Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us! Today’s tool we love: PopupAlly!
Which email marketing platform to choose. The best social media platform for business owners. Which planner to use at the beginning of each year. And…whether or not to use a pop-up. These are just a few of the things that cause great debate amongst solo business owners around the world. (And…the types of things that make us think, “You know you’re a solopreneur when…”)
Installing a pop-up has dramatically increased our conversion rate for email sign ups. Want proof? As we mention in Building Your Online Community, we credit the combination of a pop-up (installed 5/19/2014) and our opt-in freebie (promoted 6/1/2014) with this little increase in our subscribers:
And given that our email list is one of our top sources of sales, collaborations, and more, we’ve found it to be worth the risk of potentially irritating a minor subset of our website visitors in order to best serve our community.
It’s super easy to customize the look of your pop-up so that it reflects your brand
You can create two pop-ups with the free version, which means you can have both an overall pop-up, as well as a targeted one (we did this on our 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs page to increase downloads of our Road to Solopreneur Success ebook)
You can split test two different pop-ups to track conversion rate (only with the pro version)
The AmbitionAlly website is chockful of best practices for pop-ups. In fact, we would wager a bet that you can find the answer to any question you have about PopUpAlly or pop-ups
To be honest? As of right now, we can’t think of any limitations of PopupAlly, so we’ll just say this: The biggest “problem” is that we can’t do absolutely everything we’d like to do with the free version. But, as fellow business owners, we really can’t complain about a company providing an awesome free version and then trying to upsell to a paid version. More power to ‘em for roping us in so effectively and making us loyal fans!
Even for those self-proclaimed “tech-illiterate” solopreneurs, we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be up and running with a pop up in no time when you use PopupAlly pro. (We can say this, because we might just be those people…)
Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us! Today’s tool we love: SendOwl!
If you’re like many of the business owners in our community, you probably offer some kind of paid product that you’re looking to sell online.
Us too! As we prepped for the launch of The Solopreneur Success Bundle, we knew we wanted a robust e-commerce platform that would allow us to 1) handle both payment and delivery of our digital download, and 2) manage our affiliate program (we were so thrilled to sign up over 70 amazing affiliates, who actively promoted the Solopreneur Success Bundle throughout the 5 days that it was for sale).
Discount codes: We use specific codes for our fantastic members, to track the success of specific Facebook Ads, and more.
Upsell feature: This requires upgrading to the second tier of the monthly plan, but it allows us to automate the upselling process. An example: Someone goes to buy The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook and they’re encouraged to upgrade to the whole One Woman Shop Bundle instead. (Because…why not?)
Integration with MailChimp (and pretty much every other email marketing platform. Yes, including ConvertKit!): When an individual purchases any of our products, they are automatically added to the appropriate email list or tag, which means we can send them follow-up emails specific to that product.
Easy affiliate management: Want to offer different affiliates different commission rates, like we did when we offered Solopreneur Success Bundle contributors a 50% commission, instead of the standard 30% rate? Easy to do with SendOwl. Want to only enlist affiliates for certain products, but not others? Same. Want to see which of your affiliates is kicking the most ass, so that you can reward her accordingly? Easy.
Order tracking + reporting: If you want to see when you’re making the most sales, how many orders were started but not completed, and your conversion rate (based on the number of orders completed vs. the number of times the page was reviewed), SendOwl’s got you covered.
Google Analytics integration: With a huge launch like The Solopreneur Success Bundle, tracking our conversions was critical. We didn’t get as far into the Google Analytics integration feature as we would have liked, but knowing it’s there for this year’s Bundle is reassuring.
Stellar service: So far, we’ve been very satisfied with their responsive customer service and very complete Help Center. Seriously, we know what we’re talking about here — we did some desperate 11th hour (literally, 11pm) searching of it the night before the Bundle launched.
Limitations + drawbacks
No product is perfect, so SendOwl has to have limitations, right?
Obviously, we would have preferred to use the Upsell feature (mentioned above) without upgrading our plan, but it takes money to make money, friends.
Another slight limitation: We would love to be able to upload materials, like graphics and pre-written social media content, for our affiliates directly to SendOwl to save them a step when they want to promote us — which is always, of course 😉 Our workaround: Create a Google Doc with all of the assets and link it within an auto-responder on MailChimp. They sign up as affiliates, get added to the corresponding list, and get kicked this email with everything they need. Boom. #welovesystems
How to get started with SendOwl
Head to SendOwl and create an account by clicking “Sign up” in the upper righthand corner.
Choose a pricing plan: Basic ($9 USD per month) might be for you if you don’t need to manage an affiliate program, but otherwise, the Standard ($15 USD) is probably the right fit. If you plan to sell subscriptions or would like to offer upsells, opt for the $24 USD per month plan (like we do). No matter which plan you choose, you get a free, 30-day trial.
Head over to the Help Center for instructions on every single step of the process.
Questions about SendOwl? Hit us up in the comments below! Have a tool you love for selling + affiliate management? We’d love to hear that, too!
Curious about how to incorporate affiliate marketing into your solopreneur business strategy? It may be worth your time to explore how affiliate marketing can bring in a bit of passive income to supplement the revenue that your current products and services generate.
Brush up on the basics of affiliate marketing
Essentially, affiliate marketing entails promoting another business’ products or services through your existing public platforms, such as your website, your email list, and your social media accounts. In exchange, you receive an agreed-upon percentage of the revenue generated by the sales you inspire. Though having a large audience is generally considered important for success as an affiliate marketer, a small but engaged community can also bring in a steady income stream.
Here’s how it works: you post a unique link on your website or other online platforms, people click through to the website of the product or service you’re promoting, and, if they make a purchase, you receive a pre-determined percentage of the total sale.
Will you promote only products or services that you have used yourself? Will you consider promoting a service or product that you haven’t specifically used but whose creator you trust? Will you promote any product that seems valuable to your audience? There’s no right or wrong answer, as long as you openly disclose your experience with the product or service.
Brainstorm categories of products and services to promote
What products and services could your client base and those who land on your website benefit from that complement your current offerings? If you offer digital marketing consulting, your community might be interested in social media management tools, website hosting, and WordPress themes.
If you coach busy women, your clients might want resources for eating healthy on the go, reducing stress, and staying fit while traveling (think: cookbooks, a meditation app, and portable exercise equipment).
If you teach photography to beginners, your students might be looking to purchase a DSLR camera, a stylish but sturdy case, and an edition of Photoshop.
Think about the minute-by-minute daily needs of your community, as well as the products and services that you use on a regular basis if you are within your target market- whether it’s a food processor, a convertible dress, a coding class, or a productivity e-course.
Find products and services to promote
Now that you have a sense of the kinds of products and services you’re interested in showcasing to your community, it’s time to find specific affiliate programs to join.
Search the sites of products and services you’d like to promote
Already have an idea of a product or service you’d like to share with your community? Search the website by using this Google search string: websiteurl.com affiliate OR “partner program”
For example: Googling “restored316designs.com affiliate” leads you to a page dedicated to information on their affiliate program
Email business owners that you respect
Can’t find mention of an affiliate program on the website of someone you’ve previously partnered with or benefitted from? Email them to ask if they have an existing affiliate program or might consider an affiliate relationship with you.
Browse affiliate marketing networks
Many companies run their affiliate programs through networks like CJ Affiliate by Conversant, ShareASale, and E-junkie. These sites have directories of their partners so that you can easily scroll through to find fitting products.
Think back to the categories you brainstormed earlier then turn to Google for a bit of help. Google (“affiliate” OR “partner program”) AND (keyword related to your industry).
For example: Googling cookware affiliate program brings up several legitimate companies, such as the RachelRayStore.com, Le Creuset, and EmerilStore.com
Ensure that your chosen products and services pass your litmus test
A few questions to ask yourself: will my audience find this genuinely useful? Will my community feel alienated if I promote this product or service? Does this fit into the budget of my audience?
If you’re not sure that you can comfortably vouch for the product or service, consider asking for a sample to review or ask the company or business owner if you can send them a list of questions you think your audience might want the answers to.
Looking to start an affiliate program for your product? We’ve talked about it a tiny bit before, but we thought you might be craving some more resources. This infographic from Dekh is a comprehensive 51 point checklist for starting an affiliate program from scratch- so hang on, it’s thorough!
Any advice on starting an affiliate program? Email us!