With the current market conditions of excessive inflation, oversaturation of products and recession looming, now more than ever customers are being very careful with their money and beginning to spend less. Across the industry, many companies are seeing reduced customer spending and thus reduced revenue due to these factors. With this in mind, now is a good time to examine your monthly expenses to ensure you are running lean as possible and not spending frivolously.

Here are 5 suggestions for reducing expenditure in the common areas sample library or plugins companies spend their money.

1. File Hosting & Bandwidth

File hosting and bandwidth costs can be a large expense particularly if you are selling sample libraries which can be anywhere from 5GB to 100GB. The most common solution is Amazon S3 but at $0.02/GB for storage per month and $0.09/GB for bandwidth, the costs can add up quickly, particularly if you’re using it to distribute free products. Luckily there are a number of other options:

  • Digital Ocean Spaces – Spaces is Digital Ocean’s “S3-compatible object storage” (ie. its own version of Amazon S3). It’s fully interoperable with S3 meaning if you currently use Amazon S3, its simple to swap it out for Spaces as it works in the same way. The pricing of Spaces is far less than S3, coming in at $5 per month for 250GB of storage and 1TB of bandwidth (the equivalent on S3 would be $95) and additional bandwidth costing just $0.01/GB instead of $0.09/GB. There are two small downsides to Spaces, the first being that you’ll need to copy all of your data from S3 to Spaces (which can take a while if you have a lot of files) and the second being that download speed can be a little slower on Spaces than S3, but generally speaking its similar.
  • Bucket Blaze – If you’d rather not move from Amazon S3 but want to integrate a CDN to increase download speeds and reduce your costs without having to use Amazon Cloudfront (which can be very expensive), then Bucket Blaze is a service designed for this. Its compatible with multiple platforms (not just WooCommerce) and essentially becomes a wrapper around your S3 files, copying them into the Stackpath network cache then delivering them to customers from there instead of S3, resulting in costs being reduced by approximately 50% (bandwidth only costs $0.05/GB for CDN delivered files), far faster download speeds for customers and useful “per file” analytics so you can see which files are costing you the most each money, where your customers are based and more.
  • Downloader Apps – Apps like the Pulse Downloader App can actually help save you money in a number of ways.

    1. Reduced bandwidth costs – if you’re delivering files from S3, Digital Ocean etc. you may be paying for up to 40% more bandwidth due to broken downloads from customers downloading large files via their browsers. Downloader apps like Pulse ensure that bandwidth is not wasted through its pause/resume functionality (restarting downloads from where they were stopped instead of restarting from scratch) and checksum verification functionality (ensuring downloaded files are correctly downloaded before extraction)

    2. Reduced customer support – For sample library companies especially, the most common customer support queries are “I can’t extract my software” and “Why can’t I use my product with Kontakt Player”. Pulse takes care of all of your download/installation queries, reducing those emails to zero resulting in lower costs on customer support.

2. Graphic Design

While a great graphic designer is an incredibly important asset to your company, you may not be able to afford to hire one at times or perhaps there may be some elements you would prefer to do yourself. There are a number of alternatives you can use to create advertising banners, product images and other graphic elements:

  • Online Graphic Design Tools – There are lots of useful browser based platforms that provide you with simple to edit templates for banner ads, Youtube cover images and much more. While a graphic designer might be able to provide something better, if you’re looking to create them yourself without having to learn and pay for a tool like Photoshop these tools can get you most of the way there with little effort: Canva, Adobe Express and Snappa.
  • AI Image Generators – These are already being used by a number of companies to create product artwork images and backgrounds for banners etc. to great effect. For example, maybe you want to make a banner advert for a piano sample library sale? Generate a background image using an AI image generator then put that into Canva to add text and buttons overlay . Our favourite so far is Midjourney but two other useful options to try are Nightcafe Studio and Starry AI

3. Email Marketing

The most common email marketing platform used by the large majority of companies is Mailchimp and for a good reason – its incredibly easy to use, has many useful features and integrates with every platform. However, once your email list starts to grow past a few thousand subscribers, the costs can become eye wateringly expensive. For example, 50k subscribers can cost you up to $700 per month. Luckily there are other options which are worth exploring!

Though it can take a little effort to integrate and is less feature rich than Mailchimp or similar platforms, Sendy is an incredibly cheap option to reduce your email marketing overheads. Sendy integrates with Amazon SES (Simple Email Service) to deliver emails via your Amazon SES account at a rate of $1 per 10,000 emails. There are no contact limits and you’re not charged for the number of contacts you have in your list – just the number of emails you send.

It takes a little work to set it up as its “self hosted” and you need to setup SES on your own Amazon account (its also worth paying for a dedicated IP address to ensure higher deliverability) but you can use a service like EasySendy who offered managed hosting meaning it requires less work to get setup or alternatively you can find a contractor on Upwork who can help you get it setup quickly and easily.

4. Website Hosting

If you’re using a self hosted eCommerce solution like WordPress, WooCommerce, Drupal, Joomla then you might be paying more than you need to for your website hosting. While many smaller companies use cheap website “shared hosting” plans mid to larger sized companies use dedicated hosting and a VPS to ensure high website durability and uptime. However, this can be expensive and there are plenty of less expensive and better optimised options available.

Our favourite option for this is Digital Ocean Droplets. For $5 per month, you can have a 1 click install WordPress droplet with 1GB CPU, 25GB SSD and 100GB of bandwidth and the best part is you can easily upgrade any element within seconds. Website slow? Just increase the RAM or CPU on the fly and its done within seconds

Digital Ocean is highly recommended for any self hosted website because they guarantee a high uptime in their SLA, its very cheap and you can easily upgrade/downgrade any element of the website resources at any time without having to change between specific plans – you only pay for what you need. Tip: add the free Cloudflare plan on top of your website to reduce the load so you don’t need to pay for more website resources.

5. Advertising Optimisations

For all banner ads, email ads, third party placements etc. you should track conversions accurately using Google URLs and Google Analytics. Once you’ve setup your Goals correctly in Google Analytics, this method allows you to see how much traffic is coming from a particular link, how many conversions its creating and the ROI from it.

So for example, if you’re running a banner advert on a forum, you should be doing the following so you can see the exact amount of revenue that advert is bringing you:

  1. Setup the conversion Goal in Google Analytics (eg. if a user gets to yourwebsite.com/completed then you know they have checked out and bought a product)
  2. Ensure revenue is setup for tracking in Google Analytics
  3. Create a specific URL for your banner ad using Google URL Builder (eg. https://www.mywebsite.com?utm_source=kvr&utm_medium=bannerad&utm_campaign=julybanner&utm_id=kvrforumadvert)
  4. Ensure that URL is being used for the banner ad link

Once setup, you can regularly check each of your campaigns / adverts to see what is bringing you in the most revenue and turn off ones that are not bringing you in enough revenue to provide a positive ROI. Here are some additional optimisations for other ad platforms:

Google Ads:

1. Setup negative keywords to ensure your ads are not being triggered and displayed for incorrect phrases. eg. if you’re selling audio plugins, but want to ensure your ads don’t show up for “photoshop plugins” on a broad match search term for “plugin”. Look at your search terms report to see every search query that resulted in your ad being shown, then ensure any incorrect triggers are added to your negative keywords list
2. Optimise locations – if you’re targeting all of USA for an ad campaign, you may find particular states have a higher ROI than others. Target those states and turn off the lowest performing states / countries
3. Use more exact keywords and long-tail keywords rather than broad match phrases. For example instead of “audio plugins” try “buy audio plugins online” or “top 10 audio plugins 2022

Facebook Ads:

1. Ensure you’re using the Facebook Conversion API instead of the Conversion Pixel – the Conversion API gives you more accurate reporting in turn giving more detail metrics to gauge your ROI on so you know what’s working and what’s not. Alternatively use a platform like AnyTrack to get even more accurate reporting so you know where to stop spending money.
2. Optimise locations & ages – look at your conversions and see what countries the majority of your conversions are coming from, but also look at the gender and age group. It could be that when you look closely, Males between 40-54 are actually spending the most but you’re targeting all genders and all age ranges.
3. Optimise placements – again, you may find the majority of your conversions are coming from a particular placement or media type.

Additional Tips:

  • If you use WooCommerce, you’ll know plugins can be pretty expensive to buy and keep up to date when you have a number of them installed on your website. You can use a platform like Cheap WooCommerce (completely legal) to get your plugins for a lot cheaper reducing your upfront costs.
  • If you currently use a downloader app like Continuata, we can offer you one year free use of Pulse (excluding your own bandwidth costs) if you change over to Pulse. This can save you a lot in fees over the course of a year.
  • With current inflation and recession fears, customers are more scared than ever to make purchases. Offering payment plans like those from Paypal, Klarna or Partial.ly can help improve your conversion rates for customers.
  • Don’t forget to checkout our other articles on 10 Ways to Increase Your Revenue and The Beginners Guide to Running Facebook Ads.