6 April 2020 Tips & Tricks

E-commerce stores: Here’s how to get through this recession 💪

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Most e-commerce stores utilize a relatively simple and predictable customer journey to generate revenue. 

Diagramed out, it looks something like this:

This customer journey has served hundreds of thousands of e-commerce stores very faithfully over the last decade or so. But it is also woefully inefficient, and, amidst a global recession, merchants need to be smarter.

Let’s see if we can make some improvements.

Level 1 Improvements

We’ll start by adding a proper checkout recovery sequence to the checkout process. Prospects abandon 1 in 3 checkouts without a sophisticated checkout recovery place, so if you are only using the primitive cart recovery tools Shopify provides out of the box, you are leaving big money on the table. A sophisticated checkout recovery sequence will sort this out for you in a cinch.

Next on the list is the personalized upsell offer, a trusty campaign triggered immediately after a customer makes a purchase. Done correctly, this can turn one order into two and multiply your revenue exponentially. It works because the customer is still in "buying mode", which means they will be extremely receptive to any complimentary offer (the trick is to tie the new product into what they already purchased).

What else? Well, given that we've gone to great trouble to bring in customers, we should make sure they stay around for the long haul. To encourage this, start by identifying when a happy customer would usually buy again and then, if a customer exceeds this period of time without buying, follow-up with them via an automated win-back campaign. Lost customers represent some of the easiest sales we can ever hope to make because we already have an existing customer relationship. Often it just takes a bit of love (and a small discount) to get them buying again.

Looking for more? How about capturing shopper email addresses before they are ready to buy and then running them through an automated activation campaign to turn them into customers shortly after? Done correctly, you should be able to convert email addresses into paying customers within 14-30 days, especially if you're willing to forgo profits on the first sale with the view to creating a customer list that buys again and again.

The Level 1 Marketing Funnel

OK. So those are the basics. Every e-commerce store should - as a bare minimum - implement these campaigns to help survive this recession. In a time where ad budgets are getting slashed, enterprising merchants need to get more out of less and these campaigns will help you do that.

Put together, our funnel now looks like this:

Not bad, but we can still do better. 

Time to move onto level 2…

Level 2 Improvements

Now we have started to build a mailing list, the next thing we're going to do is regularly deploy a profit-optimized newsletter, designed to bring in sales with every send. Ignore any marketing novice who proclaims "email is dead" or "nobody reads email anymore". Veterans have heard this waffle for more than a decade, and yet email still has a higher ROI than any other digital channel. The latest marketing fad, or an economic downturn for that matter, won't change that.

While we're at it, we shouldn't sneer at the power of multi-channel promotions, either. Gift card promotions, bundle offers, and flash sales are particularly useful in the current environment. Meanwhile, old classics such as seasonal promos, product launches, and closing sales have endured in all forms of retail for centuries. And, as we explain in this post, with creative solutions, your promotions don't necessarily need to kill your margins or cheapen your brand.

What else? Well, do you have a specific process in place for identifying "window shoppers" and converting them into customers? If you don't, you should. Window shoppers are prospective buyers who demonstrate buying intent based on their on-site behavior. In layman's terms, this simply means that the actions they take on your site look similar to the actions your customers take. However, unlike your customers or abandoned customers, window shoppers do NOT actually make it to the checkout process. Nonetheless, they have still displayed some form of buying intent, and so it makes sense to target these shoppers individually to help push them off the fence and into the checkout.

Onwards. So far, we've done a lot of gentle pushing, but marketing is not all about that. In times of wavering consumer confidence, customer happiness more important than ever. The good news is we can run automated post-purchase campaigns that work behind the scenes to increase customer satisfaction, positive reviews, and referrals. In particular, referrals can be a vital source of free business during a recession, so it really pays to put a system in place to encourage them.

The Level 2 Marketing Funnel

Alright! Now we’re cooking.

Put together, our newly assembled marketing machine now looks like this:

Can you see how having a system like this will make a meteoric difference on your bottom line? And, more to the point, can you see how not having a system this is a tremendous waste of money?

In an economic downturn, no merchant worth their salt can afford to be wasteful. That’s why you’ll need a well-oiled marketing machine like this one to plug all of the holes in your customer journey. 

Key thing is though, you really need all of it. Leave one hole in the bucket and you’ve still got a leaky bucket. Consider, for a moment, what happens if we decide to implement an abandoned checkout campaign, but we neglect to add email collection, an activation offer, a campaign for window shoppers, and a lost customer win-back sequence.

We may have plugged one hole, but we’re still losing customers (and dollars) both before and after the checkout process:

Conversely, if we plug all the holes, traffic is able to smoothly flow all the way through your funnel with minimal leakage along the way. More shoppers therefore get to each stage of the journey, and that means far more dollars come out at the end:

But Who Has The Time For This Right Now?

OK. OK. I know what you’re thinking. This all makes sense: plug the holes, optimise the funnel, be economical, survive the recession. Makes sense in theory, but implementing it is a whole other matter. You didn’t start your store to become a full-time marketer, and all of this seems like it will take an awful lot of time which you didn’t have last month, and you sure as hell don’t have now. 

So, sounds nice in theory, but how long is this all going to take? 3 months? 6 months? More? No, sorry. No can-do. After all, these campaigns don’t build themselves, and each one then requires requires setup, maintenance, reporting, optimisation, and ongoing effort to maintain. 

Fortunately, there’s a better way.

👷 How To Build This Out In A Weekend… For Free

5 months ago, you’d have been right in thinking this would take an enormous amount of effort. 4-6 months implementation time, expert consultants, an enterprise grade marketing stack and a frightening up front cost. 

Fortunately, times have changed: we’ve built a Shopify App that does all of this for you in an hour or so.

That’s right, with Pathfinder, these campaigns really do write themselves. 

Just install our Shopify app, answer a few simple on-screen questions, and Pathfinder will build out each of these campaigns for you in minutes. It’ll then run the campaigns automatically in the background, send you weekly reports on the progress, optimize and make suggestions over time to increase sales. You still have full control and can change anything you want to, but by and large, Pathfinder is the team member you need to handle all of this.

Want some even better news?

We’re giving it to you for free, full access for a full-on 60-days, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Average results so far are a 15-30% sales increase with just 60 mins of effort. But it gets better because we will be releasing new updates every week and will be complete soon. 

Our Recession-Busting Product Roadmap

"Skills" are the backbone of Pathfinder. It's what we call the marketing jobs that Pathfinder can take on from start to finish. Skills that are ready at the moment: 
✅ Acquire customers
✅ Convert window shoppers
✅ Reduce abandoned checkouts
✅ Upsell customers after purchase
✅ Recover lost customers
✅ Create promotions (supports evergreen promos, seasonal promos, product launches & closing sales)

New skills still in the “training and incubation phase”:
⏳ Increase customer satisfaction - ready early May
⏳ Write (profit-generating) newsletters - ready late May

We’re also teaching Pathfinder how to create the following promotion types:
🎟 Gift card promotion (now live)
🎁 Bundling promotion
☀️ Summer promotion

Finally, we are adapting Pathfinder’s intelligence as we go for the new economy. The more stores are connected, the smarter it gets as it learns from all of them. So by signing up, you not only help yourself but also thousands of other e-commerce merchants. It means we can run more experiments and get the winning strategies out to all 1,000+ stores in the network much quicker.

We're building this together. We're going to get through this together.

Sign up today, free for 60 days, and please share this article with your entrepreneur friends, and anybody you know who might find it helpful. Everyone struggling is in the same boat right now and sharing this might just be the difference.

P.S. For merchants who are in it for the long haul, in addition to the 60-day free trial, we're also offering merchants an annual plan with 20% saving and 365-Days-No-Questions-Asked-100%-Money-Back-Guarantee. Who else would do that? Nobody. Just email us at support@pathfindercommerce.com if you’re interested. 🙂

P.P.S. The 60-day trial is for all merchants, including customers. Current customers don’t have to do anything, we’ll automatically add credit to your account in the next few days. Treat on us 🎁

Start your free trial

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Dan Stearn

Founder of Pathfinder

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May I just say what a relief to uncover somebody that really knows what they are talking about online. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people have to read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you're not more popular because you definitely have the gift.


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