ecommerce business plan
Ecommerce Business Planning

Ecommerce Business Plan

So, you are wanting to sell online? Whether it is B2B or B2C a plan that is executable is essential. You might be tempted to jump right in and start building your business without a formal business plan. Do not do that. That can create major problems for you down the road.

We’ve been in the ecommerce business for 20 years, and we’ve seen tons of online stores come and go. The number one mistake new sellers make is failing to create a plan before getting started. Strategy is key especially since the market is becoming all that more competitive.

If you’re serious about starting an online business – or making a expansion or pivot your ecommerce strategic plan Is an essential must have! It will help guide your tech stack all the way to your marketing efforts and beyond.

Ecommerce strategic business planning helps you to think critically about every major component of your online store, allowing you to identify and avoid major problems before getting started.

Your ecommerce strategic plan will become the cornerstone of how you budget, how you spend, what to sell and how to sell them.

Ecommerce businesses without a business plan are more likely to fail.

Where does our company fit in?

Are your just starting out?

Are you looking to generate an ecommerce sales effort?

Are you going all in on ecommerce?

Are you looking to capture more market share?

All the above and more need a plan to execute. Planning is great but a plan you can execute is obviously much better!

Ecommerce MGMT is here to help guide and facilitate your goals online.

Things we will help you with when building an ecommerce strategic plan / Business Plan

These plans can also be used for funding grants & other means to expand your business.

  • Ecommerce Business Plan Template
  • Company Description – Not just your company description but how you want to be positioned online. That can change immensely.
  • Product Positioning / Where To Sell
  • Product Lines & Exposing Key Differentiators
  • Costing
  • Product Lifecycle
  • Market Analysis
  • Operations & Infrastructure
  • Marketing Strategies
  • Financial and Financial Planning
  • Key Milestones
  • Measuring KPI’s
  • Executive Summary

Building a successful online business is no easy task. But it can be done if done right. Especially from the beginning.

ecommerce business plan
google ads announcement
Google Ads Announcement (Changes Coming To Google Ads)
Two Google Ads recommendation types (“Add phrase or broad match versions of your keywords” and “Add negative keywords” ) will no longer be applied starting on July 21, 2021. You have subscribed to at least one of these types through Google Ads recommendations’ auto-apply feature, and we are reaching out to inform you that these recommendations will no longer be applied after July 21. No action is required from you.
The “Add phrase or broad match versions of your keywords” recommendation will soon be replaced by the “Use broad match versions of your keywords” recommendation within recommendations’ auto-apply feature, which will allow you to easily cover even more additional traffic relevant to your business.
The “Add negative keyword” recommendation is also being removed. You will be able to access similar capabilities when using Smart Bidding to bid appropriately on traffic to help you achieve your business goals. You will still be able to manually use negative keywords outside of recommendations if you would like.
If you have any questions about this change, please reach out to your account management team or contact us at any time.
Sincerely,
The Google Ads Team
Commit raises $6M seed round to match senior engineers to startups they want to work for

Commit, a Vancouver, Canada-based startup that has a unique approach to matching up engineers looking for a new job to early-stage startups that want to hire them, today announced that it has raised a $6 million seed round. Accomplice led the round, with participation from Kensington Capital Partners, Inovia and Garage Capital. 

The company, which focuses on working with remote-first startups, launched in 2019, with co-founders Greg Gunn (CEO) and Beier Cai (CTO), who met as early employees at Hootsuite, bootstrapping the company while they worked out the details of how they wanted Commit to work.

“I was an EIR [at Inovia Capital] and I just saw all these amazing founders that were coming in with world-changing ideas. They raised money, but their biggest challenge was getting an engineer to join them,” Gunn explained.

Beier Cai, Co-founder & CTO, Greg Gunn, Co-founder & CEO, , Tiffany Jung, VP, Strategy & Ops Image Credits: Commit

In his experience, founders typically look for senior full-stack tech leads to join their company, but it’s exactly those senior engineers that are often already in very comfortable roles at larger companies and taking a bet on an early-stage startup — or even a succession of early-stage startups — is often not the most pragmatic choice for them.

After talking to dozens of engineers, the founders found that many didn’t want to lose the support network they had built inside their current company, both from fellow engineers but also the kind of institutional support you get through formal and informal mentorship and personal development opportunities that most large tech companies offer. In addition, as Gunn noted, “hiring at early-stage startups sucks.” Senior engineers don’t want to have to go through a bunch of technical interviews anymore that test their whiteboarding skills but say very little about their actual capabilities as an engineer.



So the team decided to figure out ways to remove these barriers. Like a VC firm, it vets the startups and startup founders it works with, so the engineers that come to Commit know that these are serious companies with at least some prospect of raising funding and allowing their engineers to shape their trajectory and grow into what is potentially an early leadership role.

Meanwhile, it vets the engineers by giving them a technical interview so they can get started without having to do another one for every interview with the companies that partner with Commit. As Gunn noted, so far, the average engineer Commit has worked with only met 1.6 vetted founders before they started a pilot project together.

To mitigate some of the fiscal risks of leaving a large tech company, Commit actually pays the engineers it works with a salary until they find a job. Currently, around 90% of the engineers that start pilot projects with their prospective employees end up in full-time employment.

Image Credits: Commit

In addition to matching up founders and engineers, it also offers its community members access to an active remote-first community of fellow engineers for peer support and career advice, as well as coaching and other transition services.

In the backend, Commit uses a lot of data to match founders and engineers, but Gunn noted that while the team is very selective and has a tight profile for the people it partners with, it is committed to building a diverse pool of founders and engineers. “The thing we’re combating is the fact that these opportunities have been unevenly distributed,” he said. “Even within the Valley […] you have to be from a socio-economic class to even have access to those opportunities. For us, our whole business model is live where you want to live, but then get access to whatever opportunities you have.” Later this year, Commit plans to launch a project that specifically focuses on hiring diversity.

Commit’s startup partners currently include Patch, Plastiq, Dapper Labs, Relay, Certn, Procurify, Scope Security, Praisidio, Planworth, Georgian Partners and Lo3 Energy. The team started out slowly, working with fewer than 100 engineers so far, but hopes to expand its community to 10,000 engineers within the next 12 months. Starting today, engineers who want to join the program can now get on Commit’s waitlist.

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Voice AIs are raising competition concerns, EU finds

The European Union has been digging into the competition implications of AI-powered voice assistants and other Internet of Things (IoT) connected technologies for almost a year. Today it’s put out a first report discussing potential concerns that EU lawmakers say will help inform their wider digital policymaking in the coming years.

A major piece of EU legislation introduced at the back of last year is already set to apply ex ante regulations to so-called ‘gatekeeper’ platforms operating in the region, with a list of business practice ‘dos and don’ts’ for powerful, intermediating platforms being baked into the forthcoming pan-EU Digital Services Act.

But if course applications of technology don’t stand still. The bloc’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, has also had her eye on voice assistant AI technologies for a while — raising concerns about the challenges being posed for user choice as far back as 2019, when she said her department was “trying to figure out how access to data will change the marketplace”.

The Commission took a concrete step last July when it announced a sectoral inquiry to examine IoT competition concerns in detail.

It’s now published a preliminary report, based on polling more than 200 companies operating in consumer IoT product and services markets (in Europe, Asia and the US) — and is soliciting further feedback on the findings (until September 1) ahead of a final report due in the first half of next year.

Among the main areas of potential competition concern it found are: Exclusivity and tying practices in relation to voice assistants and practices that limit the possibility to use different voice assistants on the same smart device; the intermediating role of voice assistants and mobile OSes between users and the wider device and services market — with the concern being this allows the owners of the platform voice AI to control user relationships, potentially impacting the discoverability and visibility of rival IoT services.

Another concern is around (unequal) access to data. Survey participants suggested that platform and voice assistant operators gain extensive access to user data — including capturing information on user interactions with third-party smart devices and consumer IoT services as a result of the intermediating voice AI.

“The respondents to the sector inquiry consider that this access to and accumulation of large amounts of data would not only give voice assistant providers advantages in relation to the improvement and market position of their general-purpose voice assistants, but also allow them to leverage more easily into adjacent markets,” the Commission writes in a press release.

A similar concern underlies an ongoing EU antitrust investigation into Amazon’s use of third party merchants’ data which it obtains via its ecommerce marketplace (and which the Commission believes could be illegally distorting competition in online retail markets).

Lack of interoperability in the consumer IoT sector is another concern flagged in the report. “In particular, a few providers of voice assistants and operating systems are said to unilaterally control interoperability and integration processes and to be capable of limiting functionalities of third-party smart devices and consumer IoT services, compared to their own,” it says.

There’s nothing very surprising in the above list. But it’s noteworthy that the Commission is trying to get a handle on competitive risks — and start mulling potential remedies — at a point when the adoption of voice assistant AIs is still at a relatively early stage in the region.

In its press release, the Commission notes that usage of voice assistant tech is growing worldwide and expected to double between 2020 and 2024 (from 4.2BN voice AIs to 8.4BN) — although only 11% of EU citizens surveyed last year had already used a voice assistant, per cited Eurostat data.

EU lawmakers have certainly learned lessons from the recent failure of competition policy to keep up with digital developments and rein in a first wave of tech giants. And those giants of course continue to dominate the market for voice AIs now (Amazon with Alexa, Google with its eponymous Assistant and Apple’s Siri). So the risks for competition are crystal clear — and the Commission will be keen to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

Still, quite how policymakers could look to tackle competitive lock-in around voice AIs — whose USP tends to be their lazy-web, push-button and branded convenience for users — remains to be seen.

One option, enforcing interoperability, could increase complexity in a way that’s negative for usability — and may raise other concerns, such as around the privacy of user data.

Although giving users themselves more say and control over how the consumer tech they own works can certainly be a good idea, at least provided the platform’s presentation of choices isn’t itself manipulative and exploitative.

There are certainly plenty of pitfalls where IoT and competition is concerned — but also potential opportunities for startups and smaller players if proactive regulatory action can ensure that dominant platforms don’t get to set all the defaults once again.

Commenting in a statement, Vestager said: “When we launched this sector inquiry, we were concerned that there might be a risk of gatekeepers emerging in this sector. We were worried that they could use their power to harm competition, to the detriment of developing businesses and consumers. From the first results published today, it appears that many in the sector share our concerns. And fair competition is needed to make the most of the great potential of the Internet of Things for consumers in their daily lives. This analysis will feed into our future enforcement and regulatory action, so we look forward to receiving further feedback from all interested stakeholders in the coming months.”

The full sectoral report can be found here.

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health
The imbalanced landscape of hormonal health

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

For this week’s deep dive, Alex, Natasha, and Chris dug into the world of hormonal health, a sub-sector within the massive (and booming) world of digital health.

The show was inspired by Natasha’s latest Extra Crunch piece: “Hormonal Health is a massive opportunity: Where are the unicorns?”. To round out the show, we asked one of the featured founders, Dr. Elizabeth Ruzzo, to hop on the mic and help us understand if hormonal health is at its infancy, or at an inflection point, in tech.

The tl;dr before we hop into the show is that hormones — while constantly evolving and changing — are center node for a ton of health conditions that disproportionately impact women. These can include mental health issues, infertility, diabetes, and more. If you’re someone interested in the world of digital health and always read about the Ro’s and Hinge Health’s of the ecosystem, this episode will teach you what else there is that deserves equal – if not more – attention.

Here’s what we got into:

  • We started with landscaping! We defined the term “hormonal health” and got a sense of market size, as to show the opportunity there is to innovate here right now.
  • Ruzzo walked us through the opportunity in pro-active medicine, as well as how investors reacted to her pitch when she was first raising her seed round.
  • We ping-ponged around different reasons as to why hormonal health is an underserved category, starting with stigma and ending with stigma.
  • This post from a set of venture capital investors discussing the market opportunity that women’s health may have for founders and VCs alike.
  • Then we got into Modern Fertility’s acquisition by Ro, and why Ruzzo and many in the digital health community were surprised at the outcome. That said, it’s still one of the rare exits, and as far as unicorns go, there are virtually no companies valued at over $1 billion that focus explicitly on women’s hormonal health.
  • Shifting gears, the trio turned to startups working on PCOS, one of the most common hormonal conditions out there that impacts one in ten women. Former Ro director Rachel Blank announced today that she is starting a company in this world, Allara.
  • To round out the conversation we touched on the recent Veera venture capital round, and closed with a short discussion concerning the the term “femtech” and why it’s not so good.

Don’t forget to take the Equity survey, and we’ll chat you on Friday morning!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

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seed round
ShelfLife, a marketplace for raw materials, raises $3 million seed round

Two years ago, Lillian Cartright teamed up with some fellow Harvard Business School students to launch a new spiked seltzer brand called Astrid. Despite all the tools that make launching a D2C brand easier than it’s ever been, the team ran into complications when it came to securing raw materials.

This piece of the supply chain is still stuck in the past, according to Cartright, who explained that most of it is still based around trade shows, powered by referrals and personal connections and plenty of phone calls.

That’s when the idea for ShelfLife was born. The company, cofounded by Cartright and John Cline, is aiming to build a directory and marketplace of raw material suppliers based on what brands actually, specifically need, allowing them to secure quotes quickly.

The current system is set up to benefit the large incumbent CPG brands, but the industry is shifting. Craft beverages, in particular, are growing in popularity and the pandemic encouraged consumers to buy more bottled, box, and canned goods online.

In fact, Cartright says that 50 food and beverage brands are launched every single day. But the small, new brands don’t have an easy way to procure materials. For Cartright and Astrid, it was so complicated that it led her and her team to abandon the project.

“I instead took that experience kind of ran with it,” said Cartright. “There are thousands of other people that want to launch brands in the food and beverage space. There are no resources when it comes to supply chain. There’s something there, and this entire space is going to end up digitizing in the very near term.”

In beta, ShelfLife charges a small fee for use of the software, and is manually procuring supplier quotes on behalf of brands. The funding will, in part, go towards automating that process as much as possible to scale on both the brand and supplier side.

One of the challenges of that is that not all suppliers love the idea of being compared to one another, all on one page. Cartright argues that the shifting landscape of the industry means that lead generation around new brands is growing in importance, and a trend that suppliers should get ahead of.

Eventually, Cartright wants to shift the ShelfLife business model to a commission structure that would come out of the budget suppliers usually reserve for field sales reps. The company also wants to build products around financing for the brands, as many suppliers require upfront payment, which can be taxing on a small brand.

The funding round was co-led by Switch Ventures and Kindred Ventures, with participation from NextView Ventures, Ben Zises (SuperAngel.vc), Ilia Papas (former CTO of Blue Apron), and Elena Donio (former President of SAP Concur) among others.

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Branch Raises 50 million
Branch raises $50M to offer bundled auto & home insurance via an API

Branch Insurance, a startup offering bundled home and auto insurance, has raised $50 million in a Series B funding round led by Anthemis Group.

Acrew, Cherry Creek Holdings and existing backers Greycroft, HSCM Bermuda, American Family Ventures, SignalFire, SCOR P&C Ventures, Foundation Capital and Tower IV also participated in the round. With this latest financing, Columbus, Ohio-based Branch has raised $82.5 million in total funding since its 2017 inception.

With so many players in the insurtech space, it can get tough distinguishing the various offerings. Branch claims that it is unique in that it is able to provide customers with “an instant insurance offer” for bundled home and auto insurance “within seconds” using just a few pieces of information.

Co-founder and CEO Steve Lekas began his career at Allstate, where he went on to hold roles in underwriting, technology and product management. He then went on to build Esurance’s first online home insurance business.

But in the back of his mind, Lekas yearned to figure out a way to make insurance more accessible for more people. And so he teamed up with Joe Emison, and Branch was born.

“The industry is structurally flawed and it harms consumers. Complicated policies, rising costs and marketing warfare all contribute to a vicious cycle that results in overpriced insurance,” said Lekas. “We are a full-stack insurance company transforming the way people think about their home and car insurance.”

Branch, he claims, is the only insurance company that he is aware of that can bind insurance through an API, and the only one that can bundle auto and home insurance in a single transaction.

Another way Branch is unique, according to Lekas, is that it can be embedded into the buying experience. In other words, the company has partnered with companies such as Rocket Mortgage and ADT to integrate insurance at the point of sale in their products. For example, if a person is closing on a home, they have the option of purchasing Branch insurance at the same time.

Branch co-founder and CEO Steve Lekas. Photo: Robb McCormick Photography

“Every home or car policy starts with another transaction,” Lekas said. “Insurance is a product that exists only because of the other transaction. It’s never before been possible to embed in that primary purchase before.”

This distribution model means that Branch shells out less to acquire customers and thus, it claims, is able to offer premiums for a lower price than competitors.

“In just two clicks, a consumer can have home and car insurance or just home and we’ll cancel the old insurance on their closing date, and transmit all the data to their existing mortgage,” Lekas said.

Branch also offers its insurance direct-to-consumer and through agencies.

The company plans to use its new capital in part to accelerate its rollout across the U.S. so that it can sign more such partnerships where it can embed its offering. Currently, Branch has more than 30 partnerships of varying sizes, and is “adding more every week” as it launches in more states.

“It’s really hard to move quickly,” Lekas said. “The system is built to make you move slowly. Every state regulator has to approve individually and independently with their own rules.”

Lekas predicts Branch will be available in more than 80% of the U.S. before the year’s out.

Branch has seen increased momentum since its $24 million Series A in July 2020.

Specifically, the startup says it has achieved a 435% growth in its partner channel, 660% growth in active policies and a 734% increase in active premium less than one year after its last raise.

Anthemis Group Partner Ruth Foxe Blader notes that Branch marks her firm’s first investment from its new growth fund.

Blader says she has invested in insurance innovation over the past decade, and is particularly attracted to insurtech businesses that represent three things: significant technology and data science innovation; significant product innovation and significant cultural innovation.

“Branch easily ticks those boxes,” Blader told TechCrunch. “Branch’s products are both embedded and bundled, making them less expensive and more convenient to purchase, and less likely to leave customers with critical protection gaps.”

The startup, she added, effectively combines data science and technology to create “unique, automatic product bundles.”

With what it describes as a “built-for-savings” structure, Branch said it has created connected home discounts as well as programs that reward members for making referrals and practicing safe driving behaviors, for example.

Branch also has formed a nonprofit, SafetyNest, to help those who are un- or underinsured.

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2020 Ecommerce Sales
Charts: 2020 Global Ecommerce Sales

The Asia Pacific region generated roughly 62.6 percent of 2020 global ecommerce sales. North America was second at 19.1 percent, followed by Western Europe (13.0 percent), Central and Eastern Europe (2.4 percent), Latin America (2.1 percent), and the Middle East and Africa (1.1 percent).

As for countries, 2020 ecommerce sales in China were $2.3 trillion, or 29 percent of the global total. Total 2020 ecommerce sales in India were $55.6 billion, or the eighth-most worldwide.

China’s per capita ecommerce sales in 2020 were $1,595.85, which was fourth globally behind the U.K. ($2,657.25), the U.S. ($2,400.28), and South Korea ($2,157.24).

This post was originally published on this site

Inventory Management
Save Money on Inventory with EOQ

A production scheduling model first proposed in 1913 and popularized in the late 1980s may help modern companies understand how much inventory to buy and how often, saving money in the process.

Ford Whitman Harris, an American production engineer, developed the economic order quantity (EOQ) model to help buyers at manufacturing companies understand how much of a given raw material or part they should buy.

In the past few decades, different sorts of companies, including pure ecommerce operations, omnichannel retailers, and direct-to-consumer brands, have used the EOQ to calculate the ideal amount of inventory to purchase from a particular supplier to minimize the cost of buying and holding.

The model starts with an understanding that the total cost of buying inventory is the sum of the purchase cost (the price of the product), the ordering cost, and the carrying cost.

Total Cost = Purchase Cost + Ordering Cost + Carrying Cost

A Balancing Act

Purchasing inventory is something of a balancing act.

Buying too little inventory results in out of stocks, disappointing shoppers and foregoing profits.

But too much inventory is a problem too. Where will the retailer put the inventory? And what happens to that inventory as it ages? Will it spoil or become obsolete?

This balancing act is what the EOQ tries to solve, using an equation that identifies ordering cost, demand, and carrying cost.

Image showing the EOQ formula.

The economic order quantity or optimal order size is the square root of two times the ordering cost times the demand for a given timeframe divided by the carrying cost per unit.

Ordering Cost

Ordering cost, also called the setup cost, is the expense of placing an order (not the price of the goods, which is the purchase cost).

Thus, ordering cost might include freight and the time your company’s purchasing team spends researching and placing the order.

For example, imagine a DTC brand that manufactures its product in Taiwan. With each production run, the brand sends a quality engineer from its office in Los Angeles to the facility in Taiwan. The trip is part of the ordering cost.

On a smaller scale, a purchasing agent might submit an order, arrange the freight, and allocate that inventory to a few warehouses. The agent’s time should be used to estimate a fixed cost per order.

Imagine that the ordering cost of a product is $100. We can place this number in a Google Sheet.

Screenshot of a Google Sheet showing the $100 ordering cost.

Ordering cost is the cost of placing or processing an order.

Demand

For the EOQ equation, demand is the number of units your business will purchase in a given timeframe, typically one year, reflecting the number of units you expect to sell.

A weakness of the EOQ model is that it does not account for seasonal spikes in demand. For this reason, it may be necessary to adjust the timeframe.

In our example, let’s imagine that demand is 10,000 units per year.

Screenshot of a Google Sheet showing the $100 ordering cost and 10,000 demand units.

The EOQ demand is the number of units your business will purchase for some timeframe, such as one year.

Carrying Cost

Carrying cost, which is sometimes called holding cost, is the expense of storing or holding unsold inventory for a particular timeframe (the same timeframe as for demand).

Carrying cost is often shown as a percentage of total inventory value. But for our EOQ equation, we want a monetary amount per unit. So we will start by calculating the carrying cost percentage and then multiply it by the unit cost.

Inventory carrying costs typically include the costs of capital, storage, servicing, and risk.

  • Capital costs are the opportunity or interest costs associated with buying inventory. Imagine you bought $100,000 in inventory. If your business could have earned 5 percent by investing that money, the capital is costing 5 percent. Similarly, if you have to borrow to buy inventory, the interest is a capital cost.
  • Storage costs are a product’s share of warehousing costs, including the rent or mortgage, overhead, and similar.
  • Servicing costs are expenses related to holding a product, such as insurance, software, and labor.
  • Risk includes shrinking, spoilage, and obsolescence.

Added together, these costs result in “inventory carrying (or holding) sum.” That figure is divided by the total value of the inventory and multiplied by 100 to get a percentage.

Carrying Cost (%) = Inventory Carrying Sum / Total Inventory Value * 100

We then multiply the carrying cost percentage by the cost per unit.

For our example, we can say that it costs 20 percent to carry inventory and our unit cost is $10. Thus our carrying cost per unit is $2.

Screenshot of a Google Sheet showing the $100 ordering cost, 10,000 demand units, and carrying cost per unit..

Calculating carrying cost takes a little work. It requires understanding the capital costs, storage costs, service costs, and risks associated with holding inventory.

Calculate the EOQ

Having identified the ordering cost, the demand, and the carrying cost per unit, we are ready to calculate the EOQ or optimal order size, which is Q* in our equation.

Image showing the EOQ formula.

The economic order quantity or optimal order size is the square root of two times the ordering cost times the demand for a given timeframe divided by the carrying cost per unit.

This is a straightforward calculation in Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel. The formula is the same in both. Here is what it looked like in a Google Sheet.

=SQRT((2*B3*B4)/B8)

Screenshot of a Google Sheet showing the formula for calculating the EOQ.

Calculate the square root in a spreadsheet.

In this case, it would make the most sense to order 1,000 units ten times throughout the year.

Remember, the EOQ aims to reduce your company’s total cost of purchasing inventory by calculating the optimal order size. EOQ then is a way to improve your business’s bottom line.

EOQ may be best for products with relatively stable demand. If your goods have strong seasonal demand, consider experimenting with the timeframe.

This post was originally published on this site

e book
Using an Ebook for B2B Lead Generation

Trading an ebook for a prospect’s contact information is among the purest forms of content marketing. It’s an effective way for B2B sellers to find their next customer.

B2B companies supply the products that ecommerce and omnichannel sellers retail to the general public.

I was recently reminded how a simple ebook can be an excellent B2B customer acquisition tool when I downloaded one from Affirm, the installment loan company, in exchange for my LinkedIn profile information and email address.

Here are some of the insights I drew from Affirm’s ebook.

Screen capture from the cover page of Affirm's ebook.

This screen capture is from the cover page of Affirm’s ebook. The bright and colorful image was also featured in the LinkedIn ad.

Using an Ebook for B2B Lead Generation

1. Capture a lead. Affirm’s ebook was presumably developed as a lead capture device. Consider the evidence.

  • It was featured in an ad on LinkedIn.
  • Its title, “5 customer acquisition tactics you might be missing,” takes advantage of the fear of missing out.
  • Lists attract clicks; listicles are sometimes considered link bait.
  • The ad was almost certainly aimed at me because of my ecommerce work.
  • The fifth tactic in Affirm’s ebook is its own service. It prepares the reader for Affirm’s follow-up.
Screencapture of the final tactic in Affirm's ebook.

The final customer acquisition tactic in Affirm’s ebook was the company’s own service. This was also the longest tactic in terms of the word count.

2. Combine with ads. I define content marketing as the act of creating, publishing, and promoting content with the aim of attracting, engaging, and retaining customers.

In practice, marketers often emphasize creating and publishing the content but not promoting it. This is a mistake when your goal is lead capture. So I applaud Affirm’s decision to buy ads around the ebook.

This is not to say that you should be advertising every new blog post. But when you have an ebook for lead capture, why not buy attractive ads around it, with compelling graphics and a click-grabbing title?

3. Your ebook can be short. This Affirm ebook is brief. The PDF is just eight pages, including a title page and an “About Affirm” page. There are fewer than 1,100 words, 107 on the “About Affirm” page. This article is roughly 700 words.

In my mind, Affirm’s ebook was too short. But the point is that you don’t need to create a massive tomb to acquire leads. Your ebook can be short and focused. Provide enough content to make good on the promise in your title and your promotion. That’s all you need.

Ebooks are within your company’s reach.

Screen capture of the third tactic in Affirm's ebook.

This single page with a couple of short paragraphs and a list constituted a full section in the Affirm ebook.

4. A little value is still value. Offer something of value when asking a prospective customer for an email address and, by implication, permission to contact. This is reciprocity — trading things of value for the mutual benefit of two parties (your company and your prospect).

The value you offer, however, should be proportional to what you ask in return. My email address is worth something. But it’s not worth, say, an entire encyclopedia set. A bulleted list of reasonable customer acquisition tactics, which is what Affirm offered, seems fair.

Make sure the value you provide is worth it to your prospect.

5. Automation. Although I downloaded the ebook directly from the LinkedIn ad after sharing my email address, I still received an email from Affirm with a link to the ebook and a marketing message.

Screen capture of the follow-up email, after the author downloaded the ebook.

Automate your lead follow-up with a nurture campaign that helps guide the prospect toward a purchase.

I suspect Affirm initiated a marketing automation workflow when it captured my email address. Likely I will receive a couple more emails in the series.

This is something you should consider for your ebook, too. Develop an automation flow that guides your new prospect toward more engagement. The content opened the door to a new relationship with your company, but you still have to nurture it.

Borrow from Others

Affirm’s marketing team did a pretty good job with the ebook. It captured my contact info and intrigued me enough to compose this article. But it wasn’t perfect. You can do better.

Build on Affirm’s example for your next lead capture campaign.

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