my experience being featured on heartsy

by Sara Tams of sarah + abraham


Have you ever considered promoting your Etsy shop through Heartsy? Based on the overwhelmingly positive response to Jessika’s post about Worthsy yesterday, I’m guessing probably not!

But just in case you’re curious about exactly how it works and whether or not it might be a worthwhile way to market your Etsy shop (setting aside for a moment the bigger picture of the value of handmade), I’d like to share my experience with Heartsy and the cost analysis that I came up with in comparing Heartsy with a few other ways of promoting an Etsy shop.

If you’re not already familiar with the way Heartsy works, it’s similar to Groupon or Zulily, but it features exclusively handmade items, and Heartsy doesn’t take a cut of the sale. For example, if you do a deal on Zulily, they may offer a $20 voucher to your shop for $10, of which you receive $5 and Zulily keeps $5. When Heartsy offers a $20 voucher to your shop for $10, you receive the entire $10. Heartsy earns revenue by selling VIP memberships and offering VIP perks (usually free shipping or a higher voucher amount for the same price).

On a whim, I gave Heartsy a try in April. I agreed to offer 150 $30 vouchers for $11 each (a $35 voucher for VIP members) with a one-month expiration date. My Heartsy feature went live at 10am. At 11:30 Heartsy contacted me asking if I wanted to increase the number of vouchers from 150 to 175. It seemed to be going well (not many of the people who purchased vouchers were placing orders right away), so I agreed.

The vouchers sold out by 2:30 pm, but I only had 52 orders from Heartsy customers in the first day and 9 orders on the second day.

Fortunately, my husband was available to help me fill orders for two days, and we were caught up by 5pm the next day (all of the Heartsy orders were shipped or packaged and ready to be shipped the next morning).

Overall, it was a positive experience (not as overwhelming as I had feared it might be). I had over 1,800 visitors to my Etsy shop on the day of my feature. The people at Heartsy were easy to work with, and their website was easy to use. I was able to log in to my account to verify voucher numbers and to transfer the funds that Heartsy had collected ($1,925) to my PayPal account.

Most customers spent more than the voucher amount (the average Heartsy order was $5.29 over the voucher amount), and 48 people who purchased vouchers never redeemed them. So both of those things helped to offset the cost of the promotion a little bit, and hopefully I’ll gain some repeat customers (several Heartsy shoppers signed up for my mailing list). But it seems like the return on investment could be a lot better from other methods of marketing and advertising.

For example, I typically renew about 10 – 15 listings each day in my Etsy shop. At $0.20 per renewal, this works out to $60 – $90 in renewal fees per month, which I consider an advertising expense to keep my products coming up at the top of Etsy searches. When I add in the rest of my Etsy fees, my total cost to list items on Etsy is about 12% of my Etsy sales. When I add in website sales from customers who find my website through Etsy, the cost is only 6%.

As an example of how valuable editorial coverage can be, I was recently featured on a high-traffic blog.  I provided a sample and an item for a giveaway (my cost was $80 for the two items). So far I’ve had $1,926 in sales from that blog feature, so the cost was about 4% of the revenue that has been generated so far. Of course not all blogs are equal – this is one of the best outcomes I’ve ever had from a blog feature.

I’ve only run a few ads on blogs, so I have very limited experience in that area, but last Fall I ran an ad that cost $280 and resulted in $2,247 in sales. So the cost of the ad was about 12% of the revenue it generated.

By comparison, I shipped $4,592 worth of merchandise to Heartsy shoppers, and I received a total of $2,597 for those orders, so the cost of being featured on Heartsy was $1,995 (43%).

It’s possible that some Heartsy shoppers will become repeat customers, but I’d bet that compared with customers who find me thorough an Etsy search, editorial coverage, or a well placed ad, Heartsy shoppers will be less likely to come back and pay full price.

Since being featured on Heartsy I’ve been contacted by several similar websites, and Heartsy has asked me to offer another promotion, but I’ve decided to focus on other marketing strategies and not offer any more deep discounts.

If you’ve been featured on Heartsy, Zulily, Groupon, or a similar website, please leave a comment and tell us about your experience! For those of you who have advertised on blogs and are willing to share – I’d love to hear what your experience has been in terms of how much the ads have cost vs. how much revenue they generated.

20 comments

  1. lesley says:

    Sara, thanks for your candid post about the Heartsy feature, your revenue, and gains from other features/advertisements. it is really interesting to see how it plays out percentage-wise, for you.
    I have not done a whole lot of advertising, and am just venturing into that area in the next while. It’s helpful to see numbers and how things work out for other businesses. Thanks!

  2. Thanks Sara for including your always including your impeccably analyzed numbers! This further confirms my same reasons for not wanting to participate in group discount sites, especially if you are a handmade business.

    I have not had much luck with blog advertisements, but too have much success when I partner up with blogs that have similar readers as my customers for giveaways.

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

  3. Sarah, I love how you always break everything down. This was SO helpful. Thanks for being honest. Prior to my work at home mommy years I worked for a very high quality quick service restaurant in marketing. One of Corporate’s strategies was to not fall into the $.99 cent Value Meal trap. Our average bill for a family of four was around $20.00 vs the $10–$12 bill at “cheaper” places. Their mentatlity was that we were trying to provide a different type of experience and if we devalued our product then our customers would in turn associate the “lower cost” with our competitors. If you live in my area you KNOW that that restaurant chain provides a service, quality, and atmosphere that no one else has been able to create, not to mention that their sales continue to exceed what other’s are doing around them. So… “cheaper” or “discount” is not always better. I am a bargain shopper and I LOVE to get a good deal, but the important thing is to remember who your customers are and are the “bargain shoppers” going to return after getting your item for such a good deal – not to mention falling into the “Value Meal” trap. 🙂 LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your work. You have been such an inspiration.

  4. Aurora says:

    Very interesting article Sara, thanks for sharing your experience. I actually purchased one of your vouchers from heartsy and was thrilled to see you on there. I had been eyeing your great products for quite a while and the voucher pushed me into finally placing an order. And now that I have seen your products in person, I definitely plan on ordering from you again! So you can count me as a (future) repeat customer!!

  5. Thank you for posting this! I was looking into Heartsy vs other marketing! I’m always looking for great information on making my shop successful! I have had very few sales on Etsy. I mainly sell to stores (consignment & wholesale) and at craft fairs, I really want my Etsy shop to better, so again, thanks for the information!

  6. Sara,
    Thank you so much for your detailed story above! I have an Etsy shop (although I do most of my business via my website and via facebook fans who contact me) but I am being reviewed right now for Heartsy. I received the minimum (actually exceeded) # of votes needed to be considered. My friend who is obsessed with Heartsy was pushing me to do it so I said “Okay why not?!” The amount of traffic that your store received is crazy!! Wow! I am also going to be featured in a yoga blog this month and hoping that generates some sales as well…especially bc those sales wouldn’t be discounted sales.

    I truly appreciate you taking the time to share this. I am looking forward to a response from Heartsy and we’ll see what happens! Nonetheless, it’ll be exciting to see all that traffic for something i made!!

    Jenn at Blooming Lotus Jewelry 🙂

    http://www.BloomingLotusJewelry.com

  7. Alyssa says:

    What a helpful story! I wish I had read it before I ran my Heartsy deal — it might have made me smarter about figuring out the math. I just opened my shop so the one benefit was it got the word out in a short period of time but unfortunately, the price point I agreed to ended up killing me in terms of how many items people bought versus how many orders I could fill in a day. =/ I also didn’t get too much overage — only about $3 each order. It also racked up nearly $100 in re-list fees for me through Etsy. A few people who purchase from my shop also do pretty high-traffic blogs in the MMU circles so I’m hoping that my products meets their expectations but I’m not sure if I would necessarily consider doing Heartsy again — at least not at the price point I had agreed to before.

  8. Samantha says:

    I am applying to be featured on Heartsy but I am happy that I read this as well.

    I think one advantage to Heartsy is that even though you have to offer huge discounts, you get all the money in a relatively short period of time.
    You also read customers you might not have reached otherwise so it’s money you might not have had otherwise.

    I do hate that after doing the math I feel like it’s sad I’d be selling my products for so little, but I guess I’m going to look at it as a big wholesale order.

  9. Carla says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I opened up my Etsy shop very recently and applied to be featured on Heartsy, for the exposure. I just got my acceptance email + kit…but after reading some horror stories, I am not sure if it will be worth it.

    Lots to think about.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Carla

  10. Diana says:

    I just received an invitation to Heartsy and didn’t know what it was. I never applied for acceptance. It just appeared in my email. At first I was excited to get invited to Heartsy…but after reading Sara’s account of her dealings with Heartsy, I think I’ll just stick with trying promotion thru giveaways and posting on our FB and Twitter, etc. Thanks for the frank discussion. I think the % of their take is too much. We work hard to create our items to have to work harder to have most of it taken away.

    Lady Like
    Diana

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