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Buying an Online Business to Supplement Income and Hopefully Income Replacement

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We talk with a store owner who first used the guestbooks for her own wedding many years ago and then bought the company when it came up for sale.

Michelle and her husband are living the entrepreneurial dream and working on the business in a spare room while trying new tactics when they can.

We discuss email marketing, Adwords, Google Shopping, Instagram tagging, Amazon and much more!

Transcript

Jesse: Hey guys, Jesse Ness here. I’m here with my co-host Richard Otay.

Richard: How is it going, Jess?

Jesse: I’m good. I’m good. You know I’m really excited about the show today because you know the format today is kind of why we started doing this. We really wanted to talk to merchants. That’s one of my favorite things to do so, you know this will be a good show.

Richard: This will be a fun one, and I like, I like the whole process from. How did you get the idea, what got you started? Where you at? What’s the next step? There’s not much more fun in e-commerce with talking to the person who’s actually in the mud, you know, in making it happen. So you can talk to vendors you can talk to all kinds of other people and partnerships, and it’s still learning things. But when you’re actually talking to someone who’s in the mix of it all, it’s by far the most fun to me to so super excited.

Jesse: Absolutely. So let’s bring on our guest, Michelle.

Michelle: Hi, how are you?

Jesse: I’m doing good. So you are the owner of guestbookstore.com.

Michelle: Correct.

Jesse: All right. And this solo venture or?

Michelle: My husband and I. So it’s kind of a family venture.

Jesse: Awesome so. So who’s in charge of the family here, like.

Richard: We know who is, probably the same as our house.

Jesse: Yeah ok. I probably shouldn’t have asked that question (laughing.) So Michelle, tells us a little bit about yourself and about the business.

Michelle: Well I am a stay at home mom for the most part. You know I have four boys, so I’m always crazy-busy. So this business has actually been amazing because I can kind of work it at night like after my kids go to bed and everything winds down. So yeah, it’s been really exciting.

Jesse: Oh I bet I bet. I mean this is actually you know e-commerce is perfect for stay at home parents because sometimes you might have a half an hour here and there. But you probably don’t have eight hours in a row during the day.

Michelle: You know, I kind of catch up on emails and phone calls. You know quickly during the day and the rest the processes after my kids are in bed.

Jesse: OK. Perfect. So how did you get started?

Michelle: So my husband and I 16 years ago were planning our wedding and looking for, well I did not want a guestbook, to be honest. I just thought a book with his signature would end up in the trash for me. My mom kept insisting that I needed to have a guestbook, so I wanted to look for like kind of an alternative. And I started looking online which you know took forever 16 years ago.

So I came across a guestbook store and thought that their product was unique and fun because their pages actually told a story. And you know it was a keepsake that I felt like I could really like you know to pass down to my kids and I would have all of these funny stories that I could look back on. So we purchased our guestbook and, I at our wedding, we used when we were taking all of our pictures and stuff and you kind of have that funny like downtime when the guests are at your reception, they don’t really know what to do. Our guest filled out these guestbook pages and you know it started conversations and even people that you know we’re sitting at a table alone and didn’t know anybody at the table. They all started telling stories, and so we had this, people who became friends like it was just is kind of funny I didn’t think these pages would do that. But we had so many like compliments and comments on these pages, and they’ve been an amazing thing for my husband and I to look over you know over the last you know 16, well 15 years. We’d pulled them out every anniversary and looked over him. And another thing that you know we never thought about at the time as you know some of the people that have signed or guestbook or fill out these pages have passed away, and we have this tangible thing from them. That you know when you look back on it, sorry, is really need you to know to go back and read like things that my grandma wrote and you know aunts and uncles and things like that. So something very tangible which you know nowadays everything is just online. It’s not something you can pick up and hold you know and see so. So the company came up for sale, and we jumped on it. We were really excited.

Richard: So first let’s thank mom, your mom — not only was she right and you didn’t just end up with a book of signatures it ended up in the trash, but you ended up with the business.

Michelle: Correct.

Richard: The very place that you purchased your first guestbook from ends up going up for sale and you buy it?

Michelle: Yes.

Jesse: Wow. So how did you know it was up for sale like what were you tracking for that?

Michelle: Yeah. We got an email. And you know they hadn’t really ever sent out emails before and so when I was going through my through my junk mail honestly and saw an email from them and thought you know that’s interesting and I haven’t heard from them since I bought my guestbook. And so you know we opened the email and read it, and it was you know they were having the family illness needed to sell their company. And we loved our guestbook so much, you know, we really jumped on the opportunity to purchase the company because we knew how much that our guestbook meant to us.

Jesse: Wow. I mean that’s perfect. So you knew it wasn’t just “OK, I think I can make a buck off of this, the store”, like you used it you remembered it’s you know it became a yearly you know a yearly ritual I guess for you?

Michelle: Yeah, yeah.

Jesse: You’re putting me to shame actually. I don’t remember that from my anniversary coming up.

Richard: So just real quick because I mean I’ve checked out your site. But for those that are just listening right now, we’ll have them go look at the guestbookstore.com.

Michelle: Guestbookstore.com.

Richard: Guestbookstore.com. Not “the”. And so they can look later, but it sounds like it’s more than just signatures is there places to write these extra.

Michelle: Yeah. So there’s there’s like a picture for a place for you to like draw a picture. Like, for example, the wedding because we offer all different kinds of guest books. But you know the wedding one, in particular, there is a place for you to draw pictures of yourself and then draw a picture of the bride and groom. You know, you can write down you know like a funny story or a funny moment about them how you met them, how far you travel, you know, for their special day for the celebration. It’s so you know it’s funny the people that you think you know are like you know very serious, and you have like a boring page — they have hilarious pages are people trying to draw these pictures that you know… Sometimes you look like aliens you like “Oh my gosh, they can draw”, so. So yeah, I know it’s a really fun interactive but like I said, it’s not just for weddings. We have them for all different kinds of things like lodging is a huge, huge book for us.

Jesse: Now the logging book, so describe that a little more in detail what is that. Is it just for like resorts or for Airbnb places like..?

Michelle: All types, so we have sold them to different resorts, you know, a lot of like mom and pops you know one rental like a ski lodge or something by that you know by the ocean or an Airbnb. And a lot of those people use them for almost like a survey. So it’s like a very informal survey so people they don’t realize it’s a survey at the time.
But you know a lot of people will you know be flipping through the book, and you can read all these pages and fun things that other people experienced while they were there and you can kind of give you some ideas of different things that you might not have thought to try. You know like if you were in Temecula and you’re like: “Oh you know the wineries, oh and this one’s amazing.” People keep mentioning this fine, and so you know different like things that you can do. But there’s also a place you know I mean like you know what you enjoy the most, and you know but if you have someone that says something negative you might you know: “OK that something I need to address I need to fix it,” because our books aren’t bound, you can take that page out.

Jesse: One-star reviews: “Sorry doesn’t make the cut.”.

Richard: “We will listen but no one else will.”

Jesse: Well I mean that makes it also more personal than you know it’s not a hotel room now. Now, this is a place that has a guestbook where people are real people are making memories, and you know giving tips and things so.

Richard: They can almost be like an informal tour guide to like additional help concierge kind of like: “Oh we went to the other places down the road, and we loved it because they knew you,” and that great.

Jesse: Very cool. So I saw the site too there’s a lot of different books on there. Is it mostly wedding or is it kind of scattered?

Michelle: It’s really scattered. You know we’ve done… Lodging is really big for us actually so I mean that’s I think that’s been our number one seller which kind of surprised me when we purchased it because I thought automatically it would be weddings. But yeah, weddings probably comes in second for us second, or third. We also you a lot of books for funerals and that when you know, I didn’t realize quite the impact that that would have. And we’ve gotten a lot of letters and emails from people. We had our first one that we sold to a fallen officer’s family, and that one was really hard for me to do at all the funeral books are hard for me to do, to be honest. But we got a letter from the wife of the fallen officer, and she had a little 3-year-old boy, and her story to us, you know, was you know that she had all of these memories in a book that she could give her son. And she said I’ve never even heard half of these stories. And my husband was a hero, and his son’s going to get to read that now, and he would have never had that without this book. So even though I at the time I didn’t really like doing funeral books because it made me so sad, I realized how important these books were. So yeah, I’m glad we can kind of help people along with the process. You know with our books as well.

Jesse: Yeah, for sure. I mean it’s you know weddings funerals and births these are huge moments in people’s lives and you know I think particularly in our social media Instagram world you know these pictures and little emojis, they disappear really quickly get buried.

Michelle: Yeah.

Jesse: So you know but the book does live on forever so that’s awesome that you could help people you know to keep these memories.

Richard: So you were saying there. Those are tough. Again I’ve looked at the site but so are you doing something. Are you making these books an individual for that person?

Michelle: We do. Yeah. So you know people can either order on our site. I’ve had people you know give us a call and tell us you know their whole story of the person that passed away and we can customize the book specifically for the person. So if they have you know specific questions especially you know, with like a policeman or fireman or something like that. They want to tie it into you know their career, or we can do that we can you know with any of our bucks we can customize any of the questions for people.

Richard: Cool.

Jesse: Yeah, very interesting. So yeah I didn’t realize they were all customized or not maybe the customized but that they could be customized.

Michelle: Yes.

Jesse: So you know with customized, that makes it a little harder you could get it a little faster. Where do you print them?

Michelle: We have we have an office in our home that we use. So yeah, we try to have a really fast turnaround, I think our website says 72 hours, but usually, there everything’s out within 24 hours. So we just give ourselves a little grace on the weekends.

Jesse: You need a little break, you let the kids go to sleep — and then all of a sudden they hear the printer churn in the room (laughing). That’s awesome. So I think that gives us a good feeling of the products that you have. And for people listening, obviously check out the site, and you can get a good, better visual of that.

Michelle: Yes.

Jesse: So did you. Now you said you bought the site that you bought the business. Were a lot of these products already created or did you create more beyond that?

Michelle: A lot of them already were already created. And then we have started expanding a bit, so we have a quinceanera book that we’re just about to launch. We have a teacher appreciation book which surprisingly like I mean it has just blown up. But I haven’t put it on the website yet. So we just keep getting requests and requests from it’s crazy. So we’ve sold a ton of those.

Jesse: Yeah I like that. Yeah, I’m sure we’re going through that this-this week.

Michelle: Yeah.

Richard: Was it already on Ecwid, or did you just move it over to Ecwid?

Michelle: We moved it over to Ecwid, so we completely started from scratch with the Web site. So yeah they kind of had a 15-year-old version of the website, we’ve purchased it, you know, which their site was still working. But we figured, you know with the way technology is moving we really need to have an up-to-date site you know when that’s you know mobile friendly which was crazy that it wasn’t honestly. But yeah, you know, Ecwid show up when you google it.

Jesse: That’s always important to you. So what the yes so I didn’t take we didn’t get a chance to look at the old site. I know what 15-year-old sites look like, usually pretty rough. So how is the process? How did you find Ecwid? What was the process of creating the site and finding Ecwid?

Michelle: So I have a friend who designs websites, and so I hired my friend actually to do it all. And she’s you know built a few different websites. We did start out on a different platform, and it just wasn’t working for what we needed. And I don’t think she’d ever built a website exactly like ours. You know when she first started building like: “This all was perfect?” And then it was like” Oh no.” This is not a customisable as you need it to be. And so we moved over to Ecwid. And you know Ecwid’s been amazing. You know we’ve been able to customize all the different things that we needed. I mean even with our shipping, that was that was a problem on some of the other sites that we had kind of tried you know having the different shipping options available. So Ecwid has been really easy to work with.

Jesse: Perfect so for shipping options, so you have like a, hey you know “If you need overnight, I will get more money” that thing?

Michelle: Yeah, it’s one of those things I didn’t, I thought like you just throw it in  (laughing) With me not being the technical…

Richard: You’ve a greatest laugh by the way. They should be able to have it on your site somewhere, people would buy more. I don’t know how you use it yet, but it’s awesome.

Jesse: Well talk to your developers who could work it in your life. Well, awesome, so I’m glad squid worked out well for you. And so it sounds like is your developer friend. Does she still help you out a little bit when you need changes or here and?

Michelle: Here and there. My husband’s pretty good at it, like doing this stuff on his own at this point, but we definitely needed some coaching in the beginning. And you know we’d run into a problem we would call and “How do we fix that?” So you know how my husband’s become pretty proficient. Thank goodness he’s a fast learner. I am not. When it comes to so, I rely on him a lot.

Richard: Are you more of social media end of the.

Michelle: Yes. Yeah.

Richard: What’s been your favorite so far. Combination of to do and best results?

Michelle: While I handle the Facebook and Instagram part of it. So I mean even that with me was a learning curve. So I’m still I’m kind of learning it but. But you know I mean like taking all the pictures making sure they all look professional, and you know figuring out like all the editing and everything like that and making sure I’m going to have like the best pictures up there possible because you know a picture is going to sell. I’m going to sell your product more than the words because people will only read so much before they tune out. That’s been a learning process for me too because I have so much to say when I make a posting I want to write like: “All this information in there, but I have to.” You know I realize people tune out like.

Jesse: I say people look at pictures, but they really don’t read that much. So yeah. Yeah well, I looked at your Instagram feed I thought it was great. I mean there’s there’s beautiful pictures there. What sort of tips would you have for people that have never posted anything on Instagram? Well, what would you do? Your beginner. But she knows well what would you say to other beginners?

Michelle: You know I really just looked at other people’s, formats a lot to see what other people were doing and see what I liked and didn’t like, and you know I kind of figure, if I have this kind of taste other people must too. I try and keep things simple you know not too cluttered because things can definitely get lost you know in a big mess of stuff. So I think the cleaner, the better for your pictures.

Jesse: Ok. And are you, are they iPhone pictures or do you use a camera?

Michelle: I do both, my first few were in my friend’s living room. So yeah you know and then you know I moved on to my good big camera, and I just switch back and forth whatever you know at the time I have, and it works fast.

Jesse: That’s awesome. I mean I think you know for everybody just start taking pictures to post them on there, and it will get better over time.

Michelle: Yes.

Richard: So make it easy then make it better. So do you when you bought this company. Did it come with a list of people that had bought? And did you market to that list at all or were you kind of was everything starting from scratch?

Michelle: Everything was kind of starting from scratch.

Richard: So you kind of saying what did we buy?

Michelle: We shouldn’t say. We did have a small list of emails from people that had purchased in the past, but because they’ve never like they really didn’t send out anything to people ever. And so a lot of those emails are just invalid because you know they’re old. Yeah a lot of them, so I was.

Jesse: 15 years old when they got you to know like…

Michelle: I kept the same and that I checked my junk mail today. But yes so we’ve kind of had to start from scratch with that, you know, with all of our emails and marketing and stuff like that.

Richard: So I mean this is good for other Ecwid listeners that are just getting started to go see someone who had no technical experience husband had a little and he’s a fast learner. But for the most part you are able to take something off another platform a little bit of help from friend, mostly you guys it sounds like some iterations try and some other platforms, and then you get on Ecwid you and your husband are still able to pull it off still sounds like you’re moving forward with all this?

Michelle: Yeah. We’re doing pretty well is there.

Richard: Is there anything that you see is your big win in social so far with what you’re doing. Kind of like what you saw with the large stuff. Is there anything you see in social?

Michelle: We’ve gotten a lot of we’ve gotten a lot of sales through social media because we can see them coming in through Facebook and such. So yeah, I mean the promotions that we do through like Facebook and Instagram certainly do work and they keep our name out there and I think the biggest thing is just keeping our name out there because you know you don’t need a guestbook all the time but there’s going to come a time when you have a big event, and you will think: “Oh what was that place that it was out you know that had that you know post on Facebook, or you know.” And so we want people to remember us when those events do come up you know.

Jesse: So with Facebook and Instagram. So you mentioned the promotions. Do you know you do the postings. Do you know do you also do like boost posts and things like that?

Michelle: Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that I’m kind of you to know I have in the last few months ventured into it I’m kind of like learning right now. But. But yeah. No, I’m trying to do every you know every week or two, post something knows just to keep our name out there. So but I can definitely see that you know customary you know people are seeing that you know we are getting customers from those as well. And then we’re you know we’re also doing like AdWords and things like that that’s more my husband’s thing, but you know that we have gotten a lot of traffic through AdWords as well.

Jesse: Okay. So yeah, makes sense to think that’s a really good mix of traffic. You know it’s social media too like you never know there could be a day when a Kardashian gets married and will use one of your guestbooks. The phone will be ringing off the hook.

Richard: It’s interesting. Yeah, it’s like one of those ones you can’t depend on, but you gotta have it in place just in case. Especially now when you can do all these interesting things with tagging.

Jesse: And yes I think so. Here’s a little benefit from you being on the podcast. So you’re going to learn something that nobody else knows out there. Well, few people know.

Richard: They’re about two.

Michelle Yeah. So you have the secret’s out. My boss will be mad. We’re letting this out a little bit early but. So with Instagram, if you have uploaded your product feed into Facebook, Business Manager which you know there’s there are steps there. I’ll admit that.

Richard: We’ll put them in the show notes.

Jesse: Yeah, we can do that. Do the steps there. But if you link your product catalog with Facebook and Instagram, you can do this thing called Product Tagging so that when you take your pictures of your products, and you know perfect settings and everything like that just like you tag a person where you highlight the little box over the person you label them. Now you can label your products. So now when people are scrolling through this Instagram feed, and they’re like “Oh, yeah this is great.” They can immediately click on it and purchase from your Instagram feed so you know when we get offline here we’ll show you how to do that. That would definitely help the business on its own. Sure, sure you could do it on Facebook too.

Michelle: So yeah that’s really needed. Yeah.

Jesse: So we’ll get you going with that. If you’re listening at home. Yes, Instagram Tagging. We have it. There’s a couple of steps to make it happen so yeah, we’ll give you give you those tips. So you know what are some other challenges like now it’s only been how long did you buy it?

Michelle: We just purchased it in November. So it’s yeah it’s very recent. So we launched December 1st I think was our launch day.

Jesse: Ok.

Richard: I wonder if you could, you’re almost writing the seasons right now, like maybe you’re seeing the lodging because summer is coming up I don’t know. Right. I’m a marketer, so I guess things that I look at the data later to see if I was a good guess or not. But if you know wedding season last, lodging season. I don’t know.

Michelle: Yeah. So lodging seems to be pretty consistent. I mean because I think you have like you know the ski lodges and things you know through the winter, and then you’ve got more of like the seaside throughout the summer you know don’t even hunting season and stuff like that. But lodging seems to be pretty consistent for us.

Richard: So whereas weddings are pretty much during this nice time of the year where they want to make sure you’re not getting rained on… Do you do births, too?

Michelle: Yeah yeah we have a baby shower book. But it also comes with you know with a baby book as well so you can just incorporate that all into one book instead you’re having a separate like a baby book. We do the part with like the handprints and birth certificate and all those different things as well.

Jesse: So you kind of overlap on that. So scrapbooker crowd a little bit?

Michelle: Maybe Yeah. Yeah. That way, the child has you know has this whole book to look back on as well like as they grow all the wishes. You know like the good wishes for the baby and for the mom and all that stuff.

Jesse: I mean the good thing is there’s a little bit of seasonality but lodging. They’re going to buy throughout the year.

Michelle: Yeah.

Jesse: That’s probably also email marketing will help there too because you know hopefully they remember where they got this book. But if they don’t, there might be an email in their inbox every couple of months or so. So yeah, and wedding seasons now so.

Michelle: Yes. Yeah, that’s fun.

Jesse: Yeah. So do you have any like have you have any bridezilla stories yet?

Michelle: Not yet. No, we had birthdayzilla stories a lot.

Jesse: Birthdayzillas?

Michelle: But now everyone that we’ve worked with for the most part has been great. You know I mean I think the hardest part for us is when you know especially like with that funeral when somebody needs it at you know at the last minute you know or I mean even sometimes weddings you know people are like: “Oh my gosh I need this book in like three days.” We’re like: “OK we can overnight it.” So.

Jesse: All right. Well, Michelle, this is awesome information so far. We’re going to take a short little break here, and when we come back, we want to dive deep into your plans for the future and see what advice would you give. Thank you very much.

Jesse: Hey guys. Jesse back here with Michelle Bucholz of guestbookstore.com. Michelle, Glad to have you here.

Michelle: Thank you.

Jesse: I think so. Before the break, we shared the story of how you got started with the business that you bought. And some things that a lot of the stuff you’ve learned in the past six months.

Michelle: Yes.

Jesse: Now we want to dive deep and get into your plans for the future, and we’re going to provide a little more tips and kind of strategy along the way and kind of strategize with you on this. So what do you know you told us before you are a stay-at-home mom.

Michelle: Yes.

Jesse: You got four boys. One is even here.

Michelle: One is here with me.

Jesse: This is a true entrepreneur like you know you want to make your business grow sometimes. You bring your kid and give him an iPad. So awesome. So what would be your overall goal like what would be your dream of where you could take Guestbookstore?

Michelle: I think my goal is to replace my husband income so that this can be just our full-time job that we focus on together.

Jesse: Awesome! I hope he makes a lot of money so that the bar would be higher.

Michelle: Yeah, it’s difficult, but we’re up for the challenge.

Jesse: And you know with that. So what’s your like 6-month 12-month plan to get there? So it’s easy to say I want to make more money. What sort of plans do you have in place, we could help you with?

Michelle: Plans that we have in place right now. I’m just continuing with learning more about like the AdWords and things like that may be expanding into different platforms as well. You know we haven’t really looked at. We haven’t really gotten into advertising yet. And you know like magazines and things like that, but that’s an avenue that we’re exploring right now as well.

Jesse: Ok. And I noticed from your site you had a lot of there was quite a few press mentions.

Michelle: Yes.

Jesse: Were those lucky accidents or were they?

Michelle: Yeah, most of them yes were. And that was, and you know like I said the company has been in business for 16 years, so there’s been you know there’s been a lot of like you know blog posts, and even they’ve been featured in the People Magazine and all you know all kinds of different platforms where you know with different magazines and stuff picking them up.

Richard: So that’s that’s good to hear question earlier when I said “What did you actually buy?” when you think those things are legitimate assets that are still driving traffic to this day.

Michelle: Yes for sure.

Richard: So for those people out there that don’t think blog posts are important. Sometimes they can.

Michelle: They really are. Where we’ve learned I mean everything leads back to your site every mention you know boost you know to boost your company’s rankings. It’s a commitment that Google searches and stuff.

Jesse: For sure. I mean you know if you can get links so expression when they mention your business that’s great. You might get a burst of traffic and pause, but that link from People magazine to your site is huge because that lives forever. And Google sees all. So you know I think that could be an interesting strategy to actually… You know, there were lucky accidents, and that’s awesome…

Richard: And if there is a link there is there are arguments to be made to drive traffic to that.

Michelle: Yeah.

Richard: Instead of your own store believe it or not sometimes; I’m not saying to do that, but I’m. We can talk offline. There are times there have been many things put together like a company called American Giant and they did something with TechCrunch, and then they drove ad revenue to TechCrunch because they have the know, like and trust. People Magazine has the know like and trust already. And then if all of a sudden there’s more traffic come into it they won’t get rid of that. You know that. We’ll talk more about that after that.

Jesse: So Michelle you mentioned your husband is doing AdWords right now. How many campaigns do you have, a campaign set up for each product or group of products?

Michelle: He groups the different products here with different AdWords and definitely runs all kinds of separate you know AdWords campaigns that way they’re easier to track rather than kind of lumping everything into one campaign. You know it’s much easier to track and if you separate them.

Jesse: Ok. Perfect. Good strategy. He’s on the right path there. And then, you know about your product. It’s such a visual product because you know guestbook the word doesn’t really mean much unless I see a picture of it. I think it really speaks to what it is. Have you ever done the little the picture ads on top of Google which is Google Shopping?

Michelle: I have not now.

Jesse: All right. Well, it gives me a chance to plug a previous podcast here because we just had we had a partner on where we’re launching something with Google Shopping soon, and we’ll let you and your husband know about this. So we’ve now built a very easy and automated way for you to take your product catalog and then basically automatically launch these Google Shopping campaigns. So when people type in “guestbook” or you know, “wedding guestbook” different keywords of your products those those those automatically shows on top. So I think that be going to be awesome for you.

Michelle: Yeah sure. So yeah it’s very-very visual. Yeah because people kind of think you know one thing with gas but you just sign in and that’s it. And this is very-very different.

Jesse: Yeah I mean that was my memory of the guestbook. I know I had one at my wedding.

Michelle: Which is why I didn’t want one. Yeah, I really remember that yeah.

Jesse: You know where is it right now. I don’t know. Lisa if you’re listening to I’m sure I know where it is. So it’s awesome. Yeah, I think, so that’ll be perfect on the visual side. And you know you mentioned before you’re boosting a post on Facebook and Instagram. Do you know if you’re doing any remarketing on Facebook? I know this is a husband’s question, and I’m sure that is OK.

Michelle: I don’t know what that is, to be honest…(laughing)

Jesse: I know that’s your husband, I’m not trying to put you on the spot here. But remarketing it on Facebook is… There are several varieties of it but if people have been to your site and they don’t buy which is like 98 percent of people they’re going to keep seeing this little guestbook as they are scrolling through Facebook feeds and in on their phone they’ll be like: “Oh yeah, I like that. I forgot about it. There it is.”

Richard: Like you know when people talk about you’ve heard: “Oh is Facebook listening to us. And then all of a sudden I start seeing ads.” It’s probably that’s not happening. What’s probably happening is what Jesse is referring to you: probably went and looked at this on Amazon or some other site, and now they are remarketing to you. And you think it’s just because you were talking about it but it’s really because you looked it up somewhere and they’re marketing to you. They’re not really doing that. But that would be an example of remarketing you just went and looked something up and in the early days, it was almost like forced synchronicity or something like: “Wow this company must be bigger than life,” because you see them all over it it’s really just as simple as you have a tracking pixel from Facebook. Then, to Jesse’s point, you can say I only want to put this ad in front of people who have been to my site but didn’t purchase.

Michelle: OK.

Jesse: So it won’t go in front of anybody else but that, so you could start to see once you put these people in specific groups you would give them a different message than maybe someone who’s been to your site and bought something or never been to your site.

Michelle: That’s actually great. Yeah. As you can kind of tweak what you want to show and tell them.

Jesse: Yeah, for sure. And I think you know you mentioned you mentioned your social media site. So the social media is awesome, but when people are looking at Instagram on their phone, maybe they click through to your site. But you know people who are on their phone are not you know they’re not writing stuff down they do not remembering. So having remarketing particularly for people that start on mobile is key because I rarely buy stuff on my phone. But if I get remarketing when I’m sitting at a desk, then my credit cards right next to me, and it’s very easy to buy stuff so. So yeah, for you know for people that are just getting started with advertising I think you’re doing the right thing first: the text advertising. It’s much easier to handle. But remarketing is probably a good next step for you because it is visual and you might have already paid for these people to get to your site anyway. You might have from AdWords. It’s not that bad to pay an extra 20 cents or so to you know to bring them back to bring back to the site. So it definitely remarketing, I totally recommend that, Rich touch on something that I wanted to dig in with you a little bit more. So you know he mentioned Amazon. So what is your what is your thoughts on Amazon? Do you sell on Amazon right now?

Michelle: We do not yet know. But that is something that we are looking into, to getting in with Amazon in the next few months because I think that’s a huge platform, to be honest. We’ll get out a lot, you know, a lot of a much bigger audience that way as well.

Jesse: Oh, for sure. I mean I think. Half of all e-commerce searches start on Amazon, and there’s whatever 90 million people with Prime or what’s the current stats now.

Richard: And it’s ridiculous now. I mean there are 25 million just smart speakers. Just this smart speaker market alone. So imagine how much above and beyond that.

Jesse: Yeah so for everybody that’s e-commerce at some point you need to wrestle with the Amazon question right. And it is you know it’s OK to be afraid of them and say “I don’t want to mess with them.” I get that it’s OK to go all in on Amazon and maybe play somewhere in the middle where maybe you know for you my thought would be your custom stuff. You don’t want that on Amazon because that’s going to be a major pain.

Michelle: Yeah. Yeah, I think a lot of it would just have to be certain yes, certain books or if people didn’t like if they just wanted bride and groom and said their names are bought it. But yeah it’s definitely something that we have already looked into.

Jesse: Ok awesome. So I didn’t mean to do an Ecwid plug here but here comes an Ecwid plug. We do have integration with Amazon via an app so you’ll be able to choose what products you want to upload and have that that you know have it be synchronized with Amazon. Amazon’s tough. Don’t get me I like it. It’s a bit of a challenge, but I think you’re up for it. But I would definitely look into the ability to sync it with your store. So look into that. What about you know related to that, there is Fulfillment by Amazon which is where you send your products to them, and they ship them. Is that something you’re considering as well?

Michelle: Yeah that’s actually what we were considering doing just with like the more general you know like bride and groom and guestbook pages and things like that I think it would be great because if you can get in with prime Amazon Prime, I mean that’s who doesn’t look on your Prime? Everyone wants something the very next day.

Jesse: Yeah. If you’re not there the people that are only looking at Prime and want that in two days you didn’t even see you. So yeah, but I think you have a great name Guestbookstore, you know, so people will also see that on Amazon and say oh you know maybe they have a custom store, and I’m going to google “guestbook store.” And there you are.

Richard: So well that’s part of the beauty of social and the remarketing to read is if you can get people to share some of their experiences. Now. You can actually remarket to them to come back to your regular site too. There are just other ways you can start to tie that together because Amazon’s a little bit protective of their customer data. So it kind of creative to get in front of those people.

But what we’re talking about earlier, the current list that you have been getting, with your current customers you can also upload that list to Facebook. When we’re talking about Facebook earlier, and you could take that email list put it in Facebook and specifically target those people that have bought from you before trying to get maybe them to come back as a customer. You could break it down specifically to what they bought. You might not since she just bought it in November you probably don’t have that much data yet to get super granular there. But as it moves on just knowing you know you can almost do a branding “Thank you” top of mind type of a thing and it could come back and because they had another baby or something else happened, because it’s not just the signature but that you thought in the very beginning, and you see it is so much more than that. It’s definitely a better opportunity than just thinking it’s a one-off wedding. This could have a longer lifetime value customer.

Michelle: Which is what we’ve seen, because I think right now this company has been built off of word of mouth referral traffic. So you know I mean once you know someone’s had their wedding and then, they have a baby shower and then they have their baby back. So you know there are lots of platforms for us to build off as well. Yeah. Those are all great and great tips.

Jesse: And now for weddings, you’re really only supposed to do that once so that might be time for remarketing.

Richard: But for babies after that.

Jesse: But for the people that bought it for lodging that actually makes sense like maybe you might start to learn OK if they bought last week. They don’t need it this week but maybe about 90 days from now or six months from now there’s some magic number there that you’ll only be able to figure out yeah that might be the right time to start showing this remarketing.

Michelle: We do offer like refill pages but that stuff to you so that they don’t have to buy a new book. They just keep ordering refill pages from us too.

Richard: That could even be a creative blog post for lodges. It won’t necessarily have to be on your site it could be a guest post on some sort of lodging site. And it’s a great way to the customer experience, and you’re just kind of helping the lodge find a new way. Next thing you know you have another blog post out there that’s referring to a bunch of lodges.

Michelle: Oh yeah, yeah. Blog posts are great.

Jesse: Now who’s the blogger?

Michelle: No, I have, I have not started a blog yet, but we have we have gotten picked up by a few different bloggers so that’s been great for our business and it’s kind of neat to track. But I didn’t realize on the backside how much you can track, and you can really see where people are coming in from, where they’re finding you from. So that part’s really it’s really neat.

Jesse: Yeah, yeah. I think Rich was going out with the blogging side I’m sure you already started a blog you. Know you need more things to do, Michelle.

Michelle: I know,I’m not busy at all (laughing.)

Jesse: But yeah, adding a blog to your site. So not a separate blog but a blog that’s a part of your site. It allows you to you know you can do a brain dump of all right all the things I’m thinking about guestbooks and you know try to group it into OK this is lodging. You don’t mix them all together. But it is a good way to build SEO and your own your traffic. And I know personally, it’s hard to type that much but.

Richard: Jesse just he doesn’t even like to do e-mails so don’t worry about it. It’s a part of the entrepreneurial journey. We all have our stores. It’s not always fun. Sometimes it is working and typing a thousand words is work.
Jesse:You know what’s your what are you doing for email right now.

Michelle: We have done some email campaigns. You know I think right now we’re doing about once a month. You know not to we don’t want to overwhelm people with. I mean there’s you know companies you get from like every single day I just feel like that’s a little too much. So we’re trying to kind of limit it to you know like once a month or so.

Jesse: Yeah, I get that you don’t want to scare people off and have them unsubscribe.

Michelle: You know we just keep our name fresh in their head. But it’s not like: “Here we are, here we are!” like every day.

Jesse: “SALE SALE SALE.” And also you don’t want to do what the company you bought it and like the people you bought it from now don’t do.

Richard: Don’t tell the opposite extreme.

Jesse: Send an e-mail every now and then, it’s totally fine. So yeah I’m glad you guys got that one go on because that’s a very simple tip that most people are afraid to send emails.

Michelle: Yeah and it’s really it is really easy to go through the Ecwid site, like we have found it very So yeah for sure that’s.

Richard: You know just to Jesse’s point and starting the blog and kind of tying all this together. I would think that your story you told us just how you thought it was just the signature book that was going to get thrown away and how you actually ended up buying this business — that would be a great first blog post. And it also leads into a very organic way to talk about and “Please share your experiences with us.” So now you have these different groups where that email campaign can be you know let us know when your wedding is going to be you know when they get the lodge, or you know to share, “please share some of your pictures with us or like.” So you kind of can get a little bit intertwined.

Michelle: Yeah that actually is great because we have been trying to figure out a way to kind of incorporate some of the tweets you get so many emails from people I’m surprised at how many people buy a book and then call us or email us with a story. I didn’t really expect that so but it kind of goes back to I mean that’s how much these bucks in that meaning to people once they go through and read you know these comments and stories and stuff so.

Jesse: Yeah, I mean that’s awesome. And I know you can tell us that story but if you could tell your whole email list story that is I mean that might really that’s easy. That’s easy. There are no technical learnings there that just write a nice blog post and let people share their stories. And then when they share their story, if you ask them if it’s okay for you to share it, well then your next email is already written. You copy and paste their story. Maybe they have a picture of their wedding, and baby showers like. Those are all great pictures to share.

Richard: Yeah, I mean anytime anyone can hear it right the word of mouth you said that was the way they started. And who knows there could be Ecwid listeners right now that are getting married soon about having a baby soon or someone, unfortunately, passed it. It could. You could get it from anywhere.

Jesse: Yeah we’re just trying to encourage you to do that blog post. I know.

Michelle: I have to get on that.

Jesse: I’ve heard you talk about it. Now you just have to put those thoughts you know to get the fingers going and get a blog post, and I mean that also leads to it also leads to Instagram, it also leads to Facebook posts. So once you get the term is user-generated content so once your users give you that content hopefully with pictures as well. Well, your Facebook job becomes easier, Instagram… You know if you’re doing Pinterest all those things just become easier because now you have pictures. You have a little story. You got your hashtag. Whoever sent it to you.

Richard: And it’s not you talking about you, it’s your customers time about you.

Michelle: Yeah which is so much more important honestly, because you know I mean I can say anything, but yeah, if your customers are telling a story… Yeah, it’s you know, yeah. It means a lot more when you hear it from other people. Reading all the reviews and things like that so yeah.

Jesse: For sure. Now I’m jealous because you have a nice easy thing to do and you know not that. I know you still have to do it, it’s never easy. Let’s see there are a couple other thoughts I had. Okay. So we had blogging. We have email. What do you use? Do you have an email service provider like that sends the newsletters? What do you use to send the emails?

Michelle: That is a question for my husband. I’m sorry (laughing.)

Jesse: Fair enough.

Michelle: I wish I could answer you.

Jesse: Fair enough. Do you craft the emails or does he craft the emails?

Michelle: It’s a combination of both of us. So yeah I would. I got to give him a little more credit for that though because he’s really been doing most of that though.

Jesse: Yeah. And do you incorporate any sales or discounts along with that time?

Michelle: Not all the time. But yeah, we have. We have run a couple of sales and definitely with our AdWords we’ve done you know like the marketing campaigns with no visible tags of 10 per cent here you know.

Jesse: Okay. Yeah. I mean it’s sort of standard you know table stakes that everybody we get the emails they kind of expect a little coupon, but yeah I’m glad you don’t do it every time because you don’t want people to expect that. And that’s…

Michelle: And that was kind of our thing with it. Yeah. We didn’t the price, we’ll just wait for the next email.

Jesse: Yeah yeah. I think also if you’re getting married or having a kid, you can’t really wait forever. You may need to buy it. You need to buy it. Absolutely. So any other questions that you have there you’ve been dying to ask us whether we can answer?

Michelle: Not offhand honestly no. I mean this has been it’s like I guess like no news is good news. I mean this has been the website’s been really great for us. Ecwid it has been very easy for us to use it when we have had questions, it’s an easy call in and gives us a workaround. You know there’s been things that we thought would be really simple to fix and we cannot figure it out, and we call, and they’re like: “Oh this, this and this,” and it’s really fast and easy.

Jesse: Awesome. So I mean I’m glad we can be a part of that journey. You know we want to hear more updates too, like when your husband quits his job because of a guestbook store. We need to know. You know we need to come out and do video.

Richard: Definitely. We need to celebrate!

Michelle: For sure.

Jesse: So I know we talked about a couple things that we might bring online we’ll give gifts and tips for your husband on some add words. So definitely I think the Google Shopping is an easy thing to do, by the time this airs for everybody listening that’ll that will be fully live. Right now it’s a little bit beta, a little bit hidden.

The Amazon, I think would be, boy… It’s going to be challenging, but it potentially could double your business. There are so many people looking for stuff on Amazon. You know there are typing in a guestbook store. I mean it guestbook store maybe table and guestbook, of all the all the names are your products. You know they’re there. So perfect. Michelle for all the people listening, do you have you know something that you like to share with them is there a way that they can get a discount on this?

Michelle: We have we have a coupon code running right now it’s “SUMMER15”, and that will be active through the end of August August 30 first if you type in “SUMMER15” with your order you get 15% off.

Jesse: Awesome. So definitely for listeners, we recommend checking out the Guestbookstore. We’ll be coming back to Michelle when her husband quits his job for the big finale. All right. So Michelle thanks for thanks for being on Ecwid podcast show. This is Rich and Jesse. Thank you, everyone.

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Jesse is the Marketing Manager at Ecwid and has been in e-commerce and internet marketing since 2006. He has experience with PPC, SEO, conversion optimization and loves to work with entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality.

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