With a few things all colliding…
I have decided to launch a 4 month ecommerce case study where I invest in an intern, give them an extreme amount of control, train them, provide a budget and some vision then turn them loose to build up a couple of my neglected ecommerce assets.
Along the way this process is going to be documented in a weekly VLog and monthly post.
Annie started with us about 1 month ago and this is the first update from her along with her 3 vlog’s.
Hopefully this will provide a useful over the should case study for…
Hope you enjoy!
I have recently been hired by Jon to run/grow a few ecommerce sites and document that experience. I will be posting a weekly Vlog with more regular updates but will also be posting a written monthly summary of what I have been doing. If you are interested in following me along in this journey please subscribe to watch the Vlog episodes and stay tuned into the monthly blog updates.
So for starters my name is Annie Pringle; I was born in Ontario but quickly moved to BC and grew up there. In high school I began playing volleyball and became enamoured with the sport so much that I decided to pursue it. That ended up with me being in Birmingham, Alabama pursuing Beach Volleyball and my undergraduate degree and then my masters degree in Business Administration. Covid threw a wrench in my plans and I have had to delay my graduation by 9 months and am hoping to head back to Alabama at some point to play beach volleyball again. I ended up in Collingwood due to the need to return home to Canada and my family had moved back to Ontario, specifically Collingwood. Knowing no one here it has been pretty lonely and a stark contrast to how my busy life previously was so I was extremely excited when I got the opportunity to work with Jon on this ecommerce project.
I have been a business student for a while now and therefore have an extensive background knowledge on business topics but before starting this role I did not know very much about Ecommerce. I had a little experience running social media (which included content creation) due to a few courses and opportunities that I have had in the past but do not have a lot of familiarity with traffic, SEO, shopify, dropshipping or anything else that I’ve been doing.
The position that I have filled is called an “Ecommerce Associate”. I have been running 2-3 shopify businesses. These businesses have previously had some success but have not had a lot of time of work dedicated to them, they have been slightly “neglected” or just not super focused on in the past. Jon decided that he wanted to pour some attention into these businesses specifically increasing paid traffic campaigns, new product sourcing and overall improval of both sites’ SEO, so that’s where I have come in and I’m working on improving and growing this ecommerce portfolio.
Picture me not really knowing anything about running an ecommerce dropshipping business but getting handed over the reins of two (potentially three) of them. If it sounds daunting that’s because it was a little bit daunting at first but once I had received training and really just done a lot of experimenting and trial and error on my own I think things have gone relatively smoothly so far. This job is very exciting to me as I do get to learn how to do something new basically every day and I feel like I’m starting to become fairly adept at the online world of business. I also enjoy that unlike a lot of jobs I get to do a lot of different things every day. No two days are the same and that variability keeps the job interesting and keeps my focus.
My Schedule: I’m currently working around 25 hours a week give or take. The schedule that I have to follow is that every morning we have a team meeting at 9 am. There are usually around 6-10 people on the Daily Meeting and we do these over Zoom due to COVID. The protocol for the Daily Meeting is that Jon will start and everyone follows this short formula to check in with and update everyone else:
This is a really efficient way for Jon to quickly combat any issues that have arisen with the team and a good way to encourage collaboration with team members. I pretty much work on my own and then just report directly to Jon but I have heard a few things people have said in the Daily meetings and then subsequently reached out to them and asked for their help on some things and vice versa. It also encourages camaraderie within the team and allows for an outlet of social connection as most of us spend the day working on our laptops.
Here’s a screenshot of one of our Daily Zoom Meetings:
The other part of my schedule that is structured is my weekly meeting with Jon. This also follows a very specific structure which makes sure nothing falls through the cracks and that we have addressed every issue or what’s going to be on tap for the next week. Here is the structure we follow:
For each project that I work on (the 3 businesses and then the production of content) I mark down what was completed last week, Jon and I talk that through in the meeting and then set goals to be accomplished for the next week. Then throughout the week as I go about my work I check goals off and add them to the section “completed last week”. This structure method allows me to know exactly what is expected of me for the week and gives us a model to follow in our meetings which allows us to be as efficient and effective as possible.
Here is a photo of us during our last weekly meeting:
After I complete the daily & weekly meetings, I typically start my day by answering emails. There are usually quite a few emails to deal with as I have three email accounts to check and respond to. Once I finish responding to emails I move on to completing the tasks I have for the week established by the weekly meeting. I work through these tasks starting with the ones that are deemed the most important and ideally finish all the tasks for that day when possible.
That’s a pretty good overview on my job and what it involves. I will now take you through the process of establishing the starting point on the businesses I am running so that we can track growth and progress.
Establish Starting Point:
I have taken screenshots of the analytical metrics that I have deemed the most important and representative of what I wish to measure over the course of this project. Store A is listed first and Store B is second:
Total Sales is a fairly general metric that simply establishes how sales were previously doing and ultimately determines how successful the business is. As of now I do not have a set final goal for percentage of total sales growth over the term of my contract and it’s not the most important metric to me as I am projecting that in the first few months of my post total sales will not increase too dramatically but then towards the end of my contract after I have put a lot of work into the websites the total sales will start to grow. However, this metric just paints the picture to you guys of where the store is at right now and ultimately sales and profit is the most important goal so it’s essential to include in the analytics that will be tracked.
Online store sessions will be quite beneficial to improve for our stores if we can build a strong conversion rate. The fact of the matter is the more people see the website the more chances that sales will occur. A big focus for both stores during my contract will be implementing Paid trafficking using: Google Ads, Facebook and a few other sources. Once these paid trafficking campaigns are set I expect that online store sessions will increase dramatically and if not that’s a key indicator that those campaigns are not serving their purpose.
As I mentioned we are venturing into Paid traffic for both sites and it will be very interesting to start to track where our sales are coming from and if paid trafficking is increasing revenue and ultimately profitable. By paying close attention to our sales by traffic source we have an insight into which Ad campaigns are effective and the portion of traffic our sites are getting from paid vs. unpaid trafficking measures. This is an important measure to pay attention to because the ultimate goal with every advertisement campaign and traffic driving measure we participate in is growing sales. If for both websites we can figure out which traffic sources are leading to the most sales we can capitalize on this and put emphasis on those traffic sources.
Online store sessions by traffic source will help us to monitor our paid and unpaid trafficking and ensure that these measures are performing how we wish them to.
A big project that I have recently started is running a google Ads campaign to start increasing paid traffic. Jon set up a Google Ads account for one of the businesses and then I did some training on how to run a Google Ads campaign and we got started. I have learned that Google Ads are pretty simple to set up, however, it was time consuming inputting all of the information needed to run the ads. The campaign was a really good starting point and has given me a lot to improve with the business and some key points to focus on in order to make our google ads convert to sales. We did profit off the campaign with an ROI of 1.42 and are going to continue running it due to these results. The key takeaway from the Google Ads campaign is to improve the landing page of the website so we can increase conversions. Our ads received a large amount of clicks and grew visitors to our page but we failed to have a strong conversion rate which I’ve concluded is mostly due to our weak landing page.
Ways to improve the landing page:
-Higher Quality Photos
-More Photos (50% photos, 50% words)
-Bundling products for sales
-Improved FAQs & reiteration of it throughout landing page
-Incorporating more numbers and faces onto the landing page
-Making the “Add to Cart” button a colour that pops!
Here are the results of the 5 day Google Ads campaign:
Biggest Wins so Far:
When I first got handed over the project the one store was making a lot of sales but recently sales have dropped dramatically, I don’t really think that it’s anything I have done because any work I’ve done so far should be building the website up and contributing to greater sales however, it’s hard not to feel a bit dejected by the lack of recent sales. I’m trying to look at this as simply a reminder that there is a lot of work left to be done on the project and it is encouraging to kind of start from the bottom on a project.
Another failure or we’ll just call it a challenge is that since I was handed off this project I did not start with a clean slate or from ground zero, I’ve had to deal with some customer issues that I just sort of got thrown into. I find it pretty challenging to mend and deal with these issues because I’m playing catch up the whole time, I didn’t initially handle the first customer interaction and I’m having to come up with solutions and also have to catch up on the entire situation. At times it’s hard to keep track of what all is going on but I think that ultimately it keeps the job interesting and shows me the flexibility that occurs with shopify businesses. For a lot of customer issues we do not have a set procedure and this is the case with almost any issue so for the most part I have to improvise and come up with a solution that is going to appease the customer while also maximizing or at least retaining the businesses profit.
Goals for future:
I have spent a lot of time thinking about the question… what is the best niche for Amazon Affiliate Marketing? Specifically, what is the best niche for someone to start a new affiliate site in right now?
In this post, I will share the 7 best niches to start a site in, why I believe it is the best, and an example site in the niche.
If you want to get an Amazon Affiliate Site built for you checkout the Done For You Amazon Affiliate sites at BrandBuilders.io.
First, let’s define what makes something the “best”?
There are many ways to address this question and many strategies of picking a niche have been well documented. Typically they take a keyword research first approach vs the one I use here.
As is usually the case I went a little overboard with this analysis including analyzing almost 1 million websites and crunched the data to identify the Top 7 Niches for new Amazon Affiliate Marketing websites with examples.
First some background on how a niche is typically selected…
Typically the way to find a great niche is to start with Keyword Research. The logic is sound, if you can find a group of related keywords that meet the criteria of a lot of traffic and little competition then you have a chance of building a successful website.
The problem with this is you can only analyze the competition for each specific keyword to identify if Google is going to rank a newer affiliate site for the keyword.
Instead of starting with keyword research… lets flip that. We are trying to build a website… not a single page so let’s look at successful sites that we can beat for inspiration.
So what if we could…
Well… that is what I did
The result is the following list of the 7 best niches for amazon affiliates to start a website in 2020 based on a manual review of the top 1000 sites that met the criteria of the affiliate sites with traffic and a weak backlink profile.
Note – Some of these domain metrics have changed from the time of the export to the analysis. Interestingly it looks like ahrefs traffic data is more current than its link data. Some of these sites have since aggressively built links often an additional ~80 referring domains this year.
The site in this case has about 40 reasonable quality articles and a good quality site.
It has aggressively grown this year as you can see in the image below.
Another site focused on answering a general question of how much does something cost showed great traffic with a weak backlink profile.
This site has many keywords ranking for questionable topics along with many products on Amazon.
Using SEMRush it is easy to build a near-infinite list of keywords “how much % cost” and “cost of %”
This is not a great Amazon niche due to its questionable monetization ability but 2 sites were in the same niche and getting a lot of traffic with mediocre backlinks.
Surprisingly what many people think of as a competitive niche (pets) had 2 sites in the shortlist.
Despite the popularity of the niche it continues to prove to be a great niche to go into if you can find a good sub-niche.
Here are 2 examples of pet niche sites that are doing well.
/// update /// When I first shared this post I received an email from the website owner who happens to be a WebsiteIncome subscriber. To help him out I have removed the URL.
This musical instrument review site focused on a specific instrument is performing reasonably well considering its weaker backlink profile.
An attractive aspect of this site is the value some items sell for. However, it will be somewhat limited in expanding to other products.
Here is a site that has been stable for a long time. So it might not be the BEST niche based on this site as an example since the site has 4 years of history.
However, the weak metrics and very buyer focused traffic would likely have this site doing quite well as an Amazon Affiliate site and a niche worth considering.
Granted this niche is likely getting a push over the last 6 months due to COVID but this growth rate for a new site with a weak backlink profile is interesting.
Many of the keywords this site is ranking for is a combination of “best” or “survival” then a multitude of products Preppers Need.
To create a content plan for a similar site look at the prepper gear lists people prepare online and then organize those products into categories. From those lists identify keywords for those products with the modifiers “best” or “survival” and you can have a fairly complete content plan with relative ease doing this.
Building a new amazon affiliate site in 2019/2020 has proven to be profitable for the examples above.
My hope is that either seeing some successful sites demystifies the complexity of getting started and helps you get started. OR… if you have a site provides another way of thinking about how to identify a new site to start or content cluster to publish on your website.
Let me know if you think I got any of this wrong.
Today Content Refined turns 2.5 years old and Maddie has recently shared a BIG post about the journey!
Plus they just had a video produced to help people learn more about Content Refined…
In this post I want to share 3 lessons I have learned from my position (idea identification, initial system architecture and assembling/stewarding the team).
In the summer of 2016 Maddie joined my team with the mandate of systematizing the content creation process for my portfolio of sites. She killed it!
From that effort we decided to launch Content Refined as a content marketing company.
I documented that launch when I announced it in this post – https://authoritywebsiteincome.com/content-marketing-strategy-launch-business/
It grew incredibly well, achieving 10% week over week growth for the first few months.
There have certainly been a fair number of challenges/opportunities and in this post I hope to share from my perspective what the 3 most significant lessons were.
For everyone that reads this site they know I LOVE systems. Systematized business processes and systematic solutions to problems are core values for the business.
However, despite the engineers desire in me to build a system that doesn’t require great people to run it never happens. Great systems allow great people to execute better.
As I significantly shifted my focus in 2017 to adbank my core businesses needed to be managed and any business where there was a manager responsible for running the business did well. However any business that was solely dependent on a system went off the rails.
Maddie grew the business, Laura managed it while Maddie was on mat leave and I have had limited ongoing involvement. No system could have been built to adapt to the changed and achieved what the team has achieved!
Content Refined has been a great business with significant initial success and very solid longer term performance. But as with any recurring revenue business that is non-essential, churn is the enemy!
Trying to keep growth moving while fighting churn is a never ending battle and can be very unmotivating.
Sometimes even solid months feel like this…
For anyone who ever wants to dig more into recurring revenue business models this is the best article on any subject ever and it focuses on metrics – https://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/
Congruent has been my favourite business word for awhile. Ensuring the people, value proposition and systems are all aligned congruently is critically important.
Building that congruence around the set of strengths that makes you unique and focusing on it has been where our biggest successes have come from and also, when we drifted, where our biggest failures occurred.
For Content Refined, the effort around data analysis (to determine what tools/metrics give our content the best predictive ability to perform well in Google) has been very rewarding. Trying to broaden and sell other services where our set of strengths didn’t align didn’t get off the ground in a significant way (for example, an email marketing service to existing clients).
Being accountable for results and not just words, as a content marketing company that uses data (and the thousands of articles we’ve already published) to continually refine what is working now, is what has Content Refined clients loving the service.
I hope my view on the 3 key lessons while stewarding the growth of Content Refined has been useful.
If you have any content marketing needs be sure to book a free call with Maddie or Laura… they often share some pretty incredible and specific to your site insights on those calls! You can book here if there is availability.