I frequently advise about the technological automation new businesses can use to hold down early overhead and employee-scaling costs, and to allow workers to operate from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.
In this vein, I pay close attention to the new tools being introduced that we can leverage here at BottleKeeper, even as we're scaling and remaining automated.
As a foundation to the tools we now use and prefer, we made a big move last July: We had relied on a combination of WordPress and WooCommerce for our ecommerce platform. But as of July, we moved to Shopify, and we couldn’t be happier. Shopify enables us to scale without needing to ratchet up or down our back-end bandwidth or to monitor any server restraints. And that saves us a lot of time and headaches. You can do the same with the suite of seven tools we recommend:
Incredible returns can be achieved with Facebook video advertising; with that platform, you can intelligently target an enormous number of consumers while tracking both the activity and returns. The difficulty comes when you want to A/B-test your video and/or adds against different target markets, and you realize that five markets with five videos and five tag lines represents 125 videos that must be individually loaded.
This is where AdEspresso is amazing. You can easily load the adds, targets or segments and taglines -- among many other options -- and the system will automatically create the full range of adds and post them into your Facebook ad manager. Then the real magic happens: The amount of data that pours from those adds is overwhelming and nearly impossible to understand in Facebook; so AdEspresso does this task for you and ranks out the best-performing by your particular KPI (key performance indicator). With this data, you can easily optimize -- or AdEspresso can optimize for you -- and double down on your best-performing adds.
This is an app for our Shopify store and can also plug-in to most major ecommerce platforms. In short, Klaviyo is an email flow machine, allowing you to pre-create and load emails that are automatically sent.
We leverage Klaviyo for two abandoned-cart messages, one at four hours, which offers customers a 10 percent discount to come back, and another at 24 hours, which offers free shipping. We also have a personal “thank you” email that gets sent to all new customers and is from me, as one of the founders. I also use Klaviyo to reply to personal email (a personal touch people love) and to create repeat-customer emails.
Unless you want to set up a call center or answer your cell phone 24/7, you’ll need to rely heavily on technology to offer customer support. Desk.com is a good solution, but over time, I've found that it becomes glitchy as more support tickets came in. Accordingly, we’ve recently moved to Zendesk, and it’s been amazing -- definitely one of those “why didn’t we do that a year ago?” scenarios. The system is intelligent, easy to manipulate and customize and offers a considerably wider swath of solutions for your online business.
Feedback from your customers is really important -- not only because you need to keep an eye on how your product(s) are being received, but because feedback offers another opportunity to communicate with customers, to offer help or just say “thanks.” This is where Delighted comes in: We’ve found that the more you can reach out and touch a customer, the higher the likelihood that you can help if there’s an issue -- which customers will love your brand for.
This is an amazing tool that allows you to connect nearly any platform to another. One way we leverage Zapier is to send customer information from Shopify to Delighted, then send certain survey responses from Delighted -- such as a ticket with a comment -- into Zendesk as a new support ticket. This means that we can easily take action on the survey responses, whether good or bad.
We’re huge fans of rewarding customers for purchases and for sharing our product with the world. Here, we use SweetTooth, which has a number of reward options: One is points for ordering that can be used for discounts on future purchases; another is the sharing SweetTooth offers on Facebook, and referrals for friends and family.
We’re particularly aggressive with referrals. If you refer a friend who makes a purchase, you’ll earn a free BottleKeeper -- which is motivating enough to work really well.
If you’re in a business that carries inventory, keeping track of it is obviously important. This is where StitchLabs comes into play, by linking any number of stores and ecommerce platforms together in a single platform -- which then pushes inventory numbers out to those stores. Stitch also has robust reporting, which can be customized very inexpensively.