Our Q2 2018 Quarterly Report – April, May, and June
It’s that time of year again… another quarterly report!
As mentioned in our Q1 report, this was the BIGGEST quarter we had ever had in the history of our company… that is, until Q2.
Q2 was full of hard work, focus, expansions to the team, and scaling while refining our processes. And it paid off big time.
This report is part of the long tradition of us leading the charge in creating transparency within the online business buying and selling world. We started these reports to keep track of how well we were doing, and we continue to write them to inspire you out there in Internetland to keep working hard—whether you’re a one-man affiliate marketer or leading an entire team of e-commerce experts.
While this report will hopefully serve as inspiration for you, we could never have gotten to where we are today without you. Whether you’ve been a customer of ours or are just an avid fan, it is people like you who help make quarters like this possible.
So thank you for your continued support.
Let’s dive into the numbers and break down what exactly happened in Q2 that made it such an amazing quarter for us.
Executive Summary: Q2 2018 Report
Q2 was another explosive quarter for us. It was the second quarter in the row of our most successful quarters yet.
We’re going break down what happened; but first, let’s take a look at the marketplace sales we achieved this quarter.
As you can see, we have had a healthy upward trend over the last two quarters. You can see a bit of a slump between Q3 and Q4 in 2017, which was largely due to what we call “lumpy” sales. This is where we’d sell a bunch of high value businesses all at once, and then need to fill our funnel again to start selling the others.
Unlike the sub-$100K businesses that are sold pretty consistently for us, these bigger businesses can make huge jumps in how our charts skew.
What is interesting is seeing the steady growth trend in the later quarters. A big part of this is simply the fact that we are getting our sales machine more experienced in both small and large deals.
Seller confidence has been growing significantly through us, as we have continued to get 7-figure+ businesses listed with us. Just recently, for instance, we listed a $4 million Amazon FBA business for sale.
This will only continue to increase as we keep proving to the market that we are the best solution when it comes to buying or selling online businesses.
If you want a better look at our growth, check out our marketplace all-time sales graph below.
Let’s take a glance at our business data for the quarter.
Q2 2018 Business Data
Team Member Total: 43
Customer Service: 8
Email Subscribers: 58,237
Podcast Downloads: 21,942
Site Visits: 280,217
Brokered Site Sales: $9,271,140.54
Listing Fees: $13,850.00
Additional/Other Revenue: $129.62
Average Deal Size: $128,765.84
Total Revenue: $9,285,120.16
Brokered Site Earnings: $1,102,087.54
Listing Fees: $13,850.00
Additional Revenue: $129.62
Total Gross Earnings: $1,116,067.16
Alright, that’s a LOT of data to take in all at once. So many numbers can lose their meaning, so let’s explore just what these numbers meant for us.
Brokered Site Revenue
We brokered 72 online businesses in Q2 for $9,271,140.54, pushing over $50 million worth of all-time deals sold.
This is a nice increase from Q1 where we sold 67 businesses. Q2 is the most deals we’ve ever sold in a single quarter since we started tracking this metric. An awesome sign of our continuous growth quarter over quarter.
Our average deal size went from $119,883.18 in Q1 to $128,765.84 in Q2.
Our average deal size is tracking with our growth as our audience continues to trust us to handle the sale of their business.
One reason why we were able to grow this average deal size is having a larger, more experienced team. We have a highly experienced vetting team, a sales team that have become veterans selling both big and small deals, and just recently expanded our migrations team to make that process even smoother for our customers.
And now we’re seeing more and more 7-figure businesses choose our marketplace as a result of all this behind the scenes work we’ve been doing.
Here are all of our 7-figure deals that are still for sale at the time of writing this:
- Listing #44689: An Amazon FBA business in the health & fitness niche valued at $1,440,259
- Listing #44772: An e-commerce store in the furniture niche valued at $1,304,372
- Listing #44069: An e-commerce store in the apparel niche valued at $1,296,872
- Listing #44671: A 4-site affiliate package in the audio niche valued at $1,156,144
- Listing #44299: A dropshipping store in the apparel niche valued at $1,153,595
While our revenue was huge this quarter, it’s important to remember that we only take home a percentage of that revenue. Out of the $9,271,140.54 in revenue, we took home $1,102,087.54 in gross earnings.
We recently changed our commission structure as well, to start attracting larger businesses to our marketplace. You can read more about our commission structure change here.
This change has been effective in bringing more 7-figure+ businesses over the finish line where they’ve submitted their business for sale with us.
Website Listing Fees
Charging a listing fee has always been an important part of our process.
We charge $297 for first-time sellers and $97 for repeat sellers who are looking to sell more of their online businesses using our marketplace. We find that people who don’t want to spend this money typically are not going to be great sellers in the first place, so it is a great way for us to filter our sellers.
This fee also helps to cover the cost of actually vetting the business, combing through the profit and loss statements, and anything else we need to look through before we’re able to list the business live on our marketplace.
In Q2 2018, we collected $13,850.00 in listing fees. This was up a little bit from Q1, in which we had collected $9,989.00. This is a pretty normal fluctuation for us; one quarter may be several thousand dollars ahead in listing fees, and the next quarter may be a little down.
This quarter, we had:
- 45 new sellers
- 5 returning sellers
Last quarter, we also had a much larger number of new sellers versus returning sellers. A big part of this is just that our brand exposure is getting out more into the world, and people who had never heard of us before are starting to catch on and trust us as the best broker for selling their online businesses.
The listing fee system is still working incredibly well for us, and we have no plans to change this part of our process.
Our additional revenue was once, years ago, an important part of our business. Now that our brokerage has grown so big, however, additional revenue is no longer a focus of ours at all. We really have nothing to report here except for some legacy affiliate revenue of $129.62.
We don’t promote anything with an affiliate program anymore. Instead, we just want to promote quality content, tools, and solutions to our audience free of charge. Our philosophy is that the more we can truly help our audience, the better our brokerage is going to be.
Not having to worry about which affiliate program will give us the most lucrative bang for our buck is nice in that regard.
Alright, that wraps up our business data section. Let’s now dive into what our traffic looked like in Q2 2018.
Traffic and Audience
Blog Traffic and Analytics
Our blog serves as a huge traffic machine for us, and our site itself gets tens of thousands of viewers every single month. Content marketing, in general, has been the backbone of our marketing machine, and this quarter, we saw its benefits even more.
The great thing about content is that it eventually starts to snowball. While one piece of content might only get a few hundred views per month, dozens and dozens of content pieces with even small traffic amounts add up to become a significant chunk of traffic.
This quarter, we saw another increase in overall site viewership versus last quarter. In Q1, there were 244,464 sessions, and in Q2, we increased that traffic to 280,217 sessions.
While not a dramatic increase, it trends well with the small traffic improvements that we’ve been seeing every quarter. Over time, these incremental traffic improvements, just like content, snowball into becoming quite significant for us.
Our Q2 traffic can be seen below.
Our top referring channels can be seen below.
What is interesting here is that our organic traffic is slightly down from 78,659 to 69,930, but our direct traffic has seen a huge increase from 32,792 to 53,284.
It’s always hard to attribute an increase in direct traffic to any one cause, but between all the conferences we had in Q2 and getting our name out there to more portfolio buyers, the direct channel growth was likely due to our brand “leveling up” and attracting more people to our marketplace.
It’s also interesting to see just where people are going on our website.
Check out our most viewed pages, listings, and content below.
Here are our Top 3 Most Viewed Pages:
Here are our Top 3 Most Viewed Listings:
- Listing 44355 (SOLD!): An affiliate site in the personal development niche valued at $22,964
- Listing 44069: An Amazon FBA listing in the apparel niche valued at $1,296,872
- Listing 44060: An e-commerce store in the apparel niche valued at $916,847
Here are our Top 3 Most Viewed Pieces of Content:
- 11 Popular Online Business Models
- Set Up and Start Selling: How to Create Your First Amazon Seller Account
- How to Start an Amazon FBA Business
Here are our Top 3 Most Viewed Recent Pieces of Content:
- [CASE STUDY] How We Sold a $1,818,182.80 Affiliate Business in 46 Days
- Top 10 Affiliate Networks and Programs That Aren’t Amazon in 2018
- EFP 176: Rand Fishkin on Moz and the Future of SEO
Podcasts & Shows
Our podcasts are one of our favorite channels; however, they are also one of our more underused channels. We did get a couple of new episodes out on the Empire Flippers podcast though.
The Empire Flippers Podcast
In Q2, we aired two new episodes of the Empire Flippers podcast. Justin interviewed Rand Fishkin from Moz, and also interviewed Jay Yap on his story of going from being a virtual assistant to becoming a partner at LeadSpring.
Despite these two new episodes, our overall downloads for the quarter were lower than in the previous quarter. In Q1, we had 22,562 downloads, but in Q2, that number dropped to 17,215.
We’re still producing this show though, and we think we can turn this around in future quarters to get the podcast back on the right track with positive growth.
The Web Equity Show
The Web Equity Show is hosted by Justin Cooke and Ace Chapman, and unlike other podcasts, it is done in seasons. Every season focuses on a specific part of the process of buying and selling online businesses.
For anyone who is brand new to our industry, we highly recommend going through all three seasons—the education you’ll get will be invaluable for your future purchases.
In Q2, we had 3,847 downloads, which was only slightly lower than Q1 at 3,896. This podcast has pretty consistent downloads and routinely receives 5-star reviews.
The way the show is structured allows easy access for people to come back over and over again to replay it when they’re looking into a specific part of the buying and selling process. Of course we can help you in this process whether you want schedule a criteria call to buy a business, or create an exit plan to sell your business.
The Digital Journey Podcast
The Digital Journey podcast featured digital nomads across all walks of life—from affiliate marketers, consultants, e-commerce store experts, and so on.
We talked about what the lifestyle was really like, and what the hard work was like that helped get these nomads to living a life of freedom.
Sadly, this podcast is no more due to the unexpected passing of our host, Rob.
The episodes live on though, and we saw 880 new downloads this quarter. However, this is down from the 2,378 downloads of last quarter, and since no new episodes are coming, we expect these to get downloaded less and less as time goes on.
Hopefully in Q3 we will see more shows coming out consistently.
Email and Contacts
In Q2 2018, the number of emailed newsletters grew again, reaching 58,237, which is up from the 54,106 in Q1.
Similar to our SEO traffic, there were no big jumps here. Rather, we continue to see consistent and steady growth, quarter over quarter. It is important to remember that our email list isn’t the whole picture of our database. In fact, we have well over 80,000 people in our database who routinely look at the different businesses that go live on our marketplace.
You can see the steady growth in email subscribers below.
We segment our email lists into buyers and sellers.
We have all of our subscribers select which one of these they are, and then we drip out content over time that is related to their interests. This is something we are continually striving to improve so that we can offer the best and most targeted pieces of content to our email list.
Have you signed up yet?
If not, click the link below that makes the most sense to you.
Which One are You Interested in?
Providing excellent customer service is Priority #1 for us. A great business is defined by how it treats its customers, and we’re constantly looking to improve our ability to support our customers when it comes to buying and selling online businesses.
So how did we do in Q2?
Let’s take a deep dive into our Zendesk reporting system. Zendesk remains a critical software for us, and we use it in ways that it’s not always meant to be used.
Not only is it used as our primary customer support channel, but it is often the communication channel for negotiating deals, for buyer-seller interaction, and even for our migrations team when they’re transferring a business over to a new owner.
Let’s look at what happened in Q2.
Here are our numbers for Q2 2018:
Our customer satisfaction rating has gone up again!
In Q1, we saw a 2% rise in our satisfaction rating, and in Q2, we saw a 4% rise, going from 88% to 92%. When you consider how many support tickets we have, this is quite a significant accomplishment.
Unfortunately, our first reply time went up as well. In Q1, we were sporting 3.37 hours until first reply time, and in Q2, we were at 4.46 hours. Still, that’s not a terrible amount of time. We know we can do better though, and are planning some new processes to bring this number back down.
These numbers are great, but what are our customers ACTUALLY saying about us?
What is their feedback?
Let’s take a look at what people are saying about our brokerage.
In Q2 2018, there were 8,379 new tickets, 8,379 resolved tickets, 424 good ratings, and 39 bad ratings.
Our new tickets didn’t increase dramatically from the 8,005 tickets in Q1. Still, we did get more tickets, but despite this, we saw a decrease in our bad feedback score, from 59 in Q1 to 39 in Q2.
Here is how our actual feedback played out:
Most good responses dealt with how happy our customers were with our communication and how the overall process felt to them. The majority of bad responses provided no real reason as to why the individual gave us a bad feedback rating.
However, a couple of responses did point out a few communication quirks, like entering into an old conversation or using too many macro (“canned”) responses. Macros, in general, are incredibly useful in making communication efficient and in letting our customers know that we’re still there for them. However, a macro can have a “cold” feeling to it.
For Q3, this is something we’re definitely looking to improve upon as we start offering more and more white glove services to our customers.
Alright, we looked at all the numbers and stats.
But what else happened in Q2? Let’s dive into what we were up to during the quarter!
What Happened in Q2 2018?
As always, a lot went down this quarter.
Everything from our biannual company meet-up to conferences, winning awards, and growing the team!
Twice per year, we have an Empire meetup where all of our employees are invited to join us in some exotic locale in the world. We’ve been everywhere, from Medellin, Colombia to all across Southeast Asia.
This time around, we decided to meet up at the location of one of the world’s most beautiful beaches—Boracay, Philippines.
We were nestled in two villas overlooking the ocean. It was great getting the entire team together, though this has become increasingly difficult as our team continues to get larger and larger. It has become quite a task in and of itself to find lodging for everyone.
These meet-ups are always work- and play-intensive. It is a major way that we celebrate each other’s work and plan out our next quarter, with long meetings to discuss our goals.
We got a lot of work done, despite one day of no Internet. Boracay is beautiful… but it is definitely not well-known for its Internet speed and reliability. This is something we found out a couple days into the meet-up.
But hey, when the Internet wasn’t working, the view was still absolutely wonderful to enjoy!
We Expanded the Team in Marketing, Migrations, and Sales
Our team grew again in Q2!
We hired two more business analysts, two more migrations specialists, and two more content marketing specialists for our team.
Our company is growing so fast that it is hard to keep track of how many new people we’re adding! And if you’re wondering, we are actually hiring in Q3 too (more on that below).
In Q2, we saw some real organization start taking form with our teams. Instead of having just a flat structure as in the past, we’re finally starting to hit our goals of having supervisors and managers in place to run the majority of the company’s day-to-day work.
All of these extra hands allow our team to perform our job as best as it can, but they also give us breathing room to focus on higher-level, big-vision projects too.
Want to meet the new members of Empire Flippers? Head over to the About Us page to learn more!
We Launched a Job Board
With how fast we’ve been growing, it was starting to become unmanageable to write out a complete blog post for every new job advertisement. So instead of doing that, we decided to create a careers page.
This page is where ALL of our new job offerings will live from now on. It is much more user-friendly and far easier to refer back to when you want to check if we have any vacancies.
At the time of this publishing, there are a couple new job opportunities for you to check out. Make sure to bookmark the page or opt-in to our job announcement newsletter through that page if you want to eventually work with us.
We Created an Engineering Department
Technically, this falls under us hiring new people. But I felt it deserved to be singled out for a couple of reasons:
- It is an entirely brand-new department at Empire Flippers!
- It is pretty weird that a brokerage service has an engineering department.
So what’s the deal?
Well… you’ll have to accept my potentially long cliffhanger here because I can’t tell you just yet. Suffice it to say, we’re working on something behind the scenes that we think you’re going to be very happy with once we announce it.
We hired James Andrews as VP of Engineering to oversee the project, and already hired a UX designer for the department. If you’re more technical than marketing-focused, consider checking back at our careers page routinely as James builds his team of skilled engineers.
As far as what we’re up to… you’ll just have to wait a little bit longer :-)
We Became the Top Global Producer & Deal Maker of 2017 for IBBA
If you’re not familiar (which is probably the case), IBBA stands for the International Business Brokerage Association. It is an organization that specializes in education and training for people who broker businesses.
While most of the brokers focused strictly on offline businesses, there were a few people there who had sold online businesses—though we were the biggest online broker by far.
It was interesting meeting our peers in this space, and it was also inspiring seeing what other professionals were up to. We made some great contacts and friends, and… we won some awards!
We became the top deal maker and top global producer out of the 1,000+ members of IBBA!
Joe and myself traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana to meet up with the other brokers for the IBBA Annual Conference and for Joe to receive his hard-earned award.
Microconf – Las Vegas
In addition to the IBBA conference, we went to the Microconf conference in Las Vegas. We ended up throwing a big open bar networking night at the MGM, and had a blast meeting all the SaaS entrepreneurs in town.
It was especially cool meeting with the younger SaaS entrepreneurs just starting out. Many of them had no idea they could sell their SaaS businesses without having to go through a VC-funded exit. They were super excited to hear that there is a huge and hungry market for SaaS businesses in the sub-$1 million range.
It is always cool to educate a market on what is possible, and it was especially fun for us, as we’ve started growing more towards becoming the go-to broker for SaaS businesses. We’ve been seeing more and more quality SaaS businesses listing with us, such as this one, and we believe that this trend is going to continue upward over time.
Global Sources Summit
We headed out to Hong Kong to speak at the Global Sources Summit this year. It was our second time speaking, and the crowd was full of high-level e-commerce and Amazon FBA entrepreneurs.
It was a great crowd, and our very own Alex Champagne gave a dynamite speech on buying and selling Amazon FBA businesses.
Over the last year and a half, we’ve firmly cemented ourselves as the leaders when it comes to selling e-commerce businesses, and that trend (similar to the SaaS trend) is going to keep growing.
Another great conference on the Amazon FBA business model, we were thrilled to connect with all of the e-commerce entrepreneurs here. We threw an awesome dinner and got to meet some old friends, like Greg Mercer from Jungle Scout.
…who happens to have great fashion sense, matching Empire Flipper’s Mike Swiggy’s style.
We love our friends over at the Dynamite Circle, and love supporting their events whenever we can. The crowd they’ve been able to create is something truly special. If you’re not familiar with the Dynamite Circle, definitely check them out. They’re a great community of location-independent entrepreneurs.
This year, we were able to attend their DC Austin event and meet up with tons of old friends.
We also got to pull out our “limited edition” retro Empire Flippers shirts!
And That’s a Wrap!
And that wraps up Q2 2018!
We saw AMAZING growth, went to AMAZING places, and of course… helped AMAZING people buy and sell online businesses. People just like you.
We hope this report inspires you to reach even greater heights, and shows you just what is possible when you put in the hard work.
How did your quarter go? What are your goals for Q3?
Whatever they are, we’ll be rooting for you.