Author Archives: joelraitt

My brain dump system to create clarity

About once every week or two my brain starts to feel overwhelmed or unsure of the ‘most important thing’ to be doing that day. It’s important to always be checking to make sure you and your team’s working on important things!

The issue is, important things change. And change fast. I’ve created a weekly or bi-weekly habit of a pen to paper brain dump in my daily to-do notebook. I start off with a few power questions that always rotate. Here are some examples:

  • What will help us reach our goal this year the fastest and simplest way?
  • What is out biggest bottleneck at the moment?
  • What small changes would make the biggest impact?
  • What could we do today that has a CHANCE at 10X our business this year?
  • Why are we in this business to begin with?

This gets me focused on the bigger picture and lets me spot the items on the list that could bring the biggest results with the least time or money.

Then, I write down anything and everything related to the business. It’s usually about 2 full pages of bullet point items. I do this off the top of my head first as it brings out the things most top of mind  (usually the ones I should do first that maybe have not). After that, I look back at the previous brain dump and check off the completed ones (this feels good) and add any I’ve  forgotten about to the new list I created.

Reflecting back on this is awesome! I can see the ones that have been on the list for too long and either take action, remove them entirely if no longer important or just let them float along till the time is right. It creates clarity and lets me know we’re focusing on the right things.

This master list is always evolving. We add new ideas, new tests, new product lines. Anything that might help us get to our goals as a company. Here are a few on my list this moment that are not done yet. This will give you a scope of the size of these tasks from large to small:

  • setting up an upsell and split testing system to outsource and automate
  • look back and find scaling triggers. can we find a pattern in the data showing us which products could have scaled faster and learn from that?
  • start testing and creating systems around international expansion – create the MVP
  • Build more KPI’s around the key drivers for our business (the key drivers are held internally)
  • create a dashboard for easier view of business in real time (klipfolio or other)
  • automate monthly accounting tasks
  • find new partners to promote as affiliates or paid ads
  • create videos for top selling skus + systemize
  • collect video testemonials for website
  • split test cart and checkout pages to improve conersions – simplest way?
  • improve thank you page – think of ‘connecting generations’
  • improve overall ineraction level and personality of the company – how and what is it?
  • licensing deals?
  • create a premium brand
  • test a new theme for dramatic conversion rate test – protect the downside
  • implement and hire legit SEO peeps
  • test new traffic sources like taboola, ourbrain, yahoo, email and other
  • continue to create manuals and systems for aspects of business
  • review ‘high our put management’ questions and take action on points
  • book a room for the team to meet in before next week
  • finally automate bi-weekly emails and forget about them!
  • meet suppliers in person

These are just a few, are the specific enough? Not really. But as I choose from this list we break them down into actionable steps and decide who is responsible. This lets our team execute on what’s most important. The list never really shrinks, in fact, it always grows, but it’s a great refference of ‘are important things getting done?’ And to make sure were not just focsuing on daily immediate emergencies. It ensures we never stop improving the business as a whole and lose site of our why.

Going back 3,6,12 months and reviewing the list reveals a lot about where time has been invested. Are we not getting some important things done? Why has this been on the list for 6 months with no action? Is it because it’s not important? Because we don’t know how to do it? Are we focusing too much on short-term emergencies than building the company? Which leads to the question ‘How to reduce or eliminate short-term emergencies so we can focus on the important things?’.

This all adds to the brain dump and I always get new ideas while doing this exercise. Hope it helps, give it a try!


Are You Losing 13% of Your ‘Discount Code’ Sales

This is a quick but valuable post on discount and coupon codes.

We do a lot with coupon codes on our e-commerce site, for instance, we offer free shipping on all orders over $25 (out average product cost is about $20 so this helped increase cart size)

Our copy for the free shipping CTA can be seen below:

Screenshot 2016-04-17 11.17.11

here are the results:

Screenshot 2016-04-17 11.27.21

and then I lated added this discount code (this was about 1 sale ever 3 days):

Screenshot 2016-04-17 11.28.32

So 37 / 547 people entered the WRONG code…it could be that the copy isn’t clear but I think people will make mistakes no matter what. This example is only about 7% messed up but some of our other tests show upwards of 13%. That works out to a lot of missed sales. Most people wont try the discount code again especially yin the direct response world…

Check those discount codes and try variances and flipping the words! It will definitely increase your sales.


Using Your Customers to Create Accountability and Consistancy

Deep down you know what needs to be done in your business…but if you’re like me…sometimes I just don’t do them…they don’t ‘seem important’ right now because it’s to small of scale or the time vs effort isn’t there…but it’s the small things that add up over time… here is the story on how we forced ourselves to do the right thing by promising our customers…

Our email list was growing at about 100-400 emails a day from potential customers either opting in or buying…it slowly built up and we’d email them now and then…a promotion…a survey…then 2-3 weeks would slip by with no emails. Why? I knew these relationships were the whole basis of the business, they were people who had bought from us already! I was focused on building/scaling the customer list and not taking relationships with my current customers to the next level…

This was the old affiliate marketer coming out in me…we got the ROI on adspend so we were profiting while growing the list…emails was just a side bonus so I wasn’t taking it seriously (even though the reason I started this was to get away from affiliate marketing and to build a true asset) – Dang habits coming back to get me!

It was actually worst then that…when we would email our abuse and unsubscribes were huge…I even got a warning from mailchimp. These were real people who trusted us enough to buy or opted in a few weeks ago now marking us as spam…I can’t blame them…we’d disappear then pop up with an email asking them to buy again…how selfish!

So we made a promise to each individual person…we’ll send out our VIP emails every Tuesday and Friday. We told them in the welcome email exactly what to expect. So now they new what to expect and they got regular emails from us…keeping that relationship warm. To the top of each email we added a quick reminder of who we are, why they are getting this email and detailed instructions on how to unsubscribe if they wish…

Abuse reports went down, unsubscribes went down and open and click rates went up and best of all sales went up! Thanks to making a promise and keeping it. On top of that, it’s motivating…seeing the list growing, staying active, and producing more repeat customers and sales…

We solved our consistency problem…now it’s just a procrastination one – we still do last minute emails on Monday / Thursday nights to get them scheduled in time…but that’s for another post…

How to Find and Keep a Business Mentor / Friend

Everyone talks about how important it is to get a business mentor (not a huge fan of that term). There is only one problem…it’s not that easy. So lets talk about how to find that person and have them WANT to help you…

When I was first starting out in Internet marketing I knew NOTHING. I didn’t even know how to buy a domain or set up a server….I remember spending hours and being so happy when I made a site that said ‘Hello, this is Joel’ in plain writing in the top left of the screen….a website! These hours started laying the foundation of my future businesses. They also made it possible for me to get a ‘mentor’….

Speak Their Language

After a few Internet business fails (this will be another post) I started to get quicker and learn the game… I learned about wordpress, autoresponders, html, php, CPA, CPC, CPM, tracking pixels, split testing and other ‘lingo’ in the Internet marketing business. This is key (I didn’t know it at the time).

When you meet someone who could potencially help you out…they need to know you’re not a beginner looking for an easy out. They didn’t have an easy out so why should you? Knowing the language, talking the language and showing you understand the language goes a long way in proving your worth their time. It shows you’re already invested and taking action. Successful people like that. They know that is what it takes. If you’re not ALREADY sacrificing and taking action no one will help you…and they shouldn’t!

Offer them Value in Some Way (doesn’t have to be business)

Sometimes this can be hard. But if you’ve put in your time above chances are you can even help them in their business some way. Make it short, simple and actionable if this is your route. Or send them a link to an article you think they would find interesting (easy way yo give value, just copy and paste)

In my case, I didn’t offer much but a good time in a new city! We went out partying the first day we met and it’s a crazy story we still talk about (he’s one of my best friends now). It was fun. We didn’t talk about business or marketing. We just hung out. Got a little (VERY) drunk.

Don’t Come Across As Desperate

Nobody likes someone who’s desperate. It creates an automatic reaction to push that person away. It’s negative. Wether that’s a desperate guy in a bar going up to girls or a desperate person at a meet-up who asking around for help or a mentor. You need the attitude that you’ll make ‘enter your goal here’ happen with or with-out a mentor. Confidence will help you attract the right mentor and people to help you succeed.

Ask Engaging, Specific Questions (And not to many)

If you just keep asking boring, simple questions you could find out yourself you’re going to have a very hard time keeping them engaged. If Google can answer it for you…don’t ask them! Before you ask a question…TRY and TRY and TRY to do it yourself. So when you ask it goes something like this”

“I’m having trouble with ‘A’. I thought ‘X’ would work but then this happened. I then tried ‘X2’ but that didn’t work…I read a few post about ‘X3’ but I just don’t get it. Can you point me in the right direction for ‘A’?”

This shows you invested time into solving it yourself (showing your commitment). You’re also not asking them to do it for you…just to point you in the right direction. This is a big difference. One is needy the other is a person grinding that needs a little help.

The best part about this…is you’ll learn more and grind harder to make it work. You’ll make it work with or without a ‘mentor’. When that person comes along they will be willing to help because they see you working. Sacrificing. Risking. Just like they did at the start.

That is how you get a great business mentor. No one said it would be easy. And if your mentors says that…find a new mentor.

How to Use Shopify for Direct Response Marketing (and increase sales 20-40%)

I’m a direct response marketer at heart. I enjoy all (almost) other parts of business as well, but direct response is what I love doing. Nothing beats the rush of a successful campaign. Looking through the data…finding pockets of profit and optimizing until you find a winner. It’s modern day mining for gold. Best job in the world.

Shopify is a great place to start (if you have your own product to sell). It’s simple. Fast. They have great support. It has it’s downsides for direct response marketing but that’s what we’re working on today. A simple list of things you can do to give yourself a chances of success using shopify and direct response marketing.

  1. Add another ‘Add to cart’ button: Make sure to have 2 add to cart buttons, I like one at the top and one at the bottom, this added about 10% to my sales. Make it easy for them to find and click.
  2. Auto redirect to cart: This depends on our product, but in most cases, have your ‘Add to cart’ button automatically redirect to your cart page. Don’t have it show a little image go to the cart….and let them keep shopping….CATCH them in the buying moment. Redirect them and move them along…you can still upsell them.
  3. UPSELL THEM: This added an easy $5-$8+ per cart for me (that is huge) there are a few good ones but I like the Unlimited Upsell app by Spurit.
  4. Use an exit pop: I wasn’t sure about this, it seems a little ‘aggressive’ even for me…but hey, they are leaving anyways so it’s all bonus traffic. I tested privy’s exit pop offering VIP treatment and free shipping code…it added 8-10% to my sales instantly. I eventually upgraded to the paid version as the exit pop was going off on all pages and people kept messaging to get a refund on shipping after they ordered. They are adding a split tester soon so that will be even better. Here is their link:
  5. Abandoned cart follow up: I used shopify option for a while but it only offers 1 message. I upgraded to Abandonment Protector by Friendlinker. You can choose 3 emails spread out over your choice of time frames…this allows me to recover as many as I can before offering a discount on the last email. My recovery rate is 14% with the shopify average being around 7%.
  6. Use FB conversion Pixel: This is the easiest way to track your ads results. FB will show you your spend vs orders right inside your ad manager. It’s not perfect but it’s good enough. You can see your average cart value and go from there. Not only that but it will eventually learn and help optimize to show your ads to buyers…it’s the fastest way to scale FB campaigns from $150 to 1500+ a day in spend.

These 5 tasks can be done in less than a day and should add between 20-40% to your sales. Give them a try and let me know how it works.

As always, keep on testing and improving!