How An E-Commerce Site Increased Orders by 1,656%

Our client had a very common problem: they had set up all the right marketing tools, but they weren’t getting the orders they wanted.

Their product has been sold through a small network of distributors for the last 15 years and they wanted to reach a much wider online audience. To do this they built a well-designed website, set up an e-commerce cart, and created a Google Adwords campaign.

Everything was there — except the customers. The marketing campaign and the website just weren’t reaching the people who wanted to buy the product online. Normally when this happens it’s the result of a few different things that stop people from ordering.

Imagine you have one problem that stops half the customers from ordering — you’ll lose 50% of your orders. Now imagine that you have three of those issues — you’ll be losing 88% of your potential customers! And many companies find themselves in an even worse situation. The good news is that when you start fixing those problems the orders grow quickly.

To solve this we had to start by going back and seeing why the ads and the website weren’t connecting with the right audience. We uncovered what customers were really looking for, which led to a major change in the message used on the website and in the ads. This brought in 2.5 time as many customers. And we could see that they were a lot more excited about the product too from all the emails that we got.

Next, we addressed the common fear the customers have when trying a new product by creating a special offer based on evidence that customers who tried it once were happy to order more. This more than doubled the number of new customers.

Finally, with a stronger foundation in place, we started to optimize the Google Adwords campaign. With an ongoing process of minor changes, we were able to increase the number of customers brought in through the ads without having to spend more.

The overall results during this time have been a massive increase in the number of customers. And this is just Phase 1 of the long-term strategy that we have mapped out. We are continuing to apply our marketing systems to build new opportunities.

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Niche Social Network Builds and Launches All-New Site in 2 Months

Our client is a social network site with a specific audience and message. Early versions of the site had shown success with an active audience in the 10s of thousands of users and major media mentions. However the interaction was too limited to continue the growth. The site was mostly just a large forum, and members were asking for a lot more.

At that point development hit a roadblock. The forum had been relatively easy to build using existing software - taking nearly a year from start to finish. But the new needs included specialized ways of finding friends as well as things such as sharing journals and “thoughts of the day” to create interaction focused around the site’s message.

The original developers hadn’t been able to move past the forum so new developers were brought in. However this turned into a long and expensive journey. In spite of an original 6-week deadline, the new project went on for nearly 9 months. The contract created major cost overruns and in the end the site was still unusable due to all the errors. The difficulty of getting these new features in place led to inactivity on the original site and members started to leave.

When we came in the site needed to be revived quickly to take advantage of the initial interest. In October we reviewed the past versions of the site as well as the new demands from members, and suggested a package of features that would create a much better experience for members. In doing this we built on some ideas that would be important to the member experience while cutting back other requests that weren’t likely to make a difference.

In November we started building the new site. With weekly reviews to present the new changes we had made and talk about feedback to guide the rest of the process, we quickly put all the functionality in place. During the process we created a unique and attractive design for the new structure. At the start of January the first users we able to enter the site and in February the site officially launched.

The new version of the site led to additional international recognition for the business, participation in startup showcases and mentorship programs, and the discovery of a new and larger market related to the original one.

This marked a rapid shift in the business – from a limited site that wasn’t able to add specialized features over a two-year period, to the quick launch of a full new site. Our development process took the client from long delays – where a project officially scheduled for 2 months could take over a year to complete – to rapid deployment where we incorporated new ideas along the way without going over the initial schedule.

In the highly competitive world of online business, you don’t necessarily need to be the first to reach the goal line to win. But if you don’t move quickly you will be left behind. Only the right combination of skills, process, and focused effort will put you ahead and win you a bigger market share.

Where could your business go with this kind of approach? Talk to us today to find out!

Market Research Company Innovates in Traditional Industry

Our client is an established market research company specializing in an industry that is slow to adopt change. They manage one of the leading annual surveys in the industry which created a steady base of revenue and visibility leading to other work.

The revenue created by the survey was difficult to manage since it only happened once a year, and many customers skipped years because they didn’t see the value in frequent updates. With international expansion plans and new competitors, it was time to grow beyond the past successes and low profitability. Furthermore, the specialized needs of the survey required custom software that was nearly a decade old and starting to show serious limitations.

The new opportunities came at a cost. There was better software that could be purchased. But even with six-figure annual licensing costs, it wouldn’t fully meet the needs. The process of creating reports for customers was time-consuming and expensive, and increasingly relied on benchmarks that were difficult to assemble.

The competition wasn’t overwhelming yet, but it was starting to grow. Other market research companies were targeting the key market while software development companies with years of effort already behind them were producing polished research tools with development budgets in the millions. Our client had to find a way to defend their position with a smaller budget.

We proceeded in two phases. First we built a fully interactive reporting dashboard to work with the existing survey data. This allowed customers to see automatically generated reports within days after their survey was completed, rather than waiting months for a labor-intensive analysis to be completed. It also allowed them to create their own reports using any of the survey data to answer internal questions about their market. This reporting dashboard changed the pricing structure to create more stable revenue.

In the first year of operation it was very well-received by customers who saw it as a new and more direct way to get what they wanted. The first international customers also signed up once the dashboard was available.

Following this, we continued to the next step in the progression. The survey system needed to be replaced to continue delivering better results. After reviewing the options we selected an open source system as a starting point to reduce development costs. We then heavily modified it to meet unique needs, develop a more modern interface (including full support for mobile surveys), and tie it into the reporting system with automated data processing.

This new system allowed the continued evolution of the surveys to better meet current needs and start building new research models that would open up opportunities for additional partnerships and revenue.

Following these steps, several further improvements were identified for the next stage. These include more reporting tools to allow valuable benchmarking that customers are asking for, as well as giving customers direct access to the survey system where they can create their own surveys or access and customize templates created by experts for specific needs. During the entire process we provided system support and maintenance to keep both the old and new systems operating smoothly, especially during peak times when a large part of their annual traffic happens within in a few weeks.

In the end the combination of unique software, specialized experience in the market, and broad data for comparison created a new way to approach these customers and increase the revenue from the traditional offerings. The end result stands apart from competitors, who are all missing one or more of the critical components in this package.

Where would your business go if it could break free from the past and find the opportunities waiting in the future? Contact us today to find out!

Startup Launches 3 Major Iterations of Product in 9 Months

Our client is a startup with a unique offering for students that relies on a complex series of interactions including assignments and video-conference meetings. The vision was to have all of this happen online, creating an innovative solution to a very old problem. The early attempts were a struggle as multiple experienced development teams weren’t able to complete a working version over an 18-month period. Instead the concept had to be proven by manually emailing spreadsheets and documents to complete assignments, and personally arranging phone calls between participants. Customers loved the results – but it needed to be automated so it could scale beyond the initial users.

When we came in we saw that current state of the incomplete development gave us a starting point to help save time, but there were major areas that needed to be recreated. The development process had gone off track because it quickly became difficult to make changes and handle the complexity of the needs. Some parts worked, but every step toward the desired results would cause more new bugs and the system never fully worked.

When we were approached in January we evaluated what needed to be changed and how the system could be fixed to do that. In some areas we recommended new ways of doing things to create a better customer experience and a simpler system. In others we discovered planned tasks that weren’t really needed. Simplifying a few non-essential areas cut the planned development time and cost for the initial version by 50-60%.

We started the new development in March. The first version of the system launched in May and allowed a group of customers to go through the full 2-month program from end to end with an automated system that included special features such as built-in videoconferencing and webcam recordings. Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive and led to new ideas for improvement. A second round of development in July and August led to major improvements in key areas and the first version of a new, much more attractive look from a designer we created.

The second group of customers started the program in September. Once again their feedback highlighted the many benefits of the system and a few areas that could be improved. With a third round of development in November and December we put in place those ideas as well as few internal ideas that hadn’t been a priority before. We also applied a more thorough design update and created a fully automated e-commerce system, with personalized pricing, that would allow customers to pay in a self-serve interface. The end result was a highly polished system that handled all the customer and management needs.

This system launched to the first group of paying customers in January. As expected the feedback was positive and customers were very enthusiastic about the value they got from participating in the program through the online platform we had built. Following these results our client started another group of paying customers in June. At the same time the company was accepted into the Techstars accelerator – one of only 10 companies out of 300+ that applied – based on their proven results. They are now working on new ideas that build on the initial market to multiply their growth rate, and getting regular media recognition along the way.

This progression highlights a very important insight for today’s online businesses. Trying to do everything at once can easily put your business in a dangerous position where you are rapidly falling behind your market. If you focus instead on the core of your idea, show that it works at a minimal cost, and then create incremental improvements from there you will be able to move much faster. This allows you to build momentum and capture the market before your competitors realize what’s happening.

And just as importantly you will avoid months or years of wasted efforts as your early customers will tell you what you don’t need to waste your time on. In this project there were several major ideas we chose to wait for because they weren’t essential to the early versions. When we looked at how customers actually used the system we discovered that those ideas were not needed at all and avoided spending time on them. There is no development work more expensive than spending months implementing something that your business doesn’t need!

Where can  your business go with a focused process that quickly creates momentum and growth? Let’s talk to day and find out!