10 Marketing Tips we wish we knew in our first year of selling online

10 Marketing Tips we wish we knew in our first year of selling online

Having a great product is only half the battle. Nailing your pitch and generating conversions is a whole different ball game. 

We get it because we’ve been there.

We launched our business, Saint Belford, two short years ago to a customer base of zero. Since then, we’ve shipped over 4000 diaries (that’s a lot of Bukwraps). 

Book packaging for diaries

After a lot of trial and error, we can confidently share what helped us 3.3x our revenue in our second year of business. 

Here are 10 juicy marketing tips that will leave you feeling empowered and excited to market your product.


Market to a niche audience

There is power in marketing to a niche audience. People want to feel special, so appeal to your niche, instead of attempting to appeal to the masses. Doing this will allow you to write copy that resonates and speaks to your audience on a much deeper level. It allows you to clarify who your brand/product is for, instead of wasting your time trying to convince the masses. 

Nail your pitch

In our first year of business, we struggled to captivate the attention of those who asked, “What do you do?” simply because we hadn’t mastered our one-liner. We couldn’t convey what we did in a clear, concise and compelling way—not until a friend kindly recommended Storybrand by Donald Miller. We listened to the audiobook and followed the framework to clarify our brand message and write engaging copy that actually converts. The Storybrand framework also teaches you how to pitch your brand in a way that makes others want to lean in and learn more. 

Implement the three second rule

Visitors to your website should know exactly what you offer in the first three seconds of landing on your homepage, so make sure this is clear and concise in your header. The reality is, the average attention span of a human is getting shorter and shorter. It currently sits at eight seconds, and you’ve got about three of those seconds to hook them in, before they leave in search of another brand who can satisfy their needs. The simplest way to do this?

Create a headline on your website that tells visitors exactly what you offer. This should appear above the fold. 

Leverage your available network

You don’t need to have a huge marketing budget to begin with. Start by leveraging free channels. Spread the word by sharing it with your Facebook network, Instagram following, Facebook groups and clubs you’re a part of. This will get the ball rolling for your business, get some sales through the door and build your confidence in the process.

Provide free resources 

Creating free content and resources for your customers, whether that’s in the form of eBooks, blog articles, videos or infographics, is the best way to build trust and credibility. Think of how you can provide value to your audience. It’s also best to validate these ideas by asking your customers what they would find helpful. We like to use surveys and question boxes on Instagram to gauge what our customers want. 

Collect emails

Email marketing still delivers the highest return on investment. In order to build your list, you need to:

  1. Make it easy for users to subscribe by implementing pop-ups. 
  2. Make it enticing by offering something free and/or valuable to your target market.

We use Sumo to create, implement and track email pop-ups. Our highest converting pop up entices potential customers to join our VIP list (makes customers feel important) for the chance to win a copy of Curation 2020 diary (our signature product) every month. The pop up appears 10 seconds after the browser has landed on the homepage, but these are things you can test using Sumo. 

It’s more enticing to join an email list when it feels “exclusive” and there’s perceived value in it for the user. 

Nurture the customers on your email list

Create an automated email campaign series to nurture customers who are not ready to buy just yet.

We’ve got a total of 4 emails that are sent to new subscribers and each email is sent 3 business days apart. It looks something like this:

Email #1: Welcome email—we tell them what to expect as a VIP subscriber and give them a 10% off discount code to use at any time. 

Email #2: Free eBook: 150+ Self-Care Ideas & Resources 

Email #3: Free eBook (Curating Habits That Stick) + our most popular blog posts

Email #4: List of FAQs with CTA to shop now. Email #4 is our first email in the series asking the customer to make a purchase.

With these changes, you can quickly turn your email list into your most valuable asset. Email accounted for about 30% of our revenue in 2019. 

Build and leverage social proof

90% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so make sure you have a system in place to collect reviews and testimonials. It builds trust and credibility, especially when you’re a new brand on the market. 

Knowing that someone else has tested your product and given it a tick of approval gives new customers the confidence to try it out. 

We use an app called Judge.Me to collect customer reviews. Once you set it up, an email is sent to each customer after X amount of time, asking them to leave a review. It’s simple, efficient and a powerful trust signal. You can also use customer reviews and testimonials in your ads and weave them into your website copy. Most of our highest converting ads feature review content.

Put a face to your brand

Don’t just be a brand. Show that you’re human so that customers have someone they can connect with. We do this via Instagram stories. Customers love seeing what goes on behind the scenes. Putting a face and an authentic voice to your brand is another free way to build trust, credibility and customer loyalty. 

Own your mistakes

We all make mistakes. Whether it’s big or small, dwelling on it and hiding from your customers won’t earn you any credit. When you make a public mistake, use it as an opportunity to build a stronger bond with your customers and rise above your competition (who might prefer to stay in the shadows). 

Saint Belford 2020 wellness diary

In our first year, the spine text was upside down. In our second year, we had a typo in one of our quotes. All you can do is own it, learn from it and laugh it off. 

Be honest and keep it real with your customers. They will respect and applaud you for this. 


Be prepared to pivot

In our first year, SEO worked a charm. In our second year, it didn’t work as well as we’d hoped, so we had to adapt our marketing strategy and learn how to market our products on Instagram and Facebook. 

The marketing side of things can be challenging at times, but remember to have fun with it and enjoy the journey!


This article was written by Alex & Tom from Saint Belford, based in Australia, they make beautiful diaries and planners that focus on self-care, mindfulness and wellbeing.

Be sure to check out their 2020 range of diaries and planners over on their shop. They also offer free eBooks that help you tackle common hurdles of everyday life, you can read those here

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