10 Tools to Kick Your Ecommerce Site in the Ass

Last year, we helped take a WordPress plugin developer from $500 to $22,000/month in revenue … in just 90 days.

We picked this client because we really loved their product. Because we were starting at such a minimum of sales, we also knew that almost any change we made would have a huge impact on revenue.

Below, we’ve outlined the best tools and tweaks our team and we used to make this 4000%+ increase possible. If you’ve worked with WooCommerce, you’ve no doubt heard of some of these tools. Others, though, are buried deep on the WooCommerce extensions marketplace. we thought it might be useful to collect them in one location.

These tools all represent Phase One of a WooCommerce shop optimization campaign. we’ll also show you one of the most powerful sales tools that you can use after on-page optimization–a tool that would be perfect for Phase Two of a marketing campaign.

Keep these ecommerce tools in mind for your next project:

WooCommerce

This one is a no-brainer.

WooCommerce has quickly risen to the top of the WordPress ecommerce plugin rankings. It’s easy to configure, well supported, and most importantly, the software is extendable.

Dozens of other developers have built addons for WooCommerce. It’s not weird to see addons for plugins (i.e. Gravity Forms) but the unique business model Woo brought to the table was creating a marketplace for these developers to sell their creations.

The fact that these addons are easy to find on Woo’s own website (and that they’re properly commercialized) has encouraged third-party development in a way that not too many other plugins can boast.

We were incredibly fortunately that our client already had WooCommerce rocking and rolling on their site. Because the client choose such a robust ecommerce tool, we had our pick of addons and documentation to take sales to the next level.

Stripe

Stripe is so awesome it hurts. As soon as we added Stripe and its payment overlay Checkout to the site, we began converting visitors that may have been turned off by PayPal.

It’s hard to believe, but not everyone has a PayPal account.

Adding a clean, easy and secure way to enter credit card information directly from within checkout page increased conversions dramatically. Some day, we’d love to A/B test a checkout page without PayPal and see what happens to this rate.

Gravity Forms

One of the first changes we made to this site was to replace any generic email links with links to a new contact page with a new contact form we built using Gravity Forms.

Gravity Forms has been our go-to form builder since we jumped ship from using Wufoo five years ago. It works well and it’s WordPress native.

We put the form on its own dedicated page so that we could track navigation in Google Analytics before and after form submission.

Using Gravity Forms made easy work of collecting and distributing contact submissions. That’s important when an entire team needs contact access—all for different reasons. Personally, we used the submissions to analyze pre-sales question patterns.

Leadin

Leadin is a WordPress plugin from Hubspot that sends you an email when a form is submitted. That email details user history, including all the pages your reader visited before he submitted the form, and whether he’s visited your site before.

Think of LeadIn as something between Gravity Forms’ built-in submission management and a full-blown CRM. If you’re curious about customer paths, or if you have a lot of inventory, this tool could be very useful to you.

Disco

Disco is a potentially revolutionary survey tool that trades responses for discounts via product coupon codes.

We were able to use Disco as beta users and easily collected a handful of responses from site visitors. We turned the service off, though, after the responses became redundant.

As you’ll see with other coupon tools, we were also afraid of giving unnecessary discounts. Instead of hastily shutting down the campaign, the correct course of action would have actually been to test it against a control with no survey.

Regardless, the tool did its job well. Not only did it help get into the minds of visitors, many who answered questions also became customers.

Smart Reporter

Smart Reporter doesn’t seem to be a very well-known product, but it helped us better predict monthly revenue than WooCommerce’s built-in reporting tools. It’s built by a company called Store Apps.

There are a few replacement revenue measurement SaaS tools built for Stripe that we’d like to play with, but as far as we could tell, Smart Reporter is the only reporter tool specifically for WooCommerce.

The plugin also lives directly inside your WordPress installation, so that’s nice. On our huge run up the revenue ladder, one of our favorite pastimes became refreshing our Smart Reporter page to see the prediction numbers go higher and higher :)

Buy Now

Buy Now is from the same team that built Smart Reporter. Quite simply, it helps bypass the shopping cart page that’s the default of WooCommerce.

There are WooCommerce functions you can plug into your site, as well as direct URLs you can hack together on your own to recreate similar functionality. If you want to save time, though, this plugin works very well.

WooCommerce Menu Cart

Also, since we were skipping over the idea of a shopping cart as just going straight to checkout, we thought it would be useful to add cart navigation to anyone who might click the “back” button from the checkout page. For this, we used the WooCommerce Menu Cart plugin.

Smart Coupons

Smart Coupons is the final tool we used from Store Apps (their tools aren’t the prettiest, but they definitely solve problems well).

This tool let us create clickable coupon codes (we couldn’t figure out another way to do this!). We used these codes when our product would get featured in WordPress article and post them to a toolbar that would display only from that specific referrer.

It was a pretty complicated setup, and because we didn’t A/B test the toolbar, We couldn’t say whether they increased conversion rates/revenue or not. Like Disco, plenty of customers used these specially generated coupon codes, though.

Google Experiments

We keep mentioning A/B testing. We did actually run a really simple test on the pricing page once. We removed one item from our lowest pricing tier and it resulted in an increase of 157% revenue (not just conversions).

My hypothesis was that our two tiers weren’t differentiating themselves enough. By removing a feature on the low tier (while keeping it solely for the high one), customers felt a loss-aversion and began choosing the high tier 2-to–1. Removing the feature only required hiding the original text with CSS in the variation.

Setting up the test was incredibly easy and seeing that positive result was tremendously satisfying. We highly recommend that all ecommerce consultants master the art of Google Experiments, especially since it’s built right into the Google Analytics dashboard.

It’s very important to get WooCommerce speaking to Google Analytics. Tracking revenue is a lot more telling that just pageviews. If you don’t know how to set up advanced tracking manually, a plugin like this can help.

Finally, the tool we would have liked to have used more of: Lifecycle emails!

we started making another list of tools we would have liked to use with this client engagement, and then we realized they’re all lifecycle email-based products (also called autoresponders and drip campaigns).

After optimizing this client’s website, we had no idea what to do next.

We recently began researching and learning all about lifecycle emails and how incredibly useful they are at:

  • Building relationships
  • Selling products
  • Reducing churn
  • Upselling products
  • Upgrading customers to annual contracts

These emails aren’t your traditional company newsletters, though; they’re transactional. They’re based on customer activity (or often, inactivity). In the biz, we call this segmentation.

When a customer subscribes to their free course, this puts them into a slow drip campaign. This campaign exchanges valuable information for the opportunity to pitch a product that’ll offer even more value.

As the customer makes successful purchases, this puts them into other segments (i.e. “Bought products A & C. Has not purchased product B”).

There are lifecycle email tools for the top of the funnel (like Drip), tools for the middle of the funnel (Customer.io) and then there are email tools for the bottom of the funnel (like CartHook).

As a rule, the bottom of the funnel is smaller, but as such, it offers a significantly higher revenue-to-numbers ratio; these are the people with their wallets already out.

Drip is awesome to build a list using those free courses we mentioned earlier. Customer.io is fantastic at cross-selling.

CartHook, on the other hand, is a cart abandonment email tool. It excels at getting your products sold to people who just need that last little push.

In salesperson terms, these are the warmest leads you’ll ever encounter. These are the Glengarry leads.

What that means is that when a visitors goes to checkout, they usually fill out their personal information—even if they’re on the fence about purchasing.

CartHook securely collects that data, and then, if the customer leaves the webpage without buying, CartHook emails him a friendly note, asking him to please come back (and maybe even offers him a discount to do so).

The user doesn’t even have to be logged in–as long as they fill out their email information before they leave the page, they can be contacted.

Lifecycle emails are huge wins for ecommerce sites—especially ones that deal with high volume sales.

Get very familiar with their uses.

If nothing else, these emails come in very handy after you’ve run out of on-page elements to optimize (like we did).

Because of the nature of copywriting, lifecycle emails really do require a consultant’s touch. And helping to increase your clients’ revenue with a tool like CartHook would make a fantastic retainer item or standalone productized service.