As a small business owner you dream about the day when you get great publicity that will take your brand to the next level. Maybe it’s a tweet from a famous celebrity, maybe it’s going on Shark Tank, maybe it’s running around in a giant mascot suit. Sometimes you know about these moments beforehand and can prepare for them, but sometimes they just come out of the blue, like what happened to us recently.
The background: Two weeks ago, Tim Ferriss, author of NYT Bestseller The 4 Hour Workweek mentioned The Square by Clean Bottle in his “5 Bullet Friday” email which he sends weekly to his 2 million newsletter subscribers. When we found out, here’s what our office looked like:
That’s us watching our website visitor list hit 20K visitors in just 2 hours! By 4pm, we had more than doubled that and over the course of that day and the following week we would go on to get hundreds of orders and nearly 100K viewers to our website!
We’ve been asked how we landed that kind of press, and the truth is it just fell in our lap, sort of... We’ve been long time followers of Tim Ferriss, so 3 years ago when we launched our Stainless Steel Square we decided to send him one. We blindly sent a sample to his office with a quick note just telling him we were fans and the quick story of Clean Bottle. We never heard back from him, no surprise there, he’s a busy guy, but we did notice a photo of him about 6 months later carrying our bottle, apparently he liked it. And given his shout-out in this email, apparently he’s still a fan! Lesson learned: never shy away from sending out a free sample to an influencer, you never know who might turn into a big fan.
Here are the top 5 things we learned from this surprise press hit:
Sure, we all had a busy day of work planned out for ourselves. In a small start-up like ours, time is your most valuable asset. But when we started noticing something special was happening, we realized our previously set plans were going out the window. We called a quick 5minute all-hands meeting and divvied up tasks. Our marketing guy was in charge of manning the website, our head of operations was fielding the incoming emails, our sales guy was handling our customer service phone, and we were all covering each other’s backs. When you get a big press hit, it’s important to prioritize. You may have a full inbox, but that can wait. The buzz you’re getting from the exposure won’t last forever, so seize the moment.
2) Make sure you have tracking pixels in place on your website.
What is a “tracking pixel”? A tracking pixel is a small snippet of code that you add to your website so that you can keep track of who has visited your website. You won’t know their name or any specifics, but it’s enough to be able to target them later with ads or posts on Facebook.
If you’ve been thinking about installing a tracking pixel, either for Facebook, Web Retargeting (we use Adroll), or Google Analytics, but haven’t done it yet. DO IT NOW! You definitely don’t want to get caught unaware and not be able to capitalize on the unexpected web traffic.
Having tracking pixels in place will let you re-market back to all those visitors who came to your site but didn’t order. Maybe their boss walked in while they were browsing the web, maybe they forgot their wallet at home, or maybe they got distracted by a cat video (high possibility here). There will be lots of people looking at your website with every intention of ordering but don’t, and you don’t want to lose them. Tacking Pixels give you a way of putting your goods or services back in front of them so you can catch them at a better time for purchasing. If we hadn’t had our pixels in place ahead of time we would have missed out on a TON of sales that we were able to make in the following days.
3) Make sure you are capturing emails!
Similar to #2, you’re going to get tons of traffic to your site of potential customers, but they won’t all buy at the exact moment. That means you need a way to get them to give you their email so that you can reach back out to them via email later. A pop-up window is the most common way to do this. We use a $3 OFF coupon for signing up to our newsletter. That may not sound like a lot but it equates to about a 25% discount when you purchase a bottle. Countless people will sign up to get this coupon but end up not ordering. That means you can now reach out to them at a later date when they really are ready to order. When you’re generating a buzz, make sure you can email people again afterwards.
4) Monitor your site.
About an hour into the frenzy we noticed that all of a sudden orders had stopped coming in. We had been getting an order every minute or two for the past few hours, and now we were going 8 to 9 minutes between orders. At first we thought the rush had passed, but then we had a customer call in saying they were having trouble checking out. It turned out there was a glitch in the website that wasn’t allowing customers to enter their email address and therefore couldn’t complete the checkout process. Every minute we were down we were not only losing money but also giving customers a bad first experience with our brand. We quickly got our eCommerce provider (Shopify) both on the phone and on Live Chat as a backup. It turned out it wasn’t just us, but was more of a systemic problem (perfect timing). We described our situation and our urgency and they moved us to the front of the queue and got us back up and running quickly. When you’ve got a lot of traffic to your site, make sure to keep an eye out for anything that doesn’t seem right.
5) Prepare to be dynamic.
On his email, Tim had linked readers directly to the product page for our Green Square, which was great. There’s nothing better for conversions than sending people directly to a product page. Unfortunately, it just so happened that we were nearly out of stock of that color. Within an hour, we were out! This meant that we had thousands of people landing on a page that read Out of Stock. We realized that we couldn’t change the link Tim had put in his email; however, what we could do was build in a re-direct to push people over to another page with products that we DID have! We quickly edited our website to automatically re-direct visitors to the page where they could buy our in-stock Blue Square. That little change saved us from potentially losing hundreds of sales. Always make sure you have someone on staff who knows their way around your website!
Thanks for reading, and hopefully some of the lessons we learned can help you when you get your next surprise press hit! And be sure to follow our blog (you can sign up here) to read our next article on how we’re capitalizing on this hit and what we’re doing to keep the momentum going!
The Clean Bottle Team