This is the story of how I grew my eCommerce business from 0 to 10,000 customers

From 0 to 10,000 customers: How I grew a successful eCommerce business

I never thought I’d publicly share how I took my eCommerce business from 0 to 10,000 customers in 18 months.

But as they say, things change and here we are.

If you don’t know who I am, my name is Lucy Bloomfield and I am one of the Co-Founders of Trefiel.

 

When you grow a successful eCommerce business, there are some perks such as photoshoots and free product.
I buit a successful business while wearing lace sheets on my face.

 

Trefiel was my eCommerce business and we sold luxury, plant-based sheet masks. But more than that, we helped women see amazing results with their skin fast (and squeeze in more me-time while they’re at it).

During the time I was working on Trefiel, I helped it to:

  • Grow from 0 to 10,000 customers in 18 months;
  • Maintain a 40% return customer rate;
  • Sustain average subscriber length to 10 boxes (industry average is 3);
  • Convert over 22% of our closed community channels for specific marketing campaigns.

We sold a lot of face masks in this period and I’m proud of the business my partner and I built. But like any journey, I do have regrets when I look back.

 

My one regret as a business owner

It's easy to look back on any chapter of your life and wish you'd done something, if not everything, different. Even though I saw a lot of success with my business, I still have those regrets too.

Mine is this -

I didn't document or write about what I was learning as I was going through it.

At the time, I felt like I couldn't possibly fit another task in.

 

When you're growing an eCommerce business, the sheer number of orders you have to pack can cripple your growth.
Just another day madly packing orders at the Trefiel and Fulfilio warehouse.

 

But if I had my time with Trefiel (or another business) again, I'd make time to write about what I was doing to grow my business, all the lessons I was learning and the mistakes I was making.

Even if nobody else read it, it would have been a welcome moment to reflect on my days which were jam-packed to say the least.

 

What my days looked like as the owner of a successful eCommerce business

 

It wasn't until I did an interview with Natalie Thorogood from Soak Society that I realised how great I was at juggling my intense life.

Here's a shortened version of what I shared with her -

  • 5am - Up and at ‘em. My morning ritual consists of me staring out the window for an hour, thinking about life and a few hours at my MMA gym. Learning to kick other people's butts helps with the stress.
  • 9am - Coffee and set-up. Living in Melbourne, I’m really lucky to have access to some of the best coffee in Australia and with so many amazing places within just a few minutes of each other, I’m spoilt for choice.
  • 9.15am - 8.30pm - Work until my fingers bled and my brain poured out of my ears.
  • 8.30pm - Dinner and daily review. I’ll sit down and journal about my day, reflecting on my goals for the month and whether my actions aligned with those goals. It’s a chance to reflect on what is usually a hugely mentally taxing day and offer perspective on stresses or issues. This is my therapy and another ritual I fall back on daily to help me stay focused on what I want.
  • 9.30pm - Take care of my skin then crawl into bed. Read for an hour while annoying Michael and fall asleep, ready for the next day.

Trefiel was a major part of my life for a long time and now that it's not, trying to rekindle those memories from early days or lessons from stressful times is like trying to maintain your organic Instagram reach... impossible.

It's more difficult now to use social media to grow your business.
Before Facebook ruined Instagram, it used to be possible to grow your business using the platform.

 

Truthfully, looking back now leaves me with a sad wistfulness because I've realised that most of it is a blur.

 

How do you grow an eCommerce or online business?

That's a great question and one I feel I can answer with a certain degree of confidence. Although I have a lot to learn when it comes to running a business, I do know that what I've gone through so far is valuable.

So I'm going back to the past to walk you through exactly what happened at each stage of growth. Depending on what period I'm talking about, this might be lessons I learnt or mistakes I made.

My only goal is to condense and repackage what I was going through as the owner of a fast-growing business in a way that's useful to you.

I want to share:

  • How to maintain an average 5-star rating with all your customers
  • How to handle sticky customer service situations with grace
  • How to take ownership of your mistakes in your business
  • How to manage and lead a remote team
  • How to ask the right questions from your customers
  • How to sell a lot of product

That's just the start of what I have planned.

 

Learn how to take I took my business from 0 to 10,000 customers

 

This is the story of how I grew my eCommerce business from 0 to 10,000 customers

 

 

You might be looking at your business and think "I'll never get to 10,000 customers".

Or you might think "10,000 customers was a long time ago".

Regardless of how much revenue you're making or how many customers you have, this series will be relevant to you.

From internal processes to attitude adjustments, I'm going to take you through my journey of owning and growing Trefiel. So rather than having only technical posts with no connection between us, there'll be stories, breakdowns, highs and lows weaved into each post.

I'm incredibly excited to share this all with you.

If you’re interested, then join me below for an honest conversation about what it was really like to build a business.

[SIGN UP]

Thank you for coming along for the ride and I’ll talk to you soon.


8 things I wish I knew before starting a business

8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Business

Hey, my name is Lucy and I started an eCommerce business that sells face masks. The entire experience of owning this business has lead me to realise how naive I was when I started, how much I’ve learnt in two years and how grateful I am to have gone through it.

That’s what this post is celebrating — ignorance, naivety and gratitude.

Let’s dive in.

1. Build a business, not a brand.

I misinterpreted big brand’s Instagrams to be the core reason for their success. What I’ve since learnt is design doesn’t sell, advertising does.

The reality of eCommerce is this —

Your social media channels are 1/100th of what you should be doing well.

If I could turn back the clock and build this same business again, I would hire digital advertising super stars and build the brand in my spare time.

The way your business looks matters so little, especially when you’re starting out.

 

2. You don't know what you don't know.

In the beginning, you know you don’t know very much about running and growing a business.

But as time passes, you start to feel you know business intimately and deeply and can predict what’s going to happen next.

You don’t. You may think you know, but you don’t.

I’ve found it’s always wise to assume that as soon as you start feeling good about your expertise, you’re just around the corner from a big lesson.

 

3. Heavily regulated industries are difficult to navigate.

Particularly if you don’t have a highly unique product and a lot of capital behind you.

Skin care is one of those industries and the frustrating part about our recent strategies to grow in this industry are the hoops you need to jump through.

Skin care is not an easy industry to start out in.

At the end of the day, you need to have a product that is special and you have to be excited about jumping through those hoops to make it happen.

 

4. You have time to think before deciding.

I’ve rushed making decisions because I felt pressured to grow fast and do everything as fast as I could.

You always have time to think analytically before making a decision.

Recently, I have given myself hours (not minutes) to make a decision and the result has lead to more rational, strategic moves on my part. It feels good to weigh the options before deciding.

 

5. Focus.

This is a takeaway built from the foundations of Lesson 1.

When you’re growing a business, it is so important to pause before blazing through a project to ask yourself —

Is this going to lead to growth?

If the answer is no and it’s not customer service, shelf the idea and find a project that will.

If I could go back and use this question to make better decisions, I would in a heartbeat. I would have added more products to our range sooner, I would have hired differently and I would have focused on digital advertising a lot sooner than I did.

 

6. It doesn't have to consume you for it to work.

You don’t have to give your soul to your business — to the point where you don’t know yourself anymore — for it to work.

A great eCommerce businesses will flourish with focus.

And in order to build a great eCommerce business, you have to be great at selling product. If you have any doubt about your ability to naturally sell, you’ll soon find out when you start a business if it’s your strength or not and if you’re willing to put in the time to learn.

 

7. Wring every drop out of it when it's good.

I think there’s one thing that’s guaranteed in business —

When it’s good, it’s really good and when it’s bad, it’s very bad.

That’s why it’s so important to work as hard as you can and put in the extra hours when there are opportunities at every corner and your growth is exponential.

Take every opportunity that fits and will help you grow and leave the rest behind.

 

8. You're more than your business, revenue and profit.

This comes back to Lesson 6 and how I found my identity was baked into how well my business was doing.

At the end of the day, I needed to take a step back from my business and look around me.

Firstly, to recognise that I’m a human being and I have friends and family who don’t hear from me any more, or when they do I only talk about my business.

Secondly, to remember that there are people all over the world struggling to survive, let alone build a thriving business, and that figuring out how to sell more face masks isn’t going to solve those problems.

Thirdly, that I do think I have something unique to offer outside of skin care and that I want to pursue that.

Moments away from the hustle of my business have given me path-altering perspective and it’s in these times that I feel most alive.

 

 



How to giveaway free product the right way

How to giveaway free product the right way

If you run a business, chances are you've been asked to giveaway your product to a company or event. They usually promise exposure and brand awareness, but they never seem to have any marketing budget to pay for your product (funny that).

It's not just the cost of the goods you need to consider. Your time to communicate and oragnise the giveaway is valuable. And then there's postage too. I could consider it worthwhile if the opportunity shot your business into household name status.... but somehow it never does.

In my 2 years of gifting product, I've learnt 5 important takeaways. They'll teach you why giveaways don't work as they're presented to you. Afterwards, I'll show you some of the better opportunities and how to make the most of them.

5 lessons from giving away product

1. The attendees haven't paid for the goods, which makes them seem less valuable

We value items we pay for, and, as the price goes higher, the part of our brain which processes rewards increases our sense of enjoyment. This is a pricing bias and it is a very real part of human psychology. Given that most attendees at events are gifted goodie bags (with your product inside them), this means the value perceived by them is close to zero.

When you giveaway your product for free, you immediately give your receive pricing bias because the value is no longer there for them.
When we know a wine is more expensive, our brain enjoys it more. Where does that leave your free product?

 

2. The goodie bag isn't the star of the event

When I think about events I've attended and goodie bags I've received, I have rarely felt excited about what's in my bag (it's more of a nice-to-have than the star of my night). If this is true for me, then it's probably true for others too. Now think about how many brands have poured their products into these bags, only for the receiver to have this kind of attitude.

When you giveaway product, this is the type of response you can expect to receive.
Ouch, "getting around" to my product? That doesn't sound promising.

 

3. Influencers aren't going to post about your product

Most events have influencers attending them and companies like to dangle them in front of you to convince you to come onboard. Firstly, an influencer doesn't just go to an event - they're invited and they're usually paid to be there. Secondly, no influencer is going to post about your product for free - they already have cupboards full of product and struggle to fit paid brands in their feed anyway. Thirdly, you don't get to choose what influencer is attending the event so how do you know they're going to be the right fit for your brand? You don't.

When you giveaway your product, Instagram influencers should not be a part of your decision making process.
Blue circles are sponsored posts. Not a lot of space or even the right fit for us.

Relying on the hope of said influencers posting about your product shouldn't make up a part of your decision process as to whether you participate or not.

 

4. You have limited and ineffective ways to track return

If you giveaway your product, you want to know if it amounted to anything. Finding ways to track your return on gifting is murky at best. You can track website traffic after the event and monitor user-generated content, but that won't tell you how many hands your product made it into... or how many bins.

It's difficult to track product that you giveaway, even with proven methods.
50 Shades Darker launched with our support on February 9th. This is our website traffic for the month.

 

5. The brand awareness is usually worthless

When Michael and I were invited to be product sponsors for the launch of 50 Shades Darker, we were excited. Here was an opportunity to giveaway product that was a) perfectly suited to our target audience and b) a huge partnership with a large company.

Flyers on logos don't work, just like when you giveaway free product for nothing in return.
Remember that brand that sponsored 50 Shades Darker? Yeah, me either.

I greyed out the other brands in the flyer out of respect but I want to be very clear - while we both look back on the event as a great experience (mainly because we had a great night with a few of our customers), we had absolutely zero return on our involvement.

How to giveaway product the right way

When there are scalable and trackable ways to grow your business, I find it difficult to justify gifting product. But, in saying that, there are some opportunities which I think can be great for your business and we often giveaway product from our own business in these very specific cases.

1. A charity or cause you care about

One of the pleasures of business is being able to help people through what you've created. Having the opportunity to giveaway your product to a charity very rarely shows a quantifiable return, but it feels good to do it and in a lot of ways, I think it's helped define what Trefiel stands for.

2. A partner you work with in other ways

Supporting companies who support you not only strengthens the relationship long-term, but it helps you both to create something that may not have been possible on your own. We did this for Trefiel when we partnered with Travel Plus, one of our stockists. TravelPlus is a travel agent and with their help, we were able to giveaway a Bali getaway and run a comprehensive marketing campaign to promote it.

Work with your stockists to giveaway great prizes for your customers and community.
This was easily Trefiel's best giveaway and it wouldn't have been possible without our supportive partners.

You only need a little creativity to identify what your customers would love to receive from both parties involved.

3. Swap marketing for product (or marketing)

Being paid for your product is always the first priority. But, it's not always possible and that's where being creative to make an opportunity work comes into play.

Here are some of the options we use when we giveaway product for our own business and for our clients:

  1. Swapping email lists or swapping an email to drive traffic to each parties site. Be sure to protect yourself and get the best value from this - if you're not the main message in the email, no one cares.
  2. Swapping product for equal RRP between the two parties means you can run a Gift With Purchase campaign. It gives your customers more value in their order and thus, more incentive to purchase.
  3. Creating a content campaign around your involvement. This can be an in-depth task for both parties involved, so I usually save this offer for larger companies that reach out to us. They have the time and the team, which makes it easier to persuade them.

This is only the start of what you can suggest when you're approached by another company to giveaway your product.

 

giveaway gift with purchase campaign marketing ecommerce
Partnering up with like-minded businesses to swap product is a great way to give more to your customers.

It's not all about you, you, you

This post has focused on making sure you as the gifter get an adequate return. But I want to end this by reminding you that you should be as involved in promoting the other company, as they are you. Always focus on giving value as much as receiving it.

The ultimate goal with product sponsorship (and marketing in general)

Work together to create something your community loves and your partners loved being a part of.

This is what I love most about marketing and campaigns -  I get to help other businesses create something that does both.


Case Study: How I tripled our client's sales with a giveaway campaign

When IME Natural Perfume came to us, they were struggling to see traction with online sales, email list growth and return.

I was hired to change that.

I used a giveaway of $1000 worth of clean beauty products and promoted it organically on social media. With my campaign, I helped my client to:

  • Double the size of their email list
  • Gain a combined 1000+ new followers on Instagram and Facebook
  • Gain 1400 answers to questions which will help the company improve their future marketing
  • Triple their sales over the 18 day period

Other than my time, my client spent only $50 on marketing their competition.

In this blog post, I'm going to walk you through exactly what I did and by the end of this article, you'll learn:

  1. How to choose the right prize to entice your audience to enter
  2. How much time and budget you'll need for a campaign like this
  3. How to monetise your new audience with a consolation prize email sequence

Let's dive into it!

Step One - Strategy

Entry methods

My client wanted to boost sales and grow their email list for future monetisation, so I designed a campaign around that. I wanted our entrants to feel their best shot at winning was by entering their email and making a purchase, so I gave those entry methods more weight than other methods (like following social media profiles for instance).

As well as this, while talking to my client in the initial meetings for this project I realised how little I know about the customers for this business. Because of this, I included questions which would help us understand them better and would help drive the companies marketing in the future.

Choosing the right prize

In order to achieve my client's goals, I needed a prize that was worth the audience's time to enter. With the help of my client and Kristina Ioannou from We Are Eden, we worked together to organise the prizes and make sure that the brands posted in the required timeline.

 

We chose brands our client's customers would love to create a prize pack that would boost sales.
This campaign is another great example of how important it is to choose brand's that align with your target market. Otherwise, you end up with an email list that's useless.

How do you choose a prize that resonates with your target audience? It comes down your business and your product:

  1. Define 4-5 core selling points of your product (for example natural, plant-based, vegan, toxin-free).
  2. Find other brands using your product's selling points as hashtags on Instagram
  3. DM or email them and ask them if they'd like to be a part of it.

That's really how simple it is!

Timeframe

I already had a good idea of what the prize would be and I knew that while it wasn't a worth of a flash giveaway (1-2 days duration), a $1000 prize pack wasn't enough to warrant a one month long campaign either. It's always best to err on the side of caution when deciding on time frame, so I chose 14 days for this one. Not too short, not too long either.

Platforms for distribution

Before I start planning the content or setting up the competition, I need to know where I'll be distributing the content to promote the campaign. My client had a small budget, so I had to leverage as much unpaid advertising and marketing as I could to make sure it was a success.

In this case, I chose to use:

  1. Email - to re-engage their existing list in a fun, novel way
  2. Facebook - an existing channel that has decent engagement, but more manoeuvrability with advertising
  3. Instagram - the most active channel with the biggest sense of community
  4. Our brand partner relationships - these would help us reach new audiences without having to pay for them, much like an influencer.

If you have more budget, here are some other great ways to promote your campaign:

  • Work with related influencers who align with your brand to bring new leads to the competition
  • Use boosted posts to target new people outside of your usual audience
  • Use relevant and targeted Facebook groups and other online communities (like Reddit) to advertise the giveaway. This is a great way to build trust in communities which otherwise wouldn't let you advertise your products.

Step Two - Set Up

I decided to use Gleam to run the competition for three reasons:

  1. It's easy to track and validate entries
  2. It automatically opens and shuts the competition so you don't have to
  3. It integrates into websites easily so you can create a dedicated landing page for the competition (important if you're running retargeting ads for anyone that visits your site).

Step Three - Creating the pillars of content

When I plan a campaign, I like to think of it in four phases:

  • Launch
  • Build
  • Climax
  • Post

For each phase, I block out the core content I need to promote the campaign for each part. For this project, it looked like this:

Launch Phase

  1. 1 Tease Email
  2. 1 Launch Email
  3. 1 Launch Facebook Post
  4. 1 Launch Instagram Post

Build Phase

  1. 1 Reminder Email
  2. 1 Reminder Facebook Post
  3. 1 Reminder Instagram Post
  4. Use all of brand partner's posts during this phase to continue to drive traffic to the campaign

Climax Phase

  1. 1 Reminder Email
  2. 1 Reminder Facebook Post
  3. 1 Reminder Instagram Post

Post Phase

  1. 3 Consolation Emails
  2. 1 Winner Announcement Facebook Post
  3. 1 Winner Announcement Instagram Post.

From here, I know what I need to talk about when and I used the strategical structure of the campaign to drive the creative side.

Step Four - Creating the content

I like to start my campaigns by writing emails because these generally use the most direct language to achieve the goal for the email. I then repurposed this copy for the relevant social media posts and worked with my designer to create assets that would stop the user in the feed and encourage them to look at the caption.

Step Five - Deploying & managing the campaign

This phase is basically admin work and involves our team working to deploy the campaign across all of the channels I've chosen. I'll schedule posts and emails, apply boosts and set reminders for posts or emails that can't be sent with current data - for example, I wanted to send a reminder email halfway through the campaign to encourage those who hadn't entered to do so, but I couldn't set that up until we had a list of entrants that I could exclude from the recipients.

Aside from small tasks like this, a campaign will usually run itself fairly smoothly. It's always a good idea to keep an eye on the reporting throughout as it can help you understand how it's performing and identify efforts which are and aren't working. For example, I used our campaign reporting to keep an eye on which brand's posts performed well so that I could identify the ones who's audiences were most aligned with our clients. With this information, I can approach these brands to work with them again on a more exclusive campaign.

 

A 41% conversion rate is fantastic and when you combine it with the boost sales, this was a hugely successful marketing campaign.
This is a great sign for the prize being the right fit for the intended audience. As well, in this graph you can see when our brand partners posted and which audiences responded well. This can help you organise campaigns with the same brands in the future.

I saw a consistent 41% conversion rate throughout the duration of the competition (this is an awesome result).

Step Six - Post Campaign

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking once a campaign is over, your work is done. The post campaign phase is my favourite because it offers the opportunity to activate your new subscribers (and non-winners) with a consolation prize.

That's exactly what I did for this campaign. I used 3 emails over a 48 hour period to provide our list with an offer and used the looming deadline as an incentive to act on that offer.

Sometimes the biggest boost sales is after the campaign has closed/
Here you can see the huge upswing in sales at the end of the campaign, which is when my closing email series fired. Powerful stuff.

When you do this for your own business, you'll need to make sure that you have your email provider set up correctly so that you only send the reminder emails to the subscribers who haven't purchased from the series.

Step Nine - Analysis

The final part of the campaign is going through the information I've collected, specifically focusing on the sales, email list growth and the questions answered by the customers. The biggest focus for this part is determining what the ROI was and whether it would be a good idea to run another campaign similar to this. For this project, the return was fantastic and I would highly recommend this client running more campaigns in the future.

Final Thoughts

With Christmas fast approaching, testing the waters with campaigns like this can be an effective and relatively cheap way to prepare for the busiest time of the year. A competition like this is simple to set up and could be run easily by your own in-house team (or even on your own).

But if you're not sure where to start or you just don't have time to organise something like this, send me an email and let's talk.

Here's what IME Natural Perfume had to say about working with us -

"Absolutely loved having you guys come on board for the campaign. It has been a huge help in getting my head around what was lacking and how I can make improvements. The work was completed above and beyond what I imagine".

My favourite part about marketing is running campaigns because a) it's easy to get a return for your business and b) it's a great way to give back to your community. That's how marketing should be.


Case Study: How I made $3k in 3 days with a flash sale

When I received an email from AfterPay about their millionth customer celebration, I knew I had to act. It was a great opportunity to run a flash sale alongside their promotion and if I timed it right I could run my company's promotion before any other businesses did the same. So I did and...

I sold $3000 worth of product in 72 hours

With an investment of $100 advertising spend and 3 hours of work.

In today's blog post, I'm going to show you how I did it and 4 core takeaways you can apply to your own business:

  1. How to recognise an opportunity for a flash sale
  2. How to structure a flash sale for maximum results
  3. How to pick which platforms to use for a flash sale
  4. How to present your flash sale to your customers

Let's do this!

The Opportunity

As a business owner and marketer, you should always be looking for opportunities to celebrate with your customers, whether that's giveaways, competitions or sales. That's why when you see an opportunity to celebrate, like AfterPay's millionth customer announcement, you must act to make something of it.

Here are a few examples of opportunities you could take advantage of:

  1. I regularly receive emails from a company we've purchased wholesale chocolate from. Whenever they run a sale or launch a new product, I buy enough units to run a Gift With Purchase campaign. This gives me leverage with their own marketing for a product launch or I get discounted prices which makes a Gift With Purchase campaign more feasible.
  2. I am often approached by brands and influencers to giveaway free product. I don't do this very often, but when brands that are larger than my company approach me and are negotiable with the marketing terms, I'll usually take the opportunity for the potential upside.
  3. I randomly throw #freemaskfridays where I send an extra mask with every order, just because. These are fun, easy to deploy and encourage spending on a day that is typically quite slow for eCommerce.
  4. At the start of every month, I check for obscure public holidays and peak shopping periods (like Black Friday or Mother's Day) to capitalise on.

Spotting these opportunities isn't difficult, all you need is a little preparation, creativity, and interest in seeing what you can create.

Taking Action

1. Creating a strategy

I knew that I wouldn't be the only business celebrating AfterPay's milestone and I wanted to get in before other brands sold to my customers. So I made a conscious decision to launch the sale before the official celebration dates.

Because there is very little complexity to a flash sale, the only things I needed to decide on were:

  1. How long the sale would run for
  2. Where I wanted to distribute the core content
  3. What offer I was going to give our customers

How to choose the timeframe for your sale

There's really no right or wrong answer when deciding on a timeframe. Most of the time, it comes down to your capabilities to deploy a campaign -

  • Do you have the time or resources to execute across multiple platforms?
  • How big your audience is on those platforms?

I usually do 48-hour flash sales because it's enough time to launch the campaign and send a follow-up email. In this case, I wanted to include a third email to touch base with anyone who hadn't purchased - that's why I decided to extend the flash sale to a 72-hour timeframe.

How to structure a flash sale for maximum results

With campaigns like this, email is a no-brainer. It's easy, it goes straight into your customer's inboxes and you can follow them up throughout the campaign duration with reminders about the offer and looming deadline. For the other platforms, it again comes down to your resources. How many platforms are you currently on and how well are they performing? There's not a lot of point advertising on your Snapchat if you only have a few views per Snap.

In our case, I had a small but engaged following on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat so I decided to use these plus our email list to promote the flash sale.

How to choose the right offer for your flash sale

Again, this comes down to your product and specifically, your margins.

What can you afford to discount or give on top of your customer's order?

Here are a few examples of what you could do:

  1. Run a Gift With Purchase campaign with a light item that won't blow your shipping costs out
  2. Offer a discount ladder - 10% on launch, 15% on the second day, 20% on the final day
  3. Offer one discount that is higher than you usually would

In this case, I chose to match AfterPay's discounts to merchants (15%) with no further increases. We very rarely did sales, so I knew that it was a great deal and my customers would act when I offered it.

At this point, I had the bare bones of the campaign planned out and the next step was to create the content.

2. Structuring the pillars of content

Once you've designed the structure of your flash sale, you need to build out the content of the platform you're executing on. I had Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Email to plan and this is how I laid it out.

Launch Phase

  • 1 Email
  • 1 Facebook Post
  • 1 Instagram Post
  • 1 Snapchat Series
  • 1 Instagram Stories Post

Build Phase

  • 1 Email
  • 1 Instagram Stories Post

Climax Phase

  • 1 Email
  • 1 Instagram Stories Post

You'll notice that I didn't include Instagram and Facebook posts in the last two-thirds of the campaign. I personally don't find blasting a flash sale with daily posts to be effective. Often times, you actually lose when you do this because people get sick of seeing your spam and stop engaging with your posts.

What has worked really well for us is putting advertising spend on the initial post and leveraging the other platforms in the campaign to continue promoting the flash sale.

3. Creating the content

A really important aspect of any campaign is the positioning or how you present your campaign to your customers. Here's what I mean by this -

I didn't say -

"We're running a flash giveaway to capitalise on AfterPay's milestone and save on a discount we'd usually have to pay for".

I said -

"We're celebrating AfterPay's milestone because we're proud to be a business who offers AfterPay (an amazing service) to our customers".

Both are true, but one is more customer friendly than the other.

But how do you know how to present your campaign to your customers?

It's really simple...

  1. What caused you to run this flash sale? Write this down.
  2. What are your business goals for running the campaign? Write this down.
  3. Look at the two different sentences and find a connection that's relevant to your customer.

In our case, AfterPay is a service that benefits both the business and the customer involved in the transaction, so the milestone they are celebrating is something everyone could be a part of, no matter if you're buying the product or selling it. This is what helped me to decide on our final messaging for the campaign.

Once I had the message, I wrote the content for the emails and used the same copy, albeit slightly altered for each platform, to power our social media posts. Then, I created assets that would stop our audience in their news feed tracks.

4. Deploying the campaign

The final stage of the campaign was deploying the posts. There was the scheduled content that we could set up and leave:

  • Setting up the email series to send the first email on launch day, second email 24 hours after and the last email another 24 hours later.
  • Scheduled the Instagram and Facebook posts and boosted them once they were live.

The other content on Snapchat and Instagram Stories could only be done manually, so every day I uploaded content to both of these to continue promoting the competition.

That's it!

The Analysis

First up, I'm going to go over the expenses for the campaign.

Expenses

  • 3 hours of time to create and deploy the campaign
  • $100 on a boosted post

Results

  • $2968 in revenue ($2768 from email, $200 from Instagram Stories)
  • 9% conversion rate on our store throughout the flash sale duration
  • For every 1000 subscribers on our list, we made $553 (you can use this as a benchmark to compare how your list is performing)
  • 18% conversion rate on our Instagram Stories posts

For 3 hours of work and $100 spent, this is a fantastic result.

What did I learn?

There were two core lessons that I took from this campaign:

  1. A third email on a slightly longer campaign timeframe was extremely effective in generating more sales because of the impending deadline reminders. On my next flash sale campaign, I would add a fourth email a few hours before the deadline as one last reminder to anyone who hasn't purchased.
  2. Using Instagram Stories for a targeted action such as swiping up to make a purchase was extremely effective. I have previously underestimated the channel and its ability to convert. After this flash sale, I will include it in all of my sales campaigns.

Final Thoughts

You might be thinking about running a flash sale like this in your own business. To that I say -

Go for it, but not too often.

Yes, campaigns, and particularly flash sales, are extremely effective in generating revenue. But they can also be detrimental to your business if you run them too frequently. Here's why:

  • Nobody likes being sold to constantly.
  • When we, the consumer, are sold to all the time, we stop listening and opening emails except when we want to buy. If you're trying to build a community that cares about your companies emails, this can be damaging.
  • When we, the consumer, know that a discount email is likely to come from a company, we sit back and wait for that email before purchasing.

Choose to deploy flash sales wisely and creatively.


How to grow your community using Snapchat & Instagram Stories

You want to grow your community, but it's becoming more and more difficult.

You've noticed a decline in your organic reach and the ever-changing algorithms on Instagram and Facebook make it almost impossible to keep up. Thankfully, great video content on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories always wins because it's intimate, easy to consume and transient.

Putting in the time with these platforms has had a huge impact on our own business...

  • Our customer retention rate is over 40%
  • The average number of boxes one of our Pamper Club subscribers receives over their lifetime is 6 boxes
  • We maintained 5-star rating on our store and Facebook for more than 2 years
  • We see a 22% conversion rate on our 'Swipe Up' posts for Snapchat & Instagram Stories

Today, I want to share with you exactly:

  1. How to get started
  2. What video content we posted on these platforms
  3. How often you should post

By the end of this post, you'll know how you to grow your community too. Let's dive in!

Q. How do I get started with Snapchat & Instagram Stories video content?

There's really only three steps to getting started with either of these platforms:

  1. Download the app
  2. Set up an account
  3. Start uploading videos

I know what you're thinking.

The thought of getting in front of the camera and talking to an unknown person on the other side (or worse, nobody) is daunting. Here's the one tip I can give you that will help you overcome that fear...

No one cares.

The sooner you realise that, the sooner you can let go of those insecurities and begin to grow your community using these platforms.

Q. What types of video content should I upload?

For this particular question, I think you and I should chat face-to-face.

Q. How often should I upload content on these platforms?

There are two answers to this question:

  1. As often as you can throughout the day without it affecting your work; and
  2. As consistently as you can over a long period of time (at least 12 months to start with).

You want to grow your community as fast as you can, but the truth is it's a long, hard slog to get traction on these platforms. You have to show up every day, care about providing value and really try to connect with the person on the other end. It's the only way.

Q. How do I grow my followers or views on these channels?

Growing your followers

Instagram Stories is fairly straight-forward:

  1. Post interesting content, consistently
  2. Run ads on the channel for specific business objectives (but only when you need them)
  3. Use posts on other profile (either paid posts or leverage relationships) to grow your audience

For Snapchat, it requires more foresight and work:

  1. Post interesting content, consistently
  2. Make sporadic posts on other, relevant platforms to drive traffic to the channel
  3. Use onboarding email flows to encourage joining
  4. Show sneak peaks on other platforms to pique curiosity
  5. Change your social media profiles to include your Snapchat username

Growing your views

There's one factor that all social media personalities have in common...

They all turn up the dial on their personality to be more 'exciteable'

Why do you need to do this?

It's far more entertaining to watch and it brings the viewer into the same level of energy as you (it's usually a boost in mood for them). If you can make people feel good when they watch you, you'll grow - it's just a matter of time.

Q. Isn't Snapchat dead?

Not yet, so keep uploading!

Ready, set, upload!

A lot of businesses are out to take every dollar they can from their customers and usually when they contact their customer, it's to ask for a sale. But imagine if you were the business in your industry that nurtured your audience by:

  • Involving them in your long-term vision of the company
  • Sharing the behind-the-scenes of your business
  • Providing them with relevant and educational information that helps them to make better decisions
  • Getting to know them better on a personal level
  • Giving them access to exclusive offers they won't find anywhere else

As a business, Snapchat and Instagram Stories are powerful because they allow you to become the expert of your industry, straight from your customer's pocket. You can talk to them any time you want and they've already qualified themselves as interested in what you have to say because they followed your profile.

That's the power of video. Try it for yourself.


How to use virtual assistants to collect user-generated content

Collecting and putting your user-generated content to work is important.

Not only is it a chance for you to give social love back to your best brand ambassadors (aka your customers), studying your user-generated content helps you to learn more about your customer, understand who they are and what they're into (which will ultimately help you find more people like them).

As much as we all love working on our business, tasks like this are time-consuming and can take up all of your time if you let them.

That's why in today's blog post, I'm going to share with you exactly how we used virtual assistants to help us collect our user-generated content (UGC).

In this post, you'll learn:

  1. How to set up your storage system for UGC
  2. What tools you should use to make UGC collection easy for your team
  3. Our step-by-step instructions for collecting UGC
  4. How often you should collect UGC

Because I know you're a busy person who doesn't have a lot of spare time, I've written this blog post so you can send the URL to your team and they can follow it like a manual.

Let's do this!


Step 1: Set up your storage

As far as where you should store your user-generated content, there's really no right or wrong solution. We use Google Drive for Trefiel but you could just as easily use the storage on your hosting or Dropbox. The most important part is setting up the folders right:

  1. You want to create a folder called User-Generated Content or UGC.
  2. Inside that folder, you want to create 3 folders - Boomerangs, Videos, Images
  3. Inside Images, you should create 2 folders - Good Quality and Bad Quality
  4. Inside the parent UGC folder, you should create a blank document called 'To be downloaded'

Next up, collecting the content.

 

Step 2: Collect your user-generated content

Phase 1 - Creating a list of all the places where content is uploaded

Before delegating this job to your virtual assistant, you'll first need to create a list of all the places they can find user-generated content for your business.

  1. Create a file in your UGC folder called 'Places to find content'
  2. Create a list of platforms where your brand is featured (eg. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Blog Posts).
    • If you're collecting content from Instagram -
      • Write a list of all the common hashtags your customers use
      • Make sure your assistant has access to your account so they can download your tagged images as well
    • If you're collecting content from Facebook -
      • Create a direct link to your public posts page on Facebook
A template to use for your places to find user-generated content file
Here's an example of what your 'Places to find user-generated content' document can look like. We usually like directly to the reviews and posts to help our team out.

This phase can be a little boring but I promise you, taking the time to prepare this will ensure you won't get emails asking basic questions and you'll know that content is being collected from all the places you know it's being uploaded to.

Phase 2 - Setting yourself up with the correct tools

If you need to:

Download content from Instagram

You can use InstaGDownloader which is a Google Chrome extension.

Download videos from YouTube

You can use Online Video Converter to do this.

Take screenshots of blog posts

You can use Full Page Screen Capture which is another Google Chrome extension.

Once you have your workspace set up, you can start collecting content.

Phase 3 - Collecting all of the UGC you have for the first time

Now, if you haven't been collecting UGC, you'll need to complete a 'catch up' session which, depending on how long the business has been operating for, may take anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks.

  1. Open up the 'Places to find content' file.
  2. Go through each platform and as you download each customer image or video, follow the below steps
    • Change the name of the file downloaded to be the same as the person's username (this will allow you to repost it and tag the image with the correct customer's username). 
    • Go to the UGC folder and upload the file into the correct folder -
      • If it's a video, upload it into UGC > Videos.
      • If it's a Boomerang, upload it into UGC > Boomerangs.
      • If it's an image, take a look at the quality before uploading it -
        • Is the image clear, well-lit and taken with a good camera? Upload it to Images > Good Quality.
        • Is the image grainy, dark or blurry? Upload it to Images > Bad Quality

Phase 4 - Collecting UGC on a regular basis

Once you've completed the initial 'catch up' session, collecting UGC is a simple task.

  1. Open up the 'Places to find content' file.
  2. Go through each platform and download the content.
  3. Rename the files to include the person's username.
  4. Upload the file into the correct folder inside the UGC folder.
  5. Check the 'To be downloaded' file and follow the same procedure.

That's it!

Phase 5 - Spotting content on Instagram that won't be indexed in hashtags

Sometimes your customers will @ tag your images, but they won't include any of your brand hashtags. When you're managing your community or one of your team members is:

  1. Keep an eye out for images which only have an @ tag, no brand hashtags.
  2. When you see these, copy the post link and paste it into . You can do this by -
    • Viewing the post on desktop and saving the URL to the 'To be downloaded' file
    • Or by viewing the post on mobile, click the 3 dots in the upper left-hand corner , selecting 'Share' and then 'Copy link'.

Step 3: Create a schedule

The last step in collecting user-generated content is doing it frequently enough to make use of great content your customers have uploaded. It depends on how much content your customers are producing and how active you want to be on your social media platforms. For Trefiel, we did it every two weeks and the team member managing our community kept her eyes peeled for great content that could be reshared immediately.

To make this task a normal part of your team member's role, make sure you create a repeating event in a shared calendar and directly hand over responsibility. What I mean by this is -

Clearly state to your team (or team members) that it is up to them to check the calendar and make sure this task happens.

What happens if you don't? Well, you'll become the person who has to remember and remind everyone about their job... and trust me, it isn't fun or sustainable.

Ready, set, delegate!

I want to remind you of three very important points before wrapping up this post.

1. Tweak this process to make it work for your business

Delegating (especially to virtual assistants) isn't a point-and-shoot game. You need to:

  1. Understand what you're asking your assistants to do
  2. Clearly write instructions for how to do that
  3. Set strict deadlines for when tasks should be completed.

I've written this post with the hope of taking point two off your plate, but I also want to remind you that you must understand exactly what it is you're assigning to your team before you assign it. Otherwise, you'll end up with something you didn't want and will have wasted everyone's time and your own money.

So tweak this post and make it fit your business and its specific requirements.

2. Don't step away completely

I would highly recommend that you check in on your assistants or team to make sure that the work continues to be done and the output is correct. We're all human and when there's no accountability, we forget or become plain lazy.

3. What are you going to do with your user-generated content?

Just collecting the content is not enough. Before you hand off this task to your team, think about and answer these questions -

  1. How are you going to reward the customers who post?
  2. How are you going to incentivise other customers to post?
  3. What are you going to do with the content itself?

If you're looking to gain more user-generated content, running giveaway marketing campaigns can be a great way to incentivise the type of content you're looking to collect. The content also makes fantastic content for Facebook ads images and videos - just make sure you get permission from your customer to use it.


Do you need help with internal processes?

Michael and I have systemised a large portion of our own business by putting into place repetitive internal processes for most tasks. If you're at the point where you:

  • Need to systemise your business in order to grow
  • Don't have any internal structure or processes and you don't know where to start

Send me an email and let's talk.

Streamlining, delegating and automating is one of our favourite ways to help businesses and I'd love the opportunity to help you create a system that works inside of your business.


What one client said after implementing this

"We implemented your UGC guide for collecting content and we discovered heaps of new content that we can use. Thanks so much for your guide. :)"