There is no doubt that eCommerce is gaining extreme popularity these days, as the world is becoming more and more digital. But how can you get traffic that BUYS to your website? Or, in other words, how can you develop an effective eCommerce marketing strategy?
Well, simply keep reading this interview in order to find the answers to these questions, as our today’s guest is Chloë Thomas, an eCommerce marketing problem solver, an author, and a podcast host. So, let’s delve into eCommerce together with Chloë!
Career path: from marketing internship to eCommerce marketing problem-solving
Q: Tell us about your career path. What was its starting point, and what do you do now?
It all started with a marketing internship at Barclays Bank. Then the eCommerce part started when I got a job at UK high street retailer Past Times looking after their mail-order catalog mailings. That led to a job as Head of eCommerce at a consultancy serving multiple mail order businesses, and then to a marketing agency that I ran for ten years.
Ever since getting into eCommerce all those years ago, I’ve always been solving eCommerce marketing problems but in lots of different ways! Now I try to help as many retailers as possible to acquire the knowledge and tools to be able to solve their own marketing problems. Mainly I do that via my two podcasts, eCommerce MasterPlan and Keep Optimising, and my books, the most recent of which is Amazon’s bestseller “eCommerce Marketing: How to Get Traffic that BUYS to Your Website”.
Q: Are you satisfied with what you do, or would you like to apply your knowledge and skills to something else in the future?
Whilst I’ve always been solving eCommerce marketing problems, I’ve done it in a lot of different ways – client-side, consultancy, marketing agency, advisor, coach, online courses; and now books, podcasts, and speaking. At the start, I couldn’t have predicted where I’d be nearly 20 years on – so who knows what the future holds? I’m not ruling anything out.
Excitements, challenges, achievements, and failures
Excitements & challenges
Q: Name one of the most exciting and one of the most challenging aspects of your job.
Getting great guests for the eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast.
Our guests are retailers, and our audience is other retailers – so not our guests’ target market! That means I’m asking every guest to give up time to do something that almost certainly isn’t going to bring them any extra sales. So it often takes a lot of work to convince them to come on the show. AND I spend a lot of time working out WHO I want to have on the show.
Getting the right guests has always been a challenge, but the challenge changes every year.
In the first year, we asked 5-10 people to come on for every successful interview we recorded.
A few years in, we started getting a lot of people asking to be on the show, so I’ve had to get good at telling people no.
And now we’re trying to take our content up a level, which means getting really serious about exactly who we want on – not just picking from the people we immediately think of.
Finding guests is never dull!
Achievements & failures
Q: Name one thing that you consider to be your biggest achievement and one thing that you regard as your biggest failure.
Biggest Achievement – exiting my marketing agency in a way that meant the clients were still supported, the staff still had jobs, and that enabled the new owner to take it ever greater heights. It took me five years of exploring different ways to leave it before I finally managed it. It’s also my biggest achievement because I was never the right sort of person to be running a marketing agency, so leaving it was brilliant for my soul, my energy levels – everything. The best thing I’ve ever done for me.
Biggest failure. This one cost me £36,000. I hired the wrong person, convinced myself it was me and how I managed them that was the problem, not that they were the wrong person for the job. Delaying the inevitable long enough that I couldn’t get a refund from the recruitment agency, THEN hired a law firm rather than an HR consultant to get me through the redundancy process necessary to get rid of that person. A catalog of errors that I hope never to repeat.
Learn from Chloë Thomas
How to keep up with eCommerce marketing trends
Q: How do you keep up with the latest news and trends in your sphere of work? Can you suggest any useful methods or sources?
Social media mainly. And subject focused Facebook Groups. There’s also a LOT of great conferences both online and offline -so time spent at the big ones can really pay off.
And podcasts, of course. One of the best things about hosting two eCommerce focused podcasts is that I can’t avoid being up to speed given all the great people I interview every month!
One of the best things about hosting two eCommerce focused podcasts is that I can’t avoid being up to speed given all the great people I interview every month!
How to avoid conflicts
Q: What is your favorite strategy for avoiding conflict?
Only (partly) joking really – putting in place the systems to make it easier to deal with, then it tends not to escalate so far - for example, a template email to send, rather than having to write a response.
How to become successful
Q: What are the top 3 qualities that helped you to achieve success? How exactly did these qualities assist you in your way to success?
One – organizational skills. I’m a bit of a control freak, and I’m great at organizing things – and that’s something essential for everything we do.
Two – my ability to ask great questions. I don’t know where it comes from, I’m just lucky that I seem to ask great questions!
Three – drive. Whilst I don’t think I’m that driven, apparently, I’m very driven! And if I look back that’s clearly the case because everything I’ve done wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t made it.
Q: What are your success habits/rituals?
- Get a proper night’s sleep.
- Keep Mondays and Fridays meeting free.
- Plan your to-do list for the week ahead on a Friday and your to-do list for the day ahead the previous evening.
- Don’t work weekends or evenings.
- Have one mobile phone for work, and one for your life and turn the work one OFF when you’re not working.
- Take at least one week off every quarter.
Time for rapid-fire questions: relaxation, motivation, core values, weird cases, vision, superpower, skills
Q: What helps you to relax and distract yourself from stress?
Crochet and cross-stitch.
Q: What motivates you and inspires you to work harder?
The next thing on the to-do list.
Q: What are the core values that drive you?
Honesty, trust, efficiency.
Q: Tell us about the weirdest case you’ve experienced at work and how did you handle it.
We don’t get many weird requests, but we do get a lot of “Can I write a guest post” messages so we’ve set up an out of the office to respond to them so we don’t have to anymore.
Q: What one word best sums up your vision? Explain why.
For me, it’s all about avoiding waste – wasted opportunities, and wasting time, money, and energy on the wrong things.
It’s all about avoiding waste - wasted opportunities, and wasting time, money, and energy on the wrong things.
Q: What is your favorite quote and why?
“It’s more a matter of perception than one of reality” – always makes me smile. It was an official Google response to the hype around an algorithm update a few years ago.
Q: If you could choose one superpower to have, what would it be and why?
Invincibility – I’d be intrigued to see how differently I behaved if nothing could injure me.
Q: If you could immediately acquire one new skill (for example, knowledge of a new language, ability to swim, etc.), what would it be and why?
Knowledge of a new language would be cool as I have often tried to learn one, but always failed – and it’s embarrassing going to conferences around the world where people speak such amazing English and all I can do in their language is say “Hello” and “Thank you.”
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Thought-provoking. Useful. Witty.