Q2 Report – April, May, June 2019
It’s that time of year again!
Another quarter has ended, and another has begun. Every quarter, we like to write these reports as part of our commitment to be transparent to you. For the outsider looking in, our industry is often murky, and we like to shed some light on what’s going on “behind the scenes.”
These reports show our real revenue and earnings number, the growth of our team and website, and what’s been happening in our lives in general.
Nearly every report we write is about how much we’ve grown. That wouldn’t be possible without you, our customers and supporters, there with us every step of the way. While this report shows our commitment to transparency, we also want it to provide an inspiration to you and your business goals.
These reports show just what is possible when you dedicate long hours to a project or business and really focus on the goals you want to achieve.
Q2 2019 turned out to be the most profitable quarter in our company’s history, and we’ve seen major increases in some of our metrics, such as the average deal size on the market. So let’s dig into what went down in Q2 of 2019, the lessons we learned, and where we believe we’re going.
Executive Summary: Q1 of 2019 Report
Let’s first take a look at our business data, revenue, and earnings.
Q1 of 2019 Business Data
Total team members: 57
Sales team members: 13
Marketing team members: 5
Operations team members: 26
Engineering team members: 7
Human resources team members: 1
Finance team members: 1
Email subscribers: 79,956
Podcast downloads: 31,793
Site visits: 320,9311
Brokered site sales: $12,480,886.19
Listing fees: $8,704.00
Additional/other revenue: $402.31
Average deal size: $198,109.30
Total revenue: $12,489,992.50
Brokered site earnings: $1,485,889.97
Listing fees: $8,704.00
Additional revenue: $358.89
Total gross earnings: $1,494,952.86
Ten 7-Figure Businesses for Sale Right Now
If you’re wondering what 7-figure businesses we have for sale at the time of this writing, take a look below. All of these businesses are huge job-killing incomes, or a substantial growth acquisition for your fund.
- Listing #45021: An e-commerce and Amazon FBA business in the sports niche, featuring 363 highly reviewed SKUs, valued at $2,795,618.
- Listing #45927: An Amazon FBA & e-commerce business experiencing year over year growth in the outdoors niche, valued at $2,688,166.
- Listing #44985: An Amazon FBA business that is trademarked and experiencing year over year growth in the electronics niche, valued at $2,130,703.
- Listing #44647: An Amazon FBA business in the electronics niche with trademarks in both the U.S. and E.U. markets, this business features 170 SKUs and is valued at $1,895,747.
- Listing #45966: An Amazon FBA and e-commerce business that sells across multiple markets and takes advantage of multichannel sales platforms. This business is valued at $1,692,886.
- Listing #44987: An affiliate business with over 40,000 different affiliate deals in the information niche, mitigating the risk of being too reliant on a single affiliate network. The website garners the majority of its traffic through organic search and is valued at $1,674,370.
- Listing #46056: An Amazon FBA and e-commerce business in the personal care niche, featuring 4 SKUs that help customers sleep better. The business is valued at $1,584,238.
- Listing #45787: An Amazon FBA business in the health & supplements niche that has multichannel sales coming in from their Shopify store and a U.K. trademark, with U.S. trademark pending. The business is valued at $1,328,044.
- Listing #46225: An advertising and AdSense business featuring content related to psychics in the spirituality niche, the website receives over one million unique visitors per month. The business is valued at $1,077,260.
- Listing #46166: A two-site e-commerce business created in the apparel & accessories niche, the trademarked business has year on year growth with a strong social media presence. The business is valued at $1,046,837.
Every quarter, we see more and more 7-figure businesses submit to our vetting process to get published on our marketplace. This is a strong indicator that more than ever, online entrepreneurs trust us as the #1 leading M&A advisory firm.
Any of the businesses above can be a huge game changer for you. These businesses net more profit in a single month than most people earn in a year. If you’re looking for an asset that will throw off a large and steady monthly cash flow, any of these businesses can be a good choice for you.
If you’re looking for a good business to acquire, we’re happy to help. Schedule a call with us and we’ll see if any of the above businesses make sense for you.
That’s a lot of data to take in. Let’s break down our data a bit and talk about what we’re seeing happening on the marketplace right now.
Brokered Site Revenue
Below is a graph of our marketplace revenue quarter by quarter. As you can see, the lumpy trend continued until Q1 and Q2 2019, when we started shooting back up. In Q2 we sold 63 deals for $12,480,886.19, compared to last quarter when we sold 78 deals for $9,764,786.91.
That is awesome growth for us and, as you’ll see below, it made our average deal size shoot up quite considerably too.
Revenue of $12,480,886.19 is a huge number, our best quarter in the company’s history. But keep in mind that is revenue, we don’t get to keep all of that. We take home just a small percentage of that number.
As we keep selling bigger and bigger businesses, the lumpiness like in the graph above is going to continue showing. It is the nature of the beast and a pattern we see quarter to quarter. We can see a much clearer line of growth when we look at the marketplace across all-time.
We have a healthy growth trend in all the right directions right now. As we continue to improve our systems, processes, and relationship building with real leaders in the industry, this growth trend is going to continue.
Our average deal size grew from $125,189.58 to $198,109.30 in Q2, which is a substantial increase. Of course, our average deal size it is a bit skewed because of the sheer volume of businesses we sell in the sub $200k range. Still, this giant increase shows that we’re on the right track to attracting not just incredibly valuable businesses to our marketplace, but also these businesses in high volume.
We’re in a unique position where we’re not only selling by far the most deals of any broker in our space, but also starting to sell some of the most valuable deals in our space too. We have you, our customers, to thank for this. Without you, none of this would have been possible.
Here’s a look at how our average deal size has grown over the years:
As you can see, the trend follows a pattern of “jumping” and then incremental growth, with a small dip, and then another “jump.” If the trend stays the same, we can expect a smaller average deal size next quarter, but one that still beats the average deal size in Q1. Then we’ll see more incremental growth, another dip, and hopefully another big “jump.”
We’ve always said in these reports that we expect average deal size to go up, and looking at the trend graph above, we still believe this will be the case over multiple quarters.
Business Listing Fees
When you sell your business with us, you pay an initial $297 fee if it is your first time. When you return to sell another business, that fee falls to $97. The listing fee covers some of the costs associated with vetting your business to make sure it is both a legitimate business and also a good fit for our marketplace.
These fees really serve more as a barrier to entry rather than a profit center for us. We find having these relatively small fees is a huge efficiency boost for our team, as it weeds out people who are just messing around and have no real intention of selling the business.
In Q2, we made $8,704.00, which is down from Q1 2019 when we made $14,135.00. We had just 32 entrepreneurs who paid the listing fee. Out of those 32 people, 28 were first-time sellers and 4 were repeat sellers. Obviously, we listed far more than 32 businesses in Q2.
Sellers who set up an exit planning call with us typically bypass the listing fee process altogether. During those exit planning calls, we get a good feel for whether or not the person is serious, which makes the purpose of the listing fee irrelevant.
Over the years, the listing fees have become less important as we’ve scaled our sales team. Still, it is a valuable tool for us when it comes to making sure we’re working with serious sellers.
Traffic and Audience
Blog Traffic and Analytics
One of our biggest drivers of traffic has always been our blog. We’re huge fans of content marketing, and the M&A space has always been ripe for producing fascinating content with the data we have at our fingertips. This data is a big reason we were able to create the first ever industry report analyzing close to 500 businesses that were bought on our marketplace.
To this day, our blog remains one of our best assets, and it’s something we’re improving every day.
Below is a look at our traffic in Q2 2019:
In Q2 we had 320,9311 website sessions, up by a significant amount from Q1 when we had 297,435 sessions. Our traffic follows a consistent pattern. Typically, in Q1 we see less traffic than IN Q4, followed by a steady uptick of traffic over the course of the year. Every year, though, we see our traffic increase as our brand casts a wider and wider net.
While the majority of this traffic comes from organic search, quite a lot of it comes from other sources, including our email list.
You can check out our traffic channel breakdown below:
As you can see, we get almost 50% of our traffic from organic search. Close to 18% of our traffic, though, comes from direct, which is likely influenced by the word of mouth brand growth we’re experiencing as more entrepreneurs and investors hear our name. The 17.9% direct traffic is down slightly from Q1’s 18.34% but the actual visitors is up. In Q1 35,469 people visited us, and in Q2 we saw that number grow a bit to 36,780 visitors. Referral traffic has seen a similar jump as well from the previous quarter, while email remains nearly the same in terms of the overall percentage.
We can break this traffic down into a few different categories. It is always interesting to see where people are going, what they’re reading, and so on.
Let’s break it down.
Here are our top three most viewed pages:
Here are our top three most viewed listings:
- Listing #45021: An e-commerce business in the sports niche, valued at $2,795,618.
- Listing #45902 (SOLD): An affiliate business in the medical niche, valued at $20,855.
- Listing #44987: An affiliate business created in the information niche, valued at $1,674,370.
Here are our top three most viewed pieces of content:
- The Most Popular Online Business Models
- The Lead Gen Business Model Explained
- The SaaS Business Model Explained
Here are our top three most recently viewed pieces of content:
- Mastering SEO with Matt Diggity
- Success Story: Buying and Selling Affiliate Sites
- Success Story: How a Professional Wealth Manager Invests in Online Assets
Podcasts and Shows
Podcasts remain one of our favorite mediums to create content in. The medium lends itself to casual conversations that help people really “see” the process in their mind, while also letting us do our favorite thing: dive deep into specific subject matter.
We currently have three podcast shows under the Empire Flippers umbrella, each focusing on a completely different aspect of online business.
Here’s the breakdown of the shows:
The Empire Flippers Show
Our flagship show, the Empire Flippers podcast is our longest running and most popular podcast show to date. The show features Justin Cooke and Joe Magnotti, our two founders, speaking about a wide range of topics related to entrepreneurship, being a digital nomad, and buying or selling online businesses. The podcast features guests from time to time as well, and the show deep dives into their expertise.
While the show isn’t regularly produced, it has built a solid core audience of superfans who download every episode that’s published.
Here is the download chart for the show:
In Q2 we had 19,881 downloads, with the big spikes coming from when new episodes were released. We’re happy to see that these download numbers are actually up from last quarter where we had 17,792 downloads.
The Web Equity Show
The Web Equity Show is a unique podcast. If you’re looking for a resource that can take your knowledge about buying and selling profitable online businesses from zero to hero, then you’re not going to find a show packaged better than the Web Equity Show.
One reason for this is the way the show is created. Instead of doing individual shows on a wide range of topics, the podcast topic is super focused purely on buying or selling online businesses. We also produce these shows as “seasons.” In each season, we explore one overarching section of the buy/sell space. Our latest season focuses on raising capital and managing a portfolio or fund of digital properties.
Here is our download breakdown for Q2:
We had 5,380 downloads in Q2, which is down from Q1’s 6,597. The decrease is to be expected since the last season aired some time ago. However, due to the evergreen nature of this podcast and how it is packaged as such a great learning tool, our prediction is that the longtail of downloads for this show will continue to grow as we implement them in our Marketing 2.0 Refresh (see below).
Real Money Real Business
Real Money Real Business is our newest podcast, and one of our first attempts to really repurpose our content in a valuable way. The podcast was birthed from the idea that many people who listen to the seller interviews on our YouTube channel treat it like a podcast. Many of our fans have asked us to put it in a pure audio format so they could listen to it on the go without having to keep a video app open.
We were happy to oblige!
The whole concept of Real Money Real Business is that the entrepreneurs we interview are our highest quality sellers, but are also entrepreneurs that we have vetted. We’ve literally seen their P&Ls and traffic dashboards since they’re selling their businesses with us.
To us, that is pretty unique in an industry that often features gurus who may or may not be practicing what they’re preaching.
Here are the downloads for Real Money Real Business:
We had 5,315 downloads in Q2, making this the best quarter for downloads of the Real Money Real Business podcast since launch.
Now that the show has been up for a while, we’re considering altering the format a bit to include other hosts interviewing our sellers. As our marketplace continues to expand and our seller submissions continue to rise, it becomes a full-time job just to interview all of our sellers every week.
We’d love to ultimately make this podcast an almost daily show with new episodes going live every day of the week, with new businesses for sale, and new entrepreneurs sharing the insights that led them to create their profitable online business in the first place.
Email and Contacts
Email is one of our strongest marketing channels.
Not only does it bring significant traffic to our website, it also allows us to nurture the traffic we do get over a long period of time. When it comes to buying or selling a business, trust is a key currency in getting someone over the finish line.
It makes sense. After all, selling or buying an online business could be one of the biggest financial moments in your life. It could perhaps even be life-changing. Trust is a key factor. As to how we’ve grown so much in this industry, and a big part was building that trust through email.
We have several different email funnels set up that lead people across various journeys, whether they’re a buyer or a seller, or even a seller who turns into a buyer after a successful sale.
We don’t just drip out content, either.
A large portion of our marketing for the various businesses we have for sale is done through email. We help investors, PE firms, and brand new buyers find their perfect business through a weekly listing email. We also use email to show the benefits of setting up a criteria call where our team of business analysts help a potential buyer create an acquisition game plan.
Right now, our active list of email subscribers is 79,956, an incremental growth from Q1 2019 when we ended the quarter at 76,898.
This is a pretty typical kind of incremental growth that we experience, a pattern that actually matches our organic traffic growth as well. When you look at the graph for the quarter below, to subscriber growth almost looks like a flatline:
This doesn’t paint the full story, though. We need to go back a bit farther to see how this incremental growth is actually quite the explosion over time. And it makes sense. After all, the buy and sell space is still a relatively young industry. Of course, we always want more subscribers though!
Here is a snapshot of our email list growth since we started keeping track years ago:
As you can see, incremental subscriber growth has always been pretty par for the course for us. Here and there we’ll see a bit of a spike, and then it’ll level off to a slow growth phase again until the next spike.
A lot of these spikes are just tied to business growth. For instance, the steeper incline in 2018 was right around when we started selling 7-figure businesses on our marketplace regularly, while 2017 was the year we really broke the 7-figure threshold.
While our current email subscribers is 79,956, that’s not our complete contact database. We have one of the largest potential buying pools of anyone out there, with a full contact database of 120,032 contacts.
Email remains important to us, and it’ll have a nice facelift before 2019 is out. We’ll talk more about that below, but a big part of the first two quarters of the year has been prepping for a large update across all of our marketing funnels.
Email is obviously a central funnel, and it’s going to feature far more helpful content that is up to date and even more relevant to you wherever you happen to be on your buying or selling journey.
Zendesk, as always, remains at the forefront of our communications with our clients. We handle everything from deposits to seller submissions through this platform. While Zendesk is the workhorse of our communications software, it is by no means perfect. In fact, the way we use Zendesk is not how it is supposed to be used at all. Normally, it is there just to provide a customer support helpdesk, but we use it for everything, including negotiating deals.
Because of the somewhat bad user interface, we’ve tried to find work arounds and other solutions. We’ve had some degree of success with using email instead, but otherwise the majority of communication is still handled on the Zendesk platform.
Below you can see our overall satisfaction rating and first reply time:
One thing that jumps out is that the average first reply time has gone up to 15.62 hours from last quarter, when it was 5.09 hours. On the surface that looks pretty bad. What could be happening that would make our first reply time go up so much?
Well, the truth lays a little below the surface, where we changed one of our processes.
The reason is the automatic deposit email that depositors get when they want to look deeper at a particular listing. The email gets sent to our Zendesk portal as well, as if it was the depositor sending us a message. We used to reply to this email to keep our average first reply time down, but we no longer do that as it didn’t really make sense. Instead, we follow up with the depositor 24 hours after the deposit is made, if they haven’t communicated with us any further.
By not replying to our own automatic email, the first reply time metric was driven up.
In future reports, we’ll likely drop mention of the metric altogether, as it’s becoming less meaningful with the way our process is carried out. Effectively, though, you can still expect a reply from our staff within 24 hours, regardless of which time zone you started the communication in.
First reply time is one thing, but what about actual customer feedback?
How are we doing on that report card?
Here’s a deeper look at our Satisfaction Score:
Our overall Customer Satisfaction has gone up, from 93% to 94% overall.
Here is some actual feedback that customers have left as they went through our buying and selling process:
The vast majority of feedback is good, which often means no comments, as typically people leave comments only when they have a bad experience. Some of the positive comments were around our migration team.
Our migration team is an entire department trained in the technical knowhow of actually switching an online business over from the seller to the buyer after a deal has been made. It is a crucial aspect of taking ownership of the business, and of the seller getting paid out.
We’re the only brokerage and M&A advisory firm in the online business space that has a dedicated team like this. Most other brokers leave it up to the buyer and seller to figure it out, which can lead to all sorts of issues post sale.
The bad comments here are as what we’d expect them to be. People whose business is rejected during our vetting process typically aren’t happy about it, though most understand our decision. We reject on average two-thirds of the businesses that are submitted, to help maintain the quality of our curated marketplace.
What Happened in Q2 of 2019?
As always, a lot went down in Q2, so let’s dive right into it.
Collision Conf in Toronto, Canada is one of the biggest SaaS conferences around. We were able to secure a stellar booth at the event and send out a bunch of staff to mingle and network with some of the brightest minds in the industry.
If you’re into SaaS, or really anything software related, then Collision Conf is a good pick for networking with amazing people.
Our team was handing out valuations at the booth and really expanding our sphere of influence. The majority of attendees had no idea they could sell their SaaS business with us, thinking the only way they could make a profitable exit was through some kind of VC buyout.
We also had plenty of friends in the area, both attending the conference or just hanging out in Toronto. We invited them to an EF dinner meet up:
The next event we did was with our good friends at the Dynamite Circle. We sponsored DC Austin and for once got to meet the digital nomad crowd living in the USA. It was an awesome experience, and we got to see many old friends, and meet new ones.
The swag at our booth flew off the table before the event was even properly started! That’s always a good sign that you’re doing something right.
The final conference we went to in Q2 was another Dynamite Circle event, this onesouth of the border from the last one. We are always happy to support the smaller DCx events when we can, and it helped that we happened to be in Mexico City for our company meet up.
Justin Cooke and Joe Magnotti, our two founders, gave a presentation on selling profitable online businesses, and when you should (or shouldn’t) consider it.
Mexico City Empire Employee Meet Up
Twice per year our entire company gets together to hang out. We’ll pick an interesting location in the world, typically a digital nomad hotspot, and meet up for two weeks of work, relationship building, and just good old fun.
This time we met up in Mexico City, which has recently blown up as a haven for digital nomads living the location-independent lifestyle. The city’s climate is perfect, as it is situated high in the mountains, at a higher altitude than even Denver in Colorado. The weather was great, the internet was fantastic, and of course, the people were awesome.
These events are something we hold dear to our hearts. When you’re running a remote company our size, it becomes very easy to lose touch with everyone, or only ever see a person as their profile image on Slack. It is nice to “let our hair down” a bit in actual reality now and then, and hang out in person.
The above picture is of one of the many dinners we had together. hat wasn’t even all of us, as a few employees couldn’t make it to the meetup.
The picture below is an iconic picture of myself giving Mike Swig the “Swag Hat.” We have a popular internal joke where we call our conference booth swag the Swig Swag, since it was Swig who initially came up with the idea, as well as the items to give away.
He’s promised he’d keep the hat … so hopefully we’ll see more photos of it.
(Yes, this was taken with an iPhone, you can tell by the obvious quality of the photo)
It wasn’t all dinners and work, of course. Several members of the team got together to visit a pyramid right outside of the city.
First Industry Report that Shows Real Sales Data is Published
The other big news is that towards the end of Q2, we were finally able to publish our State of the Industry Report. This was a huge report that took multiple months of data mining, writing, editing, and graphics creation, but we’re thrilled to finally be able to share our findings.
We analyzed close to 500 businesses that we sold on our marketplace over the last two years.
Most brokers couldn’t create a report like this one. Most of the reports that you see in our industry won’t tell you the whole story, because most brokers simply do not sell enough businesses to have enough data to lead to anything meaningful. Other organizations that try to produce reports like this are forced to use scraping technology to harvest listings that are public facing off other broker websites.
Ultimately, this means that they can only use the list price of businesses, which can be somewhat misleading.
It is not uncommon for brokers to promise a high list price to recruit the seller to their brokerage, list the business, then, after a couple of months, sell that business for far less than list.
At Empire Flippers, we have a valuation tool that is actually backed by real sales data, so we tend to sell close to list price, if not at list price.
Anyway, all of that scraping throws off the real average sales price. Our report is different in that we own the data end to end.
Not only do we show you the actual sales multiples that different business models are getting right now, but we also tell you the average length of time it took to sell those business models. If you’re a data geek like us, make sure you download the report.
We also provide a ton of analysis on the businesses represented as well as some predictions for where we think the industry is heading.
Over the last half of 2019, we’ve been working hard to update all of our systems and content to reflect the current state of the company and, really, the industry.
This is more difficult than it might first sound. After all, what’s so hard about updating a few blog posts here and there?
Well, when you’re as content heavy as we are … that’s a lot of blog posts!
Plus, we have to rework all of our email funnels, make our blog more user-friendly, and do so much more.
As Q2 ends, we’re officially two-thirds of the way through our marketing refresh. It’s led to a lot of good for the company. We’ve been able to do several iterations on implementing a marketing qualified leads (MQL) system to be more aligned with our sales team’s needs, and we’ve been able to produce some brand new content for our new email funnels.
We’ve also written an entire suite of on-boarding articles that will likely be published in Q3. They should help our customers, whether they’re brand new or seasoned veterans, understand our processes and what they can expect at different stages in the process.
Keep an eye out for them! :-)
Empire Customer’s Retreat Almost Sold Out (2 Tickets Left …)
Last, but not least, we announced our latest Empire Customer’s Retreat. Even though we sold the early bird tickets at the same price as the full ticket prices last year, we still nearly sold out right out of the gate.
At the moment of this writing, we have two tickets left that can be purchased. The only reason we have two left is because someone was unable to come.
If you’ve never been to our customer retreat, consider it like a mastermind on steroids. Every member that comes is making at minimum six-figures online with their businesses, and is coming to share not only the challenges they’re facing, but also possible solutions to the challenge you’re facing.
You’ll get to spend an awesome weekend in Phuket, Thailand, network with highly affluent digital entrepreneurs, and hang with the top brass at Empire Flippers, to pick our brain with any questions you might have. All of this from a resplendent villa situated on a hill overlooking the blue waters of the Phuket.
What’s not to like?
If you want to grab up one of the last tickets and come join us, click here to buy your ticket now.
And …. that’s everything!
As always it’s been a busy quarter, but we’re continuing to grow, innovate, and iterate every day to make our processes and business better every day. Ultimately, the reason we do it is because of you. Without you, our audience and customers, we wouldn’t be able to write this blog post right now.
Hopefully, this blog post served to inspire you with what is possible with your digital business. It wasn’t that long ago that we were just a scrappy team of 3 or 5 people, and now we’re well over 50 employees.
If you roll up your sleeves, commit to work every day, and have a vision of the future for your business, then the compound interest you’ll gain might just change your life.