eCommerce Lifestyle
I Messed Up

I Messed Up….


In today’s episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle, Anton talks about! Hopefully, you can learn something from my mistake...

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Hello, everybody. Anton Kraly here from And I messed up. Looking back, it was a very obvious mistake, a misstep, something that should have easily been avoided, especially after being in online business for over a decade. But it's the reality, right? It's something that we just dove deep into at my team's quarterly meeting that just wrapped up. It's something that [Buckaly] have solutions for, and we're already making progress on in terms of resolving it. But I don't just want to make mistakes and fix them. I want to also share them with you if I think that would benefit you, hopefully, so that you can learn from my mistakes, not make the same yourselves and be in a better position in business. So you might be like me and after a decade, still make the same mistakes anyway, and have to learn the hard way. But if anybody out there gets value from this and saves themselves some money, some headache, and some just looking back and being like, why did I do that? Then, yeah, this video is worth it.

So what I'm going to do is share my screen, if you're watching the video version of this and talk about traffic, okay? Web traffic. This is all obviously digital. Everything we do is online. And what I first want to do is talk about pre COVID. So let's go back in time, what? A year and a half, almost, now, and look at our normal traffic mix. Okay. So pre COVID days. The majority of our traffic is always paid, meaning paid ads. That's the type of traffic we typically get because we can make money on it. We can control it. And I'm a huge fan of it. So pre COVID, the majority of our traffic still was coming from paid sources.

Now the other, call it between 35 to 45% of our traffic, on any given month, was split between organic social. So organic social media and just organic traffic in general from the search engines. So things like just organic Google results, which makes up the majority of that. Also Bing, other shopping engines that come organically. That's the organic side.

Now, when COVID first hit and people really started freaking out and it seemed like everything was going to shut down and the world was going to end, then paid traffic became cheaper than I've seen it been in, I don't even know. Five, six, seven years? Basically, all ad costs just almost dropped to, I really think, like, historic lows. Looking back, I could probably find times that were cheaper, in terms of our ad costs. But in terms of how cheap ads were with the return on ad spend, that came along with these new cheap ads, I really think this was like a record in my business career running paid traffic. Again, in over a decade.

So in the, I would say, beginning of COVID, for probably a six to 10 month period... So we'll just put this as while we were actually in it, in it deep. And I know a lot of parts the world still are, but now we're pretty much out. Everything is back to normal, at least where I am, and has been for a while. But during the height of COVID, what happened is because these ads cost so much less, because the return on ad spend was still there, what we did as a company is what we should've done and just plowed more and more and more money into paid ads because why wouldn't we capitalize on that? Right? And that's not the mistake. That was a great move because it led to the most profitable year we've ever had in business. So, not complaining about that.

The mistake was as paid traffic grew more and more, what we expected to happen did happen. Which was as a percentage of monthly revenues, our organic social and our organic sales, just again, from the Google search results, from the Bing search results, they became a smaller percentage of the monthly revenues. And again, in my mind, it's because, you know, whatever. It's because we're dumping so much more money into PayIt. It's because there's so much more return on ad spend there. I don't care if now only 20% or 15% of our monthly revenues and profits come from organic social and organic search results because paid is just crushing it, right? Let's keep going. Let's keep going. Let's devote all of our time and resources in to PayIt. And that's exactly what we did. And again, it paid off. We had our best year ever.

But what happened since then? Things started to open up again. And this isn't in the last couple of weeks. This is going back months now. But things started to open up again. People started to advertise their local businesses again. companies that thought maybe they were going to go out of business originally realized that people were still spending a ton of money, most likely because there was being more money than ever printed. But the sales kept going. But with the sales keeping up, so did ad costs because all those people that basically backed out of advertising in the beginning of COVID came back in to the auctions. And if you don't know, that's how basically every ad marketplace works. You're bidding on traffic versus your competitors, and versus everybody that wants to target that same traffic.

So, what happened after this six to eight month window of just insanity is that ad costs started to creep back up, and ad costs became, basically, what they were pre COVID. So we came back to the point where, okay, well that was amazing while that lasted. Of course, before COVID, we're still profitable with our ads. So it's not like, Oh no, what are we going to do? It's just that, okay, we're back to reality. But the problem, and this is the mistake, is that as our ad costs started to rise again, as we started to basically go back to our normal return on ad spends, what we realized month over month is that our organic traffic, okay? Again, organic search engine from Google, from Bing, from free product listings. This all still ate up a smaller percentage of our monthly sales, both of these channels.

So what happens now, we'll change this to post COVID, is that we are still looking at the majority of revenue coming in from paid, but we're looking at a smaller amount every month, just total volume, coming from organic social and organic search results. So why did this happen? It's because during this madness, again, the six to eight month window of just everything, all time, all resources, all energy, all money was being dumped into paid to capitalize on what was happening, we neglected social and organic. We weren't updating any things on our sites. We weren't adding new suppliers. We weren't adding new products. We weren't actively soliciting review content and updating pages, and making sure every link worked and making sure there were no errors in Google search console. We weren't actively innovating and working on our organic social strategy.

Yeah, sure, we were still posting. But on our team calls that wasn't even a thought, as to what are we doing on organic. It was, what are we doing for paid? What are we doing for paid? And because of that, it has simply deteriorated over time, like anything does. If something gets neglected, it goes down. I really don't think there's anything in life that the longer you neglect, the higher, it goes up. Maybe stock investments, actually? I heard this the other day. This is completely random, but that the best performing stock owners, retail investors, are people that are dead because they can't touch their money. They can't move it. It just goes up. But that's not how it works with business. Okay. So that's the one exception.

But what happened here is because these things were neglected. They started to produce less results. It didn't really come up in conversation. It wasn't something we actively tried to fix because, again, the business was doing so much better overall because of the limited window of time that paid was cheaper than it's been in the past seven or eight years. So what does that mean? And what can you learn from this? Well, it means that we have a lot of work to do in order to start innovating again when it comes to organic social. It means that we have to fix all of the things that we neglected when it comes to organic search and, basically. Search engine optimization.

Now, the reason why I want to share this is because while these are simple fixes, and again, we've already been making progress and starting to see the numbers come back to where we want them to be, which of course, is pre COVID numbers and kind of this pre COVID split that works for our business at the scale that we're at. But I wish we would have done, and looking back, the biggest mistake was that during that six to eight month window where everything was just controlled by paid and everything was so cheap and that's where energy went, that should have been the time where we, as a company, devoted even more resources into organic social and into search engine optimization.

What we should have done is continue to focus on paid the same way we did. But me as the company owner, as the leader, should have went out there, should have secured more people, should have built the team and people that came in exclusively to focus on organic search engine optimization and on our organic social. Instead of just pooling all of our resources into PayIt like I did, I should have doubled down, grew the team, had them focusing on these two channels so when things came back to our normal baseline reality, instead of having paid be where it used to be, instead of having social and organic be less than they used to be... I'm not even just talking about getting them back to where they were before. I'm talking about, we should have them now making up even more of our traffic and have more free leads and have more free sales, because we should have invested resources when everything was so good with paid because I know, and I knew, that that doesn't last forever. Right? I knew things were cheap because of COVID. I knew that wouldn't last.

So the mistake was not, instead of just thinking, Oh yeah, this won't last. We'll go back to reality at some point, the mistake is instead of just thinking that, it should have been, bring new people on, have them only focus on organic social and on search engine optimization so that when things go back to quote/unquote normal, we're not just back to where we were, but we're way ahead of the game. And instead, I neglected both of those channels and am currently still left with a smaller percentage of that traffic than we had pre COVID.

Again, I'm not crying about it. Everything is fixable. You can learn from mistakes. We make mistakes to learn, right? You don't throw your hands up and be like, what did I do and go into depression. You simply fix the issue. So that's what we're working on now. Again, already seeing pretty good results with things coming back. But I wanted to share this. So you know that when things are good with one area of your business, appreciate it. Take advantage of it. Again, that will lead to some of your best months and years. But when things are good, don't just look past everything else that's traditionally worked. Don't let that slip away. That was, yeah, a mistake that I made and I'm okay with it. I'm going to fix it. And hopefully you won't make the same mistake when you see something like this and recognize it happening in your business.

So that's it for today, guys. As always, I hope you got value. If you did, be sure to give a like and leave a review over on Apple Podcasts. I will be back on Thursday with a new episode. If you're listening to this, you're brand new, and you want to know how we build highly profitable semi-automated stores, you should definitely check out, where I have a free training for you. And I give you a list of 237 profitable products to sell online. So that'll be linked up in the description as well. Thank you everybody. I appreciate you. And I'll talk to you on Thursday for the next episode of the podcast. See ya, everybody.