How do I effectively market my small-business?

You don’t know what you don’t know.

How can you make the right marketing decisions if you don’t know anything about marketing?


80-percent of e-commerce businesses fail in the first months of their launch. Why? Mainly because they don’t know anything about marketing in today’s digital-first world.

You can waste a lot of your money and time by:

  • Hiring cheap and bad marketing freelancers/agencies.

  • Trying to do everything yourself. 

  • Not knowing or understanding how to measure the most basic marketing metrics.

Below are answers to some of the common questions that we get asked by small business owners that feel confused and overwhelmed when it comes to marketing.

1. How much of your revenue should go to your marketing program?

If you’re in a growth stage of your company, a good rule of thumb is 20-30% of your revenue. But, it depends on your margin. You should have a good margin built into the price of your product so you can afford to spend money on marketing to learn who your customers are and acquire your first customers.

2. Understand and know the 5 metrics that matter:

Increase Customers

This is an obvious one, but we can’t omit it. If you have no customers, then your first core metric is to get some.

You can’t increase average order value, repeat customers, or any of the other core metrics below unless you have customers first.

Increase order value  

Average order value (AOV) is the average dollar amount a customer spend on each order. To calculate your company’s average order value, simply divide total revenue by the number of orders.

Optimizely shares some successful strategies to increase your AOV that include:

  • Cross-selling (“How about some socks to go with the tennis shoes you just ordered?”)

  • Upselling (“Would you like this pair of tennis shoes for only $10 more than the pair in your cart?”)

  • Volume discounts (“This hand towel costs $9, but you’ll save 30% if you buy 3 or more.”)

  • Free shipping for a higher minimum purchase

  • Coupons on next visit (“Spend $50 and get $5 off your next purchase!”)

  • Donations to a non-profit for minimum purchase

  • Return policy for costlier goods ("Feel free to send 'em back if you're not satisfied)

In contrast with increasing customers, increasing your AOV usually costs much less than getting new customers!

Your customer is already buying from your store, so increasing your AOV will only drive direct revenue and increase your profits as you are selling more products. Also, your ad spend becomes more affordable so you can reinvest it to grow your business.

Increase repeat customers

Repeat customers spend more money (300% more than new ones) and they are easier to sell to (60% to 70% chance of buying compared to the 13% of new customers). Also, they promote your business through referrals. Besides, you gain a better understanding of your target market.

They cost you less and make you more!

Some of the tactics to grow your repeat customers rate stated by Yotpo are:

  • Create peaks in the customer experience

  • Continuously test email strategies

  • Tailor your loyalty program to your business goals

  • Be where your customers are

  • Offer time-limited promotions

  • Create a customer community around your brand

  • Incentivize social shares

Increase Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)

In contrast with ROI (Return On Investment), the ROAS focuses on specific advertising campaigns. This ad-centric metric measures the gross revenue that’s generated based on each dollar spent on ads. It specifically helps your business understand the effectiveness of your paid search ad campaign.

Lyfe Marketing illustrates here how the ROAS can be measured:


Measuring and maximizing the Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) is the best way to determine the overall effectiveness of your online advertising campaigns. It shows us where you’re making the most money and where we can improve.

You can (and should) also calculate this for your entire company so you know your overall return on all of your marketing activities. You can do that by dividing your total revenue by your total marketing spend across all channels.

Decrease Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

Neil Patel explains how the CPA can be calculated by simply dividing all the costs spent on acquiring more customers (marketing expenses) by the number of customers acquired in the period the money was spent. 

Decreasing your CPA doesn’t helps you make more profit per customer because you’re focusing on how you can lose less money on each sale. 

Reducing your cost of acquisition increases your profit on every sale. By lowering your CPA, you’ll have more profit to invest in scaling your business. 

According to Marketing Insider Group and Optimize Smart, here are some ways to decrease your CPA:

  • Optimize your landing page through A/B testing (avoid random optimization)

  • Leverage on Online Video (target all of your highly competitive search terms to Youtube)

  • Use retargeting campaigns for visitors who abandoned your shopping cart

  • Temporarily stop targeting locations that generate little to no sales

  • Improve your quality score

  • Update your ad copy

  • Put a temporary stop on non-converting keywords

  • Grow your email marketing list

  • Optimize your checkout process (reduce checkout abandonment rate)

  • Fix website technical issues


Here’s an example of a spreadsheet that we use to measure the metrics for our clients. It’s a simple way to see the month to month or week to week growth (or decline) across the most important metrics for your business.


3. About Ads

It’s important to have a big vision but you have to start somewhere small.

Develop a Strategy

  • What product or services are you promoting? Who are you targeting? Will they be a cold audience or a warm audience? How will they use the product? What is their pain point, and what objections will they have? What is the goal of the campaign?

  • With specific objectives as brand awareness, reach, traffic, engagement, app installs, video views, lead generation, messages, conversions, catalogue sales, store visits…

For more info about how to set up a strategy, check out Disruptive Advertising articles.

Choose audiences and where you want your ad to be displayed

  • Pick a niche (it’s better to start to with an audience of less than 50,000 if your budget is low). 

  • Custom audiences (which target specific users from your email list, Facebook or Instagram for example), lookalike audiences (which replicate qualities from your custom audience), demographic targeting, location targeting, interest/behavior targeting, connection targeting, which determines if you want your ads to be shown to users who are or are not connected with your brand…

Graphic by    Shopify.

Graphic by Shopify.

Set and monitor your budget

Minimum Spend on Ads at the beginning? 

At least 1 USD per day for marketing. Ideally spend 5 USD per day. 

Don’t raise your budget by 20-25% per day and/or 100% per week. Whenever you increase it, the Facebook algorithm expects you to continue investing the same amount.


Super important to run campaigns CONTINUOUSLY. Do not spend a lot of money on a one-time ad.

Monitor your FB ads

Analyze your Facebook ads week to week, not day to day. Which days are people buying more, which copy and graphic design are working better, etc.

FB, IG or Google Ads?

When you are starting, it’s better to choose FB and IG ads, after this you can go to other platforms as Google Ad Words, Pinterest, etc.

How to know if it’s better Google ads or Facebook ads?

Google Ads is more expensive than fb ads. 

For Google Ads people need to be searching the words with fb ads they will just see it.

4. What are the best tools to learn about marketing?

Most of the sources we cited on this blog post, but we also recommend Digital Marketer and the Neil Patel Podcast.

Or… Get a marketing coach. They can help you with your specific business so you’re confident that you’re making the right decisions instead of wasting time and money on the wrong marketing channels and tactics.

Do you need help with your marketing?


About Aaron Saari:

He is the Chief Marketing Officer for OP2 Labs, a US-based, multi-million dollar health supplement company. OP2 Labs produces Frog Fuel, a premium collagen supplement trusted by world-champion ultra-marathoners, Olympians, and other elite athletes. After hiring Aaron in 2017, OP2 Labs profitably doubled its revenue in 2018 and is on track to more than double again in 2019.

Outside of OP2 Labs, Aaron helps mission-driven businesses double their annual revenue through his consulting agency, This Is Growth.

Learn about OP2 Labs here.

Aaron’s Linkedin.

Gabriela Mora