I had a recent conversation with someone about Ellie & June, and they reminded me of how different things were just one year ago today (read the first 10 things I did when I started my business here). She asked me what lessons I’ve learned so far, and what surprised me the most since the shop launched last July. I thought I’d take our conversation a step further and write a blog post about it!
I started this blog to document and share my experience in entrepreneurship and motherhood (among other things); so today, I’m speaking to three surprising things I’ve learned since starting Ellie & June. I’ve only listed three since I didn’t want to write a novel (although that’s already questionable), but it’s my hope that if nothing else, you’ll gain something for your business, or even yourself. Enjoy!
Lesson 1: Women vs Girls Audience
I come from an analytical background and I love to immerse myself in analytics. One of the most surprising things I learned when I started to get enough data to track it (although not really surprising to me now in hindsight) was the difference in audience demographics between the people that browsed my site for women’s clothes, and those that perused my girls clothes. I won’t dive into huge detail here (that’s my secret sauce, right?!), but if you own a business and offer different segments of products, I’d highly encourage you to review the demographics (gender, age, location, etc.) of each segment to test for variability. Of course going into the business my number one goal here was to “know my audience”… duh, right? Well it turns out I didn’t know what I thought I did and it actually gets far more granular than I thought.
Now, there is any overlap in these audiences; for Ellie & June, it’s small (it hovers around 20%). When I first started marketing, I targeted the same audience for both segments. Do you see the reason this is problematic?! This means upfront, 80% of the lovely folks I was showing products to didn’t fit the normal description of who was organically interested in those products. If you make this mistake, your conversion funnel starts about the size of The Great Blue Hole and effectively shrinks to the size of spaghetti. That’s financially awesome (said no one, ever).
Lesson 2: Facebook vs Instagram
Okay, this one is changing right before my eyes as I’m starting to see more advertisements on Instagram, but generally speaking, Facebook is better at generating conversions (sales) and Instagram is better at engagement; and I’ll throw you another lesson: these are not the same audiences (revert to lesson 1). I won’t bore you with the details of the back-end advertising platform of Facebook, but I can assure you that depending on the “objective” of the advertising campaign you’re running (objectives being engagement, sending folks to your website, or generating sales), all other things equal, Facebook pushes your “engagement” campaigns to Instagram, and your “Traffic and Sales” campaigns to Facebook. Facebook also has an older demographic relative to Instagram, so if you learned anything from my first lesson and you match it with this lesson, you can start to see how one may home in on where to market to which different people 🙂
Facebook has a very robust advertising framework (at least in my opinion). Instagram, although owned by Facebook, has room to improve. Where and how they’ll do it is a little trickier because of the layout and general infrastructure (purely mobile, no links, etc.), but my bet is on feeds and stories. Already they’re letting all the cool kids (verified accounts) put links in their stories while the rest of us commoners are left with the basics… jerks! (kidding). Also remember that Facebook is a data and advertising company, not a “social media” company (whatever that is I guess, haha). Facebook has an entire audience network running ads outside of Facebook (for example, the Huffington Post). My advice here? 1) Don’t make the mistake of thinking Facebook is this dying business in lieu of Instagram. 2) Don’t spend all of your advertising dollars on social media engagements if you’re trying to generate sales. They really are two different audiences and Facebook knows which audience is which 😉
Lesson 3: The “Trial & Error” Period
I’m hoping this learning curve is logarithmic (high in the early years and tapers off in the later years), but I can tell you that I’ve been in a trial & error phase for the last year, and I suspect it will keep going at this intensity for at least another year. It’s not that this surprised me, I just didn’t think it would take so long. If you’ve recently started a business or plan to, expect to go through some trial and error in the beginning year(s). I’ve made mistakes in inventory, advertising campaigns, photography, promotions, logistic decisions, and plenty more. It’s all been a part of the journey and each lesson is an important milestone in the final destination. My biggest lesson here is to go for it, learn quickly, and keep learning 🙂
All my best to you!