eCommerce + Paid Traffic: How Ezra Firestone Turned $434,256.72 into $1,422,500.15 in 30 Days Using Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google and Shopify

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September 14,2016 by
Ezra Firestone

Okay, let’s get down to it.

Take a look at this…

Between January 1, 2016 and January 31, 2016 one of my Shopify stores generated $1,422,500.15 in revenue. (If you haven’t checked out my DigitalMarketer Lab ‘Set Up Your Shopify Store in a Weekend‘ Execution Plan — do it now!)

On Facebook & Instagram I spent $429,014.02.

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Of that $429,000 only $22,000 of it was spent on Instagram.

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We had to slow down our growth rate a bit in order keep our supply chain functioning, so we cut Pinterest Ads off in mid November. As you can see here we $0 in spend for January.

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We spent $5,242.70 on Google. We also had to cut Google in mid November to slow things down a bit, but left a few campaigns running so we did get in some ad spend with Google in January.

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And here’s how the numbers actually breakdown of the numbers for my store from January:

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  • Total ad spend: $434,256.72
  • Total revenue generated: $1,422,500.15
  • Total initial profit before ad spend: $810,825.08
  • Total initial profit after ad spend: $376,568.36

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Shopify actually shows $1,430,007.92 in revenue which is $8k higher than Google Analytics.

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I have a few companies that do multiple 7 figures a year, but this one is the biggest. Let me tell you a bit about it.

BOOM! is the first pro-age cosmetic line for women of every generation. It’s a pared-down skin care and cosmetics company that I created with my business partner, Cindy Joseph.

We created BoomByCindyJoseph.com to sell our products and increase awareness of the Pro-Age Revolution, a movement focused on shifting the anti-age perspective of our society to a pro-age perspective. We have gotten an incredible response from the pro-age community and women of all ages, especially those who identify as “Baby Boomers”.

I’ve been focusing my attention on eCommerce for the last decade, and as a result I’ve gotten very good at it. There are three areas that I’ve especially mastered and are the focus of today’s post:

  • Generating visibility
  • Creating conversions
  • Engaging customers in a conversation that turns them into repeat customers

That’s the secret sauce, by the way: traffic and conversion are great, but what really kicks a business into high gear is repeat business.

In this article I’m going to show you my exact ad campaigns, sales funnels and engagement sequences that are making me over $1 million dollars a month. I hope you will then copy them and use them in your businesses. (Seriously, that’s what you should do.)

Let’s get started.

The Big Four

First we have to fix your traffic problem. Don’t be embarrassed—most people have an offer and traffic problem.

The main problem I see—time and time again—is most people don’t have a consistent and scalable visibility source in place for their business.

There are 3 main problems people have when they attempt to generate visibility for their businesses (i.e. when they buy traffic), and I’m going to share them with you in a minute. But first let’s take a look at the traffic landscape.

The first thing you’ll spot on the traffic horizon is what I call traditional, “query based” traffic sources. This is the traffic that I grew up on. Check out this video:

“Query based” means people type in a search term (a query) and are then shown an ad relevant to their search, like on Google. And there are other query based traffic sources out there, too.

As an advertiser, you get to choose which search queries you bid on and show your ads for. It’s a fantastic form of advertising because, since you know what the person is looking for, you can show them a relevant offer.

They have already decided they want that kitchen organizer thing that organizes other kitchen organizer things, and they’ve gone looking for it (searched on Google), so all you have to do now is show them some pictures of your product and a describe it to them and give them a way to buy it.

And it’s fantastic traffic when you can get it.

Here’s the problem: it’s generally pretty expensive, and it’s limited. There are only so many folks out there searching for kitchen organizers…

Next you have contextual advertising.

Contextual advertising where you choose whom you want to target with your ads based on context.

When I got started, contextual advertising wasn’t so great because you really only had one data point on each person, which was whatever web page they were visiting at the time. For example, if they were visiting a page about cats, you could show them an ad related to cats. That’s as advanced as it got in those days.

In the last 10 years, multi-data point contextual targeting has caused a seismic shift in online advertising, making it so much easier for business owners to reach highly targeted groups of customers. We now have access to thousands of data points on any one person, and we can combine these together to create audiences of people that we think will be receptive to certain content and offers.

We have demographic data points available to us…

  • age range
  • gender
  • ethnicity
  • relationship status
  • housing status

…along with behavioral & interest data points like past purchase history and what movies they like.

There are only 4 significant places to buy this information and put messages in front of users. I call them The Big Four:

  1. 30-days-platforms-img9Google (Google Search, Google Shopping, YouTube, Google Display Network and more), which offers both query-based and contextual targeting.
  2. Facebook, which offers contextual targeting.
  1. Instagram (owned by Facebook), which offers contextual targeting
  1. Pinterest, which offers a combination of query-based and contextual targeting.

Outside of The Big Four, there are other channels to purchase visibility like Amazon. Other comparison shopping engines, other social networks like Twitter & LinkedIn. Content networks like Outbrain and Taboola, and more.

All of my businesses focus almost exclusively on The Big Four, and I can’t think of a single business model where one of the 4 wouldn’t have the potential to be your main traffic source.

A quick aside: you should always hold the goal of having more than one working source of visibility.

If you are 100% dependent on a single source of visibility, you put yourself at serious risk. When I got started in eCommerce, drop-shipping was the name of the game, and organic traffic (via Google SEO) reigned supreme.

Eventually, Google grew tired of people manipulating their algorithm, so they released a series of updates making it harder to “game” their system and manipulate the organic search rankings of web pages.

It struck a devastating blow to drop-ship eCommerce. Half the business owners I knew (I’m talking six- and seven-figure operations) were out of business overnight because their one source of visibility had dried up.

These days, private labeling is all the rage, and Amazon has been crowned king of the traffic jungle. But business owners who depend solely on Amazon put themselves in the same vulnerable position as the drop-shippers who relied only on SEO.

That may sound like a real downer to you, so let me balance it out with some good news: once you get one source of visibility working, it’s easier to get more working.

But I digress. Let’s get back to the story at hand. Now that you know the landscape of the traffic world, let’s talk about the main problems keeping traffic-buyers from being profitable.

Big Four Traffic Problem #1: Targeting Too Broadly

If you put your message in front a group of people who are not interested in your offer, you shoot yourself in the foot at the very start.

The success of your advertising hinges on your targeting. There are now so many options and data points, and the potential pool of people is so big, that it’s very common for people to create target audiences that are much too general.

The key with targeting is specificity.

You’re like an archer honing in on the bullseye: you don’t care about all the stuff outside your very tight focus, you’re aiming for a very specific and highly-leveraged goal (the one that scores you the most points). In this analogy, your target audience is your bullseye — it’s where you can direct your message to get the most highly-leveraged results, and the most profit!

Unlike an archer’s target, however, your bullseye is not going to be outlined for you in red paint. So the next thing you have to do is test A LOT of interests, groups and behaviors. From there, you “follow the scent,” meaning you see what works and then do more of that.

You have to be willing to test. I’ll tell you more about the exact types of targeting we use later in this case study.

Big Four Traffic Problem #2: Selling The Click

It’s not enough to target the right people — you also have to capture and hold their attention long enough for them to consume the content of your ad and decide they want to click on it.

One cool trick we use for this is The Rule of Upper and Lower Thirds. These are lines of text that we lay over our images to create an additional headline in our ad. (Note: on some networks, like Facebook and Instagram, the text cannot take up more than 20% of the image.)

We also use faces in our ads. In our market, we have found that advertisements containing a person’s face tend to perform better than advertisements without one.

Yet another tactic we use is to “cartoon-ize” our ads. And most of our ads stack these elements. For example, we’ll have a person’s face, drawn as a cartoon, along with a lower third of text.

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You want your ad to catch people’s attention, but not to the extant that the ad is no longer relevant to your offer page. If you use a picture of lips (because people really like to click on ads with lips on them for some reason), but you send folks to a page about cats, it’s just not going to work.

You must ensure that your ad text and imagery is congruent with the landing page it sends people to. This is known as Ad Scent, and you can learn more about it from this post.

(RELATED: Perpetual Traffic — Episode 12: The Perfect Cold Traffic Ad: “Ad Scent”, the One-Two Punch, and the Guard Down Trick)

Big Four Traffic Problem #3: Post Click Engagement

30-days-platforms-img12 Okay, so you targeted someone with an ad — you piqued their curiosity — and they clicked on it…

Now you have to actually engage that person in a conversation they are interested in, and convince them to do business with you. This is the meaty part of driving traffic (even if you’re selling spirulina powder).

Now you must elicit a “yes” to consuming your sales message and a “yes” to purchasing your product.

eCommerce is about flow, and you need a “yes” at every step to make it work: “Yes, I will view your product and read the description; yes I will add it to my cart; yes I will continue to billing,” and so on until you’ve made the sale.

This is where the sales funnel comes in.

A “sales funnel” is an eComm lingo term for a series of web pages that you send people through in a specific order to elicit a specific response. In other words, it’s a deliberate sequence of engagements designed to get people to say yes to your offer.

(RELATED: How To Architect The Perfect Conversion Funnel For Your Business)

There are a number of effective sales funnels, and most businesses use more than one at a time. When it comes to buying visibility for a business, you need to get at least one to work.

The purpose of that essential first sales funnel is for front-end customer acquisition. That means your funnel takes prospects from a traffic source, engages them in a relevant conversation, and holds their attention long enough for them to become a customer.

Once you have that one sales funnel working and a steady flow of customers coming in, you can add more.

I have tried dozens upon dozens of sales funnels over the years, and I keep coming back to one specific model that works for every business and every market I’ve ever tried.

It is the core acquisition model for all of my current businesses.

It just so happens that my million-dollar-per-month Shopify store also uses this funnel.

95% of our paid visibility (traffic we buy) goes directly through this specific funnel…

(NOTE: Want a step-by-step process and all the tools you’ll need to make more sales and profit from your ecommerce store? Become a Certified Ecommerce Marketing Specialist and build out your ecommerce ecosystem today. Learn more now.)

The Dipsy Doodle and The Don Daliber

This is the process and art of amplifying content as a means for generating interest in a product or a service.

Here’s what it looks like:

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The main way this differs from traditional query-based advertising is that we are not sending people directly to an offer page or product page. Remember, with query-based advertising it is quite easy to send people directly to an offer page. Since you know precisely what they are looking for, you can show them an offer for exactly that thing. Now, if you intend to get contextual and social advertising to work for your business, you need to add a step before you get to your offer.

We call this step a DIPSY DOODLE page. Essentially, it is a piece of content (generally a written article or video) that engages the prospect in a conversation about a topic relevant to them or a problem they have. At the end of the article, you allude to a suggestion or solution… which is your product.

To put it in NLP lingo, you’re “reversing the frame.” Instead of chasing people with an offer saying, “hey, buy my stuff,” you engage them with a piece of content saying, “hey, look at this cool article.” That piece of content then mentions a relevant product, and provides a link to check it out. So the customer ends up chasing the offer, instead of the offer chasing the customer. They are interested in the article; they consume the content; the content suggests your product; they click on the link and end up on your sales page.

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Here’s how we do it for BOOM!…

We target audiences of women (generally 45+ and in America) with this article on Facebook, Google, Pinterest, etc

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Here’s an example of the some of ad creative we use:

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When a prospect clicks on our ad, they land on an article page on our website titled, “5 Makeup Tips For Older Women By Makeup Artist Turned Super Model Cindy Joseph.”

This is our Dipsy Doodle pre-sell page.

We are engaging prospects in a conversation about a topic they find interesting, and within the article we are alluding to a solution (our products).

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We have a few interesting things happening on this page to supercharge its efficacy. First, we are using exit intent software (also known as on site retargeting) called Opti-Monk to make an offer to the people who land on the page and attempt to leave without looking at our offer.

If someone lands on the page and attempts to scroll out of the window, we pop up a Lead Magnet. Our goal is to collect email addresses of potentially interested parties so that we can follow up and make an offer at a later date. Notice that the Lead Magnet we use is another piece of content.

Here’s what that looks like, when it pops up:

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And here it is after you’ve submitted your email:

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In this 30-day period we generated 6,553 new email leads from this one exit-intent offer. These leads are added to a pre-purchase email automation sequence. We follow up with them with additional content and offers with the intention of turning them into customers.

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This pre-purchase email automation sequence was responsible for $44,817.99 of our total revenue in January.

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It’s important to note that this is not an exit-pop up; it’s an exit intent offer. It opens in the same browser window that they are already in; it does not pop up a new browser window.

Exit pop-ups are not allowed by most advertising networks, but exit intent offers are. You must make sure you are using exit intent rather than an exit pop-up if you’re going to be purchasing traffic as your front-end acquisition strategy.

Here are some of the types of messages we send people whose emails we’ve captured via an exit intent offer:

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Retargeting is another important element of this page. Inside of Facebook (and Google, etc.), we have a retargeting audience of all the people who visited this page and didn’t buy. We follow up with these people using ads and Dipsy Doodle pre-sell content — generally another article or video.

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Here is some of the ad creative we are using:

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Just the top part of the funnel, the followup that’s included between exit intent opt ins, and our retargeting produces about 20% of our revenue.

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When someone sees our ad, clicks on it, consumes the content on the pre-sell page, and clicks through to our offer, they land on our eCommerce store.

But that’s not the only viable place for them to land. In your case, you might send them to a long form sales page, a webinar opt in page, a product detail page… You get the picture.

The offer can be anything.

In my information marketing business, my main sales funnel uses Dipsy Doodle articles to lead people to webinar opt in pages. In my SaaS business, I use Dipsy Doodle pre-sell articles (in the form of case studies about the software itself) to lead to long form sales letters about the software. Again, this is not just eComm specific; the offer can be anything.

Since BOOM! is an eCommerce store, we send people to the main category page on our store. From there they can consume information about our products and click through to an offer page (product detail page). From a product detail page, they can add the product to their cart.

Store Page:

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Product Detail Page:

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Shopping Cart Page:

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We have the prospect on our cart page, and the next page they encounter in the sequence is our checkout page. This page is the final “yes” we need from them. Once they’ve said “yes” to this page and filled in their billing and shipping information… They are officially a customer!

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There are a couple of things about this page worth noting, and they’ll help your conversion rate on checkout pages:

This means that when someone gets to the checkout page and enters their email, even if they don’t finish any more of the page, we store that information and add them to an email sequence that attempts to get them to come back and purchase. Not only do we store their email address but we also take note of the items that were in their cart so we can communicate with them specifically about the items they were interested in.

(RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to eCommerce Email Marketing)

Heres what that email sequence looks like:

The first email goes out 4 hours after they abandon.

In it, we ask them to return to their shopping cart, and we introduce some scarcity. We move a very high volume of product, and as a result we sometimes run out of stock, or have stock running a few weeks late (getting our supply chain in better condition is one of our top goals for 2016, but that’s another story).

We use that fact as an opportunity to introduce some scarcity into our cart abandonment email sequence, and ask people to finish their order before we run out.

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The next email happens 24 hours after they abandon, and is just another reminder to place their order.

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After 2 days, we send a social proof email designed to engage them with a piece of content and get them back to our website.

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On day 4 we begin a discount ladder. We found that people who were on the cart abandonment list who hadn’t purchased after 3 days were pretty much gone for good, so we introduced a discount offer at the 4 day mark. This has significantly increased the number of sales we get from our abandon cart email sequences.

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On day 5 we send another social proof message, and on day 6 we send a time constraint email letting people know that the discount opportunity will expire in 24 hours. This time constraint reminder email works very well.

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After that we send a mix of content offers and promotions, but 90% of the revenue generated from the abandon cart email sequence cycle happens within the first week.

Okay, just as a reminder. Here’s where we are so far in our funnel:

  • We’re running an ad online and someone clicks on it
  • They land on a content engagement page
  • From there they click through to an offer page
  • On the offer page they add a product to their cart
  • They go through to the checkout page
  • Finally they complete their order

Normally you’d send them to a post-purchase thank you page, but in our funnel we do something a little bit different.

We add an additional set of offers as one click upsells. These are offers that can be added to a person’s order with a single click of a button. They land on a page that makes an additional offer and they can either accept or decline that offer.

(RELATED: Customer Value Optimization: How to Build an Unstoppable Business)

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Our goal with this page is to increase our initial average order value (AOV). The higher the AOV for our store, the more we can afford to spend to acquire customers. You can have one or more upsells in your funnel and even some downsells. There’s no right or wrong way to do post-purchase one click upsells. Different things will work in different markets. In general, you can expect to increase additional front-end revenue by 15-30% by adding one click upsells to your funnel.

After they see our upsell sequence, only then do we take them to our post-purchase thank you page. I want you to notice a couple things about our post-purchase thank you page:

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  • We have a video where we thank the customer for their order, tell them what to expect, and ask them to like our Facebook page.
  • We have an incentivized social sharing widget where we ask all people to share their purchase on social media or through email. We use a tool called FriendBuy for this.

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At this point in the funnel, we’ve now driven traffic and converted a sale. The next steps are to…

  • Deliver on what was promised
  • Engage your customer with relevant content
  • Make additional offers

This will create repeat customers and increase your overall lifetime customer value. A great step in this direction is to have a dynamic and engaging post-purchase automation sequence.

Here’s an example of some of the emails we send to customers after they buy from us:

Immediately after their purchase, we send a thank you/welcome email.

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Days 1-5 we send a few pre-arrival emails. These are designed to build excitement before the product arrives. We’ve noticed that they increase reviews and reduce buyers remorse and refunds.

Days 6-11 we do a cross-sell sequence. We make offers for complementary products. In this case, we use a long form video sequence (webinar) to make an offer for a complementary product. These emails only go to people who have not yet purchased that particular product.

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On day 12 we introduce a social promotion in the form of a selfie request. We give them a chance to win $100 by sending us a selfie of themselves using our product. These are images we can use on our offer pages to increase our conversion rate.

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On day 14 we send a survey request. This is a chance to get some written feedback from our customers, and take note of any suggestions they might have for us. We make sure each question has a comment box as the answer field.

We get SO much gold from this survey. We get insight into ideas for new products, ways we can improve, etc. It’s the best source of information we have for ways we can serve our customers better.

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On day 16 we send the incentivized video review email.

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We also have what are known as “win back campaigns” in place. We’ve done cohort analysis on our store and figured out when people are most likely to purchase again and what they are most likely to purchase based on what they purchased in their initial order.

So for example, if someone orders a BOOMSTICK Color from us, they are most likely to order another BOOMSTICK color within 30 days. So, if someone orders BOOMSTICK color and does not place another order within, say, 40 days, we have automation set in place that triggers an email sequence to begin making offers for BOOMSTICK Color.

We also noticed that if someone orders any item, they are most likely to place another order within 60 days. So if the 60 days go by and they have not purchased again, we automatically put them on a discount ladder and begin making them offers to come back and buy.

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Funnel Page Features

Now I want to show you a few instances on our Store Page, Product Page, Shopping Cart pages that — again — you should really be copying.

First, we have another exit intent offer. In this case the exit intent offer is specifically about the products. It’s an incentivized opt in.

We’re saying, “Hey, give us your email address and we’ll give you 10% off your order right now.” So, if someone is abandoning any of those pages we try to save the sale by offering them a discount.

Because they have already shown interest in the products, we move on to making a more aggressive offer rather than just asking if they want more content.

When they are only on the Dipsy Doodle pre-sell, they haven’t shown interest in the products yet, which is why we only make a content opt in offer there.

Pop Up:

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Pop Up Thank You:

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We had $249,000 in orders (about ⅙ of total orders) in January from this coupon.

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Second, we use ads to retarget people who visited these pages. You could retarget them with product-specific ads, but we find it to be more effective to retarget them with content. So if someone leaves one of these pages without opting-in, we also retarget them with more Dipsy Doodle pre-sell content.

Now I want to point out a few conversion notes related to your offer page. The offer page is the most important page in your funnel, because it’s where people make the decision whether or not they are actually going to buy from you. It’s where prospects start to turn into customers!

We drive a lot of traffic and are constantly running split tests on our offer page, so I want to show you a few conversion features we’ve discovered the secret sauce on:

  • We have a hero shot of the product, a product description, and a product sales video—all above the fold. People prefer to consume content in different formats: some like to look, some prefer to watch, and others to want to read, so we cater to all media formats.

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  • Under our main product video we have what we call “third party pitch videos.” These are essentially PR pieces that were done about our product/brand. It always helps to have more than just us saying our product is great. Arbitrary 3rd party pitches of our our product have proven to be an excellent form of social proof.30-days-platforms-img34
  • We have long form left-right content. You can scroll down the page and consume content and images as you go. There’s also a call-to-action at the bottom of the description so they don’t have to scroll up to click add to cart.

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  • We have a very strong social proof section of the page that includes traditional reviews as well as customer testimonial videos. These videos are acquired by sending past customers to an incentivized video review page. We email people after they buy and offer to give them a gift certificate to our website in exchange for a video review of the product they just bought.

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  • We have a cross-sell section where we offer them additional products.

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So there you have it! That is a deep dive into some of the things we are doing to generate over $1M per month on our Shopify store. I’ve showed you everything from our advertising campaigns and sales funnels to our conversion strategies and email sequences. Thanks for reading, and I really hope you enjoyed it. Take what you like and use it in your business, then let me know how it goes!

(NOTE: Want a step-by-step process—and all the tools you’ll need—to make more sales and profit from your ecommerce store? Become a Certified Ecommerce Marketing Specialist and build out your ecommerce ecosystem today. Learn more now.)

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Ezra Firestone

About Ezra Firestone

Ezra is the founder & CEO of SmartMarketer.com. He is also a partner in BOOM! by Cindy Joseph and the company’’s head of digital marketing. He owns a private network of eCommerce brands and regularly consults for companies across the U.S and Canada. Ezra is also the founder of Zipify, a Shopify app-creation company. Through Zipify, Ezra uses his expertise in marketing, eCommerce and the Shopify platform to create practical applications that help Shopify store owners grow their businesses. Ezra held the rank of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu white belt for 18 years. We're pretty sure that's a world record. He was recently promoted, and is waiting patiently for a successor.

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