eCommerce Marketing Guidelines with Chloë Thomas

Managing marketing in eCommerce can turn out to be a challenge if you don’t approach it in a professional way. But how do you know what is professional? You learn from the expert and success stories in the sphere, of course!

We are happy to present another expert interview with Chloë Thomas, a founder of eCommerce MasterPlan, eCommerce author, podcaster, and online marketer. Let’s try and follow her career path, all ups and downs, and learn from her first-hand experience in eCommerce marketing. Only useful insights here, so let’s get straight into it!

Chloe Thomas photo

Chloë Thomas presenting at the Tudo Soble eCommerce Conference. Source

Chloe Thomas' career path, her victories, losses, and unusual cases

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career. How did you start and where are you now as a marketing expert?

It all started with a marketing internship at Barclays Bank, then the eCommerce part started when I got a job at UK high street retailer Past Times looking after their mail order catalogue mailings. That led to a job as Head of eCommerce at a consultancy serving multiple mail order businesses, and then to a marketing agency that I ran for 10 years. Ever since getting into eCommerce all those years ago I’ve always been solving eCommerce marketing problems, but in lots of different ways! Now I try to help as many retailers as possible to acquire the knowledge and tools to be able to solve their own marketing problems. Mainly I do that via my 2 podcasts eCommerce MasterPlan and Keep Optimising and my books, the most recent of which is Amazon best seller “eCommerce Marketing: How to Get Traffic that BUYS to Your Website”.

Q: What are the most favorite and the most challenging aspects of your job? Explain why.

I love interviewing great people, and seeing the system work that I’ve built to put all those interviews in front of the people they help.

The most challenging bit is finding the right people to interview! When a podcast begins you’ve got to send a lot of invites to secure guests because a lot won’t get back to you. When a podcast gets well known you get inundated with people asking to be on the show so you have to say ‘no’ a lot and be careful not to say ‘yes’ to too many “they’ll do” applications. Gotta keep the guest list strong!

Q: What do you consider to be your biggest achievement and your biggest failure?

Biggest Achievement – exiting my marketing agency in a way that meant the clients were still supported, the staff still had jobs, and that enabled the new owner to take it ever greater heights. It took me 5 years of exploring different ways to leave it before I finally managed it. It’s also my biggest achievement because I was never the right sort of person to be running a marketing agency, so leaving it was brilliant for my soul, my energy levels – everything. The best thing I’ve ever done for me.

Biggest failure. This one cost me £36,000. I hired the wrong person, convinced myself it was me and how I managed them that was the problem not that they were the wrong person for the job. Delaying the inevitable long enough that I couldn’t get a refund from the recruitment agency, THEN hired a law firm rather than an HR consultant to get me through the redundancy process necessary to get rid of that person. A catalogue of errors that I hope never to repeat.

Chloe Thomas for Scurri

Chloe Thomas giving tips on eCommerce sales at the London Scurri Meet Up. Source

Q: Tell us about the weirdest case you’ve experienced at work and how did you handle it.

We don’t get many weird requests, but we do get a lot ‘can I write a guest post’ messages so we’ve set up an out of office to respond to them so we don’t have to anymore.

How to become successful in marketing (and elsewhere)

Q: What 3 qualities do you consider necessary for a marketing specialist? How exactly can these qualities assist in the way to success?

1. A numbers-happy analytical mind. You’ve got to be able to delve into the numbers to understand what’s going on.
2. Creative thinking – constant pivoting and tests and changes are essential.
3. Ability to argue a case with grace – you’re going to have to convince people that you’re right, and you don’t want to piss them off at the same time.

Q: How do you keep up with the latest marketing trends? Can you suggest any useful methods or sources?

Social media mainly. There’s also a LOT of great conferences both online and offline -so time spent at the big ones can really pay off. My favourite this year has been AdWorld.

There’s also a LOT of great [marketing] conferences both online and offline -so time spent at the big ones can really pay off.

And podcasts, of course, one of the best things about hosting two eCommerce focused podcasts is that I can’t avoid being up to speed given all the great people I interview every month!

Q: Which marketing channels are the most relevant to promote a new product as of today?

That all depends on the product, the story, the target audience, what marketing the person launching it is good at / enjoys doing, and how much you can afford to spend in time and money to get each sale. There’s no one size fits all platform – don’t rule anything out.

Q: How do you determine whether a marketing strategy has been successful or not?

Did it achieve the objectives.
If you didn’t set objectives – you shouldn’t have been doing it.

Q: Describe your most successful marketing campaign.
Almost 20 years ago I was sending 100,000s of paper catalogues to consumers to drive repeat and new purchases, spending £millions, and doing it profitably. So if you’re talking money - that’s probably the most successful thing I’ve ever done.

More recently the launch of my book ‘eCommerce Marketing’ – launched Nov 2019 and over 12 months on it’s still a bestseller on Amazon in the UK, and top 10 in the USA. That involved a BIG launch program, ongoing advertising, social media, and regular partnership events with other authors.

Q: Has any of your marketing activities failed? If so, what went wrong and what would you do differently next time?

So many. Far more than have worked out – and that’s how it should be. If you’re not testing you’re not delivering value, and testing means failing.

Q: Do you have an everyday ritual that helped you achieve success? What is it?

  • Get a proper night’s sleep.
  • Keep Mondays and Fridays meeting free.
  • Plan your to do list for the week ahead on a Friday, and your to do list for the day ahead the previous evening.
  • Don’t work weekends, or evenings.
  • Have one mobile phone for work, and one for your life and turn the work one OFF when you’re not working.
  • Take at least one week off every quarter.

Special questions

Q: If you could immediately acquire one new skill, what would it be and why?

Invincibility – I’d be intrigued to see how differently I behaved if nothing could injure me.

If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

It would be fascinating to have dinner with the eCommerce podcast hosts who have more listeners than me, and share war stories! Hmmm maybe I should set that up…

There are more interviews on our blog!

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