One of the most exciting benefits of selling factory direct to wakeboarders in an industry otherwise devoted to the traditional retail supply chain is uncovering the real dirt behind our products directly from wakeboarders. Waiting months or years to capture distilled feedback through a traditional sales channel is a losing strategy for a competitive industry. Don’t get us wrong, we love to support brick and mortar retail shops that care about wakeboarding. However, as we’ve discovered over the years, competing in the hardgoods retail channel is a time consuming and expensive strategy. I’ve written a post of why that’s the case here.

In this post we’ll walk you through, step by step, the software we use to build and publish a super flexible, lead generating website. This will lead you to a winning digital sales strategy based around customer feedback and analytics. By modeling this, you can build a successful company in record time with much less money than what your competitors are spending.

Before we dive in, it’s important to emphasize how we developed our digital strategies. Developing a winning digital strategy means you’ll need to weed out what’s not working quickly. While we’re careful not to embrace failures, it is important to understand mistakes are a part of the process. Learn from them and move forward. That means you’ll need relevant & detailed customer feedback, a flexible [easy to update] website, and an ego that won’t get in the way.

We discovered this process through trial and error developing our own apps, some of which required expensive custom development. We also used dozens of paid apps within our own day to day operations. Finally, we studied how some of the most successful tech companies operate and scale.

The single biggest mistake we made along the way is assuming we knew what our customers wanted. We built our products around failing strategies without any customer feedback. We took ‘industry expert’ feedback instead of our own customers. Not a solid recipe for success when your just starting out. Relying purely on your ego is a very risky strategy and takes decades of experience (which we don’t have).

The speed of info. The importance of quick product reiteration and implementation.

Working initially with retail shops, feedback wasn’t detailed enough for us to utilize and quickly develop into a winning strategy. Feedback is one step removed from the end customer. In early stages of a company’s founding it’s critical to gather feedback from your end customer as soon as possible. By staying close to your customer base, you uncover gems about what they like, new improvements to be made, and instant feedback on the product features or sales strategies that are winning.

Gathering in depth analytics from your website and long response customer feedback from product reviews is crucial. You can then tweak your website based on the feedback and analytics that you deem important to your brand’s strategy.

With the software below, you’ll remain flexible enough to constantly update your website and find a winning strategy with much less time and money invested. You’ll also significantly reduce the amount of communication needed with developers and designers.

A quick example of building a winning strategy with simple A/B testing

Remaining flexible and focused around the key performance indicators that are important to your success is critical in building a winning strategy. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are measurements used to indicate if your strategy is achieving the goals you set. KPIs don’t have to be as complicated as it sounds. Let me give you a real example of this in use.

This past season we released a master graphic option and made the graphic available on our site. The master graphic was a graphic we could duplicate easily and make available across our entire line of wakeboards.

 

IO Master Graphic Humanoid

We were careful not to promote the graphic so we didn’t influence KPIs. We used only 1 simple indicator as our goal, which was total sales. This would inform whether or not we offer the master graphic option again in the future. To our surprise, we found that the master graphic outsold our other graphic options by a significant number. We got our answers in weeks rather than waiting months or an entire year.

Architecting a flexible digital strategy for your business

We know it’s crucial to filter feedback from the end user directly back into your sales strategies as quickly as possible. For this you’ll need a flexible, easy to update website. So a part of our digital strategy is to build web pages [called sales funnels] that give us insight into our website visitors’ behaviors and buyer interests. This shows us how traffic on each web page is performing, how visitors arrived on the page, and ultimately how and what our visitors buy that tells us if a particular strategy is working.

One key mindset to avoid is thinking that once a sale funnel is live, your work is finished. The reality is the real work starts when a sales funnel is live and you’re driving traffic to it through a variety of paid and unpaid channels.

There are dozens of software companies that offer automated, pre-built web pages [sales funnels or landing pages]. I keep using the word flexibility. Why is that? Because flexibility is the differentiating factor between the software products I outline below and some of the more sleek software options currently available. Others offer more advanced features or more detailed analytics, however the difference maker is the speed and cost of building a web page while making it still look pro.

The exact software we use to hack together a pro looking website for $135 a month.

There’s a ton of expensive apps that can shorten the work load for creating websites, sales funnels, and landing pages. Shopify, Squarespace and Leadpages are a couple popular options. They are all great options.

But again, the key to everything is flexibility and remaining nimble throughout the process of filtering data from your customers back into your products, strategies and website. The other options can get expensive and time consuming when updating and work on fixes between designer, developer, and quality control of your website. Everyone has their own needs. We find the pages and templates offered by the others are generic, which in turn makes them harder to customize for our needs. We want to stay fluid and flexible with our approach.

We run our site off of WordPress & add an eCommerce plugin called Woocommerce [both free]. We find it’s the best balance of price, flexibility, and performance. Plus, free is hard to beat.

The key advantage for WordPress & Woocommerce is the quantity of integrations, plugins, and out of the box SEO available. It takes a little work to compress and optimize the site using minify & ShortPixel plugins to help with website speed. However, we find it’s an easy trade for the flexibility and price.

We host our site on WordPress Engine for as low as $35.00 a month. They backup and secure all WordPress platform updates automatically. You can also find all this info about what technology a website deploys with Built With.

We use Visual Composer to design our website and sales pages. Visual Composer is a drag and drop visual editor [no coding necessary] that works with most modern WordPress themes. The Visual Composer helps you import and customize thousands of modern looking, responsive web page layouts from your WordPress Theme. Our modern WordPress theme is called Uncode and comes packaged with 100’s of nicely designed pages we can customize. Visual Composer comes packaged with our Uncode theme for free. Our entire website is built off of Visual Composer with customized Woo & Uncode theme pages.

The Visual Composer is the solution for us to bypass any designers or developers when crafting a sales funnel that would otherwise require 100’s of hours of communication between designers and developers. We find the level of control in our website designs is significantly more advanced versus drag and drop visual editors offered by Shopify, Clickfunnels, Leadpages, and Squarespace.

It takes a few hours of learning Visual Composer initially, but once you understand how rows, columns, and elements work (called a grid), you can build a pro looking website and sales funnel in Visual Composer that rivals some of the most advanced websites out there. This is the most powerful and flexible software we’ve found for designing custom web pages. In fact, this is the exact system most web development agencies use to handle website development.

Watch the short video below for a basic demo of Visual Composer:

After you create your custom web pages you’ll need to integrate secure storage of visitor info, customer sales and feedback. We do this directly within our website using a combination of Google Docs, Mailchimp (+$50), Typeform (+$35) & Zapier (+$20). We use Typeform to build all our ‘mini apps’ listed in the ‘resources’ menu tab. This data then gets pushed to Mailchimp. Finally, Zapier is the tool that helps us communicate data between apps further understanding of how our sales pages and strategies are performing. Sumo is another feature rich CRM software that can replace Mailchimp for about the same price.

We also install free visitor tracking software provided by Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel. This will tell us basic events recorded from our website and social channels. We’ll get instant analytics from organic or paid traffic channels.

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