Times Have Changed, Time to Change With Them
As you’ve probably already noticed, the music industry has changed greatly in light of the digital age. While not impossible, it is challenging to obtain financial sustainability in a market with endless options and many artists just simply giving their music away for free. Many musicians, music labels and other entities are now turning to ecommerce platforms in order to sell their music and merch.
Two of our favorite clients, Vespers.ca and ill.Methodology are great examples of how to create a sustainable and profitable website through ecommerce. As two of the leading electronic music online educators, they hired us to create and update their WordPress sites with fully functioning WooCommerce stores. We also did logo and product branding to give them a polished look that matched their music and persona. Both sites are profitable and allow their fans to purchase sample packs, educational video courses, merch and even midi controllers.
These guys are at the top of their games. We learned a ton of valuable pointers about ecommerce profitability in the music industry from working with both ill.Methodology and Vespers.ca, and thought it would be nice to share some of that knowledge with you:
Provide Quality Products
We are stating the obvious in saying that selling quality products is the single most important ingredient in creating a successful and profitable ecommerce website. Substance is everything. Vespers.ca and ill.Methodology have both successfully created quality educational music production products that are both useful and desired within the electronic music community. There is no magic formula here. You’ll have to spend real time working on creating products that people will actually want to buy.
Know Your Target Audience
While having quality products is definitely the most important part of running a successful ecommerce platform, it’s equally as important to know who you intend to sell that product to. Identifying your target audience will allow you to take the next step in branding and marketing your ecommerce store. Both ill.Methodology and Vespers.ca have done phenomenal jobs in identifying, marketing and selling to their target audiences. Simply stated, they know what their fans want and give it to them.
We all know that people love free things, and there is actually a way to utilize freebies in exchange for profitability. Giving people a taste of what you can do, helps you reach even more people while building brand loyalty.
For example, Vesper.ca does an awesome job of leading free downloads through what he calls “The Vault”. Users must register and login to his site in order to download the freebies. This allows him to follow up with them down the road via email with sales and new exciting products.
Distinguishable Branding Design
Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to move forward in creating a unique branding design that is appealing to that group of people. Distinguishable branding such as logo design and product images help your product stand out in a sea of competitors.The brand and design should help the overall site aesthetic, while also making the brands more marketable to your target audience.
Utilize Social Media
Integrating social media with your ecommerce platform is absolutely imperative in today’s day and age of Web 2.0. Your target audience wants to connect with you, and is likely to become your loyal customer when they feel that connection. It’s also a fantastic way for you to reach more of your target audience.
ill.Gates, founder of ill.Methodology, is a great example of social media usage with his strong social media presence and engagement (77k Facebook “Likes” and 14k Twitter followers). Often somewhat divisive and controversial, his blog posts are regularly circulated around Facebook. As a result, the engagement on his Facebook page is some of the best we’ve ever seen. His post, “Is Dubstep Dead”, had over 5 million views on Facebook, 32k likes and generate over 100k+ pageviews on site. The sidebar of his blog lists popular products and even if 1% of the traffic converted into customers, that was a highly valuable blog post that all started within the echo chamber of social media.
Create a Youtube Channel
Humans are visuals creatures. Youtube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world making videos easily discovered and shared. Youtube is ideal for further reaching a target audience. Vespers is a cut above the rest with over 50k subscribers to his channel. Check out a couple examples of their videos.
The main take away here is they are using their brand, personality and the power of video to give potential customers a feeling for what they are buying into. Video is by far the most powerful tool for this when used correctly.
Email is still the number 1 way to get potential customer’s attention. Facebook, Twitter and the rest have all clamped down on promotional posts. Facebook is essentially doing away with organic post via pages unless they are boosted. The solution is to develop an email list and offer incentives like Free Downloads for being a member of the site and a subscriber to the email list.
We suggest using Mailchimp to start. If you list is under 2,000 subscribers, you pay nothing. At the point that you have 2,000 real subscribers, you should be in a place to spend a little money to reach them.
We also suggest adding a pop over email registration box. Our favorite plugin for this is SumoMe. It’s easy to install, setup and create rules for how often users should be presented with the sign up box so you don’t annoy them to death.
We like money, do you like money? In order to take payments, you need to setup at least one payment gateway. We recommend accepting Paypal and credit card payments. Paypal is relatively easy to setup. In order to take credit cards, you’ll need a payment gateway like Stripe.com or Authorize.net. We prefer Stripe.com because of it’s ease of use. You’ll need to register for an account and if you are using WooCommerce, purchase a Stripe.com plugin that give WooCommerce the ability to tie into Stripe’s system.
Once you have your payment systems in place, you’ll need to have a secure site. This means purchasing an SSL certificate and having your host install it onto your web server. This can take anywhere from 1-2 days to complete and have setup. Once that is all in place, your site can run at https which means the connection between your website and the user is secure. This allows sensitive information to be transferred across the web because it’s encrypted.
Quality High Speed Hosting
Quality high speed hosting is absolutely necessary when it comes to running a profitable ecommerce platform. People are impatient and if a site won’t load quickly, they will bounce. We highly recommend WP Engine, because of their extremely fast page loads, built in CDN (content delivery network), automated daily backups, and world-class security processes. Both Vespers.ca and illmetholodgy moved over to WP Engine in order to ensure their website hosting was rock solid for their highly traffic ecommerce store.
That’s a Wrap
Creating a successful ecommerce website is no small undertaking. From creating the products, defining your audience, creating the brand and website, marketing, security and hosting, there is a lot to know, get right and execute on.
Let us Help You!
We’ve worked with several other clients within the music industry to create profitable ecommerce platforms. If your company would like learn more about Lion’s Share’s services, get a free quote here.