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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February 2, 2011

Site Traffic: Quantity Vs. Quality

Filed under: Marketing Messages — Tags: , , , — Meredith @ 9:53 am

A popular question I hear is “How can I get more traffic to my website?” This is the wrong question. The question you want to ask is “How can I drive qualified targeted traffic to my website?” Targeted traffic is traffic that’s most likely to convert. These are the people who are most likely to give you money. You don’t need tons of visitors if you’re getting the right visitors.

To give you an example, imagine you sell cat collars. Would you rather advertise in a biker newsletter with 300,000 subscribers for $100 or Feline Wellness Magazine, with a readership of 80,000 for $300.00? On the face of it, you might think biker newsletter, more people and less money. The better option is the cat magazine though. It’s more targeted so you’re more likely to actually sell product.

While the example I’ve given is a pretty easy one to understand, my point is to get you to think critically about where and how you market. You can have 1,000 fans on Facebook, but if you sell jewelry on Etsy and so do your 1,000 Facebook fans, your chances of selling to those people are pretty slim. You can buy an ad on a site that’s read by thousands of Etsy sellers for $10, but unless you sell supplies or educational materials for Etsy sellers, there are probably better places for you to advertise.

It’s nice to feel liked. It’s nice to see traffic coming to your site and get praise from friends on Twitter. All those warm fuzzies can fuel your confidence, but they won’t pay the bills. Marketing a business properly is too much of an expensive venture, both in terms of time and cost, so you want to choose the marketing activities that are going to make you the most money.

Not sure if your marketing activities are making you money? Check out my new book on Google Analytics.


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December 31, 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:

Want to boost your Valentine’s Day sales? I’m doing a special co-op that starts in about a week and a half. It includes online advertising, social media marketing and email marketing, so signing up will get you loads of exposure. I’m offering a special discounted price that expires TODAY! Here are the details.


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December 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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December 3, 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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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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August 13, 2010

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

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , , , , , — Meredith @ 9:40 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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July 20, 2010

Finding the Niche That’s Just Right

Filed under: Market Research — Tags: , — Meredith @ 7:32 am


Goldilocks print by AntheaArt

The issue of target market comes up a lot and it definitely was touched on during the discussion of designing products for fun vs money.

One comment I saw in response to my article on products for fun vs money was that you can do any products for fun, you just have to find the niche that likes what you’re doing. To that I say “sort of.” The trick with having a successful line is having a target market that’s specific enough that you’re not competing with the whole world, but large enough that you’ve got a big enough pool of potential customers to make a living.

What this means is that there might be only a few dozen people that would be willing to pay $1,000 for a painting of Babe Ruth that you made from your own blood. That’s not very many people. You might love making Babe Ruth paintings with your own blood, but it’s not going to make you rich. It’s too narrow of a niche and you’re not going to sell much. Conversely, you may love making beaded bracelets, but a string of beads is a fairly generic product that has a very broad audience and tons of competitors. Having a product that is so broad and common may make it tough for you to succeed. You’d probably need to narrow things down a bit by maybe having sports team colored bracelets, or maybe your beads are special because they’re made from eco-friendly materials.

So what makes a product just right? How do you know if you’ve found something niche enough to eliminate a lot of the competition but not so niche that there’s no customer base? Here are a few things to consider, Goldilocks.

1. How big is the market for it?
How many people, realistically, would buy what you’re selling. Are there hundreds? Thousands? Millions? Are there magazines dedicated to the kind of people who might buy your product and if so what’s the circulation like? Are there websites dedicated to the kind of people who’d buy your items? How much traffic do they get?

Imagine you want to sell organic crib linens. Your market is eco-conscious parents. That’s a fairly specific niche. Not all people have babies. Not everyone with a baby cares about having organic linens. On the other hand, you can see that there are quite a few publications and websites geared to eco-friendly parenting. It’s definitely a sizable enough market to move some product. If you google “eco-friendly parenting” you’ll probably find quite a few places to advertise. So far so good.

What’s the competition like?
Having too many competitors can be a problem. If you haven’t found a specific enough niche then you’re competing with everyone and chances are someone can do your generic item cheaper, faster or better.

To go back to my example, crib linens is a huge market, a search for crib bedding on Amazon gets me over 20,000 matches. Yikes! Organic crib bedding narrows the field to just 620 matches. It’s a more manageable amount of competition, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re positioned to make your millions.

What’s your USP?
To truly make your brand a success, you’re going to need a unique selling proposition that appeals to your target market. Are your products the cheapest? Maybe you can sell the most affordable organic crib bedding. Are your linens the softest and most luxurious? Do you have the largest selection of colors?

Chances are someone else is selling something fairly similar to your own products, so you need a way to distinguish yourself among your target audience. Take a hard look at your product offerings and try to determine what features or benefits you can offer that no one else has.

If your sales aren’t where you think they should be, go over the points above. Research the size of your potential market, research the competition and take honest stock of whether you have something to offer that’s unique from the competitors. If you’re failing on any one of these points it might be time to reconsider what you’re selling.


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June 30, 2010

People Watching as a Form of Market Research

Filed under: Market Research — Tags: — Meredith @ 5:34 am

Back in April, I wrote an article about how to find your target market, but I still see so many people asking about how to do it. So if you didn’t read the April post, check it out. Today’s post is more of an addendum to that one. Today I’m talking about people watching as a form of market research.

First and foremost, to make people watching into an effective form of market research, you have to have great observation skills and an eye for detail. You can pick up lots of useful information by watching people but you have to know what to look for and where to look.

1.Get out of your comfort zone
A lot of us are used to doing the same things, going to the same bars, hanging with the same friends. This type of rut can spell trouble for your entrepreneurial creativity and it’s especially problematic if your scene isn’t your target market. So what to do? Get out of your zone. Go to a different type of bar. If you normally go to indie rock bars, hit up a dance club. If you normally hang out in an upscale, posh cafe on the upper west side, go get a cup of joe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Go to a bowling alley, go to an art opening. Just get out there and do something different. (Try to pick places that you have a hunch might have your target market hanging out in them.)

Why would you do this? Two reasons:
- Because your customers might be lurking in places you don’t normally go and you might never know it until you get out there.
- You might discover a new and under-served target demographic that you want to reach.

To understand prospective customers, you have to get a little entrenched in their day-to-day lifestyle. It’s also important to take note of the people you see when you go out. Do they wear jewelry? If so, is it expensive precious metals or inexpensive quirky stuff? Do they carry handbags and if so are they small or big? What kind of clothing do they wear? What colors do they wear? Try to imagine where these people shop. Would they walk into your virtual store? Does what you sell look like what they own? Do your models on your website look like these people?

Another thing to notice is pricing in public places. Are the people around you sipping $12 martinis or $4 Buds? This may be an indicator of your target market’s disposable income. You can make inferences about that along with observing their clothing and accessories.

2. Go to market
I said in a recent post that it can be tough to make a craft show profitable. That said, they can be great places to do market research. Pay attention to who comes to your booth and how they react to your products.

Are your booth visitors young or old? Male or female? Do they have kids? How are they dressed? Which people buy and which people window shop but walk away? Are you losing customers with smaller budgets due to your price points? Can you make a cheaper version of what you sell to capture that audience? Would you even want to?

You might also want to take time to notice the people who are visiting your competitors’ booths. What characteristics distinguish those people from everyone else at the show?

Taking notes on the defining characteristics of shoppers at a show can help you build a composite profile of your target customers.

3. Hone in on pop culture
Pop culture is a great way to observe consumer markets. Rock stars, celebs and TV and film characters are often reflections of people in society. Pay attention to what characters on TV wear. Those characters are often representative of real people. Follow some celebrity gossip blogs to see how Miley Cyrus is accessorizing, because chances are her fans want to wear the same kinds of pieces.

Try to find film and TV characters that wear or use products that look like what you sell. Then take note of where the characters spend their time and what their interests are. All of these observations will help you envision your own customer archetypes and better serve their interests and wants.


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June 21, 2010

Use Your Sales Data to Make Business Decisions

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 6:29 am


When we talk about analytics in the ecommerce world, most of the lip service goes to web analytics. You absolutely should monitor your website stats. You need to know where referring traffic comes from and how many visits and page views you’re getting. All of that is valuable decision-making fodder. That said, those stats are primarily about visitors, not buyers. For the real goods, it’s important to run reports on your sales data too.

Here are some patterns you’ll want to look for:

What are my best sellers?
The things you sell the most of are a good indicator of what your customers want. (Duh) But it’s important to think about WHY it’s a best seller. Is it vastly cheaper than your other items? Does it have a superior design? Is it more functional than your other items? The features that cause things to sell well should guide future decisions about product offerings.

What are my worst sellers?
While best sellers tell you what people want, worst sellers tell you what they don’t want. If something isn’t selling it’s good to think about why.

You may also want to think about ridding your shop of loser products. These items that no one wants may be making your overall store less appealing.

Is there a particular size or color I sell the most/least of?
If your products vary by size and color, be sure to take note of which sizes/colors sell best. This will help you stock your shop appropriately and make decisions about product development.

Is there a particular type of product I sell the most/least of?
For example, if you sell jewelry, meaning necklaces bracelets and earrings, take note of what kind of jewelry you’re selling the most of. Are you selling three times more bracelets than necklaces? These patterns can help direct the development of your product offerings.

Are there days of the week when sales peak or drop?
Noticing when you sell products is just as important as noticing what you sell. If you know your traffic converts best on Fridays, you might start sending out your newsletter on Fridays to support this popular buying day.

If you know Tuesdays are slow, maybe you want to run special promotion codes on Tuesdays via Facebook to buoy sales for that day.

It’s also important to notice if sales pick up or drop off at certain times of the month. You may want to adjust your marketing efforts to boost slow periods or supercharge active periods.

Are there certain months where sales increase/decrease?
Being prepared for slow or busy months is extremely important. If you know certain months are busy you’ll want to make sure your stock levels are high for those times. You may also want to plan special PR or marketing efforts around those periods.

For example, if you know you do really well around Mother’s Day think about what you can do to make that holiday even more profitable. Can you plan a special PR push for that holiday? Should you be running additional advertisements?

If you know certain periods are slow, for example if you sell knits and you know summer is dead for you, think about how you want to handle that. Do you want to introduce a line of summer knits made of lighter materials? Can you survive on slow sales in the summer because your winter is so busy? If so, what do you need to do to adjust your budget accordingly?

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