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Product Stack Meets Sales Engine

In brief: In brief: ecommerce without products is typically not very profitable. In this Quickstart guide, we'll discuss building your product stack, dividing it into groups and feeding the groups out as funnel sequences to your segmented visitors. This is the final article in the series 'eBiz QuickStart' for visitors of

The Three Pillars of Ecommerce Success

The three core aspects of ecommerce are site visitors, list-building and a product stack. Most ecommerce failures are the result of not understanding one of these three pillars -- so I'm going to repeat and explain this list often:

Pillar 1) Website Traffic Strategy : a steady volume of new visitors interested in your website and products

Pillar 2) List Building Strategy : a steady stream of new people joining your "interest group" receiving newsletters and autoresponders

Pillar 3) Products and Services Stack: a growing set of related services and products that you offer to your "interest group" lists

I hope you are seeing by now that the most effective ecommerce model is based on an ever-expanding opt-in mailing list. Thinking of ecommerce in this way dramatically simplifies the model. The final piece of our ecommerce puzzle is the interface between list-growth and your products. As we will see, the two will come intersect at the segmented autoresponder sequence.

Pillar #3 - Size Matters - Growing your Product Stack

One of the biggest mistakes small ecommerce companies make is to try to survive with just one product. I don't care what your excuse is, it is always possible to expand your product stack. If nothing else, you can create intellectual products such as training courses and white papers. Give some away free and upsell the others to your existing customers.

Otherwise, the cost of customer acquisition must always be covered by the revenue from your very first sale to each customer. Chances are, this will make you highly uncompetitive and unprofitable.

Product Groups - Segment your Products into Related Groups

Before you can benefit from visitors segmentation, you must first segment your products. This is usually pretty easy. Just divide your products into groups based on anticipated types of customers or on types of problems that your products solve (which is mostly the same thing).

For each product group, you will need to come up with a freebie, a "taster" or a "sample". It has to be something of perceived value which you can use to bribe your visitors. It also has to be something highly related to the product category. Someone who wants the freebie should the the type of person who wants the products in the group.

Each Product Group has a Sequence

In general, the sales process is the process of building ever-increasing trust. This is why it is so effective to create a "funnel" buying path in which you start with a freebie and then move on to a special offer on a moderately priced offer. If they don't buy, sweeten the offer with a discount. If they do buy, move on to a more expensive product -- or better yet, to a subscription relationship.

The ideal product sequence will look something like this:

  1. free offer in exchange for name and email address - often called the "name capture"
  2. special offer on a product closely related to the freebie
  3. subscription for consumable or service related to products

Each Product Group is "delivered" through Autoresponder Sequence

Are you starting to see the picture of your sales engine take place? Although you will get some sales directly from your website, the real control is in your autoresponder sequences. This is the sales "delivery" engine. In fact, you can say that the primary purpose of your website is to drive traffic to your segmented autoresponder sequences.

Autoresponder Sequences are Initiated by a Product-Group "freebie"

Traffic is segmented into powerful autoresponder sales channels through the previously mentioned and carefully chosen "freebie". You often hear out there that the purpose of freebies is to drive traffic. Forget that. The purpose of freebies is twofold: to "bribe" the visitor into joining an autoresponder sales sequence and to "segment" the visitor into exactly the right autoresponder sequence.

Now you can understand the importance of grouping your products well and choosing your freebies carefully. The efficiency of your ecommerce machine depends on these choices.

Bingo - Your Entire Marketing Model just got Simplified

Stop for a moment and consider how much we have just simplified the marketing process. Trying to buy advertising for a product pitch is expensive and ineffective. With web visitors you get just one quick shot -- and you start with Zero trust factor every time.

With an autoresponder sequence, on the other hand, you have already established a relationship (make sure the freebie is something they'll like), segmented the customer effectively -- and you now have multiple opportunities to make a sale. All you have to do now is make an irresistible, time-bound special offer. And if that doesn't work, make a better one! You already know they want your product.

Starting to see how this comes together? Now, instead of wasting money marketing a commercial product -- you only need only market a freebie. MUCH EASIER! And much more effective as well. Once the visitor has chosen to download a freebie (in exchange for her name and email) you have multiple opportunities to make highly specific follow-up sales.

But Where does the Good Ol' Newsletter fit in?

This is your real Cash Cow because it keeps providing you will ongoing sales over time. However, it's a generalized periodic offer to your "warm market". It's great because it provides steady income over time -- but it's not nearly as effective as highly-segmented autoresponder product sequences.

Therefore, you should build chains of autoresponders and only feed list members into the general "newsletter" pool after they complete the autoresponder sequence. Good autoresponder tools like will provide a simple mechanism to chain autoresponder sequences together with the last sequence adding the email to your newsletter group.

About the Author:

Chad is a seasoned consultant with a decade of ecommerce SEO experience . If your business is being dragged down by the ever-increasing cost of online advertising, consider asking Chad to take look at your site. Chad can help you find creative ways to integrate a link-building strategy into your business process -- resulting in a permanent growth trajectory.

Boost your ecommerce mojo, contact:
chad @
SEO Consultation

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