Email Marketing Challenge, My Book & Great Recent Content

smallTypeI don’t normally write update posts, but I had a number of news items I wanted to share.  Specifically, I wanted to update you on how the email marketing challenge is going, let you know about my new drop shipping book and highlight some killer content I’ve enjoyed in October.

I’m also giving away 25 copies of my new book to people who comment on the post!  More on that in just a minute.

Email Marketing Update

Back in April, we set out to tackle email marketing for one of my stores, Right Channel Radios.  Despite having a healthy list of customers, we’d never gotten serious about email.  So after an interview with Ed from Klaviyo, we buckled down and laid out an email marketing plan of attack.

Our first attempt at email marketing (in Q2 of this year) showed some encouraging results.  In just three months, we were able to generate between 8% and 10% of our sales from email marketing.  Unfortunately, our results in the subsequent months took a bit of a hit.  The numbers below represent email marketing-driven revenue as a percent of total sales for Q3:

  • July – 6.7%
  • August – 5.0%
  • September – 8.2%

So why the drop?  I wish I had a great reason or excuse (like we spent all summer traveling in an old VW bus!) but don’t have anything quite that entertaining or convenient.

The drop was largely due to be being busy with other operational tasks, which caused email marketing to get pushed to the sidelines more than it should have.  We did a good job of mailing promotions and offers in September (as reflected in the numbers), but didn’t get nearly as many out in July or August.

Also, some changes to our checkout abandonment emails caused the tracking to stop working properly, so abandonment conversions are underreported.  This would have boosted the numbers only slightly, but it still makes a difference.

Going into the Christmas season, we’ll be busy operationally but I’m still hoping to take a more aggressive approach.  We’ll also be implementing a pop-up to collect email addresses to grow the list more rapidly, and we’re working through how to do that in a tactful and non-spammy way.

I’ll be back in January with another quarterly report and hopefully some encouraging numbers to share.

My Drop Shipping Book

Earlier this spring, I released The Ultimate Guide to Drop Shipping, in partnership with Shopify.  My co-author, Mark Hayes, and I did our best to make it the most helpful and definitive guide to drop shipping available anywhere.  It covers everything from how to pick a great drop shipping niche and find suppliers to running the day-to-day operations.

Drop Shipping Cover

The online version was warmly received, and we’ve released a print version of the book that’s now available here on Amazon.  If you’re an Amazon Prime member, it ships for free.  To celebrate its release, we’ll be giving away 25 copies of the new book to the first 25 commenters on this post.

How to Win a Free Print Copy:  Leave a comment below letting me know what you’d do if you had a location-independent drop shipping business that paid all your expenses.  But be specific!  Let me know where you’d go/live, what you’d do differently, and who you might bring along for the ride.

The first 25 people who reply with an answer (using their real email addresses) will score a free print copy of my book in the mail (US and Canada only, sorry!).  You can leave a comment now by clicking here.

Looking forward to reading your responses!

Great Content in October

I’ve come across a number of great pieces of content this month that I couldn’t help but highlight:

eCommerce Is a Bear

Bonobos founder Andy Dunn makes the case that it’s nearly impossible to sell other people’s products online and build a business of any meaningful size given the pressures placed on the market by Amazon.

With yet another quarter of revenue growth and a net profit loss for Amazon, this piece is timely and well worth the read.  Hat tip to forum member Miracle Wanzo for recommending it.

” If Amazon is the low cost winner of selling brands online, if they are acquiring their best competitors, and if their everyday low prices are available to the entire country via a mechanical turk algorithm which is guaranteed to beat you, how do you compete?”

Read the Full Piece Here

Seven Essential Metrics for Ecommerce Startups

Drew Sanocki recently came on the podcast to tell the story of how he built and sold his eCommerce business.  But he also writes what is quickly becoming one of my favorite eCommerce blogs at DrewSanocki.com. It’s definitely the most humorous in the space, despite my best efforts.

With his recent post on eCommerce metrics, Drew takes what is normally a pretty dry topic and turns it into a informative and entertaining read.

“Eventually I figured out that the key to increasing my productivity and getting the most out of Google Analytics was to be consistent, not comprehensive. It mattered more to review a small set of key metrics consistently than it did to review all metrics every so often.”

Read the Full Piece Here

Google Officially “Jumps the Shark”

There had been murmurings of Google’s recent departure from its status as a benevolent, searcher-friendly giant — including my recent post on Google’s new keyword planner. But it doesn’t get more official than when Seth Godin comes out and announces that Google has turned a dark corner on his blog:

“Every company at a certain stage ends up with two sorts of employees … some that work hard to improve the experience and value for the original customers, and some that tear down that experience and value in order to please shareholders in the short run.  It’s not surprising, but it’s sad.”

Read the Full Piece Here

Scott Adams’ Secret to Success

Scott Adams, creator of the popular Dilbert cartoon, tackles on of my favorite topics:  Should you be following your passion or be more “practical” in your approach to business?  It’s a great piece, and one that produced the most telling quote I read all month:

“When I was a commercial loan officer for a large bank, my boss taught us that you should never make a loan to someone who is following his passion.”

Read the Full Piece Here

Excited About My Next Post…

I’m currently working on something big for my next post.  It’s a post where I get really transparent with my business, and I can’t wait to share it.

Don’t forget to leave that comment below if you’re interested in winning a free print copy of my book, and thanks for reading!

Enjoy this Post? You’ll Love My eBook!

'Profitable eCommerce' is my 55-page detailed eBook that covers:
  • How to identify profitable eCommerce niches
  • Tips for finding GREAT suppliers
  • How to gauge market demand & profitability
And it's free when you subscribe. Learn More....

Comments

  1. If my drop ship company made enough profit I would buy a piece of land about 25 acres with a pond on it and build a small house with an office for me that looks API at the pond. My hubby would happy deer hunt on it (me too) and I would continue to work hard at my business.

  2. Donnie says:

    I would spend my summers in a cabin outside of Denali National Park in Alaska hiking and camping with my wife and two boys. During our winter we would head to Australia to catch their summer. In between we would explore all of North America in an Airstream with a satellite internet connection for running the business. I would run my business from my macbook pro and manage one or two virtual assistants to maximize my time. I would start dropshiping, and then move on to building a brand and sourcing my products from China. I’d use a fulfillment center like shipwire for my own products but continue with the dropshipping model for the other products I sell.

  3. Sean says:

    I’d spend my time split between trying to optimize the heck out of it and trying out other ideas that have been percolating in my mind. I’ve always worked on the web application side of things and I’d love to work on something more e-commerce like.

    Location wise I’d stay where I was. My family and I have established our life here, but you’d better believe we’d be spending part of the winters somewhere warm if I had a location independent drop ship business that paid our way!

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for sharing, Sean! I’m thinking heading South for the winter is going to be a recurring theme in these comments. :-)

  4. I would find a place to settle and have a home base but take advantage of the opportunity to travel and show my kids the world out there and educate them via life and world experiences as opposed to traditional methods. It would give me the opportunity to spend more time with family and do the activities I really want to do.

  5. Mike Debyah says:

    If I had a location-independent drop shipping business that paid all of my expenses I would be one happy person! I would no longer have the soul-crushing commute every day and could work from home with my dog by my side. I would finally be able to save some money for the kids’ future and maybe even build an addition to our small house. My journey is just starting out now but I am optimistic about the future.

  6. Susan says:

    A location-independent drop shipping business for me would mean some more travel! My husband and I are well-established where we are, so we’d keep our home base, but we’d buy a decent-sized camper and hit the road frequently, taking our dog along with us. Once business was strong enough, I’d find a VA that I could partner up with so we could go abroad and I’d feel confident the day-to-day was being handled. No more having to show up at an office from 8am-5pm when my personal optimal work hours are 7am-3pm, and then from 7-9pm.

    As far as growth, I’d evaluate my sales to see if there were product lines worth purchasing wholesale and storing (if that could still be accomplished and give increased margin) and probably start up another site or two focusing on drop shipping other lines of products I’m interested in. Ultimately my goal would be to diversify as much as possible, travel and pile up the cash!

  7. Paul Lemley says:

    Andrew…big fan of your podcast and blog. Learning so much every day! My current drop shipping business revolves around the aviation niche. It’s a industry I have a lot of passion for and yet it wasn’t until starting the online business that I really invested and connected with other pilots and aviation businesses. If the business payed for a location independent lifestyle for me and my girlfriend, I would travel the world connecting with pilots and non pilots with the goal of growing the industry and pilot population.

    We’d keep a small home in Milwaukee, WI where our family is but continue to travel.

    I’d also consider starting other aviation related online businesses.

  8. Simone says:

    My husband and I would get out of the cold every winter and go to Thailand, where he loves to dive. Stay home for the warm weather here in Canada. Reinvest some of the profits into other new ventures. Oh yeah, and save up for that pesky retirement!

  9. Kyle says:

    I believe I would be like most and keep my home based where we currently live, or at least in the same area. I would like a bigger house on a decent piece of land so my wife and I could have room to adopt or serve as foster parents (we currently have 3 kids of our own). My wife, our children, and I would travel to different areas especially during breaks from school.

  10. Bret says:

    I would reinvest profits into my ever expanding list of ideas for world domination.

  11. Richard says:

    Big fan of your podcast and I recently read your other book on dropshipping – fantastic read, insightful and good useful practical information.

    Cheers, Richard

  12. Carson says:

    I’ve got a gaggle of kids enrolled in local schools, so I’d probably stay put, but I *would* spend more time with them, I’d involve them in, and teach them about the ecommerce business and try to give them the resources and experiences to build their own similar success.

  13. Mihir says:

    Man, you are such an inspiration to people like me who now are starting a journey on the road to be e-commerce entrepreneurs and financial freedom.

    I have been following your podcasts regularly and those are just great pieces of information, guidance and inspiration.

    Keep up the good work Andrew!

    Looking forward to the new content.
    Cheers.

  14. Jerry says:

    Great site Andrew! This is an easy one. Move the family to Truckee California. Ski the slopes every chance we had. No worries about finding or losing a desk job. I would be the boss with money coming in. Keep up the great work.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Jerry!

      Truckee California, huh? I think Truckee and Bozeman (my town) just went head-to-head in the best ski town showdown for Powder Magazine. Unfortunately we came in second, so I can’t blame you for your choice. :-)

  15. Boris says:

    Andrew, thanks for all your wisdom! I’d take a 1 year hiatus across the world, spending 2-3 weeks exploring a different city, working 5-10 hours a week and I’d bring along the girlfriend!

  16. Brenda says:

    It would take some compromise. My husband and I would probably have very different ideas. I would like to slow travel with my kids and husband. Exploring new cultures, sites and thoughts. We currently homeschool so it would be a nice addition to our lifestyle.

  17. Erik Rohman says:

    My wife and I are playing the long game with our eCommerce ventures so we will be re-investing in additional sites for some time. Ideally we would love to have a good sized self sustaining business that we could hand over to a friend or family member that would like to manage it and eventually take over when we fully retire. We both agree that an Airstream would be a good place to office from. Couple check in calls a day. Hey we can dream right?

  18. Jeffrey Ting says:

    My girlfriend and I would probably start off by going on several cruises around the world, starting with Hawaii, then the Bahamas, and eventually through the ports of Europe. After coming back from that, we’d probably touch down in several Asian countries, such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, living there a few weeks or a month at a time. We’d probably continue in that direction of the world and stop by Australia, then Dubai, Egypt, South Africa, Greece, New Zealand, Ireland, Great Britain, (and any other European country that we hadn’t landed on during our cruises), Greenland, and then Iceland before returning back to the States. We would probably then settle back down in California at that time and revisit any of our many favorites in which ever order we please. This is of course, assuming we get everything done before we start having children.

  19. Leighton says:

    I’d move to Thailand with my wife, where we’d spend as much time as possible exploring, trying new food, and hanging out on the beach. We’d probably spend a year or so there, then move on to new places, including Paris, London, New York, Bogota, and wherever we felt like going.

    • Andrew says:

      Nice, Leighton! You’ve got to make it to France so you can let that MBA program know how lucky you were to escape their talons, right? Thanks for sharing and hope all is well with you!

  20. Mike says:

    When my new ecomm biz replaces my income (or at least covers my expenses), I’ll first outsource as much as possible to keep it growing while I explore new ways to leverage the business and keep up with changes.

    Dreamtime stuff – I crave sun and sand in the Caribbean as well as the rugged outdoors of Ontario, Canada so I’d like to own property in both locales. Spending as much time as I can with my two little girls while they’re still little girls is my why and the driving force behind all of this.

    Congrats on the new book Andrew, I look very forward to reading it. This eComm biz can be a little…scary so it’s nice to have someone to help navigate the waters.

    Cheers,
    Mike

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Mike, appreciated! Have a little girl of my own (who is getting less little each day), so I know exactly what you mean.

  21. Tim Huff says:

    After thinking it over for a while, if I had a location-independent drop-shipping business, I decided that I’d actually stay right where I am! I love my house, my community, and my neighborhood. I’d do a bit more travelling, though. My wife and kids would appreciate it as well. :)

  22. Wes Albaugh says:

    I would reinvest the profits into other businesses and ecommerce store ideas I have until I’ve created a completely automated ecommerce/business empire that can run without much intervention from me – then I’d travel the world!

  23. Mike Brown says:

    My family and I are moving from Canada all the way down to Charlotte, NC, USA permanently this month. I would love to have the ability to one day freely travel between Canada and the USA with my MacBook Pro and be near family while still being able to work on my dropshipping businesses. Heck it would be nice to own property in both countries! ..operate out of the USA but still work when I’m visiting Canada.

  24. Mike Chrest says:

    Would love a copy of your dopship book and will likely but it even if i dont get a free copY!

  25. Content is always great from you Andrew! I have enjoyed and loved every minute in the private forum Andrew! Your blog and resources have helped me start my store (launch July1st) and now I have brought in over $4,000 every month since August! Thanks for all of your input and valuable content!

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Blake! It’s been a pleasure having you and fantastic to watch your growing success. You’re a true Hustler ( the good kind) – well done!

  26. William Earls says:

    Would love a copy of your book! The dream is to work from anywhere and be able to take care of my family with no restraints!

  27. Alfredo says:

    I would do a travel from all Europe and also the United States! I would have more time so I could spend more time learning languages and other different things. I also would like to teach my family and friends how to do the same

  28. Corry says:

    I would love to win a copy of the book! I could really use some extra income, primarily to travel with my children and enable them to participate in some extracurricular activities. Thank you for all of the info on your blog!

  29. Robert says:

    A copy of the book will make interesting reading . i think so far i have read everything by Andrew. Thnks for emailing me back, mate !

  30. Logan says:

    If I had a drop-shipping company that paid all of my expenses I would continue to live in Austin, TX instead of looking for opportunities in other cities (although the other cities are in really cool places so I’m not complaining). It would be tough to travel right now with a 13 month old and another on the way in January, so I would spend time looking for other investment opportunities, whether that be another ecommerce business, rental property, etc. I would definitely work a lot less, spend more time with my family, play more golf, drink more wine, and live the good life. Thanks Andrew for your blog, your site is gold!

  31. Tiffany says:

    I would keep our current home base in Bend, Oregon because it’s a wonderful place to live and I want our two children to always have a home. My husband would quit his job and start doing something he is more passionate about that is also location independent. Then we would travel regularly. The first trip would be a year long trip across the US in an RV. After that, we would spend a month or so at a time around the world, maybe 3-4x per year. Thanks for letting me dream!

  32. Jason says:

    If I had a location independent business I would keep my location the same and change my life instead. I’m a full time web developer of 10 years. Those ten years have kept me strapped to a desk, drained my enthusiasm, and ruined completely ruined my back. The journey of starting my own business is what sounds most enticing to me. The destination not so much. I would love to wake up and feel enthusiastic to make the most of my day. I would love to be able to work when I wake up and take a 2 hour gym break half way through the day. I would love to have something interesting to share about my day with my wife. So for the sake of this comment lets call it a life independent business opposed to a location independent business.

  33. Barbara says:

    I am interested in learning more about drop shipping. It definitely seems to be a way people are making money on the side with some creating a whole new business. I will have to check the book out.

  34. Richard says:

    I would move out! I would re invest a lot of it into starting another drop shipping business. But I would save up to buy a house and depending on how successful look into an office to further my expanding business.

  35. Alex says:

    I would keep my current location as a sort of main base, then travel around the world visiting friends and family located in Europe and Asia. I would also never wake up to an alarm again.

  36. Man! I loved reading all of the dreams listed by the readers almost more than I enjoyed reading your post!

    (Although it is good to see you update)

    When — not if — my location-independent ecommerce business gets going, I’m headed to Africa to start schools. Got really inspired by the book “Three Cups of Tea” and for the past 3 years that’s been the aim. I think I’m finally getting close to making it happen.

    Loving Drew’s blog! Great Share!

    Keep being inspirational!

    -Q

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Quinton! I’m with you – reading all these dreams / plans is a blast. May have to do this more often….

  37. Tom says:

    Andrew, looks like I’m late to the comment party. :) I live in Thailand, so I’m sleeping when you’re posting. :)
    But, I figured I’ll post anyway. Frankly, I’d continue doing what I’m doing. SE Asia is a fantastic place to be to start a lifestyle business, I would just travel more often, and visit family back in the states more often. If anybody reading this has any interest in relocating or visiting SE Asia, I’d be more than happy to answer any questions.
    Andrew, If you’re feeling especially generous to a latecomer, I’d love to read a pdf version of the book. :)

    Thanks,
    Tom

    • Andrew says:

      Sorry about that, Tom! Wish I could publish in all times zones at once. You can definitely read the whole text online here:

      http://ecommerce.shopify.com/guides/dropshipping

      • Different Tom says:

        Ha! I just followed that link to check out your drop shipping guide (excellent, by the way). I just wanted to say that the photo of the helicopter taking a load to “drop” on a ship is hilarious. Congrats on the new book! The podcast is awesome and is probably the only one I listen to where I don’t touch the fast forward button at all.

        • Andrew says:

          Awesome, thanks Tom! As someone who uses the fast forward button occasionally as well I really appreciate that.

          I loved that photo, too, and wish I could take credit for finding it. Have to credit my author Mark Hayes for that gem.

  38. Wow, you’re a published author! Very cool. I saw you’d done the e-book, but what was the decision process to get it printed? What was involved in actually getting it done and listed on Amazon?

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Bill!

      Have to credit Mark Hayes and Shopify for doing all the heavy lifting to get it published. To be honest, I did a lot of writing but didn’t get involved too much in that aspect of the printing process. Was definitely one of the benefits of working with them. :-)

      But the thought behind getting it printed was to increase both our credibility and authority in the space with a printed guide that really could be referred to as a comprehensive guide to drop shipping – hopefully the best one available. It is self-printed, and we’re making very little (if anything) on the sales. But we wanted to offer it as a resource and also as a way to let people know about both of our brands and stories.

  39. Chi says:

    Great post Andrew. I’m working on my site and hope to one day get a shout out on the show.

    Cheers

    CHi

  40. David Corner says:

    Dang boy, how many arms do you have?

    Just downloaded it and looking forward about being surprised how the professionals actually do it -:)

  41. Lemichael says:

    This book has me pumped up. I actually have two jobs and work 70-85 hours a week. It’s a life i definitely want to work myself out of, I am just trying to figure out how. I just subscribed to your site and I look forward to learning alot from your content. I have a little money saved up so im ready to “bust a move”.

  42. Rennette says:

    Andrew, If I had a drop ship business that paid all my expenses, I’d spend my time doing the following: create a new product to manufacture and sell myself, develop apps to sell, buy real estate for equity appreciation and additional cash flow, find ways to volunteer to help causes I believe in (especially for youth), and travel, travel, travel. I’m just getting started, but what I like about the eCommerce business with drop shipping is it’s a low investment startup, it’s not required to have a lot of overhead to run it, and you can be anywhere in the world and still fulfill and grow it. Thank you for sharing SO much good content. I get a lot of emails daily, but I try to search and open yours.

  43. nandi says:

    Hi Andrew

    What an eye-opener stumbling in your blog and learning so much at a short space of time! I m hooked completely as I am planning to start my first online store soon. I cant wait to read your book and feed off your worthy experiences as an e-entrepreneur! Keep up the good work and don’t stop sharing with novices like me.

    Regards

  44. avi lang says:

    Hey i just saw this. cool post i always follow you can i get a copy of the book please.

    thank you

  45. avi lang says:

    If i owned my own drop shipping business i would be living in a house in New york and prob buy a apt building to make more money renting them. i got a family of four and would love to use the money to support them.

    thank you i know i am a little late but just saw this post just now.

    thank you

  46. Tomasz Siemienczyk says:

    Hi I am newby in this field.Looking to enter e business. Definitely would like to read good book.
    Looking for webinars and even classess.
    So if I can have e version would appreciate your help in my development.
    sincerley
    Tomasz Siemienczyk

  47. Patrick says:

    With a location-independent business that paid all of my expenses, I’d fly around the country (in my own plane – I’m a pilot), visiting family, friends, & helping other entrepreneurs become successful in business.

  48. Ravi Raj says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I am really impressed with the work you are doing and the way it is being done. Dear Andrew, I just wanted to ask you one question that during the startup period… how often do you sat on your online store, I mean to say that how much time you have giving during that period per day.

    Moreover, how you have promoted your store, as I had seen in your biography, the process you told there in few sentences is worth it, but is there any post or article which shows the detailed publishing strategy of your store. To be true, I am running a technology blog and still not getting that much of visitors daily.

    Any help will be appreciated.

  49. Steven A says:

    I know this is late , but I just found you. First off I am about to loose everything in my life and need to take a new direction, so I have been researching drop-shipping and really looking to get in to it. So any advice you can give or help with would do me and my family a world of justice.
    As for your post comments in November, When I build this up, we are going to by a little motel and bar in Jaco Beach, Costa Rica and put the boys in private school and just finally enjoy life with out having to worry if the bills are going to get paid. We would take any of are family that wanted to come, but for sure take both are moms, since both are disable and low income.
    Thank you for everything you offer everyone and we wish you the best in your life.

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