Build a cult out of a specific niche.

  • This cannot be overstated. Sell into a tiny group that obviously will want what you are selling. The weirder the better.
  • Only after you saturate this market scale to other audiences.
  • Go above and beyond to find where your niche hangs out and interacts. Treat them like friends not customers. (forums, chats, subreddits, twitter hashtags, video games, meetups, etc)
  • If you consider brand a moat then word of mouth is priceless.

Make consistency the priority. User trust takes time to build.

  • Unless your purchase is an impulse buy (and <$20), you need to make sure customers understand who you are.
  • Create content ahead of time and then distribute it regularly.
  • TALK TO CUSTOMERS. By voice or video when possible.

Make your comms channels priority #1

  • Your emails, ad and site copy, topics referenced... all of these help naturally target customers and make it easy for someone to recommend to a friend
  • Do anything you can to get multiple customer touch points. Email lists, games, podcasts, blogs, youtube channels.  These are all expensive but drive continued exposure and build mindshare.

Know when to be loud & when to be quiet

  • When trying to break through the noise brands can get carried away
  • Bold colors for every button, on every page YELLS LIKE AN ALL CAPS TWEET.

Go easy on animations

  • Many sites have an all-consuming need to animate type and images. This distracts from the experience and tends to be buggy/studder. (looking at you Recess).
  • My suggestion: animate larger sections in, major transitions, and micro-interactions.  leave key art and main copy alone!

Make your value proposition very clear and low-level

  • If you make a customer ask "but what does it do??" for more than 10 seconds you are losing $$$.

Deliver something of obvious value to distinguish yourself from the competition

  • Sustainable plastics are table stakes, not a business moat (*caveats abound)
  • Bright colors and pretty packaging all quickly fade

SaaS is way ahead of e-comm development

  • Use funnels!  It is crazy how little these are used on the average store.
  • CTAs could be managed much better (on average)

Content marketing is hard, be sure you can commit.

  • Many sites have aged content, hard/expensive to keep up to date.
  • Low engagement & effort is the norm, most have strong 'did it for the SEO' feelings.
  • If you do content marketing make sure the quality is consistent with your brand and product positioning.

Use more videos!! They are engaging and show a product much more accurately.

  • Very few companies use any sort of video at all, especially on product pages.
  • Try adding a 'wall of love' showing dozens of happy customer reviews.

Brand can be a most, make use of that.

  • Most photography is taken in a very similar white-studio style.
  • Make your branding in a way that another literally cannot copy you. (influencers, CGI, on-location, juxtaposed objects)
  • Realism in the next wave, get ahead of it!

Premium prices hinge upon product delight

  • Most DNVB brands try hard to include small details that they think their customers will enjoy
  • Packaging, hidden micro-interactions on the site, and available support all add up to a user feeling 'luxury' through the screen.
  • Personalization through human touches, thoughtful gestures, honest follow-ups.


Building a store has never been easier.  With better tools and many great brands leading the way to learn from. Building something?  Let me know!