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I create holistic, sustainable paper goods for socially-conscious changemakers.
Shop owner, content creator, and advocate. Fan of hydration and organization.
As small business owners, we tend to spend a lot of time googling things like “marketing tips”, “marketing hacks”, or “marketing secrets”….but how about some marketing habits?! As James Clear so eloquently put it, “We do not rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.” And our systems, my friend, are simply the habits and routines we perform regularly.
So if your shop were to fall to the level of your systems…would you still be in business? I hope the answer is yes, but I think we can all admit that there’s room for improvement, right? So I present to you, 12 Marketing Habits for your Online Shop. These are some of the most impactful habits I’ve developed over my 12 years in business that impact my marketing and overall growth strategy. They helped me build a successful shop, launch my dream product, and land among the top 1% of Etsy Shops in the world. See below for more details and resources for each habit on the list. Ready? Let’s go…
1. Start each day with a prioritized to-do list, rough schedule, and top 3 tasks to complete.
I use Microsoft To-Do to keep a digital list of my ongoing projects, ideas, and tasks, and fill out The Daily Page each morning to help set my priorities and schedule, all while also taking care of my health and wellness. The Daily Page was named the best planner for entrepreneurs by Jenna Kutcher. You can try a free sample of The Daily Page here, or shop the design here.
2. Set a monthly sales or revenue goal and track progress each week.
Each month, I write down the number of sales I want to complete in my shop. Then each Friday I look up sales from the two platforms I currently use (Etsy and Shopify), add them up, and think about what I need to do differently to reach my goal by the end of the month. Simple, but motivating! Remember to make your goal attainable. Since my sales fluctuate by season and month, I look at metrics from last year and increase them by a reasonable amount to determine what my goal should be each month. Pro tip: actually write it down, by hand. Writing something down makes you 42% more likely to achieve it.
3. Assess all customer reviews, feedback, and comments once a month. Take notes.
The number one mistake a lot of us make is not just failing to pay attention to what our customers are saying — but failing to actually do anything with that valuable info! Make it a habit to not just read this material, but truly analyze it and put it into action. What questions are they asking? Add those to your FAQ. What problems are they facing? Start thinking of new products, workshops, or courses. Pay attention to the positive and negative things they are saying and use these words and phrases in your marketing and ad copy.
4. Check all platforms for customer messages and comments on a consistent schedule.
I know this can be a hard one because our time is precious and we often have better things to do, but if you want social media to be a profitable revenue stream for you, then you need to authentically engage with your audience there — even if it’s only for 3 minutes a day. Don’t be that person that lets comments go unanswered. Even if your posts are only getting one or two comments, make sure to respond authentically and as promptly as possible. How frequently you moderate this will depend on how frequently you post, but having a schedule of 1-2 times per day or per week will work for most businesses.
5. Bookmark your primary ad campaigns or platforms and check them each morning.
Ever set up a Facebook Ad campaign and then forget about it for 45 days? Been there. Instead of allowing your ads to run mindlessly in the background, make them bookmarks that you can easily jump to and see exactly what you need. I suggest bookmarking the exact URL that will open up your active campaigns or campaign overviews so that you don’t have to waste any time. I have mine organized in a “Social Media” bookmark folder, but you could also set them to open up when you start your browser to help you establish the habit of reviewing them each day. Pay attention to conversion and cost per conversion (pageview, add to cart, purchase etc). If an ad isn’t performing, adjust it or turn it off until you have an action plan for improving it.
Once your campaigns are a well-oiled machine, you might not feel the need to check on them so often. However, I think daily monitoring is still a good idea for most of us. Even if you are hiring an agency or strategist to set up your ads, you should still be interested in seeing how they are performing (and you might notice things that a contractor doesn’t!).
6. Do a monthly review of your top competitors on Facebook Ads Library.
Did you know you can take a peek at what ads your competition is running on Facebook or Instagram? This free tool is offered directly from Facebook as a means of transparency, and it’s a great way to see what is working for others or what types of ads they are wrapping up into various campaigns. Simply visit facebook.com/ads/library, select “all” under country (unless you want to only search a certain region, set the ad category to “all ads” (unless you’re looking for something specific), and then type in the person or brand you’re interested in peeking at. For example, here’s every ad Jenna Kutcher is currently running, and here’s every ad from Target. I use this tool to see what types of layouts, formats, and copy seem to be working for other paper companies as well as big brands. They’re the ones spending tons of money on marketing research! Then I adapt that for my small business.
7. Subscribe to inspiring business and marketing podcasts. Listen to at least 1 episode per week.
Being a successful business owner means that you have to keep learning. One of my favorite ways to do this is to listen to business podcasts. They’re free and I can listen when it’s convenient for me. I get in at least 2-3 episodes each week by listening while I walk my dog. My favorite shows are Goal Digger Podcast, How I Built That, Dare to Lead, Proof to Product, Creative Minds Think Alike, and The Female Startup Club.
8. Host a seasonal workshop or webinar that solves a problem for your ideal customer.
Hosting a workshop or webinar for your ideal customers is a great way to get in front of them and connect more personally. It also gives you something to talk about besides the products in your shop! It can be free, or you can charge for it (up to you!). Not only will it help you connect with your community and position you further as an expert in your area…it will give you the opportunity to tell them about products in your shop and help you build an audience of people who need your product or service.
For example, I hosted a free end-of-year planning workshop. I taught participants about habit building and goal setting, and also introduced them to my collection of planners and calendars (which equals…sales!). I added over 1100 people to my email list, and now have a segment of people I know enjoy learning about habit building, goal setting, and productivity. When I was done teaching the in-person workshop, I converted the material into an email workflow so that you can sign up for it anytime. With very little overhead it can now be a recurring source of exposure and potential revenue for my shop.
If you own an online clothing boutique —host a workshop about defining your personal style or cleaning out your closet. Then make 3 personalized product suggestions for each participant.
If you own a local farm shop or coop — host a workshop to help people create seasonal meal plans, provide them with a free printable meal planner, and then make some suggestions for local products they’d love. You get the idea!
9. Attend a weekly or monthly networking event or co-working space to collaborate.
I cannot say this enough: your creativity and ability to innovate will suffer if you allow yourself to become too isolated as an online shop owner. Find an excuse to get out of the house and network with “your people”. When living in the US I attended Tuesdays Together. Now in Copenhagen I enjoy Creative Mornings (both of these have chapters in cities across the globe). If you aren’t super into events, maybe just consider a co-working space where you can at least change up your work environment and find people to collaborate with. No coworking space in your town? Start a group that gets together regularly to collab or work alongside each other.
The pandemic, of course, can make both of these things difficult. I can highly recommend giving GrowthDay a try. I did this for all of 2021 and am doing it again for 2022. It’s one of the most affordable options I have seen for monthly business and self-development coaching. Although the program has various features, I use it exclusively for the webinars. I really enjoy the lessons from Jenna Kutcher and Mel Robbins, and it feels great to have a monthly event on the calendar with each of them. You can click here to try a 14-day trial. After that, the cost is $197/yr, but I’ve found it to be an incredible value for what I’ve gotten out of it (tons of motivation, business tips, + more).
10. Start a weekly or monthly email newsletter that serves your audience.
If there’s one new habit you should pick up this year, it’s starting a newsletter! Hopefully by now you understand the purpose and value of building an email list, so now it’s time to make it a habit. I send my newsletter, The Weekly Page, out each Friday afternoon. It’s a great way for me not only to keep in touch with my audience + customers and provide them with value (I send free resources, recipes, playlists, podcast recs + more) it also gives me an opportunity to tell them about my latest blog post, course, or product launch.
But hear me on this: the inbox is sacred space. So don’t create a newsletter just for the heck of it. Do it to actually provide value to the people who choose to open it. I aim to serve 95% of the time and pitch my products, free resources, or courses sparingly and only when relevant. For me, writing a weekly newsletter is all about building up that community and connection.
If you’re looking for a platform for sending newsletters, I recommend Flodesk. I love its simplicity (so easy to learn + use!) and its accessible pricing structure. I use Flodesk for my newsletter, as well as delivering all my free printables, courses, + more. Use this link to sign up, and you’ll get Flodesk for $19/mo for your first year (it will then increase to $38 per month). But the best thing about Flodesk is that you can send unlimited emails and have as many subscribers as you want, and the price doesn’t change.
11. Review your social media KPIs once a month, if not more.
Just like reviewing your ad campaigns, you should also make it a regular habit to look at the KPIs (key performance indicators) across social media. I recommend doing this once a month and then adjusting for the month ahead. Just simply review what posts got the most engagement and do more of that!
Also consider what platforms are working for you, and which ones aren’t. As small business owners, we often struggle to utilize every platform and need to choose a few to invest our time, energy, and money (😫) into. Reviewing your KPIs regularly will help you determine where your resources are best spent.
12. Review and update your product descriptions, tags, categories, and FAQs once a month (or quarter).
I recommend creating a Google Document and pasting all of your current product descriptions into one document. That way, when you want to update them, you can simply go into the doc and start editing. Then just copy and paste those new descriptions over to the product listings on your site. It’s helpful to be able to see them all in one place, instead of opening them one at a time or in separate browser tabs. It’ll help you make sure your voice is consistent, and that you are formatting them all the same to increase readability and SEO.
Doing this monthly will give you an opportunity to think about any upcoming holidays, seasons, special events, or even trending buzzwords that you might want to add into your descriptions or tags so that you don’t miss out on that traffic. Try to think beyond holidays — consider things like the Oscars, Super Bowl, Back to School + more. If your business doesn’t tend to be very holiday or season-oriented you might consider doing this quarterly, instead.
This is also an opportunity to take any new customer feedback (ahem, see #3!) into consideration and add new information, tutorials, or phrases your customers used often.
As I mentioned in #1, I personally use To-Do for tracking tasks and projects in my business. One of my favorite features is making your tasks recurring (daily, weekly, monthly, annually, etc). I have all of these habits on my Business Admin list and have them set to recur as recommended. It makes it pretty effortless for me to remember to complete them on schedule.
But, don’t go all in all at once. That will likely be pretty overwhelming. Instead, choose 3-4 that seem the easiest for you to implement, and start with those. Then add a few more next month and so on.
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Holistic, sustainable planners designed to help you align work + wellness.