In this interview series, we are talking to leaders of ecommerce businesses who can share their strategies for creating a successful ecommerce website. As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Caroline Castille.
Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you got started?
I was salsa dancing with a friend who soon became my best friend. We realized there was an underserved market for dancers. We decided to create a better shoe in the market for dancers. That company wasn’t ready for me to go full-time yet so I started interning at Angel “Nexus.” Angel “Nexus” was an investor group that started out of UCF. I eventually became a partner as we grew into a statewide network. We ended up helping over 70 companies raise over 20 million dollars. Now I’m an investor and marketing agency owner of Clickable Impact. We’ve helped dozens of ecommerce companies grow past their first million, and now we’re doing that just by ecommerce.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what you learned?
I made a lot of humorous mistakes. I had someone introduce me to a pretty well-known entrepreneur in the community. I was a student at the time, and I didn't have a calendar, I just had things in my head. Humorously now, I just didn’t show up to the meeting. It was on their calendar—just not mine. As a student, I didn’t manage anything like that, so the day went by, and I didn’t show up. It was super embarrassing to get a call from the mentor that set it up saying, “Hey, you didn’t show up.”
Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?
My mom since she was the first entrepreneur that came into my life. Mike O’Donnell has been investing in venture since 1991, he showed me how you could do business the right way. Finally, Blair Martin taught me that there is no such thing as a black-and-white decision in business.
What does your ecommerce company do? What was the “aha moment” that led to the idea for your current ecommerce business?
FlightsPath Golf is one of our ecommerce companies that focuses on improving golfers' skill of shooting straighter and farther, something every golfer strives for. We were already 2-3 products in, spending over $50K on them and the marketing, when a UCF student brought in a golf widget to my office. My husband and I immediately started to get eager over how this product could really have its own entire market. After testing and licensing the product, we started off with $250K in sales.
What was your original vision for your company? What pain point(s) were you trying to solve for your customers?
The original vision was wanting to own something and scale it. Having one of my business partners also be my husband was nice in knowing that his fire was simultaneously fueling mine. My husband came from a very entrepreneurial, inventor background. So, we both knew at the very beginning that the vision and idea would be to own it ourselves and grow its scalability.
There are more than 12 million ecommerce businesses out there. What do you think makes your company stand out?
I think what makes us stand out is that we actually do what we say we do. There are a lot of other companies that promote one thing but do another. At FlightPath Golf, our product is robotically tested, so its legitimacy has been proved multiple times in various settings, even by other third parties.
Knowing that our product does what it says it does makes it easy to stand behind. I’m most proud of the progress we’ve made, especially recently, since we are on our way to becoming Women Owned and Certified. I’m proud of being able to run both FlightPath Golf and Email on Performance while doing it alongside my significant other.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things you need to know to build a highly successful ecommerce website?
1. One of the most important things would be building an email list. Installing a pop-up on your site allows a 15-second window allowing consumers to potentially enter and collect their information. One of the most profitable things you can do is create that email list!
2. Don’t just focus on a pretty website—focus on one landing page with one product that sells really well. I’ve seen people make 7-8 figures a month, selling only 2-4 products on their site. Scaling from there will make it so much easier to become profitable.
3. Make sure the copy on the landing page is good enough to have the consumer make the buying decision. The reading online should be very simple and easy to understand—similar to a 5th-grade reading level.
4. TRAFFIC! Hone in on the traffic and watch your online business scale. About 95% of online stores I know are profiting because they have a lot of traffic. You should be striving for a 2:1 return on your traffic.
5. Really great content! FlightPath has animations and examples that are visually appealing as well as informative. Really good content is also known as UGC content—sending it out to influencers and reaching out to the consumers directly to keep the conversation going.
If there were one part of the ecommerce website development process you would have spent 50% more time on, what would it be and why?
There would be two things for Flightpath. We could have spent more time on email marketing and building the infrastructure better. Automated emails should have been built better to scale traffic. The second thing is I wish we had launched on Amazon sooner. That probably would have doubled our sales. Amazon and email marketing have been the best profitable ways to scale FlightPath golf.
Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging ecommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
Utilizing tools and resources that will increase effectiveness and efficiency is crucial!
I love the Hemingway app. It allows you to make the writing on your site more clear and bold. In this case, your product should have a very clear and concise landing page that is super user-friendly and accessible. That’s where the Hemingway app comes in. It helps write pieces that are at a 5th-grade reading level so your audience understands quickly in a simple, effective way.
I also really love Answer The Public, a site that allows you to create content to increase traffic on your platform. It’s very useful in finding creative ways to create content and find topics people are searching for to tailor to those requests.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs and founders make when they start an ecommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
A common mistake I’ve seen leaders do when first starting up is not focusing as much on the research. Research is one of, if not the most important aspect. You have to build a strong foundation in the beginning to get that initial traction.
In your experience, which aspect of running an ecommerce brand tends to be most underestimated?
From all the ecommerce store owners I know, I think people don’t understand or have enough knowledge to know if email and SMS marketing actually work and how well it works.
For 90% of my clients at Email on Performance, we were able to get 30%-50% of our store revenue from both email and SMS marketing. I know people also underestimate the product they have. You have to understand what your uniqueness is and how you can show your audience how that problem can be solved.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be?
I’ve noticed that a lot of people are against the idea of letting apps track you. Still, I believe that allowing them to track you will create a whole different experience for you online, allowing the things that interest you to be shown versus wasting time looking at things that aren’t as relevant to you.
I know it’s kind of scary, but if you want to support local businesses and support the good guys. It’s what we do at Clickable Impact. We use the data in a good way to share products with you that you actually like and that aren’t huge conglomerates.
We don’t want to waste your time by showing you products that aren’t tailored to your interests.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Clickable Impact: https://www.clickableimpact.com/
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