops have the most sales in each category and so much more!

Here are a few of the most fascinating facts I found on Etsyology:

  • Jewelry was by far the most competitive category (over 4 million listings) and this category also had one of the lowest conversion rates (just over 15%). The only categories with a worse conversion rate were quilts, furniture, crochet and art.
  • The best converting category was patterns at a whopping 92.7%! Books/Zines, Clothing, Geekery, Needlecraft, Plants/Edibles, Music, and Bath/Beaty were also high converting categories — all scoring over 30%. These stats are actually pretty consistent with my findings on department stores.  (By the way t-shirts had a conversion rate around 46%, if you’d like to get in on that sweet conversion rate with no up front costs, stop by DropShipDTG for a little help with that.)
  • Although jewelry had a high rate of competition and a low conversion rate, jewelry still sells — over 695,000 pieces sold last month! The low conversion rate is attributable to the massive competition. The other categories where a ton of product sold are Accessories (over 451,000 items), Clothing (over 303,000 items), Children’s Goods (over 266,00 items) and Paper Goods (over 246,000 items). It’s worth nothing that over 27% of the childrens goods sold were clothing.

P.S. One of my fave biz advice experts, Andreea Ayers, is sharing some amazing tips on product marketing. Check out what she has to say! You’ll be glad you did.


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May 18, 2012

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Check out this week’s recommended reads from around the web:


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May 11, 2012

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week


Happy Friday! Below are my favorite reads from around the small biz blogosphere this week:


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March 12, 2012

Cool Tool: Statmyweb

Filed under: Cool Tools — Tags: , , , — Meredith @ 5:51 am

Whether you want to check up on the health of your own site, spy on competitors or evaluate a blog to see if it’s worth sending them a sample to review, StatMyWeb is a handy too. Here’s the type of info you can gather about any website:

1. Estimated website traffic
Why this is useful: If it’s a competitor’s site you can get an idea of how their traffic compares to your own. If it’s a site soliciting a product sample for review, you can see if they have enough traffic to make a review on their site worthwhile. If it’s a site you’re considering adding to your press list, you can see if they get enough traffic to make it worth the time it will take to pitch them.

2. What pages are most visited on a site
Why this is useful: If you’re analyzing a competitor site, this might give you an idea of which of their products are most popular. You can use this kind of information to make decisions about your own product development.

3. Keywords a site ranks well for
Why this is useful: If you’re analyzing your own site, it’s important to know what search phrases you rank well for. You want to be sure that those phrases are relevant for what you sell. If you’re looking at a competitor’s site you might be able to get ideas for new key phrases you want to optimize for. You can use information about your own rankings and competitors’ rankings to make tweaks to your site’s search optimization. (Need more SEO help? Check out my free SEO download.)


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February 3, 2012

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 8:24 am


Happy Friday, everyone! Here are my favorite recent reads from around the business and marketing blogosphere:


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January 20, 2012

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , — Meredith @ 8:25 am

Happy Friday! Hope everyone had a great week. Below are my favorite recent reads from around the web, check ‘em out:


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November 24, 2010

6 Things You Can Learn from Your Competition

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , , , , , — Meredith @ 10:00 am

To make your business a success, it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open. You want to pay attention to what’s going on around you, what customers are saying, what industry publications are saying and what your competition is up to. Studying the competition can be an incredibly valuable tool for growing your business. Here are a few things you can learn from them:

Marketing Ideas
The internet is full of great marketing ideas, and you can get some especially great tips from your competitors. Follow their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Subscribe to their newsletters. If your competitors are running new promotions, you can be the first to know. See how they conduct contests. Notice the type of coupon codes they use. Are they doing discounts? Are they requiring a minimum spend to use a discount? Are they doing free shipping? Are they hosting a giveaway and if so how are they asking customers to enter to win? Are they doing a customer loyalty program? Are they promoting flat rate shipping? While I don’t recommend copying your competitors’ playbooks, you can generate ideas of your own, based on what they are up to.

You also want to see what they do most often, because that suggests it’s working for them. If you see them always doing free shipping offers, that means it’s probably driving sales. If you see them constantly doing giveaways for newsletter subscribers, that suggests that those giveaways are effective at growing their subscriber base.

Content
If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes reading about online marketing, you’ve run into the phrase “content is king.” What this means is that having great content is an important part of online marketing. It’s good for SEO and it’s good for generating interest from humans too. Having interesting content on your blog and social media accounts matters a great deal. It can help keep customers engaged and many online marketers are theorizing that your traction in social media may soon be more important than traditional SEO when it comes to online marketing success.

The trouble is, coming up with great content is difficult. We try to do it every day for our online retail website and it’s not always easy. One way to draw inspiration is by following the competition. What do they say on their blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. What kind of videos do they put on YouTube? What’s in their Flickr stream? You can use this information to get ideas for your own content. You not only want to see what competitors are doing, but you want to see what their customers respond to. Does another jewelry designer’s blog posts about recipes get a lot of comments? Does another screenprinter’s Tweets about news of the weird stir up a lot of replies and retweets? You want to get a feel for what customers like seeing, and let that guide your content generation.

Media List
Getting a relevant comprehensive media list can be challenging, but it’s an invaluable tool in your PR arsenal. One way to look for media outlets to contact is by checking out competitors’ press pages. See what magazines, papers and blogs featured them so you can get an idea of which ones might feature you.

Trends
Staying on top of trends is essential when you’re trying to sell products. You need to know if polka dots are in. You need to know of nautical themes are out. You’ll want to study a variety of sources for this information including magazines, design blogs and of course the competition. Some online shops even say what their best sellers are. This is kind of information can help you keep track of where trends are headed and help shape your design aesthetic in a way that’s profitable.

Product Ideas
Make sure to look beyond the designs, when you look at competitor product offerings, and notice what they are actually selling. Is another illustrator selling their prints on mousepads? Is another wallet designer doing business card cases? Is a company that normally prints on t-shirts now offering screenprinted scarves? You’ll want to notice these product offerings to come up with ways to enhance your own product line.

Website Usability
Having a user-friendly website can make or break sales. Websites come with all sorts of interesting design challenges. How can you convey that the product comes in different sizes? How do you communicate shipping policies in a way that customers will absorb? How can you best display product photos? Should the checkout process be 1 step or 2? There are no absolute answers to questions like this, but you can get ideas by studying other websites.

Earlier this year when I did my website usability makeover, I studied a ton of different websites to come up with the best new design. I also took note of website usability trends, like tabbed navigation. As certain user experiences become popular on the web (tabbed navigation is an example of this), users become more comfortable with them and used to using websites in new ways. You want to make sure your website can be used in a way that is comfortable for your visitors so they enjoy shopping on your site.

Further Reading: 5 Ways to Spy on the Competition


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October 8, 2010

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , , , , — Meredith @ 7:03 am


Every day I check out the 100s of subscriptions in my RSS feed about marketing, PR, advertising, branding, social media, and a host of other topics of interest to small businesses that sell online. Most of what gets posted isn’t earth shattering but I reserve Fridays for the best reads of the week. So here you have it, the most valuable things I read in the business blogosphere this week:


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September 17, 2010

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week


Every day I check out the 100s of subscriptions in my RSS feed about marketing, PR, advertising, branding, social media, and a host of other topics of interest to small businesses that sell online. Most of what gets posted isn’t earth shattering but I reserve Fridays for the best reads of the week. So here you have it, the most valuable things I read in the business blogosphere this week:


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September 14, 2010

Finding Your USP

Filed under: Marketing Messages — Tags: , , — Meredith @ 8:49 am

The easiest-to-market products are those that solve a problem for customers. That sounds like BS lofty marketing speak, and also sounds like something that may not apply to what you sell. So let me give you concrete examples of how this might apply to you:

1. You sell bracelets. Many people can’t find bracelets that fit just right. I’m on the petite side and most bracelets fall right off of my wrists and hands, thus I don’t own many bracelets. Conversely, a plus sized consumer might find most bracelets are too small. So there’s your problem: bracelets have fit issues. You can solve the problem by selling a product with a custom fit or maybe in different sizes.

2. You sell handbags. I hate when my lipstick opens up in my bag and gets all over my bag. You can solve this problem by designing a bag that has a built in cosmetics compartment that’s stain-proof and easy to clean.

3. You sell dresses. I never know if something is going to fit me and I hate to pay for shipping both ways just to try something on. You solve the problem by offering free shipping and free returns. You absorb the cost by raising your product prices. As a consumer, I don’t mind because it’s such a huge convenience to be able to try on clothing for free. (Hint: this is what Zappos does and it’s very successful for them.)

Alright, now that we’re clear on how you as a crafty business owner might solve a problem for a customer, let’s move on to how you can figure out what your USP is. A USP, by the way, is a unique selling proposition. It’s the thing that makes your business different/better than your competitors.

An artisan might say “well my products are prettier,” but this is too subjective and may not be enough of a competitive edge. There are lots of pretty products out there, the business person who figures out how to solve a problem is the one who will make the most money.

To figure out if your business solves a problem…

1. Make a list
Make a list of all the selling points for your product/brand. Do you offer a large range of sizes? Do you have the best prices? Do you offer a ton of color choices? Do you offer free shipping? Do you have a generous return policy? Do your products have a special feature that saves time or offers convenience?

Make a list of every little thing you can think of that serves as a selling point for your brand. (Note: while I said pretty isn’t a selling point, it might be one if you sell a product that normally isn’t pretty like orthopedic footwear or maternity underwear. If you sell jewelry or handbags or dresses or paintings, pretty is a given, don’t put that on your list.)

2. Scope the competition
Find other brands that sell in your niche and see if they have any of the same features and benefits. Any time you find competitors who share the same selling points, cross that item off your list.

Note: you’ll only want to cross things off if competitors share some of the same combinations that you offer. For example, a competitor might have low prices, but they may charge a ton for shipping to make up for it. You’ll want to really carefully evaluate what your competitors offer to see if their advantages are truly the same as your own.

3. Define
Once you’ve figured out what you truly have to offer that other brands do not, you need to showcase this offering to customers. If your advantage is that you have the most size options, say this on your website and in your marketing copy. If your advantage is that you have the most generous return policy, highlight this throughout your marketing copy in places like shopping cart, check out and product pages.

What if I can’t find a USP?
If you can’t find a USP, you may be in trouble. If your sales are slow and you feel like your business is going nowhere, your lack of USP may be part of the problem. Re-think how you can change your products, store policies, etc. to give yourself a competitive edge.

If you’re not sure what your USP should be, talk to customers or prospective customers. Try to figure out what problems they have when they try to buy the kind of product you sell. Then think about what you can change to address those problems.

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