Have you ever stumbled upon a business tool, app, or service that helped you produce a much greater output with significantly less input that you felt like it was almost cheating?
Maybe cheating is a harsh word, but leveraging the right tools to produce more with less is the basic idea behind the Pareto principle. Simply put, The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule) teaches us that, if you’re smart and leverage the right tools & strategies, you can get 80% of the desired outcome with just 20% of the input.
Leveraging the right tools and strategies is an absolute must in business, especially when you’re building an online business as a solo-entrepreneur. If you really want to scale your business, you need to take advantage of everything you can to get more done, in less time, and with less money.
In this post, I’m going to introduce you to the best tools, apps, services, and strategies that I’ve discovered over the last few years so you can build your business better, faster, cheaper, and more efficiently.
Ready to cheat at ecommerce?
How to Cheat at Finding Products to Sell
If you’re in the beginning stages of finding product ideas to sell online, you know how difficult it can be. Looking through directories of thousands of products and evaluating every product can be daunting. The good news is that things are getting easier, if you know the right tools to use.
Jungle Scout – One of my new favorite apps. Jungle Scout tracks and organizes tens of thousands of product listings on Amazon. By applying a few basic search parameters like ideal price, margin, and levels of competition, you can quickly and easily come up with a great list of products to sell online.
How to Cheat at Business & Product Launching
The launch of your business sets the tone going into your first few months. While the majority of people will just remove the password from their storefront and wonder where their customers are, the smart people will already have a list of potential customers, eagerly lining up (virtually). To do this, you need to build an audience of people interested in your product by collecting emails prior to launch.
The even smarter entrepreneurs still will utilize a strong offer or incentive and the concept of viral loops to build a massive list of excited customers. This tactic is exactly what Harry’s shaving company did to launch their new business to a list of over 100,000 potential customers (Source).
So what is a viral loop you ask? A viral loop is a pretty simple concept and based on one of the most classic (and powerful) marketing strategies, word-of-mouth marketing. The concept is that you have a landing page (a very simple single page website) with some type of hook to get the attention of visitors. This can be your unique value proposition (The highest quality shaving blades for 1/3 the price!) or it can be an offer (Receive $5 credit towards your first purchase!). Along with this hook is a call to action; enter your email.
After the visitor enters their email, they are sent to another page that asks them to share the landing page with their friends for an additional value offer (If 5 of your friends sign up, you get an additional $10 credit towards your first purchase). If your offer is good enough to convince people to share it through their social networks and if on average 2 or more people sign up that they have referred, you have a self-perpetuating viral loop.
Luckily, there are several tools and apps that exist to help you run these types of campaigns.
KickoffLabs – Viral campaigns with pages and forms made easy.
LaunchRock – A site builder dedicated to early customer acquisition.
UpViral – Quickly build viral loop landing pages.
How to Cheat at Contests
Much like the viral loop landing/launch pages, the following two platforms are specifically focused on creating viral loop contests, however, keep in mind that these platforms can be used to launch your business as well using a contest:
Gleam.io – Incentivize people with additional contest entries to share your contest on social media. Check out how Beardbrand used Gleam to acquire 1248 new email subscribers, 1041 new Facebook fans and 562 new Twitter followers.
Kingsumo Giveaways (WordPress Plugin) – Similar to Gleam with slightly fewer options and on the WordPress platform. Check out how one entrepreneur grew his email list with Kingsumo Giveaways by 200k emails in 11 days. Ridiculous.
How to Cheat at Collecting & Automating Emails
Most online business owners will agree, collecting emails from your visitors and customers in extremely important. Why? Because email marketing has the biggest return on investment – by a large margin.
The following tools are my favorite for collecting email addresses, segmenting your list, and automating your email sends.
Klaviyo – Anything that does work for me while I’m sleeping I consider cheating. Earlier this year I got much more serious about automating emails for my businesses. Through automation I was able to send 26,761 email in the second half of the year without lifting a finger. That means 26,761 more touch-points with my readers and customers. Klaviyo is one of the email services I use and integrates with most ecommerce platforms to effortlessly segment your email list and customers while effortlessly automating emails to go out to them.
Picreel – Email popups to collect visitor email addresses work – really well. You can argue all day that you hate them or that your visitors hate them, but the numbers always speak for themselves. On this blog, my email popup accounts for over 90% of the emails I collect. If a popup as soon as a visitor lands on your site is a little too aggressive for you, you can use an exit intent popup. An exit intent popup will ask for an email, just as the person is about to leave your website. Picreel makes this super easy and their popups are super customizable.
JustUno – JustUno is a suite of tools for your online business, but they also offer an exit intent popup, similar to Picreel to help you build a massive email list.
How to Cheat at Social Media Marketing
Five years ago, if you had a Facebook page, a post would reach many of the people that liked your page. Then Facebook put down the hammer and Facebook posts now reach barely 3% of people that like you page. It’s almost not even worth the 30 seconds it takes to post something to your page. Twitter is also starting to filter your stream and this like likely get worse in the coming years. Instagram will eventually follow suit.
So when it comes to social media, playing fair likely wont even get you a seat at the table. You have to cheat… *ahem* leverage.
There’s lot’s of tools that can help you automate your social media and get the most out of every single post. Let’s take a look at the best of the best:
Edgar – Edgar makes sure that your social media updates reach as many of your followers as possible. With Edgar, you save your updates to a library and schedule times throughout the week you want your posts to go out. Edgar will then choose updates from your library and after it’s posted, Edgar will return the content back to the library. Once all the other updates from your library are posted, it will then cycle through all of them again. Now you have an endless supply of content going out forever.
Airtweets – Similar to Edgar, but still in beta. This looks like it may be a much cheaper alternative once it’s fully launched.
Toolset.co – Toolset allows you to copy your competitors followers quickly, easily and for free. It also allows you to follow people by hashtag use and unfollow people that aren’t following you back.
Archie.co – Auto favorite and engage with people on Twitter and Instagram.
Tweetful – Auto favorite and retweets with sentiment scoring and auto-unfavoring (not a real word) after 24 hours.
Latergram – By default, Instagram doesn’t let you schedule posts. That can make you extremely unproductive by having to take time out of your day to post content. Latergram allows you to schedule Instagram posts so you can bulk create and schedule posts for the week and months ahead.
Takeoff – Automatically schedule your Instagram posts for times when they’ll be seen by most of your followers.
Sniply – Every time to Tweet or post a link to your Facebook page you’re driving traffic to other people’s websites. You get nothing from it. When you run the links through Snip.ly before posting them, you add a small banner to the bottom of every page so when people click through and visit that page, they’ll see a small message and CTA from you, driving a percentage of the people back to your site.
IFTTT (If This Then That) – Create limitless recipes to automate your social media marketing. If (Post To Twitter) Than (Also Post To Facebook).
Instagress – Automatically follow and favorite Instagram users and posts based on geography and hashtags. Grow your following effortlessly in the background.
TweetFavy – Auto-favorite tweets based on keywords.
CrowdFire – Find and follow people quickly on Instagram and Twitter. You can also use it to find and unfollow the people that don’t follow you back. Rinse and repeat.
Fiverr – Buy fake followers for cheap to boost your social proof (use wisely and in moderation).
How to Cheat at SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Leveraging the right tools though has helped me tremendously by growing my organic traffic this year by over 500%. I could not have done it without the following three tools.
SEMrush – I would have to call SEMrush my favorite tool of 2015. This tool alone helped me grow my businesses by over 500%. In short, SEMrush is competitor intelligence, showing you what your competition is ranking for in Google. It will not only show you which pages and products your competitors are ranking for, but you can also drill down and see the exact keywords which are ranking and their search volume. This can help you discover products that you should be selling, or you can use these keywords and insights to outrank your competition with content marketing.
SEO Review Tools – SEO Review Tools is a comprehensive suite of tools to researching and monitoring your SEO efforts. While there’s a lot of tools out there that achieve similar, SEO Review Tools is the simplest to use and there are free. Use these tools to understand key information about your competition and your own website/store. For example, before I try and go after keywords that my competition is ranking for (discovered through SEMrush) I check my competitions domain and page authority to make sure we’re on the same playing field.
Colibro.io – Colibro.io is a combination of SEO, keywords monitoring and analytics mixed with a simple to-do list. You simply add a web site and tell them the keywords that you want to track. The tool gives you simple “to do” list, so it’s clear what you should improve at your website (both source code and content).
How to Cheat at PR and Influencer Outreach
Getting your business and products in front of the right influencers can be huge. Finding and connecting with those influencers can be difficult though. These tools can help you uncover the best influencers in your niche and even help you manage your communication with them.
Pitchbox – Pitchbox completely automates the process of finding and reaching out to influencers in your niche.
Ninja Outreach – Ninja Outreach helps you find thousands of influencers instantly, at a fraction of the time and cost it would normally take through standard research methods.
How to Cheat at Finding the Best Content, Ideas, & Topics
Finding the best content ideas and topics can be exhausting. How many times have you just sat there with absolutely no ideas of what to write about? These tools will show you exactly what’s working so you can focus on writing content with a greater chance of success in search and social.
SEMrush – I mentioned SEMrush already in the SEO section, but they are worth mentioning again. SEMrush shows you exactly what your competitors are ranking for in Google and how much traffic it’s bringing them, so you know the best content and keywords to target. This can also be used to uncover possible top selling products in your competitors store.
BuzzSumo – BuzzSumo helps you find the most viral and shared content on social media. By typing in your target keywords, you can find the best content that currently exists, then, all you have to do is figure out how to make it better. This increases your chances of getting more shares and views as the topics and content has already been proven to do well on social media.
Topsy – This is the search engine for social media activity, with a focus on Twitter. You can “Topsy” any term that you’d like, and then you’ll get search results, as you would in Google, which you can then filter based on a variety of different options: when the term was mentioned, the type of media, and the language.
How to Cheat at Product Photos
Using great product photos is essential for store owners, but editing images for the average person is uncharted territory and can be extremely difficult.
Pixc – Pixc make product image editing simple. Just upload your images and Pixc will edit the photo, leaving you with a much cleaner image of your product, isolated on a pure white background. Pixc also has a Shopify app and a Bigcommerce app to streamline your product photo editing.
How to Cheat at Writing Product Descriptions
Automated Insights – Writing product descriptions is… not fun. This gets multiplied by 1,000 when you have 1,000 products – brutal. Automated Insights uses AI and machine learning to take data (from a spreadsheet for example) and write product descriptions in plain English.
How to Cheat at Logo Creation
A logo is generally considered the centerpiece of your brand and gets seen by most people that interact with your company. Having a visually appealing logo that matches your overall brand can help set the tone for visitors and customer. However, for most people, paying a professional designer several thousand dollars when your first starting out doesn’t make sense. However, there are tools that can help you achieve 80% of the results you would get with a professional designer for 20% of the cost.
Tailor Brands – Tailor Brands asks you a few simple questions about your business and brand. From there it uses machine learning to produce a bunch of logos on the fly. If you like what you see, you can purchase them for a fraction of the cost of what a designer would cost you.
Kit Shopify App – Imagine if you employed a robot with artificial intelligence. Well now you can. Kit is an app that helps you automate your online store and your marketing, all from the convenience of your smartphone.
What tools, apps, or services do you use to automate your business or get more results with less input? Let me know in the comments below.