ecommerce evolution logo

An eCommerce Podcast Hosted by Brett Curry

Tune in for fresh interviews with the merchants, vendors, and experts shaping the eCommerce industry.
Episode 216
:
Allie Bloyd - Marketing Ink

Offers, Audience Building, and List Nurturing - The Ultimate Game Changers

Allie Bloyd is a podcast host, consultant, Facebook Ad pro, and marketing juggernaut!

In this episode, Allie and I talk about several elements many eCommerce brands overlook or simply under-leverage.

To use a golf analogy, many eComm brands are focused on impressive drives when they also need to consider their short game. You know the saying, "Drive for show, putt for dough."

That’s where offers, audience building, and list nurturing come into play. Here’s just a few nuggets you'll learn:

  • How to completely change the math on your cold traffic by creating irresistible offers that don't cheapen your brand.
  • How to utilize tripwires and micro offers as an eComm brand.
  • Audience building and how it can lower ad costs (especially during peak seasons like a holiday).
  • The best book written on remarketing and loyalty (hint: you’ve probably read it to your kids before).

Mentioned In This Episode:

Allie Bloyd

Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the E-Commerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce, and today I have a treat for you. I have a real expert, someone who is engaging and dynamic and smart. She speaks at events, she's got a podcast, she's written books. She's all over the place. And what's interesting and what I love about my guest today, Ali Boyd, is that she's not just the typical e-commerce guru, right? She works with agency owners and marketers and local businesses. And so she's gonna have a fresh perspective, a unique outlook on some really important topics that each of us need to master, or that each of us need to have someone on our team who has mastered. And so we're gonna talk about audience building and content creation. We're gonna talk about list building. We're gonna talk about building great offers and things you don't know about offers.

And this is gonna be a bit of a smorgasboard of marketing goodness that you can take and apply to your business. So before I welcome her on, I'm gonna give a brief bio. Now Allen and I met just recently, we're in San Diego at tnc, and I was talking to Michael Stelzner shout out to Michael Stelzner. What's up, man? Social media examiner, social media marketing world. And so Michael and I are chatting, and then Allie comes up and Michael said, Hey, do you know Allie? And I said, I don't know Allie, but I've seen Allie speak and I've seen her. She's all over the socials. And so we met there, hit it off. We're like, Hey, let's do some podcasts. And so here we are. But Ally is the founder of Valley Boy Media, a marketing agency and consultancy working with locally based businesses, marketing agencies marketers and small businesses. Shelves are clients and students, increased revenue by leveraging paid ads, content marketing, effective sales processes, and automated systems that make you money. She's the host of the Marketing Inc podcast. Spoiler alert, I am on an episode there. So check that out. She's a Facebook and Instagram ad expert, seven figure entrepreneur, ClickFunnels, two Comma Club. Shout out to Russell Brunson. And she's been featured in Forbes, social Media Examiner, digital Marketer, smart Marketer, and more. That's quite a bio alley. Welcome to the show. Thanks for coming on. And how's it going?

Allie:

Thank you so much for having me. Yes, what an introduction. Excited to be here. Like you said, I do not specialize in working with e-commerce companies, but truly what I try and focus on are things that apply to all businesses and that every business out there really needs to know. The question is, how do you implement that for the specific type of business that you have? And I definitely have seen some of these concepts not necessarily be taken advantage of with e-commerce brands specifically. So excited to dive into those with you today.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. And I do enjoy occasionally bringing on a real expert, a real pro to the show who eCommerce. eCommerce is not their only game. And that's where you live. You plan a lot of different spaces, but good marketing, good marketing principles apply to different businesses. And I think sometimes a great breakthrough or an unlock that you may have in your business often comes from either outside your business or from just taking a unique look or unique angle at things. And so excited to dive in. Let's just dive right in and talk about offers. So what is it, cuz you'd mentioned to me like, Hey, I don't think e-commerce brands are great at creating good offers or even creating offers at all. Yeah. So what advice would you give to the e-com brand out there about creating good offers?

Allie:

So I think probably the biggest misconception that I see across the board with the different types of businesses that I work with, which like you said, small business owners. I do work with some e-commerce businesses marketers, agencies, coaches, consultants. I kind of see a lot of different industries out there, up close and personal. And I have found pretty consistently that offers are one of the most misunderstood or not understood at all concepts in marketing. Yet it is the single most important thing in my opinion, because without a good offer, it doesn't matter how great your ads are, if people don't want what you're selling, if you're not giving them a reason to be interested or to be interested right now, they're not gonna pay attention. And so where a lot of people really fall flat is they spend all this time and energy focusing on the platforms and the technical and the creative and the copy and the funnel, but they don't spend any time on the offer.

And so when things aren't working out, they continue to try and tweak these things that maybe we're actually fine to begin with if they just had a better offer. And so it's this vicious cycle. So at the end of the day, an offer is not your product and service, it's how it's packaged, how it's presented, how it is going to engage that end potential consumer and say, Hey, this is something you should take advantage of now this is not something you should sit and wait on. And I think that's even more important for eCommerce businesses than for most local or small businesses or service based businesses. Because in general, eCommerce companies at least believe they have a shorter buying cycle where somebody's gonna see my ad and maybe I've got seven to 30 days to nurture those people. Whereas I think the mindset is a little bit different in service based businesses where that window of opportunity tends to be larger.

And so you've gotta take advantage of the moment. So I think the biggest issue that I see with e-commerce specifically on offers is they don't focus on gated content or lead magnets. So they're not really focused on building the list. The list. It doesn't matter what kind of business you have, it's one of the most valuable assets that you own because there's only so much you can say to someone in an ad, there's only so much you can share. Maybe it's one product or service that you wanna present on the front end, but maybe you have a whole host of things you could provide to them. Outside of that, they're not gonna get to know those things if they're not on your list. And if you're not actually nurturing that list, which I know we'll probably talk more about as we get into this, but being able to create gated content offers is step number one for just about everyone. And I do think that historically e-commerce businesses feel like this doesn't apply to them as much as a small business. They're like, I don't need leads, I need purchases. Right. Well, and of course that's true for all of us, but a lead can make a purchase. That's the goal.

Brett:

Exactly. Yeah. And so let's unpack this a little bit. So I do think that most eCommerce brands, they focus on headlines, whether it's search or display or now on Facebook, or they focus on the opening of their video ad, whether that's YouTube or social or whatever, and some of the benefits that the product brings. But then the only offer is buy it it now and often buy it a full price, which is not bad. I'm a fan of getting full price whenever you can. But what would be some of your recommendations? And so you talk about gated content, <affirmative>, lead magnets, trip wires, you may not have said trip wires, so that goes with it. But what would some of the offers look like <affirmative>, and why are you structuring these offers that are not just by the product?

Allie:

Yeah, for sure. So your gated content offers or your lead magnets, they serve one purpose. And that is to typically hook somebody that may not be ready to buy or maybe they need more information. It also could be for somebody that's product or problem unaware. If somebody's not aware that they have the problem that your product solves, you will not get them to buy. They have no use for it, at least in their mind. So using a good gated content offer can hook somebody who has the need. They have the problem, they have the interest in this piece of content, you can get them in on the backend and then sell the solution to that problem. So it could be a video tutorial. It again, depends on what you sell, but let's say that you sell handheld massagers. Okay, <affirmative> selling this product, but your product is solving a problem, which is helping people with pain.

So if I'm somebody with pain, what type of information would be relevant to me? Well, it could be a five ways to reduce your pain naturally type of video or PDF or something like that. You're selling a natural pain relief product. I get somebody that has the problem, I get them on my list. I could even send them directly to that product in the funnel itself. I don't have to wait until they're on the list. I just hook 'em on the front, then I present the solution. So that is somebody who's typically gonna be more problem unaware or just not quite there yet in terms of being willing to buy. So you mentioned trip wires. So trip wires are a great example of a loss leader. A loss leader is gonna be that first step in the right direction. Something should be useful. It should not be the hole enchilada though.

So for example, if I'm this massager company, maybe I have a little mini massager, or maybe I have a low cost heating pad or something like that to where it's not my core product that I wanna sell, but it does still solve the problem in some way, but it doesn't give them everything they're ever gonna need. So what I could do is I could have an offer that is a very aggressively priced first step type of product. So you're right, you shouldn't feel like a discount on your core product is the only type of offer. Nobody wants to discount their core products and services. And that's understandable. But you don't have to, you know, can discount something that is not your core product and service. So find a product that you've got really good margins on. That's one option to where you can afford to go really aggressive on the price or something that historically is a first step purchase for your buyers.

What's that thing that gets them in the door and then you sell them more on the back end? Sometimes it might actually be just your core product. Maybe you only have one core product. In that case it could be kind of a teaser or a taste test. So for example, there is a company called Relief Factor that is a natural pain. It's like a vitamin pain reduction type of brand. They have a 21 day quick start kit. Okay, that's their loss leader essentially. So it's a very aggressively priced three week pack because they have shown that three weeks is what it takes for the average person to start feeling the results and the relief, which that's a really important component. You wanna make sure you can actually provide some sort of benefit inside of that window or that product that you're offering so that they'll want more.

But they price this at like 1995. Their month of vitamins though is almost $90. So it's definitely a discount, but it's only for that first month. And it's not a whole month, it's only three weeks. So it's a very specifically packaged offer. They know that people in kind of the pain relief space tend to be skeptical because they probably tried a bunch of things. Maybe they haven't really found relief from anything. And so if they were to just say, buy my subscription based $90 per month vitamin pack, probably gonna be some crickets there, it's just not that exciting. And it's also kind of asking a lot before you have shown any result for that person. So their 19 95, 3 week quick start allows someone to try this product with very little risk. It gives them a window of time with that product that they can see results and then they get you on the monthly recurring subscription. I myself got suckered into this offer. I wouldn't call it suckered in because it's a great product.

Had I not tried it and had I not gotten results from it, I would never have spent $90 a month on this pain relief vitamin. But I have, and I've referred other people to it along the way and now I'm telling you about it. Cause I think it's a great offer. So that's a good example of a product based loss leader. And yes, you are discounting your core product, but if you believe that your product is good and you wanna get it into the hands of people who need it, that can be a great solution. Especially because that specific company, they don't make their money on the first purchase, they make it on the recurring sale. So that's the question you have to ask yourself, are you a one and done type of purchase? If so, that's not gonna be your best type of offer, but are you recurring revenue business? And if you are, that could be a good offer for you there.

Brett:

I love it. I wanna add a couple things to that cause I love that example and I've got a few others that kind of tie into it. So I think that there's a distinct advantage if you sell a consumable, like the pain relief or any kinda supplements, food based things, makeup, that's consumable great client that we worked with for years now live bearded, shout out to the boys Macon Spencer at Live Bearded. But they have a great irresistible offer that's just crushing it right now. It's their 24 top 24. I always wanna say flavors, but it's actually sense. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, not flavors, don't eat your beard products, this is sense. But 24 top cents shipped to you in little sample thingy plus you get a $10 gift card and it's only 10 bucks. Wow. So it's like, hey, you can just try our best stuff, just little samples.

And you get a $10 gift card <affirmative>. And so they're getting a huge take rate, high percentage of conversions there. And then once people get that, now they have an email sequence and follow up sequence to get them to go and spend that $10 they just got in the gift card and to buy more of that, get on subscriptions and things. So yep, I love that. And it is not the core product because you're not just saying, here's my beard product, I'm giving you 50% off. Yep. Here's some samples, try it <affirmative>, just try it before you commit. And then when you go to buy it, you're gonna pay the full price. And I would argue that the supplement is the same. It's not a full, it is three week and it's like the quick start kit. So it's getting the kit for discounted rate. So I love that.

I also heard a long time ago, I think it was made from Jay brand back in the day, that if you sell a service, and this could be in your world, it could be coaching or information, or it could be a service plumber or whatever if you sell a service and you wanna do a freebie or a giveaway giveaway product. But if you are in a product business, then you wanna do a freebie or some kind of deal, give away information or a service because you don't wanna discount or cheapen your core thing. So if I'm selling that massager, by the way, I love the percussive therapy devices like Thera Gun, I don't know, thera Gun on some other stuff. But I could those things. Do you own one of those devices? Is that the kind of handheld massage you're talking about

Allie:

Those And then I also, I pretty much own any type of massaging, heating pad, pain relief device out there, honestly.

Brett:

<laugh>. Yeah. So I like the progressive therapy devices. I tweak my back one time on a trip surfing and I say with same with a buddy of mine, I'm a terrible surfer, but I like to do it. And I thought, I was like, man, I'm done. I threw my back out, I'm done. I didn't throw it out, throw it out. But I thought I was done. And he was like, Hey, try this. Let me use this gun. And my wife was using it on my lower back and I surfed the next day. It was crazy. So it wasn't a major injury, but I felt off. But I think you could take something like that and say, and package up different information bundles for athletes and for leg pain, back pain, shoulder pain, <affirmative>, whatever, stress induced things, you know, start packaging up information or offers on hey, here's how to treat this type of pain and oh hey, and then here's how our device does that. So anyway, wanna throw that out there. But I love where we're going here with offers and I think you had a couple more things you were gonna share there.

Allie:

So another type of offer is the product preview offer. This is really where I sometimes see e-commerce businesses getting it, but honestly there's still a lot more room for improvement. So this is if you are presenting that product to somebody who they know they want it, they want that core thing, but you kind of just wanna get 'em to buy now and you want them to get something that's maybe higher in value or to purchase purchase a little bit more. So a great example of a product preview is a bundle. So a bundle offer, it's not discounting anything. Maybe you give them a percentage off of what it would be if they bought those things individually. But part of the beauty of bundles is removing the confusion, removing the choices that somebody has to think about when it comes to buying that product. Because when there are a lot of choices, people oftentimes they won't buy anything cuz they don't know what's right for them.

So for example, you could do a skincare bundle if you sell skincare products and you could do it for the person with dry skin. Maybe you've got one for somebody with oily skin, maybe you have one for somebody with acne. You know, have these different bundles with different products, but they've already been prepackaged for that person. So you say, oh the dry skin skin skincare regimen bundle. And I get it cheaper than I would if I bought them individually cuz I'm buying 'em together. And maybe you throw in something special like a lofa or a rag or something that goes along with that as a nice little thank you. Well I'm spending more, cause I'm not buying one product from you, I'm buying multiple, but I'm feeling like I got a great value and you made the decision really, really easy for me. It could also be something like a buy one, get one, whatever price.

It could be 50% off or it could be something for free. Or you could do a buy three get one free. So it's anything that is an added value on the back end, but they have to buy the core thing that you want them to buy in order to receive that. So that can be great for holiday stuff because we're talking about people who need to buy gifts for a lot of people in their life. So you can incentivize them to buy all those gifts from you. If you want to make holiday shopping easier, let me just get all the gifts that you need right here. I'm gonna give you a price break for doing all your shopping with me, which you should. And I'm gonna give you a discount on shipping because you are getting everything from me as opposed to multiple places. So I worked with this one e-commerce business that did really, really well.

They did natural like body products, bath products, different things like that. And so they created some cool bundle offers on the front end. So things like the new mom box was one of them. These are products that anybody could have used, but it's specific to an avatar. Somebody who needs to relax, they need a little self care. So it also makes it easy to gift those things because if I see something that says the new mom box, I'm like, oh, I know someone who just had a baby. Let me get them the new mom box. I never would've thought of that if I'd just seen these products stand alone. You would not have ever considered that.

Brett:

You wouldn't have put together a little bundle on your own. Right, exactly. And that's what I love about this. The bundle is really about convenience. <affirmative> where, and you talked about it, you're removing the need for someone to think. And I think people <affirmative> expect bundles to be reduced price and that doesn't cheapen the brand, right? Because we all know book discounts, you get book discounts on tickets or other things like book discounts just apply. So I think you can discount a bundle and people are not worried about it, doesn't cheapen the brand, but yet love this advice. So the new mom box Love it. Yeah.

Allie:

And then they also had a coworker box again, a coworker box. What is that? It's just products to show a coworker that you care, but it makes you want to give that gift that you would not have given otherwise necessarily. And so then on top of that, for their holiday offer, they had a buy three get one free. And this is a higher dollar bundle already. So they could be anywhere from 60 to I think $90. So you were buying a bundle that was already an offer in and of itself, but then if you bought three of those bundles, you're an even more valuable customer to them. But then you were going to be able to get that fourth one free either for somebody else as a gift or for yourself if you wanted to have that little extra holiday gift for just you.

Brett:

I love this so much. And is, I like that we're talking about offers here because a lot of people stop short of getting the deal closed. It's kinda like to use a quick foot football knowledge. Are you a football fan alley? What's your sport of choice?

Allie:

Golf. <laugh> golf. Got

Brett:

It. Yeah. Okay, so this, let's make a golf analogy. So I was about to make a football analogy, but let's make a golf analogy. So I used to play golf in high school. I was on the golf team mainly because the golf coach liked me and mainly because I could crush the golf ball. I could, but my short game was terrible. A lot of

Allie:

Fun

Brett:

<laugh>, like this fun part, you go to the driving range, you try to Happy Gilmore it for those that are too young, actually most people listen this for sure know who Happy Gilmore is. But anyway, doesn't matter if you get on the green in two and then you for put right, which is, I've done that before. So it's like a lot of times we focus on the fun stuff like headlines and audiences and some of these things and those are kind of fun. But the offer, that's what sinks the putt. That's what gets it in the hole. That's what allows you to cross the goal line, to use the football analogy. But a lot of times we stop short, we stop short of that. So getting the offer can really be an unlock a game changer because I love, I'm a traffic guy, so I love Top Funnel YouTube Performance Max, Google ads, Amazon ads. When you have the right offer, the right offer, that can increase conversion rates, it can change the game. It changes the math on your ads. I know you're a big Facebook person. Absolutely. So if you got the right offer, you can really scale your marketing efforts. If you have a math offer, you're gonna be stuck. You're gonna be stuck at a certain spin level. So love that we're doing that. Any final thoughts on, I know we could talk offers all day, but any final thoughts there? Otherwise we'll move on to the next topic.

Allie:

Yeah, just one final little golf analogy. They say you drive for show and you put for dough. It's put for dough. Same concept. Yeah. This is where the real money is made if you can get it right. So great analogy. So

Brett:

I'm just curious if you and I went to Top Golf, who's winning the drive contest, wondering if you might beat me. You seem <laugh>.

Allie:

I, I've got some good drives, but I'll say my short game is pretty strong most of the time. I'm pregnant right now.

Brett:

Definitely be to me if

Allie:

I'm pregnant right now.

Brett:

I've got real golf,

Allie:

I've got this little obstacle in my way when I try and golf right now. So it's a challenge. But yeah, in general I'm pretty good at driving, but my short game is where I try and improve the most.

Brett:

And for those that can't see, cuz you're mainly, obviously you're listening, you can't see, but you, you're pregnant right now. Yeah. And when do you do?

Allie:

January the fifth. So coming right up.

Brett:

So depending on when this comes out, it can be like anytime. Okay, cool. Absolutely. Awesome. Yep, yep. So let's talk a little bit about audience building. Cause it's something you're great at, but I think a lot of eCommerce brands are not. So what are some of your top audience building tips and why is it important?

Allie:

Yeah, I think every business needs to focus on audience building and it does also tend to get pushed on the back burner. Everyone wants to go straight to cold traffic. They want to exist and rely on cold traffic. And while it's true, if you can crack cold traffic, you have endless opportunities <affirmative>. But that is not necessarily going to be the highest value customer, the best and most loyal long term customer. So we find that with the warm audiences, your cost per conversion, your cost per acquisition go down significantly. Your customer acquisition costs are just way better. In general, your conversion rate to that backend sale or that core offer that you wanna sell are much, much better. So this can kind of be your bread and butter. Let's say times are tough for a month or so and you need to cut your ad spin down.

Well, you can cut out your cold traffic and you can rely on your warm traffic if you've got it and still do extremely well. So it's just a more efficient way to spend your budget. But again, most people, they never focus on it. Even those who might have some good audience building elements going on, they never take advantage of it. They're not really running traffic to their warm audience consistently. And this is where you can build a relationship with people online as if they know you. And I don't care if you're a product based business or a service based business. People buy from brands that they like and from leaders that they like. And so you want to do this. So video always the best, easiest way to go because it's cheaper. The platforms, they like video, they know that their consumers like video, and so they will allow video to get out there easier in terms of cost per thousand.

You're just always gonna crush it with video. The problem is most people, if they're just going for a video views type of optimization, you're not really gonna see the conversions there. And that's okay. It's not the point of those ads. So you have to know there are certain ads that are there for audience building. There are certain ads that are there for conversions, but even a couple of dollars a day on your audience building video ads is gonna go a long way in reducing your customer acquisition costs when it comes to those offer focused ads. So videos that again tie into that problem that your end consumer has, taking them from problem unaware to problem aware, from problem aware to solution aware solution aware to your solution aware, and then hitting them with that amazing offer. So everybody's gonna be at kind of a different stage of their levels of awareness, but you kind of wanna have something out there for everyone.

The people who are not yet aware, let's take the Thera gun for example. Maybe there are people that they just don't really know that there are people who live without pain. Maybe they just, they know they have a problem. I think that's a given. Most of those people are gonna be problem aware, but maybe they don't know that there really is any solution that's viable for them. You've gotta start presenting those people with some solution content. The people who are solution focused. So let's say we know that a handheld massager could be a good solution. Well okay, now let's present you with some gun content, the different ways that gun. Exactly. And what types of pain does it help? How does it work? So it could be actual product focused content, but it could just be more of that. Let's go back to what we were talking about with the gated content offers.

It could be more of just that problem solution focused content that's not even specific yet to your product. You can paint yourself as an expert in this space as the go-to brand for content related to these products. So for example, if we wanted to use that business that I mentioned earlier with the natural bath and body products, this could be content focused on harmful chemicals in your makeup and skincare products. So it's not even talking about their products yet. That is a big selling point of their product. So it already is planting the seed in their mind that, hey, wow, I didn't even know there were so many harmful chemicals in some of these products that I've been using. Wow, that's eyeopening. Okay, maybe we drip a little call to action at the end because if somebody wants to learn more, we don't wanna make it hard for them.

But we're starting to already position our product as the best without them even realizing it. But we are also building an audience of people who care about holistic health because at the end of the day, urine consumer for that business is not necessarily just somebody who likes body products. Maybe it could be, but there's so many brands that you could choose from. Their ideal consumer is somebody who wants natural. They do not want these harmful chemicals in there. So if you can hook somebody who has that desire already, whether or not they're looking for body products is irrelevant. They could want body products. And even if they don't want it for themself, they could want it for gift giving to other people. So I just need to identify my avatar through my content and then slowly start introducing them to other solutions, other products that I offer, and then hit them with those retargeting ads if they start to engage more with those pieces of content so that I can make sure that they do not forget about me and really advertise to them till the end of time. It's my motto. Yeah,

Brett:

I love this and I love that you're talking about the different stages of awareness. So we're riffing on the Eugene Schwartz breakthrough advertising five level of awareness, but to kind of stick with the Thera Gun example, cuz it's kind of fun and it's fresh in our minds right now. We actually worked with a good competitor for a while and so we built audiences based on people's search behavior on Google, cuz we have the ability to do that through YouTube and other platforms, <affirmative> or other channels on Google you know, could have people that are searching for things like do percussive therapy devices work? Or what are percussive therapy devices? So they're asking questions that would indicate they've kind of heard about it, but they're like, what is this thing? So I need some education here. So for that, we had this ad that opened with, Hey, have you ever seen devices like this?

And wondered, do they work? And if they actually do work, are they worth 600 bucks or whatever? And then they kinda went into the <inaudible> product. You could then also target people that are saying like Thera Gun versus Hyper Ice, right? <affirmative>. So they're searching for two of the leading brands or gun versus whatever else. So now you're like, okay, they're aware of some of the players, but now they're really evaluating. So it's like, okay, hey, do you really need to pay premium price to get the benefit of these devices or is there another alternative? And then you begin to just think about what are the questions people are asking at the different stages? <affirmative>, I think you create organic content for that and paid content for that. Amplify it and you're so right. People just focus on cold traffic. But if you look at some of the nurturing along the way, that's when things become interesting.

So looking at both organic and paid traffic at different stages of awareness. And then you've got your remarketing that's tied in. And when you think about this, the way you're describing it, it really helps then for when we go through seasons when ad costs are really expensive. So this is coming out as we're approaching actually some lower cost times of advertising of the year. But if you look at say the holidays, that's when ad costs are at their highest. Well, if you've got a good audience building in place, then you can shut off top of funnel for a little bit during peak ad cost seasons if you need to and just focus on that warm audience

Allie:

A hundred percent.

Brett:

And it really is a total game changer. But you gotta have the audiences before you need them.

Allie:

Exactly. Yep. Yeah,

Brett:

Yeah. Awesome. So this kind ties in into list building. This is kind our last topic before we talk about ways people can get in contact with you. But what about list nurturing and list building? Cause that's really related to audience building. What are your thoughts? What are your tips on list building and nurturing?

Allie:

Yeah, so like I mentioned early on, I think it's really important, I do believe that e-commerce brands just, and again everybody, so I don't wanna point my finger, but most people have a really shortsighted view of their customer buying cycle. They think if I don't convert this person when they see my ad, they're not a potential customer. And that is so untrue. I mean, I just want people to think about their own buying behavior. I have seen ads for e-commerce brands over and over and over and over and over again before I buy, but the reason I buy is because I continue to see them or because I get their emails and I finally read that at the right time, or I have that need or maybe the pain is great enough of whatever that problem is at that moment for me to go ahead and make that decision to buy. Or maybe it's a really special offer. So there was a at home manicure kit that I got not too long ago and I had seen the ads for a long time. I'm a marketer, so I save ads that I like, me too, so I'm always able

Brett:

To go back to them. That's a true marketing nerd. When you're building a swipe file, when you're saving ads or screenshotting ads, that's when you're

Allie:

Marketing all the time. And I don't know what it was. I think I just had a moment where I saw the ad and I was like, man, your nails look really bad. You should probably do something about that <laugh>. And I can't stand to go to the nail salon. I don't have the time to sit there for forever and do all that. So whatever, I bought it and they had a great offer for the holiday. It was some sort of holiday at the time, labor Day or Memorial Day or something. I got it. It's loved it. And I've again referred it to multiple people since because it was great. And I bought the upsells. I bought six different nail polishes instead of the one that came with the pack. And so you just have to remember that people are not always gonna buy the first time they see you and you can't give up on them.

And that's where the warm audiences come into play. So you're nurturing them through your ads, but if you can have the right gated content offers or even promo code offers, so even if you don't have gated content, having a promo code that somebody can use at a later date I think is critical, especially with social advertising. It's slightly different with search based because the intent is a little bit higher there. But I talked about this with one of my students who owns five different pizza restaurants. So they're running ads to different videos. They just have this direct link for people to go ahead and order online right there. And I'm like, Hey, I could be seeing this hat at any point of the day or night, not necessarily gonna be ready to order pizza that second <affirmative>, but I could be tomorrow at lunch. So what you wanna do is you wanna take that person who's got the interest and give them a reason to give you their contact info right away.

So a promo code for that same offer that they were talking about doesn't have to be any different, but giving them, Hey, opt in right here will send you the promo code, even if a promo code does not exist, just make it up and send it to 'em. It could be the same one for every single person, and it could be completely irrelevant to them actually needing that code to acquire the offer. Get them on the list. And now hopefully you're gonna start by just reminding them about that thing. If it was more of a direct offer that wasn't a direct offer, you're gonna kind of take them through that same sort of informational sequence we just talked about with potentially the video content and the ads. Those same articles and those questions about the Thera gun. Do these devices really work? What's the difference between this one or that one?

What types of pain does this help? You're gonna start nurturing them with that informational based content, and it could be content that you already have. So blogs sending them to a blog, maybe you give them a snippet in the email, send them to your blog, hopefully on the blog you're tracking their activity that they've been there. And you also have easier opportunities for them to convert right there on that page. Maybe it's sending them to a video. So today I sent out an email, I did a video for YouTube on what is a funnel, what is this and why does somebody need one? I embed these videos into funnels on my website. I have specific content focus funnels. I drive people from my email list to that funnel. So I'm not sending them to YouTube with all the clutter and distraction of these other videos.

I've got 'em right there focusing on me, and then I have an easy opportunity for them to schedule a call right below the video. So you know, can hook them with that content through your emails, and then you can still get that conversion. You can even send those same people who've already opted in other lead magnets. So I had a lead magnet I sent out a couple of weeks ago on a KPI calculator workbook, and the next page after they opt in, it's like, Hey, here's a video on how to use it, but also if you need extra help, schedule a call to see how we can help you. I mean, I got 20 booked calls from that email and the first couple of hours, and it's not a complicated funnel, it's not a complicated anything, it's just having the people on the list first who actually have an interest and have a need and then giving them a reminder, Hey, I'm here.

Hey, I can help you. Hey, I have something that if you're ready for it, I am ready for you because not everybody's ready at the same time. Sometimes it takes people a really long time to even trust a business to give their money to people can be more particular. I have a guy in my mastermind right now, I just launched the mastermind recently. He opted in on a gated content offer two years ago. He had never scheduled a call with us. I had never heard his name before. I wasn't familiar with him in terms of being a lead or anything. And then he converted to my highest level offering because it was the right time. He had the need. He trusted me because of the content I had been nurturing him with for the last two years, and now he's one of my best clients.

And if people really could think about it like that, whether or not you're selling something high ticket, it doesn't matter. For a lot of product-based businesses, like the money's in the long-term relationship and the loyalty and the repeat purchases, your very best buyers may start out as someone who opts in for info and your nurture convinces them that you are the right business to help them and they could become your best customer and your biggest advocate if you would only give them a chance. But I think most e-commerce businesses, the only emails they might ever be sending are about direct offers. So it's always an ask, it's always a take. It's never a give. You gotta balance it out. The give and the take should both be there, but the give is where people see who you are and what you're made of. And again, establish that relationship.

Maybe you've got humor to your brand that insert that. It doesn't have to be about your product all the time. It can be about the culture of your product. It can be about that avatar and just get creative with it and have some fun with it. And I think you'll be surprised at what a little nurture to your existing list. I don't care how big they are, what that can do for your sales. If you give it 30 days of like, I'm gonna consistently email with great content for 30 days, I'm gonna look at my sales and see what happens. And I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Brett:

I love it. Love it so much. I think, yeah, it's one of those things where we just stop short, we stop short or we don't approach this properly. I was actually speaking at an event in LA a couple weeks ago that the gorgeous put on their e-commerce help desk company, but it was about retention based marketing. And so I gave a talk on next level remarketing and a loyalty advertising, right? <affirmative>, because this is something that a lot of people, like, everybody's doing it, everybody's bad at it. We're just not running remarketing campaigns properly. We're not nurturing our list properly, just like you said. Right? And I love the story of the guy who got a trip wire offer two years ago, but he is consuming your content. Finally, the timing's right, the trust is there. We should be looking at how do we build this?

No. And trust where people know us, they like us, they trust us, and they're gonna buy from us. Anyway, I just shared this example when I was talking at this in LA and I said, Hey, the greatest book ever written for remarketing and retention marketing is this. And people are getting ready to write it down. And I'm like, it's Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Ses. Right? <laugh> just a joke, but it's actually kind of real. So if you look at Sam, I am, he's saying, Hey, would you try it with a fox? Okay, okay, got it. But would you try it with a box? What about on a trainer? What about in the rain? What about? And so it's like coming at this from different angles. Would you try it here or there? Would you do? And eventually, and obviously he's a little bit pesky, a little bit too much maybe but eventually the guy's like, fine, I'll try the green eggs and ham, and then he loves it. So that's the story. But that's sort of what we should do, but in a cool way, in a charming way, in a fun way, in a funny way. How do we just approach it from all different angles and remind, remind, remind until someone is like, yeah, the timing is right. I want that and I want it now. And so

Allie:

I know, I think we overestimate a lot of times how much our potential customers are thinking about us. Truthfully, they're not thinking about us that much on their mind that much. You've got to, you have to remind them that you're there. And often because life's busy for everybody, your customers, they have a family, most likely they've got a job, they've got hobbies, they've got things on their mind, and they are not sitting around thinking about you. Even if that problem that you solve is pestering them on a regular basis. People get just comfortable with their problems sometimes. And they're not in that solution seeking mode always until that moment that the pain, physical or emotional or whatever is great enough to make them act. And that's when they search for you or that's when they convert on that ad when they're, they've got an ear ache and they're scrolling at three o'clock in the morning and you've got some sort of solution for it or whatever.

So you just have to stay present and stay consistent and truthfully believe that your customer's worth waiting for. And that if you are asking them to give you their money and their time and their attention, and hopefully create this long relationship with you, you have got to be willing to do whatever it takes to gain their trust and their business. And luckily with ads and automation and all that jazz, it can be pretty easy once you get those things set up. You don't have to be spending your personal time doing it, but the tech will do the work for you if you do it the right way.

Brett:

Absolutely. I think we overestimate the amount of time our customers, even existing customers, think about us. We overestimate the amount of attention that prospects are giving us, <affirmative> and we underestimate the allure and the number of competitors and other direct competitors and indirect competitors that are competing for our customers attention and absolutely interest and action. So yeah, ally, this has been fabulous. We could keep going. I don't really want this conversation in this, it's been super fun but we are running outta time. So as we wrap up, if someone's like, okay, this is great, I need more Ali boy in my life, where can they find you? Can they connect with you on the socials? Any specific offers? What should they do next?

Allie:

Yeah, so you can go to my website, ali boy.com, A L L I E B L O Y d.com. You can see potentially how I could help you on a business level. Other than that, you can connect with me on social media. I'm on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, primarily at Ali Lloyd or at Ali Lloyd Media. And I do have the marketing podcast, which is I think fabulous. So if you wanna hear me in your ear a little bit more, that's a great place to go as well. And ultimately, my offer to you is this, you're not really my customer if you're just a straight e-commerce business, but if you have a local business, if you are an info product seller or coaching consultant, and you wanna say, okay, how can I get that piece of my business really rocking and rolling? Then I have a great 12 mentorship hands on lots of resources and easy buttons provided to you. So if you wanna check that out again, just the website, schedule a quick, quick call and we'll see if it's a good fit. If it's not, we'll let you know. So would love to connect with all of you,

Brett:

Allie Lloyd, ladies and gentlemen. So I will link to everything in the show notes so you can check it out there. But Allie, thank you so much. This has been a blast.

Allie:

Thanks for having me.

Brett:

Really enjoyed it. And as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love your feedback. Hey, we'd love that review on iTunes if you haven't done it yet. If you've been listening for a while, haven't left the review on iTunes, today is the day. We'd love to see that five star review. If you feel like we've earned it and do check out all's information you will not be disappointed. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.


Episode 215
:
Justin Sardi - TubeSift

YouTube Misconceptions, Changes, and Competitive Intel

What you don’t know about YouTube is hurting you.

Justin Sardi is the founder of Tube Sift and Video Ad Vault. He is a true YouTube OG.

He’s been running ads and geeking out on YouTube organic growth since 2012.

He’s built two of the leading YouTube research and spying tools on the web - Tube Sift and Ad Vault. The team here at OMG actually uses both regularly. Justin is a sharp dude with a wealth of YouTube knowledge. 

Here’s what we dive into in this episode:

  • Misconceptions about YouTube holding you back from growth.
  • How to capture top-performing YouTube ads to learn from - for FREE!
  • What’s changing on YouTube, including some of our favorite targeting options?
  • Why Google’s first-party data and AI is second to none.
  • Some YouTube SEO tips you probably haven’t thought of. 
  • Do you need a 2nd YouTube channel?
  • Video Discovery ads - what are they and how to make them work for you? 
  • Plus more!

Mentioned In This Episode:

Justin Sardi:

- LinkedIn

- Facebook

TubeSift

TubeSift Bookmarker

Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the E-Commerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of O OMG Commerce, and today we're talking YouTube and YouTube ads. And YouTube organic and YouTube spying. And how to find out what your competitors are up to on YouTube. This is gonna be super fun. I'm talking to an OG in the YouTube space. So Justin Sardi is my guest. We first met through Blue Ribbon Mastermind and Ezra Firestone, our mutual friend, and Justin is just a really smart guy, legend. He is the founder and CEO of Tube Sift and Video Ad Vault. And so one of the leading tools platforms will allow you to find out what other top ads are running on YouTube and allow you to spin on your competitors a little bit. And we'll unpack more of that today cause I think this is a tool you're gonna wanna check out.

But more than that, we're gonna dive into, hey, what are some misconceptions about YouTube and what do you need to know about YouTube to make it work? And then some other formats that you maybe aren't familiar with. And so if you listen to the podcast regular regularly, we talk about YouTube ads. I've got a couple episodes where I dive into YouTube ads. Of course we have a recent episode with Jacque Spitzer from Raindrop where we talk about creative again, a couple of episodes with Andrew Ebl where we talk creatives, but this is gonna be a little bit different. So I'm excited about this with that intro, with that intro. Justin, what's up man? How you doing? And welcome to the show.

Justin:

Thanks for having me, man. It's been a long time. I know we rescheduled a few times and then yeah, just hanging out. But in California just the other day.

Brett:

Exactly. Yeah, just hanging out at Blue Ribbon San Diego a couple weeks ago and one of my favorite spots, one of my favorite events. And so it was always good to see you there. But yeah, this was sick. This podcast specifically has been in the works forever and it just seems like something happens with one of our schedules. We have to punt and reschedule, but we're doing it, man. We're here, we're making it happen. So do this. We're gonna get into some education on YouTube ads and misconceptions and new things you should be trying. Before we do that, what is Tube sift and video ad vault and yeah, just give us kind of the low down.

Justin:

Yeah, so Tube Shift is basically a precision targeting tool for YouTube advertisers. Helps you do placement targeting, basically that was the original function of it. Of course there kind of moving away from content targeting. So thanks Google. But honestly the thing I was bummed about

Brett:

And what is the latest update on that actually? So we're hearing rumors, we're seeing some things in some accounts, but not all accounts. So Google's wanted to move away from content targeting if you're running a conversion based campaign. Right. So what's the latest or what have you heard most recently?

Justin:

Yeah, so I mean that, that's basically it. As of they said they're going to be removing them from accounts basically. So you gotta set up a YouTube ad with a goal just a video campaign for example. Used to be able to choose topics, keywords placements, those three things. And those were content targeting, they called it or, Yeah, and they ended up, they're pulling that. So certain accounts, some accounts that I have still there, no, not even

Brett:

Aware. And we're still doing that in a number of accounts, but yeah, yeah know

Justin:

The's a number. They don't even let you add it anymore. So they said they're going to be doing that by 2023 and it's what, November. So we got two months and they said they're actually going to remove, if you have any existing campaigns, they're not even gonna be grandfathered in. They are getting rid of it.

Brett:

Dang. Just putting the,

Justin:

But you can still set it up without a goal of like you used to have to do back in the day before they had goals. And you would just have to manually go in and see, hey, this placement's working, this one's not. Instead of Google saying, Oh, this is working, we'll shift more of your budget here and them doing some of the optimization, you just have to go in and manually do it. And we've, we've run some side by side tests with a goal and placements and without a goal. They were pretty similar, honestly this is a little more work, which is,

Brett:

Yeah, and that's interesting. I, I'd love to chat with you more about that. We, we've run some tests looking at conversion based campaigns and non-con conversion based campaigns. We can't get the view based or non goal based campaigns to really perform well. Some of the metrics are just fine or even better view rates are better cost reviews, lower on a view based campaign versus conversion based campaign. But we just can't get the CPAs to equal out. So would love to see what you're doing. I love content targeting. And so basically if you're doing keyword targeting, what Google is doing there is they're finding it's contextual. So looking at that keyword and saying, Ah, okay, we're gonna put your ad next to content about that keyword. And that's going away and it's super sad, sad day for sure. The

Justin:

One good thing though is that you can still, with their custom audiences, you can actually go in, you can still do keywords. They just moved them. And actually I just got this idea cause you can actually target people who have visited sites similar to whatever. I'm just gonna try exactly put placements in there and see if that does anything. I don't know.

Brett:

Yeah, so the custom segment where you're giving Google URLs, so basically for those that don't know, you go into Google, you build a segment, you be called now called segments, but custom segment. And so basically you can either give Google search terms, so keywords people have searched for recently on Google or on YouTube. You can also give them keywords. But with an in-market focus, which kind of means people are looking at this stuff online or they've keyed it in a variety of things. Or you can give Google URLs. And basically what Google is doing there is they're building a lookalike audience, like you said, where it's like people that have visited those URLs or people that look like those who have visited those URLs that build an audience there. So I think you can do placements there and I think that's an interesting angle.

Justin:

So we're gonna test that. But back to the original question that that's what Tube sets was originally for. We recently added a custom audience builder as well that'll find all the websites for specific keywords so you can quickly and easily extract all those and create those custom audiences because we saw that working really well and kind of had a feeling they were moving away from placements. So

Brett:

Very cool. So basically then you could go into Tube, type in a keyword as an example. It's gonna show you all the videos that show up for that search and then you can basically scrape those URLs and then use those for targeting.

Justin:

And then video Ad vault is our other piece of software that's basically, I think of it as a massive swipe file of, we have almost a million unique YouTube ads and landing pages with a bunch of historical data. So you can search by advertiser name domain, keywords a number of different things. And you can basically find all the ads running in any niche, see what's working, what's maybe not see all the different hooks, angles you get, all the landing pages, all that good stuff. So

Brett:

Yeah, I love it, I love it. And one of the best ways to learn is by watching successful ads and video ad vault as a way to do that. And you get the landers, you get the whole deal there, which is fantastic. So highly recommend it. My team uses it, we love it. So check that out and we'll talk more about how you can learn more and how you can dig in here in just a minute. But let's talk first, Justin, you've been in the game a long time. What are some misconceptions people have about YouTube and YouTube ads?

Justin:

So I mean the number one thing, and we've talked about this before, was people are like, Oh, I have to have a video. Now I do think that videos work best, you probably should have a video, but with all of these new types of the PAX campaigns, all those things as well they'll actually still serve display ads on YouTube and you can actually set just those display ads up to Target YouTube as well. And you can basically run image ads and just display ads on YouTube also without having to have a video. So that's

Brett:

App. And just to key in on that just a little bit, I love this and we're doing a lot with Performance Max at omg we run discovery campaigns, which that discovery placement does put image ads or carousel ads on YouTube, <affirmative> and what a powerful placement. And likely if you pick up your phone and scroll through the YouTube feed you'll see some image based ads. So you'll see videos, then you'll see if you see a still image, it's most likely an ad. And those are pretty compelling. That's a key placement feels a little more like a Facebook or an Instagram ad but we're seeing a lot of success there, especially with our larger advertisers, both for top funnel targeting but also for remarketing. And so love that placement. That's a way, and hey, getting the YouTube video creatives, it's a little more difficult, but through Discovery or performance Max, you can run those display ads on YouTube, love that call out. And that's probably a traffic source A lot of people are missing

Justin:

For sure. Another thing, a lot of people, this is something I've always heard, like, oh, your video needs to be 30 seconds, that that's the magic number. I think people are getting away from that now. I know Google, they actually recommend that you keep it under three minutes now. And I've actually heard some rumors that they might be not allowing ads longer than three minutes as Instream ads in the future. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but I've heard that. We'll see. But yeah, I mean you're paying for that 30 seconds or whatever and that's where that came from. Obviously they're changing. It depends, I think on the campaigns with goals, you're actually paying after 10 seconds now

Brett:

Is especially if there's a conversion. Yeah, yeah. So what's interesting there and yeah, so I think probably where this came from is with TrueView, with YouTube TrueView ads, basically your charged, you're only charged for an actual view. So that view comes at about the 32nd mark. We can kind of use that as a working number. So if someone watches the whole video, if it's less than 30 seconds or 30 seconds, if it's longer, then you pay a cost per view. If they skip at a shorter time period than that, you don't pay for that. But yeah, that's it, right? There's no reason to have a 32nd ad. We, we've found if you wanna run a conversion based ad, so an ad that's driving a click and hopefully then driving a conversion minute and a half to three minutes is kind of the sweet spot. We've seen some as short as like 45 seconds.

It'd really scale at a target CPA at a customer acquisition cost goal. But typically that closer to a minute or a little bit longer. Great example, we actually had had a deodorant client where they had the same video. They had a minute 10 version of this video and a 32nd version of the video, same video, it was just a cutdown. So same actors, same script, basically just one was a minute, 10, one was 30 seconds, so it was cut down the minute 10 version had a 10 x of the number of conversions. And so the CPA was just wildly different. The 32nd version had a better view rate, but the minute version had better clicks, better conversions. So I'm still leaning to that longer area. And then to key what you said, yeah, if you go longer than three minutes, Google has basically said they're going to tax you or they're going to increase your cost.

Perview <affirmative>, we haven't seen that really make a difference if it's a good video. So if you get a three and a half minute video, that's great. Or Ezra Firestone at boom, they've got some five minute video, six minute video, seven minute videos, they're still working, we're still watching the Target CPA and they're, and they're still working. So I'm not too concerned about those longer videos. But I do wonder, we have one client in the automotive space, they're running 15 minute VSLs on YouTube, which not really my recommendation at this point, but it's working. I do wonder when that's gonna maybe be taxed or taxed is the wrong word, but Google's gonna maybe charge more to where it doesn't make sense, but that day is not just yet. But I would be thinking, hey, how do we get a killer video under three minutes? And for most brands that should be easily doable.

Justin:

Oh yeah, I remember we used to upload, I used to upload entire three hour webinars and run them as ads <laugh>. And those did, we actually used to run 'em as video discovery ads back in the day. But those did amazingly well. We used to just sell webinar products like crazy with those and

Brett:

Interesting. I wish that was never done that. So I do wanna talk about video discovery, so let's put a pin in that. Let's come back to that. Cause that's super interesting. You've done way more of that than I have, and so I wanna talk about that for sure. But what are a few other misconceptions or surprises about YouTube ads that you wanna share with folks?

Justin:

I mean, a lot of people are, we have a webinar product, we do some training and a lot of people coming in are coming from the Facebook ads world <affirmative>, and they're always worried, well what if I get banned? I'm like, Dude, it's probably not going to The number one thing I actually do see people getting banned for is suspicious payment activity. And it's because they don't have matching. They'll set up an account and they'll use a different credit card like that. You need to have, make sure your addresses, especially with all the advertiser transparency, that's basically what they're looking for. If you make a mistake and throw up an ad, it gets disapproved. You can literally call Google and they will, I've had Google reps send me screenshots of my landing page with highlights being like, Just do this here, do this here and you'll be good. And then we'd fix that and they fire it right up like nothing. So you can get away with a lot more on Google obviously you need to stay within their terms of service and all that, but they are pretty lenient and they actually, you know, can actually talk with somebody that will even help you get things fixed pretty easily.

Brett:

Yeah, I do. The fact that you can reach out to somebody either through chat or a phone call once you start advertising on Google, getting ahold of customer support is relatively easy. Now I will give a couple of caveats. One, you don't always get a super helpful person. So sometimes we get someone and you're like, Wait, I don't think this person knows what they're talking about. <affirmative> always good to just be polite, hang up, call back, get somebody else. And I'm not a Facebook advertiser, I don't know, but I've heard it's quite a bit easier to get ahold of someone at Google than it is at Facebook. So that's a win. There's still some categories that you just gonna have no luck anywhere. So C, B D type products or if you want to go hemp to get around C, good luck. It can happen.

But Google and Facebook are both pretty strict about that. <affirmative>, we've worked with some supplement companies that like to lean into testosterone claims or things like that, and that's pretty tricky. Anyway, you slice it. So I don't want to give the, I think you are right that the YouTube is probably a little more open or flexible than Facebook in certain cases and in certain verticals but it's not just the wild West. So you're still gonna potentially have issues, but the good news is you can get ahold of somebody and occasionally you can get ahold of someone who's helpful. So yeah, that's nice. So that's awesome. Cool. So any other misconceptions or surprises that you want to key in with YouTube ads?

Justin:

Yeah, I don't know mean, the one thing I will say is they, they've come a very long way over the past

Brett:

Even

Justin:

The past year or so. They have made, when I first started running ads, you had to go to Google ads slash video to even set up a video campaign. And they've made some massive improvements. Some of them I'm like, I wish they didn't do that. But overall they are going in a positive direction. And I think that just the fact that you can connect with somebody on video prior to making other interactions, I think that in itself just makes, especially if you're doing personal coaching, anything like that, just being able to make that connection in the beginning, I feel like it helps build that trust and that follows through the whole funnel. So

Brett:

I love it. And I'll just kind of share a couple of things that I think are unique about YouTube that make it pretty attractive. Two main things that I'll key in on. One is data that YouTube and Google can use. And then two is the number of users and the audience on YouTube. So let's talk data. So Google provides some unique ways to target, you talked about custom segments a minute ago, or custom audiences that allow you to use keywords. And basically Google's saying like, Hey, we're gonna target people that have searched for those keywords or similar keywords on Google, on YouTube. So that's unique information that really no other platform can leverage because Google owns YouTube and Google owns search. So they've got all that search data. Now here's interesting, even a amidst privacy concerns and stuff like that data, that search data is first party data, right?

Google owns that. You're on google.com directly giving the keyword search to Google so they can use that data however they want now their complexities with privacy and we we'll see where things go, but for the most part, Google can still leverage that targeting to try to find users who are likely to convert. Now as things get a little stickier, a little dicier with privacy concerns, I think Google's gonna remove some of the controls from advertisers and make more automated, but they're still gonna be able to find people likely to convert based on that data that they have. So that's one thing. I think the data that Google has is fantastic. I think the smart bit algorithm that Google has built is amazing. I think their AI and machine learning scientists are better than anybody. And so I think there's real improvements there. The other thing on audience or the amount of people using YouTube.

YouTube is just huge. It's the second most visited website on the planet, the number two search engine behind Google on the planet. But here's interesting, if you look at teenagers and younger people, a lot of them are moving away from Facebook. And this is not me reigning on Zuckerberg's Parade or saying that Facebook is dying. I think it's gonna be viable for the foreseeable future anyway. But YouTube is growing and if you talk to teenagers, you talk to older senior citizens, whatever, everybody's using YouTube. I was recently at TNC in San Diego and Ryan Dice pulled like 10,000 marketers and said, Hey, what are the three channels you think are gonna become more effective in the coming year? And the top three were one short form videos like TikTok, Instagram reels, things like that. Two was email, no surprise there, email, everybody thinks email's gonna die. It's not. And then the third was YouTube. So YouTube is is on the uptick. I think you gotta really dig into YouTube, so love it. Really good insights there. Let's talk about this, Justin. Let's talk about video discovery ads because that's something I know you've done a lot of. I'm familiar with them. We have not run a lot of video discovery ads, so what are they? And then how do you recommend utilizing you two video discovery ads?

Justin:

Yeah, so the recently, I think they rechange or they just recently rebranded them as just discovery ads or whatever on YouTube and essentially, or

Brett:

Is it Discovery and not discovery? Yeah,

Justin:

It's not, I forget what they did is they combined Instream and discovery ads. And so basically with those changes it's now more important than ever to have. Previously when you had an Instream ad, nobody was ever gonna see that video unless it was an Instream ad. Now that they are video action campaigns, they're calling them now that they have those, your ad is gonna be shown as a mix of Instream and also discovery ads, which is basically you're scrolling through the feed on your phone or something, even on your YouTube on desktop and you see a thumbnail. So previously I would just have a random, not even a thumbnail, not even worry about it, not put a title on the video, literally call it add one or whatever. Now the way they're showing those, it's more important than ever to number one. I mean your ad title or your video title is a lot like a headline now. So just because that it's

Brett:

Gonna be more visible cuz used to, yeah, you're right, nobody would see it. But now people do

Justin:

And I've seen people doing that with their ads. I'm like, Dude, you titled it this and it's showing it just come on, you're spending money on this. Yeah. So that's one thing. And then it's also very important to have a custom thumbnail now. And the thing we do when we're making those is go search for content on YouTube about whatever topic we are running and running the ad on and then we'll see what the top thumbnails are. Just scroll down the first 10 videos and you'll start to see some things that are, they all have in common.

Brett:

And so then we will start some patterns. Yeah,

Justin:

And a big part of the reason that those are ranking is number one, obviously they have their keywords and a lot of them have big channels, they're getting a lot of views and Google's gonna reward that. But a lot of it does have to do with a catchy thumbnail, a catchy title, things like that. That's the first thing that people see. And a lot of times that thumbnails gonna, that's like your, it's free ad real estate really and you should be taken advantage of that. And something we've done with the discovery ads is actually use them sort banner ads as for retargeting. So when we have a promotion going on, it's we'll start swapping the thumbnail out, two days left, one day left, things like that, <affirmative>, and essentially hitting people, it's almost like a fr because you also don't pay unless they click on it, which

Brett:

Is grow, right, with discovery ads, they've gotta click on it, then they'll start viewing it and that's when you pay. So it's someone choosing to watch it.

Justin:

But if you just want to use that as banner space on YouTube and not pay a CPM or anything like that it's a cool way that you can use those and you can set those up in the campaigns without a goal still and just specifically choose that type of ad.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. Super interesting. So let's talk as we move into our final section here before we talk specifically about Tube shift, a little bit more YouTube seo, right? So I mentioned YouTube's the number two search engine on the planet, more searches conducted on YouTube than on any other search engine, not named Google. And so what are some of the keys? How do we get our organic videos to rank better on YouTube so that we can drive more volume there? Cause I think that's a traffic source a lot of people are missing. If you can get some videos on YouTube to rank organically, that can be a great source of traffic. So walk us through some tips there.

Justin:

Yeah, so funny actually guys, I've got my silver play button right over there so I actually have a

Brett:

Dude look at you. That's an elite club man.

Justin:

I know we have 110,000 subscribers on one of our YouTube's channels and that was all organic. So I do know a little bit about the organic side of things and I will say that if you can build up an audience and anytime you put out a promotion or anything like that, it is so much more trusted. If it's an organic result, the conversion rate is through the roof on organic videos versus paid ads. People just trust them more. They're like, yeah, no, this is legit. So yeah, I mean a few tips that we had, obviously I was talking about earlier, the thumbnail is extremely important. And then really that initial, obviously you need your keywords, your tags, things like that. Your descriptions an important one. But the number one thing is getting a solid view rate or well really that's what it is, but getting as many views as you can through that video in the first 48 hours or whatever. Because if you can start,

Brett:

It's not view rate Justin, it's view rate plus like time wash, watch

Justin:

Time as well. So keep, and that's really what the algorithm is trying to do. There's actually a really cool podcast called Down the Rabbit Hole. They talk all about the YouTube algorithm. I've just been

Interesting this out, I'll link to it. That's definitely worth to listen. But they have YouTube CEO on there talking about what they're looking for and a lot of it is initial watch time in the first X number of days. And so if you can get that up and you can actually use discovery ads to do that. So what we used to do is boost some of our ads that we were like, or our videos that we were like, Hey, we really want to get some additional views on this and give it a slight boost in the search results. It used to work I haven't done that too much recently. We're more running the Instream ads honestly. But yeah, we were targeting the keywords we wanted to rank for using campaigns without a goal and then basically just going for views cuz that's all we wanted and we're like, hey, we're willing to pay whatever a penny of view. And they would start, they'd show up at the top, people would watch them and hopefully they're compelling enough to get that watch time and that would really boost us in the search results. So

Brett:

Yeah, you gotta be kind of careful there from what I hear, and again, I'm an ad guy, not an organic guy, but if you have a video that gets really good watch time, then it can help. If you accelerate a video through ads and it's got a poor watch time, <affirmative>, you're accelerating, the other way you're gonna prevent it from ranking all depends on creating great content. So

Justin:

We used to split our basically had a clone channel that I would run ads from if I was running the Instream ads because if people are skipping it would actually tank the watch time and hurt that don't.

Brett:

Interesting. So are you still recommending that? So to explain that if people aren't following, so a lot of people, and it sounds like you do this too, I know a couple friends that are big organic YouTube peeps, they'll have a separate channel that they use in for Instream ads because your view rate goes down, your watch time goes way down when you start running Instream ads cuz you're really pushing those things hard. Then they'll have a channel that's organic where they're just trying to rank organically and trying to really build that watch time because Google looks at it not just at the video level but at the channel level that that's at least how it seems. Yes.

Justin:

Yeah, I mean that's what I've seen that I've actually seen when people started running in mats from bigger channels, they're like, Hey, I want to get some additional fuel, whatever, start running those and then slowly their stats started going down and they don't say it's because of that, but we've seen it happen. And so if you do already have a big channel I would recommend running from a different

Brett:

Not worth risking it, maybe it's not 100% confirmed, but I know enough smart organic YouTube people that kind of recommend it that I would be caught. If you've got a huge organic following on YouTube, then maybe be cautious about ads or spin up a new channel for ads. Cuz the interesting thing is when you run an Instream ad, you don't click through that ad to the YouTube channel, you click through that ad to go to whatever lander you specify. So it doesn't matter if that channel is built out or not when you're running Instream ads. So that's an important point of clarification. Cool. Any other YouTube tips or ideas or suggestions before we kind of move into talking about Tube sif a little more?

Justin:

I think that's about it honestly. Mostly I focus on the ad side of things now a lot more. I still have the organic thing that was cool, but it's a lot faster to just run ads, honestly.

Brett:

<laugh>. Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree. Totally agree. So if the way you laid it out in the beginning was awesome, it's a way to build placement lists and the ability to laser target on YouTube, but give us more details. What are you hearing from people that use the platform? What are the best use cases? Kind of walk us through that just a little bit. How should people use Tube sift?

Justin:

Yeah, so I, one of the things, obviously the custom audiences, those are huge. We're seeing Google remove some of that content targeting, which is a bummer. But that being said they're removing that. But their AI is, it's absurd. They really do know how to put your ads in front of the right people at the right time. You were saying it's all that first party data they have. Not to mention Google Analytics, how many websites have Google Analytics that are also feeding, cooking, people, feeding all of that data in there, the amount of data they have is insane and it's cool that we get to tap into that. That being said, I think going forward more than ever it's going to be, I mean obviously your ad creative was always an important thing, but the number one thing since Google's starting to basically be like, Hey, upload these assets, we got it.

We know we can take care of you, it's fine. And I do think that that's the way that they're clearly what they're going for. They, the less inputs they have, the easier it is for people to get or to not make mistakes. I guess the more areas you can break something, you're probably gonna break it. And so I think that's part of the reason that we're moving it, removing all that friction, making it extremely easy. Be like, hey, upload these 10 things and we've got it right. I do think it's a smart move on their part, but that being said, your ad creative is more important than ever. And really just being able to stand out, know what types of things are resonating with your audience and what types of hooks, angles, things like that. And so for example, video ad vault, what I do a lot of times is I'll go find a bunch of ads that have different hooks and a lot of times what you'll see is people are testing three to five

Brett:

Hook. So hook is the, that's thing that if you dial in the hook, that can shift the performance of a creative or a campaign more than anything else. So I love that you call that out. So you're looking for hooks and ideas

Justin:

And I've actually done some case studies on breaking down different ads and things like that. And I've noticed that a lot of these, something that'll separate an ad that maybe gets 40,000 views from one that gets two to 3 million. It's literally the first 15 seconds in pretty much all of these ads. So what these advertisers are doing is they're having one chunk, which is the content, and then they're just bolting on five different hooks leading into it faster there. And a lot of, they're pretty similar, it's just a different delivery. But you can really see, or sometimes they'll go a curiosity hook where they're starting off by asking a question or they'll make a bold statement. They both do the same thing, but they'll be like peeking somebody's curiosity versus being like, Whoa, that's unbelievable. I need to watch more or I do need to continue watching this. And so you'll see that a lot with these bigger advertisers specifically. They're just running a few different hooks with the exact same campaign, same landing pages, and you can tell which ads are doing better cuz they're running millions of use through 'em and it's literally the first 15 seconds.

Brett:

And that interesting sometimes, sometimes the opening can be the difference between something that can get tens of thousands of views profitably versus something that can get millions of views profitably. And that is, I'm sure it's obvious, but that is a game changer.

Justin:

And that's what a lot of my focus has been on recently is just figuring out how to what, what's really working. I enjoy breaking down ads like dissecting what's working, coming up with cool new ideas edits that we can do. And sometimes it is just the edits too. They'll just do the same kind of thing and just make it a little more splicing some B-roll instead of keeping it stale. And really just seeing what the audience likes. Also checking out some of the organic videos that are ranking for people in that audience. It still is, you wanna make your ad seem like it's part of the platform. You don't want to make it seem too much like an ad, obviously it is an ad, but if you can make it, people are on YouTube to consume video content and a lot of YouTubers have a specific style that they're just try and make it fit the platform.

Brett:

Totally love it. So talk about how people can find out more about Tube Sift or give it a try for themselves. And then you also have a free Chrome extension. Talk about that a little bit.

Justin:

Yeah, so the free Chrome extension is the tube shift bookmark. And essentially what that is is lets you bookmark any YouTube ads that you see. So it'll save the last 50 ads and landing pages that you see on your computer. Been, I love that mean, obviously I love studying as a marketer. I love studying what's working up with me too, with new angles, different hooks. Even if it's not in my niche, I'm like, Oh, that's a good, I can slightly tweak that and apply it to what I'm doing. That caught my attention. I wanna remember that. So if you just do a Google search, I can get you the link for it as well if you got show notes or whatever. But basically the tubes of bookmark is what it's called. It's a free Chrome extension and yeah, just lets you bookmark any of the ads and also see all the last 50 ads and landing pages that you've seen. Cause a lot of them, they're unlisted and you stats for nerds and pull with a little code and it's just kind of a pain. This just makes it super easy.

Brett:

And what often, and I love this cuz there have been many times when I'm on YouTube and I'm a YouTube ads guy, so it's maybe a little bit different for me, but I'm sure for other marketers it's the same, right? You're on YouTube for whatever reason, you see an ad, that pre-roll ad and you're like, whoa, this is a good ad, I gotta save this. So you go, well lemme just grab the url, I'll save it. Now you do that, all you're saving is the ad, you're the video you're about to watch, not the ad. So you need something like this extension to help you easily bookmark that video or the ad itself. Yeah, most of those are unlisted. You can't go back and search for them later. So the bookmark makes that possible. And then what if somebody just wants to check out Tube CIF or Video Ad Vault? How can they check you out?

Justin:

Yeah, so tube cif.com or video ad vault.com. Yeah, video ad vault. We're closing in, like I said, a million unique YouTube ads and landing pages. Awesome. It's basically a massive swipe file that you get to tap into that's searchable. So

Brett:

Serious about YouTube ads or serious about getting started on YouTube ads. You gotta check it out. Justin, what about you? If somebody just wants to connect with you, are you on the socials? Are you hanging out on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook or somewhere? How can people connect

Justin:

With you? I am on Facebook. I am terrible at posting, but I get on there and I run my groups, so I see messages and friend requests, so shoot me a message and yeah, would be happy to connect and yeah, always meeting cool people.

Brett:

Love it. Love it. Hey man thanks for coming on. Always good to talk to a true YouTube ads og, so thanks for being generous with your time and generous with your tips. Appreciate it. And we'll have to do it again.

Justin:

Yeah, for sure, man. I'll see you. Thanks.

Brett:

Puerto Rico, right? What's that? Oh,

Justin:

I said I'll see you in Puerto Rico next, right?

Brett:

I don't know if I'm gonna get to, I don't think I'm gonna get to go to Puerto Rico, another blue ribbon event. I don't think I can make it cause of the timing. I'm super bummed. But yeah, we'll see. Hey, fingers crossed, maybe I'm not gonna say no for sure, but we'll see. But alright man, well thank you so

Justin:

Much. Thanks for having me.

Brett:

Yep, absolutely. And thank you for tuning in and as always would love to hear from you. Love to hear that feedback. If you feel so inclined, if you feel like, Man, this podcast is making my day better, leave us that review on iTunes or hey, share an episode with someone that you think will benefit from this. So your other marketing nerd friends or your other eCommerce friends or that eCommerce forum you're a part of, Share the podcast. We'd love to just love to help people, love to connect with people, love the community, love making it stronger. And so with that, until next time, thank you for listening.


Episode 214
:
Kurt Elster - Ethercycle

Split-Test Everything with Kurt Elster

Kurt is a legend in the eComm space and hosts one of the most popular podcasts in our industry.

His show, The Unofficial Shopify Podcast, just crossed the 2 million downloads milestone.

Kurt and his company are all about one thing - helping Shopify store owners make more money. And the best way to do that is by split-testing everything. 

An important first step of split testing is questioning your assumptions. (We all know what happens when we assume.)

Here are a few recent tests Kurt and company have run. We discuss the results on the show...yes, that's a teaser. Listen to find out what test won! 

  • Does free shipping always result in better performance (and is it even worth testing)?
  • Should I put a slider on my home page? 
  • What about hero images and banners on my category pages?
  • Do add-to-cart buttons on your collections pages help or hurt conversions?
  • What about stuffy old early 2000s breadcrumbs - are they helpful or not?
  • Plus, favorite tools, tips, and tricks that Kurt uses often.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Kurt Elster
- LinkedIn
- Ethercycle
- The Unofficial Shopify Podcast


Jay Leno’s Garage
ShipScout
Intelligence
Google Optimize
Hotjar
Overtone

Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the E-Commerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO O M OMG Commerce, and today I have a longtime friend, a legend, someone that you have undoubtedly heard of. You probably follow this guy on the regular. We were just researching prior to hitting record, we were wondering how long have we actually known each other? And turns out we first met in October of 2016. That's forever ago in internet years for sure. So my guest today is the man himself, Kurt Elster, co-founder of Ether Cycle, and the host of the unofficial Shopify podcast, One of the best podcast on there. Oh, I heard that, I heard that. That was the your, what was that sound effect, Kurt. Let's dial it up one more time. Go ahead.

Kurt:

The air horn.

Brett:

Yeah, man. So I think you, in fact, I'm confident you were the only guest I've ever had on this show that brings their own sound effects. And that's just one of the benefits of being a podcast host yourself.

Kurt:

Yeah, it's a dubious honor. But you got, I have fun with it

Brett:

<laugh>. That is awesome. And so we have a really close mutual friend, Ezra Firestone. And actually we, you and I kind of were able to sync up again, I guess back in when was that? We were in Miami together. We both spoke at Ezra's event in Miami. And I heard your presentation. I was like, Dude, you gotta come back on the podcast. It's been too long. But you've got the best clip, the best sound effect from Ezra Firestone that I hear in a number of your episodes. But dial that up if you would, and then explain to folks what that means.

Kurt:

Tech nasty. That's Ezra <laugh>. Like

Brett:

Te nasty.

Kurt:

Two years ago he would call me Tech nasty. And then two years ago outta nowhere, he writes a freestyle Rap records it. That's what he does, sends it to me, in which he refers to me as tech nasty. And so I was like, well that's great. And I play it on my show. But the one time, but the tech nasty sound bite I took. And now every time I introduce myself, I use that like a sound signature <laugh>. And it, it's a fun thing, was like, I'm your host Kurt Elster Tech Na. And then I just moved past it. I don't address it.

Brett:

People are like, That was cool. I don't know what that was, but that was cool. And I embrace it

Kurt:

By the eighth time. They're like, Yeah, that's tech nasty

Brett:

Te nasty, nasty. So Ezra has that skill set. He will freestyle rap for you. He did that on a podcast episode with me one time. I need to go back and listen to that. But I would love to hear the te nasty freestyle rap sounds, I think sounds amazing.

Kurt:

Skill one, can you freestyle rap? That's hard enough on its own, I'm

Brett:

Sure. Yeah. Can you even do it? You

Kurt:

Could really practice it like fake it once. Step two. Do you have the insane level of confidence required to just start freestyle wrapping as a 40 year old white man? Just

Brett:

Do it. Just do it As you're recording, just lay it out there and lay it out there with some, some bravado. And he does that, which is awesome. So hey man, I'm super excited about this. So we're gonna talk about split testing everything. So assume nothing split test everything. So how do we improve our performance? How do we make more money with our Shopify podcast? But I'm sorry, with our Shopify websites, Shopify podcast, you run one,

Kurt:

You just hit

Brett:

<laugh>. You guys just hit a milestone not too long ago, didn't you? With the shop unofficial Shopify podcast?

Kurt:

We did. We just hit 2 million downloads.

Brett:

2 million downloads. I want to be as good as you one day, Kurt Ster. When I grow up, I would like to be a podcast host. All

Kurt:

Right, here's the trick. You could brute force it by just never stopping. I'm, I'm never stopping. I'm over 400 episodes every week. We never miss one

Brett:

400 episodes, one episode a week. You never miss it. That's awesome. I've been doing this now since 2017, this show. I did another show prior to that, but I haven't been as consistent. I went through a period of time where I was like once or twice a month, you know, kinda lose momentum. So consistency,

Kurt:

The trick is key. Get yourself some sponsors now it's a client deliverable. Yes. And if you miss it, a you gotta send that refund. That hurts.

Brett:

That does hurt. Yeah. Make it like a client where it's like, I can't let a client down. I can let myself down or Right. I can push it to the side if it's just for us, but yeah, for a client. Gotta make it happen. So a couple things. You guys work with some really impressive brands, including gans and a few other automotive brands. And maybe my favorite, most interesting in my point of view, Jay Leno's garage, right? Which is cool. So I want you to talk about that. But before we do, I would like to talk about Kurt Ester's garage because oh, you and I are friends on Facebook, we get to hang out and chat a little bit, but you've got a bit of an eclectic collection of cars. Maybe not to the size or scope of Jay Leno. A few people do, but you's got some cool rides, man. So talk about what is in Kurt ER's garage.

Kurt:

All right, so the daily driver, the crazy one, I got a 2017 model S 100 D, that was the quick one, The big sedan. But it was boring silver. I don't want silver. So

Brett:

This is a Tesla. Those that may not not know the Yeah, it's Tesla. Yeah,

Kurt:

Yeah, yeah. The

Brett:

So zero to 60 in what? What's your zero to 60 time

Kurt:

3.9 on this one.

Brett:

Nice.

Kurt:

Yeah, it's quick and it just goes, it makes jet's noises goes and you're just do it with 60. That's crazy. But we vinyl wrapped it this satin yellow gold color. It's the same as this microphone if you've got the video version, it's like that's the vinyl we used and that is the, I put wheels on it in tense. And that's the coolest thing. I love that car.

Brett:

It's a beauty man. I've seen you got some stylized photos of that thing. It is a beauty. Oh,

Kurt:

I got a client's product photographer to come shoot photos of it. It was really cool. <laugh> awesome. But my wife's the cool one. She has the really cool cars. She always wanted a Volkswagen Beetle. I said I could figure that out. So she bought a 79 Super Beetle the last year they made in the US and it had been repaid as good shape, but it lots of deferred maintenance. So I got that back on the road running strong. I love that car. It's got 60 horsepower, slowest thing in the world. And that is pure driving experience. It's

Brett:

Such a good juxtaposition, right? So it's such the opposite of the Tesla. Yes, it's it's so fun that you go digital then you go analog. Yeah,

Kurt:

They're like, we gave you just enough what you need to not die <laugh>. And then the one that the car she daily drives, she also, she found negotiated, bought and had shipped here and then I discovered it had a ton of problems and we had to pull the motor and 84 Ford Bronco.

Brett:

Dude, that's my favorite. The 80 for all

Kurt:

Original. It's just that's my favorite too. Yeah,

Brett:

Yeah.

Kurt:

Oh we love the thing. Yeah, it's like 10 miles per gallon

Brett:

<laugh>. Which isn't the best right now, but hey, come on again. You balance it with the Tesla ex. Yeah. But yeah, it's so fun. You and I live online, we're always doing digital stuff. We're thinking AI and machine learning and algorithms and all this stuff. And sometimes it's fun to just have something that has no internet connectivity. It's still just that's you smell the exhaust and you hear the sound of the engine as you rev up. But it's a beautiful

Kurt:

Thing. It's like driving a lazyboy recliner. It's great. <laugh>

Brett:

Just comfortable. So that's awesome. Well hey for some of you that was a blast. For others you're like up with, I don't care about what's in your garage. So we get, it will dive into some content. So like I said, we were both speaking at this event in Miami, heard your chat thought, okay, this is brilliant, let's talk about it. So we're gonna dive into split testing everything. And first of all, I wanna ask you, is that a real thing? Should we be split testing everything or what should our mindset or approach be as we look at split testing?

Kurt:

Okay, so the reality and practicality of split testing every single individual element on a website, <laugh> just not realistic. You can't do it. But the phrase split test everything it really mean, you gotta question your assumptions because there's so much info out there where someone just goes so just posts and goes, this is the way to do it. This is the best I have declared it and here's like a screenshot of the 7 million. I made it 25 seconds this morning and it's all bs. You don't know what you're looking at. But that's how a lot of the common sense wisdom in e-commerce, cuz it's such a young industry comes to be. It's just like whoever was the loudest voice with the best presentation in their tweet becomes our best practices. And I, I'm guilty of doing stuff like that too. I think we all are.

Once you have an audience online. And so 2020 I went, I'm gonna really figure out split testing and really question this stuff and figure out, put my money where my mouth is. It gives some legit advice and it took some efforts of playing and I ended up two years later really mastering Google Optimize. I feel very comfortable with it. And so I've amazing the other. So number one, mastery Google optimize to the point where I could figure out, all right, this is a realistic split test to run. We could figure this out and we don't have to guess, well will this perform better? Does X perform better than Y? I don't need to guess anymore. I could just go have Google tell me, just test it. And so that's really freeing. But what also blew my mind was the number of times I was wrong about what the winner would be.

Brett:

Yeah, cuz you've been doing this a long time. I've been doing this a long time. We talk about this with ad copy a lot, right? Pros is we do day in and day out, we're spending tens of millions a month, we know our stuff. But you still gotta test cuz sometimes your gut, we trust it a lot. Sometimes your gut is just wrong. You need to lean on data. That's the better way to go for sure. So one quick note on tools to optimize with, and we'll dive into the first couple points, but you mentioned Google Optimize. What's the quick pitch or quick thought on why that tool versus some of the other optimization tools that are out there or split testing tools?

Kurt:

I really think Google Optimize has become the standard here because it's free and it's already plugged, it's halfway integrated. If you're using GTM Google Analytics, you already have most of your Google Optimize set up done.

Brett:

Great. Makes sense. Which really, essentially all the clients we work with, they've got Google Tag Manager, they're using Google Analytics anyway, so yeah, makes sense at that. That all just plugs it in. Okay, cool. So let's dive in. Let's, let's go through some interesting split tests, which I would say have some kind of surprising results, which I think will be a ton of fun for people to listen to. So first one, this is something you guys recently tested, I want you to talk about and the results you saw, but should price appear on the collection slash grid pages. So first of all, describe what that means. There's always difficult in a podcast setting, but what is that test? And then what did you guys find out?

Kurt:

All right, so you're shopping on a jewelry store and you go to, you're, I wanna shop product by type. I'm looking for tennis bracelets. I don't know who still wears a tennis bracelet these days.

Brett:

I think they're pretty popular.

Kurt:

Yeah, click through to tennis bracelet. You are now in Shopify, this would be a collection page and the rest of e-commerce universe, this is a category page on that page, which is a listing of products. Do you include price which will perform better with price or without? I don't know.

Brett:

Dude, that's a good question, right? Cuz you think, hey, you want people just clicking on stuff they feel comfortable buying that they feel like fits their budget or whatever. So yeah, maybe you think you want price to be visible on that collection page, but what say you, or more importantly, what does the data say?

Kurt:

And the answer is maybe you do, maybe you don't. It depends so much. So you have to test this yourself. But the first time we ran this test, it increased revenue procession. So this revenue procession, good way to combine conversion rate and average order value, increase revenue procession 23.6%. And this was in an apparel store with 97% confidence. So pretty good. This one, this test had a sample size of 10,000 or more really solid results. So we ran it again and we did it on mobile and then we did it on desktop and we did it on new and we did it on returning customer, same result every time. Then we ran it at some other stores. Consistent result. Ran it a few more times and we found it really depends on the category of product. It is either going, this is one I just wouldn't blindly do.

You have to test this yourself, but I suspect what's going on here is when someone is on, this is my hypothesis, I'm on the product page, I see the item with no price, then my brain is going to decide, yeah, the category page, my brain is gonna decide a value for that price. Whether I think about it or not, value subjective, I click through, I'm on the product page, I see the actual price. Is that below or above what I thought it was gonna be? If they're consistently less than what people thought. So you had this really great presentation and your prices are a good value. I think it's going to, I think that's when conversion rate goes up. When it's the other way around, I think that's when it goes down. But in testing it, I think my guess is two thirds of stores fall into the former category where this is a win.

Brett:

Interesting. But I wonder, let's say there's a good value, let's say you, you've got this value in your mind or maybe you don't, but when you view that category page with the price, if it's a good price, if it's a good value, I think they would still have a benefit, right? You're still looking at it, you're thinking, oh that's great. Let me just let dig in a little bit more, right? So someone may have a mental win or get excited, even just seeing it on the collection page, but regardless, interesting, that's what you

Kurt:

Can test.

Brett:

Gotta test it. So worked in most cases, but not all. I like that. So here's a good one, and this is one that I wouldn't have thought to test necessarily, but it makes sense. How important is font size? So the size of the text on your pages, does it matter? Does it not matter? What did you find out and why? Why did you test this by the way?

Kurt:

So I'm a big believer in, I'm a big typography nerd. I like type fonts,

Brett:

Which I notice looking@ethercycle.com, whichever to go check it out just to see. It's a super fun well-designed website. You can tell you typo typography, beautiful and interesting fonts. Yeah,

Kurt:

That one's got this real retro look. But I thought easier to read will perform better, we'll convert better if a site's hard to read, I'm not gonna fight my way through it, I'm just gonna leave. I don't think there's really any dispute there. So I wanted to prove this with data. And so I set out and I started testing different sizes of font. I'm gonna split test my way to determine the exact right font size. Well it turns out you a test with a really subtle small change like that, it's so hard to get to statistical significance. Yeah. And so I couldn't, no matter which way I set it up, no matter how dramatic that change was, I could not get a statistically significant answer out of it. But I knew font size and was important. But really it turns out readability is what's important.

I was looking too granular. The real picture here is readability. So this is one ends up being a trick question you would have to do in different layouts and split test those. And so we didn't do it, but around the same time Bayard Institute came out with a usability study and they do like these, they call them large scale usability studies. And they figured out here is guidelines a starting point for ideal readability on fonts. And if you think about magazines and newspapers, they have those real narrow columns. That's what makes stuff easier to read is you wanna follow print type setting that we have at this point used for centuries ever since the Gutenberg Bible. Yes. It's a line length is 60 to, you want a line length of 60, 80 characters. And so if you go on your website and you put it full screen and the text just goes end to end, all right, we're not optimized here.

Brett:

Not, it's not inviting to it, it feels like it feels work. It feels really difficult to get to the meaning of what you're putting on the page.

Kurt:

I remember at school you used to double space your paper so that you could fill out more. Well

Brett:

It turns out you just promise.

Kurt:

Yeah, 1.5 is an ideal readable line height. And then you can also real mess with paragraph spacing, word spacing, letter spacing. They have those. I tried just putting them blindly into a few websites. It didn't look quite right. So I think it's a starting point. You have to tweak it from there. But if it's, it's really just that how many characters are on a line? You got two sentences, they're not gonna read it. You got five words, perfect. Easy to read. And so I like those narrow product descriptions. I think that performs well.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. And just to illustrate this point, I don't know if you guys are this way as well, but just to share a little bit of my weirdness the friend of mine got me a leadership book, gave me this leadership book that he raved about and I believed him, I believed him. It was a good leadership book. But when you open up the pages, there are certain pages that are one paragraph. So the entire page is a paragraph and then wall to wall text, right? Is the least inviting page ever. And I'm like, I still just have, I've not read it for that reason, which is silly. There's probably some great content there and I'm not reading it because it's so uninviting to read. So

Kurt:

Yeah, no, so if you format it poorly, no matter how good the content is and you look at it and it's just wall of text, Yeah, it's a turnoff. People aren't gonna bother

Brett:

My back. Use

Kurt:

The inner. You put some line breaks in there, man.

Brett:

Exactly, exactly. Okay, so readability is greater than font size or readability is what really matters. Font size, you could kinda go one way or the other, but the goal,

Kurt:

Yeah, I would say just as a rule of thumb for body font, really 16 is probably the minimum. If it's a really chunky font, maybe 15. But I'd say for most sites it's like 16, 17, 18 pixel.

Brett:

Nice, nice. Okay. Good stuff, good. Easy win there and helps us focus in the right way. Let's talk about one that I know is a real hot button. This is something that, and honestly this may be something that people have a four gone conclusion on. They believe in one way very strongly but that's free shipping, right? Free shipping is a must, right?

Kurt:

Free shipping, oh my gosh. Free shipping is a must have. We've been told forever. Forever that you have to have three

Brett:

Years

Kurt:

That the number one cause of abandoned checkouts is unexpected shipping expense. My god, these monsters charging for shipping <laugh>.

Brett:

That's,

Kurt:

That's a good firm service.

Brett:

What is this? Early two thousands with this website charging for shipping.

Kurt:

Ugh, disgusting. So is this the case? It turns out split testing, free shipping not the easiest thing to do, but at least in the shop in the Shopify universe you could do it with dedicated apps. And there, I'm sure there's several, but the two we use successfully ship scout and intelligence will let you do split test shipping rates. And so we tried this at several stores with, they got different results. But I'll illustrate one here. The effects were always very similar. And so we were able to track checkout conversion rate when we offered no free shipping at all. Everybody just paid 20 free shipping at $25 and free shipping at $75. And what was interesting is the checkout conversion rate for all of those things were within a few points of each other. Our checkout conversion rate, meaning people who get started, the checkout for no free shipping was 72% for free shipping at $25. That was the highest. Or we got the lowest, but it was still under 80%. And then free shipping at $75 right in the middle, right at 70

Brett:

Five's.

Kurt:

Interesting.

Brett:

But 72 was with no free shipping at all.

Kurt:

So I'm really not gaining, I'm gaining very little, it's just marginal gains with these free shipping. And so I think we should reward our whale v i p clients. If your average order value is 50 bucks, then it should be a no brainer that someone who spends $200 should get free shipping. Fine. I'm not gonna dispute that one. But it's more as customer service really. And so I think it gets interesting when you start to consider profit per order, profit per checkout because especially since shipping keeps getting more and more expensive. Totally. And people are, so many people switch to e-commerce more than they ever had before in 2020 that I think as consumers get more sophisticated, they're also more willing to pay for shipping and be understanding about it depending on the item. And so in this particular test, we knew our average fulfillment cost was seven 50 in order and when we ran so we could calculate profit per visitor, our $25 rate was where we performed the best. That had a $12 profit per visitor. But when we didn't offer free shipping at all, which we only lost a little bit of conversion, that had a almost $20 profit per visit.

Crazy. I sacrificed a little bit of conversion, but then I gained considerable profit like 40%. And so that's why it really pays to take a hard look at what does shipping cost us and what's free shipping cost us in profit as a cost center.

Brett:

I love that. And I think, again, this just underscores the need to split test things because a lot of us just believe, hey, because Amazon's been free shipping forever, we have to be free shipping with our products on our stores. And the reality is you need to test it cuz maybe it's not boosting your conversion rates that much and maybe it's just eating in to profits. So you gotta test it. Love

Kurt:

That one. Well, and what I like too is when you're not offering free shipping just all the time as a threshold, then you can use that as a promo instead of having to do the traditional like, oh we discounted our product. Yeah, hey boom, we're offered free shipping this weekend. Only go.

Brett:

Yep, yep. Super easy. Then built in promotions and now it's legitimate. Right now it's real because you don't offer it the rest of the time you are offering now. So built in promos. Love it.

Kurt:

That urgency. Yep.

Brett:

Yep. That's awesome. Cool. So let's go back to collection pages. So you wanted to split test hero images. Do we put hero images on our collection slash category pages? What is that? And explain what is a hero image and then what did you find with that split test?

Kurt:

All right, so I'm shopping on funky t-shirts dot com, I click men's funky t-shirts, boom at the top there's like three dudes and robo cop and a banner image. By

Brett:

The way, do you have a tech nasty t-shirt? Cuz if not, you should probably have one at time.

Kurt:

Nasty. I don't but I gotta work on that. Yeah, <laugh>

Brett:

Funky.

Kurt:

So yeah, men's funky and there's like three dudes of Robocop T-shirts looking funky but it pushes all my products down the page. Uhoh like I've got this big banner at the top, I gotta wait for it to load <affirmative>, but it looks great. So I'm like pro hero image. Cause I think it makes a difference when you've got a really nice well done image.

Brett:

That's the image at the top of the category page kind of frames. What is this category or collection? All that's

Kurt:

That banner. And it's always a lifestyle image almost always. Or an action shot. So this is pretty cool, I love these, but it does this matter. Should we test it? So we did. And this was in a store where they look great, they had put in the effort and it cost us conversions. Having it there, it performed way better without it. Crazy revenue procession up 16%, 92% confidence. Well maybe that's just cuz on desktop it doesn't look right or on mobile it doesn't look right. So we tested that, we ran this one again, same store, mobile versus desktop new versus returning. Every single one of 'em performed better without the darn banner image. And my thinking is it's scrolled it. There's like, I got this banner at the top, but I'm already shopping so all you've done is presented me with a thing I have to load and scroll past just to get to what I wanted to do. If they're at that category page, they're already shopping, stop selling, They've already started shopping.

Brett:

I like that. And I would agree with you too, if you look at a good collection page, good category page, it's got that brilliant here, hero image. You're like, Yeah, I like this. You show me two pages. One with one without the hero image is gonna look better. But you make a very good point. If someone lands on the homepage, they get to the collection or category page, they're already in shopping moat, just show me the freaking products at that point and let me shop. Or if they land, the only time you really land on a collection or category page is if you are doing non-brand search or something like that where it's a very specific search that again is very product focused, otherwise they're gonna be landing on something else first and then getting to a collection page. So yes, this makes a lot of sense. And with a 16% increase in revenue procession yes please, I'll save that load time, pull that hero image and make more money there. So you would, and I love the way you framed this, that this is kind of a great way to look at both conversion rate and AOV at the same time. But talk about revenue procession and how you guys landed on that. Has that always been the key metric for you guys And no, Yeah, you guys land on that?

Kurt:

No, I mean, so as far as my e-commerce KPIs go, if I'm just yanking on levers to scale businesses, average order value is my favorite because you don't have to get new customers, which is the hardest thing. And you don't have to convert more customers, which is tough. You could just sell not even a ton more, just a little bit more a on average to every customer and you make significantly more money. I love AOV as this, but in conversion rate optimization, it's in the title, we would always look at conversion rate as our main kpi, but it's certainly, it's not the only one. It's not perfect if the further your test is away from that checkout where the conversion happens, the more noise that's getting introduced to you,

Brett:

What really raised the conversion right there if it's not there at that checkout. Yeah.

Kurt:

And certainly there is so much statistical noise and questionability in split tests and you just can't post a split test on the internet without a whole bunch of people coming outta the woodwork to be like, here's why you're wrong,

Brett:

Here's why you're

Kurt:

Like, okay, well wrong. We all know it's cuz this disagreed with what you assumed it would be, right

Brett:

<laugh>

Kurt:

But no. So in with another, this always turns into a pitch for Google Optimize. I swear I have no association, it's free.

Brett:

It's a free tool. People, yeah,

Kurt:

In Google Optimize, it'll ask you what's your primary objective and transactions is what they call conversions in. And you could do revenue, which now we're revenue procession and we're combining really conversion in average order value. I like that. But then a whole bunch of others. But you can choose multiple so you don't just have to commit to one. And so when you see consistent results across conversion and revenue procession, that's usually what I'm looking for. But you could also do add to cart, bounce rate page views. Sometimes we'll use those if it's more engagement focused. But no, you don't just have to use one. I'll usually set two or three and then that way I feel more confident when I see that results are fairly consistent across multiple KPIs.

Brett:

I love it, but I love that it's a good blend there because what's the benefit in increasing conversion rate if our AOV goes down, which can happen sometimes. That's where shifting that free shipping threshold can really have an impact. Yes, conversion rate went up but AOV went down. So in the end we made less money. But that's where that revenue procession really kind of helps combine those two and clarify things, which is great. So awesome. Let's move on to the next test. I got a couple more here. These are super fascinating. So should you include recently viewed products on the product detail page? So here we are, we're at the product detail page, we're looking at this funky. Should we also there show, hey remember you also looked at these other funky, is that a distraction or does that actually help with conversions? What did you find?

Kurt:

So alright, as the designer in my heart just wants to get rid of extraneous elements on a site, that's the easy way to conversion rate optimization is just try and keep people captive. Declutter by getting rid of distractions, declutter. And a recently viewed products widget on a cart. Who is this for? I have a history button, a back, I got history, a back button. I

Brett:

Not remember what I looked at five seconds ago.

Kurt:

I'm gonna get emails, browse abandonment, I'm gonna get marketing ads. And so this was the thing I wanna justify really just for a client, I wanna justify getting rid of a recently viewed items widget <laugh>.

And they're like, Yeah, you could do whatever you want as long as you show us the data first. All right, fine, smart challenge accepted. And so I tested this thing and it was net improvement. Let's see. Yeah, it was rev. Everything increased when it was present versus when it was removed. And this annoyed me, I'm like, now I'm getting rid of this thing. So I run the test again, mobile versus desktop, same result. Darn it. Run the test again. New versus returning. This is where it got interesting for returning visitors. It's increasing good version rate by 33%. And we had this thing on the cart page and the product page new visitors, it must have just been weird for them to see it decreased conversion rate by 9%

Brett:

<laugh>. So decreased conversion rates for

Kurt:

Them. It was for,

Brett:

Yeah. Huh.

Kurt:

So in Google Optimize you could deploy, it's called deploy personalization. So when I ran the test that said, hey, hide this for new people and that's a win. I could just have Google optimize do that. So you could use it to run personalization. So if it sees a new visitor, don't it hides that recently viewed item widget and if it returning visitor then it doesn't do anything.

Brett:

But returning visitor increased conversion rate by 33%. That's crazy. But I would tend to agree with you, or at least I could make the case there that yeah, it's just a distraction, why have it there? But your client was wise and said nope, show me with the data and the data said otherwise. So you have the recently viewed products, you keep it on the product detail page at this point. So brilliant test. Love that. What about, now this one's super interesting to me. Add to cart from the collection page, yay or nay. So I'm on that collection page or that category page, there's that quick add button or add to cart right there. Or do you want to view it or do you wanna do quick view or whatever? So what happened there? Do we put the add to cart on the collection page or not?

Kurt:

It depends, but I think the answer is yes.

Brett:

<affirmative>. Okay.

Kurt:

And so we ran this test again, I tried to do, at least for pulling these examples with data, I tried to do apparel stores for everything cuz it's very relatable, it's very general and that's also one of the biggest categories in e-commerce. But in this case, adding it increased revenue per visitor 15% with 85% confidence. So that's right at the minimum for where we're still statistically feeling this is statistically significant. But having the add to cart on a collection or category page aspe is really convenient. Especially if you're on a slower connection, you're making multiple purchases and items. And so I think it's definitely gonna depend on the store's catalog and what the products are. If I'm buying body jewelry, if I'm buying nuts and bolts, if I was just buying buttons for an arcade machine and I was like, I swear I wish this site would let me add to cart cuz I need two 16 buttons in different colors and I have to go back and forth, back and forth. And right away I knew that's the use case. And so if you have these less spec driven, lower price, similar items add to cart for sure. For sure. If it's a MacBook, real high price technical items, I don't need to add five

Brett:

Different, We're always gonna go to the product detail page before you purchase. Right?

Kurt:

Yeah. So certainly some common sense needs to be used here. And Bay Mar Institute, they did a usability study recently. They felt they made a similar argument but they liked quick view where it opens a window with more info. Right, right. That keeps you on the collection page. Yeah, I don't wanna have to go back and forth, which on a phone could be annoying for sure.

Brett:

Yeah. So then you just look at maybe turning that off for the mobile experience and keeping it running for desktop or is that an option?

Kurt:

I think on mobile you do. Oh for sure. I think increasingly we need these mobile specific and desktop specific optimizations. I think they help a lot. But no, I really think it's more product and category dependent. If it 50 bucks and less, definitely consider this. And if it's a lot of similar stuff, definitely consider it.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. But if it's a high ticket item and you're gonna be digging into that product detail page every time we add to cart, then it's less important. Yeah,

Kurt:

You could also do it if you wanna get fancy, do it per category or collection. Yeah, let's say

Brett:

Other, Yeah,

Kurt:

I'm selling drones. All right. I probably don't on the drones page, I don't want it. But then on the accessories I'm buying SD cards

Brett:

And batteries parts, the replacement parts

Kurt:

Page or whatever, then I could use it.

Brett:

Yep. Yeah, that's interesting. So maybe go collection by collection or category by category. Super interesting.

Kurt:

See what

Brett:

The price split test to me. I like it. So last one that we're gonna last split test result. We're gonna dive into them. We got some general tips which are super helpful as we wrap up. So what about breadcrumbs? Do we need the breadcrumbs? And in the early days, in my early e-commerce days, we supported a Magento agency and so we ran all the marketing for Magento agency and all their clients and super fun. But I know breadcrumbs were a big part of Magento, at least back in the day. But so first of all though, yeah,

Kurt:

Magento went hard on really making these gigantic faceted breadcrumbs.

Brett:

They loved the breadcrumbs. So for those that maybe don't know, explain what breadcrumbs are and then what'd you find with the test results?

Kurt:

So a breadcrumb, it's always in, there's a consistency to it. It's always like 14 point font in the upper left and it tells you starting from the homepage where you're at on the site. So really it's like it's a drill down, it's home department product or subcategory then product. And this just seems like a thing in the way I'm on the site, I I'm on the product page, I can just click the back button. So I thought, I'm like, this is just, what am I doing with this? I don't want this thing. And so again, I'm like it's extraneous, I'm gonna remove it. And so I gotta split test it. And it turned out on that when I was wildly wrong on the product page increased revenue per visitor by 53% with 92% confidence. That's insane. Cause what's going

Brett:

On? People love their freaking breadcrumbs. But yeah, why?

Kurt:

This is another one where when you get rid of the breadcrumbs, if I had just by straight conversion, it improves conversions. But at what cost? Because it's like they get to the product page, they go cool, add to cart, and then they leave. Whereas when I had the breadcrumbs, and you could see this in heat maps and screen recordings, they're using it as navigation. So they go back and they shop more. And so when I got rid of the breadcrumbs, all I did was sacrifice people buying multiple items. Nice. Cause I made it a pain.

Brett:

It's crazy. So people were adding to cart and or purchasing. So conversion rate went up. And again, that's why you gotta look at it holistically. Conversion rate isn't the only metric, right? People are buying less, they're spending less. So conversion rate only in this case actually hurts. So yeah, they're adding that item to the cart, but then they've got the breadcrumbs there where they go back to the category or two categories go whatever they can, they now easily continue to shop. So

Kurt:

That's sell more than one item. You probably have to have the bread crumbs. There's like only there'd be a rare handful of scenarios where you didn't want the bread crumbs. And so now I'm like, all right, we gotta make breadcrumbs work, look good, be even better. Gotta optimize my breadcrumbs.

Brett:

Now gotta, So we wanted to get rid of 'em stupid breadcrumbs but they make a difference now we gotta make 'em smarter better. So which by the way, how do you optimize breadcrumbs? Do you have any thoughts or theories there?

Kurt:

So in shop by the breadcrumbs are a little limited. They normally look at like, hey, what's the collection url? They look at the URL to fix it. And so we rewrote it, what it act one where it can use, if it doesn't know how the person, if they just landed on the product page, how do you develop the breadcrumb? And so adding some logic to backfill that in either you can have it check what was the last collection they look at with a cookie and add that in. And then if that's not present, okay, let's look at the products, maybe the vendor or the product type and then use that to try and backfill collection. This. If you, you're really getting deep in the weeds by the time you're doing this one, you're

Brett:

Getting deep. This essentially, I mean this happens. So we run a lot of Google shopping. Traffic's one of our core channels, but a lot of people then parachute in on that product detail page. So if I land,

Kurt:

So in that use case, yeah, this is a win

Brett:

For sure. Having those breadcrumbs there, they're gonna buy more items for sure. Okay, love it. So we have it. There were seven unique, interesting split tests, several of which surprised you and would've surprised me if you hadn't already told me the results. So super interesting there. What about, let's close out, which is some general tips. What tips would you give people as they're going on this journey to increase conversions and AOV and all that good stuff?

Kurt:

So for sure there's some good advice here. I tried to keep it to things that will be generally helpful, but you gotta question everything. And that's like when you see people sharing their wins and the results and their split tests, this is what I did. Okay, that's what they did not, that doesn't mean it's what you should do. And

Brett:

You know how they did it. What if they didn't even get a statistically significant result? What if they just got the result they wanted and they wanna share it?

Kurt:

And even if they did get it statistically significant, it was significant for their audience, their catalog offer, et cetera. It's not the same for you. And so what people are like, oh, they'll like, I'll post something and they'll start questioning the, not often, but they'll question the methodology cuz they're trying to get to, well here's why this is invalid. And to those I'd say like, look, I'm sorry that it disagreed with what you thought, right? Cause that's really what they're saying. Or

Brett:

You don't like the truth, it's okay. Yeah,

Kurt:

Yeah. But also it doesn't matter for you just go, you run that same test on your store and see what happens. And so I think question everything about other so-called experts, there's just being in this space, there's a fire hose of great info. So many. So who do you listen to?

Brett:

So many experts. Yes.

Kurt:

And certainly part of the problem here. And then also question your own assumptions. And so there's all kinds of elements on your homepage, on your website. Why are they there? What are they doing? Until you've split system, you really have no idea if they help or hurt. You're

Brett:

Just, I think I heard you and Paul talking about this on a podcast episode where we all, were in love with the sliders on the homepage, right? We all want sliders at top our homepage. Yeah, because that's what you do. That's what you've done since 2000 or the late nineties or whatever. But what, what have you guys found there? And I know we kind of finished the split test, but you found some interesting stuff there, I believe recently.

Kurt:

So that collection, homepage test or that collection test where it's like, does the hero help her hurt? Yeah, we did the same darn thing on the homepages and same result, it always performed better without the homepage hero image. And the reason real is what's going on is because the second thing is always featured promos and a product grid, a featured collection on a site. And so you're just getting them shopping faster. Again, it's the same premise. That one really blows people away. They're like, but we have to have them. I dunno, have you been to google.com lately? Where's their slider? Right? You don't have to have a slider.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. So other tools you had mentioned, so you mentioned Google Optimize, love it. What other tools would you suggest people check out?

Kurt:

Well, I really like Hot Jar you know, also wanna combine this with a heat map tool screen recording tool. So you can see, get a macro view of how people are using the site and micro views. But then I think ultimately the real deal, number one conversion rate optimization hack is talking to your customers. So few people wanna talk to their customers and that's where you get the really great test ideas is when you talk to people and you go, Oh, you know that because every customer will be like, well they'll speak for everyone. I want this and that and that. Well maybe they're right. And so when you go test those things, that's what we've had the biggest wins is taking a customer suggested idea from a phone interview and put that onto a site and then test it.

Brett:

Super interesting. So you actually, let me get this straight. You're actually calling customers on the phone, talking to them with words, not typing or something like that, but you're getting feedback from the customer and then you're implementing those into split

Kurt:

Tests in rare occurrence. Yes. Yeah, <laugh>, that is the most powerful thing you can do is pick up the phone. No one wants to use phone.app, but that's the one that prints money.

Brett:

But it works, man. It absolutely works that. That's awesome. Any final tips? And then I wanna point people to you so they can check out more of your brilliance as they go. But any final tips? I know we could talk about this for hours and

Kurt:

Hours. I mentioned a few tools. Use the tools you, I don't care what tools you use, so long as you're doing the work, whatever you're comfortable with, that's great. Perfect. You don't have to justify it to anybody. We mentioned it earlier, but I think it's a mistake to just solely and laser in on conversion rate, especially Google Optimize, where you can have secondary goals and I think revenue is a really good one to work with. And then certainly I think the other mistake is lumping everyone together. And so I would do consider segmentation, especially mobile versus desktop and new versus returning

Brett:

Mobile versus desktop to very different experiences and different modes, different mindsets people have. And then, yeah, it's another simple segmentation, new versus returning. Cuz like you showed with several of your tests actually that new visitors behave differently than return visitors. Which makes a lot of sense actually if you think about it. So Kurt, this has been awesome. So go listen, check out the unofficial Shopify podcast, one of my all time favorites. You gotta listen. But if you listen to this and they're like, Dude, I wanna hire Kurt and his team to work for me. Tell us a little bit about Ethercycle. Who do you work with and how can someone reach out to you?

Kurt:

Ethercycle.com, you could find us. And we work exclusively with Shopify store owners. We've been since 2014, I think. And that's awesome. We do really, we're a theme shop. We build a lot of custom themes. We do do store migrations but we also do maintenance programs and conversion rate optimization work.

Brett:

Yeah, and you guys did, did all the work recently for Overtone, which is as a Firestones company. We worked on that together. So you guys did a lot of the build side. We're doing the Google and YouTube and Amazon side. But yeah, what what'd you do for overtone specifically?

Kurt:

Overtone? That one was interesting. They were on Shopify, but it was headless. And so we built an entirely custom theme and that designed to develop to custom theme and then migrated back to Shopify. Got rid of the headless solution entirely, which is simplified it and admin for them made life a lot easier. And some of these split tests

Brett:

We mentioned too, didn't it?

Kurt:

Some of these split tests were run in that store.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's done quite well. I think it was an improvement. I know kind of the, there's this rage for headless, which is a topic for a different day and there there's scenarios where it makes sense. But for, in this case, simplify, run some of these tests. It was definitely a win for overtone for sure. So awesome. Kurt Elster, ladies and gentlemen, hit that tech nasty button one more time. <laugh> Tech message. Awesome. Kurt, this has been super fun, man. Thank you so much. And we will have to, It's been too long. I think the last time you were on this show was like four years ago so we will four

Kurt:

Years ago. That is too long.

Brett:

I know. It's no good. So we'll have to just get it on the calendar, get you back as a regular guest. So much appreciated, my man. This was awesome. Please do. Looking for to next time.

Kurt:

Thank you so much.

Brett:

Absolutely. And as always, thank you for tuning in. Could not do this show without you. In fact, it'd be pretty lonely. It'd be pretty pointless to do this show without you. And hey, if you're listening to the show and you think, man, this is enriching my life, this is making me more money, this is improving my e-commerce experience, then share it with somebody else. We would love that. And leave us that review on iTunes if you think it deserves it. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.

Episode 213
:
John Parkes - ClickFunnels

Rethinking Facebook Ads & ClickFunnels 2.0

John Parkes and I go way back. 

In the early days of OMG, we partnered with Russell Brunson on a project called DotComSecrets Local. John helped oversee the project. It was pre-ClickFunnels in 2010 and an excellent time to work as an online entrepreneur. Having an upfront seat watching Russell and his team was inspiring and educational. 

Fast forward to today, and John is the Chief Traffic Architect for ClickFunnels. Or CTA for short, which is a nerdy and satisfying job title for a media buyer. John is a great media buyer, strategist, and marketer. He’s wicked smart and fun to talk to!

In this episode, we dive into rethinking Facebook Ads. Plus, we talk about the grandfather of direct response marketing - Dan Kennedy. Interestingly, many people (myself included) thought Dan was dead. He’s not, and now he’s part of the ClickFunnels team. 

Here’s a look at what we dive into:

  • The experience of buying Dan Kennedy’s company and brand. Opening up new markets and introducing the current market to The Godfather of direct response marketing.
  • D.W.E.L.L. - audience strategy for focusing.
  • How to build “set it and forget it” remarketing ads.
  • How Google and Facebook Ads work together - this can really unlock growth when you understand it.
  • Is TikTok really a game changer from a marketing and business growth perspective?
  • A sneak peek at ClickFunnels 2.0.

Mentioned in This Episode:

John Parkes

   - LinkedIn

   - Instagram


Click Funnels

Dan Kennedy

Reddit

Google Analytics



Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the E-Commerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of O OMG Commerce. And today I have a legend on the show. Not only is he a legend in the industry, but he is an old friend. We go way back like 10 or 12 years. We'll tell that story in just a minute, but we're gonna be talking about Facebook ads. Are they dead or are they not dead? And, uh, spoiler, They're not dead. We're gonna talk about ways you can maximize. We're also gonna talk about some trends and the interconnectivity. I'm just trying to use big words now. Uh, between Facebook and Google, we're gonna talk about ClickFunnels 2.0 and some other amazing things happening. And so with that, I wanna welcome to the show, um, and longtime friend John Parkes, who is the Chief Traffic Architect, which, if you are paying attention, if you're thinking that acronym is CTA Baby, which totally makes sense for markers. So c uh, Chief Traffic Architect, John Parkes. How you doing, man? Welcome to the show and thanks for taking the

John:

Time. Yeah, awesome. To awesome to be here,

Brett:

Dude, I was so excited. We, uh, well, I, I think you reached out to me on Voxer, right? Which is the old walkie talkie app, which the only reason I ever got on that app was because of you and Russell Brunson back when we were working together. And, uh, and I hadn't, like, I hadn't had it in for years, but a notification popped up. I was like, Whoa, is John Parkes that I, that I suddenly, uh, teleport back to like 2012 or what happened here. But it was present day and I was excited, uh, to get that message from you. But, uh, but yeah, let's, let's actually tell the story of how we met. So you are now celebrating how many years working with Russell Brunson?

John:

I'm in my 15th year now with Russell. I know, it's been a while.

Brett:

It's crazy. And so back in, I think 2009, 2010, I could check. I'm terrible with dates, but I think that's, I think that's right. Uh, I partnered with Russell and, and, and you to, to launch, uh, an old project called.com Secrets Local. Right? It was super fun. It had what, a three or five year run it, it was great. Yeah. And you guys were just, I, I remember, I remember meeting Todd and hanging out with Todd at some events and Boise and you guys were just like kind of noodling on, uh, ClickFunnels. Cause when did, when did ClickFunnels launch?

John:

Uh, yeah, let's see. Can me on a date? I'm gonna say it. We played around in 20, 20 15 ish. There was something Yeah,

Brett:

You guys were like, just kinda

John:

Like, but yeah, like, we're

Brett:

Working on, we're working on something big. I remember you guys, so working on something big and I'm like, cool. I can't wait to see it. And, and something big was an understatement because ClickFunnels has been a monster success. And we, you know, we focus in the e-com space, run an agency, but we use ClickFunnels and a lot of our clients use, like, everybody knows ClickFunnels, right? So, um, uh, I, I wanna do this first. Maybe can you kinda explain like, what, what does a, a chief traffic architect do? What, what does like a day to day look like for you John Parkes?

John:

Yeah, awesome question. Awesome question. So we, uh, it's interesting as we've grown, cuz I mean, you've been with us since we were tiny. There was like three of us in the office and you know, <laugh>, you're like, There you go. There's, I

Brett:

Remember, I remember one, uh, one year I was there for Halloween. Uh, me and Chris Brewer, my business partner were both there. Uh, Brent Co. Peters was there and everybody, everybody wore costumes and sweets, like made stuff up. Yeah. I put a big, uh, mailbox like around my waist and I went as Lumpy mail, if you remember like the, the field three 3D or lumpy mail. <laugh>. Absolutely. Anywho. Yeah. Crazy.

John:

That's hilarious. Um, yeah. So, you know, back in the day, I, I, uh, I'm gonna close this tab here just to make sure we don't get too crazy, so No

Brett:

Problem.

John:

Yeah. Back in the day, like when I was, uh, running just kind of all of the traffic, I mean, I had to produce the ads, write the copy, you know, make sure the sales funnel got made, do the customer service. Like there was, it was everything, right? And that was back in the day where you were on board and uh, um, and, and it was crazy. But when we, as we grew, we started to specialize more and more and more, right? And, and so we had to come up with this, this concept of the chief traffic architect, somebody who's like driving all of the traffic. Like, what are we doing organically? What are we doing paid? What are we doing, You know, when it comes to branding and search and are we doing anything offline, direct mail, all kinds of stuff like that. And it's like, who's this person that does all of that and is slightly different than the person who's, who's, um, coming up with the new ideas for, for offers and landing pages and stuff like that.

Cuz that's a different focus, right? In our company. So we have, we have, uh, a team focused on putting up the new sales page, the new sales funnel, putting up the, you know, or, or even deciding what the Black Friday, Cyber Monday offers gonna be. All of that is in this channel over here. And so a chief traffic architect day to day is, is, um, basically taking the pass from the, um, from the funnel team and, and making it grow, making it, bringing it, you know, making it rain, bringing it in the sales. So it's like that's what we do all day long is we're, uh, we're, uh, iterating on ads that worked, looking at what works in other industries, bringing that back to the table, creating new, you know, images, video, getting copy written, trying it, failing, trying again, 16, you know, that whole model of, it's a, it's a like a whole suite of media buying.

Brett:

Yeah, man, I, I love it. And I really like the way you laid it out there. It's, it's thinking about all the traffic options that are available. Yeah. How do we, how do we optimize, maximize, really get the most out of that? And, and I, I've never really loved the term media buyer. I mean, we use it all the time in our industry. I use it too. It's, it's fine, but I think it's just kinda limiting. It's like a retail buyer. I'm just buying products, right? I'm just buying some media. I mean, right. But, but Chief Traffic architect, come on, man. Like that, that's what what it is, right? We're, we're architecting this traffic, which I love that. So Kudo, kudos to you for a, a great, a great title. Yeah. So I, I wanna, I want to talk, uh, briefly about Dan Kennedy mm-hmm. <affirmative>, before we get into, uh, some specifics on Google and Google and

John:

YouTube together. Yeah.

Brett:

Yes. Yeah. So, uh, and actually, uh, so, so those that don't know, and if you don't know, it's because you're probably just new to the marketing world, but Dan Kennedy, he's like one of the godfathers of, of modern marketing, of direct response marketing. And in fact talked about dotcom Secrets local, where we all worked together. I met Russell at a Dan Kennedy super conference. I, I'd just been reading the newsletter, you know, Russell wasn't as huge, uh, then as he, as he is now. And I was just at this Dan Kennedy event, saw Russell in the lobby, and we started chatting it up and hit it off and, and kind of went from there. Uh, but so Dan Kennedy is what kind of made that, that possible. I, I read his newsletter for years, man, It really formed my, my marketing perspective. But, um, I gotta say, I was surprised.

I think a lot of people were surprised. I thought Dan Kennedy was dead, right? So there was this time, and then you can maybe, uh, fresh me up on, on dates, but, but Dan Kennedy wrote this letter from what he thought was his death bed, saying like, Thank you, it's been a great run, whatever. Like, and, and I remember reading this letter and I was just so sad. I was like, this is like, you know, a guy who was a, a mentor from a distance, but a mentor for me, and he's dying, you know? Yeah. And then, and then not too long ago, I'm on Facebook and I see a picture of Russell with Dan Kennedy, and I'm like, Wait a minute. Was is that, like, is that an old picture? Is that a new, what's going on? And, uh, lo and behold, uh, Dan Kennedy's not dead. And, uh, I just never heard that he pulled through his, his illness. He really was terribly sick, but pulled through that illness. And, and so, uh, you guys now bought that company, Dan Kennedy's company, Magnetic Marketing, the rights of that. So talk about what that experience has been like and, and kind of why'd you do it and what the vision is there. But yeah, just, just tell us about that.

John:

Yeah, yeah. It was fascinating cause we were, we were on the same train as you. Like he was, he was dying. And then the next date we saw people publishing that, that it had happened, he had passed. And so we were all sad in the office. We were like, Oh, I can't believe it happened. This is, you know, and in a way it kind of, kind of revival as, as the legend, you know, moves on to the next phase of his existence and we're reading old Dan Kennedy books and stuff like that, and then all of a sudden it's like, wait, he's not <laugh>, he,

Brett:

I go, That's right. Yeah.

John:

And it was, it was fantastic news. I mean, you can only imagine, you know, it's like, it's like a Hollywood movie, but the, but then, um, I, I wish I knew the exact moment that Russell then kind of reached out and, and they started to mastermind this idea of, um, of combining, you know, of, of, Hey, let me, let me take on your business and help your legacy grow. And it kind of, I kind of stemmed from that moment where we're like, well, now Dan's passed on into legacy status, right? He's, he's, he's the, he's a legacy. Well, well, not really. He's, he's still alive. Well, let's make it a, a legacy anyway, right? So <laugh> <laugh>, of course. So yeah, we, we, we grabbed that brand, We knew that we know sales funnel and we know, you know, online acquisition and stuff like that.

Like, like that's our bread and butter. And so we're like, let's take this Dan Kennedy offline old school marketing genius, and let's publish it to the internet marketing world, um, and, and just, and just grow and scale in a way that, that, that that brand hadn't done. And so we thought it was the perfect match, um, bringing in a new demographic into our world that, that we hadn't reached before, as well as introducing the young bucks to this, to this marketing legend to the past. So, um, yeah, in a, in a really cool way to like reverse mature the brand. We, we acquired an old brand and now we're a part of the legacy, right?

Brett:

Yeah. It's so smart. And, and if you look at, at some of the legends that a lot of people will know, like Frank Kern and Ryan Dice and, and Russell Brunson and Alex or Mosy and, uh, Roan Fraser, some of these, these legends, you know, in our mind, like they all learn from Dan Kennedy in the beginning, right? Like Dan, Dan shaped all of these, uh, current rock stars. And so yeah, you guys are able to track like that, that old following Dan Kennedy audience to ClickFunnels and also take the, the young pups and introduced them to Dan Kennedy, Right? Which is just awesome. So,

John:

And what a neat way to, um, to, to also, um, like garner relationships with some of those old legends. Like you're saying, if, if, uh, if I can entice you to like, Hey, would, will you support a Dan Kennedy offer or Dan Kennedy launch, then heck, you know, all of a sudden it's like, like doors are open, right? And so it's a way to open new doors that, that weren't previously open to.

Brett:

Yeah, it's so cool. Can't, can't wait to see more there. And so, and you guys are using the magnetic marketing brand, right? You guys are, are, are kinda reviving that product or building things around that right

John:

Now? Yeah, we re we relaunched an offer, oh, I'm gonna say not six, maybe nine months ago at this point. Um, no BS letter, The no BS letter that, that Dan Kennedy's used that no BS concept for a long time. And, um, he's had his newsletter going out for a long time, but we, we put a new fresh face design on it, matched it up with our own behind the scenes, you know, Russell Brunson letter. And so now you get a two for one, um, you know, twice a month you get, you get these just dynamite marketing newsletters. And so we, we have been able to revive that brand and that, uh, not, not only the, the brand and revive the people who are already subscribed to the, to the Dan Kennedy world, but, but bring our world into the Dan Kennedy brand, right? Which is kind of a cool thing when you acquire, is how you get a cross sell, especially when you acquire a complimentary thing. You know, you get that cross sell, and so you get kind of a double subscription happening as well as, uh, it's been able, we've been able to attract, you know, other JVs and affiliates who are, they're all about promoting Dan Kennedy, you know, that's, that's a thing that they wanna stand by and stuff.

Brett:

Totally. Yeah. It really, I didn't even think about that, but it totally makes sense. Like, if you're digging into affiliate marketing and joint venture stuff, which you guys have always been great at, at, this opens up a a whole new realm of people to work with, or just a fresh excitement, like of course, Right. I wanna promote Dan Kennedy to my list, that type of thing. So that, that's awesome. Uh, super excited to see where that goes and, and dig in more. And I'm just curious, has, has, like Dan been by the office, has, like, have you guys got to hang out with Dan or, or, or I guess maybe not in a, the covid world or post covid world,

John:

Right? He's, yeah, he <laugh> he's a very, he's a very interesting cat. We have been able to hang out with him when he comes to an event, you know, like behind the scenes at our funnel hacking live event, you know, we can hang out with him. Um, but he, he, he rarely travels here, but Russell does go travel there and hang out with him. Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. Totally makes sense. That makes sense. Cool. All right, awesome. So let's, let's get technical, let's get strateg, let's get tactical. Yeah. Um, and so let's talk about Facebook. First off, uh, let me ask you this, John Parkes. Yeah. Is Facebook dead? Because, you know, I, I hear people a lot saying I was 14 killed Facebook, Right? Right. I'm mad at Zuck, like, you know, Zucks catching a lot of heat for a lot of things and whatever you'll probably be catching for forever. And the meta versus silly and just all all kinds of stuff, right? So, but from your perspective, how are you viewing Facebook right now? And is it that

John:

Yeah, that's a fantastic question and it, and it's different if you ask a stock investor <laugh>, right? Versus, versus a chief traffic architect, right? Yeah. Is is is the, is the Maita stock grow? Is the growth curve still there? Is it, And, and, and the thing to realize is that it's, it's saturated, right? It's hard to find places for Facebook to grow, but that right there by definition means it's a great place to advertise cuz it means they're omnipresent, right? They're everywhere. So

Brett:

Everybody, everybody is still there, right?

John:

Right. Should you go out and buy Facebook's stock? Well, I'm not a stock investor, not gonna buy you on that, but should you go buy ads on Facebook? Absolutely. Shit, <laugh>, it's a fantastic place. And you and I were chatting, um, earlier and it, the concept that like almost every brand we work with, and a lot of 'em, the ones that you work with, from what you're saying, um, 50% of their spend is in the Google Suite and 50% is in the Facebook suite. And in those two monsters, you've kind of saturated everything.

Brett:

Yeah, totally. It, it's so interesting to me. And, and yeah, there, there are potentially issues with Facebook, right? Like one of them is, hey, young people aren't really on it. Like, I've got some older teens and my oldest is, is 20 now. Like, none of them really wanna be on Facebook, but they're all on Instagram, so, so kudos too Zuckerberg for getting on Instagram. One in the same when it comes to ads. Um, but yeah, it really does still come down to those two giants, Google, which includes YouTube and Meta and, and yeah, we got an advertiser that's spending, you know, six to 8 million a month on ads and it's probably not quite 50 50, but I mean, Google and, and Facebook, those two are, are by far the biggest. And then you got native ads, which are pretty huge chunk for this particular brand.

And I'm, I'm focusing on one brand, but this is true for other big advertisers. And then you also get TikTok and, and Snap and some other things there. But, but one of the things we talked about, and this, this is not, I do not want to, uh, be a downer on TikTok. Cause I think I'm bullish on TikTok. It's, it's a cool platform. It's growing. There's, uh, I mean, it's cool. I don't get on it, uh, for fun, but I think it's creates some good opportunities. But I don't know anybody, big advertisers, I don't know anybody spending more than 10% of their budget on TikTok. Right?

John:

Most

Brett:

It's like six to 8% type of thing, which is fine. Like, I think the way you said it was like, we spend a little bit on, on TikTok and it helps a little bit, right?

John:

Yeah, it's interesting. We, and we do the same with Snapchat and with Pinterest. Those are kind of the three where we've been able to find some, some extra room is, um, well, B too, I mean, we do advertise on Boone.

Brett:

Yeah. Bing is actually a great little add-on to what you're doing it

John:

Maybe

Brett:

10% what you doing Google?

John:

Yeah, Right. Giving us that five, 10% lift over here and there and over there, you know, but Snapchat mostly your targeting. Pinterest, we do some prospecting on Pinterest, and it is, and it is working for, you know, for certain offers that we have. But again, it's, it's a small piece. It's not anywhere near the size of what we spend on the, I guess it's now called maa, right? The Maita Ad State or the, or the Google, Google site. So yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. I'm still, I'm still not used to calling it meta, but, uh, I don't either. It, it'll happen more as we go, but, uh, but yeah. Okay. So let's talk about this for just a minute. And then, and then I want to talk about, uh, your system that you and, and, you know, kind of inspired by Russell developed for Facebook ads. But let's talk a little bit about the, the interconnectivity or the, the, the connection between, uh, Google Ads, including YouTube and Facebook, and how do you see the two working together?

John:

Yeah, I love that. So, um, Nicholas GoIT, I'm sure you're familiar with him. He wrote a book, um, and I read the book on a plane once, you know, and, and this interesting thing he brought up that I hadn't ever seen in this way, he, he likened under a swimming lane, right? And there people who swim fast, medium are slow. And there's the people who the fast swimmers, right? And they just take action. They, they see an ad, they click a buy, right? My wife accuses me of being that <laugh>, and

Brett:

It's like, it's Mark research, babe, I gotta see what this funnels like. I gotta buy the product, write

John:

It off, I'll use her business card. Right? It's no, exactly. It's the people who are just like, it's the type of person that just sees lives, right? And, and those are the ones that can, you know, run a conversion ad on Facebook and you get 'em, that's great, fantastic. You're measuring your CPAs. You want, you know, your, your average car value is higher than your CPAs right there, right then and there kind of a thing. But then there's the medium swimmers who are gonna think about it or need to see the ad a few times, but then there's the slow swimmers, right? Who, who aren't getting any less of a workout, it just takes them longer to do it, right? Kind of kind of concept. And those medium and slow swimmers, um, find themselves elsewhere on the internet interacting with you, right? That's what's really interesting to realize.

So when you run a Facebook ad, or you know, whether you're on Instagram or Facebook or anything, you're running the ad, you know, you immediately tend to focus on, well, how much should I spend and how much should it cost me to get that sale? But the other number that is right next to it in your stats is, how many impressions did it have? How much reach did it have? And it can be in the millions, right? And the millions of video views, depending on how much you're spending and the millions of impressions and stuff like that. Well, those, while nobody's necessarily clicking on those, or maybe they are, maybe you could have hundreds of thousands of clicks too, you know, and only somebody turning into sales. Think about the amount of branding that's happening. Think about the, the, the literal reach that you're having there with those ads.

And if the message is intriguing, and if you, if you've got the right kind of hook story and offer, um, you might not be closing anybody, but the fast swimmers and the slow ones are finding you elsewhere, right? And so that relationship with Google Ad Suite, where then they might go to YouTube and search, Well, tell me about this e-comm, you know, this, this e-comm product, this new thing that I found out saw on Facebook. Or they might go over to Google and, and, uh, and actually search for your brand. Or you might <laugh> gotta gotta throw my wife under the bus on this one because it was really funny looking over the shoulder. I mean, love her to death her, but I was looking over her shoulder, she was using the computer the other day and um, and I was like, Go to this website.

And so she opened up a new tab and the new tab, you know, in Chrome and it just said Google. And there's this big old place down there, right under the word Google. So she typed in the URL right there, and she, and she clicked enter, and then it caused a search to happen. And then <laugh>, luckily the URL she was looking for was the first thing that she clicked about. So like, there are people searching for your brand intentionally, unintentionally. And I'm, I am, after watching that and watching how she uses the internet and how some of my parents use the internet, some of my neighbors use the internet, I'm convinced that that unintentional search is a huge number. You know what I

Brett:

Mean? Is a huge number. And, and we see this too, and I'll, I'll, I'll make it a little correlation here. Cause I think this will help paint the picture. There's a lot of people that wanna buy something on Amazon, uh, but they still start on Google. And so we see this a lot with a lot of our Amazon brands where they're, you know, hundreds of thousands of searches a month on Google of someone typing in this product. And Amazon. And I think it's just for a lot of people, the internet begins on Amazon. I'm sorry, the internet begins on Google, right? So you go to Google, you just to even type in the url, but it triggers a search. It's insanity. It's super interesting. Yeah,

John:

No, it's, it's interesting. And like, even if, even if they know, I mean, so we're like talking things like URL and, and address bar. People don't know what those are. I mean, the, the majority, I'm gonna say the majority, and I'm shooting from the hip here of, of, of consumers don't know what I mean when I'm like url, you know what I mean? Or, uh, you know, kind of a thing. They're just like, I don't know. I just searched for the thing. I searched for the soap and I typed in the word Amazon and then I, it just magically leads me to this place called Amazon where I buy the tho, right? Yeah.

Brett:

I Googled it and then I got there. That's all, that's all I needed to

John:

Know. Yeah, you survey them, that's what they say. And so the fact that you are just throwing out millions of impressions over here on the social media side, and then you're basically retrieving them on the Google side, those things work hand in hand. So with our budgets, we've noticed, um, like we, you know, we'll find this fantastic, you know, cost to get the sales over here on the Google search side, right? And so we're like, well, we're gonna take some of our budget off of Facebook and you mentioned doing this, see my budget off of Facebook cause that's kind of expensive over there. We're gonna put it more on this Google search side. And it doesn't work because it throws the balance off. All of a sudden you have so many fewer people getting introduced to your brand and so therefore less searches.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. I love that. We, we notice that, you know, as an agency, we don't run any, any traffic on Facebook, but, but we're big fans of it obviously. And, and we'll notice that too, Like say, Hey, branded search is down this week. Did you guys do something different on Facebook? And and oftentimes the answer is yes. Yeah. And so we immediately see that. Yeah. We've also seen a connection, a correlation between YouTube and Facebook. So as we boost spend on top of funnel, YouTube, uh, Facebook often performs better. If, if someone's going hard on top of funnel, Facebook often top of YouTube works better. Oh, yeah. Uh, but we, we do a lot of measurement on, you know, YouTube brand lift studies. And one, once a once a client or once a brand gets to 30, 50, a hundred thousand a month on, on YouTube, we're usually seeing lifts of like, uh, 20 to 35% on their branded campaigns.

Mm. And, and, and I'm, I'm confident we haven't done the same study, cuz we don't do, we don't run Facebook, but confident the same numbers are true on Facebook, Right? You, you start spending a certain amount, your brand campaigns, your, your lower funnel search campaigns are gonna see a 20 to 40% lift. And so, so yeah. Yeah. You can't just look at what, what are the, and I love that. I love the Swim Lane thing. I, I think I'd maybe heard that, but I've forgotten that. I love that analogy. I'm gonna use that. But you can't just look at, okay, well this campaign only closed so many people because it just got the fast swimmers, right? The medium and slow swimmers are, are being converted through other channels, but wouldn't have happened without your top of funnel efforts. So, Right. That is awesome. Good stuff. Um, so let's talk about your dwell method. D W E L L. And it's an acronym. And you know, as marketers, we love acronyms, right? Right. We love, uh, shortening things. You know, there, there are more. I think there are more acronyms for marketers than any other group of people in the military, right? We got, we got ct, we got cv, we got ecr, which is E-commerce conversion room. We got, we got CPAs, we got cac, we got, we had CTAs, Right? Which now has a new meaning. Thanks. Right?

John:

And we even like to use our acronyms wrong too. I mean,

Brett:

<laugh>. Yeah. So gimme an example. I know, I know that, Oh, you mean, you mean what your acronym?

John:

No, no, no. I just, it's just funny cuz the accountants use C in one way and the marketers use CAC and it doesn't mean the same thing, you know? True,

Brett:

True, true, true. Yep. CPA is not certified public accountant. It's, you know, cost proposition and things like that. Uh, but, but anyway. So explain to us what Dwell is, and maybe also explain why it's kind of got a double meaning. You'll, you'll, you'll talk through the acronym, but it also kind of means something else. So, so walk us through that.

John:

Absolutely. So, so, uh, you know, Russell's written a a variety of books, fantastic books. And, um, in the books, he talks about finding out where your, where your target audience congregates, right? Finding out where they congregate. And it's an interesting concept cuz like, if you think way, way, way back when, you know, you, you brought yourself a literal soap box and you find out where the people are congregated, you'd drop it down, stand on top, say you're one foot taller than everybody else, and you'd start shouting, and hopefully somebody would buy something, right? Or you'd be preaching or whatever it was. But the whole soapbox concept, because you were finding congregations, right? You were finding wherever they were, and they were there because they liked to be in the park, or they were there because they, you know, you'd go to where you'd think your target audience best was.

So in the internet world, you gotta figure out where your people congregate, especially back when this concept was developed. And there was things like forums, right? But at, but they still, they still exist right now. They're in the forms of Reddit, you know, and things like that where people still congregate around topics. Um, Facebook groups or pages likes, interests, right? Uh, YouTube channels and, and all kinds of stuff. They still congregate. So you gotta find where they congregate. And so with that concept of congregating, I needed an acronym to help explain Facebook audiences, right? Because we, we teach a lot in, you know, the ClickFunnels brand. We, we have, we have coaching programs and we teach from stage at our own, at our own presentations and other people's, our events and other people's events and stuff. So I needed a good acronym to teach these concepts that I developed. And so I kept thinking about, you know, so I came up with Dwell, right? D W E L L, whereas where do your people dwell? What do they congregate? So that was a way for me to remember it, and hopefully the audience do.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. It it, it, it will stick in my brain for sure, and I think for everybody else as well. And so, really the acronym relates to audiences, right? And, and such a huge part of we do as marketers, right? So the right message to the right person at the right time, right? And so it's message market match. Uh, but walk us through that. So the D and Dwell mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what, what kind of audience are we talking about there?

John:

Okay, So this is some, when I teach Facebook advertising to people who, who really don't know it yet, or maybe they just wanna learn this method, um, they, they forget all the different audiences available to them, right? So that's why Dwell makes sense. So the first D in Dwell is your data. What data do you already have? What's your data? Do you, do you already have, Are you a pizza restaurant? And you once put a fishbowl out and people threw their credit or their, their business cards in there to get a free topping or something like that. That's, that's data. You have data, you've collected so many email addresses or phone numbers, right? That data audiences that you can then upload into Facebook as what's called a custom audience. So d helps you think data and it helps you think you, you gotta start just like brainstorming, what data do I have?

Do I have data from a previous launch? Do I have data from five years ago? Do I have data from my fishbowl? Do I have data from my cousin's business, which is a lot similar to my business? And he'll share that list. You know, like, what kind of data can you access so that, um, you know, um, obviously legally and uh, and, uh, ethically what kind of data can I access? So yeah, get, get the data you can, you can get, and then refine it. Make sure that it's, it's good data, you know, it's data that that's gonna work and convert the best you can think through. And then you upload that into Facebook. The fun thing with Facebook is you can give them an email address, first name, last name, all kinds of shipping address. You can give them, you know, male, female, you can give 'em phone numbers. So sometimes you have data and you don't realize you have it like maybe your dentist's office and you have a whole bunch of phone numbers, but you sure that's not available for online marketing? Well, you can, you can upload a list of phone numbers, you know?

Brett:

Yeah. I love this so much. And, and really as we look at where, where is marketing headed in the future? Data's always been important, right? It's always been about, uh, you know, who you're speaking to, right? Is almost more important. I would say it is more important than, than what you say, right? You, you deliver a mediocre message to the perfect audience, it's gonna work, right? You deliver the perfect message to a terrible audience, it's not gonna work. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But, you know, with, with privacy changes coming, uh, like the, the people, the businesses, the brands that have the most first party data are gonna be way and are, are likely gonna win. So get more first party data. And actually, I think this is why you see, like, you know, Google's in a really good spot as far as first party data. So all that search data, that's their data, right? You're giving Google that search data on google.com first party data, they can use it, right? If you look at Amazon, all the shopper data and what you've bought and stuff like that, it's all done on Amazon. It's first party data, they can use it. Uh, you've got first party data too, and you've gotta put it to work. And that's the best place to start. So, love that. So D is for data,

John:

D is for data it

Brett:

Audiences, I like it. What's but

John:

The w Yeah. So I'll, I'll give this caveat as we head down. The first L is gonna reference the other three as source audiences. Okay? So as you think about that, D is our first source audience. The w the w is for website, what's happening on your website, right? And the, uh, you know, you've heard the Facebook pixel, the Google Pixel, the tracking things you can put on your site. Um, it's the, it's the website. So what, what's happening on your website are people, you know, all the people who hit your website, all the people who hang out longer on your website, um, people who go to the next page in your sequence. So all that pixel data is, is the second layer of audiences. And again, a source audience for the, for the looklike. We'll talk about when the first L, So the first D is that data. Grab all your data, refine it, upload it into Facebook

Brett:

From purchasers, subscribers, wherever you can get data about your customers. And then website,

John:

Right? And the website, Yeah. Yeah. The people who are hitting the website, cuz they haven't necessarily given you data, but the tools are in place to let you capture it into an audience.

Brett:

Yep.

John:

Love it, Right? Google has tools to do that. Yeah. Facebook too.

Brett:

Cool. So we got D, we got W Next is E

John:

E the E and the, and the dwell. The E in the dwell is cool. It's the engaged audiences. Okay? So you, you've got your, you know, your, your YouTube subscribers and watchers and stuff like that. You've got your Facebook page likers and shares and you know, so you got this, people

Brett:

That have engaged with video ads, like people that have watch a certain percentage of a video ad you can put them into an engaged audience.

John:

There's all this engagement happening. Some of the cool coolest engagement audiences that a lot of people miss are on, on Facebook, on the Facebook and Instagram platforms. You can save a post. Some people are in the habit of doing it, some aren't, but an audience, a lookalike audience based off of people who've saved your post or even interesting who save your post, Save the post that hot, hot market. Yeah. It's a really interesting one that a lot of us just don't think about. It's smaller, but it's almost like a, a very refined buyer's list. It's really cool. Hmm. So think about

Brett:

I know that I've ever done that. Wait, is that, is that just on Instagram? Is that right to say post

John:

Facebook watch you too? Facebook people

Brett:

Never done that on Facebook. I have had

John:

Three dots that list.

Brett:

Okay. Super interesting. So I have done that on Instagram where I'll see like a, like a stoic philosophy quote or so I'm like, Oh man, it's so good. I gotta show that my kids or my team or something. I'll save to collection or whatever mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But I've never thought about that. So that, that happens on Facebook too, yet that's a, that's a white hot audience. Uh, so that's an interesting one and that's one that I do not hear people talk about too much. So love that. So yeah, we got, we got lots of ways to measure engagement. Who is, and you know, if you look at like Google with, uh, Google Analytics, they can build, um, oh, I just forgot the name, cu uh, shoot. Um, it's the audience of people that are most likely to convert next.

John:

That's to maintain

Brett:

What, what's that?

John:

Affinity or custom intent?

Brett:

No, it's neither one of those. Those are both brilliant. But there, there's an audience that, like you, you get, it's a smart audience, uh, that you can build inside of Google Analytics. And Google is saying, Hey, this audience is likely to convert next because of what they've been doing. Yeah. But that's really what they're looking at. It's certain levels of engagement. And then Google's saying, Hey, I'm gonna package all those people for you. But what you're able to do here at Facebook is say like, okay, I want, I want these types of engagement, right? Because those people are showing that, hey, they're likely to convert if we just give them a reason to say yes and push them over the edge. So

John:

That's, you know, one thing we do with, one thing we do with engaged audiences is we, we boost them, right? We intentionally grow those engaged audiences and then we, we harvest out of it. So we, uh, we have our organic social team and they'll throw out posts, you know, all the time, a couple times a day, whatever, whatever seems to be working organically to get maximum, you know, maximum engagement. And then they'll notice a certain post has, has legs, right? When the other three didn't that week or whatever on that one, they'll throw another $200 behind it and just grow the engaged audience, right? Five, you know, 5,000 people watched this video. Well, let's make it 50, 50,000 people now watched it and now we have this big audience that we can then throw conversion ads at, right? And so growing intentionally kind of bolstering those engagement audiences, um, has been really helpful for us.

Brett:

That's super smart. Uh, so, so I love that where you're looking at, okay, say three, call it three organic posts a day, whatever the winner is, right? If there's something that's doing pretty well organically, that's a good sign that people like it, it's gonna be good. Throw some money behind it, Build up that engaged, uh, audience, and then now you can Yeah. Harvest it. Super smart.

John:

Right? You know, another crazy thing that we've tried recently on that same note, I'll just throw this in there as a, as a little nugget. Oh, I like this, uh, an organic post that, that performs really well engagement wise. If you, so like, let's say it's a carousel, right? And it, and it can be a fairly standard Instagram carousel where like, sp scroll to the right five times and I'll tell you five book quotes, right? Or whatever it is. Mm-hmm. But as long as it's working engagement wise, if that final part has some kind of call to action that's relevant to the care cell, you can turn it into an ad and it becomes the best performing ad. We had a certain ad

Brett:

Interesting,

John:

We ran it for months and months and it had, I mean, no one who crafts ads would've said, You know what? That's, that's the winning ad right there. That's the one. It was just this really silly Instagram engagement care cell, right? And it, I think it was about Russell and potato guns, right? He loves, we love to rely on that one. So Russell, Russell, yeah. I started this potato gun business first I did this, then I did this, then I did this. Learn more on how to start your own business. Click boom, right? And it was crazy.

Brett:

And it was your best at. And that, that's, that's so cool. So, uh, love that little nugget there. So, you know, organic post, find the winner from, from just organic reach, boost it, you find a real winner. Yeah. Say a carousel ad, just make that closing card, a call to action and voila. Yeah.

John:

Had a winner. Yeah, that was a really fun one. But after we've built up these audiences, these data audiences, and we've scoured around and got our best ones, these website audiences and got our best one, these engagement audiences and get our best ones, the next letter in the dwell acronym is L and that stands for lookalike or in Google it would be, it would be similar audiences that doesn't work from acronym. So, um,

Brett:

D Weel. Yeah.

John:

<laugh>, right? That works. But yeah, the lookalike audience. And so these, these, these audiences then serve as, as sources, right? The, the seed audience for then these algorithms, whether it's the, whether it's the Facebook algorithm or the Google algorithm to, to see who, who the type of audience you're looking for is, and go out and find more of them, right? Anywhere on Facebook, anywhere from 1% of the nation that's similar to you, up to 10% of the nation, that's the most similar. They've got all this data that you don't have. Algorithm has more data than, you know, than we even know. So like they're able to go out there and just juggle away at it.

Brett:

Yeah. It's awesome. So lookalikes and, and that's, yeah. That's the beauty of these two platforms of Facebook. And also Google is yeah, you, you build these profiles, right? Engage, you know, those us your website data and then yeah. Build lookalikes and, and often that those are the audiences you can, you can scale with. So,

John:

Um, I'll give you some, some caveats though on that, on that, on that fourth audience that looked like audience, um, garbage in, garbage out, right? We learned that in elementary school and we had our little typing computer program class. So if, if the audiences that you're giving Facebook, if you're saying, Hey, these are 10,000 people who liked my organic host in the last month, make it look like off of that, that's garbage, right? But if instead your engagement audiences, all the people who've saved my post in the last five days, something that's like really, really tight, tight, then it's gold, right? Gold in gold out. No one ever told me that in elementary school. Yeah,

Brett:

Gold in gold out. I like that better. That's cuz that's way more motivating. That's

John:

Way more motivating. So you gotta make sure you're giving really, really good seed audiences for those similars and lookalikes to work.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. All right, we've gotta, we've got the, the, the first four, uh, of dwell here. Uh, but bring us home. What's the second L

John:

Okay, the second L. And this is the one that you're supposed to ignore until you've paid attention to the first four. That's why it's at the end. And this is the one too many people resort to right outta the gate. And those are the provided interest that Facebook provides. So layering interests, right? And l for layering interests. Um, Facebook has all these demographics and interests and stuff. And you can say, well if they liked Martha Stewart and they like home cooking, then they're probably gonna like this, this new spa I'm selling, right? But, but the thing is, is that you're just guessing at that point. You're taking the algorithm out of it and you're just going like willingly guessing and too many people start there. That's not where you start. You gotta start with the other one.

Brett:

Yeah. You'll find some winners there, right? Like going, going after these broad audiences, right? In in the Google ecosystem. It's in market audiences and, and things like that. And we love, you talked about, uh, custom intent audiences or building audiences around what people are searching for. Um, you know, it's still going beyond your data and your, your customer stuff and, and similar audiences. You'll find some major wins there and some major opportunities to scale, but you also find a lot of stuff that doesn't work and that's okay, that's just part of it. But that, that's why you start with those other areas, those lookalikes. Yeah.

John:

Yeah. You, you lean deep into your, to, into your other audiences before, especially if you're, I mean, I'm talking like you're starting a company, right? You've got 400 bucks a month to spend. You, you're just trying to figure out where to spend it. It's not that last month.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Totally, totally makes sense. Yeah. Uh, cool. Alright, so we got our, we got our dwell. Uh, let's talk a little bit about, uh, you, you told me about kind of a, a set and forget it. Uh, Yeah.

John:

You, you know about

Brett:

That. Accept versus never refresh. Yeah. So, so tell me about this.

John:

Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, so another way, another way I help beginning advertisers understand ads is that there's, there's a world of prospecting and a world of retargeting. Two different kinds of ads, right? And the prospecting ads, the way you can think about that is that's when you're reaching out to find cold people, people who who don't yet know you, your brand, your attractive character, whatever your leading thing is, you know, your, um, and, and they don't know that yet. And so you're reaching out to maybe problem aware people, but not, or maybe even solution aware, but not product aware, right? When we're using the Eugene sports model Yeah. They're not, not yet familiar

Brett:

With it. Did I just read, I read a big chunk of that book again on an airplane recently. Yeah. It's so good. Like, it, it just, it triggered all kinds of ideas in my mind. It was written in one like 1960 something, 1970. I don't remember Eugene Schwartz. Yeah. Um, uh, uh, what's the book? No, not scientific. That's uh,

John:

That's the other one.

Brett:

That's track cables. Uh, yeah. Breakthrough Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. Yeah. It's, it's a masterpiece for sure. It's

John:

Fantastic. Um, yes, it's breakthrough advertising and it's fantastic. And the, um, the fantastic things, you know, the, the, the layers he taught about the, you know, the problem aware, solution aware, um, even product aware at the top. So when you're prospecting, you're reaching back a couple layers, right? And you, and you've gotta have these ads and, and they, they tend to burn out quickly depending on the audience size. You've got, you've got these, um, you know, these ads, the prospecting ads, and you've got, especially, especially in the Facebook world, I hear this more burn out there, right? For sure. Every, every three weeks you gotta come up with a new ad because this one stopped working, it worked for a while and then didn't, right? And so that there, there's a lot of work there, especially for a new entrepreneur starting up and maybe they don't have a lot of, you know, creative power behind them.

Um, but the cool thing about the separating out the retargeting is that if once you've figured out, you can set it and forget it. And this is why, because you have, if, if you set up the audiences right, and if you test your ads, then you can get this done. So figure out what you wanna say to these, to these retargeting audiences. You know, try it out. Figure, run some creative until you get some that work, right? And then, and then those, and then once you have that, you've got that. And then you gotta make sure your audiences are structured right? So I, I do retargeting audiences off of, off of website action, off of engagement action. And, um, and even off of the data. So it goes like this, if they've engaged with your brand, right? You know, they've, they've watched them YouTube video, they've liked to post, shared it, commented, anything like that, any kind of, um, engagement.

Then I will retarget them for a small period of time, right? Maybe three, five days, right? We're talking for a small period of time. Um, but, but I set up those audiences in Facebook so those people only hop into the audience for five days and after five days they fall off. It's almost like a conveyor belt. So that audience never gets old so they can't burn out on your ad, the ad last nice indefinitely, right? Right. Pop in, they hang out with you in your ad five days, boom, fall off the backside, right? They didn't take action, they're out the next layer. Yeah. The next layer is people who visit, who then click through and visit the website. Well hey, they visited the website, that's a little bit of an action. I can hang out with them a little bit longer. Let's go for 10 days now. You know, But again, you structure that, you structure the audience. And so, so they hop in, they see that ad, you know, they see it in, and I'll tell you how I, how I like mechanically how I structure these in the, in the campaign, um, in the campaign settings. But they hang out for 10 days and then they, they fall off of that audience and they can't in essence, burn out on that ad. They're only there for 10 days. Yeah. So the, this is a set senate, forget it kind of model, you know?

Brett:

Yeah. Love it. Love it. So then you find these winning ads Yeah. For retargeting and then they could maybe run for a year or more. I'm, I'm guessing like it could just run Yeah. Uh, that and I that actually because of that. That's why in YouTube some ads will just run forever because a lot of the audiences like a custom, uh, intent audience is refreshed by Google about every 14 days. Yeah. And so then you, you, it's not, the ad doesn't wear out cuz the audience is refreshed all the time. Yeah. So I love that. That's super, super cool. Um, so any, any thoughts here for those that like to get nerdy on the, the mechanics of, of how you set that up and, and understanding with podcasts? It's hard to visualize things, but in any, uh, specifics you want to add there.

John:

Yeah, definitely. So depending on the depth, the, the, the amount of steps they've taken with you or how refined that audience is, however you wanna kind of think about it. If you've got a very, very refined audience, you don't need Facebook to back you up and double refine that audience. And what I mean by that is you don't need to rely on the algorithm and you don't need to run conversion, um, conversion objective campaigns. Okay? You can run reach campaign, right? True, true of your campaign, right? You can run campaigns that, that are there for saturation more, more so than are there to, to snip out the winners. Cuz I mean, if you only have, let's say you only have, you know, a thousand people who, who clicked through and hit your landing page, you should retarget every single one.

Brett:

You wanna hit all a thousand. Yeah. Right? So go for a, so making an impression based campaign ensures that that Facebook or Google's gonna just hit everybody. Versus if you do smart bidding, the algorithm's gonna be kind of choosy on who they should. Right?

John:

Pull, pull, pull the smart out of this version, right? And I'm saying, I'd say this with a huge caveat of make sure you have a refined audience or you blow your budget. You know, you don't, you don't do this on a cold audience,

Brett:

A few million people or something. Yeah.

John:

See a super refined audience where, where they've taken a ton of actions, you know, that the likelihood that they buy is high, go for a full saturation. Usually what happens, you get cheaper impressions, right? Cuz you're not having, you're not, they don't have to be choosy. They don't have to like, use their algorithm to just like the winners, right? Do you get cheaper impressions often do you get, you get more brand saturation, you get to reach 'em all so you get more conversions.

Brett:

Yeah. Super smart dude. I love this. This is awesome. Uh, well I'm a little bit bummed. Uh, we are, we are completely out of time. Uh, so we do need to wrap up, but, uh, kind of final questions. Uh, tell us a little bit about ClickFunnels 2.0. Huge, uh, sure. Release that depending on when you're listening to this is either about to come out or is barely out or, or whatnot. So talk us a little bit about that and, and what are you excited about, uh, for the future of click

John:

Funnels? We're, we're super excited about ClickFunnels 2.0. So yeah, it's coming out in just a few weeks. Um, we're super excited. You know, ClickFunnels 1.0 will still remain people who are in there and and loving it can still keep using it. And if they've got their pages built there, their sales funnels and they love 'em, by all means stay there. But just like base cam does where we're coming out, ClickFunnels 2.0 and it will, it will, it will also be an an option. ClickFunnels 2.0 has like all the features you always wish base or ClickFunnels had at 1.0. You can build your blog on it, you can build your website on it, you can build your sales funnels in it. You can have brand controls, you know, if your brand's purple and this exact, you know, shade of purple, you can brand the whole thing purple.

You can make, you know, these, these static elements that are always there. You know, branding things, whether it's the website, the blog. So anyway, all of the pieces you always wish you had and get this br It also has a store and it just like Shopify so you can have all your income store listed right there. So that's why we're so excited. It's all under one house. So the ease of use will be fantastic. The, the interactivity between them and the coolest thing that I'm so excited about cuz I'm the, I'm the, you know, the numbers guy is, is the integration of the stats.

Brett:

Mm.

John:

Love it. Like, like since it's all in one system, I'll be able to see the person who hit my shop and then the sales phone, like all of that will be so interconnected and the data will be so clean because it's all under one, one roof.

Brett:

Super, super smart. Awesome. So if people are like, Hey, I wanna learn more from John Parkes, or I just, I wanna check out click funnels, I know most people already know about it, but, or I wanna check out ClickFunnels 2.0. How do, how do they do that?

John:

Yeah, just hit me up on Instagram. I'm, I'm most active on Instagram, um, you know, uh, the handle of John O. Parkes and you'll see me right over there. And yeah, if you wanna find more about click Funnels, click funnels.com. That's where find Oh, right. It'll be up in just a few weeks. If you're listening to this in a few weeks, then it'll already be there. But Click Funnels 2.0. We're super excited for that launch.

Brett:

Awesome. So I'll link to everything in the show notes, but, but John, this has been a blast. Thanks for doing this, man. Super fun. We'll have to do it again.

John:

Hey, for sure. Thanks for having. All

Brett:

Right, brother. Thank you. And as always, thank you for tuning in and we'd love to hear from you if you've not, uh, reviewed us on iTunes yet. I would love that. Love it if you leave us, that five star view on iTunes helps other people find a show, makes our day, uh, and is just super fun. So with that, until next time, thank you for listening.


Episode 212
:
OMG Traffic Panel

Tips from Brands Who Consistently Win The Holidays

Preparation is the backbone for success during the holiday season.

Today I am talking to  a few of our OMG experts on preparing to win the 2022 holidays. Joining us is Amber Norell, OMG’s Amazon Director, Bill Cover, one of OMG’s amazing Google Strategist, and Savannah Knight, one of OMG’s rockstar Google Specialists. 

This holiday season should be quite interesting. Inflation, rising ad costs, privacy issues, and new campaign types have this year shaping up to be anything but ordinary. 

In this episode we cover how to: 

  • Drive MORE traffic profitably
  • Go omnichannel
  • Turn every interaction (even support) into sales opportunities

Mentioned In This Episode:

OMG Commerce Resource Guides

Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the E-Commerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce, and today I have got a treat for you. You get to hear from not one, not two, but three rockstar OMG Commerce traffic experts. So today it's a traffic panel and we're unpacking what separates the winners from the losers when it comes to holiday season. Now, I know when you're listening to this, we're right on the edge or maybe in the thick of holiday shopping season, so this may be kind of one of those. Use this for last minute tweaks and maximizations and optimizations and things like that. And also use this information to get ready for next holiday season because the best time to start planning for next holiday season is right now. So I hope you'll use this episode to do that. And then also there's gonna be some nuggets, some bits of wisdom, and some truths here that will help you even beyond holiday season.

So at OMG Commerce, we're a digital marketing agency. We work a lot with Google Search shopping Performance Max, YouTube also on Amazon, and we're managing tens of millions of dollars a month in ad spend. So everything we share is based on data, based on real results, and I can't wait for you to meet the team. And I hope you enjoy this episode with the OMG Traffic panel. Are you a D to C brand spending over six figures a month on paid media? If so, then listen up. My agency, OMG Commerce, and I have worked with some of the top e-commerce brands over the years, including Boom, native Groove, moan, Organicy, and dozens more. And every year we audit hundreds of Google, YouTube, and Amazon ad accounts, and we always find either significant opportunities for growth or wasted ad spend to cut or both. For example, are you missing YouTube ads? Whatever you're spending on top of funnel Facebook, you should be able to spend 30 to 50% of that or more on YouTube with similar returns. So if you're spending 300 to 400,000 a month on Facebook, you should be able to easily spend a hundred to 150,000 or more on YouTube. Visit OMG commerce.com to request a free strategy session or visit our resource page and get some of our free guides loaded with some of our best strategies for YouTube ads, Google Shopping, Amazon DSP and more. Check it all out@omgcommerce.com.

All right, I am so excited about this session. We, we've done a lot of webinars now, it's something we do at OMG Commerce, and almost every webinar, the favorite session, the session that people keep raving about is the OMG traffic panel where you get to learn from some of the best and brightest that OMG has to offer. And today is gonna be amazing. We got Bill Co, we got Savannah Knight, we got Amber Norell, and so I'm gonna intro them for you. I'll keep it brief, but I'm gonna keep this I'm gonna be the hype man for just a minute just so you can feel confident in who you're about to learn from. So I'm gonna go the way I'm seeing them on my screen, which may be different than what you're seeing but first up is bill cover. Now you probably see their balloons behind Bill.

I'm gonna have him explain that in a second. But Bill is an mba. He is 10 plus years in e-commerce forever in e-commerce. Years prior to that, he worked with Fortune 500 brands through big ad agency for about four years. And so Bill's just a wealth of knowledge for all things marketing, all things branding. He is a strategist on the Google side and really just one of the smartest guys I know and somebody that we bring in to a lot of discussions on, Hey, how do we grow this account? How do we make this bigger? What's the angle here? What do we do here? So Bill, thanks for taking the time and anything you would add to that intro, and then also please explain to us why you have balloons, larger balloons behind you. Yeah, no, the intro was perfect, actually. I wish I could capture that and just use that as my intro for everything going forward.

So we have balloons, omg, OMG, Commerce, and yesterday we found out that we won the 417, which is a local publisher here 4 7 20 best places to work. And four 17 is our area code. So it counts for more than Springfield, Southwest Missouri, Southwest Missouri region, southwest Arkansas. And so this is the second year in a row that we've won this award. And so we're number one, baby number one. Yeah, super cool. So glad you chose that. As a backdrop, look at these giant OMG balloons, which is fantastic. So next up Savannah night. Now Savannah is what I would call this quiet warrior. She doesn't say a whole lot all the time, but when she does speak, it's very powerful and she knows her stuff. So we hired her as a Google support specialist. So kind of behind the scenes doing stuff, grew into a dedicated specialist. Now she's a lead specialist and really helping grow some of our biggest brands. She was the first one on the team to scale Performance Max. And so we trust her with some of the biggest clients. She's a hard worker, she's super smart. You're gonna love her ideas. So Savannah, welcome. Thanks for taking the time. Anything you would add to that. And is there any reason why you don't have balloons behind you? <laugh>? I don't

Savannah:

Think so. So I think you did a pretty good job, but yeah, no balloons for me. Bill stole 'em all.

Brett:

<laugh>. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, Bill, yeah, there's three balloons you could've shared, but he decided the word commerce is on its way. <laugh>, <laugh>, fantastic. And then Amber Norell last but not least, Amber is our Amazon director. And when the smartest people I know on Amazon don't know how to solve a problem, they go to Amber. Amber has helped grow multiple seven, eight figure brands on Amazon. She helped launch Boom by Cindy Joseph on Amazon, grew them from zero to 5 million per year in sales and growing. She runs our Amazon department. When you think the impossible can't be done on Amazon, just call Amber and it's gonna be done. And so Amber, thanks for taking the time. Anything you would add to that intro and anything else you would like to say before we get started?

Amber :

Well, I'm excited to be here, Brett. I would've liked some balloons, but they probably would've deflated here in Orlando. <laugh>.

Brett:

Yeah, so omg, we're 65 strong. We're spread throughout the United States. Bill, Savannah and I are all in Missouri, which is where the HQ is. Ambers in Orlando, hot, muggy Orlando. And you say that all year round. So yeah, balloons probably do not survive there. Okay. Awesome guys. Super excited to dig in here. So we're talking about winning the holidays. So how do we win the holidays in 2022? It's a unique environment, a lot of pressure with inflation and rising costs and supply chain issues, although some of those are getting better in a lot of cases it's just a unique environment. And so I think one of the things we have to look at, and you guys know, and I've mentioned this on the podcast and other places before I coach basketball, but I love sports. I love the focus on fundamentals. If the fundamentals are sound, then you can build on that. If fundamentals are off, then creative stuff you do on top of that just isn't gonna work as well. So what are some of the fundamentals we need to get to make sure we win the holidays? And I'm gonna go to you first, Savannah, if you're up for that.

Savannah:

Yeah, for sure. So I think the biggest thing in the holidays is just having a good attitude because it's easy to get stressed out during this time of year. So maintaining a positive attitude is my number one. But just having larger discounts than usual people expect a discount during this time of year. So keeping that in mind with all those supply chain issues, making sure you have enough inventory of your best sellers. And then the last one is really having a plan B. I think that's really important in this case that something does go wrong, then you have something to lean back on.

Brett:

I love it. We're going attitude first. This is great. This is what I tell my kids every morning. Hey, good attitudes. So it's where it's at. But I do agree. I think you solve problems better with a good attitude. And that's one of the, our core principles at OMG is we believe that positive attitudes create better results. So it's not just like, let's be positive for the sake of being positive. It creates better results. So I love that. So really appreciate you bringing that to the forefront. And I also love to have a plan B because I think now more than ever, we need to think through contingencies. And maybe we don't need contingencies, let's hope we don't. But think about, hey, what happens if something goes down? What happens if we can't rely on this channel? What if? So plan as best as you can and you'll be stronger for it. So we'll go around the horn here. Amber, what about you? And Amber's gonna be on the Amazon side, of course, Bill and Savannah are more on the D to C that the Google and direct tier Shopify store, whatever, Amber's Amazon. What are some of the fundamentals we need to get on Amazon?

Amber :

Yeah, I think the basics are really just planning out your budgets, upping your bids, leading up to that big event, getting your listing content ready, making sure you have inventory. And then once you have those three things in place, what are you doing to promote what you've put into effect? So are you doing discounts? Are you pushing it through outside ads? Are you running it through influencers? Those would really be the four core things that I would focus on.

Brett:

Cool. So how do we make sure everything is ready that we're geared up, and then yeah, how are we gonna promote, How are we gonna make sure that whatever we have is actually visible and available for sale? And so yeah, love that. Bill, what about you from your perspective? Fundamentals? Yeah, so I feel like advanced prep is key. I was listening to Nims UJA on Joe Rogan, and he's the guy in 14 peaks, if you've seen that on Netflix. And as a Sher, I'm not in that, but that looks amazing. So he is a Sherpa. Yeah, we talk about that. I think that's the role of a good agency is to be a Sherpa, right? Which you dunno, it's a, yeah. So explain what a Sherpa is, Bill, if there's, Yeah, it's a perfect analogy because a Sherpa is there to help anyone who wants to go to the top of a mountain, get to the top of the mountain and back.

So it's a perfect analogy. So NIMS has a 100% success rate of getting his team to the top of the mountain and back. And when asked, how do you do that, he said advanced prep. So I really feel like that's a good analogy for walking into q4, is prepping in advance. Yep. Love it. So hey, you're here, you're listening to this. You've already hopefully done some prep already, but now we're gonna bring it to the home stretch, finish things out for you so you can really capitalize and maximize this all season. So let's talk about then so we got some fundamentals in place. What are some of the things that people overlook? So if we're trying to maximize this holiday season, what do people overlook? And I'll start with you, Amber.

Amber :

Yeah, so I mean, outside of just planning the fundamentals in general just overlooking seasonality. So you hear a lot of brands saying, Well my products don't really see an impact during Thanksgiving or Christmas, and they don't realize how much of an impact it can have to put lifestyle images in your listing on your storefront. So it's like, well what did you really do to make an impact? And I think that's what you need to be focusing on seasonally.

Brett:

Yeah, so talk a little bit about that. So we're gonna potentially look at updating our listing to be more holiday friendly. So maybe updating some of the images up, updating some of the A plus content. What are we doing specifically here?

Amber :

Yeah, I mean depending on how well your product does as a gift, I would definitely add it to a plus. Your gallery, your storefront, even the copy just give customers, help them paint that picture of them using it at the holiday table under the Christmas tree. That kind of stuff really, really is effective.

Brett:

I like it. And if we think I was comparing the digital shelf to the physical shelf in store and everybody has to buy a gift, we all wanna buy a gift, we wanna look like a hero or we don't wanna look bad on holidays for forgetting a gift. But also we don't have a ton of time and we maybe wanna shop kind of quickly. I know I like to shop quickly at times and occasionally procrastinate. So yeah, how do we make it easy? How do we make it clear that hey, this is a great gift idea and this is how it could be used as a gift. And so how do we make it easy and clear and obvious for a shopper to choose our product? And yeah, I think, you know, brought that up a second ago, Amber. I think there's some people that think my product's not really gift product or my product won't do well in the holidays, but you'd be surprised stuff sells in the holidays.

I always love using the example, and I know Bill, you know him well, but our good friend Brett from Microfiber Wholesale, he actually they sell mops and Microfiber Claw and other stuff too, but they started running ads that say the worst Christmas gift ever and it's like, don't buy your wife a mop or something like that. But it worked like everybody's buying mos like okay, that's funny. And the eye duty to mos, I'll buy one. So yeah don't underestimate the power of the holiday, even if your product isn't an obvious gift, but if it is, then really lean into that. So what about you Savannah? What are some things that people overlook on the D to C side?

Savannah:

I think one thing is overlooking the buildup to the holiday season. So the pre-holiday by the time Black Friday comes around, people already have a general idea of what they're gonna buy. So you wanna be there whenever they're making those decisions and making that list. But then also just being able to take advantage of those cheaper CPCs and things like that to build up your marketing list and your email list during that before the big showtime. And then also putting yourself in the mind of the buyer. I think that's easy to overlook when we get caught up in the stuff on the back end, but just remembering to think how are they looking, when are they looking, what are they looking for that can really help you level up during the holidays.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that so much. Really as we look into October, early November, that's the time to be building your remarketing list, beefing up those email lists, getting people interested and into the funnel. Because yeah, by the time Black Friday hits, people kind of know, a lot of people know what they're gonna be looking for, what they're gonna be shopping for. So while the purchases might not happen until right around Black Friday, that's when things really take off from a conversion and a purchase standpoint, build that up and take advantage of those lower CPMs and lower CPCs early in the holiday. I love that. Bill, what about you? What are some of the things that you think of people overlook for the holiday? Yeah, so as Aana was saying, put yourself in the mind of your buyer. And on the Google side ads need to match your landing page.

So the message should be continuous, Hey, we're running this deal. And certainly as the abbreviated version of the deal, the hook. And then when they get to the landing page, it needs to pay off that message in the ad and help people understand that this is a rare deal that this is a great product because as we were saying, you know, might not be buying for yourself, you might also be buying for yourself. So I don't wanna discount that either. Cause I buy for myself selfishly, nothing wrong. Buying for yourself. Yeah, absolutely. And so when someone lands on that landing page, do they see the same message that was in the ad, the reason that they came in the first place? Is it clear? Is it simple? Do I understand how to achieve the deal If it's different here, spend a hundred, get 15 off, spend 200, get 30 off.

I don't know what it is, but make sure that's clear. Walk through your own add to cart process once it's live, make sure that this is clear that I understand that I'm getting a deal how I get the deal. And so I see a lot of times ads are the evergreen ads and lead you to a great landing page or vice versa, the ads are promoting the deal and lead you to an evergreen landing page. And I think either of those scenarios will reduce the amount of impact you could have in q4. So totally agree. It's one of those things where sometimes I'm surprised by how much merchants make their shoppers work to get a deal or to figure out what's going on with a deal. So you see a deal promoted in an ad, a discount free shipping, something for the holidays, you click to the landing page and now there's no mention of that promotion, it's the product page or it's whatever.

And you're like, wait a minute, what was that deal again? I think it was this Well do I need to go back to the ad and look at that? Or now do I need to look for a promotion page on the website? What do I need to do? And at that point, often then people are just gonna bail. So yeah, create that congruity between ad and landing page and make it super clear, super simple, super easy to say yes to a deal because hey, a confused shopper where a frustrated shopper does not buy. And so we gotta make it it easy. Awesome. Any other kind of things that are often overlooked? Tactic strategies that are overlooked during the holidays for many of the three of you?

Okay, so I'll throw one in there that I, it's a bonus, right? But I read recently through a shop of I blog doing the post-purchase survey. And what I really like about that is that that's next year's learning. So you can ask them, yeah, how did you find out about us? Is this for you? Is this for a loved one, a friend, whatever a gift you know can ask any question you want and you're not gonna get a hundred percent completion rate on a post-purchase survey, but that's all right. You're gonna get data that then you can use to structure your strategy and your message next year. Yeah, I love that. Don't miss an opportunity. This is an opportunity when you've got more traffic at any other time of year, more conversions, hire buyer and have all of that. So obviously we wanna capitalize, make sure we maximize sales, but we also wanna maximize learnings. How do we capture enough information and data to know, yeah, how do we win next year? How do we win during the next big sale opportunity and how do we get better? So love that. Call out Bill. Really good. Anything else? Savannah? Amber?

Amber :

I think just go ahead Savannah,

Savannah:

You got I said that I think that just caught it

Amber :

For me. I was gonna say I think back to Bill's point about keeping things consistent across your landing page and your ads, also keeping your branding consistent. So when you're up to you get in the groove and you're setting up promos and upping your campaigns and you kind of lose your brand voice. So just staying playful with that and staying true to your demographic. Yes. So you can say like you said, this is the worst Christmas present and people love that or they say you'll be the hero at Christmas. Play into your target customer for sure

Brett:

Earlier. Yeah, don't just abandon who you are and your brand identity and go full on promotion. Keep that voice because that's what's gonna resonate and make everything work better. So similar question. It's okay if we don't have too many answers here, but what are the best doing that the rest are not? So you may have the privilege of working with some amazing brands like Native deodorant and boom, my Cindy Joseph and Truvan and many others. So what are the best doing that the rest are not? And whoever would like to go first, go for it.

Amber :

I'll go ahead Seth <laugh>, we'll keep petting you. I

Savannah:

Say keeping it, I like to follow the kiss rule, the politic, keep it simple and specific. So we're really competing for buyers. Stupid

Brett:

Part cuz I've also heard kisses keep it simple, stupid. So keep it simple. And what was your other ass

Savannah:

Specific?

Brett:

Specific, I like that, right? Less insulting. It's good.

Savannah:

Yeah, so we're competing for the buyer's attention and we're competing for their time as well. So if we're not keeping it simple, then there's a lot for them to have to do. They're probably gonna go to somebody else and purchase. So really just making it really straightforward for the user and also starting early, so building your lists early but also offering discounts early. So we've seen that people are buying early in the season and not waiting until Black Friday. So offering discounts early is a big one too.

Brett:

And I think that trend kind of started during the pandemic. I remember I saw Lowe's doing it. So a lot of big retailers doing online that hey, Black Friday deals all November long, that type of thing. I think that's a trend that's likely to continue. And while we're not hearing as many supply chain issues, I know there's still some but not as severe as last year. I think there's still gonna be some people that maybe shop a little bit earlier, Hey the procrastinators like me, were still out there but I totally agree start earlier and that's definitely a good suggestion. Amber, what's your perspective here?

Amber :

So I would say the best are testing. So you're never gonna find a better time to test entire level and actually be able to get a good return. So I would say be testing the experimenting as much as possible.

Brett:

Yeah, it's one of those things where some people don't want to test during holiday shopping because they don't wanna screw something up. And we should talk about that in a session in this webinar. We're gonna talk to Matt for peak activity about that, what's safe to test on the holidays, but this is also the best time to learn and you can also test little things and learn quickly and then take a winning learning and scale it up cuz all the traffic is here right now. So yeah, now's the time to be thinking about, hey what do we want do type of funnel? Is there some top of funnel DSP ads wanna run on Amazon or we wanna do some type of funnel on YouTube? What is it that we wanna test here? So love that idea Amber for sure. What about from your perspective Bill? What are the best doing at the restaurant?

Yeah, so if you had to keep it simple and you have to be lean, please ignore this. But you asked about best. So what I would suggest is playing off of Savannah's Justin to start early is also varying your promotions as you go. So I would drum up excitement through October, but maybe you hit November and once a week, something like that. I'm picking an arbitrary interval that we'll say once a week you switch up your promotion. Now that doesn't mean you go, hey this week it's 10% off and next week it's 20% off. That's really gonna offend some people. But you can switch up the type of promotion so that the math is not really apples to apples. So this week it's 20% off. Next week it's a BOGO or free shipping or something of that nature maybe a limited time product or something around the holidays.

And so switching that up and looking at a calendar and going, okay, we've got October, November, we've got Black Friday, we've got Cyber Monday, we've got cyber Monday week, we've got what's the one Green Monday or whatever that's called. And then last chance for shipping just before December 25th and that sort of thing. So look at that calendar and go, this is where we're gonna start. New promo messages now you're gonna freak out cuz you're gonna go well the creative, we have to create new creative for all that. Now you can have evergreen images and the best images convey that this is a holiday sale and that's important for the user cuz think about your own experience. If you don't recognize it that an ad is for a holiday sale, you're less likely to act because you think, well this is evergreen. So we are savvy as customers and your customers are also savvy.

They're gonna react better to something that looks like and feels like a holiday sale. So a good evergreen image, maybe your product with a bow or snow or who knows. But then you can swap out headlines, all these ad platforms, Amazon, Facebook, Google, they're now made so that you can put one image in there and swap out your headlines and descriptions and that sort of thing and deploy different messages with the same image that's built for q4. So yeah, I love it Bill and I like having those kinda limited window opportunities. So if you can execute on this, you're having Black Friday type deals, all of them are long let's say, but then it's changing from week to week and that can create some urgency for someone to say, okay, I will buy this first week of November, second week of November cuz I want that particular deal and I know it ends on Friday or whatever.

So really that super, super smart. Cool. And while we're talking about promotions what are some of the ways you suggest we structure promotions? And I do wanna say this can be different for everybody. Some brands don't discount at all, some only discount a little bit. Boom by Cindy Joseph as an example. They usually don't discount at all except for around the holidays and occasionally like a customer sale and they'll usually do 10%, they do not discount very deeply most of the year. So you don't have to do big discounts, but a lot of people do. A lot people expect it. That's what shoppers are looking for. So how do you suggest we structure our deals and a we'll start with you?

Amber :

Yeah, so I would say structure your deals based on your margin. That's something that is missed a lot on Amazon, so pay attention to that first look at your deals and your prime exclusive discount badging. So I've probably said this in a couple other webinars, but that's how much I love Prime exclusive discounts. They work really well. Set those up, work them around your deals and this is kind of like a new one, but stay away from lowering your listing prices on Shopify, Walmart, Target. If you are very set on a deal running on Amazon, those are already getting flagged today in September because of the prime fall event coming up. So you definitely wanna make sure if you want to maintain buy box that you are keeping competitive pricing across all marketplaces.

Brett:

Right, I love that. So let's just double click on that real quick so that we are saying, so we're about to run a deal on Amazon, but we keep our list price, let's say Amazon, but then we offer a 20% discount. Well everywhere else online we're maybe already 25% below list or something like that. What does Amazon do in those cases or what could they do?

Amber :

So lately I've been seeing a lot of brand health issues and that is essentially just saying it's listed cheaper at Walmart, it's listed cheaper at Target and they are removing your buy box. No, yeah.

Brett:

And this is really, I think one, it's frustrating as a seller cause we wanna be able to just control our price how we wanna do that. But I get it from Amazon's perspective, what Amazon does not want shoppers to do is that buyer's remorse to buy something on Amazon and then turn around and say you got that 25 bucks cheaper over here. And so Amazon's scouring the web, they know what you're charging on other places. So if you lower your price everywhere, but Amazon, Amazon very likely is gonna remove the buy box, which just means they tell customers they'll buy this here, it's cheaper over here, so don't be disappointed and buy it here. Awesome. Okay. Savannah, what would you say, how do you recommend merchants structure their deals and their promos?

Savannah:

So I'd say that sitewide discounts usually perform the best without a code

Brett:

I can easy to execute on as well.

Savannah:

Yep, exactly. Without a code is preferred. But if you have to have a code, make sure it's really visible everywhere on site. And if you don't like to discount your products, I would say still offer people some type of incentive. So free shipping, maybe a free gift or a bundle offer because they are expecting some type of discount. So I've worked on accounts where they didn't have any discount during the holidays and we really saw that revenue go down during that time. So offering some type of incentive is really important.

Brett:

And I love that you mentioned the free gift and we've seen, we have a few other brands we work with that don't like to do discounts. And so what they'll do though is they'll bundle a really cool item with their core product. So now, and then let's say this is in a category where maybe your core product isn't the best gift and like boom, I said Joseph would fall into this category. Some people want cosmetics for Christmas or whatever holiday they celebrate or they want skincare, but a lot of people don't. But a lot of people will buy boom for themselves around the holidays. And so if you include a gift, a tilt bag, water bottle, something kind of neat to go along with that, then that could be something to push someone over the edge where they can say, Hey, I can buy this for myself. Still get that little gift that I can use as a stocking stuff for something else for someone else. And so yeah, love that. You gotta do something around the holidays so love that. Bill, what about you? And I know you just talked about promotions and gave away a cool bonus tip, but anything else you would suggest on the way we structure our promotions?

I think we're talking about the digital shelf. So if you picture a brick and mortar scenario and someone walks into your store, they're a little bit unfamiliar, this is for a gift how do you want that customer to go about looking at your set of products? You don't wanna point them to the accessories and the things that only your advanced customers are aware of and understand, point them to your bestseller, point them to a good entry level product. And so you get to set how that works on your site, whether it's on the homepage, on a category page, on the landing page, what products you push through ads and that sort of thing. So point them to a best seller or a good entry level product because then they're gonna be more likely to comprehend it, understand it, and act upon it. And then on the back end of that, go ahead and recommend additional cross sell, upsell products that fit with that product that also drive up your aov.

So if something makes sense that it goes along with this and it's easy to comprehend and understand build the technology on your side or whatever it takes to recommend products that go with that. And then I wanna address bundles real quick because I don't wanna make a blanket statement. You shouldn't do bundles cuz if you sell something that's easy to comprehend, say a necklace, a bracelet, a ring, a bundle probably works really well. But if it's hard to comprehend and it drives up that initial price point for someone who's not really familiar with your product, they'll probably more likely to act on a best seller that's say 30 to 50 bucks than a bundle that's 130 bucks. Even though it's a good value and a good deal someone who's new to your brand and new to your products and buying it for a gift made out and understand that right out of the gates.

So you gotta be careful sometimes with bundles. Yeah, I like that a lot. So remembering that someone may wanna buy a gift and so just buying a one-off is what they want. But I do like having the bundles available and I love the idea of cross sell, upsell add-ons, right? This people's wallets are open and once you make that initial decision to purchase, once you've already sent money, spending a little extra is easier. And so it's always good to have those upsell cross-sell opportunities. I love that. Any advice? I don't wanna kind of key in on that just a little bit. Amber, any thoughts there? Cause I know there's some creative things we do on Amazon to get cross-sell and upsell opportunities on each of our product detail pages, but anything you would recommend there to either sell bundles or cross sell upsell on Amazon during the holidays?

Amber :

Yeah, I mean to Bill Point, it can definitely get confusing if you're just throwing bundles out there. But if you check Amazon market basket analysis, it gives you a pretty good breakdown of what's actually getting purchased together within your brand and over zone specifically, they've had a ton of success with virtual bundles. So I would,

Brett:

Overtone is a coloring conditioner, so temporary color. So if you want you're hair to go green, pink, gray, whatever mine's already going gray naturally, so I don't need it. But add that conditioner washes out over time. It's made of avocado Ezra Firestone, own the brand. So yeah, market basket analysis, super, super cool. Amazon will tell you what people are buying together. So you have that and then you create a virtual bundle. Was that right Amber?

Amber :

Yeah, so just set up a virtual bundle in Amazon. It's its own listing, but it kind of ties to that main flagship product and we've seen them do really well with Overtone, I think several other brands too. And it's something you definitely wanna get in place for the holidays.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that. It's like understanding, hey, customers are already buying these things together. You can do the same thing in inside of Google Analytics or Shopify or whatever. Just Amazon makes it easy. And so then you say, All right, let's create a virtual bundle, let's bundle these together. Cause people like to buy 'em together anyway, so it's super, super smart. Cool. Okay. So Amber, we're kind of tease this in the very beginning, but having great promotions having the good attitude, having everything prepared and ready, having contingencies, all that, none of that really matters if we don't promote stuff and promote it. Well, if we're not visible, if people don't see our stuff on the shelf if they walk through the virtual store and miss us, then it's all for not, right? So how do we make sure we're maximizing visibility and maximizing traffic for the holidays? You wanna go first, Savannah?

Savannah:

Sure. So one big thing there is to have a robust marketing build out. So making sure that we're taking advantage of that traffic that is brand aware, so that way we're taking advantage of those cheaper CPCs and things like that. Really just being everywhere. Don't wait for them to come to you. So we wanna utilize all our channels, search, display, discovery all of those. So impulse buying is higher during the holidays, so keep that in mind. If you have a great display ad, someone's more likely to click on it during the holidays than maybe they were beforehand. And here I'll get into some technicals too. So

Brett:

Love it. I love, let's get technical, let's get tech nasty for a minute.

Savannah:

So if we have a clear definition of success, I think a performer based budget is something I like working with better. So that way we're not missing out on opportunities. So say it's Black Friday, your campaigns are out of budget before noon. We wanna make sure that if we are seeing good results, we can go ahead and boost that budget. So that way if you're out to dinner with grandma or something like that, we're not interrupting and waiting on that approval process.

Brett:

So that's, grandma doesn't understand, we like, Grandma, I gotta update my CPCs, I gotta get a promo approved. She's like, What whatcha doing right now? <laugh>.

Savannah:

So that's a big thing bidding up as well. Our bids that have been working throughout the rest of the year probably aren't gonna be competitive enough for the holidays. Getting our ads up early, this is a big one. There's longer approval times during holidays, so getting those up early is going to ensure that everything's gonna be approved. And also more doesn't always mean better. So if our promotions are a shorter duration using 20 images, five headlines, five descriptions is kind of too much for the smart bidders to really find the winning combination. So more doesn't always mean better.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that. I love that. I love all those by the way last one's great. So yeah, if you had a limited window, you don't necessarily wanna follow Google's best practices for responsive display where load up 15 images and a ton of headlines. No, maybe you just need a couple, right? Maybe it's just two or three that you really feel good about and then you can still have a little bit of testing going on. But yeah, you don't wanna overwhelm the smart bit or set yourself up where you can't succeed because of that limited duration. Love that. Bill. From your perspective, how do we maximize visibility? Yeah I think using the gray overtone is one way. <laugh>. Just kidding. So <laugh>, Brett, don't you think you would? I just have a question. You think you would look younger if you intentionally use the gray fully silver and I'm like, No, I want to go silver.

You may be onto something cause the kids are doing it. So yeah, actually I ordered some overtime for my kids. My 17 year old daughter chose silver. She wanted to go silver. Yeah, okay, well, and 30 years you're gonna be doing the opposite, but yeah, is cool. So I mean I'm getting pretty gray up here too, so I was considering it. I was like maybe I'll look younger if I do what the kids are doing. <laugh>, but <laugh>. No for real though. I think making sure that your messaging on Facebook and Google matches and any ad platform that you're promoting your sales on I think compelling headlines. Headlines that convey that this is a sale save big, our biggest sale yet Black Friday sale is fine. Communicate also with your team. If you're working with an agency, an internal team, whatever, communicate with your team what your vision is for the sale.

What is the discount? What is this called? Maybe you have a name for the sale. You wanna match that across all of your platforms because your customers are on all of these platforms, they're on email, they're on Facebook, they're on Google, Amazon, et cetera. And so match that title. If you have a name for it, maybe you don't, maybe it's just Black Friday sale, which is totally fine. And then also using a copy that will convey that this is not gonna last. So play on that. Fear of missing out or fomo these deals won't last, don't miss out. That sort of things trigger us to go, okay, I understand this is limited and I need to act now. So making sure that you match, making sure that you hit on some of those copy points I think will get action. So I love that. I think sometimes we may take for granted that people are gonna buy during the holidays and people will.

And so we may just think, well, I don't need to really worry about my copy too much. Still good copy makes a difference. And you wanna lean into it and it can be simple. It can be something like Black Friday sale, Black Friday deals, cyber Monday deals, whatever. But you do need to think about messaging and you do need anything about sense of urgency, even though it's already kind of built in. People have a limited window to shop for holiday. You wanna lean into that. So really, really good. Amber, what about you? How do we maximize the visibility during the holidays?

Amber :

Yeah, so I think if you are setting up some sort of promo, you're putting in that effort. I mean obviously driving additional traffic through ads, it's a no brainer, but you really need to go all in, add those deals to your storefront on Amazon, get influencers involved test and Amazon live event, try DSP during the holidays. Anything you can do to drive additional eyeballs to that promotion and get them in the door I think is super impactful for getting additional visibility. For instance, I think last year during the holidays we had one client that they actually didn't have any sort of deal. They just did like a strike through pricing, but they had mommy bloggers like go crazy for this strike through pricing. And I guess mommy bloggers are where it's at because they just had astronomical sales.

Brett:

Is there a greater source of influence than mommy bloggers? I mean, mommy bloggers run the world basically <laugh>. That is amazing. Yeah, it's one of those things where I think you gotta be nimble, so you gotta get the foundation laid, which the foundation is for most people. On the D TOC side, it's Google search and shopping and remarketing and likely Facebook a little bit top of phone, a little bit of remarketing. That's foundation on Amazon. It's your sponsored product sponsor, brand sponsor brand video, right? Little bit of remarketing, That's the foundation. You gotta have that. And then you gotta be nimble there where you raise bids, raise budgets so you can really capitalize on traffic. But then yeah, try some other things. Try some top funnel dsp, Lean in the top of funnel YouTube. It's a great time to do that. Do some additional things, reach out to influencers, find some mono bloggers and send them some free product.

You never know it. Do some of these little things that might move the needle and then be nimble and be ready when you say, Aha, this is working, I'm gonna lean into that and put more budget behind that. Same could go for email, right? Hey, this subject line worked, how can I tweak that, create variant of that, send that again so I can maximize that own media of email. So really, really good guys. Thank you for sharing. I feel better, I feel more equipped. I feel ready to win the holidays. Any final tips or suggestions? Yeah, I do have a burning one actually. All right, <laugh>. So I really appreciate it when anyone, I'm working with a client, any retailer is coming to me and giving me what the sale is and then they're open to how right? And the sooner the better because the how may include, well you need a video or you need to resize a video, which may take a few weeks.

Something that won't take as long, for example, is a shopping promo. So I know how to set that up in Google Merchant Center, but I have to know what, I have to know what you're planning on doing so that I can then go and use my tools that I understand to set that up and make your holiday Q4 work that much better for you. So communicate with your team and convey the what and let them come up with some of the how's. Yeah, I love that. Yeah, lean in because there's so many little nuanced ways to maximize the sale, but you gotta kind of know the details early, you gotta know the why and all that, and so then you can really, really maximize. Love that. Bill. Anything else?

Savannah:

I'm gonna go ahead and hit this one again. So just starting early. I think that's a big one that's overlooked. There's so much we can be doing now to start in October for holiday promotions and things like that. So just really getting prepared now I think is the most important thing.

Brett:

Love it.

Amber :

Yeah. Now outside of testing things now, I would say be monitoring on the Amazon side especially. We have our team there, they've got reminders already checking every day, because if you're not in the dashboard looking actively, you're already missing deadlines for q4. So that would be my biggest thing right now.

Brett:

Totally know what the deadlines are and know what's happening on the Amazon side, on the Google side, and monitor your competition, know what's going on so you can adjust and adjust quickly. Awesome. You guys crushed it. Thank you so much. You nailed it. We do have to transition to the next session, but this was awesome. Thanks guys.

Savannah:

Thank

Brett:

You. Thank you. Sweet.

Episode 211
:
Kristina Muntean and Jenna Galardi

Turn Every Customer Touchpoint Into A Sales Opportunity and Going OmniChannel

Preparation is the backbone for success during the holiday season.

Recently we just recorded a holiday webinar featuring Kristina Muntean and Jenna Galardi. Kristina works for Gorgias, an online customer support service who has worked with big brands such as Steve Madden and OLIPOP. Jenna Galardi has over a decade of experience helping businesses grow online. In current role  as Senior Omnichannel Growth Manager at BigCommerce, she focuses on helping merchants strengthen their online presence and adopt social commerce, marketplaces, and product feed optimization solutions to scale their growth.

This holiday season should be quite interesting. Inflation, rising ad costs, privacy issues, and new campaign types have this year shaping up to be anything but ordinary. 

In this episode we cover how to: 

  • Drive MORE traffic profitably
  • Go omnichannel
  • Turn every interaction (even support) into sales opportunities

Mentioned in this episode:

Kristina Muntean:
- eMail: Kristina.Muntean@Gorgias.com
- LinkedIn

- Gorgias

Jenna Galardi:
- LinkedIn

- BigCommerce


WOXER
ILIA
feedonomics

Transcript:


Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the E-Commerce Evolution Podcast. Today I have two amazing guests for you. I recently recorded a holiday prep webinar and had some of my friends and some of just the smartest minds in e-commerce and marketing join me and talk about how to maximize your results for this holiday shopping season. But here's the deal. A lot of what we talked about in that webinar applies to holiday, yes, but it also goes beyond holiday. And so I wanted to bring these topics to you on the podcast. And so my two guests today are first Christina Mont and Christina is with Gorgias and e-commerce help desk. I probably don't need to tell you what Gorgias is. You likely already know and you already you it. And she is one of the partner managers at Gorgias. She works with OMG Commerce. We actually knew her from a previous life check.

She used to work for one of our clients. And so I've known Christina A. Long time. She's very bright. Christina and I talk about how to turn every customer interaction into a sales opportunity. So any time that your team interacts with a customer, how do you use that to further your brand, further the relationship and turn it into a sales opportunity? That's huge during the holidays because all the interactions with customers increase, right? But this topic is valuable beyond holiday as well. And then guest number two is Jenna Gordi. And Jenna is the senior omnichannel growth manager at Big Commerce. Now, I was speaking at an event in Miami several months ago. I ended up meeting a couple of the managers at Big Commerce. We kind of hit it off, started talking and I said, Hey, I'd like to know more about what Big Commerce is doing.

So they invited me to their partner Summit in Austin, Texas. Got to hang out with Jenna Goria a little bit. And so Jenna and I talk about going omnichannel. Now, Jim, I just made up a word. Jenna has been in the industry for a long time, used to be in the agency world, now works with some of the biggest brands on Big Commerce, Works with Theos team, which Feos is kind of best in class in terms of feed optimization for Google Shopping, of course, which is now mostly Performance Max but also Amazon and Walmart and Target. Plus, we do talk about Target plus here. And so again, we gear this discussion, this interview around holiday, but the concepts, the tips of going omnichannel certainly go well beyond holiday. So you're gonna love the interview with both Christina and Jenna. So sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Are you a D to C brand spending over six figures a month on paid media? If so, then listen up. My agency, OMG Commerce, and I have worked with some of the top e-commerce brands over the years, including Boom, native, Groove, Moan, Organify, and dozens more. And every year we audit hundreds of Google, YouTube, and Amazon ad accounts, and we always find either significant opportunities for growth or wasted ad spend to cut or both. For example, are you missing YouTube ads? Whatever you're spending on top of funnel Facebook, you should be able to spend 30 to 50% of that or more on YouTube with similar returns. So if you're spending 300 to 400,000 a month on Facebook, you should be able to easily spend a hundred to 150,000 or more on YouTube. Visit OMG commerce.com to request a free strategy session or visit our resource page and get some of our free guides loaded with some of our best strategies for YouTube ads, Google Shopping, Amazon DSP and more. Check it all out@omgcommerce.com. All right, for this next session, I'm delighted to welcome a longtime friend in the e-commerce space and a true expert in how to get more from your e-commerce brand. I'd like to welcome Christina een from Gorgias Christina, how's it going? And thanks for coming on this live event.

Kristina:

Hey Brett thank you so much for that intro. And yeah, it's always wonderful to be here and to get to chat with you.

Brett:

Absolutely. So we, we'd go way back. As it turns out, you used to work for a brand who's a long time OMG client. So you were on the brand side making e-commerce happen, growing a brand, working with omg and now you're kind of on the SaaS side of and that's s a s side of E-commerce now with Gorgias. And so for those that don't know, and I think most people probably do, but explain what is Gorgias and how do you make merchants life lives easier. And then we're gonna dig into some specific tips for the holidays.

Kristina:

Yeah, so no, it's been really cool Brett, as you said, first of all to get to work with you guys and the econ brand side, but to be able to really dive in on one brand and see, alright, how do we scale this? How do we acquire new customers? How do we keep them buying from us? But now moving to Gorgias, we currently work with over 10,000 e-commerce brands, so it's been such an awesome opportunity to really see e-com as a whole. What are those trends and what's working and what isn't so Gorgias specifically? Basically we work with only e-commerce merchants and we basically support them as an e-commerce help desk. And what that means is, as a brand, you guys know that you're being reached out to by customers across many different channels. It used to just be customers, my email or call you on the phone, but that now they're expecting you to respond to them in your dms and respond to ad comments.

They're expecting you to be able to live chat you maybe SMS text you so Gorgias. Basically empowers your brand to be able to actually manage all of that. So it pulls in all those different communication channels into one central hub and then links up with your eCommerce platform. So your Shopify, your big commerce, your Meto store, and basically allows you to actually take action on customer requests like changing of shipping address and all of that directly from one place. So tons of efficiency in terms of the customer support, customer experience side of things and really allows brands to have amazing customer experiences and drive more revenue on the CS side of things,

Brett:

I love this so much and really we get to work with some amazing top shelf e-commerce brands. Most of them are working with Gorgias. And really you make life simple and easier for merchants. And you guys talk a lot about conversational commerce and I love that term. And I also love the concept of what if we turn every customer support situation, every interaction with a customer, whether that's through live chat or someone tweeting at you or using Messenger or whatever, calling you on the phone. What if we turn that into a sales opportunity because they are. And if you do it the right way, you can turn all of those interactions into sales opportunities. So I love that, I love that perspective that you guys bring. So let's dive in because the holidays present a super unique time for all of e-commerce, but especially on the customer support side of things. And so I wanna do a few things, but let's dive into this topic first. How should we address customer feedback before Black Friday, Cyber Monday? So as we're getting ready so that we can leverage and get the most out of the holidays, how should we be collecting and addressing that feedback ahead of time?

Kristina:

Yeah, so Brett, this is one of the greatest pieces that I've been supporting brands on just getting ready for the biggest influx of sales. And of course customer inquiries is really taking a look at what are people actually writing into us about? What are they asking us questions about what isn't clear? What's the positive and negative feedback? And really understanding that customers will tell you how to win and then keep their business if you're listening and if you're,

Brett:

You're telling you now, right? They're giving you this feedback. Now if you are listening and if you're paying attention,

Kristina:

Exactly. And so we like to just empower them to take a step further. Don't just wait for the feedback to come to you, but really proactively reach out to customers. If someone happens to leave a poor review or if someone asks for a return, don't just like go ahead and fulfill that return, get the information from them that could maybe even actually save the sale or lead to a change in the product or your website that actually leads to way more sales down the line. So it's really this cheerful piece. It's like ask for this feedback, ask for this information, Do customer interviews, do surveys, Do you know net promoter score, CSAT satisfaction score after the purchases? But also right now, anyone can actually take all of their ticket history, whether it's from a help desk like Gorgias or another help desk, export that and really understand what are the areas that people are writing in about. So with Gorgias, it will actually tell you it'll categorize the different feedback into different areas. So you'll be able to see what are the themes, what are we crushing and doing really well, and what are we sucking at and we really need to improve. And then to be able to make meaningful changes and really set you up for success and for people to have the best experiences leading into holiday.

Brett:

Yeah, it's so valuable and you made a really good point when you are chatting earlier that hey, if it gets to the point of a negative review, someone leaves that negative review online, it's already done at that point, they've already moved on, they're already gonna do business somewhere else, almost certainly. So don't let it get to that point. Usually people's first step is they reach out to customer support, they chat with you, they send you a message to Messenger. So address that there, but then look for those trends because if one person's having an issue, probably several people are, and then when you know what those trends are, then you can fix things. So you got two examples that I wanna dive into from real merchants. From Gorgias merchants. The first one was Waxer and that's W O X E R which tell me what that brand is and then what was something they uncovered through paying attention to their tickets.

Kristina:

This is a really cool and impactful example for them, but yeah, walks are a really cool retailer for women's boxer shorts. But basically they noticed in the data, they were like, Wow, what the heck just happened? We just saw 10% monthly drop in subscriptions.

Brett:

Significant,

Kristina:

Very significant. And thanks to taking a look at this and looking in their CS system, their team actually kind of flagged this and looked at the various tickets and saw basically the theme. But what was happening is customers actually couldn't update their credit card info on the website. So any subscriptions where the credit card had expired, the subscription would just automatically churn. So this issue was basically surfaced by the CS team just seeing kind of the theme and the tags around this and they realized it was actually leading to this huge 10 steps subscription revenue drop. So they caught this though via seeing this trend come in via the tags in their cs.

Brett:

Interesting. Other, they hadn't seen that through tagging the messaging system then who knows what they would've looked at? Maybe talk about the marketing maybe talk to the marketing team, Hey, send us better traffic or talk to the conversion rate optimization team. Hey this is not converting as well. Fix this thing when really it's just a simple technical thing that they had to fix that hey, we need to alert people that their credit cards about to expire and make it easy for them to go in and update it in the back end system. But they had to look at those tickets to identify that awesome example. Next one you had told me about, I'm gonna pull this up. This is Ilia which is a beauty brand. So as I pull this up, let me give people kind of an understanding of what is Ilia Beauty and what did they discover?

Kristina:

Yeah, Brett. So Ilia is a f freaking incredible brand. All about Clean

Brett:

Green Site. It's an awesome site.

Kristina:

Yeah, beautiful site. All about clean skincare and basically their best seller. You can see Brett is right there, that first one. Exactly. And the IEA team basically noticed also by looking at all of their customer feedback, that 50% of the contacts, 50% of basically all reach out to cross channels were actually questions about, Hey, I'm really excited to try this product, but I'm really nervous that I'm not gonna find the right shade for me. There's so many options and I'm a little bit concerned I'm buying this online, I'm gonna have to return it. That's a pain. Just people feeling a lot of friction towards actually initiating it, moving into a sale basically for this product. And this is, there

Brett:

Are 30 shade options here and some of them are pretty similar looking, right? How do I determine between the whatever these names are of Shades while just looking at it online? It's typical.

Kristina:

It is on one end it's beautiful cause you're like wow,

Brett:

I can get the exact right shade for me.

Kristina:

Exactly. But that's even more of the key here Brett, because it's like we gotta get people into the right shades to have that amazing customer experience first. And we know if we nail it where it's just a perfect match, it's highly likely cuz the product is badass that they'll continue to purchase. So this first touchpoint is incredibly critical to Ilia. So what they did, Brett, if you actually see that, find my shade that's kind of right underneath all of the 30th shades that you said, which it's yep right there. And then if you click get matched by our team, they basically put in this form. So it's asking customers or potential customers to dr. Go ahead, take a quick selfie, drop a photo fill out their email. Just a couple quick pieces of information. This was basically built with the Gorgias team and Ilias team, super involved. So what happens is when someone fills this out, this form actually populates straight into Gorgias and gets assigned to a specific team. That's responsibility is basically getting answers to these customers asap cuz we know if someone's taking the time to take a selfie, inquire about this, they're warm leads, they want to buy from you. So the last time I looked at the respond time was about four minutes, which

Brett:

Is awesome.

Kristina:

Great. And when they instituted this, they basically found this was leading to seven figures of sales in one quarter alone, just from this form over 25% conversion rate. So pretty dang powerful and epic tool. And again this came to light because they looked at the feedback of dang 50% of the reach outs that we're getting are about people being concerned and frustrated about finding the rate shade for them.

Brett:

And so then if you just make it, so I'm sure not only does conversion rate increase when they do this, it was a million dollars in sales in one quarter. But I bet you that repeat rate increases, LTV increases substantially when you nail that color on the first purchase. And even if that returns are possible, and even if that returns are relatively easy, there's not gonna be an argument or a fight with the brand. Everybody hates it, Nobody wants to, wants deal with returns. So making that clear, easy super, super powerful. Love that example. That's awesome. Okay, cool. So next point is let's talk about repeat business. So we all know that the name of the game with e-commerce is getting those repeat purchases in most cases. I know there are a few exceptions. If you're selling mattresses or whatnot maybe you can get a couple repeat purchases, but it's more rare.

But for most brands, for Ilia, for sure, for walks or for others for companies like Boom, Ace to Joseph Ass Company or Overtone, it's all about the repeat purchase. Given me a stat earlier, which I thought was awesome which 21% of all customers are repeat customers. So it's only 20%, but it's like 45% of all revenue comes from repeat customers. So disproportionate amount of revenue compared to true customer count comes from repeat purchases. So how do we make the most of our repeat purchases and our repeat customers? And what are some tips that you guys have there at Gorgias?

Kristina:

Yeah, and I mean Brett sitting on the brand side, I know it was always very sexy to go after the next new acquisition channel and the perfect funnel and offer and all those things. And of course it's like we love it when we find something works to bring us more people, but at the end of the day, what we're seeing too is it's such an important bucket where 300% more revenue is typically generated by repeat purchases than first time. And we know that it takes a while to break even. So the more times we can get someone to purchase, it's just so critical to the success and longevity of a brand. So we really want to help brands make that not an afterthought, but make it something that's upfront and really important. So a couple of the just tips that I've had that work really well, first is v i p tagging.

So with Gorgias a brand based off of their AOV and ltd, obviously they're going to have a specific parameters by which they decide someone's v i p, but say this makeup brand decides that A V I P is someone who's purchased more than five times or has spent more than $250. You can also tell them if you're using YPO or Loyalty Lion, one of those other programs, you can say hey, or if someone is Gold Tier and YPO or Loyalty Lion, if they reach out to our brand at any point, put them in the V I P category. And you can even assign a specific agent or a specific team to v i P. So say we know that Brett is the most just our customers absolutely love working with him. He's kind of assigned to

Brett:

Your top tier customer support reps type of thing.

Kristina:

Exactly. So maybe we just say, Hey, we're gonna funnel all the VIPs to Brett. He knows longstanding relationships with some of them in rapport and he's gonna get back to them asap. Maybe there's certain parameters or things we're willing to, flex is a brand for our VI I p customers, but just having them really called out, put into a separate bucket, assigned to a specific team who can really cater to them and give them the fastest like absolute priority is something that I've seen a lot of success and people have really loved and felt valued as incredibly important and supportive. Customers

Brett:

Love it. I mean the data is there and so we should treat all of our customers well, we should love on all our customers, but you wanna know who your VIPs are and you wanna make sure they have the best experience possible. So I love that. I love VIP tagging. Now you'd also talk to me a little bit about what Dr. Squa does and what they kind of did in preparation for Black Friday ever Monday in the past, but talk about that a little bit.

Kristina:

Yeah, so Dr. Squa really thought long and hard, especially setting up for the rest of the year about setting up a dedicated team, solely focused on building the customer relationship and focused on retention. So I loved this, especially leading up to black fighters side by Monday. Cause they basically have a team that's just looking at the whole customer journey and really focusing on key areas with customers. So pieces around subscription anniversaries or birthdays and reaching out, making that personalized touchpoint. Additionally, they're responsible for things like communicating unexpected supply chain delays or unexpected out of stock or just anything that might be out of the realm of expectation that we might hope for. But that's important to communicate on. Also really identifying cross sell opportunities. So maybe checking back with someone who's purchased 30 days ago, we might know that we can expect another purchase soon, let's check in, let's see how that's going. Let's see, is there another product that would suit to bring them into? So they really looked at building out this team and building out almost these touchpoints, starting to have those touchpoints with customers, which brings out almost like these wow amazing opportunities. Building that loyalty heading into Black Friday I think is really powerful and I'm excited to see how that plays out

Brett:

For them. Yeah, I love that so much. Totally makes sense that that would pay off. So we tease this during the intro, but treating every customer service experience or every interaction as an opportunity to upsell, cross sell, things like that. How do you recommend brands go about doing that?

Kristina:

Yeah, so Brett, the CS team, the agents that work with a team really have the opportunity to influence revenue in either direction with each of their interactions. So something that we've really been working on with brands is consider helping them set it up where their agents are actually really incentivized in line with driving a great customer experience as well as revenue. So instead of just having agents say, I did my job, I closed all of my tickets, that's really not just what we're looking for in terms of

Brett:

That's like minimum, right? That's like baseline like that. That's expected. That's required, right, exactly. Anybody to do

Kristina:

That. Yeah, exactly. But really we've been helping brands align their agents with actually how much revenue are they driving, what is the customer satisfaction rating for them of all the tickets that they actually went forward and closed. And we know that again, customers who ask questions on your site are 30% more likely to actually move into the purchase. And we know that those CS agents are the ones talking to them. So it's like how can we incentivize them to have to give the customers the best experience possible and drive more revenue. So of course some brands are doing things like in Gorgias, you can actually see, okay, here's Brett, he's driven this much revenue, his CSAT rating is this and actually sending them gift cards or additional bonuses or commission related to that. But really it's that piece and also supporting, then also with training these agents almost like salespeople. So training them on what other products after someone's B bought product A, what is product B? That's the next that makes the most step for most sense for them to move into next. So really training them on those areas as well.

Brett:

And I love this so much because if we're providing the right incentives, then our customer service support team, they're going to take the action that we incentivize. If all you're doing is saying, Hey, close more tickets, close them more, close 'em faster, then that's what people will do and they'll wanna try to rush through those support tickets. But if you say, Hey, we're gonna incentivize you, we're gonna reward you for closing deals, that's gonna cause everybody to step their game up a little bit. Because to close something out really just takes speed. But you gotta kind of create that wow experience to get someone to buy an additional product or to cross sell our upsell. It's just a different mentality. And to do that then you gotta train people. You gotta train your team to know how to cross sell, how to upsell, how to phrase things. And when you do, I know the rewards will be there. So that's awesome. I love that so much. And then lastly as we wrap up this session and kind of wrap up our talking points is as we move into Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the number of tickets will increase people's urgency to purchase increases. I gotta buy this thing so it can be under the tree or so I can give it to my niece or nephew or kid or whoever. And so talk about speed. How important is speed in these interactions?

Kristina:

Oh man, Brett. Yeah, I don't think this one will ever change, or I'm saying this now, I guess you know, can

Brett:

Quote me. Yeah, it'll never change. I think be bet on that.

Kristina:

Yeah, I don't think it will. But time and time again, we continue to see that first response time is the number one predictor in terms of a customer saying, I had a great experience and also that revenue was attached to that experience. So I was

Brett:

Looking at, well, that's the most important thing. For one thing, I had a good experience. And two, actually buying something is the speed of that initial response.

Kristina:

Yes,

Brett:

Impressive.

Kristina:

And I was actually looking at some data from Shopify and basically businesses that responded to customers within that first five minutes, 70% more likely to actually make a sale. So it's incredibly impactful. One of our amazing brands that we work with Brew Mate, they actually, last day I looked at first response time on chat, 52 seconds over 300 grand in sales attributed 52 per or 52 second, first response time on chat. And that was in a couple month period. It was like, so this is meaningful. And their CSAT rating again was just off the chart close to a five. So it's absolutely critical, Brett.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that. And think about that. Not only can you tie that revenue directly, the three 50 K because the response time was under a minute, but also think about what does that do to loyalty? What does that do to repeat purchases over time? What does that do to the number of people that I now refer to Brew eight? Because I have an amazing experience every time I buy or chat with them. I think that the impact there can be pretty amazing. So now I know one of the other things you talked to me about is not just those that fast response time, but how can we automate some things? How do we automate some of the basics so that our team can really focus on those cross sell upsell opportunities? So I think you had an example there if I'm not mistaken.

Kristina:

Yeah. Well Brett, really when I share that, I'm like, Hey, 52 seconds, people are like, That sounds great Christina, and I know this is gonna make me more money, but how the heck do you want me to be able to actually do this? They're like, You're telling me that I'm gonna manage all of these new channels now I'm pulling in ad comments and dms like now I have my SMS pulled in. How so literally, which it's an amazing question, but it's one of the things that I love the most to support brands with, which is how the areas that we can help with automations so that you can have these personalized touchpoints where it matters to build relationship and get people actually into the sale. So I help brands really take a look at, okay, do you have an FAQ page? What's on there? Okay, once we've looked at actually all of our tags and all the information and questions customers have, let's make sure that FAQ is fully just beefed up, has everything in there that we can possibly want to share. And then let's also use areas like self-service chat where people can track their order themselves and really get commonly asked questions answered as quickly as possible and also deflect some of those tickets so our team doesn't have to worry about them. Customers are happy, they get to answer themselves and the team can basically spend more time on things like active live chat.

Brett:

So now people can just find the answer themselves and it, it's now less than 52 seconds, but then we save those CS resources for the interactions that need more of a human touch and need more. And so I think you'd share with me, was it Princess Polly was the example?

Kristina:

It was, right? Yeah. They've got a great example. They're such a amazing brand. We absolutely love working with the team. But you can see here on the right, this is their active live chat, you can see the section. Once that widget pulls back up, you can see their quick answers and then the section for management orders. So this was all curated based off of inquiries that they were actively getting and completely just specific to Princess Poly. But as you can see, they were getting people wanting shipping address changes, they use happy returns, people wanting to get that code right away. So this is completely customizable and set up based off of the commonly asked inquiries so that people can actually come in here, get the answers themselves, and then if they still need more help, of course they can always live chat and move into it. But deflecting some of this kind of top end repeat admin inquiries off the bat, saves the team a ton of time to then actually have the conversations that need to be had.

Brett:

Love it. Makes sure happier shoppers make for a happier CS team too, because they don't love looking up the tracking information for orders a million times a day. And so make everyone happy by

Kristina:

Literally that is the goal, Brett.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. Christina, this has been fantastic. We're out of time for this session, but this has been so good. I'm a huge, huge believer as a traffic guy, I am a huge fan of what you guys do because I know when the customer interactions are positive, more conversion rates, we can send more traffic, we can grow more, and it's all just really, really good. And so if someone's watching this and hopefully they're already a Gorgias customer, but if they're not, how should they contact you? How can they get started with Gorgias?

Kristina:

Yeah, if anyone's interested in learning more, they can email me. It's my first name, Christina with a k dot m u n t e a n Im Gorgias.com. I'm sure might have this in the comments or somewhere where you can click that. But happy to give anyone their second and third months free off of Gorgias too, so you can really try it and get a feel for it. And I'm here to answer any questions along the way, but this has been a blast as always. I'm so grateful to get to hang with you and this crew. I just love what you guys do and you always add so much value to everyone. So I feel so lucky to get to hang with you.

Brett:

Awesome. You brought the thunder on this presentation for sure. So email Christina. Yeah, right. christina.Gorgias.com. Cause you get more free, you get more good stuff if you do that way than just going through chat or whatever. So get involved with Gorgias. Love it. Christina, thank you so much.

Kristina:

Thank you Brett.

Brett:

I told you that was gonna be good. So that was Christina Tine from Gorgias. Hope you enjoyed that and learned a lot from it. And now we're gonna transition and talk to Jenna Gordi from Big Commerce and talking about going omni channel. Here we go.

All right. In this session I am delighted to welcome Jenna Lardy and Jenna's with Big Commerce. She's the senior omnichannel growth manager, which is a super cool title. I'm way impressed by this title. But Jenna has really a rich history in digital marketing. She ran an agency and this agency crushed it, shall we say, right top 1% of Google, top 3% of meta, most published case studies ever by Facebook and Instagram. And now she's on the big commerce team. We've recently connected, We keep running into each other at different events. We just keep hanging out, which is super awesome. Love your perspective on marketing, love what you guys are doing in big commerce. And I was telling you, I just haven't been around big commerce a whole lot over the last several years, but I spoke at event in Miami, I met Dan and Juan and some bigwigs at Big Commerce and like, Hey, you should check out Big Commerce. And so as I've gotten plugged into the ecosystem, super impressed with what you guys are doing. So thanks for taking the time to join this Jenna. And why don't you kinda explain to people, so you're the senior omnichannel growth manager, but what does that mean? What do you if it covers?

Jenna:

Yeah, well first thanks for having me. It is kind of a loaded title. So I run three departments here, which is our Omnichannel certified agency, our omnichannel consult division, and then also the integration between Phenomics and BigCommerce. So all things Omni and growth are kind of in my remit. So traditionally I think Big Commerce really focused on getting Merchants Net new onto the big commerce e-commerce platform, where with acquisition of phenomics, it kind of shifted our view a little bit and what's important to us and how we help merchants grow. So Phenomics is platform agnostic. It doesn't matter if you're on BigCommerce anymore. So with the agencies that I work with and the consults that we run in our division, which are all about helping merchants grow and either evaluate their current media mix or look to what are the next best channels that they can add that are really gonna drive revenue for their business. And it's interesting kind of wearing a BC name badge, but sitting almost in a platform agnostic division.

Brett:

Yeah, it's super interesting and I wanna talk a little bit about the big commerce roadmap in a minutes. I think everyone in e-commerce needs to know that, needs to know what you guys are up to. But the main focus of this session is, hey, we're going omnichannel and we're prepping for the holiday and we're on the home stretch and it's gonna be here before we know it. But what are the things we can do now to prep? So that that's gonna be the primary focus of this time. But let's talk about Phenomics really quickly. So I've actually met and interviewed Brian Rosen before one of the founders of Theos. Always been super impressed. All the people that are Google shopping nerds, which I know most of them cause that that's kind of my wheelhouse and part of the origin of OMG all know Theos, like Theos is the best of the best. But for those that don't know, what is phenomics and why did big commerce go out and acquire it?

Jenna:

Yeah, great question. So Phenomics is a feed syndication solution. So it's not just a plug and play, you're connecting your e-commerce website or whatever your source of truth is. Your E R P for inventory, maybe it's your PIM for product data, but it's not just a matter of connecting to omni channels anymore. How are you continuously optimizing the product data that you're sending and does that product out or differ between different channels? You slash if it doesn't, you're sending that same product out to every channel. I guarantee you you're not squeezing out as many conversions as you can. So for,

Brett:

Because every channel needs a little bit different data to optimize for Walmart versus Amazon versus Target plus what you talk about in a minute. It's gotta be a little bit different, right?

Jenna:

Yeah. And then just think about, I mean, talking about Google shopping, you know, need a white background with your product data and there's a different categorization taxonomy with Google than there is with Walmart or there is with Amazon. Those non-branded keywords might differ, probably should differ. You might have a non-brand, a keyword on your product description page that's for organic ranking. But as you send it to these channels, you probably wanna differ that non-branded keyword based on what are the search trends and queries on that specific channel. Or for Google shopping, if you're sending products with a white background, if you're sending that to Instagram, you might wanna have a lifestyle image. So if you're sending that same product data everywhere, you're really not optimizing for that specific channel to be able to get the best results that you can. So with BigCommerce, we're looking at not just how do we give merchants the best eCommerce platform, whether that's B2C or b2b, it's about how can we help merchants sell more everywhere? And that's omni, right? It's being able to connect to the right channels, whether that's through a native integration or through phenomics, and you're optimizing that product data. So it's really a natural next step for us because we wanna be the best omnichannel hub for merchants. We don't just wanna be the best branded site.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. And so just a quick note on that, there are a lot of solutions out there for feeds that are more like they're just connectors. It's just a pipeline pipeline of data from your source of truth, from your database, your platform out to these other channels. But there's really not much else phenomics that optimizes those things. It's like, yes, we'll connect the data, but we're also then looking at what is performance? What does this channel need? So what does the channel need initially, then what's the, what's that feedback loop of performance <affirmative> and how do we continually optimize the data to get the most out of that channel? Which is really powerful because otherwise you're kind of halfway doing it on some channels rather than maximizing.

Jenna:

Yeah, and it's also, I mean, some of these connectors have the capacity to be a change agent and a transformation tool, but who's doing that change? So is that something that falls on the brand? Is it something that goes to an agency you guys all know at O M G commerce that it, It's a lot. And those channels are constantly changing and whether it's the requirements or their category, it's a constant change. So who's managing that? Which s, they're one of the only white glove services where they manage all of that for you. So you have the capacity to have those stop gaps and approvals if you wanna be part of that strategy. But when I did an audit of the Feos platform, less than 5% of merchants or agencies even logged in because they don't have to, right? Yeah, that's something that Theos team manages. And then I also did a survey last year, cause I was curious on the why. Why does this matter to merchants? Why does this matter to agencies? And typically they saved an average of 50 hours a month per brand by utilizing phenomics to optimize their product data versus doing it.

Brett:

Yeah, it really is one of those things where to do it properly, especially if you're a multichannel or omnichannel, you need to have multiple dedicated people to helping you just manage the feeds and the data. And so Phenomics takes care of that, which is a beautiful thing. So let's talk omnichannel and kind of some last minute prep or ideas or suggestions that you would provide. And I wanna underscore this discussion with this point. I'm a big fan of D to C, obviously almost we're exclusively, most of our clients are mainly D TOC or they get a big D to component, so direct to consumer. But I'm convinced now as I've looked at the data as I've talked to a lot of other smart people in the industry, I think growth for pure D to C. So where I'm selling from my site to a customer directly, that's gonna always be limited for your brand to reach your ultimate goals, to reach as many people as possible and rich lives and make profits and all the fun things you wanna do. I think you gotta go beyond D to C, right? You gotta go omni channel, you gotta be in store most likely. You gotta be selling through different marketplaces, you gotta do all these things. I think pure play D TOC is exciting but it's limiting. So let's talk about it for any thoughts from your perspective on omnichannel before we talk about tips?

Jenna:

Yeah, I mean I think it's an imperative. So when we look at big commerce merchants, obviously we have some insight there where we can leverage about 70,000 merchants. And we look at some of this data. If merchants have an omnichannel strategy, typically 67% of their sales are happening offsite. So they're not going direct to consumer. And then of what they're selling on their site, about 20% is coming from a paid ad before they get to the site that's really leading to that GMB on their e-comm site. So if you're looking at 67% as offsite, where is that happening? So typically it's a combination of marketplaces and social commerce and being able to take those products that you already have. They're already selling direct consumer and being able to optimize that product data and syndicate it somewhere else. But then you also have to think about those orders.

So you need to make sure those orders are porting back in. That's something that Phenomics can handle as well to ensure that you're not overselling. And that's something a lot of merchants need to think about in the holiday season is if you're selling on 20 different channels, how are you ensuring you're not overselling and then either putting a bad consumer experience where they're not getting the product when they think they are, or you could potentially get kicked off of some of these marketplaces by not fulfilling when you say you're going to. So it's imperative that you're not running those businesses and silos and you really have a connected system and the right tech stack to be able to support it and to understand where those sales are happening and how you're fulfilling them.

Brett:

It definitely adds a layer of complexity. So now we're selling on Walmart and Amazon and maybe Target Plus and other places we're selling in all these places and our own site. It does ad layer complexity. You gotta have the data nailed down. But I think it's also exciting because as you know Jen, I'm more of a traffic guy <affirmative> and I love top performing YouTube and Google. And so what we've seen though is when our clients are omnichannel and we really hit the gas pedal on YouTube, so we're going 500,000 a million a month on YouTube ads or whatever. I wish we had some clients doing that. If they're on multiple marketplaces there's a much bigger effect, right? Because there's only a certain segment of people they're gonna buy on your D to C site. Even it's the best site that anyone's ever seen. There's still a lot of people that prefer to buy on marketplace. And so I think it boosts sales right away by being on marketplaces, but then it makes everything else so that you do better when you're on marketplace, in my opinion.

Jenna:

Yeah, I mean I got some good stats there for you. I mean typically a consumer is having eight to 10 touches of the brand before they purchase. So you think of what's that user experience, what's that user funnel? A lot of times they might be going to, let's say Google to start that search to educate themselves, but then they might be going to Amazon to actually have that buyin 10 check out because they know their information's loaded from their address to their credit card and payment. But also they know they're gonna get it in two days. So a lot of times people rely on those marketplaces cause they know there's some sense of regularity versus going to all these different individual sites or sometimes it's a higher average order value. Cause they're not having to go just to one brand to purchase something. They can buy a full suite of products.

Brett:

So now I'm being introduced to the brand either through YouTube or Facebook or TikTok or whatever. I may be going to the site to get educated and now I'm clicking around and I'm looking and then I'm just gonna buy it from wherever is most convenient for me and wherever I feel like I'm gonna get the best deal or yeah, I'm mar buying from Amazon, which most people are, then I can just load up that basket and buy the product there. So yes, omni the channel. It is imperative. I like that word. Good choice of words here Jenna. So what can we be doing home stretch here, prepping for the holidays? What can we be doing now to really get the most of holiday? And if you need to share a few tips that <laugh> maybe you should have done a month or two ago, that's fine too, but what are your tips for maximizing holiday?

Jenna:

Yeah, well good news. It's not too late. <laugh> still

Brett:

A agreed,

Jenna:

Agreed. You're definitely not gonna re-platform probably before the holidays

Brett:

Fire a new store, which just really

Jenna:

Maximizes before the holidays.

But there's a lot you can do. So first I think it's looking at your current media mix. Can you evaluate what you're doing? Are you kind of plateaued from a return on your ad spend standpoint and how can you squeeze out more, right? Is there some conversion rate optimization you can do on your site? So the traffic that you're getting, you're squeezing a little more juice out of it. So I think that's always the first step is what am I already doing that I potentially could be pushing the gas a little bit harder, whether it's better budget or more optimization that you can be doing. We do see a lot of merchants, I think through our consult department that are hesitant to do something at this time of year. This is actually the best time of year, especially to test because you have so much more traffic that you have the ability to get to those conclusions a lot faster.

So let's say you're doing conversion rate optimization, you can test a bunch of different variables and you're gonna get to that maximum homeostasis of where you're producing the most by having more traffic and getting to those results faster by not having to wait as long for those conversion campaigns to run. So I think there's a lot you can do in this high traffic holiday season. There's also a lot you can do from adding net new channels from revamping your creative that you're pushing to all these different channels, especially top of funnel. I think a lot of people think about holiday sales kind of post holiday and I think in the past couple years we've seen the trend where people are moving those sales up. So when people are purchasing and all that gifts going is happening that they're actually getting those additional sales then as opposed to after the holidays.

And I think that that is the best trend they've seen in the past couple years from holidays to be able to allow people to have a higher average order value or to say, Hey, I'm buying this for somebody, but I also kind of wanna buy one for myself and I know well then I can do it now instead of waiting until post holiday and really squeeze out and maximize that from a merchant perspective to be able to offer those deals now. And it's not too late to start new channels. I mean I think a lot of people get scared and hesitant when they're getting close to holiday season, but this is the time. If we know consumers take so many touches with a brand before they purchase, why not expand that pie and be on all those potential channels? So if they're searching on Amazon or they're searching on Walmart, they're searching on Target, you're on all those channels and have the ability to be in front of as many merchants as possible.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. Then so what are you recommending people do? So in terms of feed prep and so getting on to get on all these channels or maximize all these channels, what are you guys suggesting is now a good time to do a feed audit? To deep dive into how in shape is our data right now? What would you recommend As far as feed prep?

Jenna:

Yeah it's not waiting until January to get it in shape. <laugh>, you wanna make sure you're looking at that now? Right. So one of the great advantages of the way Phenomics works and how confident they are in the work that they do is those do a complimentary feed audit. So it takes anywhere from three to four business days, you'll get an idea of what your health of your data is. Now, a lot of times it's not that merchants are sending incorrect data, it's that it's not optimized for the specific channel that they're sending it to you. So you might have a different non-branded keyword for Amazon, for Walmart, you might have a lifestyle image for Instagram, but you might wanna have a white background on Google so you can actually submit to Google Shopping. So it's a matter of looking at your data now, seeing if there's any room for improvement, and within a feed audit you're gonna see a score of A to F, you're gonna see what are some of the things that you're doing incorrectly and how can you change. So whether you go with feed omics or not, you're gonna have that actionable data that you can utilize now to maximize your return for the holiday season. But I did a postex survey with Phenomics merchants that decided not to go with Phenomics but still implemented the changes that they recommended in a feed audit. They saw an average of a 20% list in the next 90 days.

Brett:

That's amazing. And so you get the feed on it. Yeah, regardless, no matter what platform you're on, doesn't matter if you're wanting to go feed numbers or not get the free audit, it's totally worth doing. So for sure. Let's talk marketplaces for a minute. So what kind of new or emerging marketplaces or marketplaces that people aren't talking about as much? What are you really excited about or what has surprised you recently with marketplaces?

Jenna:

Yeah, I mean I definitely get excited when I talk about marketplaces and when typically if you're adding one marketplace, you're getting a 39% lift in your revenue. If you go to two or more, you're gonna get 120% increase in your revenue. So for me it's a no brainer. Why aren't more people on more marketplaces <affirmative>? Now every product might not make sense cause different marketplaces take a different haircut and different percentage for selling and having that transaction happen on their site. But there's typically every merchant has some hero products that should be on all these different marketplaces. Target Plus, it's not that anyone doesn't know about it, but they were closed for almost two years. So they weren't

Brett:

Super exclusive to get on Target plus

Jenna:

Invite only, and they were closed for two years. So we just ran a closed beta with them through phenomics and through our omnichannel division of certified agencies. And it's amazing to see what some of these new merchants that just got on Target plus are doing. So we're praying that this gets opened back up before the end of the year but if you are interested, reach out to Bra, he can give you more information, but Target plus you see a huge return because it is so exclusive. So they really particular on even this down to skew level of that, they allow, even if they approve a merchant, they're going down to that skew level of what they're selecting. Cuz they wanna cherry pick what they know is gonna be the best for their merchants and it's gonna perform the best. But what's interesting is in this closed beta, they were requiring all merchants to utilize Phonos because they wanted to ensure that they were getting the healthiest data. They don't want their end consumer not being able to search or to find the products that they're looking for. So it's all about the data that they ingest

Brett:

And really, I mean there's lots of reasons to choose, but if you are a good fit and if you can get approved for Target plus that, that's definitely a reason to push over the edge to get on Target. Plus that's another reason to check it out. And yeah, it's just a different strategy than what Amazon has or even Walmart has. Amazon's like, Hey, we'll take just about anything, maximum amount of skews and see how it goes. And target's more like, no, we want to pick the things that we think will delight or the products will delight our customers. And because of that and because people are just target fanatics I know people that are just nuts about Target. And so the results, and you and I were in Austin, you guys put on the big commerce partner summit and I was there and I got to meet the head of Target Plus from Target and hear some merchant merchant stories and dude, it's like it's working right for the merchants that are on Target. Plus it's opening up a whole new world to go to Disney movie. Yeah,

Jenna:

I mean it's interesting too how many marketplaces are emerging. So I'm seeing pretty much every large big box store now is trying to offer some sort of marketplace offering. A lot of them are using Miracle, which I think is something people don't know about. That's kind of the back miracle, the marketplace platform. So you'll have big box stores like Bed Beyond Best Buy, et cetera. They're all using Miracle as their marketplace platform. So it's branded Bed Bath and Beyond. But the setup and the technology behind it is miracle. So I'm interested to see where some of these marketplaces are going. A lot of people think it's like, hey, we're buying this software to create this marketplace. And that's kind of it, but it's really about curation, right? You wanna make sure you have the right products for your end users that are already coming to your store.

Brett:

Cool. So you've already kinda talked about this, but just I wanna wanna zero in on it a little bit more. Any trends that you're seeing across us marketplaces, there are new ones emerging, which is super interesting. You got Target plus that's really taken off. But any other trends that we need to be aware of with us? Marketplaces?

Jenna:

Actually a trend in the US is to go outside the us So a lot of wanna start to test different geological AR geographies and see kind of do their products resonate there. Now, do they wanna start spinning up a new store that's translated in other language in a different currency, settling in a different bank account? Or do they kinda wanna dip their toe in the water and see if their products even perform, let's say in Latin America? So Mercado Libre is one that's really blowing up Brazil. So it's basically yeah, Latin America, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, it's like the Latin, it's like in Latin America, that's their Amazon, right? They have Amazon, but it's that same type of volume. They've got like 65 million merchants I mean six 5 million consumers that are on Mercado Libre and are purchasing every day. So it's a great way because they translate everything for you. They handle the taxes, the tariffs, et cetera. So you can keep your US site and English, they help with the translation, they cover taxes, tariffs, currency exchange, everything like that. So that's a big trend that I'm seeing is merchants that want to test in Latin America but aren't ready to make that investment. And Merta Libra is the perfect first step.

Brett:

Love it. Yeah, hear lots of talk about Mercado Libre, so I'm excited to see how that goes. Give us some success stories. What are one or two merchant success stories that are using Theos that are taking advantage of omnichannel consults? That they're a big commerce? Yeah. Share some stories with this.

Jenna:

Yeah, so I mean there's a million different case studies. It kind of depends what vertical we wanna go into. One thing I think that's very interesting that we're about to publish some of these case studies is we're taking the Feos technology and creating a self-serve version that's gonna live within channel manager in the back end of BigCommerce. This is something that's probably gonna go live q1. So not necessarily for holiday season, but something if you evaluate people. But if you evaluate Feed Omics and then say maybe you're not ready yet you're not ready to make that investment, maybe you're a 2 million merchant a year and you're not ready for the investment into Feos, you're not really spending as much on ads and you're kind of starting to get ramped up, this is gonna be a great solution for those type of merchants to be able to grow and go beyond their plateau and really hit that next level.

So it'll give merchants ability to select which products they wanna send to what channel, and to be able to optimize and clean up that data in a self-serve function before they send it to channels. No eCommerce platform on the planet has that capacity to be able to do that. So that's something we wanna be able to offer our merchants to be able to optimize for those channels. Like I said, BigCommerce no longer wants to be the best branded site, whether it's direct to consumer, b2b, we wanna be the best omnichannel hub so merchants can sell more everywhere.

Brett:

Love it. And now that self-serve option of Phenomics will, is that just for big commerce merchants or will that be for will platform agnostic?

Jenna:

So right now we're building it with in tandem between the Phenomics development team and engineers and the big commerce team. So right now that's going to be just for big commerce, where Phenomics platform agnostic, when you have that service offering and that white glove service, that's something that does not matter what platform you're on, but this self-serve will only be on big commerce. But during the preliminary results, we're doing a bunch of case studies where we can see, okay, you have a control group of products that you're just piping straight out from your e-comm store to let's say Google Shopping in this example. And then you have your optimized products that you're sending. We're seeing almost six times the amount of clicks, six times the impressions, five times as many conversions. The conversion value is going up as well. Cause people are able to search and find these products better.

So it's significant when we look at the optimized versus Unoptimized group and it's a huge overall increase in performance compared to the previous months in terms of clicks, impressions, total conversion. So I'm really excited for that to go live for merchants. And that's to me one of the most exciting case studies because a lot of times we're focusing on some of these larger merchants that are in that 20 million to 200 million in that hypergrowth stage. But I wanna ensure that these other merchants have the ability to get to that stage. And I think that this is key, that success.

Brett:

Nice. That's awesome. So I just talked about the big commerce partner summit. So there I got to hear some of the big commerce roadmap. I was very impressed. Big Commerce was really focusing on that 10 million a year to a couple hundred million dollar a year hyper growth e-commerce brand, which is great. That's kind of where we're playing as an agency to OMG commerce. But I'm really excited, I heard a lot of really positive things at that summit, but kinda lay this out for us, what's on the roadmap for big commerce and what are you excited about?

Jenna:

Yeah, I mean before I came to Big Commerce, I was agency side for 13 years and used to do a lot of website builds in addition to performance marketing. And a lot of times we'd quote out three different platforms. Everyone's like, Are you serious? And I'm like, yeah, I wanted the merchant to pick the best tech stack instead of this fanboy culture that follows some other e-commerce channels. We wanted to make sure that for our platform, are we really ensuring as we're building as an agency that this is the correct and e-commerce is always the prettiest square in the room cuz it was lowest to total cost of ownership. You didn't have third party apps that you had no control over the change and you had as a development team, the ability to really customize based on what's the best for the merchant. And I think that's always been the key to big commerce and key to their success is they don't wanna force you to say, this is the payment provider that you have to use and this is how you have to fulfill.

And oh, you can't even use Amazon Buy with Prime. We're gonna kick you off our platform. Instead that you wanna say everything is open and you slot. Choose who's the best payment provider for you. Who's the best fulfillment solution do you wanna customize? Now we wanna obviously try to curate some of the best in breed solutions so it's easier for our merchants and that's why we have our omnichannel consult division. So you can actually come completely complimentary and get an audit of what you're doing now. What's your current media mix? How can you potentially add net new channels? So I think for us and what's moving forward for Big commerce and when I'm really excited about is how open the platform is. I mean we were working on multi-location inventory for almost four years. Our development team was in Keve in the middle of this horrible war and they still launched it on time, which to me it makes me wanna, huge

Brett:

Is crazy.

Jenna:

So we have an unbelievable team and we really care about our merchants. We want to ensure that they're set up for success and for growth. So one of the things I'm most excited is to see, first of all, people use that multi-location inventory and do more with it. We're already seeing some large brands that are able to have one back end and really easy management from a dashboard perspective, but have stores that are really customized for that location, whether it's a different product assortment different language on their site, different currency, but they're really able to customize but have that ease of use to be able to quickly be agile, be nimble with that huge footprint and that large tech stack to be able to have sophisticated merchants be agile is something that you don't see often. Normally it's a huge cruise ship trying to turn around.

So I think having that right tech tag, being able to be open is key. We've got a lot of really great alphas and betas that are about to come out before or the end of the year even in the lot in key one that are really, really all focused around ensuring our merchants can maximize their success on these different omni channels. So obviously I'm biased, I'm in the omni team, so that's really why I spend my day to day. But when you look at the analytics, that's key. So when we look across all big commerce merchants, about 67% of their sales and their GMV online is coming from offsite purchases. So it's these marketplaces, the social commerce being able to check out somewhere else, but then also port those orders back in for proper analytics and their data warehouse. So I'm excited to see some of these new omnichannels that are also changing their ad platforms that I think are for the better. They're gonna give merchants better analytics and better control over the success on those channels. So I'm really excited to see the ability for merchants to sell more everywhere,

Brett:

Lots of good stuff happen and pay attention. Pay attention to what Big Commerce is doing. I'm been very impressed and I'm looking forward to seeing it as well. So Jenna, as people are watching this or listening later or whatever the case may be, and they're like, Hey, I want that feed audit, I want that free feed audit from Feos. Yeah. How can they get that? Or maybe they're like, Hey, I wanna talk to Jenna and team, I want that omnichannel consult. I wanna just see it's complimentary, right? And I've got to hang with you guys a lot. You're just really cool people and fun to talk to and very smart. So how can people take advantage of those options?

Jenna:

Yeah, great question. So we can throw some links in the description to be able to actually book an omnichannel consult. You can book with me or someone else on my team. You'll actually be able to select as you book straight onto our calendar, which I think is nice and efficient. But if you're interested in that or interested in a feed audit, go to Brett, find me on LinkedIn. I mean, we're more than happy either one of us to funnel that for you. My team will help you evaluate your strategy and tell you what are the best next steps. I can help you with that feed audit, but you really need a great agency like OMG Commerce to be able to fulfill that. So it's great to have your feed set up, but you also need creative and you need media buying team. That's something that Feed Omics doesn't do and big commerce aren't implementers, right? We're here to give you the best solutions and the best options and then direct you to the best in class agencies. And that's why I'm here talking OMG Commerce. I think you guys are really killing it in the game and you're getting the best results. And I'm bullish on you guys. I'm excited to see what you do. Awesome.

Brett:

I love it. So yeah, feel free to reach out to Commerce too. We can direct you <affirmative>, we can put you directly in touch with Jenna and team at Big Commerce. But Jenna, this was a ton of fun, man. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for bringing the energy and the insights and I feel just a little bit more ready for holiday. So thank you.

Jenna:

Yeah, and just remember, guys, it's not too late, so act now <laugh> and you could have a totally different holiday season.

Brett:

Awesome. Thanks Jenna.

Jenna:

All right, thanks so much.


Episode 210
:
Nish Samantray - Arrae

How Brand Building Can Generate 50% Month-over-Month Growth with Nish Samantray from Arrae

I love Arrae as a brand and as a group of products.

I also think Nish Samantray is one of the brightest up-and-coming eCommerce founders in the game right now.

Arrae is unique because it’s a supplement brand that combines natural ingredients with amazing packaging and design. Their supplements are designed to work in under an hour. So their bloat pill allows you to eat pizza and not feel terrible afterward. And the jars are a work of art. So are the labels. It’s truly a product you would love to see in your medicine cabinet or sitting on the counter.

Nish and the team are doing a LOT right in creating Arrae’s meteoric growth.

Here are a few things we discuss in today’s episode:

  • Why asking what customers want next is a terrible question and what to ask instead.
  • How to think about in-store growth.
  • When everything gets more challenging, how do you get better
  • Influencer marketing with events and thinking more like a mom who loves to host neighbor kids.
  • Nish’s favorite books and resources for growth
  • Plus more!

Mentioned in This Episode:

OMG Commerce Resource Guides

Nish Samantray

- LinkedIn

- Twitter

- Instagram

Arrae

- Website

- Instagram

- Twitter

Native Deodorant

Moiz Ali

Erewhon Market

Smart Marketer Podcast

Triple Whale

“Blitzscaling” by Reid Hoffman

Masters of Scale podcast by Reid Hoffman

“Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller

“$100M Offers” by Alex Hormozi



Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today is gonna be a how I done it episode, uh, to use proper grammar there. But we, we are gonna look at a founder story. We're gonna look at an up and coming D TOC brand, a brand that's near and dear to my heart cuz we get to work with this guy on a daily basis. And he's awesome and his brand is amazing.

Are you a D TOC brand spending over six figures a month on paid media? If so, then listen up. My agency, OMG Commerce and I have worked with some of the top eCommerce brands over the years, including Boom, native Groove, moan, Gify, and dozens more. And every year we audit hundreds of Google, YouTube, and Amazon ad accounts and we always find either significant opportunities for growth or wasted ad spend to cut or both. For example, are you missing YouTube ads? Whatever you're spending on top of funnel Facebook, you should be able to spend 30 to 50% of that or more on YouTube with similar returns. So if you're spending 300 to 400,000 a month on Facebook, you should be able to easily spend a hundred to 150,000 or more on YouTube. Visit OMG commerce.com to request a free strategy session or visit our resource page and get some of our free guides loaded with some of our best strategies for YouTube ads, Google Shopping, Amazon DSP and more. Check it all out@omgcommerce.com. I am delighted to introduce N sere to the call founder, uh, co-founder of Array and you'll hear all about array as we go. And so with that Nish, how you doing man? Welcome to the show and thanks for taking the time to do this.

Nish:

Oh, thank you Brett. I'm so excited to be here. But one thing I wanna say is when I first met you, and I've only met you once in person, I knew you were a big guy, but you were a really big guy. That was just one thing that really stood out to me. I was like, Holy shit Fred, why are you so

Brett:

Massive? No, define defined big. You mean like tall and chiseled or do you mean like, Dude, you better go on a diet? Uh,

Nish:

No comment part <laugh>. Oh, that's

Brett:

Awesome. Yeah, it so funny. We were actually just talking about basketball. You and I were offline a minute ago, so there's this guy in my hometown, another business guy, love him. He's like just one of those super honest guys. So we, we played a game one time and afterwards he's like, Brett, you're really good. Uh, you know, if you dropped about 20 pounds you'd be really good. And I'm like, Okay, <laugh>. That was the most unique compliment that I've gotten and sometimes, so, uh, I did actually lose 20 pounds after that, so that was good. So he inspired you

Nish:

Look great Brett, you look great. You're, you're a a big bone chiseled man is what you're <laugh>.

Brett:

Okay. That that is fantastic. So yeah, we, but we recently got to hang out in la which is where you are. We had breakfast at a phenomenal place close to lax and I'm pretty sure we saw Terry Cruz, uh, also having breakfast there, which is a pretty crazy story. Yeah,

Nish:

He did, He just walked in and by the way, this is like the random little spot close to the airport and he just happened to have breakfast. Yeah, LA is weird like that.

Brett:

LA is the place to be. I don't know that by LAX is what I would recommend, but you had to do it for my schedule, which I really, really appreciate. So, uh, let's dive in. I'm so excited to, for the peeps to hear about array and all that you've got going on. Cause lots of lessons here, but let's rewind a little bit. So pre array, what did you do and and how did you get into to e-commerce?

Nish:

That's funny. So I am a mechanical engineer who became a software developer who became a product manager and then kind of worked my way around to becoming an e-commerce founder. Essentially my whole thing, my whole life was that I was really good at math and so I just took very mathematically inclined roles, kind of worked that in school and even did that in in jobs. And so my whole life I was okay, I I like math, I'm gonna go ahead and try to learn how to code cuz it didn't like mechanical engineering coding was really fun. I used to work in the tech technology industry and I worked for some really amazing companies. I worked for software development teams at, at banks in Canada. Um, then I also went and worked at some of the largest like fin tech companies in India and Japan. So there was a time in my life where I was going to India once a month for a company called Paytm.

And that was the probably the best experience of my life because this is where I learned how to build a business that this company went from zero to, it's a $20 billion company. Plus now they also iPod and they have the biggest IPO in India. And so this was really cool experience for me cause I was sitting right next to the founders and CEOs and I was like, Wow, this is how you really build a company. And so after this I was like, okay, I feel really well equipped to start a company. By the way, just to give you a little bit more context, I had started a technology company before starting Array, which was doing fairly well. It was just that when I was working on this, I was so busy working on it and my wife s was working on our own thing and I was like, Damn, if we don't work on something together, we're not gonna be together. And so we just said <laugh>. Yeah. And

Brett:

So we said smart man, prioritizing the most important relationship in your life above anything else. But, uh, I, I see you guys on social media, first of all. You're like super cute together and I tell you fun together. Uh, but yeah. So you guys decided to go all in on a business together?

Nish:

We did. We absolutely did. And I just said, Okay, siv, you come up with the idea and I I will, I will help build whatever you think is right. And so this is kind of how the story of array started where basically the two of us are super polar opposite people. Like I am your very nerdy engineer and she's like the coolest person on Instagram with like 60,000 followers really into fashion. Really cool people love looking and following and you know, liking your stories and all this kind of stuff. But essentially she suffered from a, uh, a fractured rib from a chronic cough and one that happened. The idea was, okay, this is insane. And the doctor prescribed her coding. And so she was like, there's gotta be a better way to take care of herself from a preventative way and just like live a very healthy holistic lifestyle. And for me, I didn't even know what all of that meant. I was just working in tech and it inherently a very stressful environment. But over time I was like, wow, this is amazing to be able to take care of yourself. And so first of all, it started in the world of skincare because you know, she was in the beauty world and I used to be stealing all of her skincare and I was a man with an eight step skincare routine. But after that,

Brett:

A way, way, way to do that proudly. Proudly. Why not? Do you have to ask too? Just just while we have just a quick break here. So you're into math. I I've, I always enjoyed math in school, but I was like just, you know, pretty good at math. You strike me as one. Were you, were you a math athlete? Were you ever on like the math teams and stuff?

Nish:

Yeah, I was, I was,

Brett:

I know a few of my friends are math athletes or former math athletes I should say. Uh, what, what a what an honor, what a cool thing. Yeah, for sure.

Nish:

Yeah. I, uh, keep going, keep going.

Brett:

No, no, no. Uh, yes. But you don't have to be a math athlete to be successful at eCommerce. And that's a good thing for the rest of us. Uh, so anyway, so you guys were doing, you were doing skincare, you had the same step routine, your skin looks great by the way. Um, so it started skincare and then where'd you go from there?

Nish:

We started skincare. And so essentially the idea was that, okay, skincare is obviously progressed a lot in the last 10 years. You look at skincare and it's like, wow, this, this industry's one where everything you're using is first of all really efficacious. It actually works. You know exactly what you're using your products for. And so you can like solve very specific problems on your skin by using a very specific product. Second, all the products are built by doctors or dermatologists with a lot of credibility, a lot of scientific background. So it just really made sense and worked. And last thing was, it was an extremely beautified process. So the, the, the concept and the behavior of buying skincare, especially for women, is such a beautiful, nice experience. The packaging is amazing. The ideology of buying good skincare is so cool. Uh, people respect when you have a six step skin care routine.

That whole idea was really, really fascinating. And in the wellness world, that wasn't the case. We're still, and even today we are still have medicine cabinets that look like, you know, just a bunch of white bottles and you don't even know what it is that you're taking. And so our idea was that, okay, first of all, we can solve certain problems using natural ingredients that that work in under an hour. That's kind of our philosophy. We create a hundred percent natural ingredients that work in under an hour and that is the only thing we're gonna do. Cause we want you to take our supplements and feel the effects in under an hour. Cause that was the idea behind it. And then also we said, well, it's also back it up with a lot of doctors and naturo bag doctors and medical doctors who can actually come and help us with the formulation process. So you know that what you're taking is gonna work. And the last thing is just make it all really beautiful so that you don't have to hide it in your closet. It looks really good on your bedside table.

Brett:

Yeah, it's such a, such an interesting thing. You know, so many companies that are in the supplement space or health and wellness, they don't think about truly building a brand and they don't think about that experience. And so, uh, I want you to talk about kind of your, your core products in a minute. But, but I've purchased both your, your bloat capsules. So pills you take after you eat to reduce bloating. And uh, one of my favorite lines comes from one of your customers, uh, who said, I refuse to choose between eating pizza and feeling good so I can eat pizza and then take the blow pills. And I feel great. Uh, the product is fantastic by the way, but, but thank you even more than that. The, the, the canister that's, I'm sure that's the wrong word. The, the what, what is contained in jar there?

Jar? Yeah, that's, I dunno why that word escaping <laugh>, but a glass jar, nice little lid on it. The the, the label feels pre you hold it in your hand and it feels premium and, and it, it works. And so it's great. You also have the, uh, product called Calm, which is, which is also great. I've taken that, you know, I'm pretty high stress most of the time going all the time. Either, either dealing with eight kids at home or running a business or whatnot. So calm is a good product for me for sure. So, so yeah. So you combined natural ingredients of working under an hour, Love that, uh, with beautiful branding, beautiful packaging, and it, it just, it adds to the experience, right? Which, which is, which is really unique. I don't know really any other brand that's focusing on both like that, like you guys are.

Nish:

Yeah, I mean it seems just really obvious. I think when you're using a product, you want to feel good about using the product also, especially in our world. And what I mean by our world, I mean, prob like problem areas of your body, these things tend to be pretty stigmatized. For example, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, like all these words are not exactly sexy words to talk about, right? <laugh>. But exactly the, the thing is that we all actually suffer from these kind of problems. And so the whole thing is that, okay, we know we suffer from them. Why don't we just make the experience of dealing with them very, very human and something that is actually really pleasant. That's the entire idea behind it. And so we put in so much care into the labeling and like the type of label that we use. And then also when you put the label on, like we put it on at a very specific speed so that it's perfectly parallel. Other, you'll see the labels are actually like, you know, a little bit like upside down some sometimes and whatnot. And so all these little details you pay attention to cuz it just makes that experience so much better. And then you feel proud about the product you're taking. It is, it's a no-brainer.

Brett:

Yeah. You, you feel good about it sitting out on the counter. And, and I, I do recommend everybody check out the site. We will mention it a few times I'm sure, but it's array.com, A r r a e.com and you'll see it. And actually there's some parallels here. Do you know the brand Tushy? Are you familiar with Tushy? Of course. Yeah. So Love Mickey. Uh, go back and listen to the episode where I interviewed Mickey. She's built several brands from scratch, including thinks, which is period proof, uh, underwear. And then Tushi, which is a Bday company, and she talks about being artful and fridge worthy, even for stuff that's a little hard to talk about, like a Bday, right? But there, there's actually some similarities in the way and, and you guys are unique brands, but um, you know, you look at the Toshi side and you're like, this is fun to shop and this looks beautiful, right? And uh, and I feel the same way about about Array as well, which is awesome.

Nish:

So yeah, it's, it's really cool. They, uh, Tushi also has a, uh, comedian match ranks their copy. Like that's how much they've invested in in their kind of brand and ecosystem. So it's, yeah, it's really cool.

Brett:

Yeah, that, that's one of their, one of the things they do, like, they'll write a video script and then they'll bring in comedians to make it, to make it funny and to, to bring something, uh, to life a little bit. And, uh, yeah, it's, it's just a super, super fun brand for sure. So, uh, let's dive in a little bit. Let's talk about the ideation phase. And, and this will be important I think for, for a few reasons. One, there could be people listening that are just getting started and they're in the ideation phase, but I think there's also a lot of people listening to this podcast, cause I get to talk to you guys at events and stuff where you've got a successful business, but you're looking for that next product. You're looking for line extension, you're looking to grow to the next thing. And so that ideation phase never goes away, right? Something you always do as a successful brand. So what was that ideation phase like? Where did you get stuck and how'd you get unstuck?

Nish:

For sure. So I think that there's two major components to this. Number one is I think in this world, building a good product matters more than anything else. I think that right now, the reason why we are still able to continue to acquire new customers, even in a very difficult e-commerce environment is because our product is really good. It works really well. And in this sense it's all because of the r and d that goes into it. So, for example, for us, it took us about a year and a half just to finalize the formulation of a product. So every single one of our products takes about 18 months to bring to a customer from ideation. And that's including your manufacturing time, that's including your, um, kind of, um, r and d time, your, your testing with the customers and whatnot, all of this. So basically first what we do is say, Okay, we have an idea of what the customer wants and we have, we think we know what the ways that people can use our products in, in, in different ways.

Let's go and first validate that. So the first thing is we go and talk to a bunch of different customers, either in our community, we actually try to avoid speaking to friends. It's just way too biased. But we just kind of hit as many people with, uh, who, who don't know us with, with questions that will give us non-leading answers. So, by the way, one thing I learn, Brad, which is super interesting, is we don't go and ask customers, Hey, what's the product you want? We actually go and say, But we are coming with a new product. What do you think it is? That little tweak in that sentence makes them tell you what they, what they think is coming, which is what they actually want. But when you ask them what they want, they don't, they don't know what they want. They give you, they give you answers that are like way too biased. They're just, they're just like, they're like, Oh, I don't really know. But when you guess it, they don't, That's a really interesting copy tweak that really helps. That

Brett:

Is a really interesting twist. Yeah, because I think sometimes when you ask someone what is it that you want, the first place that people go is like, What do you expect me to say? Or what makes me sound smart? Or what makes me sound not like a selfish jerk or, or whatever. Like they, they, they think more about what I should be saying rather than what I actually want, which is hard to, to put their, uh, their finger on. But yeah, that's, that's a really interesting twist. So you use that question in person, asking people in person, or you're doing like well

Nish:

Even email, email service,

Brett:

Email stuff. Yeah,

Nish:

Yeah, yeah. Got it. So like, even when we need actual like, product feedback or we want to know that we don't say that. We said, Hey, we're coming with a product in the next six months, Tell us what you, what, what you think it is. And then we actually take those and then start ideating off of those even though there's no product coming out in six months. Well there is, Well

Brett:

There will be. You just dunno. It will be Exactly,

Nish:

Exactly. It's gonna happen.

Brett:

So, so is that how, okay, so you've got, you've got three core products right now, right? You've got, you got Bloat, you've got Calm and then Sleep Alchemy, which is brand new, right? Just, just came out close to the time of this recording. So is that how you got the idea for Sleep Alchemy was by asking that, that, those questions?

Nish:

Yeah. So well, okay, so sleep we knew before, but all the other ones we do, we are doing this exact method. And the, the idea behind our, the way that we can navigate these different products is just that okay, we think that we can solve certain problems in certain ways that you can actually feel the effective. So those are the products that we are ideating and coming up with the most, but then there's a lot of other problems that actually we get from the customers. I actually don't think if you're in a very innovative space and you're, you're trying to create something a little bit new, I don't think asking customers what they're looking for should inform your decision making. I think this is where you have to be a little bit more of a entrepreneur visionary kind of thing. And I say that in quotes because you just have to have a vision for what you think the world is gonna look like, um, you know, even a year or two years from now. And then you gotta create products for them that they may not know that they want. Like for example, our broad product is by no means a, you know, revolutionary product, but it is truly revolutionary in the way that we have formulated it is revolutionary in the way that we market it. It's very revolutionary in the way that it solves a very specific problem. Like if you go into the market, there was not many products called Bloat. There was actually not no products called bloat. So I think that that mindset is pretty helpful.

Brett:

Yeah, that's that's so good. So good. And I, and yeah, I love that that takeaway alone of, you know, don't ask customers what they want, Ask them other questions that will uncover what they want. Uh, super, super smart. So, uh, what, what else do you feel like you did really well, uh, either in the very beginning or more recently? Like what, what's been some of the keys to your success?

Nish:

So I am Indian and so because of being Indian, we love being super, super scrappy. It is in our blood to be super scrappy. And so the, at the very beginning, so we, like, I used to work obviously in tech, so I was making a lot of money. And so I used to pour everything that I got for my salary into the business. And we didn't even think of raising money. We didn't think of anything except for how do we use this capital as efficiently as possible. And so every little thing we did was just completely boots tracked. We, we, uh, tried to get manufacturers with low MOQs. We went and drove to different places in Canada to find the manufacturers that worked for us. We went and worked with a doctor that we really incentivized to work for in the long run instead of, you know, giving up a lot of money as an example. We, we were just so scrappy in every brel way bread.

Brett:

Mm. I love that. I love that. And what, what's really interesting to me, but been looking at this and, and then different research around this that, uh, really constraints drive creativity and problem solving. So sometimes when you have all the money in the world or, or what feels like an abundance of money, or when you feel like you got all the time you need or whatever, you often don't come up with good solutions, right? But when you're, when you have that scrappy mindset or you have real constraints, or you just create constraints for yourself, often you come up with better solutions and, and, and bigger wins, uh, that, that lead to better outcomes. So that's, that's fantastic. Yeah. Uh, so who's kind of the brains behind the branding here? Is that, is that you or is that si or is it a combination?

Nish:

Si is definitely the brains behind the branding. She's a reason why the company is as cool as this is. I think we are both the brains behind the product and the strategy behind that. But she handles all the branding and marketing. If it was me, this would look like the worst product in the world. So it's definitely all her <laugh>

Brett:

Look like a, like an IT manual or something like that.

Nish:

Absolutely.

Brett:

So, so way to go sift. Good job. Love the branding way to make way to make this product cool. Um, so I wanted, I wanna shift gears a little bit. So, so back when we were having our breakfast with Terry Cruz, I'm just kidding. He was, he was, Terry Cruz was not interested in us. I don't know why. I think if he had known his loss, we were how smart we were. He, he would've just pulled up a chair and and learned a hundred

Nish:

Hundred percent.

Brett:

Uh, uh, but when we were having breakfast, you were talking about influencer marketing, right? And you're, you are in LA but you guys also do some stuff in New York and other places. But talk a little bit about, talk about influencer marketing and talk about events. Cause I think you guys are doing some unique stuff there

Nish:

For sure. So this is actually a really big play for us, and I think that people underestimate the effect, the compounding effect. This has over time for us. We've actually always had a small portion of the budget that's a fixed budget that we put towards branding through influencers and through events. And we use it in a very specific way. So when you're doing events, it is very oriented towards building a community. And when I describe community, I say that when my friends came over to my house when I was really young, my mom used to feed everybody mm-hmm. <affirmative>, all of my friends would be like, Oh my God, this is such a fun time. I'm gonna keep coming back to Nisha's house because this is where we feast, this is where they take, this is where Nisha's mom takes care of all of us, and we just have a really good time.

So for me, when I think of community, I think of a host that is trying to create a really good time for either our customers or other influencers where they get to build valuable relationships with each other. And I am the host of that dinner party, as an example. And so when we build events, this is what we're trying to do. We're trying to build a community where people get a lot of value from meeting other really cool people. And we are simply facilitating that kind of environment and as a byproduct that not only are do we get a lot of exposure and a lot of, um, hype and a lot of people just loving your brands, people actually lead those events being like, Oh my God, I just found a really, really good friend. And so we host these events with not only our customers, but we also host them with, um, influencers, whether they're micro influencers or macro influencers.

We, we have, uh, events for, you know, every stage of different types of influencers. And what we see there is a lot of organic social growth because people just like what you're doing. So one of the things in today's world is that when you're working with influencers, first of all, most influencers say, Okay, x like X and number of dollars and I'll give you y That's the way it's, it is kind of transactional and people can just totally read through the fakeness of what is happening. For us, we're like, we will only invite people who actually like the brand and like the product. And we only invite people who will talk about us because they actually like what we are doing and they actually resonate with a problem trying to solve. So this kind of way of introducing a brand to someone, or because they've been following us on social media and they've been talking about us and we like the content that they're putting out, just using these events as a place where we can amplify that relationship has been working really well for us.

And now as we grow the brand, we are doing it on a bigger and bigger level. So as an example, the biggest one we ever did was just last month when we launched our sleep capsules and we had some of the top influencers who were huge brand fans and we rented out a portion of a hotel in, uh, in, in, uh, um, Santa Barbara. And it was this beautiful hotel overlooking the ocean. Um, and we all had a really amazing dinner there to kind of have people have a sleepover. So they came up, they had a sleepover, we gave them all of our sleep products, we call it a sleepover, it would be a race

Brett:

Food totally ties into the branding, but also ties into the vibe. Like, and I, I love this picture of yeah, you, your house was the house to hang out at when you were a kid because your mom cooked and because everybody wanted to be there and they were welcome. And so I really like that idea that that idea of host facilitator, you're cultivating these relationships. Okay, awesome. So you had a sleepover in Santa Barbara overlooking the ocean. Uh, continue. Sounds awesome. I wish I could. So that

Nish:

Was, you should have been, It was really amazing. So that was amazing. And like, look for me, like when I'm again like said numbers guy, I'm looking at the pnl, I'm like, holy shit. Like look at this line item. This is crazy. But the crazy thing is, Brett, we grew 50% last month, month over month, 50% growth. It took care of the cost threefold because of how successful these types of events are. Yeah. And it took care

Brett:

50% year over year growth, 50% month over month growth, which is staggering. And it's been awesome. It's awesome to watch that this close up. So Yeah,

Nish:

For sure. And it didn't come, you know, it didn't come like on the day of the event as an example, it just came because we are building that over time. Like we do that again and again and again. And it just, it shows up over time. So it, it really works. Events really, really works.

Brett:

Yeah. And I love that because you know, there, there's all kinds of transactional relationships out there, all kinds of other brands that just have, uh, uh, you do this, I'll do this for you, type relationship with their influencers. But when you can be really authentic and actually have this, you know, be known as a, a host and as a, uh, facilitator, cultivator of great relationships and people attend that and they just really like you and then they like, and they like your product and they like being part of it, that creates a deeper connection. And, and you'll get better results too from your influencers, which is, which is super cool. So then how did you, any other, So I think that's a really unique thing that probably most people are missing. I'm assuming you're doing a lot of the same, the standard things as well, like giving your influencers resources, giving them tools, helping them promote things like that. And any, any other tips or suggestions for better influencer marketing?

Nish:

For sure. When it comes to influencers, I think one of the main things is that you gotta know and have someone on the team or maybe should be yourself, Like for example for me is sif is so in touch with who the influencers are, who is up and coming and just the people who are really growing or who are so in touch with your type of consumer. And so having someone, it is honestly more of an art than a science. Finding influencers is, is really an art. And so you gotta have people who have that inherent feeling to be able to do that. And so when you, once you have that, your job is to get in touch with them by either gifting them or, you know, creating different environments for them to be able to be exposed to your brand. That is really the, the influencer and, um, department's kind of job.

And so, so for example, I'll give you an, I'll give you an example of, uh, one of her friends who did this, one of her friends actually bought like this crazy expensive, uh, designer bag, I think it was, I think it was Louiston or something. And they bought that, they filled it up with their products and gave it to one of the biggest influencers in the world. Okay. They just dropped it off at their door and there was no, cuz you know, know these influencers are so hard to get in touch with. And so then the influencer opened up the bag was like, Wow, this is insane. And then she started posting about this, this brand and the brand is making, it's a positive ROI kind of thing. And it's, it's very kind of balls you think, but this is the way you get in touch or kind of find the people that you really think could, you know, move the needle on your brand.

So the first thing is find, be in touch with people, uh, or have, have a touch on the, the influence that are up and coming or could really make the move the needle. The second thing is give with zero expectation in return. For us, from day one, we literally gave products and we were just like, we actually don't care if you post about us. We just want you to try your product cuz we really think we're solving a real, real problem here. And if you try our product, you're gonna love it so much, you might just become a customer. And that was truly where we came from at the heart. But we do not care about if they posted or anything monetary. We just did not care. And even to date, we don't even to date when we go to influencers and ask them to do something for us, even in a paid partnership, we are like, do whatever you want. We are not gonna review your work. You have full autonomy. We don't, we don't have any strict rules. But you know, like if you look at any other brand, like even bigger brands, they're like, okay, we have a three step review process and then by the third step, the influencers like, not even who they are, they're like this different person,

Brett:

Right? Right. And then it doesn't feel authentic and, and the audience doesn't buy it fully or it just doesn't feel right. But I, I love that. So giving was zero expectation in return because, and, and that's, that's gutsy, that's risky. You gotta believe in your product and believe in that you've, you're talking to the right people and it really makes a lot of sense to have someone on your team who can kind of judge that it factor whether an influencer has that it factor that, that ring of authenticity and are they on the come up and all all these things. Uh, so yeah, that, that's great. So given without expectation, um, any, any other thoughts, any other tips on, on influencer marketing?

Nish:

I think that apart from that you have to be really, uh, strategic nowadays about the way you spend money on influencers. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think that the overall market of, of, uh, influencer kind of, uh, pays is really, really inflated. And so it is extremely rare to find influencers who are actually ROI positive and think, I think there's a, there's a certain group at a very high level, we call 'em the whales who are really good at promoting your brand. They have millions of followers or hundreds of thousands of followers and they can probably break even or be ROI positive. And it's also really good to be associated with them from a brand perspective. And you know, those whales are not, not reducing their price, they're sticking where they are, but then as a byproduct, all of the other influencers who are also up and coming have increased their prices.

And so I think that what you have to do is you have to know who you're gonna spend on from a brand perspective and who are you gonna spend on from a ROI perspective. And just be super clear about that and just be like, okay, you know what if, if this influencers is not gonna bring me money, is she gonna be helpful for me for brand? Okay, I'm gonna justify this as a brand cause if not, I'm not gonna spend the money at all. Because it's really easy to overspend on influencers and see zero returns at the same time. You have to experiment to see if someone's gonna work or not. So it's a very like, fine balance, but uh, don't go overspending at the same time. Just, just be mindful of the way you spend on them.

Brett:

Love that so much. Really, really good advice. So, uh, what, what else are you excited about right now, Nish, in terms of growth for the brand? Uh, I want, I wanna talk about some in-store stuff and just a minute retail distribution in just a minute, but, but anything else more on the online d toc or just online world? What, what's he excited about as far as growth?

Nish:

Well, honestly I think that right now, just cuz where we're at, I think you have to be so nitpicky in every part of the business. And so, you know, before back in the day it would say, Okay, this is do ads, ads, ads. So I spent the first four months of this year just like figuring out our ad strategy across all platforms, making sure we have the right creatives, making sure with the right buyers, making sure we have the right strategy. Um, and team to be able to execute on that, given how difficult it is to grow ads right now. But totally I just think that like, look, this is just one portion of it. You gotta put an equal amount of effort into your cro, which is actually a completely different part of that, that kind of funnel. And it's a, it's a equally important part. And so now I'm just like, okay, building a team around how to go and really optimize the shit out of your landing pages, your website, every single part of the business, you know? Yeah.

Brett:

Cuz sometimes you don't actually have a traffic problem or a quality of ad problem. Somebody's got a CRO problem. Sometimes your, your land in your site just aren't converting enough. So yeah, we, we were talking about this a little bit offline that right now due due to just the crazy environment and who knows what's going on exactly with consumer confidence and the economy and all that. And you know, things are always gonna be uncertain to a, to a certain degree. You gotta be really good, really good at every area, traffic, paid ads, cro, branding, influencer, you gotta be good at all of it. Right. Um, which, which is, which is really cool. Uh, and also overwhelming, but hey, it's overwhelming for your competitors too. So if you can figure it out, it gives you an edge. Cool. Anything else you're excited about right now online?

Nish:

Um, I think that those two things are really cool and, and the last thing is just I'm, I'm really excited about the fact that you can, you have to now go figure out different ways to grow that are not digital digitally native. So yeah, I am, I'm getting really excited about things like sampling, like, like in like physical sampling your products, you know, like that's been something that we just got back after Covid. And you can go and have people try your products out and, and obviously depends on the category you're in, but you just gotta be so diverse with the way that you're acquiring and thinking of acquiring customers. It's, it just pushes you to be a better marketer. And so that's, that's that's fun. Come on. That's gotta be exciting. Know super

Brett:

Fun man. And, and you know, I got my start in on on offline marketing, so TV and direct mail and stuff like that, so I love that. Now some of these top e-commerce brands that we work with at omg, they're, they're thinking about offline marketing and in store stuff and we're gonna talk about like a little bit of direct mail in some cases, which is, which is super interesting. Um, let's talk about what, what is your strategy? What is your approach to get in physical stores? Cause I think, you know, one thing that, that a lot of people know now is that hey d to see eCommerce is still a small percentage of overall retail and likely for you to grow to the heights that you want to grow to and to build this huge successful brand, it probably need some in-store distribution, right? So what, what's your strategy and what's your approach to in-store?

Nish:

Yeah, so I think that this is different for every brand and I think every brand should actually know if they're going to be a heavy business or a D two C heavy business with a blend in the future. So for us, we are a D two C heavy business that can expand further in retail. And so for us, what we noticed is when we initially went off and went into certain retailers, like very boutique ones, you know, we would, the most important metric here is sell through. And so if the people in that area don't know about you, you are not going to have success in that retailer because there's very few places that people are going to explore. Most people, when they're going to buy something, they're like, Okay, I'm gonna go in store, I'm gonna buy something. Maybe I'll pick up a few things here and there.

But like, you gotta be super intentional about that. So for us, we realize that it's important to build our name, our brand, our credibility, and our product before we go into any massive retailer because you want people to be excited about the fact that we are also available in, in a particular retailer store. I'll give you an example about Toronto cuz we are, we were a Canadian based, kind of Toronto based company and we grew in Toronto first. That was our biggest market initially when it grew there. Canada is unfortunately a terrible country for shipping. Shipping is wildly expensive in Canada and it just,

Brett:

Everything is spread out. It's, there's not a ton of people there, right? Like the population of California, but spread throughout this massive geographic area

Nish:

It is, is crazy. And it just takes so long for things to get places. So when we started in Canada, I was like, wow, this is crazy. Like it cost us $15 to ship something out. This is insane. And so, but we, we were doing it, doing it, doing it. And all of a sudden a year in people are like, I I hate how long your shipping is taking, where can I find you in store? And that is the kind of place you wanna be in because then when your retailers get your product, like people are excited to go and buy from them. And when your retailers excited, they're getting more sell through, they're being able to sell their product more and it, it, it honestly did not affect our online business. Like it actually grew our online business. So I think building brand first and building that credibility first, then going into retails in the areas where you're building that brand and, and, and credibility is really important. At least for us, it's been really important. So we, we, we got into I one as an example, you know, about this brand, but

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. I one, yeah, so, so let me, I wanna, I want to uh, key in on I one for just a little bit cuz that was a new newer brand for me as a, as a Midwest guy. But I love this strategy. If you have the skillset to build a d TOC brand first where you're someone direct to consumer online first, then, and especially if you're doing like top of funnel Facebook, top of funnel YouTube, you're, you're building a brand, you've got people out there that are thinking about your brand, then you launch on Amazon, then you go in store, you're building up this demand for your product. So it's been super fun for me to observe this, uh, you know, we're native, uh, was just native deodorant and now it's a line of native client for a long time, used to work with Mo Ali, the founder, uh, but now they're everywhere, right?

They're, they're in Walmart, they're in Target, they're in cvs, they're in Walmarts, they're everywhere. And so they were able to leverage some of their digital strengths and their digital skillset to, to greater in store sales. But you're right, there's a compounding effect, right? If I see it online, I see it in store, I see it wherever, that actually can boost online sales too. It doesn't cannibalize it. We've seen similar things on Amazon. We didn't help, um, native launch on Amazon. They, they did that themselves, but uh, when they launched on Amazon, there was no cannibalization of their in store or their, their D TOC sales, uh, just helped Boom. And Ezra Firestone launch on Amazon recently and it's gone, it's grown from zero to like 15% of sales with zero cannibalization of the D TOC sales D TOC sales are still in the same growth trajectory. So, but that all comes back to those d TOC skill sets and then leveraging your digital, uh, marketing in your paid media to, to really have impact on Amazon and in-store as well, which it's, it's pretty fun to be a part of that.

Nish:

Yeah, for sure. I I just think that this, you're building an ecosystem, you're building it over time. I think the concept that the longer you're in market with fewer products, building your community, the more people associate you with these something and then you can, I think this is the path to building a big brand. I think there's lots of people who can build a nice $5 million business with 1 million in profit and just laid off of that forever. And that's, that's one way of doing e-commerce, right? Yeah, yeah, that's totally fine. And there's the other way which is like if you wanna build big, you know, a hundred million dollar plus for lands, you gotta play the long game. And I think that in today's world, it's probably actually, I, I feel more comfortable being the long game cuz I'm just so not okay with how the entire ecosystem is working. So I think the long game is the way to win in the, in, in this entire ecosystem anyway, so yeah,

Brett:

Totally agree. I I, what's really fun about this for me is I think there was an era, there was like an era drop shipping in E-com, which is fine. There was the early days of, of success on Amazon, which was kind of just like, find some kind of product, slap a label on it, sell it, make millions of dollars. Now though I think the successful brands are brands, they're thinking about building a brand and they're thinking about how all of this compounds, just like we've been talking about Amazon in-store D toc, you're using, you know, leveraging Facebook and, and YouTube and everything to build all of that influencers, you know, having it all work together. So it it's, it's fun to see real brand building taking place rather than just tactics, you know, to, to grow sales. So, um, it's been awesome. Uh, couple things I wanna, well actually, uh, tell us about Air One cause I think, I think for other Midwest peeps or people that are not in the market of where an Aand store is, what is it and why is it so awesome?

Nish:

Well, look, Air one is this weird place, okay, Is this like the holy grail of just, uh, like explorative shopping? It's actually ridiculous. Is all these tos on about IAnd about everything costing $1,350,000 and people would be like, Oh, water for only $1 million and you go buy it. Like it is a joke. <laugh>

Brett:

Must be really great. I'm so hydrated after I drink this water. Way better than that water at the gas station? Yeah,

Nish:

Yeah. Even to regular water. So like, it's just this kind of place where you enter this location, you forget about money as a reality and you just go and, you know, explore these. It it, it is actually really cool. Like it's, it's really, um, topnotch super healthy stuff. Um, you know, things that are just extremely new and revolutionary in the food space and the alcohol space and the supplement space, whatever you want to call it. And they just have everything for anybody with, with any sort of even food intolerance or whatever digestive issue you might have and whatnot. And it's such a cool everything

Brett:

For anybody. If you're somebody who has cash, that's,

Nish:

You're somebody who has, that's first thing

Brett:

Yeah. Disposable income, that's what we're looking for for sure. Uh, awesome. So, so Nish, what, what is next for Array?

Nish:

Well, I am really just excited about coming up with more products that can help more people. I think we've been in market for about two years with just the two products below and comp, we just released our sleep product and I'm really excited just to create products that people can take together to solve real problems. For example, we have a lot of customers who are being able to solve symptoms of IBS and, and Crohn's and other really like symptomatic kind of deep, deep problems because of taking your products. And so you won't do expand around that Ed to be able to help people with food intolerance cuz they know whatever dairy doesn't sit with all with them or they have a chronic issue. And so we're expanding our line out so more people can just truly just help solve like very, very deep issues in their body.

Or they might even, we don't even know that they have an issue and they're just like, Ah, man, I hate eating cheese and I hate eating pizza because it doesn't stay well with me. We're gonna be able to actually help solve these problems so people can go out and eat whatever they want, whenever they want. They can even sleep and rest really well. So the whole idea behind array is like, feel your best, be your best. And we are coming here with products to help you do that in a very holistic way. So I'm just so excited for people to get hands on our products because they're gonna be so life changing, um, just in terms of getting your entire body into nice rhythm. So I'm just excited about that.

Brett:

I love it man. And I love watching your growth, you know, these, these first two years, which is crazy to even say to think about the growth you've had over just two years. So can't wait to see what the next year holds, what the next two year holds. Um, and so that's super, super exciting. Last kinda last question before we wrap up. Any any favorite resources, tools, books? This can be eCommerce focused or it can be just productivity focused or something like that, but in any favorite tools or resources you'd recommend?

Nish:

Ooh, let me think about this a little bit. So I love listening to the Smart Marketer podcast when it comes to all things related to like e-commerce advertising and, and whatnot. I actually really like the Triple Whale weekly emails that they send out. They're,

Brett:

Those emails are great. Yeah, they're fantastic. I get to meet, I get to meet Rob at a, we both spoke at Nick Shackleford, it's the Geek Out event. Rob's one that kind of puts those emails together. Yeah, very thoughtful, fun, but like, gets gets to the point. And yeah, that, that email list is great. That's one that I regularly read. Yeah.

Nish:

Yeah, that, that one's amazing. And then my other favorite just books in general that I like to draw parallels from. I love the Blitzscaling book by Reed Hoffman. I think that's such a good book to read. You're an entrepreneur. It

Brett:

Is. So Reed Hoff Hoffman has a great podcast. So we called the Masters of Scale. I dunno if you've listened to that, but that is a fantastic podcast. Fantastic. But I, I'm not familiar. What's, what's the book you just mentioned?

Nish:

Blitz Scaling, b l i t z Scaling. It is one heck of a book. It really just, it just talks about how to spend money efficiently and very quickly and out career competitors and, and do that in different markets. It's very tech focused, but you can draw parallels from certain parts of it towards eCommerce and it's actually one of the main ways you've being able to grow so fast, uh, for our business. So I love that book, book. And I also loved, uh, Building a Story Brand. I think that's what the book is called.

Brett:

Yeah. Donald Miller Building a Story Brand. Yeah, I love that. I got to, I get to meet him briefly. We both spoke at TC Trafficking version Summit a few years ago where like in the, in the Green room getting this interview thing done. And uh, yeah, great guy. I've read actually several his books. One, one of his first books was about, it was called Blue like Jazz Kind, a story of his Struggles with the Church, but Some Positive Things too. Anyway, awesome Guy. And that book that's so cool. It it ties in so well to Yeah, really being a good marketer is very close to being a good storyteller. Lot, lots of parallels. And uh, yeah, it's a fantastic book. I recommend

Nish:

It for sure. And the last book is a hundred million Dollar Offers. But Alex for Mosey, that was actually a surprisingly amazing read. It was, uh, very tactical and just really helps when it comes to sales, the way thinking about offers. Obviously we all know that Offers is everything. Great book for that.

Brett:

Yeah, that's one that, um, I first saw it, I can't remember where, and I'd never heard Alex uh, speak or anything, so I first thought I was like, eh, yeah. And then, and then a friend recommended it, so I, so I got the audio book, listened to it, It's fantastic. Totally agree. A hundred million offers. Gotta check it out. Fantastic niche. So one more time, how can people check out Ray? And then can people check, uh, can people connect with you on the socials? Are you approachable? Do you like to connect on social medias are more just, uh, to the site

Nish:

<laugh>? No, I am very approachable. At least I hope I am. You <laugh>. You can find us on array.com, a r r ae.com. You can find us on Instagram and twitter@arraycoarray.co or array co. Um, our, our Twitter just got up is actually really funny. I think you'll like it. It's been blowing up. And then you can find me at plenty of niche on Instagram and Twitter.

Brett:

Plenty of niche. That's what everybody is thinking. They're like, I enjoyed this niche, I want more niche. I would like plenty of niche. And so we'll link to that as well. So Niche. Thanks so much man. It's been a ton of fun. Thanks for bringing the value and uh, look forward to chatting again soon.

Nish:

Thank you so much for, this is amazing.

Brett:

Awesome. And as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear your feedback. Leave us that review on iTunes. Shoot us a note, what would you like to hear more of on the podcast? And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.











Episode 209
:
Danil Saliukov - CEO and CoFounder of Insense

Scaling your eCommerce Brand with Creators and UGC

Content is King. Regardless of the platform.

Want to scale on TikTok? You’re only as good as your content.

Want to step up your IG game? Content, baby.

Want to finally scale on YouTube? Hire OMG (ha!) and create great content!

Today I’m interviewing Danil Saliukov, CEO and Co-Founder of Insense. I met Danil when we both spoke at Geek Out in San Diego a few months ago.

Insense is a marketplace that connects creators with brands and facilitates the creation of great content.

Creating great content comes down to 3 things:

  1. Find the right creator for your brand
  2. Build authentic content that highlights why your product is great
  3. Create content specifically geared toward the platforms you want to run on

Here’s a look at what we breakdown on the show:

  • Where brands go wrong when creating content for marketing - Not every creator is an influencer, and not every influencer is a creator.
  • What separates brands that do really well from the rest?
  • The key to finding creators that best fit a brand.
  • How brands can help creators create great content.
  • How brands should approach TikTok.
  • Actors vs. content creators vs. real customers for UGC.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Danil Saliukov

   - LinkedIn

Insense

Insense’s Blog

Nick Shackelford’s Twitter


Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce, and today we're talking about scaling your eCommerce brand with creators and UGC content. Really, some of my favorite video content is u GC and content that creators crank out. And so we're going deep. Uh, my guest today is the CEO and co-founder of Incense, which you'll hear about in just a minute. And we, his name is, uh, Daniel, uh, Soloff. I may have just butchered that. We're gonna, we're gonna confirm that in one minute, Daniel. Uh, but I first met Daniel at Geek out in San Diego, Uh, one of Nick Shackleford events. We hit it off. I was really impressed with what Daniel had to share, and so I'm like, Hey, you gotta come on the podcast and talk creator content ugc. So, Daniel, welcome to the show, man. Thanks for taking the time. And how badly did I butcher your last name?

Danil:

<laugh>? Not bad at all. Uh, thanks so much, Brett, uh, for inviting me to the podcast.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. Really excited to have you here. And, uh, wanted dive right in because we got a lot of good stuff to talk about here. Uh, I, I think most people listening know the power of UGC and the power of creators, but, but really, you know, how we get UGC and how do we partner with creators? It's, it's kind of complex and, and it is time consuming and it's scary, and we don't know where to begin sometimes. So, uh, before we get into some of the how-tos and tips and advice and strategies, first, tell everybody what is incense and, you know, what problem do you guys exist to solve?

Danil:

Yeah. Uh, incense, uh, is a creator marketplace that helps, uh, e-commerce brands to get fresh, authentic content from, uh, creators, basically user generative content. And then, uh, they can apply that like in Facebook ads or TikTok ads and running the campaigns and seeing like, great performance. And the problem we solve is that the content production is not scalable. It's not easy. And to find the right creators for your brand, it's, it's not easy as well as like to negotiate with them, to pitch with them, and like also to send the payments. So we basically one stop shop, uh, to solve that. And, uh, in the end of the day, he comes owners and marketers that they can scale profits with that.

Brett:

Love it. And, and what's beautiful about this is when you get the right piece of content, the right creator saying the right things with the right tone and the right personality, and they say something about your brand, and it's just super powerful, and you then leverage that across all your channels, that's so valuable for your business. The trouble is, yeah, how do you find the right person and how do you pay them and how do you coach them, and how do you coordinate all of that? It just becomes really, really difficult. And so your platform does that. It's a marketplace. It matches brands and creators together. And so more about that coming up. We're gonna dig into to more about Incen. I know people have questions and wanna know about incense. Uh, but let's, let's dive in a little bit and let's, let's get tactical, let's get strategic for brands here. Where, where do brands often go wrong in the content creation process?

Danil:

Great question. Uh, I would say, uh, many brands, they don't have like a lot of experience working with the new social platforms and like new social reality, like Instagram involved, like from the, just the photo sharing service, right? To the video first platform. And right now they're shifting to the creator first platform because of TikTok, because TikTok is a cra creator first platform, right? And, uh, many, uh, marketers, they kind of, they stayed in the world of like static images and, uh, don't get me wrong, like static images, still performing the real grade, but depends on the funnel, Like what it like depends on the product, depends on the, like, uh, offering and so on, so on. So like, so many like little things. And I think like one of the key is like, uh, many marketers, they still, uh, producing a lot of static images instead of like, uh, producing both video content and, uh, static images.

That's number one. The second one, they are, they're treating all social platforms, uh, equally meaning that, okay, what is gonna be working on Instagram? I'm gonna repurpose on TikTok and it's gonna be performing the same. Now, it's not like it's way different platforms, and we have seen like a lot of success, like over repurposing like TikTok content, like in Instagram reel, for instance, but like, not for, uh, Instagram feed. So, and that's like a small nuances that, uh, marketers are doing, uh, are not realizing that. Um, and the last thing, So sometimes they, they don't have, they don't have like a understanding of the platforms and the new concept concept, which is the ugly, the better, meaning that your content doesn't need to be like, super polished, right? So you are not lal, you don't have like these crazy brain guidelines. You should be like more flexible. And, uh, sometimes the content should be like, way great, nice looking, It should be like performing in the of the day. So many marketers, they still, uh, have this approach, uh, and it doesn't work. Uh, and it's not really scalable then

Brett:

Love it. So the uglier the better. Why, why do you think that is? I've got, I've got a theory and, and obviously there, there are, sometimes there are ads that are polished that work great, but, but in a lot of cases, the uglier the better. Why is that?

Danil:

Uh, because of the new platforms, Because of new generations of people, right? So the way how we consume the content, the way how, uh, like next generations are consuming the content. So, uh, it's, uh, popcorn content, right? So like, just a few six seconds, even if it's like, it's not fun, if it's not related to me, then like skip swipe and forget it forever, right? Yeah. So like, that's why right now, uh, you need to be, first of all, explain about your product, explain your, uh, your idea of the advertising, like within the first like 1, 2, 3 seconds, up to three seconds. Uh, that's one thing. Secondly, because of when I see like, my, uh, feet on TikTok or Instagram in stories, even though I see like my friend, like jumping in from the second floor to the pool, right? And like, it's something craziness has happen there. Yeah. And imagine that you see the content, which is like filmed by professional production studios in, uh, like some mountains in Utah, right? So like, and it just like, why I see here that like, uh, I, I'm ready to see that in TV commercials, right? And I'm expecting that, but I don't want to see that. I want to see like something crazy, something that is not gonna be like, so outstanding in my feet. So that's why the ugly the better.

Brett:

I love it. And I think I wanna touch on a couple things. You mentioned, uh, one, one thing that you didn't necessarily mention exactly, but but you implied it for sure, is, you know, being authentic, authenticity is so important, and that's important on every platform, but authenticity looks different on different platforms, right? You talked about how TikTok and Instagram reels, they're pretty similar, right? That's a similar concept. You could probably have the same piece of content work on Instagram reels, also work on TikTok. Uh, you know, we, we do a lot with YouTube at our agency. Occasionally we'll have a client who has the same ad video ad that runs on Facebook, also run on YouTube, but usually not, usually they're quite a bit different. And so if you, if you think about what's happening on TikTok or what's happening on Instagram, you're seeing a lot of raw content, right?

Content from average people. And then when you see something highly polished as you're scrolling through, it immediately screams, this is an ad, this is stilted, this is fake, right? It doesn't feel authentic, it doesn't feel real. Uh, I think this is, this is one of the reasons why if we look at YouTube ads, sometimes actually a little more polished or a little highly produc, more highly produced, does work well there, because there's a lot of YouTube content that's put together, right? Some of your favorite content creators, like, Hey, dude, or dude dad, or, I'm not sure why I'm stuck on dude here, uh, right at the moment. But, but other, other channels on, on, uh, on YouTube, they're a little more polished or a little more put together, feels a little more like tv. So, uh, a slightly higher level of, of production value can work really well on YouTube. It doesn't work well on other platforms, right? And, and I love that you underscored know what the platform is all about, right? Instagram started as a photo sharing platform, and now it's video sharing, and there are lots of travel, so you got all kinds of, you know, landscape photos and travel photos and stuff like that. So that type of content is gonna feel authentic and feel natural as well. So, uh, really love that. Anything, uh, anything else you'd add to that? Um, or should we move on?

Danil:

Yeah, I would adhere. So like, you do expect like, some Polish content, like, uh, on YouTube for sure, because like, that's the nature of the platform. And if you'll see like, uh, the best, uh, creators there, if you, if you don't have like a professional production, somehow professional production, right? Like a good sound, like, uh, all of this stuff, then basically, I'm not sure that you're gonna be successful, like, on the platform. Yeah. So it might be like a bit of shaky, It might be not looks like a tv tv, right? Because it's not tv, it's YouTube, it's different, but like, yeah, I would agree. And like, really depends on the platform. So Facebook or Facebook is way different from Instagram. Instagram is, uh, Instagram basically is like three apps right now. Like, it was Instagram as Instagram, it was like Instagram, which is like Snapchat stories. And right now it's, uh, Instagram, which is reals, which is TikTok, right? So like, that's why like, Instagram is the most complicated and there is a TikTok, right? And like, all of these platforms are really different, and that's why like, you need to approach them like differently. And finding the right creators, some of the creators who are really great, uh, in producing the content, um, that resonates to their audience, like on Instagram, doesn't mean that, uh, this creator will produce the same style content for TikTok. Nah, <laugh>, and

Brett:

Exactly, Yeah. Finding the right creator for the platform is so important. And so I want, I wanna dive into that a little bit. Oh, and one, just one thing point of clarification on, on the YouTube side, what another we found actually is sometimes you can start low production value on YouTube. We have lots of clients that start there, or a mix of high production value with ugc. Mix those two together, right? That some real magic on YouTube, which is great. Um, so let's talk about this for just a minute. You know, I think a lot of people are wondering, Hey, do I need to hire a, a creator? Do I need to go out and find an actor? Do I just need true ugc? So u GC from actual customers, how would you talk about that? Like, how would you kind of compare creator to actor to customer?

Danil:

Yeah, it's a great question. Uh, there is a like, company called VI Media. They're like, Yeah, shout out to them. Shout

Brett:

To those guys. High energy, handlebar, mustache. Cody's always rocking a, a sweet shirt. Um, kinda like, I don't know if, if you've seen the movie, um, Ocean's 11, but, but someone says to Brad Pitt's character, they're like, Why you always dressing like a jilo? And that's, that's how I feel about Cody. Uh, but, but Cody's an awesome guy. I love that guy so much, so Oh, so good. Yeah,

Danil:

Yeah, yeah. And the, the best part, like their, uh, creative scientist, I would put like that. So like, they know what the creators should be like, like consist from, right? So like every single part of that. So they put like a lot of thought there. And like, I love their presentations, like on geek out. Like, I'm sitting there and I'm just like lowering like every single day, right? So like, best guys and why I, why I brought them. So they, uh, the nature of, uh, their business, so like their production studio, right? Like really high quality, and they put like a lot of science there. And, uh, they have like a, a lot of actors. So people who are acting like for the creating u GC style content, uh, it's well scripted, right? But then, uh, what we absorb with them, so we are partners with VI media.

So for Instagram, for instance, like this scripted videos and actors, they, they do work like really well. But for TikTok, no. And that's why like they're studying heavily using incense, uh, for producing like a lot of TikTok. And, uh, then like you, you creating, like, as you mentioned before, like on YouTube, actually, it works like, uh, across all platforms. So something professional, branded content mixed up with the u c, that's the one like that is works like really great. So that's why, like, I don't want to say like, you know, uh, who is the, who's the best, who is the worst? Like in terms of the actors or like, uh, creators and so on. I think like it's, uh, really depends on your goals, right? So sometimes like actors, they can deliver your message like in a really great way. Um, as well as like creators, uh, as well as just like regular people.

I think what what's really important, it's, uh, still be authentic. Yes. So actors, they need to understand your product. They need to try that. If it's coffee, drink this coffee. If it's like some like, I don't know, like, uh, massage machine, then like, try this. Like, just, just before the shooting, just try, just, just have some experience. In that case, you can deliver your message like in proper way. So that's why, uh, this one is really important. And then, like, uh, actors, they're really great, uh, in front of the camera creators. Depends, right? So, uh, someone they acting like really great, someone that still learning, right? With the, uh, just, uh, just your customers. That's the worst part. Select many of them, unfortunately, they can, they don't know how to act, uh, in front of the camera. They don't have like legit sound and so on. So that's why like, this part is tricky one though. They have, uh, the most loyal to your brand if they agree to, uh, shoot some EGC style content. So that's why like, there is a balance between the equality, authenticity, and like, um, if you try this product or not, right? So like, that's why it's really depends on your goals. But I will say, uh, mix this up and see what is it gonna be like the best result for you.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. And in the way that I would kind of break this down, uh, I've always really, really enjoyed authentic customer testimonials when the customers using their own words. But that's difficult, right? So what I've found, and I've, I used to do TV back in the day, and so I, I've been in, in dozens and dozens of interviews with real customers. We had to like chop up and use for TV ads in other places. But what I found is you can't give a customer a script. You give a customer a script, they all of a sudden become wooden and st most of them wooden and stiff, and it just sounds like fake. So with a, with a customer, you just gotta let them speak and usually ask them questions to kinda get them going. And then you're gonna have to do some editing.

You have to do some editing and chopping and, you know, maybe someone talks for three minutes and you use 10 seconds of that, right? But when somebody says something that's authentic and raw and real, it can be a, a magical, you know, bit of video with a, with an actor, the right actor, you can give him a script, right? You can say, I want you to say exactly this thing, and that can work. Although, you know, people can sniff out if something feels authentic or not, right? Just like watching a good movie and you're like, Nah, not buying it. I don't, I'm not feeling anything when I watch that character. Same thing with an actor in an ad. You gotta feel it, you gotta move it, and then you gonna be moved by it. And then, and then yet creators can maybe be kind of somewhere in the middle, right? You kinda give them guidance, but, uh, let them do their own thing. Uh, maybe you give 'em a script, maybe you don't, uh, but they're usually comfortable on camera, which, which is really, which is really handy. So, um, love that. Let's talk a little bit about what are the keys to finding good creators. So, you know, there's millions now of creators and influencers out there. How do we find the right creator for our brand?

Danil:

Yeah, I think like one of the, uh, another, uh, thought that, uh, I would like to bring, uh, not every creator is an influencer. Not every influencer is the creator. Yeah,

Brett:

Great. So, great. Yeah.

Danil:

It's, it's is the thing that we learned for the past, like few years when we realized, okay, there is an influencer, uh, she or he has like, you know, a million of followers great, right? So like, uh, it's definitely resonates. Something more, more over, like engagement is there, but the point is that when you ask this person, like to create some content for ads, completely fail. So they're really great for the organic, uh, info marketing. So just ask them to create some content, but not for ads, because they don't understand like this, the, your creative brief, which is like kindish, uh, script, right? So like, what, what you asking? Like what is the problem you would like to highlight in, in the video and how you, how your product is gonna be, uh, solved that. So, um, that's like one of the statement, right? So that's why we are really focusing on those micro influencers or our creators.

They are able to produce like great content, uh, and the following, it's more like a social proof. That's like one of the thing. Uh, secondly, uh, about the how to choose the right creator for you, uh, for your brand. So I'll start with the just, uh, just the basic metrics like, uh, first of all, platform, right? Uh, what is the pla, are they good, like on this platform, content that they produce, like on this content, easy to resonate to the audience or not? So meaning that you have like some, uh, engagement rates or number of the views, so like this basement that are just to try to understand whether it's like this person is able to produce great content for this platform or not. Secondly, definitely about the, uh, video resumes or portfolio. So what is the branded content, uh, this person produced? Like for, for the br for the brands before, just take a look, uh, and understand like whether they able to speak about your brands or not.

Uh, and definitely like about categories and like, uh, uh, they audiences. So the way how our customers approach like way different, right? So like, uh, on all platform, you can start the, your campaign like in different ways, uh, with the different filters. So the most common is that, uh, I will just select the platform, then I will select, uh, gender if, if it matters, uh, where this person is located. Super important because, uh, probably I need to ship my product. And, uh, if this person located in somewhere like in Germany and, uh, we don't have the shipping process, then like, it might be problem, uh, then like, where's the audience of this, uh, influencer is located? Just understand like whether it's resonates with the audience, uh, like Indus for instance. Um, and then like a category like beauty blogger or like, uh, instant, right? So that's, that's the niche category that just underst like what is gonna be like, uh, works or not.

And then like, once you selected the, uh, the, all of these paras, then, uh, the next, uh, the next stage is just to get like some video rhythms or like, uh, take a look on the, uh, their portfolio, understand what is the, uh, if the content is, uh, great, uh, fit for your brand or not. And then, uh, chat with them, like ask the questions, uh, and understand like whether they, uh, want to work with you, uh, just for money or they love your product, like, uh, and then, uh, they would like to be compensated for their work.

Brett:

Yeah, that's really good. And so, so of course this is not just a snap your fingers process and it all happens, right? You need to look at what is someone's video resume as a creator? Are they creating content that that really feels and looks authentic in a particular platform, whatever platform you are trying to, to advertise on. And then, yeah, have that dialogue and see do they really love the product or do they love just getting paid and being an influencer? Uh, nothing wrong with getting paid, but you really want someone who loves the product and loves the brand that's gonna be much more authentic. So, uh, I wanna talk a little bit about how do we set a creator up to succeed? Uh, because, you know, you and I were talking about this before you hit record. Sometimes you watch a movie and you think that person's not a very good actor. Yeah. But really that's not, not the problem. The problem is the script and the director and the direction this person was given, and maybe they only could do one take and then they moved on, right? So maybe it's not just the actor, maybe it's the, the person behind the scenes. So as a brand, how do we set up a creator to really create great stuff?

Danil:

Yeah, great question. And uh, your example, like, just to remind me, like this situation would be, uh, one of the actor, uh, in the last series of, uh, Star Wars kbi, right? Yeah. So like, uh, people like starting blaming, like, uh, actor about like, uh, she's not acting like well as and so on, but I believe that, uh, there is a question to the script. There is a question to the director <laugh>, like, not to her, right? So that's why like, it's, uh, definitely resonates, uh, about like, yeah, ask, uh, start asking the questions. Uh, and the key is that definitely,

Brett:

And another another analogy is sports too, right? Like, there, there could be one player that that just kills it on one team, but then they go to a different environment with a different coach and a different everything, and they're no longer good, right? So it's like you gotta create the environment for someone to succeed.

Danil:

Absolutely. Like messy, right? So like, he was a rockstar, like best player, like ever in Barcelona. He's still like great player like, uh, in psg, but like, he's not that not

Brett:

The same level.

Danil:

Yeah, not the same level because the environment is different. Yeah. So, uh, I would say like with the, when you're working with the creators, like it's super important. The creative brief, creative brief is 52% of the success, uh, meaning that you can hire like great creators. But again, like if the creative brief, uh, it's not clear, then uh, you gonna be probably failing. So that's why like we are really, uh, putting like a lot of attention of our customers towards the creative brief. And then like if the, uh, team is not, uh, well educated, we actually spend like a couple of, uh, hours to educate them how to create, uh, good creative briefs, uh, while we, they, while we're onboarding. So there are like a few things, uh, that you need to think about. So one of them is a campaign type. So do you want to get like, just content or you want to ask influencer to post this content?

And then also to boost this content in paid. So like there are like different ways of the, uh, of the campaigns. Also the content formats, uh, formats are like, uh, nine, 16 or just square, uh, landscape. So super important. And then, um, also like just the technical question about the lights, about the sound. So sometimes it's important, sometimes, uh, uh, you are requesting, uh, to film something like in bathroom, for instance, if it comes to the beauty, uh, product and then like, because of the echo, uh, it might be like not the great results if you're feeling that on just iPhone, right? So that's why like it's, uh, like some technical require. You should have like some professional mic, for instance. Uh, that's kind of stuff. Uh, and they then like, uh, the content type and messaging. So like, uh, what exactly you are asking about, um, um, about like just the content, like it's, is it like unboxing video?

Is it like a product demo? If it's like, uh, selfie testimonial. So something that, uh, gonna be explaining how you actually should, should, uh, um, do like this content and then like, uh, the, the, the next, uh, the next, uh, step, like actually what they should do, right? Uh, just like it's a raw footage or it's ready to use ads. Is it like, uh, what is the length of this video and like what exactly you need to do, like showcase the box and unbox the products with attention to details or, uh, show close up of the product, interact with the product, or no, uh, no music, nature, light or like artificial one. So like, yeah, there are like so many questions you, it's better to outline there though, do not beat crazy with so many bullets, because, uh, still remember they are freelancers, they're creators and their creative people.

So yeah, just the most important things. Um, and then, uh, key products, uh, features, uh, like why your product is the best one, right? Help creators to understand that because okay, I tried, I like it the taste, for instance. Uh, but like, then I have no idea why it's so good. So I like hair issue, salt. I always struggled with that's like number one, or, uh, thicker hair instantly. It has never been, uh, this easy to make my hair look thicker, right? So like, that's kind of stuff like you need to drop like, and help, uh, creators as the, again, like, not the scripted text, but more about like the guidance and direction.

Brett:

Nice.

Danil:

Um,

Brett:

So you're recommending more bullet points or one liners, things like that, rather than fully scripting out something?

Danil:

Yes, for sure. Like direction. So you can, you, you can ask like, to say like something specifically if that the part of the program, but like, do not the script, the entire, uh, video. Like, please, it's a, it's not, it doesn't work great with, uh, creators. It does work, uh, great with actors <laugh>, right? Sometimes. Yeah. And the last thing is like, uh, it, uh, just like I touch some, uh, script examples and references, uh, something like that.

Brett:

Yeah. So show, show some other, like, I really love the way this creator did this or love this example. Anytime we can share examples, that's good. Yeah.

Danil:

Yeah. So like for instance, like if you just starting and you don't have like, any references for your brand, right? So in that case, you can take a look on new comparisons or like similar products and then saying like, Okay, I this, like, this is my reference. That's how I feel, uh, you should talk about my brand. So this one like is really important. And the last thing is like a super simple, it's dos and don's. So, uh, show different angles, clear audio or like face should be fully in the camera frame. So that kind of stuff. And don't, like, don't sound like an net. My favorite one. Yeah. Uh, don't use, uh, too many shadows. Don't use filters while filming, because some of the creators, they're using filters, the, uh, Instagram filters, right? Like, while they, they crazy. No, please don't. So yeah, that's kind of, uh, suggestion. Uh, I would give

Brett:

Love that so much. And I think it, it's, you really made it clear like, hey, give direction. Don't leave questions unanswered, but also don't be crazy, right? Gi give, uh, preferences for things that matter, but at the end of the day, we want the creator to be authentic and the creator's gonna be authentic if they can put some of their own style towards this. But, but show them kind of what you want them to say and where they need to be and lighting in some of those tips. But, uh, but give enough, but don't go overboard. I think, uh, would be a way to summarize that. So that's awesome. Uh, just a couple more questions. That's been amazing, Daniel, and we, uh, really, really appreciate it. But, um, what do people need to know about TikTok? TikTok is obviously hot, everybody's talking about it, a few people understand it, I think. So what are the differences with TikTok content versus other platforms?

Danil:

Yeah. Um, it's, uh, it's interesting even though like, uh, TikTok is saying like they, they're kind of like outline is make TikTok is not at Yeah. And I think like that's actually explains like a lot of things Yep. Because, uh, TikTok is a way different platform. Uh, first of all is a, a creator plus platform, meaning that without creators, this pla platform is nothing without creators like Instagram. Uh, we'll survive with the memes, you know, like, and, uh, other like portals. But like, not gonna be like that successful Facebook, for instance, like without creators easy, right? So that's why like, it's, it's so different. Um, another thing like about TikTok, um, people think about like TikTok, it's only for my kids.

Brett:

Yeah.

Danil:

It's not anymore. Like they're all like, uh, a lot of people and the majority of the people at the age of, uh, where they can make decision and purchase the product, meaning that like 20 plus age old, age old, right? And then, uh, they also, um, so many elder generation like actually joined TikTok and found that like, it's, uh, it's my place to go. Another funny thing that what I heard like from, uh, geek out, uh, folks like from the last one in Barcelona, TikTok becoming like the internet for, uh, Gen Z, meaning that they're interesting, they're Google it. They're yeah,

Brett:

Yeah. They're searching on TikTok for things, right? Yeah. Right,

Danil:

Right. And so like

Brett:

Crazy,

Danil:

Their, their request starting with a TikTok, like, do you need to find, like where, uh, would, I would like to, to order like a food, go to TikTok, go to

Brett:

TikTok,

Danil:

Uh, restaurant TikTok. So like, they google it on TikTok, so they toing <laugh>. So

Brett:

Google, Google really appreciates that language where they Google it on TikTok, but Yeah, but it's happy I've heard that too. People start like, yeah, people start on TikTok, which is super interesting.

Danil:

Yeah. So, uh, it's, uh, and also like, it's fascinating to see like that, uh, TikTok took only five years to reach out to reach a, the 1 billion user mark, like just five years. It's like, it's crazy. And like 130 million are active users in the us so it's a massive audience, just massive.

Brett:

Massive, Yeah. Uh, yeah. And, and it's super interesting. Like for me, my, my own journey with TikTok as a user, it wasn't my, my favorite platform. In fact, when I first used it, I, I honestly hated it that I, the stuff I was saying, I was like one of my, like a 13 year old boy, like, what am I looking at? Uh, but then someone was like, Hey, no, no, no, just, just like search for things you like, click on things you like. And now my feet is actually pretty good. It's all like sports and business and comedy and stuff, which is really fun. I still don't use it that much. I'm more like of an Instagram user and a YouTube user, just, just, um, that's what I enjoy. But, um, yeah, TikTok is exploded and it can't be ignored. You gotta look into it.

Um, gotta use it. So, uh, so yeah, but it's really interesting. It is a creator first platform that's, that's super interesting. Whereas Facebook, Matt is people, you know, just people on, on on Facebook. But TikTok is all about the, the creator. Totally makes sense. So, um, let, let's talk about this, Uh, Daniel, let's, let's talk about incense. And so you, you've kind of highlighted a little bit as we've gone what you guys do, but, but really, who, who is this marketplace for? So, so what types of brands, uh, can really benefit from the marketplace and, and kind of walk through what, what is the experience like of using incense to, to find the, the right creators?

Danil:

Right. Uh, so we are creator marketplace, meaning that like, we are really only the transaction between the, uh, creator and the marketer, uh, and helping you to make it happen. And, uh, I would say like our ideal customer profile is, uh, midsize commerce. So, uh, we have like, great now five, uh, hundred brands, uh, and 90% of them are e-commerce. So we love, uh, working with the e-commerce, it's like, it's our bread and butter. So we're doing like a lot of integration with method. You talk easy

Brett:

To get, easy to get creators to talk about like physical products, right? Creators like to talk about yes. Stuff and like to unbox and do some of those fun things more than a, you know, an info product or something like that

Danil:

Ex. Exactly. And like that's one was one of the key reasons. So why we, uh, felt it's better to work with the e-commerce brands because like people, creators, they love working with the e-commerce because they always getting like some new products to test out and see. And also e-commerce brands, they innovators, like I know Mushroom industry, right? So like mushroom milk, Have you ever heard about that? I never thought about that. Right? So, but it is a thing, and you can try this out or like mushroom tea or whatever. Like

Brett:

There is, I drink, I drink a mushroom tea almost every afternoon, just finished one before I recorded this. And I, and I put mushroom creamer in my coffee now, so I don't understand mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Danil:

Yeah, it just like a so niche products that, uh, e-commerce brands, they, they, they created like every other day. So, and for the creators, they have the access to try this out and like, uh, super early. And then like, uh, with that, it's so easy to explain what is, what is this about? Because, uh, the other, like, small part of our customers, primarily it's mobile apps and, uh, digital native products. And I would say like, sometimes it's so hard to explain about this product and like actually show page that in a, in a authentic way and not like as the app, like for instance, if it's a yoga app, so easy, right? But like, if it's coming like some FinTech product, b2 C completely, like, it looks like cheesy, like when you explain

Brett:

Explaining an app in authentic way is way different than saying, do this my favorite new cream, put my coffee, check it out. Like that's, that's easy. Yeah, yeah,

Danil:

Yeah. So that's why like, we love working with a, with the e-commerce and like, uh, I would say like, we are the best, like for those e-commerce brands that are at, at the stage of scaling. So they, they should spend like some, like thousands of dollars like on ads spend, like Facebook, uh, YouTube, uh, Instagram, uh, TikTok and so on. So buying media and for that they need a lot of s to test out and see like, what is the winners and put the entire budget there. So in that case, like that's the best customers for us.

Brett:

That's fantastic. Cool. And so where those that, that are interested, they wanna find out more, uh, where should they go online to, to learn?

Danil:

Well, uh, my place to go is Twitter. So there are e-commerce marketers, uh, like Nick Shackle fold, uh, Jambo, uh, who are chatting and like posting a lot of stuff like around, uh, creators, u GC and wan, uh, definitely like Twitter and hashtag u gc. So, uh, you can find like a lot of great stuff there. Uh, also you can, uh, go to our blog post, uh,

Brett:

A great blog.

Danil:

Yeah, we're trying to shame that, like being really helpful to community. So what we learn from customers, actually almost every piece of the content there, it's like, it's coming from our partners, so our customers when we're just practically listening them and like then putting together like all thoughts there.

Brett:

Yep. That's great. So incense.pro, and that's i n s e n s e dot p r o. So check that out, check out the blog. Awesome stuff. Great service. Daniel, you're just super smart. Love talking to you. Thanks for being, uh, so open and so, so generous with your ideas. And, uh, now can people follow you on the socials? Are you active on any of those platforms sharing your knowledge or are you mainly sharing on, on the blog?

Danil:

Well, uh, great question. So like, I'm active, but, and I was active and still active on LinkedIn. I love this platform and, uh, everyone told me ex uh, including geek out folks that you should be, uh, on Twitter and I give up on Twitter in 2013. Yeah. So I can, That's what

Brett:

Everybody's like, Yeah, yeah. I, I on Twitter a long time ago, but like everybody's on Twitter now. Uh, I still have not like developed, um, a routine of getting on Twitter and checking stuff. But yeah, I know like Nick Shackleford and others are posting constantly on, on Twitter and posting some really good stuff. I just have not developed a habit of fully, fully being there. I'm, I'm more on Facebook, ig, I'm on LinkedIn some and then, and then of course YouTube. So, uh, Daniel, this has been fantastic, man. Thank you so much for doing this and we'll, we'll have to do it again sometime.

Danil:

Thanks so much, Brad, for much game. Awesome.

Brett:

It was, Thank you. You bet. And as always, thank you for listening. We'd love to hear from you. What do you like about the show? Uh, hey, leave that review on iTunes if you haven't already. Makes my day and helps other people find the show as well. And so with that, until next time, thank you for listening.




Episode 208
:
Travis Zigler - Eye Love

Lessons Learned from Building and Selling a Multimillion Dollar Brand

Dr. Travis Zigler knows a thing or two about the entrepreneur’s journey.Sometimes the path you end up taking as an entrepreneur is NOT the path you had in mind when you set out.Travis and his wife, Jenna, are both optometrists by trade, but they had an itch to build an eCommerce business. They started with sunglasses, then landed with a dry eye product, but what began as a product-focused company shifted to a customer-focused business.Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • How to cultivate raving fans.
  • How Travis and Jenna shifted from selling plastic to serving a person.
  • How and why they built a YouTube channel.
  • How they almost sold the business for nothing but then turned things around.
  • His most important lessons from success and failure.

Mention in This Episode:

Travis Zigler

   - LinkedIn


Eye Love

Profitable Pineapple on YouTube

Profitable Pineapple Amazon group on Facebook

Ryan Daniel Moran

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph


Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today I've got an expert. I've got a friend, I've got a guy that you're just gonna love, you're gonna love this interview, I can guarantee it. Uh, we're gonna be talking about lessons learned from building and selling a multimillion dollar brand. And hey, we may even talk a little bit about ad agencies as well, just for fun. We may throw that in for good measure. Uh, but my guest today is Dr. Travis Ziegler, co-founder of I Love. He's now serving as the president there. He's also the CEO of Profitable Pineapple Ads. And so I think, in fact, I don't think I know, I first met Travis at Ryan Daniel Moran's house. We were hanging out at Ryan's Lake house. Um, he's part of Ryan's community and does some things. I'm an investor. And anyway, uh, we've met and we're like, Dude, uh, this guy's awesome. He's really bright and I love what he's doing. And he, he works with his wife and they've done amazing things in the eyecare space. And he is also a doctor, so we need to find out how is he a doctor, Uh, and then we're gonna get into just all kinds of fun lessons and stories and goodness along his journey. So, with that, Travis, what's up my man? How you doing

Travis:

Brett? Thanks for having me on. Excited to be here and excited to be on this podcast cuz I, I'm a longtime listener.

Brett:

Yeah, thanks. I really appreciate that. And, uh, thanks for taking the time. So a couple of things that are interesting. I wanna, I wanna, uh, you want you to tell people how you're a doctor and are you a real doctor? I know that you are, but, uh, people may be questioning are you a real doctor? Um, so I wanna talk about that. Also, uh, we get to see each other a handful of times a year, probably at different events. We're we're quasi competitors, right? Like you, you've got an agency, I've got an agency. We do, um, harass each other, I think, in a very healthy and fun and friendly way as far as that goes. Uh, but then just tons of respect in terms of what you've built. And so we'll focus mostly on the brand you've built, which will be fun. But I also wanna talk agency just a little bit, uh, towards the end as well. That's right. That's awesome. So, uh, explain Travis, what kind of doctor are you? And then, uh, what is I love before we dig into the, the full story.

Travis:

So, uh, I, I am a fake doctor to some, but I am, I do have my doctor ri <laugh>. Most people just think of a doctor as an md. I have my optometry degree, um, a doctorate optometry. So it's an OD not an md. And my wife is also an optometrist. That's where we met, that's where we fell in love. That's where

Brett:

We do do people. Uh, and sorry, I cut that off. You guys like the cutest, You guys like the cutest e-com couple slash agency couple. Love hanging out with you guys, Everybody loves you. Um, do, do people look down on optometrists because I'm, I'm, I'm reminded of, I don't remember know if you remember the Seinfeld episode, You're an anti <laugh>, <laugh> say, where Jerry is like, uh, you know, dentist are real doctors and Kramer calls him an anti dite. It was just, just one of the funniest episodes. But do people look down on optometrists? Cause cause you're a real doctor.

Travis:

Yeah, so it's the same thing as dentists, as chiropractors, as opt optometrists, we're, we're four years postgraduate. And so after that four years, we can go into practicing right away. Whereas an MD goes through their four years of training, then they'll go under their residency, and then they usually have a specialization after that. So MDs usually are in school for four years, but then they have the residency in training, that's usually another four to 12 years depending on what you specialize in. And so we don't have that, that's optional for us. We can go out and practice right after that. Four years.

Brett:

Nice. So, so you, um, went to optometry school, met your wife there, fell in love, got married, and then you guys started opening clinics, right? Started opening eye clinics. That was, that was something you did relatively early on?

Travis:

Yeah, so in 2010 and 2011 is when we graduated and we actually worked for my uncle who is in Columbus, Ohio. And that's where we graduated from was the Ohio State University. And, um, what happened is you just, I didn't know I was an entrepreneur at the time, but I just had this itch that I didn't wanna work for somebody else. And so we did the three things you're not supposed to do. We sold or we quit our jobs, we sold our house and we moved across the country and started two businesses. So we started two clinics from scratch in 2015. And that was the same year we got into this Amazon space too, because I went from seeing six patients an hour at my uncle's crazy busy clinic to seeing one an hour at my new startup practice. And so, like any new startup online, it's gonna be slow at first.

My uncle's been in practice for over 40 years now, and he bought the practice off somebody that had been in practice for 30 years. So this is a practice that's 70 years old, so you can imagine how crazy it is and how busy it is. And so that's like key point number one. I'm gonna just slam down on this podcast is time is your friend in any business, more time you have the bigger it's gonna go. So when I was seeing one patient an hour, I was extremely bored. And a course called Amazing Selling Machine came across by desk and

Brett:

Shout out to Matt Clark, friend of the show friend of mine, one of one of the, the founders of Amazing Selling Machines, which by the way, I believe it still holds a record. Highest selling, highest grossing info product ever. Amazing selling machines. There you go. Really?

Travis:

Yeah. Really that's, I believe because they've been around for a while. I think they're on like ASM like 15 now, so Yep. Yep. It's, um, it's a great, great product. And bought that and started selling sunglasses. That was our, our product. We did a product research and that was the one we went into. It was, uh, we just, we were looking at baby products like everybody does. And there was just something about like, it didn't feel right cause we didn't have a baby, and so we were like, let's just do what we know. Let's try sunglasses. So we ended up becoming this sunglass company and you know, we were building these three brands all at once from 2000 15, 16, 17. And what we saw is this steady ascent in our, um, clinics on lot our clinics. But then as you know, with Amazon, you just see this steady and then all of a sudden hockey stick growth. And we knew something had to give. We were running a 2.5 million company while running two optometry clinics full time. And so we knew we had to do something. And so that's when we started, you know, pivoting and focusing more on this online space completely. And we ended up selling all our practices. Um, and then 2018 we went full time into this and haven't regretted it one day since.

Brett:

That is, that is amazing. And and kudos to you guys. I know, I know you're smart, but running two clinics and running an online store, that's a lot of work. And so, uh, you made the right call, right? You made the right call by selling the clinics and, and going all in on online market or on, on your online businesses. And so, so you did sunglasses to begin with and that did really well. Explain though, what what is I love and and how did you make that transition from sunglasses to what you do now?

Travis:

Yeah, so we're selling pieces of plastic essentially from China, which is like the death wish of selling online in my opinion, because when you're selling pieces of plastic from China, you're not really building anything around it and you're just kind of selling it and you're inviting China to come in and undercut you on price. And so we were selling sunglasses and we were doing really well with that, but we weren't serving a need and there wasn't something there that like made you wanna get outta bed other than the money, right? And as you know, as I know, money will drive you so far, but until it doesn't, and then once it doesn't, you're gonna feel empty. And so we want to, and

Brett:

It's pretty hard to stir that up, right? If money is the only driving factor and that is no longer exciting, it's pretty hard to manufacture passion and, and excitement, uh, when it's not there. It's almost impossible.

Travis:

Yeah. So we were building this up and in my practice we were selling products, We were selling products for dry eye, um, eyelid sprays, eyelid wipes, eyelid masks, all these things that we were selling from other brands. And we were at a show, uh, capitalism.com conference. It wasn't called then. It's called the Tribe Summit back then. And there's a doctor on stage and he was getting drilled by this panel and this panel was like, You're the doctor, why are you selling all these other people's products and why aren't you selling your own? And I was just like, light bulb moment and so sweet. I went back

Brett:

To my the doctor

Travis:

Too. Yeah, exactly. <laugh>. And I went back to my clinic and I looked at all the products I was selling on my shelf, not glasses, but like things that were actually helping people, like eyelid, cleansers, eyelid wipes, like I talked about. And we were selling multiples of these per day. I'm talking 10 to 20 to 30 in our practice per day easily. And we didn't see a lot of patients, so it was a lot, it was high volume. And we decided that we wanted to start coming out with one of these in our own brand each quarter. And that's how we kind of started with the product side. But at the same time as this, what we noticed is fun, funny, funny story is we were gonna come out with a pediatric clinic and it ended up giving us, God gave us a geriatric clinic, <laugh>, and so exact opposite of what we wanted <laugh>, but

Brett:

What we, how did, how did that happen? So you're, you're going for peds and then you end up with geriatric. How, how'd that happen?

Travis:

Where we moved, we didn't realize where we moved and it was very old and it was like old South Carolina. Um, lots of, lots of disease, diabetes, hypertension, um, high blood pressure of course. And then, uh, glaucoma and dry eye and with dry eye is debilitating. It keeps people from working, keeps people from driving. And it's just the debilitating disease that we were helping people with quite a bit. And we saw this and so we were just like, this is amazing. Like we're making a big impact with dry eye, why don't we create a community around this? And so we ended up creating a Facebook group. We're still just a sunglass brain at this point. Create this Facebook group called the Dry Eye Syndrome Sport Community. And I did promise Ryan, I would never say this again, but Ryan ran, said it was probably the dumbest thing we could ever do to come out with this dry eye.

Brett:

Shout, shout out to Ryan. Yeah,

Travis:

Ryan is one of the greatest mentors. He's

Brett:

Fantastic. One of the best entrepreneurs you, you or I have ever been around. I totally agree.

Travis:

And he's been a mentor of mine for five years and that was the one piece of bad advice he ever gave me. But the rest has been amazing and I just like to harp him on that. So <laugh>, um, we ended up coming out with this dry eye syndrome sport community and I think August of 2016. And no dry eye products at this time, just sunglasses. And we just started wanting to serve. And that's all we did is we just served inside this community. Um, went live every single week and talked about something regarding dry eye and absolutely nobody showed up now, one single person. But what happened was, I think the Facebook algorithm started seeing some activity in there of us going live every week in that group. And about six months later, we were starting to pick up people and it started snowballing after that.

And people were asking questions, we'd go live and answer those questions and we just kept doing that over and over again. And now the community's about 20,000 people strong. And it grows. That's crazy. Drastically. I mean, it's a dramatic growth curve because like everything, it starts out slow, then you hit this hockey stick and it just, it grows really, really quickly. And unfortunately we can't do videos anymore, but that's how we built our Facebook group, which then turned into products, which then turned into a YouTube channel, which then turned into a blog and it just kind of snowballed into all this content that we could put out there to reach more and more people. So the Facebook group's really what started it all. Um, and we can kind of dive into that a little bit more if you want, or we can kind of

Brett:

Keep going. Yeah, would love to. I wanna talk, um, first though about just kind of the, the idea of the shift in focus of the business, right? You went from selling pieces of plastic from China to selling to a group of people, right? Or to an individual customer, someone with dry eyes. And, and you talk about how like if someone has dry eyes and, and I don't, so I I don't necessarily relate and probably a lot of people listening don't have dry eyes either, but for those who do, it's debilitating. Like you can't live your life. You can't do things with, with dry eyes. And so that product that you eventually developed was a, was a game changer, was a life changer for a lot of people. Um, and you were seeing that in the clinic. So, um, talk about that. Why is that an important shift going from just selling a product to really reaching a, an individual customer, reaching a, a person.

Travis:

Cause when you serve a person, they can change your life with just one simple sentence. And that's what happened to us is we were serving this dry eye community. We were answering their questions, We were selling products in our clinic that we were eventually gonna make our own products, but we didn't know which one we wanted to do first or how to find a manufacturer for that. Cuz these were things that were going in the body and on the body and we had to find somebody here in the States. We didn't wanna go to China for that. Right? And when you serve a person, they tell you what they need. Yeah.

Brett:

And

Travis:

When you, you don't even have to write copy. Like I'm, I'm a good copywriter, I'm not a great copywriter, but I'm a good copywriter cuz I listen to my customer and I literally write down what they say and their pain points. And if you're struggling with copy, pick up the phone and call 10 customers. Ask 'em why they bought your product. You're gonna have a whole sales page from that. And that's the beauty of listening to your customers and building that customer. Where with sunglasses, Why'd you buy my product to block the sun? Oh, thanks <laugh>. Why'd you buy our product though? So

Brett:

It's cheaper? Yeah,

Travis:

Yeah. There, there wasn't anything there. There was no substance. So, um, story around our, our hero product. The first product we came out with called Hydrate Limb Lash Cleanser. We had to change our brand name because we were in a lawsuit. The, the year we released it, um, over the name I love, which we won against the pharmaceutical.

Brett:

Kudos to you buddy. Look at that. David taken on Goliath. <laugh> won that one.

Travis:

It was not fun number one. And Goliath had a lot more resources. <laugh>,

Brett:

But,

Travis:

But they went up for sale and they had to close the lawsuit and

Brett:

See Nice.

Travis:

And so it, it still was eight months of drain out of us. But anyway, so hydrate Lynn Lash cleanser, we came out with that because we were selling a product called Anova. And this ANOVA product was $30 a month and very affordable pharmaceutical company sold it and they upped the price from $30 to $300 a month.

Brett:

Whoa.

Travis:

You can, it's now down to 40 again. Um, no, it sounded 30 online now. And at that time a customer came up to me and this is in my clinic and dry ice sufferer. And she said, Hey, they just upped this from $30 to $300. You're an entrepreneur, figure out how to make this

Brett:

Nice.

Travis:

That was on a Tuesday. By Sunday we had it in manufacturing.

Brett:

Wow.

Travis:

Because we just started reaching out to, to manufacturers of this product. This product's very specialized, it's very hard to make and there's only two people that can make it right in the world. And we have one of 'em and Anos the other. And so, um, our competitor and that all came from listening to our customers. Yeah. And I think you get good at that as a doctor is listening to your customers cuz they're there face to face and you're trying to address their problems. And if you don't address the problems, you're going somewhere else. Same thing with your customers online. Listen to them. Why they buy your product, What is the problem that they're solving or you're trying to solve? That's your copy, that's your bullet point sets everything that you build around. And then all we did from there on out as this community started building is we asked them, what else are you using for your dry eye? Yeah, that was the next product and the next product and the next product. Now we're up to about 14 skews and we're pretty soon gonna come out with, I think gonna be our best selling product. Um, we've never done eyedrops and we're finally coming out with an eyedrop cuz we've found two different eyedrops that we truly believe in that are completely different than what's out on the market. And they're truly gonna make an impact on somebody's life. So

Brett:

That is awesome. When, when did the eye drops hit? When can we be expecting the eyedrops?

Travis:

Uh, January, hopefully of 2023. Okay.

Brett:

<laugh>. Okay. Awesome. Awesome. Love it. So a couple things I wanna underscore there. When you, when you shift to serving a customer, serving a person, instead of just selling a product, then really everything becomes clearer, right? Where you know what to offer next. If you ask and if you listen, your customer will tell you what to launch first, what to launch next. The product roadmap becomes much clearer. I love what you said about good copy. I also fancy myself as a bit of a copywriter, don't do too much anymore, but took a copywriting course, used to write radio ads to did stuff like that. I enjoy it. But the most powerful copy comes from the customer, right? And then I, I can't remember who I heard said say this, but the most powerful tool that a copywriter can use is copy and paste, right? I copy this winning testimonial, I paste it into my ad.

Like that's where you really win and where you can create some breakthroughs. So, uh, love that. I love the shift. You know, you know, some, some companies really are a product first customer to a certain degree and, you know, to use a a really well known example, obviously Apple, you know, they just create amazing products and it's got mass reach, but I think you could probably drill down to the, the person they're serving too. But I think for most of us it's a clearer, more profitable, more predictable model to be a, a person first company rather than a, a product first company. So, so kudos to you guys on that. Any other comments on that piece?

Travis:

I think that you guys have a great client as an example. Um, I've followed Ezra since I started this company. Ezra and Ryan have been my two Ryan, It's actually been my mentor. Yeah. Ezra's been my digital mentor. I don't think we've met twice. Maybe he probably doesn't know who I am. But, um, he is, you guys do great with his ads because his ads, even though I don't see him, because you guys don't target me anymore. Yeah,

Brett:

Yeah. <laugh>

Travis:

Focus on

Brett:

That. You're not a 50 plus year old female, so you're not, you're not in the target market. Of

Travis:

Course the testimonials, the problem based marketing is just, it's, it's perfect and it works so well.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. And boom by c Joseph is really all about the person, right? It's, it's pro age. It's, hey, you are in this stage of life where society tells you you need to be anti-age society says, you know, your best days are behind you. But we say no, that's bs You are powerful. You're strong, you wanna look your best of course, but embrace where you are, right? So all the products are are pro age to make you look and feel great. But also, you know, a lot of the models are not coloring their hair, they're letting it go gray and they're, they're just, they're embracing the stage of life they're in. So, yeah. Uh, they do a brilliant work. Uh, we get to be a part of that and you get to help execute, but it's really all about that, that person more than it is the, the product, which is beautiful. So, um, that's, that's fantastic. So, um, uh, a few questions. I guess, you know, what, what are, what are some of the, uh, what are some of the, the, the biggest lessons along the way? I know you've already touched on some of them, but what are some other high points that you like to share with other entrepreneurs that, that you learned along the journey?

Travis:

Yeah, I mean, so many and 2017, 2019 have been the biggest learning years is things will happen to you in your life. And when you have a why in your business, like serving a who and having a why behind it. So we wanted to, to heal 1 million dry eye sufferers. Naturally that helps get you through the tough times cuz tough times will hit. And I say 2017 and 19 as examples because 2019 was the, or 2017, excuse me, was the year we were in a lawsuit with a pharmaceutical company and we knew our bigger why and that's what got us through that. But we also lost $50,000 to trying to expand to Europe. We also got a $100,000 inventory order stuck at customs and they were going to destroy it during our peak season, which was sunglasses. All of that was, we were able to get through that.

Brett:

All of that happened in one year.

Travis:

That was happening in six months. Yes. It was all

Brett:

Compacted right there. That brutal, that's brutal. And

Travis:

This was at the same time as we were pregnant with our first child. So there's a lot coming down on us at that, that time. And it was funny cuz when we gave birth to him, not me, my wife,

Brett:

You had the easier role in that process for sure. Yeah.

Travis:

I don't know. I delivered the baby. It's not that easy down there. <laugh> <laugh>.

Brett:

And did you go to bed? Did you really deliver the baby? You caught the baby? Yeah,

Travis:

We did it. We did it at home.

Brett:

Nice. So we, we actually did, um, all but two of our births, uh, with a midwife at home. I did not catch though. I was like more, I was more the doula, uh, although we had one of those too. But I was more the support. But kudos to you for catching. That's awesome.

Travis:

So when that happened though, that was like the release point. The lawsuit dried up, the inventory got released, everything just kind to lay down. But that all goes back to just having our why. Yeah. And having that why and knowing that we're here to serve that dry eye suffer. And we had just released our first dry eye product in 2017. And so that was what got us through it. We knew there was something bigger at play here than just these little things, but we were running outta money. And so it taught us a lot about money. It taught us a lot about positioning. And so really honing in on your strength. Hmm. And at that time I was doing inventory. I'm a ceo, I'm not an inventory guy, Right. And I over ordered inventory, took our cash flow down to nothing. When that inventory order got stuck, we had to order more to get it in for season.

And then we were stuck with so much inventory, which is cash on the shelf. And so we were cash strapped. But that learning lesson from that was, I am not a logistics operations guy. My wife stepped into that role. I stepped into the CEO role, visionary marketing sales, and that division was what kind of led to the next wave of our company taking off. We went from, you know, a multimillion or two, one to $2 million company all the way up to about a four and a half million dollar company as a result of just shifting into our roles and picking what we're strong at. And then really emphasizing that that was a big point that we learned from 2017. And then also we got into Profit First, which is a book by Mike Mcow. Itz.

Brett:

I've heard of that. Yeah. I know a few, uh, small business owners that use that and, and speak really highly of it.

Travis:

It's, it's brilliant when it comes down to it. And what you do is, it's the envelope model. So you get a hundred dollars, you divide it into 10% for ti for church, 5% for charity, uh, 10% for inventory, 10% for, or 50% for opex. Um, but the goal of it is you profit first, so you take your money out for profit. So you don't go through all your expenses and then figure out, see

Brett:

What's left.

Travis:

Yeah. Yeah. You figure out your profit, you figure out your payment to yourself, you figure out your taxes and then after that you then go into your opex and what can I afford to do? We even took it a step further and made an inventory account too. And so when we, we had these allocations for all this, what what that did for us is it just cleared our mind because inventory bill came, you just paid out inventory account. When the inventory account becomes too excess where we have too much cap capital in there, we then come out with a new product cause then we can't. And so it was a amazing learning experience just of from 2017 of role playing, of knowing where you're supposed to be in the business. Yeah. Uh, how to manage the money and then just how to grow. And those were kind of the biggest lessons that we learned during that stage of the, of the business. And then ongoing, we could talk about 2019, which is another.

Brett:

Yeah. Let's do get into that in just a minute. I wanna underscore though a few things you talked about, which, which were just brilliant. Um, really I love that if you, if you know your who right? And you have a clear and compelling why that's gonna kind of pull you through any how or in any, any difficulties, right? If, if the goal is just, I gotta make a couple extra bucks so we really like a new car, something like that. You're gonna probably give up when you, when you face a 2017, uh, in your business, which we all do. Um, or

Travis:

When you get the new car, it's gonna be like, Oh, this

Brett:

Is it. Yeah. So I'm done now I guess. I mean this car's even not, not even that great. Right? But I got it. Um, yeah. So, so you guys understanding roles and this, this is where we've had breakthroughs in our business as well as an agency. We've had, we've had a few inflection points, but when we identified the right person on our team to step in as coo, our name is Sarah. Like when we got her in that role a number of years ago, that really unlocked some things in our business where I could focus on my brilliance and, and my co-founder Chris Brewer code as well. And it unlocked a new level of growth, right? So getting the right people in the right positions, that's key. I think some of us as entrepreneurs, we, we are so focused, I think there's probably a higher percentage of us that are focused on the marketing and the sales and the growth and the creativity more than the financial health of the business.

Obviously we all wanna make money and we wanna be financial, he financially healthy, but we don't think about how important that is. Right. And when you, when you are financially stable, it just creates so many more opportunities, right? And especially as we're, as we're recording this, you know, kinda uncertain times in the economy and who knows what's gonna happen. But the companies that are financially sound, you know, when a recession hits, you get opportunities. Right Now you can go buy stuff and you can go buy other, other companies and things like that. When you're strapped, you are kind of stuck. Um, but I love that this is just kinda the way life works. It seems that sometimes it's, it's, it takes really difficult times to kind of force you into those difficult decisions of how to get the right people in the right places on the, on the, uh, the company, in the company. And then how do we get financially sound. So, um, yeah. Fantastic lessons. Super cool. Um, but yeah, let, let's, uh, let's unpack, uh, 2019 just a little bit. What, what, uh, what funds have transpired that year,

Travis:

The next, the next odd year? Um, you know, 2017 was the first one that was tough. 2019, we actually almost sold our company.

Brett:

Wow. And

Travis:

We almost sold it to an aggregator for nothing. I mean absolutely nothing. Not even close to what it was worth. And Ryan actually saved us <laugh>. And so we were shiny object syndrome really took over that year. And we were trying everything. So what got us to where we were was focusing on Amazon and really drilling down on that. The unfortunate thing is I joined a mastermind, not Ryan's, but a different one that was focused on direct to consumer and direct to consumer. There's nothing wrong with it. And if you're good at it, great for you. Um, it's very tough. It's a very hard business to be in.

Brett:

And it's a different skillset from building an Amazon business. I think both are extremely important, but the skills to build a d TOC business and the skills to build an Amazon business are quite different.

Travis:

So we wanted to build our Shopify website. And so we hired an agency that was not cheap and to build our Shopify and we kept them on for too long. But what happened was, is when we shifted to Shopify and all our focus and resources and money went to that, our Amazon business started shrinking. So we stopped focusing on what was, what got us to where we were and started focusing elsewhere. And so many entrepreneurs do that as they focus on something else. Or I'll go just specifically to an Amazon business. What I see a lot of Amazon businesses do is they'll have this hero product and 80% of their energy is going on their second product they're trying to launch, but they can't get it off the ground. And then this one starts to slip a little bit cuz they took their eyes off the prize.

So really focusing on what worked to get you there will really help get you to the next level if you just keep focusing on that. So 2019, we took it on over to Shopify. We ended up breaking even that year. We didn't even profit anything because we put out so much resource, so many resources into that. And what we realized is we were also doing other things. We started three other businesses that year and we were trying to do other things as well. And I remember the, I was in our Chevy Volt charging at a charging station and we were talking to Ryan Moran and he's just like, you know, you just need to stop doing everything and just focus on what got you here in the first place. He's, I was like, You want me to just quit the businesses? He's like, Yeah, just quit 'em. Do what happens. Are you really gonna forget about, Are you really gonna miss that business that's doing 10 to 20 to 30,000 a year when you have a multimillion dollar business over here?

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Travis:

I was like, okay. And so we literally just stopped doing three businesses. Wow. And they were all doing decent Kudo

Brett:

And Ryan for giving the advice, Kudos to you guys for doing it. Cause that takes some courage to just say, Nope, we're just gonna kill this. We built it, we did all the work, but we're gonna kill it.

Travis:

And that was the first year we shrunk. So that was the first year revenue shrunk and then profit was break even After we did all that, we the next year took off again. We grew 20% and profit, of course, I can't even say it X because we were at zero the year before. So <laugh> Yeah. We had, we had profit and that was

Brett:

Infinity symbol there.

Travis:

Yeah. And then, um, and 2020 was the year that we actually ended up going for sale in 2021 based on the 2020 even a number. And so it's amazing. That led us to our sale in 2021.

Brett:

It's amazing. Such a good lesson. And, and I remember, um, hearing, uh, I think it's in the book, um, the way Google works, it's, it's about, uh, uh, uh, Eric Schmidt talks about this and he used to be at Sun Microsystems and then at Google. But really you've gotta focus 70 to 80% of your time, energy, and attention on your core business. So where are those profits coming, coming from? Thinking about the profits, profits first methodology, Where are the profits coming from? 70 to 80% of your time's gotta be spent there, right? You do wanna expand, you do wanna do the next thing, but only 20% of your time can go to that stuff. Right. Or maybe it's 10 or 15. And so, but what I think what, what you guys did, cuz you just said it and I think what, what so much brewers do is yeah, but the old business, like the core business, that's boring.

Uh, I no longer get excited about that. I want the new thing, right? So I'm gonna spend 80% of my time on the new thing. And that's almost certainly a recipe for decrease in sales, right? And, and kind of getting to this year where maybe you can track or maybe you lose all your profits, you know, that, that type of thing. So, so yeah, you can't kill the core. You gotta keep doing, you gotta, you gotta focus on the core of why are you valuable? Why did you get here in the first place? Why do customers love you? What's the product that's hot? Um, so yeah. Really, really good advice. That's, that's fantastic. Um,

Travis:

The more boring you make your business, the better you're going to do. That's what I've learned. And it's, um, it's been a, so we've been able to expand the agency as a result of just making it extremely boring. Yeah. I love extremely boring. We do two things. Well we do Amazon PVC well and we do Google ads well to Amazon. And that's the two things we do really well. It was audience building, but when we got bought, we actually had to stop the audience building part because we couldn't build our YouTube.

Brett:

What part of your agreement with the buyout stuff. Yeah.

Travis:

Yeah. So it was a interesting time for that. But um, yeah, you make your business boring and then you focus on what you're good at. So for example, I see you doing it all the time. I always see you on stage, everywhere you go, you're traveling constantly to get in front of other people. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that is your core job. Cuz you, I can tell you love doing it, number one. Yeah. And when you're in that, it attracts more people to the agency as a result. And I wanna be like Brett Curry when I grow up. So I'm trying to do the same thing. And my goal with my agency is the same thing. So I'm here talking to you right now, This is my 80 20, this is the the thing I should be focusing on to grow our businesses. Getting on other podcasts. I mean, I, I can't compete with Brett's agency yet, but we both have, we're both great agencies when it comes to Amazon ppc.

Brett:

100% for

Travis:

Sure. But Brett is great because he's expanded to YouTube, Google, Facebook, and then getting on stage. That's my next goal is to get on a bunch of stages just like you're doing. And that's kind of what I need to do to grow our agency. What is it that you're doing in your business that grew it so much and keep focusing on that? That's, that's key.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that so much. I think the, you know, we had to do this early on with the agency as well where we, we wanted to do everything right? So my business partner, Chris and I, we're pretty smart marketers and we understand direct mail and I used to do TV and we used to, you know, like we could come up with just a full marketing strategy for people and building websites. We don't know how to code, we don't know how to build websites, but we can pull people off of, uh, OES or whatever to build websites. Uh, now it's called something else. But anyway, um, yeah, we just did everything and it was so complex and it was such a pain and I hated life a lot, uh, at, at times in the early, early days of OMG back in like 2010, 2011. And then we decided, let's make it boring, right?

Let's just do paid search and seo. We're great at that and let's just sell it like crazy, right? And so sometimes when you make things boring, then you can think about your business objectively and you can think about it like an owner instead of like, you know, someone who's overly emotionally attached. And, and I think this, this is why sometimes you can give the perfect advice to someone else in their business, right? Just like Ryan could look at your business and say with certainty, just stop doing those other things, right? Where you couldn't see that yourself cuz you're too emotionally attached. But when you make your business a little more boring, you can look at it more objectively, right? And then, then, and then that works. And so highly recommend that. And then once you do that, then you can start expanding. So we did, yeah, we were SEO paid search exclusively and oddly enough we were like 80, 90% seo.

We used to be at SEO company. Um, and then we've evolved and grown and YouTube was a big hit and still is. And then Amazon and stuff like that. Um, so that's key. And then yeah, what you were talking about there with, you know, I enjoy speaking on Sages is something I do pretty well and I like it. Um, I think I gotta look at as an entrepreneur, what's, what's the highest and best use of my time? Like what's my superpower? What, what can I do that delivers an an outsized return, right? For the time and energy invested it delivers a huge return for my business and you gotta spend more time there. So super powerful. So now that I know you wanna be on stages and you did a great job at Capcom, I will help you get on more stages. Uh, I think you can totally do it. You did. That'd be great.

Travis:

Thank you

Brett:

<laugh>. Yeah, that's great. So, so let's talk a little bit about, uh, profitable pineapple and then we do, we do harass each other when we're in person cuz we're competing agencies. But also we've, we've, there's been a few times where I found out someone works with you guys and I'm like, don't, don't come to us security with Travis is he's gonna take care of you. Right? You've done the same thing for us in reverse, which is awesome. Uh, but why, why start the agency and, and what do you guys do and why are you called profitable pineapple?

Travis:

I don't know why the pineapple thing, it just kind of came to, I'll tell that story. H um, so yeah, we, you know, we are in the stage of growth where I was like, I was spending most of my time in Amazon PPC and I was like, I need to get out of this so I can focus on growing. I love again. And we went through six softwares in three agencies within a year and

Brett:

Sounds fun.

Travis:

The same problem kept occurring. Like they'd wanna implement their strategy, but they needed a high budget to get started and they just needed to pound the high budget to learn. And I'm just like, but I've got all this data. I, I know what I'm doing with the Amazon ppc. Like go to my search term report, find it, make it more efficient and grow it.

Brett:

But we use a proprietary system that really relies on this, this and that. Like, okay, I bet yeah,

Travis:

We, we went through those and nothing was, nothing was working. And so finally after the third agency, which was a friend of mine who I really trusted, who's very smart in the Amazon space, I'm not gonna mention his name cuz he's brilliant and he, his business has helped me a ton. But when I went to that agency and I saw that they couldn't do what I wanted him to do, I decided I had to do it myself. And it's, it's the pretty typical agency story. And we decided to build an agency that served my brand and we built the system around it and we ended up getting a couple people just due to the success that we had wanting us to, to run it as well. I, I didn't have time to do it though. So built the system around it and we got four clients and at the time we were running those four clients through my practice like that, I was like, I don't wanna start another business, let's just run it through my practice. E n. And so we were um, serving these four clients and we kept four clients forever. I mean four clients was a long time. And then finally in 2019 we decided to start growing it. Um, but we were having trouble with the scale part cuz as you know, agencies scale with people and it was

Brett:

Only me very, very labor intensive. Yeah. I can't scale without people the way we do it now, if you, if you're fully relying on software, then you can scale a little bit faster, but yeah, it's, it's capital in it's labor intensive for sure.

Travis:

Yep. So what we did is we found a software that works well enough for us along with the, the person and I. And so we were able to go from four to about eight clients, but then we capped out again and that's when we started taking it seriously. We started pushing things. This was the end of 2019, beginning of 2020. And we just started growing the agency as a result. But the real breakthrough in the agency came was when we hired a coo, just like you talked about earlier. And we went, we tripled our revenue that year, right? Wow. By just hiring a coo. And now we've been able to, to over double our team again from three to now seven. And we're still a very small agency, but we've got a good system in place that it's eight. We're able to, to really onboard somebody very quickly as far as like a manager.

And we like to hire entrepreneurs, um, people that are building their own brands. We never take on a client that would be competing with any of their brands. And we, that's how we built it. We've built it with a lot of people from the capitalism incubator and there are a lot of our brand managers. And my goal is to, to train them up so much that they leave me eventually because if I train them up, they're gonna build their brand and then hopefully they'll leave me. But hopefully they'll love it so much they'll want to stick around. So that's how we, we kind of morphed into the agency was just needing something and I love and then just kind of growing it from there. But the approach I took differently this time was I didn't wanna do anything I didn't wanna do. And like I said, this is what I wanna do. Talk to people.

Brett:

This's a really profound statement. It's a really simple statement, but very profound. I didn't wanna do anything I didn't wanna do and that, that's where we should be going as entrepreneurs, right?

Travis:

Yeah, exactly. And that's where the stages come in. That's where podcasts come in cuz I love doing this. I get to talk to people like you who are very successful in ahead of me and I get to learn from you as a result. And then I get to go to the masterminds like you do, um, the blue Ribbon masterminds probably No, your number one source of referrals and you probably have every single one of them.

Brett:

Yeah, it for sure has been Yeah. Over, over the course of, of the last seven or eight years. Yeah. It's been, it's been the number one or number two, probably number one source. Yeah. It's been fantastic. Yeah. So these, and, and they're just fun, right? Like the right mastermind is just, it's, it's enjoyable. Like you get a lot of benefit from it. Um, in addition to the business, which, which is uh, fantastic.

Travis:

You don't have to sell, you just, you just go and literally

Brett:

Just deliver value and then, and then good things happen. Um, really interesting. So a couple things that I think we, we can underscore that are just good entrepreneurial lessons. One, you had to solve your own problem, right? Just like the lady who came to your clinic and said, Hey, this used to be 30, now it's 300. You're an entrepreneur. Do something, right? You kind had the same chat with yourself when you're like, Hey, I've tried six softwares, three agencies, this isn't working, I gotta do fix this myself. But then you, like, then you look for innovations and I, I don't know many other people doing it the way you're doing it where you're saying I want the specialists or the managers, the PPC managers on my team to be entrepreneurs, right? People that are building Amazon businesses. And we found this to be successful too. We've got a few on our team, but that's like your focus. Like we want other brand owners to be running campaigns. It's brilliant. It's, it's, you can, you can create a a, a real value prop to attract them to your team cuz you're gonna make them better managing ads better, but in their own brand. And yes, some will lead, but some will stick around. And um, I know the benefit there, one of the benefits is they get, they go from zero to being effective in their job much faster Right? Because of who you're attracting.

Travis:

Yeah. That and um, you do have to be careful with that though because entrepreneurs, if you're, if you like profiles, we use the dis profile. Yeah. Entrepreneurs are dominance and influencers. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, if you get a bunch of Ds, nothing gets done

Brett:

<laugh>. So you do it. No, you do it. No, I'm, I'm management. You do <laugh>.

Travis:

So what we've, what we've learned from this is when we capped out the first time when it was just the two of us is we were both deiss and so the third person we hired was an sc, which is a steady compliance. Yep. Cause you need that, that steady compliance are the CEO types, the DS and I are the entrepreneur visionary types, the CEO types. So we had two Ds with one sc we tripled, then we hired three more all DI's And then we're like, okay, hold on. We did this once before mm-hmm. <affirmative> and we hired another sc Yep. Doubled. So it's, it's all about keeping that balance. And if you wanna go that route, you do do have to balance it and personality profiles, you cannot, like, they're, they're so important now for sure. Cause when you get to know somebody and what, how they like to be talked to, how they like to be scheduled, how they like to be managed, it can make the biggest difference between somebody accelerating and taking off in your business and helping your business take off to somebody just taking off and leaving. So that's a big difference. And that was such a key learning point for us, for the agency when we were hiring that.

Brett:

Yeah. It's so important. We, we've, we used disk now in our business as well, and I'm an ID my business part as a di uh, but we, we kinda went through a period where we hired too many scs, Right? This, this was early on and we had too many, like really hard working, but really compliant people. And so then it's hard to, like we don't have leaders, right? You need to have, you need to have, you need to have the proper balance there for it to work. Right. Just analyzing

Travis:

Everything.

Brett:

Yeah, exactly. And we can be kind of slow and, and, and things like that. And so yeah, you gotta have the right, right mix. Uh, absolutely. So, um, Travis, this has been an absolute blast. Love your businesses, Love what you've done, done with I love, love profitable pineapple. We're happy to send leads to you guys when not a good fit for us or we, we don't have capacity or whatnot. We, we'll continue, we'll keep that flowing and I'll keep making fun of you at events and stuff too. Uh, so don't worry about that. But, uh, if people are listening, they're like, okay, I I gotta learn more about what Travis is doing. How can they just kind of follow along with your brand and then how can they also get in touch with you for, from an agency standpoint?

Travis:

Yeah, so you can look up profitable pineapple on YouTube. We have a good YouTube channel. Um, we pretty much just, we give you everything on how we do it and you can learn exactly how the agency does. That was started selfishly because that's how we train when we bring on somebody nice. Is we have a Amazon PPC course that's free and we literally teach you exactly how we're doing things inside the agency. And selfishly, like I said, it's because I wanna hire you. Then once you become really good at the system,

Brett:

<laugh> and

Travis:

Smart system. So profitable Pineapple on YouTube. It's called PPC Pros by Profitable Pineapple. We also have an Amazon Facebook group or Amazon, a Facebook group called PPC Pros by the Profitable Pineapple. It's just where we, we release nuggets there. And then profitable pineapple.com is our website where you can get the free Amazon PPC course as well.

Brett:

Awesome. And then if someone just wants to see like, hey, how are you releasing products and how are you building the brand and what, what, what kind of market are you running? How can they find, uh, I love online?

Travis:

I love is I love the sun.com. Like I said, we were sunglass company first, so I love the sun.com was our url and that's eey not the letter. I i love the sun.com. And it's funny cuz everybody's like, why are you that? Cause oh, we're sunglass company when we started. Now we're a more of a eyecare and iHealth company.

Brett:

Nice. And then check you guys out on Amazon as well. So with that, Travis has been awesome man. Thank you so much for taking the time. Really enjoyed it. We'll have to do it again sometime,

Travis:

Brett, I always appreciate you.

Brett:

Thanks man. And with that as always, we appreciate you tuning in. We'd love to hear from you. What would you like to hear more of on this podcast? If you haven't already, leave us that review on iTunes, that would make our day. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.


Episode 207
:
Jon MacDonald

Optimizations as a Way of Doing Business

My guest today is a longtime friend and colleague, Jon MacDonald. 

Jon is the CEO and founder of, The Good. He and his team help brands like Nike, Xerox, and The Economist turn more visitors into customers. 

He’s one of the best conversion rate optimization specialists I know.

In this interview, we wanted to go beyond the typical hacks and quick tips and look at principle-based optimization or optimization as a way of doing business. This approach will yield far greater results over the long haul than just trying the CRO-hack “flavor of the day.”

Here’s a look at what we cover: 

  • Why best practices are for beginners and how you should think about CRO in general.
  • What most eComm brand owners forget about the scientific method and why chasing “silver bullets” is killing your results. 
  • New visitors are at your site for two reasons, and it’s not just to hang out or learn all about you.
  • How Jon’s simple yet effective “Trust Trifecta” will help you earn more conversions. 
  • What Kim Kardashian’s assistant can teach you about “surprise and delight” user experiences.
  • How discounting isn’t optimization; it’s margin drain. And what you can do instead of discounting.
  • Plus more!

Jon MacDonald

   - eMail: Jon@TheGood.com

   - LinkedIn

“Opting in to Optimization” by Jon MacDonald

Zipf’s Law

Ryan Deiss

Nik Sharma

Derek Halpern

Truman

MillerKnoll




Transcript:

Brett:

Hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of G Commerce. And today we're talking about one of the most requested topics that we ever get, and that is optimization, cro, user experience. And so we're talking about the idea of opting in as a, as a brand owner, as an e-commerce store owner to optimization and what that means. Uh, my guest is a longtime friend, friend of the show, personal friend of mine. We've done events together. Uh, John McDonald, he's the founder and CEO of the Good. And, uh, maybe we go back years now, John. We'll have to unpack how long that's been. Uh, but I think that

Jon:

Maybe, maybe we should

Brett:

<laugh>. Maybe we should. Yeah, exactly. Uh, and, and so anyway, we'll, we'll talk more about that in a second. But, but John, welcome to the show. Thanks for coming on and, and how you doing, man?

Speaker 2:

Thanks for having me. Doing great. Uh, excited to be here once again.

Brett:

So, a couple things that, that I'll, I'll point out before we get into the, the meat of this topic. Uh, one of the, uh, last, actually it was the last for sure, big events we did pre pandemic was with you. Uh, we, we got to speak, you and I got to speak at the YouTube LA offices to a room of like 150 e-commerce brand owners. I talked YouTube strategies, you talked optimization and, uh, user experience strategies. It was a ton of fun. It was so successful. The people at Google, our Google rep were like, Hey, you guys gotta do this and we can do this in Chicago. We do this in New York. Like, we're laying all that out. And then of course, uh, the whole world changed and shut down. And now, yeah. Still not doing events at Google. Uh, but anyways, great hanging out with you there. And then you and I also, we share an affinity for basketball. Uh, I think you're much better than I am. You're a lot taller than I am too, which is rare cuz I'm six three, but, uh, you're actually recovering from shoulder surgery right now too.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Unfortunately. You know, when you are, uh, 40 playing against 25 year olds thinking that you're still in college, all of that, um, it comes with, uh, some, some injuries like

Brett:

Smarter, not harder, John. I think that's the key. There you go. Sure. How well that exists. Uh,

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I need to stop sacrificing my body. Yeah. But, um, but it, I love basketball, as you said, and it's the, it's my meditation, right? It's the one time that I'm thinking about just what's in front of me. I'm not worried about business or anything else. Yeah. And, um, so it's really something I enjoy

Brett:

Doing. It really is great. I love it too. And I, and I get to coach, uh, now I coach, uh, my, my son who's now graduated high school, and I'm about to coach my daughters. And there's something special about you get on the court and that that's the only thing that exists. Just like you said, it's all, it's all that matters in the moment. If you're playing, you're trying to box a guy out and get a rebound, you're trying to make a post move. Or if you're coaching, you're just thinking about the strategy and the next play. And the, you, the, the world outside doesn't exist. And it's kind of a beautiful thing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it really is. And um, like I said, I, I call it my meditation, but at the same time, um, it's, it's also how staying shape. And I just loved doing it. And I, I, I'll never stop playing. There's, there's guys out here on the club I play for, There's a team that's, uh, 65 and older. That's awesome. And, um, I'm gonna be one of those guys. I can almost keep,

Brett:

I love it. I love it. 65 still optimizing websites if you choose to, maybe you're just be an investor at that point, <laugh> and, and still pounding it on the basketball court. So I love him, man. Um, well, I always enjoy talking to you. You bring such a fresh perspective. You're really good at what you do. For those that don't know you, you know, you've done optimization work for, for Nike and Xerox and The Economist and lots of other big brands. And you work with up and coming e-commerce brands as well. And we're gonna be diving into to opting and optimization. And by the way, I wanna plug your book real quickly here. It is opting into optimization. I gotta personally signed copy. Uh, highly recommend that you check this out. But dude, you get some amazing people to write endorsements for this book. Uh, Web Smith, uh, from 2:00 PM The newsletter, one of the top newsletters in the e-commerce space. Nick Sharma from Sharma Brands, you got folks from Shopify, uh, really some big names. How, how did you do that? Right? How, like how did you get such big names to endorse the book? Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Uh,

Brett:

Bribe s Bribes and Money, I

Speaker 2:

Would guess. Bribes. Bribes and Money. Yeah, definitely. Um, yeah, you know, doing a lot of the events like we talked, you know, like we've done together. Uh, you just get to know people and, uh, networking, you know, leads to one thing to another. And, and basically we put together a list of, you know, if I could have anybody endorse the book who would be on this list and put a short list together and just started reaching out to people. And darn, every single one of 'em said, Yes, dude.

Brett:

It was awesome. And you can tell they really consumed the book. They think highly of it. They, they, their words were very, uh, powerful. And, and so kudos to you for, for such a great accomplishment because writing a book is painful. Uh, I wouldn't know cause I've done it. I've just talking to people that have, and I've, I've actually almost did one time and I was like, Nah, I'm not, I'm not gonna do this right now. So, uh, kudos to you for doing this. Uh, but let's, let's dive into this topic. So we're looking at optimization as a way of doing business. And so I wanna talk through some of the, the laws of optimization that you give. And I wanna unpack these with you. I think this will be super actionable and helpful and hopefully inspirational as well to inspire folks to get out there and optimize their websites as well. Uh, but one of the, the first things you said and talk about in the book is that, um, best practices are for beginners. Explain what that means, please.

Speaker 2:

Well, okay. In optimization, there are so many of these top 10 lists or checklists or, you know, tricks to do different things to increase your conversion rates. And the problem is that you really need to be creating a culture of research, testing and improvement. And so if you focus just on a list of best practices, it's really not gonna get you that far. Um, you really, you don't know if it's gonna work for your audience. And that's the biggest challenge is brands come to us all the time and say, Hey, you know, I, I tried this list that I read and I went through this whole checklist and, and it really wasn't a meaningful difference. And in fact, I, maybe it hurt me in some areas. And the problem is, is that consumers aren't, you know, they're, you're, you, they're all unique snowflakes, right? <laugh>.

And so if you and I both had e-commerce sites and, you know, very, very likely we're gonna be selling to different personas. We're gonna be selling different products at different price points with different meaningful, um, you know, value to that, that audience. So the problem becomes that if you and I are both trying to do optimize our sites off the same checklist, it's not gonna have a very good effect. So unfortunately, you know, all the articles that are out there around optimization, um, 90% of them are, are phrased around quick wins and they're just, I, I, you know, really wanted to start the book with that law first to set the, the foundation that this is not gonna be a checklist and you're done. Yeah. And I intentionally wrote the book about the theories and the things you needed to understand in order to be successful in eCommerce by optimizing your site. And that this isn't a book you're gonna pick up and just get a checklist and work your way through it. Um, and this is more about how you should be thinking. And if you apply these philosophies and, and these different points, then you should be successful with your site.

Brett:

Yeah. I love this so much. And, and obviously we, we love reading those articles and, and finding quick wins and quick hits. But I'll make an analogy. It's kind of like reading, you know, quick hacks for losing weight or quick hacks for improving your health. And you know, of course there's some things that apply to everybody. Drink more water, exercise, sleep more. But so much of the rest of the health recommendations are very independent on the individual, Right? You can't just say, Hey, all you have to do is play basketball four times a week. Well, that doesn't apply to everybody. Right? Or even food. Like, I've really dug deep into to diet recently. And, and we have a client that helps with these personalized gut health tests. But here's just a quick side note, fun fact, broccoli, you know, the, the well esteemed that everyone believes broccoli is healthy is actually a superfood for less than half the population. For a lot of people, broccoli is not easily digested and it actually can prevent the absorption of other nutrients. So anyway, just a little quick little extra tidbit

Speaker 2:

And this totally makes sense.

Brett:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I mean, to carry that another step further, br like how many people lose weight only to put it right back on a few months later? Yeah,

Brett:

Yeah. Right. Cause they're, they're following something that's unnatural for them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yes. They don't have a sustainable process mm-hmm. <affirmative> or a way of thinking. Instead they're just going after those best practices and assuming they're gonna work for them. Yeah. Um, and they might have a short term effect, but it's really not sustainable.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. So you are building a successful business to just keep scaling and re the profits from or to scale and sell, which a lot of my friends and own e-commerce brands are doing that. Either way you need to adopt this, uh, optimization as a practice and as a way of doing business. So best practices, best practices only, not going deeper than that, that's for beginners. Love that law. Fully agree. So, awesome. Uh, next one. Uh, this talking about scientific method and, and so, uh, you talk about, hey, it's the scientific method here and we're not looking for silver bullets. So I'm assuming these two are a little bit related, but un unpack that just a little bit.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. This is, uh, as you said, it's a little bit related. It's a follow up to that in the sense that, you know, a lot of people apply these checklists and they assume overnight that all is well, their site is as optimized as it can get. They're gonna start seeing these good results. But unfortunately, there's no overnight success when it comes to optimization. Um, it takes time to put that culture in place as I talked about, but also, you really just need to learn how to get 1% better every day. Yeah. And if you just focus on that, then you will see big results over time. And what's gonna really happen here is by just focusing on, on tweaking one little thing of your site every day. Or even if you can't, you don't have the resources to do it daily, think weekly or do a sprint once a month.

Something of that sort where you're continually iterating. And the whole thing about this is really that it's a compounding effect, very much like a scientific process where you're looking for small gains that compound over time. And that is the formula that's gonna show sustained growth. Um, yes, maybe there's one or two changes that can help you leap, but they're all not gonna, not, you know, all of them are not gonna do that. Right. So yeah. Really want to be looking at this as how do I get 1% better every day and just make those incremental improvements. And if you have that mindset, you will win.

Brett:

I love that. And, and it reminds me of the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and that's what he talks about, you know, from a personal growth and development standpoint of getting 1% better every day, and at the end of the year you're like 300% better, right? And, and right. And so, uh, but, but also I like the, the idea that we're not chasing big wins per se. We're gonna find some, right? There's gonna be some tweaks you make to your cart or changes you make that improve the, the site, uh, page load speed, you know, then they will potentially cause a nice bump in conversion rates. But if you focus more on the consistency of little improvements and those big wins will come as well, if you chase big wins, you may be bouncing around all over the place mm-hmm. <affirmative> and end up frustrated and not really get the, the results that you want to get. So little improvements. And I've heard the, and I love the quote that says, you know, we often overestimate what we can do in a day, but we underestimate what we can do in a year. Right? So these little changes compound over time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It's, it's, uh, this kind of goes hand in hand with, um, something called Zs Law, Z I P F and Zips Law, he was a, a linguist actually that found that the, uh, top, uh, 1% of words that are used, um, it, it's true across all writing. So there's a, in the English language, there's 1% of words that are, or that gonna be the top 1% use no matter what book you open in English language. And his whole thing is if you focus on those 1% of areas, you improve that 1% of area, everything else will fall in line eventually. And so he took that law that he saw in writing and started applying it to other, uh, practices in his life, and he found that, hey, I just have to improve the top 1%, and if I improve the top 1% and start focusing on that, the rest of the, uh, 99% of my life will follow along and get better as well. So when he starts editing books, he was looking, he, Okay, I'm gonna focus on 1% of this book that I know I can get better. And then,

Brett:

So, so in the writing practices, looking at these, the 1% of words that are used over and over again, identifying those and then changing those, is that kind of what he's talking about for writing? Yeah,

Speaker 2:

Exactly. Picking

Brett:

A more interesting

Speaker 2:

Word. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Exactly. And that alone will improve your writing. Um, and so it's really, you know, there's a whole bunch of laws like this, the 80 20 principle, right? A whole bunch of these types of things, and everybody starts seeing these patterns around the same time. Um, and Z took a really interesting turn on it though. It's just like, Hey, you know what? I'm gonna focus on on improving this 1% and then everything else will follow along. Nice. Um, so yeah, it's

Brett:

A lot. So that, that's a really interesting concept. So, so that's something that's published. There's the, the 1% of the English language that's used over and over again, so that's identifiable. How do you make that comparison then to an e-commerce store? So how does an e-commerce store owner unpack or discover what's their 1%? What do they need to focus on first? Yeah. That's then gonna lead to the, the bigger improvements over time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So the first thing you need to do is understand what are is that 1% for your site, for all of e-commerce, it's pretty easy. It's that path to purchase that the vast majority of your visitors are gonna land on, right? So from a homepage to a category to a PDP to your checkout, and if you can improve, just focus on your homepage, how can you improve getting people to the next step in the funnel? Don't worry about anything else on your site, just focus on that one little piece. How do you get people to the next step in the funnel once they're there on that category page? Let's, as keeping with that example, how do you get people to find the right category of products for them? Right? So what I'm trying to do here is, is think about breaking down these large complex problems of, okay, our conversion rate's not great, we need to fix our conversion rate.

Well, that's a massive problem when you really sit down and think about it could be a lot of different things. So instead start looking for small clues of what's the, where are people dropping off in your funnel? And then just work on fixing that one metric. And that may take several months to, to really get some improvement on and sustain improvement. But so many people get really overwhelmed and they try to optimize their entire site and they're, they're just throwing tests at the wall and they're saying, I'm gonna run ab test over here and over here, and I'm gonna improve the checkout and I'm gonna improve, you know, the landing pages. And, and then by the end of it, they have no idea what worked and what didn't because Exactly. Or what cause

Brett:

Them to move backwards or Right. Yeah. Yeah. It's kinda like, kinda the idea of looking at your whole business and saying, I need to improve operations. I'm gonna just gonna do everything. I'm gonna, you know, make all the changes rather than focus on one thing. Like, like we need to improve the calendar, clear the calendar for the team or whatever. So mm-hmm. <affirmative>, no more wasted meetings and let's make meetings, uh, optional for some people, you know, you know what I mean? Like, focus on one thing, get that better, then move on to the next thing. It may feel slower, but it's actually faster in the long run. Yeah. It's really the only thing that works, right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. And all the principles that we talked about are, are proved that in a scientific method.

Brett:

Yeah. Love it. So, so next thing is, uh, you talk about the fact that that new visitors to your site are there for really just one of two reasons. Can you unpack those, talk about those a little bit?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. This one is interesting because so many brands try to do so much with their website that they lose focus, they lose sight of the fact that customers are only at your site, um, for two reasons. And the first is because something led them to your site then to help them think that you can solve their pain or their need. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, right? Ver you're not Facebook people aren't there to hang out, right? Kill time, they're at your site, especially in ACOM site because they have a pain or in need and something led them to believe that your product or service can solve their pain or need. So the first reason they're at your site is to solve their pain or need. And second, once they've determined that you can help them, they're there to convert as quickly and easily as possible. So, two reasons I think you can help me.

And then once that's been proven, I want to, I want to convert as quickly and easily as possible and move on from there. And that's really where most brands lose sight of it and start treating their site as a marketing tool where they really start to, um, wanna tell a massive brand story, which I think the brand story's important, don't get me wrong, but it needs to be weaved into that conversion journey, Right? Should not be the only thing there. Um, so really how can you just eliminate the barriers to people understanding if you are gonna solve their pain or need, and then help 'em convert. You both want the same outcome, right? Consumers want to get onto your site, solve their problem, and then leave. And you want them to convert as well. So helping them by having a better experience, better content, uh, easier path to conversion, everybody wins.

Brett:

So, yeah. So how do, how do you first cause someone to feel, trust or confidence that hey, I'm in the right place and this need I'm trying to fulfill or this problem I'm trying to solve. I really do think you can help with that and then yeah, make it quick, easy, smooth, frictionless, all of those things once someone does decide. I love that. And so, uh, let's talk about the trust element first. Cuz another thing you say that totally ties into this is if you wanna increase conversions, increase trust. Yes. So talk about that a little bit.

Speaker 2:

Well, I, you know, the, the best thing about this is that increasing trust is, can be one of the most effective ways to improve your, your conversion rate. And it's something that a lot of brands just continually overlook. And, um, I think that, you know, it's an easy fix quite honestly. Um, most brands, the problem that they, that they do is, is they're continuing to market at consumers instead of, um, understanding again what the pain points are and then saying, you know what? Like, buy it or don't, We're here to make sure it's the right fit for you instead of that hard sell. Right? And there's easy ways to, to increase trust beyond that, I mean, just look at your footer. Um, most footers don't have what we call the trust trifecta. The trust trifecta is should, you should have in your footer a, uh, full address, physical address, um, a phone number and an email address.

And if you have those three, we have done lots and lots of different types of testing on this. If you have those three, the trust factor goes up dramatically. And that's only because the consumer who has never heard of you before, by the way, most likely they don't know who you are as a brand. So they don't have any brand association of trust. Um, maybe they saw an ad, they clicked on it cuz they thought it could help them, uh, or they got it, you know, saw an Instagram from a friend, something of that sort, which is some social proof, right? Yep, yep. But really when they get there, they just want to know, if I have an issue, I can get ahold of you. And so that's a great way to do it. Now we talked, I I mentioned social proof that really falls into this as well. Um, you need to have things like reviews. You need to have an understanding of, um, you know, what types of, um, testimonials are gonna be most important and most effective. All of those combined to bring trust. But the easiest way to increase trust is to just help solve that pain or need and make it very, very easy to do. And then can, most consumers will look at that and say, You know what? They care about my experience on this site. They're making it easy for me. And that increases trust dramatically.

Brett:

Yeah. I love this so much. And, and I'll mention one, one of my favorite marketing quotes, uh, comes from Ryan Dice and, and he talks about the fact that good marketing is a transfer of confidence mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I think in this case, the, these two concepts of confidence and trust are, are related where, you know, we have full confidence and trust in our brand and our products, but we have to transfer that to the, the customer. Yeah. So what are the clearest, easiest ways to do that? We often overlook it, right? That trust trifecta of physical address, email address, and phone number in the, in the footer. That's simple, right? And, and yes, you may get some more spam and other things if you put your email address there, but it's gonna be worth it with the, with your conversion rate increase. And so looking at something as simple as that, and then, yeah, I, I love examples when we're looking at social proof of, you know, I've seen this with, with fashion and apparel brands.

I've seen this with, with skincare, I've seen it with supplements where, you know, you, you bring in those, those pictures that you can tell a real customer took mm-hmm. <affirmative> of, you know, them holding the protein powder them, you know, applying the, the, the skincare or, or wearing the sunglasses or wearing the, the ring or whatever. That type of stuff really works well. And I, and I think part of what you just said is understanding for my buyer, what do they need to see and what kind of proof do they need mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, to really feel good about that. So, so thoughts on how you decide what types of social proof for what, what trust factors your brand needs?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. The easiest way to do this is, um, talk to your consumers. So user testing, uh, is the easiest way to do this, to dive a little deeper where you send people to the site who match your ideal customer profiles, you ask them to complete some tasks along that journey and record their screen and their audio. And there's tons and tons of tool sets out there that will help you do this. But you could just set up a zoom chat with somebody Yeah. And turn off your camera so you're not distracting. I'm asking 'em to share their, their screen and then just say, You know what, I, I'm gonna ask you to do a couple of things and step away and I'm not gonna help you. Um, and I want you to just talk through what you're thinking. Yeah. And you

Brett:

Will. So powerful. Cause then you get to watch, you get to watch what they're doing, you get to see their eyes a little bit, but then you also get to hear, Yeah, yeah. I'm frustrated. Oh, why, why am I doing this? Where is this? What am I'm, I'm trying to do this. I can't find it. Yeah,

Speaker 2:

Exactly.

Brett:

That's super powerful. Nice. Uh, yeah. I love that. And, and then as you kind of hear those things, you're gonna make it simpler. Um, are, are you looking for specific comments around trust then that might key you in on, hey, we need a little more of this element or that element, or what are you listening for to kind of understand, um, what you're missing?

Speaker 2:

Usually we're listening for what are their pain points that have not been addressed mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And can we address that through social proof? So for instance, um, a big one we see quite often is a lot of people don't understand when you say it's like, this is eight ounces of protein powder or 32 ounces of protein powder. Right? Most people would not be able to say what eight ounces actually looks like. Right. Um, right. So when you do social proof, that's why you mentioned people holding up the, the container because it's super easy then to have that association of, oh, that container next to a person looks this big, I get how much I'm getting. So there's little things like that that you can do where you're, you're essentially, um, the only two birds with one stone, if you will. Right. Because you're saying, Okay, now I got social proof of people out here who are actual customers who are willing to post a review.

And by the way, I also have a picture of them holding the product, which is really helpful in understanding how much is the quantity I'm buying. Um, so we're looking for, for questions that are unanswered in that user testing. So if somebody says, I just don't know what it ounces is for protein powder, how much am I gonna use? They say, put two scoops in every day. What is two scoops? How long is it gonna last me? Yeah. These are all questions that can easily be answered, and you can have an aspect of social proof to that, um, if you want, but answer again, answering those questions immediately increases trust because they know, oh, the, you know, other consumers have had this question and they've answered 'em, they must have been around for a little bit. They're not new to this and they care about helping me. They're not trying to trick me into buying the size that, you know, it's only gonna last me two weeks. Or, you know, buying way more because they know I'm never coming back to repeat order. Right. Right.

Brett:

Um, so I love that, that, you know, the fact that, hey, just seeing a customer, a real customer answer a question, we can look at that customer and say, That person looks like me, or, or I can tell about what they said they value the same things that, that I value in a, a protein shake. And, and then yeah, it gets, it gets the question answered that you're looking, uh, for an answer to. And, and so, uh, yeah, it's one of those things where, yeah, you wonder like, Hey, if I drink this shake, does it really replace a meal or does it not replace a meal? Well, this person just said, you know, I I drink it in the morning and then I'm, I, I don't need to eat again until 2:00 PM or whatever, you know, or, or I, I buy one bag once a month, that's all I need and couldn't be happier.

Or will it be chalky, you know, hey, I drink this and it's smooth as could be it's best protein powder I've ever, ever had. You know, things like that. So yeah. Looking for what are those, what are those objections or pain points questions that are lingering? And then are those best answered through social proof? Really, really powerful. Love that. Yeah. That's awesome. Uh, so one thing you talk about, and then also one thing Nick Sharma talks about in the forward of your book is, uh, rolling out the red carpet, the Kim card dashing red carpet treatment for your shoppers. What does that look like? How do we make our, our customers feel like Kim Kardashian?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Um, well, I think that the first thing is, is in anticipation of what people need mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And you know, what Nick is getting at, in, in that, when he wrote the intro for the book, which is where, uh, you're pulling that from, you know, what Nick is really saying here is that it's no longer okay to just put up a e-commerce website and expect that people are gonna buy mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you now have to anticipate what people are gonna need and want, and you have to re-answer questions. So he gives the example of, hey, you, you know, if you're her personal assistant and she's on the red carpet and she's hungry and you didn't bring an apple to give her, or whatever it might be, it was a snack. Right? You're gonna get fired because your whole job is to anticipate her needs and then deliver 'em.

And that keeps her happy. Well, it's the same thing with your customers, where you really need to be able to anticipate what's that experience going to be. And one of the things I say quite often is that, um, most brands, and especially in e-commerce are, they're stuck inside the jar and they have a really hard time reading the label from inside the jar. They know their e-commerce website so well, they know products so well that when they go to their site, all their questions are answered because they already know all the answers. But a Nuta file customer who comes in and has no understanding of how to make their way through the site, uh, how to find the right product for them, you know, we just talked about, um, you know, ways that you can understand and increase trust by, you know, anticipating what their questions are gonna be and answering those upfront. That's a big challenge that a lot of brands never tackle. And so what happens is that, um, that consumer comes in and they're not treated like Kim Kardashian on the red carpet. Instead they're treated like just anybody walking and off the street and you're not helping them to complete the order, and it ends up reducing conversions pretty dramatically.

Brett:

Yeah. And I like this analogy of thinking like an assistant, right? So that, that's really what we're doing, right? We're we're guiding someone, we're helping them, we're, we're Sherpa along the, the journey, right. To, to reach their goals and get what they want to get. And, and yeah. You know what a, what a bad guide or, or an assistant who's not very helpful, what they would do is say, Well, you didn't tell me you needed that. Right? I'll get you if you asked me to do it. That's not, that's not good enough. That's not useful. Like you need to anticipate. No, the Kim Kardashian's gonna be hungry. Right. Those, those flat, those flashing lights are bright. It's tough to wear a tight dress and walk down the, the the red carpet. Right. You gotta gotta know, she's gonna be tired, she's gonna need some sugar, she's gonna need some, you know, an apple or whatever. So I, I love that analogy.

Speaker 2:

And, and the only way to know that is experience. Yes.

Brett:

Right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And so going back to talking to your consumers, you will learn what are their challenges. Yeah. And then you can address those on the site where I guarantee you, you know, every new assistant has no clue that somebody's gonna get hungry on the red carpet. Yeah. They just don't think about it. Right. They're out there worried about, they've been on the red

Brett:

Carpet before. Right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. <laugh>. So, Right. So as they go through that and learn, they, they can start to anticipate. And it's the same thing for your e-commerce website, which is you need to be able to anticipate what people want. And the best way to do that is to ask them and to, to gain that experience. User testing, talking to consumers, um, trying AB tests out, uh, you know, there's a lot of things you can do there. And uh, and that was really next point.

Brett:

Yeah. Love that. Uh, my, my next question, I know this could be misleading, and so that there may be some caveats we give here, but, you know, I think that the best way to learn and do this process is to ask your users and to watch your users and to see what feedback they give. I think it's also instructive and helpful to look at what other successful companies are doing and, and try to learn something from it. I think it's key there to understand the underlying principles behind why people are doing what they're doing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's also pretty important to understand that you're not Amazon, so you can't just copy Amazon what they do Exactly. Right. Things like that. But who, what companies do you feel like in the e-commerce space really get this process right, that we could pay attention to and potentially learn from?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think, you know, the reality is, is you really should not be copying from, from anybody. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, quite honestly. Um, are there brands that do it right? Yeah. There are brands who do specific things, right. You know, uh, where, you know, you mentioned Amazon, I mean, they've got checkout down to a science mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, you know, so that's a great place to, to look at. But if you look at their product detail pages, I, I personally don't think they, they work extremely well. We've done user testing on 'em and they're, you know, so, but a lot of brands will go and try to just copy

Brett:

Using their overwhelming as like a million things. And, and not only are the pages overwhelming, but there's like 15 other different options, things you can buy. Now, I know Amazon has tested it and it works in their own way, but this would be like, Hey, I wanna open up a boutique and so I'm gonna go shop at Walmart and, and learn from Walmart, you know, at Walmart. So that's probably not ideal for you.

Speaker 2:

No. And this is why I think that copying your competitors is a distraction. Yeah. Yeah. And there's a handful of things here that, that really feed into that. The first is you don't know if you're cheating off of the valedictorian or the funky Yeah. <laugh>, you, you don't know. You don't have their data. Right. Right. They may be

Brett:

Test and, and what you're copying is losing right now, you don't know, know that. Yeah,

Speaker 2:

A hundred percent. That's the, that's the next thing. You could be opted into a test. They could be running a ab or a multivariate test or something else that they don't even know if it's gonna work. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and they're like, Hey, let's give this a try. And you got opted in. You're like, Oh, wow, they're doing that. They must know what they're doing cuz they're so much bigger than us, or, you know, they're taking our customers or whatever, We should probably do that too. And then the test fails for them, they take it down a week later or whatever, and you're stuck with the, with the negatives. Well, they're moving on with the learnings. Right. So, uh, the caution here is really that if you talk to your own customers, and if you focus on your site experience in improving that 1% every day, you will win and you'll sprint past the, uh, the competitors.

You know, think about this way, there's a reason why horse races wear blinders. And if you look at, there's a graphic that opens, each of these chapters you've probably seen at this chapter has, um, a graphic of, uh, horses racing with, uh, you know, and the, there's a gentleman on a laptop, uh, the jockey on top of the one, his, him and the the race horse have blinders on. And it really is true that if you just run your race straight down to where you want to go, you're gonna get there much faster than if you start jogging all over the place, back and forth trying to copy your competitors. So it just ends up really delaying you and you get off track. Um, and so I'm a firm believer that yes, you could look at, you know, your comp your competition for inspiration at times, but don't just blindly copy them. And at the very least, very least run an a test, uh, with that concept and make it your own. Right. That's, that's the other thing. So many brands will try to just replicate without making it their own. And it doesn't even fit into their brand or their, their consumers wouldn't even want that. Um, so

Brett:

Yeah, I really, I like this, I like this philosophy where, and, and you could, you could kinda look at this is kinda like the comparison game, right? Of Oh wow, this company's way bigger than mine. I need to grow too. Or Wow, yeah, this person on social media's waking, making way more money than me, seemingly they've got a nicer car or whatever. I need to make more money. And, and so we can, we could be misled or pulled along to, to bounce back and forth on different things, uh, which really won't lead to better results or, or more happiness. I do like to look at what other companies that I know are doing well and are successful. I like to pay attention cuz there's probably something I can learn. But it's one of those things where you have to look at, at elements of a website that really speak to you or that, that you notice are different and ask why. Like, why are they doing this? Yeah. Why could this be useful? How could this be useful? And then to your point, test, right? If it is something that you're like, Whoa, this, this was just like a surprise and delight for me as I was shopping, shopping this site, this could be good for my users. That should lead to a test. Not, uh, let's just do it, you know, type of thing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Well, and one of the things that a lot of brands don't even think about doing is running user tests on your competitor's sites. So you could do user testing on your own site, but why not also send some of those users to your competitors and ask them to tell you about that experience? And, uh, it's a, you know, that's better than anything else. You're gonna get, you

Brett:

Know, way better than your own perspective of shopping your competitor's site and do that too. But yeah, the, the only perspective that really matters here is your target market. You know, the, the marketplace is all that matters. So that's a great idea. Have, have your customers or, or users test your competitor's website. That's, that's cool. That's worth the price of mission right there, <laugh>. That's really good. I like it. I like it, man. Uh, awesome. So, uh, this is another point that you and I definitely agree on, and that is discounting is not optimization, it's really just margin drain. So unpack that a little bit, explain your perspective on that.

Speaker 2:

Well, so many brands are on this hamster wheel of discounting and they just can't get off of it because they're afraid that once they turn off these sales or the discounts, and we can talk about ways people use that, that numbers are gonna plummet. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and the challenge here is that once you have done that, you've created a discount customer for life. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Right? So let's, let's just talk about the worst offender email up that offers a discount for in exchange for an email. What 80% of brands do this now? Um, I think start less. Yeah. I see brands doing it less and less, but the reality here is that you are telling consumers as soon as they got to your site and you throw that pop up in their face, that your products aren't worth what you charge for, they're worth 10, 15, 20% less. You saying right off the bat, pay me 20% less and just gimme your email address. And the challenge with that is that you are going to eventually be stuck on this hamster wheel of sales that you're never gonna be able to get off of and consumers are never gonna wanna pay full price again. And that just eats your margins away. And you are working really hard to become Walmart basically without the volume and the scale. Right. And VO Walmart only works because of the volume and scale. Exactly. And so

Brett:

Volume scale and the way, the way they, they treat vendors and the way they negotiate on the back end and all those terms,

Speaker 2:

Which they have to do. If

Brett:

You're not operating like that, you're not gonna be able to compete on on

Speaker 2:

Price for sure. Exactly. Exactly. So that's where, you know, I'm a big fan of, um, instead of taking something away, always adding something. So what do I mean by that? Instead of a discount of a dollar or percentage off, give something offer free shipping off that first order or a free gift with purchase or, you know, bundles Right? Is a great way to do a discount. What's not psychologically a discount. You're saying buy these three items together and it costs less than if you bought them individually. So there's a whole bunch of things like that that you can do that will very easily offer value instead of a discount. And that's what I would recommend doing. Now what a 10% off coupon cost you the same as free shipping? It may, but in the consumer's eyes, they're getting something added on and they're not looking at you as the discount brand. They're looking at, Oh wow, that's a surprise and delight. I'm getting something extra here. Um, and that's a great way to, you know, I digress for a second. A great way to increase your average order value by saying, Hey, free shipping over $50 and your average order is at 45. Right. Watch that average order value go up pretty quickly.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, it will. Usually there's a sweet spot there, but yeah, usually raising that, uh, threshold, the free shipping threshold is gonna raise your average order value. Yeah, I love this. I know, uh, my, my friend Derek Halpern runs, uh, Truvan and, uh, used to run a site called Social Triggers. He talks about this a lot. They sell premium products at Truvan and, uh, doesn't wanna do discounts and so never does 'em. Yeah. Uh, but they will do premium gifts and really cool gifts. Like they've done these really nice metal straws, they go along with the protein powder, or they did these really cool tote bags around the holidays that have truvan on it, but they're, they're artful and they look like a, you know, bag you'd pay 40 bucks for. And so he includes that, uh, free when you, when you, you know, make a purchase mm-hmm.

<affirmative>. And so it adds value. It ends up costing him about the same as doing like a 15% discount, but it doesn't cheapen the product at all. Right. It actually deepens that relationship with the customer, which is really powerful. Um, there are a few exceptions here that I found that I think work, I be curious your, your take on these. Uh, we've worked with several brands that sell a consumable, whether that's like a fragrance or, um, uh, you know, supplement or protein shakes, things like that, that will offer something in the beginning where they're saying, Hey, we're so confident gonna fall in love with this, that this is a little sample pack. Right? So first shakes on whatever, you know, little sample pack, all you pay is shipping, give that a try. We, we have seen a lot of success with that, um, through YouTube by driving people to that kind of offer. But curious what your thoughts are there, like a sampling type offer? Do you feel like that cheapens it or do you feel like that's different enough where it's like, Hey, just give this, give this a shot. We'll buy your first drink type of thing. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

That works extremely well. And we've done it with, um, paint companies. We've worked with a handful of paint, um, brands that, you know, um, how else are you gonna get to understand what that, what that color looks like in your house? Right? Yeah. You gotta send the sample, right. Yeah. And, um, that works extremely well. We've done it with, um, Miller Noll who makes, you know, um, Herman Miller and Noll make really high end, uh, usually kind of contemporary modern furniture, uh, mid-century modern and fabric samples. Yeah. Um, we optimized, uh, Noel's website all around fabric samples and how to get those in people's hands because we did some research and we found that people who had ordered fabric samples converted about six to eight times more frequently than those who did not.

Brett:

And my guess is they potentially bought more, right? Because they were confident after seeing and holding the sample Now that may be confident to buy more products. Right. And so that AOV potentially could go up.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. So I, I'm all two thumbs up on that. I think sampling is not a discount. Um, sampling is, um, something that doesn't necessarily cheap in our brand in the same way that, um, giving the discount would. So

Brett:

Yeah, it's more of that. And we talked about the transfer of confidence. It's a way of saying, Hey, we're really confident in this, but we want you to be confident too. So it's a try sample, you

Speaker 2:

Know, But again, the best way to look at this, you're giving something, you're not taking something

Brett:

This. Yes. Yes.

Speaker 2:

So that's always the rule that I have. Are you giving something or are you trying to take something away?

Brett:

Yep. So what's, what's your take? How would you approach something like Black Friday, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, So everyone does discounts on Black Friday. People are addicted to it. What's your take on that? How do you advise your clients around Black Friday? Yeah. Or Cyber Five?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Cyber five I think is, um, you know, again, it's a easy button to discount during those days. Um, you could be doing exclusive products that you've held until then. Uh, you could be doing exclusive bundles. You, uh, a lot of free gift with purchase, right? I can get, you know, hey, if I buy this product, I get another small thing with it that I can then give as part of that gift. So really I'm giving more than what I thought I would be. Um, that works extremely well. Um, this is where shipping can really come in, upgrading people shipping over holidays, uh, especially as you get closer and closer to the, to the deadlines. Um, that's a big one. Um, you know, I think there's a whole article up on the good.com with, I don't know, we have like 60 to 80 we keep adding to this list, but, um, things that are not discounts in ways that you can run promotions.

And, um, so if you're interested, there's a huge list up there. But the reality is that the easy button is to just do a discount for those. If you give it a day and do some brainstorming, you'll come up with a lot more options. And, you know, that's really where you're gonna differentiate yourself from everybody else. Because I don't know about you, but my inbox over Cyber five is just all discount emails. It's everybody saying, Hey, 50% off today only. Right? And they're trying to apply time and pressure, and all the typical sales tactics have been used for, for centuries, where really what I'm looking for is something different. Because if I was gonna buy that brand, I was gonna buy it anyways, quite honestly. But now if I, you can surprise and delight me with something extra, um, during the holidays, I'm likely to, to be more excited about it.

Brett:

Super interesting. Yeah, I'll definitely link to that, that article in the show notes. So check that out. So, and, and what's the title of that article again? Or, or

Speaker 2:

Roughly It's some, it's, uh, I forget what the number is now, but I'll send it to you. It's a just, uh, go to the good.com/insights. There's a search box type in discounting or discounts, um, or promotions, and you'll get, you'll find the article pretty quickly.

Brett:

Awesome. Love that. One, one brand, uh, Ezra Firestone, Boom by Cindy Joseph. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, one, one thing that they do that's really interesting is they do no discounts except for Black Friday, and they do a 10% discount. But the way they promote it, and this was interesting, and I I think worth noting, is they talk about this is the only discount of the year. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like, this is the only time we do it, There won't be another mm-hmm. <affirmative>, there won't be anything else, but we just do this for our customers anyway. Yeah. So I think there, there's some things you could do like that, and it's a 10% discount, right? Yeah. Um, but that's all they do one time a year. So that, that kind,

Speaker 2:

It's, it's really great when you can tag that to something meaningful for your brand. So, uh, we worked with for years with, uh, Bear Performance Nutrition. So this gentleman, Nick Bear, b a r e, um, he's an fitness influencer and has a whole supplement company that does extremely well. And he, uh, is a, uh, a former Marine and so on. Uh, on, I think he does, Memorial Day is the only day that he ever runs a sale. So it's Memorial Day, every year he runs a sale, and that's the only day you're gonna get a discount on his products. And, um, it works extremely well because he's doing it as a, Hey, this is a celebration, right? I'm doing it to, to give back. And this day, um, that's meaningful for me. And it's not an everyday thing. It's during Black Friday that week, he does not discount. Um, but during Memorial Day, it's his one day a year where he says, You know what? This is meaningful for me. Yeah. I wanna honor everybody.

Brett:

It's a powerful reason why people resonate with that. And then it's almost more like a, Oh, you're not discounting, you're doing like an active charity or something, or like an active service. And so

Speaker 2:

It's brand, it's on brand. It's

Brett:

On brand for sure. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Yeah. Another, uh, example, and this may be in the article, but I love this strategy and this is really useful right now, especially as costs of everything are going up, supplies going up, supply chains, more expensive, shipping, inflation, all that stuff. Uh, a lot of people are raising prices. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I, I know of two brands who've done this recently, and it was one of their best sales or events ever where they're like, Hey, we're about to raise prices, hate to do it, but we gotta raise prices because of these factors. And you make it understandable when you make it fun, but like, Hey, you can buy it our current prices for the next two or three weeks. I love this strategy. I had, I had two people recently tell me, me biggest promotion they've ever done. And I was like, we didn't discount at all. We just, we said we're about to raise prices, We haven't done it yet. Lock in this price while you can.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I love that idea. I love that idea. And again, you're not discounting, right? I mean, you're basically telling people, Hey, I'm doing you a service by giving you a heads up, I'm treating you right. And I want you to know I'm not gonna pull the rug out from under you. And again, I feel like that's adding, not taking away Exactly. Because you're basically adding in the ability to order this before the price goes up. And I'm giving you the knowledge. I'm adding in the knowledge that prices are gonna go up.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Really good. John, this has been fantastic, man. I'm, I'm all, I'm all hyped up about <laugh> optimizing now and getting out there and making, making the web a better place, making my website better as well. So if people enjoy this interview, which I know they did, and they're probably looking like, Hey, that's a good looking book, I'd like to check that out. Yeah. Uh, where can people find this book?

Speaker 2:

Uh, well, it's every book seller has it. Um, but the easiest place is to go to the good.com/books and, uh, you can see all the books I've written there, and I'll order this one. Um, and, uh, either get a ebook copy right away, uh, or hardback or paperback, uh, mailed to you. So, uh, it's all of our Amazon as well. Again, the book is opting into optimization. Um, so, um, I'm happy to, to have people reading it and that it's been such a success.

Brett:

So it's awesome, man. And then if folks are listening and say, Man, I'd like John and Team to take a look at my website and know you offer Teardowns Yeah. And then optimization services as well. What, what's the best way for someone to go about talking

Speaker 2:

About that? Yeah, just shoot me an email. Um, it's j o n the good.com. So j o n with no h@thegood.com. Um, people respect it. I, you know, I, I try to get through my email as, uh, as often as I can, so shoot me a note. I promise I'll get back to you.

Brett:

That's awesome. John, this has been fabulous, man. This is what you, you brought the goods on the call today. I really appreciate it, buddy. And I appreciate you. You're playing hurt, man. You're, you're delivering good results. I know that shoulder's banged up. I know you're in a lot of pain right now, and so I appreciate you coming on the show and delivering such value

Speaker 2:

Problem. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me, Brian.

Brett:

Awesome. Thanks John. All right. And thank you for tuning in. Really appreciate it. As always, I would love to hear from you if you've not reviewed the show. Hey, now be a good time to do that. We'd love that five star review. If you think the show is worthy, it does help other people discover the show. And so with That. Until next time, thank you for listening.





Episode 206
:
Jon and Kevin - GR0

How to 10x Your Traffic with SEO

Long-time fans of the show might remember me saying that SEO was the first online marketing skill I learned and was also the first service OMG offered. 

We got out of the SEO game years ago, but I still love it. And I believe it's a massive area of opportunity that most eComm brands are missing. 

I first heard my guests speak at Geek Out in San Diego. Their talk was so good I asked them to come on the podcast. Kevin is the CEO of GR0, and Jon is the Chief Growth Officer. Both are wicked smart.

In this episode, we bust SEO myths and misunderstandings and talk about how they've helped eComm brands 10x their organic traffic through consistent SEO practices. 

Here's a look at what we cover: 

  • The most common SEO mistakes or misunderstandings from eComm brands.
  • Where in the funnel does SEO fit?
  • How SEO is just storytelling in a lot of different ways.
  • Content must haves when creating content for organic growth.
  • Favorite SEO tools.
  • How someone could get started with SEO.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Jonathan Zacharias

   - LinkedIn

Kevin Miller

- LinkedIn

GR0

Clearscope

Semrush

Moz

HARO help a reporter out

Gainful

Genexa



Transcript:

Brett:

Hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today I'm so excited about our topic and my guests. We're talking SEO people. And for those that don't know, that's actually how I got my start in online marketing is search engine optimization. So I get to meet these two bright energetic gentlemen at Nick Shackelford's event in San Diego a few months ago called GeekOut. And I get to just geek out with him about SEO. And it was so interesting how a lot of what they talked about was kind of fundamental, stuff that I had heard a long time ago. But then also some new stuff and some stuff you shouldn't do that probably other people are telling you to do. And so we're going to bust some myths, we're going to get practical, we're going to get tactical, and we're going to have a lot of fun as well. So my two guests are Jon and Kevin. We got Jon Zacharias, he's the chief growth officer for GR0. And that's G-R-O or G-R-0, actually?

Kevin:

Zero.

Brett:

GR0. Yeah, they're being trendy here and I like it. So GR0. And then we got Kevin Miller with ... If you're watching the video, he's got that Welcome to Miller Time sign behind him, so very appropriate. Kevin Miller, CEO of GR0. So what's up fellas? How you doing? And thanks for taking the time to get on the show.

Kevin:

Doing great. Thank you for having us.

Jon:

Thanks for having us, Brett.

Brett:

Absolutely. So I can't wait to nerd out here on SEO, but first, and I mentioned we got our sort ... actually OMG's first service was SEO, but we fully got out of the SEO game like three and a half, four years ago for reasons we can get into throughout the show. But how did you guys get into SEO and why start an SEO agency? Because SEO is hard work. How'd you get here? Yeah.

Jon:

Yeah. In 2011, I was in law school and I was interning for one of my dad's friends in a wage-an-hour class action law firm. So we would essentially sue big businesses for not paying employees overtime. And I was realizing that all of the cases that we were getting were coming from Google. And so I became way more interested in generating leads than actually litigating the cases themselves. It was also way more valuable to be able to get the cases than it was to litigate them. Lawyers were a dime a dozen, but if you could get the cases for lawyers, you could essentially walk into any law firm that you wanted to and make your own position. So yeah, I became obsessed with it and I started my search engine optimization career in 2011.

Brett:

That's awesome. So yeah, that really makes a lot of sense, right? You can always train someone to argue the cases in court, but to rank on Google and get the cases in the first place, that's a special skill that not many attorneys have, that's for sure. So Kevin, what about you man? How did you get here? How'd you end up an SEO wizard?

Kevin:

I was working at Google and I was on the AdWords team. And so I was learning about the whole ad side of the business and I found it interesting that they never talked about SEO and the organic side of the business. And I was very intrigued by that and it just kind of piqued my interest. And I was always interested in understanding what it takes to go from zero to a million organic visitors a month and like build a website that can do that. And I had a job at this place called Open Listings in Los Angeles about five years ago when I moved here and I met Jon and he was an SEO expert.

And my responsibilities were exclusively SEO, but I didn't know that. I only knew the paid side. So we talked about 20 times a day about SEO-related tings. And over a year of doing that, I became an expert through like doing courses online and talking with him, it gave me both sides of the learning, like the textbook SEO and then the practical SEO. And I became fascinated with that, I thought it was really interesting that the companies that earned ... you had to earn it. You couldn't directly buy it and I thought that was intriguing.

Brett:

Yeah, you can't just buy, you have to earn it. And once you get it, it's not a forever thing, right? You can still screw up and Google can ding you and you can lose your rankings. But if you keep doing the right thing, it just grows over time and it snowballs, and the compounding effect is huge. And a couple things I'll point out, one, you said you kind of got addicted to it or you just fell in love with it. I was the same way in the early days. I remember when I first learned SEO, I helped one of my early, early clients rank on page one for the term brochures. Now I used tactics at that time that are not recommended today and it didn't stay on page one for very long. But it was cool what they did. I was like whoa, this is really fun, this is really interesting.

But then the other thing I'll say is we're more focused on the ad side of things, but we've seen this time and time again and there's research done on this. If you can rank both organically and in the paid results for certain terms, your clickthrough rate goes up, your clickthrough rate on paid and your clickthrough rate on organic goes up when you can be in both spots. So very synergistic, SEO in paid. And so really excited to kind of dive in. So what I thought would be good is let's start with either some SEO mistakes that people make or just some SEO misunderstandings because I think there's a lot of misinformation out there, a lot of misunderstandings. But help us out. Where are we getting it wrong and where are we misunderstanding things?

Jon:

Yeah, the first biggest misunderstanding that I see all the time is the strategy itself, right? So let's say you're selling pool floats, like these things that float in the pool, right? Obviously ...

Brett:

Works like a unicorn, the unicorn floats or the lounging floats or whatever. Yeah, got it.

Jon:

Got you. So you're selling those, right? Obviously, you know want to be number one when somebody Googles pool floats, right? But the biggest mistake that I see is when people build their entire strategy around one or two or three different keywords. And this is honestly something that Kevin kind of taught me, the much better way to do it now and the way that we always do it is diversification. So we go after hundreds of long tail keywords, wherein the aggregate if you add up all of the search volume, it's a 100, 200, 300x what the smaller one terms are. Our strategies still do involve including going after that big word, right? But the whole point is that if it doesn't work, we're not dead in the water, right? We've won a lot of other little battles out there that start to compound in the client's favor. And so I think the biggest mistake I see is the strategy itself.

People primarily try to just change their title tags and then send backlinks to the page and hit it over and over and over again until they go to number one. The problem with that is that even if you do get number one when Google does an update, you could get burned, right? They can burn those links and then you have nothing. So there's been situations where people invested a million dollars into SEO and got nothing, right? So we make sure that no matter what happens, that never happens to any of our clients and to the sites that we own and operate ourselves. We make sure that we go after so many small battles that no matter what happens, the client or our sites are going to rank for hundreds of keywords in the number one position and going to have a plethora of traffic for years to come.

Brett:

I love that. And I think if we kind of unpack that a little bit or even go high level a little bit, it's not being just myopically focused on a few keywords, it's really being focused on a customer, and answering questions, and entering a conversation, right? And getting traffic. And there really is beauty and strength, and lot of money to be made in that long tail rather than just a few keywords. So really good stuff, Jon. Kevin, how would you follow that up?

Kevin:

I would say one mistake that I see people making is they want to rank for a certain keyword or they want to write on a certain topic, and they believe that writing about 500 words is sufficient. What I've learned is that that used to work in the old days of SEO. But now if you really want to rank number one or two or three for a term that gets searched, it's got to be a thousand or 1,500 word piece of written content that thoroughly answers the question. If you just answer a part of the question, it's just not going to be substantive enough to have staying power on page one of Google. So that's one big mistake, people kind of dip their toe into the world of content marketing and they go through basically all of the steps.

They figure out what they want to write on, they understand what the title tag should be in heading one and they write it, but they don't really put their full effort into it where you need to internally link to other pages in a way that makes sense. You need to have images on the pages, you need to cite your sources, you need to cite who the author is. And it needs to be 1,500 words that is a better answer to that question than what's currently in positions one through 10. So that's a big, big thing that I think people just fall short. They just give minimal effort and they expect it to work and it yields zero results.

Brett:

So kind of the minimal effort or not thinking deep enough about strategy and then also not going deep enough on execution. And so talk about that a little bit, why a thousand to 1,500 words? Why does that have staying power or maybe a 500-word article does not?

Kevin:

Most topics that people might want to talk about or answer today, they require more thorough of an answer. So for example, if I Google protein powder and that's what I sell and that's what I want to rank for, there's a lot of questions that are related to that such as what does protein powder do? What's the best one for me? Should I take it every day? In what dose should I take it in? What are the pros? What are the cons? Are there any side effects and everything in between? So when you're thinking about that, those are the things that people want to know when they're Googling protein powder. If you just answer what is it, it's not sufficient enough.

Brett:

Right.

Kevin:

There's other articles that are going to talk about all the other implications. So we've just learned that you have to answer all of the next questions that people might have as it relates to the parent topic.

Brett:

Because what Google's looking for, and if we kind of go back, and this is what was cool about your talk and thinking about SEO is that the fundamental thing that Google is trying to do has not changed. It has never changed. It's always been the same. They want to classify the world's information and make it accessible to everybody. And they want to deliver really, really relevant results to whatever people are searching for. And so Google's looking at ... they're looking at things like time on site and does someone click on an organic link and visit that site and then come back and keep searching like they didn't get their question answered. So there's some things Google is looking at that's going to indicate yeah, people are not happy with this response, right?

Kevin:

Yeah.

Brett:

And just over time, Google has identified hey, you got to be thorough. Be thorough in your answer and that's what satisfies the user. And if it satisfies the user, price satisfies Google and then you're in the money.

Jon:

And then that leads specifically into Google releasing their natural language processing API. So we can actually scientifically figure out how thorough and how semantically superior an article is to another article very easily. So for example, if one of our clients wants to rank for protein powder, we write the article and then we grade that article against every other article that's ever been written that ranks on the first page of Google for that keyword. And then that's how we figure out we're missing a section about how often should I take it and Healthline has that section. We're missing a section about what is the best dose and WebMD has that section.

And by the time it's all said and done, we're creating content that really is like the best piece of content that's ever been created on that subject matter. Now that has two benefits, right? The first benefit is that it helps you get to the top of Google faster, right? Because Google's algorithm can figure out that it is a very thorough detailed piece of content written on that subject matter. But more importantly, it helps you stay at the top of Google for longer. And the reason why is because Google has an algorithm update basically called RankBrain. And what RankBrain does is exactly what you were just talking about. It looks at the bounce rate of the articles. It looks at the engagement of the articles.

And it determines okay, this article shouldn't be number one because 90% of the people that are looking for the dose of protein powder are bouncing off of it so clearly it's not answering the question. Theoretically, and again there's a lot of nuances to how to do it right. But theoretically, if you use the natural language processing API, the bounce rate should be the lowest. And the reason why is because you're answering all the sub-questions within the master question that consumers want to see. Now the caveat to that is the design has to be right and there usually has to be a very nice table of contents at the top so people can easily consume the information when they land on the page. But as long as you have those elements, there's no reason why you shouldn't have the lowest bounce rate for that subject matter.

Brett:

That's awesome. Love it. So kind of walk me through the process if you would guys and I know, and this is a very complex subject. And this is a complex service to execute on, but what does the kind of strategy look like for you guys? So you take on a client, we can stick with protein powder if that's a good one or we could go with auto parts or like whatever sounds fun to you to talk about. How would you map out that strategy, kind of where would you start and what would you do next?

Kevin:

It really depends on, we have to meet the client where they're at. So we have to first analyze what have they written on, how built out is their website from an SEO perspective, do they have a good diversified link profile or not? So all that really matters when we're trying to figure out what the strategy is. But most of our clients come to us in like the earlier phase of their life. They might be two years old, received a little bit of venture funding or their bootstrapped, they've reached part of a product market fit and now they're trying to grow a channel that they haven't tried before. So typically what we'll do is we'll look at all the topics that consumers search for that relate to their product or their service.

So in the case of protein powder, we'll do a content calendar that identifies 50 to a 100 different distinct blog posts that we can write that relate to protein powder. Believe it or not, there are that many questions around protein. And our goal is to make them a subject matter expert on proteins. That if anyone is searching anything related to protein on Google, they run into our client no matter what. And so those are all the small battles that Jon talked about. And then what we do is we have a very strong press outreach program. So we get our clients written in the news at a frequency that's probably 10 times higher than any PR firm if you can believe it.

And so we get the CEOs, founders, heads of marketing quoted in major, major news outlets, and that in exchange for the quote and the expertise that they give just to a journalist article, they get a dofollow backlink to their homepage. And that dramatically changes the trust levels and the trust signals that Google looks for in a certain website that helps us rank higher for all the keywords that we're trying to go after. And then the third piece of what we do is technical SEO. So we make sure the site is super fast. We're doing onpage optimization to make sure that every single page on the website is unique in like what it's titled and what it's about and make sure it has really good content. So those are the three things we do. We do content creation, backlink building, and onpage optimization. And that's what a complete and thorough strategy really is.

Brett:

And then you really have to have each of those right because if you're missing any of those components, you're not going to be successful. The technical SEO is off if the site is really slow, it doesn't load well, has issues, Google is not going to rank that because they want a good user experience. If you don't have that backlink profile, if there's not news outlets and other people linking to your site, Google's not going to trust it, right? And if there's not the content, what's Google going to send people to, right? What are they going to rank? So love that breakdown. Anything you would add to that, Jon?

Jon:

Yeah, like Kevin said, every engagement starts with a strategy, right? I mean it starts with a strategy. And basically in that strategy we got to figure out what keywords they already rank for, what keywords they want to rank for, whether those keywords that they want to rank for are going to show up in the form of a product page or a blog page, that type of analysis. The number one mistake that I see in SEO campaigns is that like a company that wants to rank for protein powder is so excited about ranking for protein powder that they have five blog posts on their website about protein powder and they all compete with each other, and then they're confused as to why none of them rank. So a lot of it is originally doing some of that technical work and then building out that content. We use a hub-and-spoke model.

So the whole point is that a hub page would be protein powder, everything you need to know, right? And then all the spokes would be blog articles that would link back internally on the client's website to that hub page. And then when you hit those spokes with backlinks through the transitive property, they hit the hub and the whole site goes flying up. So for example, you hit how often should I take protein powder with a backlink from Men's Journal, right? That blog post shoots to the top of Google, that blog post links back internally to the hub page, protein powder, that page shoots to the top of Google.

Brett:

And explain it just a little bit. So I totally get the visual hub and spoke. The hub, that's a piece of content as well or that's like a product page? What's usually the hub?

Jon:

It can be either. It can be either, but usually we like to marry them together. So one of the biggest tricks is that we'll add a 1,500, 2,000-word blog post to a product page. And that way, it captures any possible intent that a user is looking for. If they're looking to buy product, covered. If they're looking for information, covered. And so it gives it the best possible chance to rank and then also creates that master kind of like landing page as well.

Brett:

So you're creating a super PDP, super product detailed page, almost like. And in some ways Amazon's product detail pages are this way, right? It's got the buying information up front. And then as you scroll down, good pages, usually have tons of A+ content, FAQs, like all kinds of information there. Is that kind of what you're building sometimes for that hub page?

Jon:

Exactly.

Brett:

Yeah. That's awesome. It's so interesting. And so I want to talk a little bit about storytelling. Because you guys made a really interesting comment when I heard you speak in San Diego about, as you were just storytelling in lots and lots of different ways. And maybe one way we could kind of relate it, we just had our internal quarterly summit with team OMG about a week ago and we were talking about just the way people shop. And so I was talking to the team and saying hey, what have you bought recently and what was that process like? So we kind of understand even just looking at how we shop for things.

And Rob on our team, shout out, Rob, was talking about, he just bought some noise canceling headphones. And just asked him how long the journey took, and he said it was about two weeks, right? And so he read articles and watched videos, and looked. And it wasn't a huge purchase, it like 70, 80 bucks, something like that. But he wanted to get the right pair of headphones and it was kind of fun for him and he took the time to buy it. So throughout he was asking all kinds of questions and looking at reviews, and looking at that product versus this product. So talk about that a little bit. What do you mean by good SEO storytelling and how does that storytelling weave into someone's shopping journey?

Kevin:

I think in the example you gave, that's a multichannel storytelling because they're looking at things that are owned by the brand. They're also looking at third-party reviews on Amazon and other review websites. So the comment that we had made at the GeekOut event was kind of referencing that you've got to just be great at storytelling across the board. So like other things that we do at our company is we do storytelling on LinkedIn. So owners of companies and brands will tell their brand story there so that we can hit people on a different channel. But yeah, the storytelling also comes into play with what you share on social media and what you put into your ads.

And basically like we want to be the company that helps you tell that story and create the content, and then you can repurpose that content on other channels. And so that's kind of how we think about it. We tell the story with blog posts, we tell the story with copy that we write on your homepage. We tell the story with copy that we write on your product description pages. And then you can use that content and repurpose it for social channels, LinkedIn and other mediums to help get that message out to other audiences, and meet them kind of where they are. Because not everyone's going to come to the same channel to consume information about your brand.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that. I think sometimes we over complicate things. And certainly there are a lot of technical nuances and execution here is not easy. But I love what Google said a long time ago where they said hey, what if the best ads are just answers to questions, right?

Kevin:

Yeah.

Brett:

What if the best content is just telling a story and answering questions, right? It's simple. Think like Rob who's trying to buy the best set of noise canceling headphones or think about Doris who's getting into workouts and what's the best protein powder like what questions are they asking? What are they looking for? What do they need to have answered before they make a purchase? And you're really just trying to show up every possible place you can with a good story and a good answer so I love that.

Kevin:

Yeah.

Brett:

You kind of talked about this a little bit, Kevin. But just curious if you guys want to pack anymore here, what are some content must haves? So we're creating one of these blog articles, we're creating this content. What are some things that we have to have here? So we know it needs to be a 1,000, 1,500 words, what else needs to be there?

Kevin:

You have to have clear authorship by someone who has demonstrated that they're an expert in the space. So if I'm selling like a supplement, I want to make sure that the person writing the blog is a registered dietician and has experience in the creation of that supplement, and knows the ingredients inside and out. It can't just be a marketing manager talking about a kid's vitamin. It needs to be someone who works with kids, potentially the dietrist or something like that who has experience and know how there. That lends credibility to the content but it also sends a trust signal to Google that this person is who they say they are, and the information has reason to be credible because they have a degree in this and they've worked in it professionally.

Brett:

So authorship is important. Actually, maybe just a quick side story to kind of underscore this. I heard you guys talk about when you were on stage Dr. Axe, right? Was it Dr. Axe who used to get a ton of traffic and then Google's like no, not a real doctor, no traffic for you type of thing.

Kevin:

I think Jon was telling that story. Yeah.

Jon:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. So basically that just underscores Google's not just looking for good content, but looking at who's writing the content and can we trust this person, right? And so don't be like Dr. Axe, I guess is the moral of the story there. But what do we, how can we improve on that expertise or become an authoritative person so that Google says yes, I trust this author?

Kevin:

You have to link out to a third party resource that backs up and proves that you are who you say you are. So for example, I could write on my own blog that I own that I'm an MD, but I'm not an MD. So if you link out to a third party website that shows my profile on ucla.edu, then that proves to Google that I am who I say I am, and I have the authority to write on a medical topic. So I think that's how you do it and it's one way to do it. And it makes it very clear to the reader that I should trust this information. That's pretty much the most popular and easiest way to do it for a lot of companies.

Brett:

Awesome. So we got to have 1,500 words, 1,000 to 1,500 words. We got to have authorship or expertise there. What else seems to be in this content?

Kevin:

I think great imagery needs to be in the content. Again, it helps tell the story. So typically really good blog posts have one or two infographics that illustrate a concept that you're talking about verbally. It appeals to a lot of people who are visual learners and helps them feel engaged. And so that's a nice to have, it's not an absolute must. But I love content that has that, I think it's very engaging. It enhances metrics like time on site. The longer you stay on the page, the better a signal it sends to Google so that always factors in. No one knows exactly how much it factors in because we don't work on the web spam team at Google. We're not one of those engineers, but we know that Google ...

Brett:

Google keeps that organic algo pretty top secret.

Kevin:

Yeah.

Brett:

So not, I mean you really couldn't know, but you also have to look at, and I remember this kind of applies, this old good ad advice if you look at an advertorial or something like that. You want to make the content approachable where someone wants to consume it. So that switching from left to right and having text on one side, image on the other, and then you switch and stuff like that. Because sometimes people scan, right? They'll scan the blog post and see like what all is here. And it may be an image that causes them to pause a little bit and dig in and read there, and then they go back and read the whole thing, right? So yeah, you're trying to get that engagement and that time on site, which makes it...

Kevin:

Yeah.

Brett:

Cool. What else?

Kevin:

On the content side, specifically.

Brett:

On the content side. Yeah, what else on the content side do we need?

Kevin:

What we do, which Jon was talking about is we semantically grade all of our articles. And what that means is we have softwares that we use. There's the primary one is called Clearscope. It's a third party tool, it's available and we run our blog post through it. So you write your blog post, you put it in this piece of software, you tell the software you want to rank number one for protein powder. It then scans the top 10 results on Google and it says, it identifies how thorough and how well written your article is relative to what's currently on page one of Google. And it says hey, the top pages that were written by Healthline and other formidable competitors have these sections that you missed.

If you want to be considered to rank on page one, you've got to add this, this, this and add even more. So it helps us understand what gaps we might have in our article, and that's like the next level part of SEO that we do. And then you keep writing and you keep adding more information until you rank and your article ranks in A+, at which point, we deem it eligible to be published on your website. We don't publish any articles that don't reach an A+ rating. So that's the next thing that we do that I think is relevant to the content conversation that we're having right now. And I've seen a direct correlation of A+ content in the Clearscope tool with ranking really high on Google, so we follow that.

Brett:

Awesome. I love that. This is actually a good segue into what are some of your favorite SEO tools. So Clearscope is likely at the top, near the top of that list. But Jon, what else would you add to that list or Kevin?

Jon:

Yeah, we like Semrush, Ahref, you mean just for semantically grading or in general?

Brett:

Just in general. Yeah, just in general SEO tools.

Jon:

Yeah, I love Semrush. Kevin loves Ahrefs. It really all depends. But we've noticed that there's different tools that are good for different reasons. For example, one primary metric that is super important, is the keyword difficulty because you need an accurate understanding of how difficult it is. And it's interesting, like on Semrush, it'll say that protein powders 95 out of a 100. On Ahrefs, it might say it's a 30 out of a 100. And so we've kind of created a proprietary formula that we use a combination of different tools to get down to a real blended keyword difficulty. So we actually understand across the board how difficult is this keyword to rank for. I also like Moz for domain authority. I think it's very accurate for domain authority. Years ago, as you know Google, back in the day, I was explaining this to people, Google used to actually show you what a pages' rank was.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jon:

So you could go into the old version of search console, put in a URL essentially, right? And then Google would show you this is an eight, this is a seven out a 10. Then they killed that because it created a lot of opportunity for manipulation, right? And they killed that, and then now we're just left with Moz which is the next best way to gauge how strong a domain's authority and a pages' authority is. Ahrefs and Semrush also do now have that tool in them, but I still believe in the Moz one, it's been around for the longest

Brett:

Moz is kind of the OG in that space for looking at page rank, yeah. Which little fun fact ...

Jon:

Exactly.

Brett:

... that only maybe some people care about, page rank was partially because it was ranking the authority of the page, but also partially a pun on Larry Page's name. Because Larry Page, one of the co-founders of Google.

Kevin:

Yeah.

Brett:

So there you go. But now yeah, nobody knows what page rank is. Only Google knows, but Moz is probably going to get you there close enough. Moz is measuring the right things to at least be a proxy on how authoritative is this particular page. So love all those tools, fully, fully agree. Cool. And I know you guys got to be careful, as do we with this talking about clients, but any kind of favorite case studies or just quickly of hey, this is what the process could do for you if you commit to it? And I also want you guys to talk about HARO, right? Help a Reporter Out. So actually answer that first. So Help a Reporter Out and then any case studies that you guys can dive into?

Kevin:

Yeah, so we're the first people to productize HARO, meaning you could hire us and we will write on your behalf, and get you featured in the news. So it's a highly complex system. It took us like 18 months to figure out how to do it in a way that was efficient. If you don't respond to the journalist within 10 minutes, you're dead. You'll never get written out in the news. So most people want to pay us for it because we have people on staff that are doing this all day and night that are sitting at their computers at the second that the queries come out. So it is a service that has worked really well for us. We act, it's effectively as a PR firm. And like I mentioned, we do it more efficiently than most PR firms because we are meeting the journalists like where they're at. They're asking for a quote and an expert and we're giving them that quote and that expert within 10 minutes, so.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jon:

And what's so cool about it is that it's not just HARO though, there's a lot of them. So we monitor like over 10 different services and then also have built thousands of relationships with reporters directly. So that's why we're so effective with that service, but definitely started with Help a Reporter Out.

Brett:

Yeah, which is great. Because you just got to understand that there's tons of reporters out there that they're trying to meet deadlines, they got to crank out content, they need quotes, they need things. And so you can be there to answer their requests and really crank out a ton of those references and backlinks. But you got to be Johnny-on-the-spot, as you guys mentioned and so that makes it a little bit difficult.

Kevin:

Yeah.

Brett:

But yeah, any quick case studies? What can this do for you? If you do this, if you commit to it, if you hire someone like you guys, like what can this do for you?

Kevin:

We used the example of protein powder, I have approval to use the name. So our client is gainful, they're venture-backed personalized protein company. I actually went to college with the CEO and founder. And when they came to us, they were getting about 20,000 unique visitors a month and now they're doing about 250,000. So we're seeing 10x growth in about ...

Brett:

10x, beautiful.

Kevin:

... 18 months and it's all from non-branded keywords. The other example is a company called Genexa, which is a venture-backed children's pharmaceutical company. Their tagline is they provide clean medicine. So you can go to Walgreens, Rite Aid, any of those places and get medication for your kids, cough medication and things like that. They've written hundreds of articles just in the same style that Healthline has and their non-branded keywords have exploded. They're doing hundreds of thousands of unique visitors from zero. So they just committed to the plan that we set forth and they did it over an extended period of time, and that's what it takes. So those are two brand name case studies that I like to talk about because they just did such an amazing job and they continue to reap the benefits. Every day that goes by, they're earning more trust with Google and they're continuing with the plan that we laid out and they're getting tremendous rewards from it.

Brett:

Cool. So Kevin as we wrap up, I got basically just two more questions, but how should someone shape their thinking, right? A lot of us are used to paid traffic where craft an ad, create the campaigns, flip the switch, we get traffic right now. What kind of commitments should someone look for? Like when do they start to see some wins? When do they start to see big wins? When does this really start to snowball? How long should someone be committed to SEO? I know the real answer's probably forever, but.

Kevin:

I believe that you start to see small wins around the 90-day mark. You start to see big wins around the eight, nine-month mark. But people should be committed to SEO for at least a year.

Brett:

Yeah.

Kevin:

When you commit for a year and you really do the strategy, then when you look at the next year, it's a no brainer that you want to double down on what you've done.

Brett:

Yeah. And then you're like okay, this thing is really gaining momentum, let's just pour more gas on the fire. Absolutely. So guys, this has been fantastic. I have more questions. I could talk SEO a lot longer, but we are out of time so let's wrap up. But if someone is listening and they're thinking cool, sounds awesome, don't want to do any of this myself, we'd rather talk to you guys. How can people get in touch with GR0 and what are those steps look like?

Kevin:

Our website is gr0.com and on the site, it links to my personal website, Jon's personal website, in our LinkedIns and emails and all that, so you can get all the information from there. But I would just go to our homepage, gr0.com.

Jon:

Yeah, there's an intercom set up on the homepage. Just write in and we'll get right back to you.

Brett:

Awesome. Fantastic, guys. Any final words of SEO wisdom or any parting thoughts as we wrap up?

Kevin:

We just thank you for your time. This is fantastic to talk with you and we're happy to elaborate with anyone who wants to talk further.

Brett:

Awesome. All right, guys, I really appreciate it. Thank you. I'm already like formulating in my mind what part two could be like as we go deeper on SEO, but check out gr0.com, G-R-0.com. Thanks fellows, been a lot of fun.

Kevin:

Thanks, Brett.

Jon:

Thanks, Brett.

Kevin:

And as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear from you. What do you like about the show? What are some topic ideas? We're doing this for you, so let us know. And also if you love the show, leave that five star review on iTunes, it helps other people discover the show and it makes our day. And so with that, until next time, thank you for listening.






Episode 205
:
Nick Flint - OMG Commerce

23+ Email Marketing Hacks To Scale Your Revenue with Nick Flint

Email marketing is the ultimate money maker for eCommerce companies.

When you have email marketing dialed in, EVERYTHING else gets better. Your product launches improve, you can spend more on top-of-funnel marketing efforts, convert more abandoned carts, and give your customers a better experience. The list goes on and on.

Nick Flint is the lead Email Strategist here at OMG Commerce. He took his knowledge from building his own eCommerce brand while in college and scaled that into successfully running email marketing for brands for the past 6+ years.

Here’s the deal. Even if you think you’re doing pretty well with email marketing, there are at least a few things you can improve on. Grab your pencil if you know you have holes in your email game. You’re about to unlock some serious growth for your brand.

Here’s a look at what I cover with Nick in this episode.

  • Three simple ways to make any subject line better.
  • What to do with your winning email tests.
  • The paradox of sending more emails.
  • How to properly combine email and SMS marketing for better results (without bugging your customers).
  • Two super-fast email hacks that you can digest and implement tomorrow.
  • A simple, no-brainer way to improve your flows.
  • Plus more!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Nick Flint - nick@omgcommerce.com

ReallyGoodEmails.com

Email Charts

Klaviyo

Transcript:

Brett:

Hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry CEO of OMG Commerce. And today we are diving into email marketing, your money maker, your work horse, the staple of any good eCommerce marketing effort. I've got one of OMG's best and brightest joining me. This is Mr. Nick Flint. He is our email strategist. He runs our email efforts at OMG. As we run email campaigns for clients this guy is the man. He's been in eCom and been running email campaigns for six years, which in internet years is like 60, and built his own brand. Built his own brand online, runs email. We've been so impressed with him. We're like, "Hey, you got to join team OMG." Thankfully he agreed. With that, Nick, welcome to the show and how's it going, man?

Nick:

I'm thrilled to be here today and glad you talked me on board to coming on with OMG.

Brett:

Me too. Email has been a really fun ride at OMG. Clients are loving it. It's obviously just a really powerful service. It's one of those things, we've talked about this a few times where I remember when I was coming up in the marketing game in the early 2000s, in the mid 2000s, there were multiple periods where people were like, "Email's going to die." Then some people said email is dead because the young people, the young whipper snappers, they're not using email. I was always like, "Well, that's because they don't have a job yet and they're not required to use email." They're not going to, but anyway, email not going to die, not going to die in the future. I think it's just going to be with us for a long, long time and it is a workhorse.

Brett:

Here's what I want to do, Nick. I want to kick off this podcast. I want to say what if someone only had two minutes to listen to this podcast, and I think after this two minutes people will for sure stick around; but if someone only had two minutes to listen to this podcast, what are two quick wins, quick takeaways that you would share how to make your email better?

Nick:

I'm glad we're getting this out of the way early because a lot of times they'll tease that juicy tidbit for the end. We'll go ahead and just present it up front in case someone gets interrupted, they can have these things to walk away with. The first one is just dialing in the subject lines. People they overlook them as an afterthought after they make the actual content within there. They're not going to see all that beautiful content you built if you don't have good subject lines. Instead of just saying better subject lines, we're going to have three things for you. If you toss the word hacks in the subject line, it always works better. So instead of three tips to wake up in the morning, three hacks to wake up in the morning, it works, more people open it.

Brett:

Healthcare hacks, hair hacks to make your hair thicker, fuller or richer or whatever. People love hacks.

Nick:

I think just the word tips is old and played out and it makes it feel like a 20 item list I'm about to read, but a couple quick hacks are the way to go. The next one is tossing someone's name in there. Klaviyo, they have this first name tag, go ahead and use it. We're launching this new product and it's perfect for you, toss that name tag at the end. People love seeing their own name, that's going to help out with your open rates as well.

Nick:

The last one is curiosity gap. How can you bridge that curiosity between them seeing you in their inbox to getting them to open that email, and then again getting them to click that email. Instead of just saying something like we launched this new shaker cup, say we solved your problem. I see that I'm like, "I didn't know I had a problem?" Your problem is that your drink was getting warm fast. Try to rephrase what you're telling them into some kind of a little curiosity thing, get them to actually open it.

Brett:

Awesome. Sometimes you can use numbers and things like that with it, right? Number something, you got curiosity. People want to know what those three things are, seven things are, five things are love that. We got subject lines as tip number one, what's tip number two?

Nick:

I know a lot of people have trouble getting enough content and they think it's this big process, but a really quick, easy win is just repurposing the emails you send out. Let's say you're just sending out one email a week on Mondays. What you're going to do is clone that, send it again on Thursdays. You're going to break it off into two different groups. People who didn't open it, switch up the subject line, switch up the content a little bit. Then people who opened it and didn't click it get a little more aggressive with the urgency, switch up the call to action within the email. That way you didn't have to come up with a whole new concept, but you're going to see some good results from having that second email sent out later in the week, just repurposing the first one.

Brett:

Love it. Sending the same email again, just repurposing the content of it, but changing the subject line and splitting your list into people that didn't click and people that didn't open. Correct?

Nick:

Yeah.

Brett:

Love that. So there we go. Two rapid fire quick hit tips to make your email better, but we're just getting started. We're just getting rolling. Let's dive in. I think the way we've structured this, Nick, is we're going to look at kind of three groups of people, people that have either haven't touched email marketing or just barely touched it? It's there, but it's an afterthought. People that are occasionally working on email, but they know there are gaps. They know there are issues. They know there are problems that are unsolved. Then kind of a third group who would say, "Hey, we're probably 90% of the way there or thereabouts. Emails pretty good, but we know there's more we can unlock and more we can make happen." Let's dive into specific tips here. Should we start with that first group first? Those that are really just not doing much with email right now.

Nick:

We'll kick it off with them since we're managing different brand's accounts, they all come to us from different starting points. When we're looking in there, it might be a Klaviyo account that has things turned on from years ago they haven't touched. They might not be sending any campaigns and they're just too busy running their business to think about emailing. Like you said, it ends up being like an afterthought. For those brands, if you're in that position right now as an owner or as the marketer for a brand, the first tip of advice, a little bit of therapy lesson is don't be scared. Just dive in. People will put a little bit too much pressure on everything, but MVP, minimum viable product just get that out there. You're nervous, you're looking at it your inbox. Just trust me if you send it out and it's not beautifully designed and perfectly crafted with all this crazy content, it's still going to work and it's still going to convert. First step don't be scared. No pressure here.

Brett:

A good email or even a mediocre email is better than no email. Email marketing definitely lends itself well to test and iterate rather than laboring over the perfect subject line. Test and iterate, test, test, test. Sometimes the subject line you labor over forever is not going to do that well. Sometimes the line you just throw out there is going to be the winner. You've got to be testing and you got to love that minimum viable product. Just get it out there. That's awesome. What other advice would you give to someone who's really just not doing much with email right now?

Nick:

Now that the pressure's off you and you're not scared to hit send, go ahead and start setting up a semi-consistent campaign calendar schedule. About one per week is a good starting point, like we mentioned you can always repurpose that, but you can worry about that later on. Just pick a day of the week where you're going to get a campaign sent out and just start getting into that rhythm. One is going to get you used to sending them and, two, you're training your customers to hear from you as well. Because when you're sending out these sporadic emails every couple of months with a sale, your customers aren't used to hearing from you and they probably forgot about you. All the email providers they're like who is this person? They never send stuff. You might be ending up in the promo and the spam because of that.

Brett:

I love that. It's almost one of these counterintuitive things where you're like, oh I can't email my list too much. I want them to open what I've got. I want them to really pay attention. If you email too infrequently one, the email service providers they're not going to trust or respect your email so deliverability is going to be an issue; and two, when someone just doesn't hear from you very much, when they do hear from you they're going to be like, "Oh wait a minute I forgot about them. This is just a reminder to unsubscribe." Versus people that email consistently and have quality emails and helpful emails and useful emails and deals and emails. That just makes everything work better, better opens, better deliverability. All of that works better. Awesome. What other advice would we give to this hey, we're just kind of getting rolling with email?

Nick:

Next up same thing. Just turn those popups live. Don't be scared to turn that live on your site. Again, people want this nicely designed one with the person holding the coupon code that's going to generate right there while the wheel's spinning in the background. Sometimes it's plain get 10% off, give us your email and start actually collecting those. Then if you didn't listen to the first piece of advice about start sending them out more often, at least you're going to have the emails so when you do start sending them out more often, you'll have people actually to send them too. Start collecting those opt-ins for email and SMS.

Brett:

Love it. We're getting consistent. We're being bold. We're just hitting send, we're making it happen. We're getting our deliverability increase and open rates increased and then we're growing our list. We got to be growing the list. When you do that it has a compounding effect. When you're making the email campaigns better and you're testing and iterating and making increasing opens, increasing click throughs, increasing conversions and you're growing the list that's when it has a compounding effect. That's awesome. What's next?

Nick:

As the brand owner, when you're turning these flows on, I like to go through them myself. If it's a popup, I'll go ahead and toss my email in that popup box just so I can go through it myself before the customers do. Then you kind of just see how it looks from their perspective. It might look slightly different within Klaviyo versus in your inbox. You can see the cadences for how it's coming in and if it makes sense to you. Actually anything like that, even post purchase. Go ahead and place an order on your site too. People will overlook that, because it's easy to toss your name in the popup, but go ahead and make a mock order. Place it, see how the order confirmation looks and then the welcome journey after you actually placed that order.

Brett:

How do you recommend people treat that checkout opt-in? Are you creating a checkbox always to opt-in to offers and stuff like that? You just add all purchasers to a list. What are you recommending there on that checkout opt-in?

Nick:

You have two options here. You have email and SMS. We usually leave the email enabled. They always have the option to uncheck it if they'd like. For SMS, you have to have some specific compliance language there, but usually we'll spruce it up a little bit, at least the first line to make it on brand. So it's not just like, Hey, we copy and pasted this, but the best workout tips you're ever going to get sent right to your phone, the compliance language, they can opt-in that way. Make sure you have the correct language on your checkout page. We have email turned on and they have the option to check SMS too.

Brett:

Awesome. Emails opted on, an option for SMS, because you got to be careful with SMS. You got to careful with both right. We don't want to be a spammer in any channel in any capacity, but especially text people are a little pickier about text. That's an intimate form of communication so you got to make sure you're compliant there. Totally makes sense. Awesome. Any last pieces of advice for this? I'm really just getting the ball rolling on email.

Nick:

One common mistake we see when people start to turn on Klaviyo and there's playing around with the flows is not turning off the Shopify abandoned cart messages. If you leave those enabled within Shopify, then it'll be sending out through that and through Klaviyo and you're double hitting them at that point. When you do get to the point where it's time to turn the abandoned cart live on Klaviyo, go ahead and turn that Shopify one off.

Brett:

Nice. Totally makes sense. Better to be in control of that, better for that to run through Klaviyo than to run through Shopify?

Nick:

Yes. It looks better and it's easier to see the data.

Brett:

Cool. Then what about unsubscribes? How do we want to treat unsubscribed or do you want to make it easy for someone unsubscribe? You want to make it hard for them to unsubscribe? What's your philosophy there?

Nick:

When the email providers they're looking at your sender score, basically they're saying are people opening them? Are they clicking them? Are they unsubscribing? Are they marking spam? What are the customers doing with these emails coming in? They view a spam complaint a lot worse than an unsubscribe because we expect our customers to sometimes unsubscribe. It happens. That's fine. What you don't want to do and I'll see some brands do, is they make it a six point font and they hide it at the bottom of light gray on top of the white. Just make it easy for them to opt out if they want to. Put something like, hey, getting inbox overload, you can unsubscribe, but you're going to miss our black Friday sale coming up or you're going to miss out on these amazing hacks we've been sending you. You can add a little blurb in there, but just make it easy for them to find if they want to opt out, just catch you later.

Brett:

If they want to opt out you, if they don't want to get your emails anymore, then you want them to opt out because if they're not clicking and they're not opening most of the time then it's hurting some of your deliverability scores most likely, and then it's not useful. You want to engage people to be opening. I have had this happen before, too, where I've gone to unsubscribe to a newsletter. I opened the email. I scroll down to the bottom to unsubscribe and then I'm like, you know what? That email was actually pretty good. Maybe I'll stick around for a little while. You never know if you're sending good content and you get someone to open it maybe you win them over even before they hit that unsubscribe, but make it easy. Okay, great. Those are amazing tips for people that are just getting rolling with email marketing. What about someone who they're like, "no, I've got emails, part of what we do and we talk about it as a team", but we know it's not optimized. That middle of the road email marketer, what are the tips for them?

Nick:

We can break this into percentages. That first group that we just talked about, they're doing zero through 10 or 12% of the revenue from email marketing. Next group that we're talking about they have someone managing it, but maybe it's one of the three jobs within the company, they're not fully dialed in on it. They're doing about, let's say 12 to 20 ish percent of revenue from email marketing. They're like, "All right, we have something here. We have some data, we have some flows set up. How can we just turn that dial up a little bit more just to step our game up." Especially when other ads start to let's say decline or they're getting more expensive just as our running a business. They start to turn their focus and say, "All right, email, how can we get this really dialed in?"

Nick:

For that group, the first thing to do is look at every campaign or every step of the step in a flow as a step by step by step process. What's the first step you want to do? Get them to open. We talked about some strategies with the subject lines earlier, but that's the first thing is to actually get them to open your emails. The second one, make it engaging enough within the email to get them to actually click and go to the next step. Then your landing page or whatever product page on the site is going to go ahead and take care of that sale. Hopefully you should also have that dialed in too. It's not just within their inbox. It's also their website experience.

Nick:

Coming back to that curiosity gap, how can we get just enough curiosity in there, get them to open up that email once they open it, how can we get them to click on it? Maybe we just launched this brand new flavor, tap below to see what it is versus like we launched banana, someone doesn't like banana they're not going to click on it. If they click on it to see what the flavor is, they're on your website already, maybe they'll go buy chocolate while they're there.

Brett:

I love this approach and I love what we're talking about here because we do a lot with top of funnel traffic, a lot of YouTube top of funnel traffic, performance max, Google search and shopping. A lot of times people will look at performance of their marketing efforts and think, I got to increase my conversion rates. Well, one of the best ways to do that is through email. We increase our opt-ins through that popup you just talked about a minute ago. Then we're increasing conversions from abandoned cart and some of these other sequences that we're talking about. We're looking at it kind of step by step. Getting them to open, engaging them to click, getting them to convert. What's next for this person that's middle of the road or a little shy of that with their marketing efforts?

Nick:

The next step is getting that campaign schedule really structured. Actually we have a template that we use for our own clients and we'll share it with the audience as well. Just go ahead and hit me up nick@omgcommerce.com and I can just send it to you to Google sheets so it's nice and easy to use nothing to pay for. Then you can just clone it and use it yourself. This can help you tie in everything else going on in your business. One, you can lay out the month ahead and say, "All right, what product launches do we have? Are there any big social posts coming up, any giveaways, YouTube videos as well?" Anything like that you can structure your email and SMS campaigns along with that. Not just in their own ecosystem now, it's part of the whole brand's marketing plan. Really getting that campaign laid out ahead of time so you're looking at the month in advance.

Brett:

Let me just get this straight Nick. You just gave people your email address and you want them to email you and you'll give them a content calendar for free?

Nick:

Exactly free.

Brett:

Love it. What's powerful about this and we've noticed this with our own marketing and for the podcast as well, there's been some times when we've released a podcast episode and we didn't email our podcast list, got busy, forgot, we're closing deals, things are happening. We see a difference in the listenership of this podcast when we send out an email versus when we don't. Same is going to be true for every business. You post a blog, it's going to get more engagement, more shares, more action if you email about it. There's a sale. There's an event. That type of thing. It's always going to do better if you email with it. Have that content calendar, which we're giving you for free, and then coordinate all your marketing efforts and email will make everything better and more powerful. What's next?

Nick:

Next up you're going to start doing a little bit of market research. We got two websites for you. I'll say them slowly so you can find them. I'm sure we can toss them in the show notes too.

Brett:

They will be in the show notes, yes.

Nick:

Reallygoodemails.com. What they do is they say they subscribe to a ton of different brands, so you can see what they're sending. What do they look like? What are they talking about? How often is it promotional? You can just get a good visual here. Especially when clients talk to us, they'll say, "I want my brand to look luxurious."

Brett:

Easy for you to say, luxurious.

Nick:

"I want it to look fun. I want it to look hip, colorful." If you can have those screenshots and actually look at them and say, "Oh, I want it to look like this." It'll help yourself and any email marketers you hire. The other one's called mailcharts.com. Same thing. You can go ahead and search by industry groups on this one. You can say I'm in the health and wellness space, I'm in the office furniture space and kind of see what are the other brands talking about and what are they sending.

Brett:

We'll link those in the show notes. I love those resources. Sometimes you want an idea for a subject line. You want an idea for a design. You need to see other stuff. Once you see those examples that'll spur ideas for you. Great idea, what's next?

Nick:

Next up is turning on a second popup on your site, but don't worry we're not going to be hitting people with two popups at the same time, we're going to spread them out. That first one is your welcome. They've landed on the site. You might give them 10% off, $5 off the first order, something like that. Set up an exit intent one on the way out. The way we have it structured is for the initial popup it's what you your phone number, what's your email and we'll give you 10% off versus exit intent we want to give them something else because one, the phone number might have scared some people away in the beginning and they didn't want to give that to us, which is fine; and two, people visualize and they see different offers differently in their head.

Nick:

Let's say a hundred dollar product 10% off, and $10 off is the same thing, but it might sound different to them. On the way out, "Hey, grab this $10 and save it for later. Give us your email." Then we have the exit intent going too. You can be capturing more information from the customers.

Brett:

You can test that because a percentage seems a little fuzzy, you got to do math to figure it out, but $10 is $10. Even though it's the same to, you might be different to the prospect, which is really interesting. What about, Nick, and we actually had this, you and I were on a strategy call with one of our clients, they said, "I don't want to do popups. I refuse to do popups on my business or on my site." We both feel like that's a mistake. What advice would you give to someone who says "No, no, no, not me. I'm not putting popups on my site."

Nick:

I'd say at least test it out for a little bit and see how it goes for your brand because if you're paying for paid traffic or if people are coming to your website, once they leave they're gone. Yes, you can have the pixel and you can re-target them on different platforms, but you could have gotten their information for free and used that to re-target them as well. I'd say at least test it out and you could do it in a classy, non annoying way. Just offer some value there too so people come to your website and they feel like they're leaving with something of value not just like, "oh, they got my email".

Brett:

If you think about it probably most, if not all of your favorite brands that you like to shop online, they're all doing this and you can set it up where these just show up to someone the first time they visit, if they come back or something you don't have to show it again. There's things you can do like that. What are you seeing, Nick, when we're successfully running welcome pops, exit pops, what kind of lift is that creating? What kind of growth is that creating for an email list?

Nick:

We're getting anywhere from 10 plus percentage sometimes from some of these popups. It depends on the traffic of a store. Look at your traffic and think, all right, if I'm capturing 10% of these emails, how many emails would I be collecting?

Brett:

Significant, this is where you could be adding thousands and thousands of email addresses to your list each and every month. That's just money in your pocket. You're creating happier customers, because they're connecting with you where maybe they wouldn't have if you didn't get that email address. Awesome. Love that idea. So a second pop up. What's next?

Nick:

Next up is breaking off some of your flows based off of different conditional splits. A good one for this is abandoned cart splitting it between purchasers and non purchasers in the past. Someone their first time on your site, when they abandon a cart, they're going to need a little bit more information. They're probably going to need a discount to buy from you. A little bit more handholding because they don't trust you. They don't know your brand yet versus the people who have been on your site and have placed in order. We're going to split that off to equals one plus order over all time and then, "Hey, thanks for coming back for more from us. We really appreciate it." You're like they actually recognize that I'm a repeat customer, I appreciate that. Then you can even make the discount code different like stock back up with code, stock up. Things like that.

Brett:

Everybody wants to be seen and known. I do love this because if you look at a cart abandoner we've all done that. We've all gone to a store, added something to the cart. We bail because sometimes life happens. Sometimes we never intended to buy in the first place, we just want to see shipping or other details or whatnot, but life happens. Sometimes you just need that nudge. You need that reminder and then maybe you need some discounts along the way too, to make someone say yes. I love that separation of someone who's never bought who abandons cart versus someone who has purchased, but they abandoned cart, different message for those two makes a ton of sense. That's awesome. What's next?

Nick:

Same thing based on what they purchased. If you have a ton of SKUs, it's hard to break off a flow into they bought product one of 800 and you build out 800. If you have a product doing at least like 25, 30% of your revenue, you could set that up as a separate, post purchase thank you flow. Especially if it's informational-based like, "hey, when your electric drill comes in, here's how you charge the battery for the first time" or something like that. Just add that little extra touch there saying, "Hey, you bought this product. This is the best way you're going to get the most out of it." This also helps out with your customer service side of things. You're setting that expectation for them and you're answering any questions they might have before they even have them before it arrives.

Brett:

I love it. One, people are pretty excited about the product usually they make a purchase. They're like, "Hey, I can't wait for this to show up, excited to use it or whatnot." Sending that email it's usually welcome. They want to get it. Then yeah, you're increasing satisfaction because you're showing them how to use it and you're reducing customer support, so really win-win. Awesome, what's next?

Nick:

Next up is going to be you have your flows built out, maybe you have some splits going on now, you can just clone a specific piece of that flow and just add a second subject line as an AB test. You can do this with the content in there as well and see what people are more interested in. Let's say post purchase thank you flow. We can have the first one saying, "Thank you for the order go ahead and follow us on Instagram to see our latest info." You could split that off and the second one could be, "Hey, thanks for your order. Go ahead and subscribe to us on YouTube. We put out a new tutorial every week." You can see at that point more people going towards our YouTube or Instagram. Let's say YouTube's the winner there, keep that. Then same thing on the next one, test out something new.

Brett:

We're always testing. It's one of those things where incremental increases, one or two or three or four or 5% increases in little areas. As you add that up over time really has a compounding effect and can create some massive wins down the road. Anything you'd want to elaborate on there as we start to test and iterate and create these little wins, what kind of impact can that have down the road?

Nick:

Klaviyo they have a new system where they will actually pick the winner for you after a certain amount of time, so you don't have to hop back in and actually manually do that. It's going to be a nice little set it and forget it thing. I like to do enough of a variation that there's pretty good difference between the two of them, not just a minor tweak. Instead it's little small lifts. Let's try a bigger difference here. Like I said, the YouTube versus Instagram is a big one there versus let's say you had an AB test where it said subscribe to our YouTube versus you should subscribe to our YouTube. It's a very small test. You're not getting a lot of info, there's going to be a winner, but it might not be significant. Get a little bit bigger with the testing on those.

Brett:

Got it. Makes sense. Let's take bigger swings. Let's find meaningful wins and let's lean into those and really move the needle on that. What's next?

Nick:

You can try out some different content in these emails. You might have been copy and pasting the same one over and over. A lot of times you are going to find a formula that works. Just make sure you test it first to get to that formula for your specific brand. Do they want something super image heavy there? Do you want that special design that everyone loves to look at or does plain text work more? This is really good for the brands that have a strong founder who's almost the face of the brand, because then Kevin Hart's emailing me not Kevin Hart's supplement brand. You have that connection there and so if it's plain text it actually looks like, "Hey look, the founder's writing to me." If you're using those name tags in there too, you can break it off into what product they bought. Play around with the different actually formats of the content itself.

Brett:

Awesome. What should you do as you find winners, as you find things that are clear winners, what are you doing then?

Nick:

Once we have winners in the flow, so let's say it's an abandoned cart six email flow. The first one converts the most, because most people get that, it's the highest intent. Then you'll start to see it falling off along the way and you'll see less opens, less clicks, less purchases. That just happens over time. It's kind of the natural progression of the flow. If you're analyzing it and you see the fourth email is talking about how fast your shipping is and it comes within two days and that's converting really well go ahead and bump that up to number two. Let's say you talked about here's your discount, we were founded in 2010, you should buy from us because we've been around for a while and then that fast shipping, but that's converting more bump that up and then go ahead and get that in front of more eyes faster.

Brett:

Love that. We're looking at the flow. The first email in the flow it's always going to be the winner most of the time so that's clear. Looking at emails two through four, what if four does better than two? Bump it to number two and it's likely going to do even better in that position. Think about a batting lineup or maybe not, no, never mind, because number four is best in the bating lineup. I tried to make a baseball analogy. I'm not a baseball guy, Nick, and look what I did. Move the winners up. That's what we're trying to tell you. What other advice would you give to this group of brands?

Nick:

The last tidbit we got for this group is go ahead and work on the transactional emails as well. I know a lot of times when you hop in the Klaviyo account and they have things like the abandoned cart welcome series, browse abandonment, but a lot of times they're still coming from Shopify for the transactional ones like your order confirmation, your shipping confirmation, gift card receipt, things like that. You can go ahead and customize those as well. Some brands will do it within Klaviyo. Sometimes you have to be a Shopify Plus account to actually pause the ones coming from Shopify though. If that's not accessible, I like using an app called OrderlyEmails and they will help you create the transactional ones. They'll have the templates in place. You can customize it to your brand to match the ones coming from Klaviyo. Then you can paste that into Shopify and Shopify will be sending those.

Brett:

OrderlyEmails that this is something, you're using that in conjunction with Klaviyo. Is that right?

Nick:

It's a separate Shopify app and basically they have all of the templates laid out for you, order confirmation, shipping confirmation, everything else. You have a few different themes to choose from and they'll have theme blocks or specific campaign blocks there and you can go ahead and switch those out and then you kind of match it to your Klaviyo branding.

Brett:

Then what about this third group that we talked about in the very beginning that email's going pretty well for them. They're doing, it's working, there're results there. First of all, how would you describe this group? Then what should this group of brands be doing with email?

Nick:

This group they've taken maybe an email marketing course before. They have some pretty focus to it, pretty dedicated from it. They're seeing some really good results. There only is so much you can kind of get from your existing list and get from your campaigns and your flows. At a certain point you are going to hit some kind of cap, but you can always get that little bit extra oomph to go ahead and squeeze off that last couple of percentages and give your customers a better experience.

Brett:

What are some of the tips, and we'll go through these kind of rapid fire, but what are the tips for this group of people?

Nick:

I know we've been talking about planning out your campaigns coming up in the future. A lot of people they'll forget about the ones they sent in the past. Go ahead and just look through your past campaigns, end of the month, go ahead and do this. What performed the best, what didn't, and then hopefully you were AB testing along the way. Look at which subject lines performed the best and which campaigns performed the best, as far as clicks and revenue goes, and go ahead and clone those for the future. A lot of times we see the back end of our systems and we're like, "I sent this last month. I don't want to annoy them again", but your customers are getting thousands of emails, they've forgotten about it already. You can exclude them if they made that purchase. Go ahead and just look at the best campaigns, look at the best subject lines and figure out how to use that info in the future to do a similar thing.

Brett:

Say we pick our winner from this month, we go ahead and run it next month, exclude people that have purchased from it the first time. Then are you looking at doing that several months in a row and then stopping or you do it until it stops working or what's your philosophy there?

Nick:

You can keep on doing it and it'll keep on working. It doesn't necessarily have to be the same thing. Let's say you have a t-shirt brand and you make cool designs and you post on Instagram, "Hey, you guys like A or B more?" You can go ahead and do that same thing over and over again. The next month you have two new sketches, A or B, go ahead and click on that.

Brett:

It's different content, but it's the same approach. Do you like this or do you like that? Asking customers, because customers love to pick a winner. They love to vote between this option versus that option. Really, really smart. Okay, awesome. What's next?

Nick:

Next is going to be, you're going to map out all of your existing flows. One thing, Klaviyo if you're listening, I'd love to see some kind of web roadmap going on that you could build internally, but we use diagrams.net for this. Basically at the very top of the diagram it'll say what happens, customer comes to website. They get the initial popup, exit intent popup or some other way we're capturing their information. Then where do those flows go? They showed some interest. They browse abandonment or they abandon their cart. How does that flow work out? Are people coming from Instagram stories as well? Map out all those flows, and you can step back, look at it and say, "Are there any glaring gaps here that we're neglecting to tell someone if they come into the exit intent, pop up and then never place an order?"

Brett:

That's awesome. What about with SMS? Anything you would do differently or recommend differently with this group related to SMS?

Nick:

This is when you're going to want to step up the SMS game as well and tie it in with your email marketing. One thing that we've seen works well is stacking the SMS campaigns with your email campaigns. Sending them out on the same day at different times. You're just poking someone twice about the same bit of information because you know how many times I have to be told, "Hey, can you go ahead and pick up your dirty shoes from the floor?" before you actually do it? Usually about two. Same thing here.

Nick:

If you have a new product launching in the morning, say, "Hey, it's dropping it's on sale until noon." Then say at 11:00 AM you're saying, "Hey, that thing we told you about, you have one hour left to get it." Giving that second poke and tying those campaigns together. Same thing with the flows here. As you're mapping them out, as you're looking at that customer journey, what kind of SMS flows do you have built out at this point? What kind of email flows do you have built out at this point? How can you time it together to make sure everyone's getting enough information if they're just subscribed to one and how to make sure you're not annoying them if they are subscribed to both?

Brett:

I love it. I love the combination of SMS and email together. Obviously you can't overdo it with SMS and you have to be compliant, but it is that second reminder and people do open their texts and they do see it. If you are a welcome guest and that welcome message, rather than being a pest, it can really change the game for your email marketing. That's awesome. What's next for this group?

Nick:

You're going to want to find ways to get customers to opt into both SMS and email. Like I said, let's say you have someone who actually buys from you, but you still have their old dead email. You got to find a way to collect that phone number. That could be up through a popup on the site, like a two-step popup, phone number, email. We've seen it in a post-purchase flow, or let's say the popup said, "Enter your email to be entered into our giveaway that we're doing the end of the month." The first email in there could say, "Hey, we'll double your entries if you give us your phone number too, click here to give us your phone number." That way you're collecting both bits of information. You can do this at checkout as well, ask for both SMS and email and that way you're getting more information on your customer. If their inbox they just never check it anymore, you're getting their phone number. If they change your phone number, you still have their email.

Brett:

Love it. Pushing for both of those. I think you got to do it. That's the next level strategy. What's next?

Nick:

You're going to want to make sure you're controlling the full journey for your potential customers and for your customers. That roadmap will kind of help you do this. You can visualize it and see how it's looking. I look at it as like I'm talking to my friends whenever I'm sending out an email, I make it casual, especially for texts too. I see brands get way too formal with it. It's like you're talking to a friend and have that same mentality when you're reaching out to them. Our products are so good. I'm doing them a service, getting these products into their hand. I'm helping them out by getting them whatever it is that you're making. Keep that in mind. You're not actually bugging them. If they want to opt out, they will.

Nick:

Control that journey and make sure to tease the next bit of info too. Post purchase thank you or say, "Hey, thanks for your order, make sure you keep an eye out for the shipping confirmation coming up", something like that to just plant that seed that, "Hey, you're going to want to hear from us and just keep an eye out for our name in your inbox."

Brett:

I love this approach because if you think about it in this way, if you really believe in your product and you believe you're making someone's life better, easier, simpler, you're adding enjoyment, you're removing pain from their life, whatever your product does; then you owe it to your customers to communicate that with them enough so that they actually purchase, and then they actually use it properly, and then they actually repurchase. Make it easy. If someone wants to peace out, then let them do that. You owe it to your customers to communicate enough and to communicate well. In the process, if you do that, you are going to make a lot more money, and like we talked about, when email is rocking, when email is working well, top of funnel YouTube works better. Facebook works better. TikTok works better.

Brett:

All of your marketing efforts work better when email is dialed in and here's what I would wager, Nick. I would wager even people listening to this podcast who would say, "You know what? We've got our email game dialed in." I bet you're missing things. I bet there's still things that you could do better because there's always room for improvement.

Brett:

Nick, this has been fantastic. Thanks for coming on. Again for people that are listening and they want that free resource once again tell people what that free resource is, and then how they can get it?

Nick:

That is going to be a Google Sheet template for the upcoming months ahead. It'll have a nice way for you to lay out all of your campaigns for email. If you do an SMS, you can have those on there too. Social media posts, you can tie in blogs or product launches. I'll also record a quick, little, one-minute video explaining it when I send that over to you so you can get my explainer and the campaign calendar itself.

Brett:

Awesome. Email marketing is a service we offer to OMG Commerce. I'd love to talk to you guys if anyone is interested. We are almost at capacity, so potentially not any open spots, but go ahead and reach out. We also offer email consulting. Happy to help there if you got a team, you got game when it comes to email, but you want a little extra help. You want some Nick Flint in your email, we offer some email coaching as well. With that, any parting words of wisdom, Nick Flint? I remember, we were talking about this the other day now Nick, if people are watching this video, you're a buff guy, you're a fit guy. I know you work out. I know you run, but you're also I always learn something from you every time I talk to you about some life hack, some product that makes your life better. You've got all these cool things you're buying and using. Tell us two cool purchases you've made that have made your life better.

Nick:

I can think of some, what price point are we looking at? 20 bucks or two bucks?

Brett:

Let's go sub 100. If you have one that's a little bit over a hundred hey, we got some successful merchants listening to this show so let's go big too.

Nick:

We'll kick it off with the $20 one. If you've got a friend with a birthday coming up, but they're not that great of a friend, you got $20 to throw at them, get them a projection alarm clock and get yourself one too.

Brett:

Projection alarm clock.

Nick:

Email's not dead and neither are alarm clocks.

Brett:

What is a projection alarm clock?

Nick:

It goes next to your bed on the nightstand. And it basically just projects the time onto the ceiling. When you wake up in the middle of the night and you're like, "Is it 2:00 AM or 6:00 AM?" You can see it. Then you got to go one step above. I used to keep my phone near my bed so I could check the time in the middle of the night, which was waking me up because I would see some texts. You leave that in the kitchen. Now you have your time projected on your ceiling. You don't need to have your phone next to your bed.

Brett:

Dude, I like that. For months now, probably a few years I keep my phone, it's still in my room, but it's like across the room and I turned upside down. Then it goes into sleep mode so I don't see a text, but I do wake up sometimes and wonder what time is it? I don't want to get up and go grab my phone. Projection alarm clock. Very, very interesting. What if we want to spend a little bit more? What if they're a good friend? What if they're a friend and we really like them or we just want to buy it for ourselves? What's another item on your list?

Nick:

If you got like that treat yourself energy going on. Your paycheck just came in. You're ready to spend a hundred bucks. I'd say go for some bone-conducting headphones.

Brett:

Bone-conducting headphones. That sounds interesting. Do you have a pair there handy? Can you hold this up and show us or did you leave it in the other room?

Nick:

It's in my backpack over there, but they're close by. Basically what it is, it's headphones, instead of going in your ears, they go like right here on whatever this phone is called and it conducts the sound through there. Only you can hear it. No one else around you can, but it leaves your ears open. Let's say if you work in a warehouse, you want to be able to hear things or you're out running on the street or biking. You still want to hear things, but you can also listen to your music or this podcast on them.

Brett:

This podcast, listen to this podcast with bone-conducting headphones and then buy yourself a projection alarm clock as well. I love that idea because sometimes you get sweaty. Sometimes the AirPods fall out or sometimes you don't want to get hit by a car when you're running. Actually I run inside. I actually don't run at all. I just work out inside, but you still want those. You want to be able to hear what's going on. Love that idea. Nick Flint, you delivered the goods my friend. Good email wisdom, some good life improvement purchases as well. Thank you very much, man. You rocked it.

Nick:

Of course. Thanks for having me.

Brett:

Absolutely. As always, thank you for tuning in and we'd love to hear feedback from you. First of all get that resource from Nick Flint, email him. He wants to be email buddies with you. Also, leave us that review on iTunes if you haven't done so. It makes my day, helps other people find the show and with that until next time thank you for listening.






Episode 204
:
Krik Angacian

What do Dollar Share Club, Manscapped, and Candy Can Know about Affiliate Marketing that You Don’t

My guest today is Krik Angacian, the co-founder of Candy Can. Krik’s background is first as an investment banker and then as a founder of a protein popcorn business that he sold a few years ago.

Candy Can is a phenomenal product (full disclosure - I am an investor) and somewhat addictive. If you’re like me, you’ve been known to snack on children’s gummy vitamins (it’s actually a pretty common vice, it turns out). The trouble is, that’s not so healthy.

Enter Candy Can, the keto-friendly gummy snacks packed with vitamins (but not too many) and free of junk like gelatin and nasty fillers.Candy Can is on a tear of growth right now, but it’s not from the traditional channels like Google and Facebook. It’s from affiliate marketing.

Here’s a look at what we covered in the interview:

  • Where to get started and where to learn affiliate marketing.
  • Should you hire an affiliate agency or go it alone (most charge $10k per month or more)?
  • Why landing page is everything and what Krik has learned through testing.
  • How fraud is a real issue and what to do about it.
  • Why starting with low-quality traffic and then upgrading could be a good strategy for you (or even a must).
  • Top affiliate marketing tools.
  • Understanding the metrics behind affiliate marketing.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Krik Angacian

   - LinkedIn


CandyCan

   - Website

   - Instagram

   - TikTok

   - Facebook

Affiliate Summit East (ASE)

Dollar Shave Club

MANSCAPED

AdAction

TapJoy

Performcd.com

EatCandyCan



Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today is going to be a treat for you because I have a man who's a wealth of knowledge. He's building a brand right now. He's sold a brand in the past. He's running affiliate marketing. He's doing all kinds of crazy stuff. I have with me today, Krik and Jack Yin. And I met Krik through Ryan Daniel Moran and the Capitalism fund. Full disclosure, we are invested in his brand. But he is building a company right now called CandyCan. And I don't know about you, fellow listener, but you might like to snack on a child's vitamin every now and then, the gummy vitamins. I've been known to sneak a child's vitamin every now and then. So that's actually a trend. So if you do that, you don't have to do that in the closet anymore. You can do it in public, and Krik will talk about that and what they're building at CandyCan.

So Krik, welcome to the show. You were just holding up CandyCan. So tell the folks, what is CandyCan specifically.

Krik:

Brett, thanks again for having me on the show. I'm really excited about this and telling people a little bit what we're all about.

So basically, CandyCan is the world's first snackable gummy vitamin. I was selling my last company, and I was in my office snacking on gummy vitamins, OLLY, be specific. And my business partner walks in, and he's like, "Dude, what are you doing? You can't be eating them like that." And I looked at him and I was like, "Who only needs two gummies?" And right then and there, we were like, "Holy shit, this is a real business right here." So we set out to create a functional candy company.

Brett:

Yeah. I remember, so a lot of listeners know I've got eight kids. And I've showed you, we did a call prepping for this, and you saw our little duck farm, and the kids and stuff, which was awesome. But I remember one night, I'm snacking on these kids' vitamins, and my daughter, Sophia walks into the kitchen. She's like, "Are you eating my vitamins?" And I'm like, "Yeah, they're pretty good." This is I'm trying not to eat desserts. I'm trying to eat healthy. So yes, I'm snacking on a kid's vitamin. But apparently, this is a trend. People do this.

Krik:

Yeah. The New York Times even wrote an article about how gummy vitamins have exploded, but everyone is overeating them. And the problem with them is each gummy is loaded with a ton of vitamins, and they're usually made with harmful ingredients, like gelatin, which is animal byproduct of chicken beaks and pig skin. And also, they're packed with sugar. Each gummy's got two to four grams of sugar. My entire bag of 15, or actually, there's 18 gummies in this has only two grams of sugar. So and it's two net carbs. So we're not only are we functional and snackable, we're also keto, so it's a really cool, better for you product, won't spike your glucose, insulin levels at all, clean label, tastes great.

And I mean, function's gotten everywhere, from drinks and beverages to bars, and I figured why can't function go into candy? And the low hanging fruit for us was gummies.

Brett:

I love it. It's a brilliant idea. I've tried the product. We hung out in Austin a few months ago, and I love the product. And you guys are off to, on a tear, man. You're launching fast and things are going really well. So I want to unpack a few things about your success, and really want to dig into affiliate marketing and what you've learned and what you've seen there, and also why you did affiliate marketing. I want to talk about a couple other things that I think's really cool about the way you approach business. But before we do that, can you give folks of your quick background? What did you do prior to launching CandyCan?

Krik:

Yeah, sure. So I came out of college 2011, and I was ...investment banker. I was doing mergers and acquisitions. I was covering the food space. I did that for three years, and I was debating whether to go to private equity. Do I stay as a banker? Do I go to business school? And I realized I hated finance, but I really grew to love and have affinity for the food industry.

So I started my first food company eight years ago or so. We made a protein chip and protein popcorn company, built that up over about a six-year period. We sold that business about two years ago. And then while we were selling that company, we had this concept came up, and it was like, oh, our next business. Took us a while to get it off the ground for a number of reasons. One is COVID, getting off the ground during COVID's tough. And two, my business partner actually had cancer, so he had to go through chemotherapy while we were building the brand, and doing R&D, and doing all the marketing work behind it and everything before launch. Thank God he's okay now, the world seems to be quasi back to normal post-COVID, and the brand is doing fantastic, so I'm very happy about all the above.

Brett:

Yeah. It's amazing, man, and kudos to you. And so really, like I said, we want to dive into CandyCan and dive into affiliate marketing. But before we do, a lot of my friends, and even at OMG, myself and my business partner, we're looking at buying brands and doing some M&A and stuff like that. As an investment banker, I'm super interested in your perspective, and you and I talked a little bit about this when we met up in Austin about your investment banker background. But and this is not going to be the focus of the talk, but just and I'm putting you on the spot a little bit here, but any tips, suggestions, anything that you know as an insider about investment banking and private equity that you would give to the listeners who are either looking at buying or selling a business?

Krik:

Yeah. I mean, in terms of investing or buying a company, you got to look at a couple things. One, the most important, in my opinion, is the founders themselves. Like are these the guys or girls to get it done? Are these people that are trustworthy, that they're going to take your money and not just blow it in Vegas? Next is I look at macroeconomic conditions, like is this category a category that's growing? Is there an opportunity for it? And then three, it's like do you personally have an affinity for it? Do you like the products? Is this something you could actually endorse, right, and get behind? I had one or two investors not do the deal, not because they didn't like the brand, not because they didn't like the category, not because they didn't like me. They just straight up, "I don't like gummies. I'm not a gummy guy." And I was like ... that's fair. That's a legitimate reason. So I think those are always the reasons when, for me at least, when I invest or look to invest in companies, I'd look at.

And in terms of exiting a company, I mean, it's just where do you want to be, where that's you want to be your life cycle? Is there a good opportunity, like from the macroeconomic sense of the word as well? What is the environment out there today versus tomorrow? I've seen plenty of companies sell way too late. I've seen some companies sell too early. Victoria Secret's is a great one, like sold way too early. The guy walked away with $10 million, now it's a $2 billion brand. And then plenty of guys sold way too late, like Quest Nutrition. They had a $2 billion offer, they sold it for a billion. I don't think anyone's scoffing at that, but they could have got a lot more.

Brett:

Yeah, exactly, and love that. And I also love that, and you have an investment banking background, it's what you did. And the first three things you mentioned when considering whether you should invest in a brand were not really related to finance, right? They're related more to founder, and trends, and affinities. And of course the numbers and all that has to make sense, too. But I love the fact that you started with non-financial aspects, which is cool.

Krik:

Well, I mean, if the finances check out, great. But if you don't like the founder, if the founder seems a little shady to you for whatever reason, you're not going to touch it and you shouldn't touch it, and that's the end of the day. And even when I'm dealing with investors from my own company, if there's any hesitancy, I always tell them, "Don't do the deal." I want guys that are all in, and I don't want someone that's going to be calling me every week freaking out, this and that. And things do go sideways sometimes, and I want to be able to have those calls with you and not just hide behind my computer. I want to be honest with people, and be transparent, and ethical, and I think that's what most investors want as well.

Brett:

Cool.

A quick call out, a quick pause here, Jonathan. Krik, I think you keep touching the bag of CandyCan maybe, and I'm hearing a loud-

Krik:

Oh, let me ...

Brett:

... crunch every now and then. Yeah, for whatever reason, the mic is picking that up hot.

Krik:

Okay. That's a good call.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. Okay. Cool.

Krik:

Okay. I had it in front of me, I won't touch it.

Brett:

Okay, cool.

Krik:

My bad.

Brett:

No worries.

Awesome. So let's dive into affiliate marketing, because this is a really interesting topic for me. I've got a decent understanding of affiliate marketing. It's not something I've ever run or ever done myself, but it is interesting. And you and I talked about this a few weeks ago-

Krik:

Yep.

Brett:

... that some really big brands, like Dollar Shave Club, Manscaped, Snow largely grew, or affiliate marketing really helped fuel and add some rocket fuel to their growth. But talk about why did you start affiliate marketing? Because it was not the first thing you tried, but it is the thing that's really working for you now. But why did you start it in the first place?

Krik:

Yeah, no, it's a good question. So basically, when we first launched, we didn't raise a ton of money pre pre-capital, pre-seed, I guess we'd call it, and we need to be cash created from day one. So we started running the standard CPM model, Cost Per Mile impressions pretty much, through Facebook, through Google, Instagram. And we didn't see a lot of return. We were maybe getting a 0.3, 0.5 ROAS, and I was like what's happening? Like when I used to run my last company, I put no effort in, and I get a two ROAS no problem. And everyone's telling me the same thing. It's the Facebook iOS changes. They've changed the game. And then everyone and their mother has a brand. They make a cookie in their kitchen, and they're running ads on it now. So it's just gotten so saturated, so how do you become profitable or successful in this channel? And everyone's like, oh, you got to do the LTV model, and got to recapture. I mean, yeah, sure. For a big brand, that makes sense.

But for a small guy who's just launching, doesn't have a ton of capital behind them to really just play that waiting game, we said, we have to go further down the funnel. Where's going to be more cash accretive earlier on? And then we can go into these bigger model things. And we realize that affiliate marketing is. So I only pay for conversion for a sale, and I think that is the most powerful thing in marketing today. And I know that huge brands, they don't talk about it, because it's not necessarily a dirty secret, but it's a secret of the industry. Like affiliate marketing has been around for a long time, and not a lot of guys do it. There's not a lot of agents for it. There's a ton of agencies for Facebook, and Google, for Instagram, and whatever, TikTok now, too. But very few for affiliate.

And so I had to learn it. So the affiliate marketing agencies themselves, they are charging 10, 20 grand a month. And I was saying to myself, "I don't want to pay that much. That's crazy." So I literally went in, and all hands on deck, learned it inside and out, and we've got really successful programs, and I'm really thankful that I did find it because our business is doing phenomenally well, and it's 80% driven by affiliate marketing.

Brett:

Yeah, that's awesome. And you're right. And obviously, I love Google, I love YouTube, I even like Facebook even though I don't run it. But for someone just starting out and for some businesses, the numbers don't work or don't work that well for trying to scale with traditional ads. I still think there's a way to make it work. But for some people, it's a little bit out of reach.

So let's about, so explain this process a little bit. So with affiliate marketing, I think a lot of people have a good idea of what it is. But let's just pretend that someone doesn't know what affiliate marketing is at all. How would you describe it?

Krik:

Yeah. Essentially, anytime someone drives a click or a sale to your website, you pay for it. So a CPC model, Cost Per Click, CPM, Cost Per Mile, anytime someone's an impression, or there's CPA, Cost Per Action, and the action is typically a purchase, you could do an add to cart.

So when I was running my last company, my chips and popcorn company, when I heard affiliate marketing, I thought it was through influencer. An influencer promotes your product, give them a link, discount code, whatever, and any sales driven, you give them a cut of the sale. But it is that, but it's so much more. Anytime an ad pops up, anytime, whether it's native, on the side, anytime an email list gets pinged, anytime an ad on a game, whether we call it incent marketing. If you're running an ad on your game, you're playing Candy Crush or something, and you want to, ad pops up, "Hey, get another a hundred coins, gems, tokens," whatever it is, if you purchase their product, that's incent. So they're incentivized to purchase, but you're capturing a customer for relatively cheap.

So again, for me, it just made a ton of sense, because you're only paying if there's a sale, I'm only paying if there's dollars coming to me. It's gotten more expensive like all online marketing avenues and channels. But it's still, in my opinion, far cheaper and far more cost effective for early stage companies.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. And so the way this is working is you're partnering with people that either have email lists or they're good at running traffic, and that traffic could be display through GDN, or through native ads, or whatever. So you're partnering with people that are driving you clicks and, more importantly, customers, and then you're only paying if someone actually buys. And can you talk about what's the structure here? What platform are you using? How are you connecting with these influencers? Just how does the structure work?

Krik:

Yeah. So I got pinged by one of these incent marketers, one of the biggest ones, and they reached out to me, and they had a platform called Everflow. I'm actually now really tied into this platform, they're the tracking platform I use, but there's other ones. There's ShareASale, Impact. There's Cake. There's quite a few of these, but-

... Everflow is the group I... Pepperjam's another big one, yep. Pepperjam's a big one. Impact, Pepperjam, ShareASale I think are the biggest. I'm also on ShareASale, but I mostly do most of my stuff through Everflow. And they're just a tracking platform.

And this first company, they're called Publishers, I started seeing really good sales, and I was like, okay, what else is out here? So I just started Googling. And then what I started doing is anytime I talked to a new publisher, I was like, "Hey, introduce me to somebody else, introduce me to somebody else." And they're like, "Well, we used that through broker." And I was like, "Well, introduce me to someone that you don't broker to, that you don't get volume from." Because it's all about volume. When I call it, say volume, I mean site visitors, and how many people are going to your site and clicking. And then your conversion metrics from there dictate the CPA you pay, and your EPC and whatnot, and you work through that.

But it really was just me going in, and diving in head first, and trying to meet and talk to everyone. Like I've gone to a couple affiliate meetups now. ASE, Affiliate Summit East is actually next week here in New York. I'm very excited. My first time going. But I've been running this program for six months, a little bit less than six months, and we're seeing huge numbers, and it's in a very short period of time, and I know I've barely scratched the surface of what this could be.

Brett:

Yeah. Awesome. So I want to unpack a few things that you mentioned there and clarify a few things as well. So you talked about how, and I love this, by the way, you meet an affiliate, you get something going, and you say, "Hey, introduce me to somebody else," right? And that's just a good business tactic-

Krik:

Yep. That's the rule.

Brett:

... but I know that's leading you to others. But explain the broker situation. So some people are like, "Well, I've got these other contacts, but I broker with them." And your idea, which is a brilliant one, is "Well, then who are who we don't broker with?" But can you explain what you mean by that-

... and what that is?

Krik:

So these affiliate networks, a lot of times what they'll do is you'll pay them a $20 CPA, right? For every sale, I give you 20 bucks. Which is actually cheaper than Facebook, most Facebook CACs are 40, $50 what I'm seeing.

Brett:

Yep.

Krik:

So I'm paying $20, which is far cheaper. What they'll do is they'll pocket five of them, and then they'll broker the extra $15 to another network. So that's why affiliate's a little strange in the sense that they're secretive. So you do have to make friends, you do have to play really nice, and you do have to... It's like, "Hey, do me a favor, do me a solid." And I was the new kid on the block. It is a very closed network, and not a lot of... Everyone knows each other in this space. So I was the new guy coming with a new offer. But I don't know. I'm like, "I'll buy you a beer," that kind of thing, "Just introduce me to somebody." And it's worked out great. And this network and this industry has really welcomed me with open arms, and I think it's because I'm making money for them, they're making money for me, I'm a nice guy, and I think we there's opportunities for everybody here in this space. Maybe I'm doing myself a disservice by talking about it so much, but who knows?

Brett:

Yeah. But and the product is good, and it's working, and so you're making money.

Now, one of the metrics I know is really important to affiliates, and this is a new one, so I think a lot of people know cost per thousand, and cost per click, and cost per conversion, or CPA. But they probably don't know ECPC, right, which is it's Earnings Per Click, right? That's one of the big numbers, and I think I may have just gotten the acronym wrong, but whatever.

Earnings per click, that's a number affiliates care about. Can you unpack that a little bit-

Krik:

EPC, yeah.

Brett:

... talk about that?

Krik:

Yeah. So they want to know for every click, how much dollars am I getting? What's my CPA? And they want to see conversion rates. So for a hundred people that come to your website, how many are actually converting, right? How many are clicking, and what are you actually earning on that? So it's like Facebook, so that they're competing for the same bids, except for there's there's far less people doing it. That's the difference here. All the big companies are running on Facebook. All the big companies are running on Instagram, and they're starting to go on TikTok now.

Very few companies run affiliate, and the ones that do are, especially back in the day, they're more scammy companies. You find a lot of brain booster, libido booster landing pages and things. And those, and the market's wisened up. When I say the market, like customers, consumers have wisened up to that stuff. So that stuff doesn't do so well, as well as it used to, at least. It still exists. So real brands like me have a real opportunity to leverage this vacuum of opportunity, where they're looking for legitimate brands to actually put on their network and to sell them to consumers, because these consumers are captive. They're already on these sites. They're clicking. They're purchasing. They have intent. And it's cheap because you're only paying for conversion. And as far as I know, there's no other marketing funnel or channel that you only pay for conversion. As far as I know, it's just affiliate.

Brett:

Yeah, it's beautiful. I think you're right. I think that's the only channel. Google dabbled with a thing that was a pay for conversions model but didn't really work so well, at least not for most people.

So I love this. Let's talk a little bit about, because I think it's going to be new to a lot of people listening, how did you get started? So how did you craft that first offer? How'd you find your first affiliate? How'd you decide I'm going to pay $20 versus 50? And so walk us through how you got started.

Krik:

Yeah. So in November, one of these incent marketers guys reached out to me, and I was like I don't even know what to this. So I ran it in November, and-

Brett:

Yeah, and you've said that few times now, Krik, and sorry, you said incent. Can you spell that? What is that?

Krik:

Incentivized. I'm sorry. And so incentivized marketing.

Brett:

Yeah, I get it.

Krik:

Yeah, my bad. So someone runs an ad on a game, and you get gems, coins, tokens, arrows, swords, I don't know what the hell your people are playing, so they're incentivized to purchase your product. Which again, incent marketing is probably the lowest bucket and lowest tier of affiliate because they're incentivized to buy your product. Do they really want to buy your product, or do they just want the tokens and gems? But also, you're getting product in a consumer's hand, and they're purchasing with a credit card. So there is some intent, and then you could also re-target them, emails and Facebook, all that good stuff, right?

Yeah, so these guys reached out to me in November, one of the bigger guys, and I ran it in November. Didn't get traction. And I was like, there's something still here, though. I got an idea. So then I pinged my rep there, and I was like, "Guys, what's working? This doesn't work for me, and I'm not getting Facebook to work great. Show me a landing page that's working." And they sent me Dollar Shaves club. And I looked at Dollar Shave Club, how they're doing it, and then I started looking at Manscaped, and I started looking at these other guys and I was like, "Oh, they're doing a re-bill model with a sample kind of thing."

So we started running that, and it just paid back so much, like crazy. And now I'm like I got some guys I was just looking at this morning on their sixth, seventh re-bill because they liked the product.

Brett:

Wow. Wow.

Krik:

So it's crazy. It's all about your cohort data, right? So making sure consume... So I've got maybe 30% drop off immediately. So immediately, they don't want the product, they just wanted their coins and gems. But I got 70% staying in their first re-bill, then I got 40% staying in the second, then 15 to third, but I'm profitable on that next re-bill, and it keeps compounding and compounding. So I've got nearly 2000 subscriptions right now, and I've built that in less, in five months.

Brett:

Yeah. ...

Krik:

I don't know many companies that do that with as little budget as I have.

Brett:

Yeah, totally.

Let's talk about this. What are some of the things that you've learned through this process that you wish you would've known in the very beginning?

Krik:

Landing page is everything. I know Ezra Firestone always talks about it. It's all about your landing page. And we're still playing with ours, and I know ours could be better, so I'm still trying to get them to be optimal and always playing with them. But testing is so key, too. Having many of them, having someone on your team that can be building them constantly.

And then also just knowing your data. The Everflow platform, the tracking platform is so comprehensive and analytical, and this guy who was an ex-banker, I love it. But shameful of me not to actually take advantage of it, especially in the early months. In the past, I've only really, really started diving into my figures the past three months. The first three months, I was just running it, and I was like, yeah, $15, $20, and here's the offer. And now I'm really fine tuning it. I'm finding these little pockets of gems.

Another one I would say is fraud. Fraud is notorious in affiliate, and so you have to really be careful with affiliate, and you have to really be good about implementing fraud filters. Because especially if you're running re-bill models where you're paying $15 CPA for a $5 purchase, say, a lot of these publishers, they're like they're fake publishers, they're fake apps, and they're just picking up the Delta, they're picking up the $10 difference. So you do have to be very careful around fraud.

And then on top of that, we were always good about this, but I would still recommend anyone. If it's a re-bill model, just make sure you're really, really ethical about the way you display that there is a subscription. So we have it on four or five in places. I have it on the ad. I have it on the landing page. I have it at checkout. I have a button you have to click that says it's a subscription, confirm it's a subscription. It won't process without you clicking that button. And the email you get says it's a subscription at the very top and bold letters, "Manage subscription," and it tells you how to do it kind of thing. So we want to be super above board with that kind of stuff, because we don't want to mess with it. We want real customers. We don't want to game the system or anything. We want consumers who actually want our products.

Brett:

You want real customers. You want people to stick. You don't want to have those recharge and refund rates to get too high in some of those things, so that totally makes sense.

Krik:

Yeah.

Brett:

Can you talk a little bit about the fraud piece? Because this is a piece that we don't have to worry about as much through some of the traditional advertising channels. But what are the fraud controls, and what is it that you have to be concerned about there?

Krik:

Yeah. I mean, you get a lot of... Not a lot, but you get some frauds, so if it's stolen credit cards or prepaid cards. Just trying to, like I said, pick up the Delta between your CPA and the offer. So you have a $20 offer and the average purchase price is five, $10, that difference of $10 or whatever it is, $15, the publisher of the app is collecting it. And they'll do this at scale. So I had one weekend where I had 50, I got hit-

Brett:

So they'll just buy your offer a thousand times or something just because they're paying out.

Krik:

Yep.

Brett:

Paying out 10 and getting back 20, and so they're just making that margin, but you are not getting a real customer that way.

Krik:

Exactly. And then the re-bill never happens either, because I want it to either start on the credit card if it's a prepaid one, or they're just canceling subscription immediately. So you've got to be really careful about that kind of stuff.

So there's a couple good fraud filters out there. 24metrics is one I use, Fraud Shield's another. I have three, actually, in place at one time. This is you got to be really on top of it. IPQS, IP Quality Score is another one I use, and it's just rating IP scores, and checking to see that the billing address is somewhere near the shipping address kind of thing, making sure that legitimate email addresses, things of that nature.

And these fraudsters aren't too technical, right? They're just trying to scrape the bottom and try to find ...

Brett:

They're looking for easy wins, right? They're looking for people that are not paying attention, and not running these filters and stuff like that.

Krik:

Yeah.

Brett:

Got it.

Krik:

And for me, I wasn't the first couple months, because I didn't know. So like I said, one weekend, I had 55 hits, and that cost me, I don't know, a couple hundred bucks, and I was like five, $600. And I was like, "Oh, my God." And I had to go back to my affiliate and be like, "Hey, reverse these charges." And of course, they were pissed about it because they paid out already, and they yelled at me, like, "Krik, you've got to have better fraud filters. I can't be doing this."

Brett:

Right.

Krik:

So that's when we really start taking fraud seriously. Because we'd maybe have one or two a week here and there. But when you get hit 55 times in one weekend, that's a big problem, and that can't happen.

Brett:

Totally.

So talk a little bit about knowing your data. So you've got this platform you're using, Everflow. What is the data there that you would recommend really paying attention to and really getting to know to be able to maximize results?

Krik:

Well, it really depends. If you're running a re-bill model, whether it's on a bill or Recharge, I personally use Recharge, make sure it's integrated into there so you can see the re-bill rates.

Another good app I really, I think it's actually free, is called RAPP, R-A-P-P. It's really good for cohort data. It plugs in to Shopify, and like I said, it's free. So that's really good to get a sense of how are long people sticking around? What does your subscription business look like? And just get a sense of it, because like an LTV to CAC ratio in the industry, Lifetime Value to Customer Acquisition Costs, I'm trying to help you guys out, ratio.

Most people agree a three is optimal. I was running a 3.6, and I still am because I'm not super well funded. I've got to run profitable from day one. So I'm running a relatively conservative model because I need to be running profitably. And it's been working great for us. And going into Everflow and making sure that your publisher's conversion rates are good, and you just don't have too many publishers. Because there's sometimes we broke into each other, and it's just the race to the bottom. You got to make sure that there's not too much overlap, which there's going to be, especially if you're building a program, especially if you're doing it yourself like I did. But there's a lot of opportunity here.

And then also, don't be afraid of some of these, what I call, lower quality traffic sources. So Discount, or Coupon, or Incent, those aren't the best brand builders, but they are enough to get volume, and traction, and build a brand, and then you can scale into content, and email, and listicles, some of the higher quality affiliate channels.

Brett:

Yeah. So you have to, and then also part of this, too, is you have to prove a track record, right? So you have to prove to the better, more established affiliates, you have to prove that your model works, that the conversion rate works, and that those earnings per click are high and conversion rates are high. So maybe you start with the lower quality traffic, get your track record built up, and then you can go to the listicle affiliates and some of those other, the higher quality affiliates.

Krik:

Yeah, absolutely. And we had to do that. We did it with Men's Journal. We've done it with a bunch of email traffic. And again, I always say, look to your landing page. If your landing page isn't converting at these lower level stuff, it's not going to convert at the higher level stuff. So make sure that is really good.

And we're now testing Ezra Firestone's simplified pages now to really try and get the upsells. I actually consult on the side, and this company I was just talking to, I was like, "What's your upsell funnel?" And they're like, "Oh, we don't have one." And I was like, "Oh, that is necessary. That is a hundred percent necessary."

Brett:

Yep.

Krik:

Especially an affiliate where you're only paying for that click and that first conversion. But if there's an upsell, you're not paying for that, so that's just free cash to you. You want to make sure you have that implemented.

Brett:

And a lot of people will take that upsell, right? I'm like a marketer's dream. When there's something I want to buy and I'm in the mood, I'm like, "Ah, sure. Let's just buy two of them. Let's buy three. Let's give it a go." So those upsells. You know?

Krik:

Yeah.

Brett:

I know Ezra talks about making an instant 15% more, right, when you implement those upsells. And maybe it's more depending on your product, and your offer, and what that take rate is on the upsell. But yeah, how would you speak to that. As you started launching upsells, how'd that impact your numbers?

Krik:

Yeah. I mean, we're up about 12% uptake on it right now. So not the best, not the worst, but it's significant. I mean 12 percent's nothing to scoff at and we're happy with those numbers. We did it with the company called Conversion Bear or Honeycomb. We're actually testing out Zipify and Ezra's landing pages and upsells next. Because my next thing is I want to upsell subscriptions. I don't see why not. So Conversion Bear, Honeycomb doesn't allow that, Zipify does, so we're going to start testing those out pretty soon.

Another thing is just minimizing friction. Especially if you're running a sample page, same way that Dollar Shave Club that did it, one click, go straight to checkout, no cart, just zoom it, make it frictionless as possible. But the problem with that is, and with something we're realizing now, it lowers your AOV. So if the customer wants to buy a second product, you're cutting that. So that's what we're realizing now, that, okay, we need an upsell for subscriptions. Because we were before, we'd have two or three subscriptions. And then this past month, because we cut that cart, we're like, "Oh, no, our AOV went down." Like our orders went really high, and maybe the conversions increased slightly. But the AOV dropped so much they were like, "Okay, we got to find a way to get that back up," and we're realizing an upsell of a subscription will do that.

Brett:

Got it. So when you say upsell of a subscription, it wasn't a subscription to begin with? So they've got to click that button, though, to acknowledge the re-bill. What do you mean by upselling the subscription?

Krik:

Mm-hmm. So when you go, you can send like a, "Hey, would you like to add this to your cart as well for the next month?" kind of thing? Because right now, we do it like an upsell of a variety pack. You click it and you've already purchased your product. And the thing, "Hey, would you like to add your variety pack for another 15 bucks?" I forget exactly what it is. But instead of that, why not say, "Hey, you've just purchased a subscription. Would you like to add this subscription as well for a discounted price as well?"

Brett:

Got it. Got it

Krik:

So then the next re-bill you got both products. And of course you're cutting your margin slightly, but you're also raising your AOV, and you're moving more volume. And it's just, again, on affiliate model basis, it's free money because you're not paying a CPA for it.

Brett:

Right. Right. Yeah, that totally makes sense.

And so I want to unpack something you mentioned a little bit ago that wasn't super clear to me. You said you want to limit overlap when you're picking affiliates. Can you unpack what that means and how you avoid that?

Krik:

Yeah. So it's difficult. Because like I said, a lot of these affiliates broker out to other networks. So most of these guys are networks. What you want a lot of times, you want to look for affiliates what they have owned inventory, where they have their own websites, where they own their own apps. But even when they do, the vast majority of them still broker out deals.

Brett:

So where they own their own content, or own their own email list, or that sort of thing?

Krik:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

The problem is the vast majority of these guys, not only do they have their own inventory you call it, but they also broker it out to other networks. And that's when things get a little tricky, because then you're always bidding against each other, and it just goes to the bottom. So you of want to have one or two really good email guys, whether it's like a madriva or active son, you want to have three, four really good incent guys. So AdAction, or Tapjoy, or Cactus. And then from there, you want to just go, like publishers that have good influencer lists. And from there, you kind of... Like LTK is probably the best one out there, or GRIN would be another good one. So you want to silo them a little bit.

But also like I said, when you're building it out in the early days, you just want to put it everywhere, see what sticks, see who's performing. And then once you see that, let's say you cut out the other ones, because they're probably just brokering out anyway. They don't have their own network.

Brett:

Yeah, totally, totally makes sense. Awesome.

And I know Krik has given a lot of resources and a lot of websites. I'll link to this in the show notes. So if you've go to OMGCommerce.com, click on podcasts, in this episode, I'll have links to everything here for you to check out.

So let's talk about what are some of the other keys to success? So you talked about some of the things you wish you had known from the beginning, and I know weaved throughout that with some keys to success. But what are some other really important things if someone's considering affiliate marketing that they need to look at?

Krik:

Diving in head first is always good, in my opinion. But talk to other people that have been there before, whether it's guys like me. Or I mean, I'm still learning. I'm still going to these meetups and like, "Hey, you seem like a wealth of knowledge. Can I buy you a drink later?" I've had maybe drinks since that one meetup four weeks ago, almost every single week, at least once a week, I've met with someone from that meetup just to pick their brain. I've talked my affiliates all the time about what do you think this landing page looks like? What are your thoughts on this conversion? How can we boost this slightly? Because these guys have been in the space for 15 years, the vast majority of them, and they're just a wealth of knowledge, all of them.

And like I said, affiliates, a little guarded. They're all a little scared to talk to you about things and who they're affiliated, who their partners are, which is a little strange for me, because I feel like I'm prying too much half the time. But I feel like there's a polite way to do it, and it works.

And just be willing to learn. Be willing to fail. Set caps. Like especially with new affiliates, set caps. I set a $2,000 cap with all my affiliates just because I need to vet quality of traffic. I need to vet them as an affiliate themselves, as well, just to see, do I like working with them? Is the quality ...

Brett:

So that cap is 2,000 in payouts is what you're willing to pay up front so you can then look at that re-bill rates and things like that?

Krik:

Exactly, yeah. So the first month, I cap my guys two grand. Second month, I do five. And after that, if it's good, it's unlimited.

Brett:

Beautiful.

Krik:

So I've got a couple guys that are doing 20 grand a month right now.

Brett:

That's phenomenal, phenomenal.

So as maybe the very first step, what would you recommend to folks? Like what platform to go check out? What should they read first? Where should they go first here?

Krik:

I mean, there's a lot of good resources out there. I personally lean toward Everflow. They've just been really good to me. So I'd actually reach out to them, talk to them a little bit. They have a big help guide. Perform CB is one of the biggest affiliate networks out there. They might be publicly traded, I don't recall. They've got a big PDF-

Brett:

What was the name of that one again?

Krik:

... workbook on affiliate marketing. Perform CB They've got a huge workbook, and that's really helpful, all the terms, all the ins and outs of it.

And then also maybe hire an agency, maybe higher an up Perform CB So you Perform CB actually works as their network, but they also manage your program. So if you don't want to go head first, then you can do that.

But quite honestly, like I said before, you've got to do it yourself in a way. Unless you're willing to pay $10,000 a month to one of these agencies, because that's what they're charging. I've met a few other ones, but they seem bottom the bucket. The real good ones, they're all charging 10 to 15 grand a month because there's so few of them. There's very few affiliate marketers out there. And if you're an affiliate marketer, most of them would rather just run a network. It's more profitable for them. So for them, it's why would I run an agency when I could run offers, and broker deals out, and take a cut of the CPA? Which makes sense.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. Totally makes sense.

Krik, this has been fantastic. I'm a little bit fired up now about affiliate marketing. I want to go deeper myself and learn this and check it out, so this is super cool.

Now when you and I were prepping, you talked about another superpower you have and that's been instrumental in building CandyCan, but also your previous business. So in addition to affiliate marketing, you also talked about adaptability as a superpower. And so let's talk about this really briefly, we're about at the end of our time. But you gave the example of cockroaches versus dinosaurs, right? So dinosaurs extinct, lots of theories as to why, but not as adaptable to a changing world. Cockroaches could live through a nuclear Holocaust and they would just still keep chugging along. So talk about what adaptability means to you and riff on that cockroaches versus dinosaurs analogy if you'd like.

Krik:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the thing about that, like the dinosaurs, this huge companies that have been around forever, whether it's even a ... or how big they were, and they disappeared and died. Or like not Arizona iced tea, they're still around, but some of these big beverage companies, but they didn't innovate, they didn't keep going. So these smaller companies that are able to change and move, like vital proteins, and they're able to constantly adapt, that's so key in being an entrepreneur.

And I came from a finance background, and then I became a food entrepreneur with chips and popcorn. And that business, maybe I did a quarter million dollars online, maybe. I mean, it was a very small part of the business. We were in 14,000 stores. We were distribution, retail heavy. We were sold in 10 different countries. We knew everything and everything about retail, distribution, promotions, slotting fees, all that stuff. By the time I sold that company, D2C took over, and that's why me and my business partner were like, "We have to build a D2C company." But shipping chips and popcorn online wasn't profitable. If you're shipping volume, it was too expensive.

So that's why we love this company and being able to ship things to consumers directly. You have direct conversation with them and it's more profitable. But we had to learn D2C. And then we learned Facebook, Google, and we learned pretty quickly this doesn't work for us. So then I had to learn affiliate marketing. So I'm constantly learning. I even look at my business partner. He's an accountant. The guy's a CPA. He's learned how to code. He's learned how to use illustrator, Adobe. He's building landing pages. So we both are constantly educating ourselves. I'm constantly sitting on webinars. I'm constantly just like YouTubeing how do I do this. TikTok, I learned how to make TikToks. I'm not a social media guy. I don't even have an Instagram. But I make TikToks. It's just constantly learning and adapting to a changing environment. Because otherwise, you won't survive, and I think that's just the difference between the ones who make it and ones who don't. It's just adaptability.

Brett:

I love it, man. I not agree more. You've got to be willing to go all in, as you said, and learn new things. Because the world is shifting, and the marketplace is shifting. And if you just key in on one thing and never look to go beyond it, you're going to struggle, and you're going to be limited, and you're likely not going to be here in five or 10 years.

And so really, really good, man. This has been a ton of fun.

Krik:

Thanks.

Brett:

For those that are listening and thinking, "You know what? I would like to try CandyCan as well," how can folks check out your product?

Krik:

You can go to eatcandycan.com. I actually killed a bag of Focus before I got on this, if you couldn't tell I was in the zone. ...

Brett:

Yeah. It felt like something was up. You were just on. You were on point. You were firing off amazing answers.

Krik:

Thank.

Brett:

So at least partial credit goes to the CandyCan product.

Krik:

Yeah. So you go to eatcandycan.com, E-A-T, C-A-N-D-Y, C-A-N.com. Check us out on Instagram, eatcandycan, TikTok, Facebook, eatcandycan. We have Sleep, Focus, Immunity? They're all efficacious. They're all keto. They all taste great.

Brett:

Awesome. Check it out. I highly, highly recommend it.

Krik, this has been a ton of fun, man. Thank you so much for doing this, and we'll have to chat again sometime.

Krik:

Yeah. Appreciate it, man. Good talking.

Brett:

All right, brother. Thank you.

And as always, thank you for tuning in. We would love to hear from you. What would you like to hear more of on the podcast, less of on the podcast? If you have not done it already, leave that five-star review. We would love that. Also, if you've not checked out my other podcast called Spicy Curry, hot takes on digital marketing and e-commerce, check that out as well. And so with that, until next time, thank you for listening.









Episode 203
:
Jacques Spitzer

Why Your Ads Aren’t Scaling and How to Fix it with Jacques Spitzer of Raindrop

What’s the secret behind the runaway success of Dr. Squach, Manscapped, William Painter, Ruggable, Lume, and more?

Product design that people love is part of it.They also leveraged FANTASTIC creatives. They didn’t just create ads that converted; they had ads that viewers loved. This allowed for scaling. They entered the rare space of being able to scale profitably to 10 million, 20 million, several hundred million views - profitably.

Dr. Squatch rode the wave of incredible creatives from a $3 million annual run rate to hundreds of millions in yearly sales.How did they do it? They tapped into Raindrop’s creative genius and its CEO Jacques Spitzer.

Raindrop is one of my favorite creative shops and the creators of the videos for brands listed above, plus Native (also an OMG Client), Worx, Happy Egg, and more.

Here’s a look at what we cover in the episode:

  • Why you shouldn’t start a video project by deciding what YOU want to say. Follow Jacques advice instead.
  • How you’re likely assuming way more attention than your prospects are giving.
  • How ads that scale can completely change the game.
  • What people are really buying when they buy your product.
  • Do shoppers actually care about your why?
  • What branded performance creative is and why it makes scale and brand lift so much easier.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Jacques Spitzer

   - Website

   - LinkedIn


Raindrop

Raindrop + Manscaped

Dr. Squatch

Manscaped

Native Deodorant

William Painter

Ruggable

BOOM by Cindy Joseph

Raindrop + Native Deodorant Ad

Happy Egg

Tushy



Transcript:

Brett Curry:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry CEO of OMG Commerce. And I can't wait for today's content, we're talking about a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. This is a subject that I could talk about for days and days on end, and I would never get tired of it, even if everybody around me did. We're going to be talking about why your ads are not scaling and what to do about it, and we're going to be diving into creatives, and how to make great video ads and more. And so my guest today is Jacques Spitzer. He is the CEO of Raindrop out of San Diego, and you've seen their work. If you watch a little event called the Super Bowl, you've seen one of their ads.

They also had the top YouTube ad of the year, a couple years ago. Both of those ads actually were for Dr. Squatch, but they have not just worked with Dr. Squatch. They've worked with Manscaped, and Native, and William Painter, and Ruggable, and the list goes on and on. And so not only is this guy crazy smart, and super creative, and super fun. He's just a good dude. And we got to hang out in person about a month ago or so in San Diego, one of my favorite cities. And so with that, Jacques, welcome to the show man. How's it going? And thanks for coming on.

Jacques Spitzer:

Brett, thank you for having me. And it's been great to not only connect in person, but also collaborate most recently on some campaigns together and yeah, happy to be with you and cannot wait to see where this conversation goes.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, yeah. It's going to be super fun. I can't wait. Our paths have like crossed in interesting ways over the years, right? So I mentioned William Painter, which if you have not seen that ad, you need to go see that ad I'll link to in the show notes. William Painter, put that to, I'm sorry, Raindrop put that together. I'm friends with the guys at William Painter. I taught them YouTube ads, so they learned how to run the media side of YouTube from a course that I did. Raindrop did the creative, that kind of what started our paths crossing.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yep.

Brett Curry:

But then more recently we've managed the Google and YouTube ads for Native, now for years and years, you guys just finished a couple of campaigns that were brilliant for Native. We had so much fun running it and they did very, very well. And so that's when we were like, dude, we should like talk more and hang out more and do more stuff together. It's what brought us here today. What else would you add to that background? And then tell us just a little bit about creative, a little bit about Raindrop, what's the size of the team kind of give me the scoop.

Jacques Spitzer:

Totally. Yeah. I mean, well, we're 13 years into this journey, but really on the performance creative side the last four or five years is really where it's taken off. And part of that was that when we started working with Dr. Squatch. They were doing less than 3 million in revenue. And I remember Jack the owner and founder of Squatch asking me, do you work with a lot of direct to consumer brands? And at the time I said, well, I'll be honest with you Jack, not yet, but I have a feeling that we would be great together. And I'm glad that he trusted me in that. I remember exactly where I was sitting when I told him that. Because I was like, if I were him, I have no reason to say yes, outside of a, you know. I was like, well, it's not a really compelling argument, but we've gone on to do some really great work together and yeah, created some history. And so we're a group of about a hundred people.

Brett Curry:

And Dr. Squatch grew just to add a little more to that.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

They grew from 3 million now to over a hundred, right. Is that correct.

Jacques Spitzer:

Hundreds of millions, yes.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

They're doing very, very, very well.

Brett Curry:

It's a lot of soap. It's a whole lot of soap.

Jacques Spitzer:

It's a lot of soap and it's so fun too, because the creative itself is just so much fun.

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

The work that we get to do the partnerships with Disney with the Star Wars stuff and Batman, and some other campaigns that are coming out in the near future are just on another level. And they're just so fun. It's like, we were able to create a world to play in and people are responding to it. And it is a great product, like it really is. You can't fake a product, it's a great product. This is not a flash in the pan. It is not a Snuggie or.

Brett Curry:

Right.

Jacques Spitzer:

A Shake Weights scenario.

Brett Curry:

Fidget spinner or something, or Shake Weight.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah, yeah. It's like, this is a great product, which by the way.

Brett Curry:

Do you want to look ridiculous while you work out? Yes, I would.

Jacques Spitzer:

You know, what's interesting. I met the founder of the Shake Weight and I got to ask him like, so how did this all go down? And it was a very real, it was a real thing, it was a real product, and it is a real product, but obviously took a major left turn when the advertising came out, so that was not intended. It was not an intentional, I was like, I always wondered, like, did this person know that it was going to become this phenomena?

Brett Curry:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah, but it did.

Brett Curry:

Exactly, so funny how it ended up.

Jacques Spitzer:

It absolutely did.

Brett Curry:

That's crazy.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

You're about to talk about this, and your team and stuff, yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

I was just saying. Yeah, we're based out of Southern California with people all over, but all of our productions are primarily out of Southern California, about a hundred people here. And yeah, just a really, really cool team, love the work that we do. And yeah, just looking honestly, to just do work that breaks through the noise. Nothing that we do is trite or boring. People don't come to us for that kind of work. And so we really get to create marketing people love, and that's a blessing.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, and I mean that's your hashtag, right. Marketing people love.

Jacques Spitzer:

It is.

Brett Curry:

And it's true, people love your ads. I was actually in preparation for this. I watched the ad for the new Manscaped 4.0. And I was literally laughing out loud by myself in my office. And that's one of those things, right. Some ads are funny and they bring a smile to your face, right. Or you're with a group and maybe laugh. But I was by myself, laughing uncontrollably, right.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

It like created a physical response. It was great. And so I got to know before we kind of dig into the details here and you guys are performance marketing. That's the way we've always been to more on the media and strategy side, but what was it like making that Super Bowl ad, right? Squatch did so well on YouTube that you guys made a Super Bowl spot. Walk me through that, what was that like? It had to have been surreal.

Jacques Spitzer:

It was, and part of the surrealness of it was, it was like December 5th or 6th. I should know the date, but like December 5th or 6th. And I get a text from their CMO, Josh. And he is like, we're thinking about doing a Super Bowl commercial. And I'm like, for like this Super Bowl? Like the one, like the one that we're in the middle of playoffs for?

Brett Curry:

Like in a couple months?

Jacques Spitzer:

Like the one, like this one? He's like, yeah, we're not really sure though, yet, like we haven't even started negotiating the rates. Like, we're not really sure, but like, do you think we can pull it off? Can we make an ad that fast? And I mean, we're going into like holiday season. We're going to have to, I knew that the place, we always shut down like the week after the holidays and Christmas and everything. And so I was like, uh oh. And so we started, we didn't even kick off concepting until mid-December.

Brett Curry:

Dude.

Jacques Spitzer:

And the final files were due I want to say, like mid January, so that was an exceptional.

Brett Curry:

It was literally a four week turnaround time.

Jacques Spitzer:

Exceptional circumstance.

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

And.

Brett Curry:

But the good part about that. I mean, that's still crazy fast.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

The good thing is you'd already created this world, you had your actor.

Jacques Spitzer:

A hundred percent.

Brett Curry:

You had your theme, and your concept and all that, so it's more like just, but still coming up with something fresh and new related to that in four weeks is difficult.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah. And I think this actually is an interesting learning lesson for all performance marketers, especially ones with emerging brands or challenger brands, is that I think a lot of people overestimate the number of people who have seen their ads or recognize their brand. And so what our strategy was going into that Super Bowl spot was we are going to make a Squatch ad. The most 32nd Squatch ad, we can, that's appropriate to run to a hundred million people and families, but we're going to make the most Squatch ad we can, that is a summation of everything that's been successful to date, knowing that 75 to 80% of people that see that Super Bowl ad had never seen anything ever from Dr. Squatch.

Brett Curry:

Never seen anything. Exactly. Yep.

Jacques Spitzer:

And you mentioned the William Painter guys, I remember one of the conversations we had with them early on before the video that really took off for them was, well, what skew should we work on? What products should we work on? And we're like the hook, like your original pair, because.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

And the thing that I always tell entrepreneurs is, I give them this, I say, if you put a bunch of people on a stadium right now, and you ask them, how many of you have ever heard of this brand, whatever that brand is, even if it's doing a hundred million dollars, a lot of people are like, oh, that actually puts it in perspective. I bet a hundred people would know, or 150 people would know if they haven't really done a, like a.

Brett Curry:

So almost nobody in that in that stadium.

Jacques Spitzer:

Exactly. And so it's like, don't ditch, like in their case, don't ditch the hook, your sunglasses that open bottle caps, just because you stopped seeing.

Brett Curry:

Yep. Popping bottles and looking like a model.

Jacques Spitzer:

That's right, just because it stopped sort of like working top of funnel for you, it's still your best selling most interesting skew. And that's the one that we really honed into, it's what took off. And so that was our approach for the Super Bowl spot for Squatch, as well. Assume that no one's ever seen the ad because most people haven't and give people something to be excited about.

Brett Curry:

Yep.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah, but that was a wild ride and it was, I mean, I'll never forget when it actually ran. Like, I mean, I can't breathe thinking about it because it was just like, oh my gosh, is it going to run? Like what's going to happen?

Brett Curry:

Yeah, yeah, right.

Jacques Spitzer:

Is it going to glitch, you know?

Brett Curry:

Yeah. What's funny is like, yeah, I didn't know you at the time. I knew of Raindrop and I knew of course James, who's the actor in Squatch because of William Painter. And so when I saw that, I was like, are you kidding me? Like this is our world, like this is direct response, this is performance marketing, it's in this Super Bowl. I was so excited.

Jacques Spitzer:

Totally.

Brett Curry:

I do like a Super Bowl review on a Monday morning meeting with my team. And I just went on and on about it, I was like, can you guys believe this? But anyway, I'm sure it was a thousand times better for you.

Jacques Spitzer:

It was so much fun.

Brett Curry:

What about your family? Were your parents like we're just so proud, you made the Super Bowl.

Jacques Spitzer:

I mean, yeah, my family, but I mean, not only were they very proud, it was special because that was 2021 Super Bowl, so not this year, but the year before.

Brett Curry:

Yep.

Jacques Spitzer:

And if you'll remember, that was like height of COVID. It was like the second,

Brett Curry:

Right, right.

Jacques Spitzer:

It was right before the vaccinations, like big, big wave. And so we were in my backyard watching it outdoor. I think my wife's mom and husband drove into town, but like everyone's like 10 feet apart in the backyard watching,

Brett Curry:

Not the typical Super Bowl experience.

Jacques Spitzer:

No, no, no. Because, it would've been really cool to gather as like a team that produced it.

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

I would've, that's like a thing I wish I had as a memory of like our whole company together for that moment.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Yeah, totally.

Jacques Spitzer:

But we, you know, it was intimate.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. We've been kind of sprinkling things here and there. Most people are like, Hey, you know what guys, this is great. I'm not going to run a Super Bowl ad probably anytime soon.

Jacques Spitzer:

Right.

Brett Curry:

Although, don't rule it out. You never know.

Jacques Spitzer:

Never say never, Justin Bieber.

Brett Curry:

You might make an advert at some point. Never say never.

Jacques Spitzer:

Justin Bieber. I quote him all the time. Great ...

Brett Curry:

I think the more we can quote Justin Bieber, really the smarter we will look.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yep.

Brett Curry:

The better our lives will be.

Jacques Spitzer:

Totally, totally.

Brett Curry:

For sure. Yep, I'm a Belieber, so that's good. Let's dive in. I want to talk about why your ads are not scaling and we do a lot on YouTube. We're spending millions and millions a month on YouTube. And we know we've seen campaigns that just go to the moon. We've seen other campaigns that kind of fizzle. And a lot of it, certainly the media and some of the technical stuff behind there is important, but the creative is such an important part.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

Let's dive into that. What are the mistakes you see that brands make with their video content?

Jacques Spitzer:

Absolutely. Well, I will start with the most obvious one. It seems obvious, but it is the mistake that I see over, and over, and over, and over, and over. And if I could keep saying over for another a hundred times, I would again.

Brett Curry:

Sure. Let's go. I'll keep track.

Jacques Spitzer:

And that is that brands fundamentally will they'll have like a brief and they'll start with, well, what do we want people to know? What do we want them to learn? And they approach it from the standpoint of like, what do I want to say? And I think that fundamentally, and part of this is maybe just instincts of how I consume content, what I've seen from other brands that like have done this well is we flip it on its head and we say, how are we going to create something that people will actually watch? And then what do we want them to learn? And I know that it sounds like a very simple way of thinking about it.

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

But I would say most people approach it more like they would if they just had a talking head video and they were like, okay, so I have a minute with somebody or I have 30 seconds. What do I want them to know? And they just start from that standpoint and it's like, that's not actually what you need to do. You need to think, how am I going to make sure that they're going to at least stick with me for 15 seconds? And you've seen the numbers on some of our ads, like some of the long form ads will do 25, 30, 35 second average watch times. It's like, you only get there by saying, okay, it's not just the hook, but it's like also, how am I honoring people's attention? And you talked about laughing out loud. I mean, I think you could be clever. I think you can be funny. I think you could be interesting. I think you'd be educational. It doesn't have to be funny, although funny is a good mechanism.

But fundamentally that's a mistake I see so many brands make is they're like introducing new product or like, have you seen this? Or I love this product. And it's like a neat like skit. I mean, that's it's, it's just like we're in the skip world.

Brett Curry:

Right.

Jacques Spitzer:

And if you make content that people are likely to skip, doesn't matter how much you like it, it doesn't matter how pretty it is. It doesn't matter What you have to say.

Brett Curry:

Right.

Jacques Spitzer:

People just skip it.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, exactly. I love that.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah. I mean, that's the ...

Brett Curry:

Right. Starting with, this is what I want to say versus starting with this is what people want to hear and see.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yes.

Brett Curry:

This is what the people want to experience and yeah, you're right. It doesn't have to be funny because some people aren't naturally funny. That's the tricky part about being funny is if you're not a comedian, what you think is funny, probably other people won't, right. And so it's hard to be funny and to sell, you guys do it really, really well.

Jacques Spitzer:

Brent, can I double down on that?

Brett Curry:

Please do.

Jacques Spitzer:

Because, that's a learning lesson of ours. Like the first video we ever did was not very good. And one of our big learning lessons was like, we need to hire funny people. And now half of our writing team used to be full-time comedians, like toured the country, full time comedians.

Brett Curry:

Yep.

Jacques Spitzer:

And then we pair them with people who are also very marketing oriented, and then all of our comedians are great writers they are smart people, they've learned how to be smart about call to actions and everything else. But like that's the biggest aha I've had is like when people try to be funny and they're just not professionally funny, it shows. And that's the problem that again, if you try to get into humor, 99% of brands are making that big mistake.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. And that can really backfire on you. And I would argue that it's way easier to teach someone direct response principles and CTA principles than it is to teach someone how to be funny.

Jacques Spitzer:

That's fair.

Brett Curry:

Because, funny is so nuanced, right? Funny's about timing and funny is about pace and about tone. And it's about like choosing the right word, right? Like if you're making a joke about shaving your nether regions, like you can, you really, you got to tow that line between being offensive and just being hilarious, right.

Jacques Spitzer:

Totally.

Brett Curry:

And so you've got to be a master with words and you got to understand comedy. So yeah, I've heard a few people that say that, Hey, write a script, but get comedians to come in and make it funny, if you want to go that route.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

And I would say that you don't have to be funny, but you do have to be emotional, right? You got to strike some emotional chord to get someone to keep watching and then to get them to take action.

Jacques Spitzer:

Totally.

Brett Curry:

That's fantastic. Awesome, so mistake number one, starting with what you want to say, which usually is going to be boring, it's going to be bullet point driven or whatever, so that's a mistake. What are other mistakes that you see?

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah. I mean a big one I'll see is people just assume way too much attention. I mean, and I'm talking about like I've seen videos that I know someone spent, I mean, I don't want to call out anybody because I'm not that kind of person. But like recently I saw an ad where they don't even bring up the product for two minutes into the ad. They talk all about the problem and the solution, and they think that enough people are going to stick around to figure out what it's about. And I guarantee you that ad's not going to work.

Brett Curry:

Right.

Jacques Spitzer:

It's just like there's just certain principles around attention that are so like important. And so when we go through our process, it's like which I can talk to in more detail later on. It's not about just being scripted, it's not about just being shot, but it's like when we get into editing it is every, not only every second, it's like we're shaving 0.2 seconds here. We are doing whip pans here. We are punching in here because like every second matters. And I think that's another issue that I see across the board is people just think I'll put together a video, I want it to hold attention. But then they just like sit on a single shot of someone talking for 15, 20 seconds. I'm like human beings get bored.

Brett Curry:

Yes.

Jacques Spitzer:

And so that's assuming attention is definitely like number two in terms of the problems I see. I mean, and it's just you'll see, I mean, check out YouTube and then notice the number of ads that like you'll be five seconds in and nothing's happened yet. I mean, I'd rather at least see someone blow towards something than do nothing. I mean, I joke with people, but I'm like, what's more interesting, like seeing a beautiful like shot of like a barrel going through a vineyard with a sun glistening and then a voiceover comes in and says like wine, you love wine. Or like someone taking a wine bottle and smashing it and being like your wine sucks.

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

It's like most brands do the first one. They're like, Ooh, beautiful shots of our vineyards.

Brett Curry:

Right.

Jacques Spitzer:

And it's like, that doesn't work. It's just funny but it doesn't work.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, yeah. It's so good. And one of the things that I like to do and this isn't always practical. Well, the fir the first part is the second part isn't. Whenever I'm watching a video, I'll really try to pay attention to when did I like suddenly start thinking about something else? When did I start remembering what I have to do after this? Or when did I almost think about multitasking? And I was like, oh, well, that's the part that needs to be fixed, right? Because if the ad is good, there should be these little things happening all the time, like a few seconds and explosion, right.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yep.

Brett Curry:

And not literally an explosion necessarily, but got to keep that attention going. And yeah, man, we look at, so one of the things I wanted to mention earlier was you guys do longer form videos, right? The William Painter video, some of the Native stuff that we did.

Jacques Spitzer:

Sure.

Brett Curry:

Was two and a half, three minutes, which ideally for YouTube, like that's the sweet spot.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yep.

Brett Curry:

That's where we, if we're driving conversions, trying to get actual purchases, actual signups, things like that. We want the longer video, but not everybody watches the whole video. There's still a lot of people that just click through early and stuff like that. But you still want to come to a point relatively early, because even what you said, and your videos are funny, and they're engaging, and people want to watch the whole thing. The average watch time is like 35 seconds, which that may sound low.

Jacques Spitzer:

Right.

Brett Curry:

That's actually very, very high.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

And so, yeah, you don't want to wait two minutes to introduce your product. That's insane. Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

I'm just going to double down something you just said, which is.

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

I have a seven year old son at home. Brett, I understand you have like, I don't know, 10, 15, 20.

Brett Curry:

We have eight, eight kids. It feels like 15 in the evenings, before bedtime it feels like there's a hundred, but we have eight. Yes, it's true.

Jacques Spitzer:

And so what I was going to add to that is that one of the most healthy things I do is I have my son watch our ads because I'll watch when he disengages. And he likes watching our ads, which is helpful. He's like, dad, I love your ads and I want to watch them, but I'll watch when he disengages. And there is a high correlation between ads that he's highly interested in and ones where he's not, because I think at some point, even though we get older and older, we all have some part of our brain that like has this, I call it a short consideration span, not a short attention span, but consideration because people will stick around and watch it. And the other thing I think brands get maybe confused by is, when you're thinking about showing it to a thousand people, the goal is not to have 80% of a thousand people, per thousand people watch the whole thing.

Brett Curry:

Right?

Jacques Spitzer:

It is finding the one, two, or three people that are going to watch in an impactful way that will get them to potentially buy. And so people have this mindset of like, well it has to be for everyone. And it's like, no, it just has to be for whatever your customer acquisition costs are. I mean, oftentimes, you just need one out of a thousand or one out of every 2000 or even in some brands case, one of every 10,000 to purchase for this to be profitable. And so it's not about getting everyone, it's about getting more people than you are now.

Brett Curry:

Yep. Yep. I love that, so have your seven year old watch. One of the other things that I was going to mention, this is the not so practical part, but if you can do it, I think it's important. I like to also show ads, ads that I've seen a lot, but show them to a group of people and then just watch the people. Don't watch the ad, watch the people and see when do they look down? When do they grab for their phone? When do they lean in? When do they, is there a physical reaction? I remember hearing B.J. Novak, one of the writers for the Office talk about good humor causes a physical response, right. We've all heard someone say that was funny. But they're not smiling or laughing. And you're like, I don't think you thought that was funny. Like funny is when you respond.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

And so I like to show an ad and watch people's reaction, which is super interesting and telling.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah. I would love to have more focus groups, but you have one at your home.

Brett Curry:

Exactly. Yeah, my wife just gave birth to the focus group.

Jacques Spitzer:

That's right.

Brett Curry:

It was not easier. I don't know. Anyway, that's awesome. Okay, so we got starting with what we want to say instead of what people want to hear as a mistake. Second mistake is assuming too much attention. What would be another mistake?

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah. I mean, you talked about it earlier, but there is a functional when you talk about scaling. Because I think that's where it's like you can have effective ads that won't scale and maybe to define for people, what does that mean? An ad that you can spend behind and continue to spend behind in a way that will build, so some of these brands have done, I think we've done, I would say 10, like 11 campaigns where the brands have been able to profitably scale over 10 million views. And this is on YouTube. We've seen some of these campaigns cross over and do very, very well on Facebook or just meta platforms in general. And then we've had a handful that have done more than a hundred million views profitably as well. And so what we tend to see is that, I always think about it this way.

It's like people go through a sales process when they're interacting with their brands, so that looks like with most brands is that you think about it in terms of a funnel? I have my top of funnel, middle of funnel, bottom of funnel. And we all know that a majority of your transactions happened where? Bottom funnel.

Brett Curry:

Bottom funnel. Yep.

Jacques Spitzer:

Right. And so most people are going okay, well, how can I most efficiently get to this bottom of funnel and what the dynamic of a longer form ad, the way that changes the game and changes the math is that if you're getting 10%, top of funnel of your transactions, 20% middle funnel and then 70% bottom of funnel, what it does is it just starts to raise the number of transactions that happen top of funnel, just by some sort of statistical relevance, like 10% more, 20% more and at scale meaning, okay, well, whenever someone's like, I got a five row as I'm like, well, that means you don't have a big enough audience because ...

Brett Curry:

Exactly. You're not doing ... you're doing remarketing.

Jacques Spitzer:

Exactly.

Brett Curry:

You're doing brain dead that's all you're doing, right.

Jacques Spitzer:

Exactly. And so it's like watching a brand like Dossier go from spending tens of thousands of dollars a month on YouTube to much, much, much more in driving. I mean, I don't know if I'm allowed to say the figures, but you know, their ads done over 20 million views just in the last couple months. And watching them be able to scale that profitably at pretty much the same row as number as they were when they were just spending 40, 50 grand a month. That is how this all really works. And I think that a lot of times less savvy people and media buyers have this idea that you can have this like silver bullet asset, that's just going to like just absolutely outperform everything in a way that like, oh, well, if my CPA is currently a $57 CPA, I'm be able to run something that's going to get me $21 CPAs.

That's not the case. It's actually taking whatever your CPA is now. And if you can drop it like 10 to 15%, but at scale, spending tens of thousands of dollars a day behind that asset, well, that's how you massively grow so quickly. And that's what we've seen with these brands. Like you mentioned Lumi or Dr. Squatch, it's like those brands have been able to get assets that they can throttle spend behind and not see a huge dip in efficiency. And then every channel has a different burnout, like amount of time before it burns out YouTube being the longest.

Brett Curry:

For sure.

Jacques Spitzer:

And then TikTok being the shortest.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. One of the things I love about YouTube is yeah, we've had some of the same ads, like some of the same ads for Boom by Cindy Joseph that we've run for literally longer than a year, right.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yep.

Brett Curry:

And then you refresh it and you run it for another year, right. That can happen on YouTube, and I think part of that is just because one, the YouTube audience is so massive. It's almost unlimited scale on YouTube. Some of your audiences, some of the ways we target on YouTube is based on people's search behavior. Like what they've searched for recently on Google or YouTube, so those audiences are being refreshed all the time. There's several reasons that mean creatives on YouTube last a long time, which is awesome. And what's also interesting is that I think there's some creatives that they're good, but they mainly work like for a remarketing audience, like for a bottom of funnel audience or for like a really, really interested mid funnel audience, so someone who's actively shopping, actively engaged, they're in the know, they understand the problem, they understand the solution, they understand your category.

There's certain ads that work for those people, but then where you really see the magic happen is when you can create that ad that takes someone from being oblivious, to being aware, to being interested, to being like dude, I got to click, I got to check this out. And then you're right, that does change the numbers. And when you look at top of funnel stuff and so some don't measure it right either. And that's an art and science there too, but yet the right creative and then with the right media plan yeah, it can just keep going. And when you start to get like a campaign that's spending millions of dollars a month, that's like super fun. I will never get tired of that. It's one of my favorite things to observe and I'm sure maybe more rewarding or more cool for you because you're the creative behind it, which is cool.

Jacques Spitzer:

It's amazing. I mean, I will say not only that, like if I'm honest and I'm not the only one in my company that does this, but getting to go to the comment sections and seeing how much people love the advertising is also really rewarding.

Brett Curry:

Yep, yep.

Jacques Spitzer:

People genuinely love it.

Brett Curry:

Right.

Jacques Spitzer:

And I think that's what's fun. It's like we're not just making ads. That would be like, oh, that's like, we're making ads that are really, really fun.

Brett Curry:

Yep.

Jacques Spitzer:

And that's what it's all about.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. I mean the first thing that I wanted to do after I saw the Manscaped video earlier was I wanted to text it to some buddies of mine. Like you got to watch this, right? Like how often do you do that with an ad? It doesn't happen very often.

Jacques Spitzer:

Totally.

Brett Curry:

It's pretty cool. It's pretty fun. Awesome, I know we could dig into more mistakes. And if there's one or two more you want to pull on screen?

Jacques Spitzer:

You basically bled me dry of all the mistakes that people make, but those are some pretty big ones. I'll be honest.

Brett Curry:

Those are some big ones.

Jacques Spitzer:

You're like, if you could make your ads more entertaining, I guess at the end of the day, more entertaining actually sell and actually funny, then those three things go a long way. The one thing I will say.

Brett Curry:

Make them actually good.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah, I will. And the one thing I'll add about long form content that I think is helpful was and this was a breakthrough for me in our work with Worx. Worx Power Tools is a brand that went from like zero to a hundred million in sales, behind infomercial TV ads, right. And then they're a huge company now. And they found us three, four years ago. And that's what triggered for me like, oh, this is not anything new. Like we're just doing this for the internet. But like, I grew up watching a 30 minute, George Foreman commercial or whatever.

Brett Curry:

Exactly, exactly. Yep.

Jacques Spitzer:

And it's the same idea. It's like people want to be entertained and they don't mind being sold to as long as it's done in a way that's interesting. And it's like, there's been a lot of Flex Seal sold. There's been a lot of Scrub Daddy's sold.

Brett Curry:

Absolutely, yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

There's a reason.

Brett Curry:

And those, and I always talk about, yeah, exactly. And I compare good YouTube ads, more to the short form infomercials that are on TV, like the two or three minute versions. But yeah, if you think about like P 90 X, so I bought P90X years and years ago, I was sick, I was laid up on the couch and I ended up watching like a whole P90X infomercial and I bought it and I did it. But I was watching and so it's emotional. It's not funny really, but it's emotional. And it takes you on this journey, and I didn't mind it.

Like, I kind of enjoyed it. I knew it was an ad. I knew it was an infomercial, but I was still entertained enough and I bought it. And millions of other people did as well, so very cool. Let's do this. Let's look at, kind of walk us through your process. And if you want to take one of these examples, whether it's Squatch, or Worx, or whoever, Native and kind of walk us through, like what's your process look like so that we can maybe get an idea of how do we try to do something like that ourselves?

Jacques Spitzer:

All right. Great question. I will say this, we have a pretty thorough process. We used to take every client...

Brett Curry:

Yeah, I know I have to condense it for podcast purposes.

Jacques Spitzer:

No, no, no, yeah.

Yeah. But especially starting out, it's like, we used to have like this well we still have, we do it for a lot of clients. It's the brand identity process. And what that looks like for us is we are trying to dive into a couple things that are so important that most brands have never even asked themselves. I'm thinking about writing a book called your mission statement is shit. Because I think that a lot of brands get hung up on their why. And I love Simon Sinek, don't get me wrong. Like I think he's a brilliant person, I love all his content, but he kind of took this paradigm from people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And I'm sure you've heard that a million times. And I actually go, that's not true. People don't buy what you do, they don't buy why you do it. They buy how it makes them feel about themselves.

Brett Curry:

Exactly.

Jacques Spitzer:

That's what they buy.

Brett Curry:

Exactly. Yes, yes.

Jacques Spitzer:

And so when we first started working with Dr. Squatch, we went through this whole journey with them. And I remember Jack's why is like, he wanted to, he believes very strongly in the power of all natural soap. I mean, it had cleared up psoriasis, it clears medical kind of conditions. But we steered and we all worked together to steer the brand in a new direction where we're like, we're not really selling soap. If we're selling soap... I remember being in a conference room, a small conference room and being like, if we're selling soap, we're already dead because you can buy 30 bars of soap from Costco for the same price as like a bar and a half of your soap, like we're not selling soap.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, exactly.

Jacques Spitzer:

But we are selling a fundamentally different experience every single morning if you shower. We're selling an experience that where men feel like truly like a throwback to like men bathing like Kings, like this idea of being a king in your shower and in bringing out like this whole new sense of self. And so that's how we start with every brand is we start asking ourselves how do we want to make people feel? What are they saying about themselves by purchasing this product or this service? And we create a voice in a posture and an attitude around those pillars. And so we have like a very formal process we do. But over time we started working with bigger and bigger brands and a lot of them will come to you and be like, well, we've already figured all that stuff out.

And for the most part like they have, but there's always some nuggets you uncover just from being an outside voice. And so we do that work before we actually kick off the actual scripting or concepting. We always concept first because in general, we're taking some risks with our advertising. And so we want to get gut check what those risks might be with the clients. Before we just like run in a direction and just like script the whole thing, because for instance, the Scentaur video for Native it's like, that was an interesting one. It was like, how are they going to respond to the idea of like dressing up somebody as a Centaur and having it all about like, it's not a myth that natural deodorant can actually work, it's Native.

And this idea of this woman saying like, I'm going to gallop all day through these dense ass woods. And I have six pits and I treat them to Native. Like I was like, I don't know, like maybe they'll be down or maybe they'll be like, please never bring that idea to us again.

Brett Curry:

Yep.

Jacques Spitzer:

And they were down, so it's like we have to gut check some of that with the clients. But that comes from a place of like, we ask ourselves, what risk are we willing to take? Because you can't not take some sort of risk and then expect a reward. If you're going to make a risk free, boring ass ad, it's not going to work. Now you can cut that out of this podcast and put it out there in the world, because that is just boring ads don't work.

Brett Curry:

Yep, totally. Boring is the kiss of death. It's way better to be controversial, or weird, or out there, or offensive even.

Jacques Spitzer:

Anything, anything.

Brett Curry:

Boring is the worst without a doubt. Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

It's the worst.

Brett Curry:

You've got to take some risks. I love that.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah. And so that goes through a whole process. I mean, from the scripting to the way that we cast and the way that we set design, the way that we edit everything we do is just understanding what's the risk and reward behavior of these decisions. Including like when we do something that might be more funny, or clever, or humorous that takes us away from the main storyline, it's like well that's eight seconds it takes us away from the main storyline. Is it worth it? Like, is it worth doing that? And so oftentimes we'll cut 30 to 40 seconds of our video out before it's finally done. But I always say that like, it's nice to have too much and work down rather than not having enough.

Brett Curry:

Yes, for sure.

Jacques Spitzer:

And so, and I know I'm talking a lot about long form, but there is something about being able to tell the full story, talk about all of those unique selling propositions, also addressing people's objections and giving them like reasons to understand why it's a validated, verified, all the great things people have to say about it. You take people on this emotional journey that by the end of it's like, yeah, you can check out the website, but we just brought the website to you.

Brett Curry:

Right.

Jacques Spitzer:

We just brought a salesperson to you. Like we're doing a big campaign for Happy Eggs. And I told them, I remember in the kickoff we're like, our goal is to say, if you had someone standing in front of the eggs, in a grocery store, able to explain to someone why they should buy Happy Eggs, we want to bring that into everyone's home and into their mobile device.

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

So that when they are there, they've already heard the story. They already know where the chickens are from and why the yolks are going to be orange instead of yellow. They're going to know all these things because we've put that out in front of them in an entertaining way.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. And I heard a friend of mine explain this, and I totally agree with it. That there's so much more a video that's done well, a long form video like what you guys create. If someone actually does watch that for a minute and a half, or two minutes, or the full three minutes, there's such an emotional connection that can never be duplicated on a website, right. You think about what are you willing to pay for a click to get someone to your landing page? Maybe you're willing to pay two, three, $4, whatever the case may be. Well, you could get that completed view on YouTube for like 7 cents. And it created, I guarantee if someone watched it a stronger emotional connection, more understanding about the product, more of a visualization of what is it going to be like when I buy this product than you could ever do on your website. And so, yeah. I love that. And that hopefully should, and you can do stuff in 30 seconds too, but yet creating that emotional connection with long form it's beautiful.

Jacques Spitzer:

Brett, you are my people, my friend, like you get it. I mean seriously, because I just think people, because I think about all the time, like one of my biggest, one of the things that people miss is like, I'll give you an example, Crossrope. Crossrope or you mentioned earlier, like you talked to this person with TUSHY recently, it's like.

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

With these brands where it's like, you can't just sell people a jump rope or a bidet, right?

Brett Curry:

Right.

Jacques Spitzer:

Like you want them to choose your brand. If all you've done is educate them on the space and then they go to Amazon and buy a knockoff product for a third of the price.

Brett Curry:

Yes, yes.

Jacques Spitzer:

You lose.

Brett Curry:

Right.

Jacques Spitzer:

And so I'm like, that's why this really matters is like I think most brands underestimate how many sales they're losing, not only to competitors or to Amazon, but they've done all the hard work to get in front of someone to get them even thinking about this. And then they lose the momentum or they lose the brand connection. And they're like, well, I didn't really know. I wanted a bidet, but now I've seen an ad. I checked it out. And then I found one for a third of the price, I guess I'll gave it a whirl. You lost, you lost.

Brett Curry:

Exactly, yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

And so that, it's really interesting.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, so then all you did there, which was still impressive is you convinced someone to buy a bidet, but you just wasted your money because now they're not coming back to you. Yeah, and that happens. And don't think that it doesn't. I remember I had this aha moment we're working on a, it's kind of an expensive skincare brand for a younger demo. And I was talking to a team member and she was in her young twenties and she's like, oh, I saw this ad, but I saw the ad on Instagram. And then I went on Amazon and I bought something else that was related. I was like, oh wow. Okay, we have work to do. Right. And we got to think about who we're targeting and how we're positioning it and stuff like that.

Jacques Spitzer:

Totally.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, yeah. Really good. Cool.

Jacques Spitzer:

I'll give you a weird example just to double down on that is I was just talking to somebody who they came out with a multivitamin and they literally just designed the multi vitamin to look kind of like a leading multivitamin. And they popped it up on Amazon and they just siphoned like a 10th of their sales by being $20 less.

Brett Curry:

Yep.

Jacques Spitzer:

And it's like, that's the difference between like selling a brand and selling a product.

Brett Curry:

Yes.

Jacques Spitzer:

You have to do both at the same time. And I think that's the difference like that. What we talk about the time is like, it's got to be branded, performance, creative. It can't just be performance, creative because if it's not, that's where you loose. It's like, you can't convince someone to buy the type of thing you sell and then just have them buy something $5, $10 less, because they don't understand the value or the connection to the brand.

Brett Curry:

I love that branded, performance, creative and the way that works together. And what's so great is we have the privilege of getting to see kind of the D to C site, but also Amazon, so we work with some really cool brands running their YouTube and Google, but then also running their Amazon campaigns. And it's so interesting to me, the impact that YouTube or other channels, Facebook, whatever has on Amazon, we see it, right.

Jacques Spitzer:

Totally.

Brett Curry:

Our teams see it they're like our Amazon team will ask us like, Hey, did you shut something off? Because like our branding campaign is way down this week and it's because yeah, we throttle back on YouTube for whatever reason. And so, but if all you're doing is an ad that just sells a product or a concept, you don't get the same brand lift, but if it's branded, then you get that brand lift. And it's significant. We did a study with our own clients of people that spend north of just 30,000 a month on YouTube, right. Which is kind of a starting point. But we've seen like on average, like a 26% lift in branded search campaigns after the fact.

And then if you start getting into several hundred thousand a month, then that creates a huge lift in basically all your channels. But anyway, yeah, so branded, thinking branded, not just selling the product or the category. Totally makes sense. That's awesome. Cool, anything else? And we're like, we're totally geeking out here. Like I'm getting all fired up. I can keep going for probably another couple hours we're running out of time. A anything else you want to kind of highlight on your process? Because I know we simplified that quite a bit.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah. I would say the final thing I would add is that we always make things with multiple openings, multiple opening hooks, multiple openings of tests. And I think one of the big things people worry about in investing in such high level creative, is like what if it doesn't work? Like what if it just flops? And I'm very happy to say, like it's very rare that it does. And part of that is because we go into it by creating anywhere between two and five different openings to run and test for these campaigns. And they can have a very significant difference in average.

Brett Curry:

For sure.

Jacques Spitzer:

In average watch time, and sales, and row ads. I mean, I don't know the campaign that we all just worked on recently. One of the versions outperformed the other by 50%, five, zero.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, yeah.

Jacques Spitzer:

I mean it wasn't like it wasn't five.

Brett Curry:

It was for the Native sun care, right.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, yeah.

Brett Curry:

Which was crazy.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

And really that getting the right opening can just change the math of a campaign completely. And so you don't want to just have one option that's not good, right.

Jacques Spitzer:

Right.

Brett Curry:

Even the best of the best are going to get that wrong. Yeah, have two to five, love that approach.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah. That would be my final like send you away with that. But mistakes that maybe we made very, very early on that we'll never make again. And I also don't think there's a huge benefit to having like 10 or anything. I think that's almost TMI or too much information for your media buying teams.

Brett Curry:

Correct. Yeah. And from, and I know I've been speaking a lot about YouTube, that's just my frame of reference, but YouTube isn't really set up to test a ton of creatives at any one time, like three to five is ideal, really for true testing on YouTube.

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

Facebook, I know kind as an appetite for more creative from what I hear, but this has been awesome, so Jacques, as people are listening to this and they're like, all right, I got to talk to Raindrop. I want to know what to do next. Like who do you guys work with? How could someone say, am I a good fit for Raindrop or not?

Jacques Spitzer:

Totally.

Brett Curry:

Who do you guys work with? And then how can they get in touch?

Jacques Spitzer:

Yeah. Well, I'll start with the easy one. How they can get in touch, raindrop.agency is our website. I'm also very active on LinkedIn, so if you want to look me up on LinkedIn, happy to see you there. And we tend to work with brands doing over $5 million in revenue, it tends to be the right moment to fit into like.

Brett Curry:

It kind of needs some traction already to, so you guys know what to work with and what to do next.

Jacques Spitzer:

Exactly, exactly. It's either that or people that have just raised funding and either want or need to hit some sort of gas pedal on getting their product out into the world. And we've been successful in many different fashions. Laundry Sauce is a great example of like, we started with them as a startup and they're growing rapidly and doing really, really well. But that's just the general, like when people are like, Hey, come to us and they're like, I'm spending $30,000 on media a month, like I want to make ads. It's like, ah, we're not the best fit for that right now.

Brett Curry:

Right. Not enough data at this point.

Jacques Spitzer:

Exactly. And we always, I mean, it's just maybe who I am, like I'm not going to work with someone unless I think we can really be successful for them.

Brett Curry:

Yes.

Jacques Spitzer:

I treat their money like it's mine, like I'm only going to live once. I want to do my best work for the right people. And so it doesn't come from a place other than we want to be successful. And so we try to work with people that are ready.

Brett Curry:

Love it. Check him out on LinkedIn, Jacques Spitzer, and then also raindrop.agency. Brother's been awesome.

Jacques Spitzer:

Thank you bro.

Brett Curry:

I'm ready for round two. We got to schedule it sometime in the not too distant future, but thanks for being gracious with your time and thanks for delivering the thunder man. This was good.

Jacques Spitzer:

All right. Thanks for being my lightning.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. As always, thank you for tuning in, let us know what you'd like to hear more of on the podcast. Leave us that five star review if you've not done so already. And with that until next time. Thank you for listening.













Episode 202
:
Natasha Willis

The $30 Million Instagram DM Funnel with Natasha Willis

What if you could cut your lead costs in half? What if you could shorten your sales cycle from several weeks to just a few hours? What if you could leverage organic and paid traffic for better connections, delightful customer interactions, and more sales?

That is what Chatbots can create for you.

I heard Natasha Willis speak at Blue Ribbon Miami a few months ago, and I loved her presentation so much that I invited her to be on the show!

In this episode, we unpack her $30 million Instagram DM funnel.

Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • How to use IG DMs to run quiz funnels.
  • How to combine bots and human creativity for outstanding results.
  • How Natasha helped cut lead costs in half for companies like Foundr.
  • Top mistakes people make with Chat marketing.
  • Misconceptions about Chat marketing.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Natasha Willis

   - LinkedIn


School of Bots

School of Bots on Instagram

Smart Marketer




Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today, we're doing something new. We're doing something we've never done on this show before. We're sliding into your DMs, if I said that correctly. But we're actually looking at Instagram direct messages. And not just that, but we're going to unpack a $30 million Instagram direct message funnel or DM funnel here. Everybody just says DM, not direct message. But, can't wait to dive into this topic. And, my guest today is someone that I met through our mutual friend, Ezra Firestone. We both spoke at a recent blue ribbon event. I heard Natasha speak and I thought, got to get her on the the podcast. We got to go through that talk on air. And so here we are today. But my guest today is Natasha Willis. She's the co-founder of School of Bots and she's wicked smart and super fun and very talented. And so with that, Natasha, welcome to the show. How you doing and thanks for coming on.

Natasha Willis:

Thank you so much, Brett. I'm so excited to be here, that we connected at blue ribbon recently, and we're going to get into a lot of amazing stuff that everyone will be able to take some tangible advice from and implement literally as soon as today, if they want to test it out. So, excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Brett:

Absolutely. And you're hailing from what has kind of become now the digital marketing city. I used to never go to Miami.

Natasha Willis:

The new Silicon Valley.

Brett:

It is, yeah. Now, I've been to Miami three or four times this year. I was actually just there last week. I forgot that you lived there. We could have chatted or hung out.

Natasha Willis:

Next time.

Brett:

Yeah, you're in Miami. And it's just a happening spot for digital marketing and all things tech it seems.

Natasha Willis:

Yeah, it's been really interesting.

Brett:

Do we know where that is, by the way?

Natasha Willis:

It seems like, well, A, a lot of people are wanting to move out of California and New York.

Brett:

No taxes in Florida baby. No state taxes.

Natasha Willis:

And so, Austin, Nashville and Miami are the three spots that seem to be receiving those floodgate of people. So, I've definitely noticed that. And everyone I've talked to in tech here, more from the VC and startup world, is saying that, everything here feels exactly like Silicon Valley did in the 90s, which is interesting. So, I'm like, "Okay."

Brett:

It's super interesting and super fun. And there's a tech energy that is going around.

Natasha Willis:

Yeah. So, it definitely feels like the beginning of something's brewing here.

Brett:

Yeah. Kind of fun. So, we're going to dive in, we're going to get tactical. We're going to get practical. We're going to get strategic as well. But before we do, can you explain to the listeners, what is School of Bots? Fabulous name by the way. Love the name of your company. And then, give us the overview of Instagram DM marketing and what that is. But first, what is School of Bots?

Natasha Willis:

Absolutely. So, School of Bots... At School of Bots, our mission is to help marketers and businesses evolve with chat marketing. And we'll get into what that means. But long story short, chat marketing is just using messaging apps, which are the new evolution of communication between not only people to people, but therefore also businesses to people. So over the last five years, we've served over 150 clients as an agency and made over $30 million in revenue for our clients. Such as, ClickFunnels, DigitalMarketer, Founder, Mindvalley, just to name a few of them. So, these are industry leading brands that we work...

Brett:

That's a good who's who list right there. That's impressive.

Natasha Willis:

It is.

Brett:

I like it.

Natasha Willis:

It was really interesting because, these brands had never tried this. And so, we were able to come in and really create some phenomenal results and we'll dive into what people can expect with this. But over the years, that led us to sending over 20 million messages on messaging apps and gathering a ton of data, seeing what really was working. And a lot of agencies would come to us in businesses saying, "Hey, we want to do this in house. How do we make this happen?" So, that led to the creation of School of Bots, which now we've brought our agency under the name as well to keep it under one brand. And, we also have a done with you option now. So, we've trained over 14,000 marketing professionals, how to use messaging apps like Facebook messenger, Instagram DM and WhatsApp to grow revenue most importantly, but also to provide these delightful experiences that you really can't get with any other communication method. So, that's been the journey.

Brett:

That's awesome. Yeah. I love it. And I think, that's what's really at the core of this, is creating these delightful experiences that really can't be had in other platforms, that just assist in your marketing efforts and in your growth. And so, this is definitely outside of my realm. I'm a Google and YouTube and Amazon guy and of course Dabble and email and other things. But, Instagram DMS are new to me, but I love it. And I love how this fits into the overall marketing strategy. So, kind of give the overarching explanation to people. What is chat marketing, and specifically Instagram DM marketing?

Natasha Willis:

The best way to think about chat marketing and to be more specific, so people can visualize it. When you are on Instagram DM and you reach out to a business, because you want to know more about a product or you want to sign up for something, maybe they're LinkedIn bio didn't work, or literally anything that you want to chat with them about. Typically what happens is, now the business has to come in and manually respond to that. And then further than that, most companies don't have sales teams, especially eCommerce brands. They rely on these automated funnels now, or Ad traffic straight to their website and hoping people buy without someone guiding the actual buying conversation. And so what DM automation and chat marketing allows you to do is, create these automated one to one experiences, that can do literally anything you want them to. It's just about understanding the framework that it's a back and forth conversation.

You can follow up, you can capture information like emails and phone numbers. There's so much you can do, which we'll unpack here during our time together. But the long story short of it is that, doing this allows you to not only recover oftentimes what we find 50% of lost sales in just from Instagram, but also from other channels, because people aren't buying as quickly as they could be, if you were guiding that experience. And we also boost ...dramatically, sometimes up to 800%, just from organic content that brands are already putting out there. And these conversations are automated. So that means that, we're able to automate 80% of all over the DMs that they're having from pay traffic, organic traffic.

Brett:

So, they're automating what percent of DMs?

Natasha Willis:

80% of those conversations.

Brett:

80%?

Natasha Willis:

Yes.

Brett:

Wow.

Natasha Willis:

So, that's a big relief for teams that get a lot of incoming. But then as you implement this, you will be increasing the number of conversations you have. So the great thing is that, this will scale with you to where you don't have to worry about, "Oh no, all of a sudden I'm going to become a glorified sales person and have to be in there 24x7. Instead, you know that, that's all going to be handled by the bot that will get smarter and smarter over time.

Brett:

I've now transitioned from being CEO of my brand to just chatting with people on DMs. This is exactly what I wanted to do. So, the bots take care of that. So give me an example of, what could some of these conversations look like? What are the specific questions being asked? What do the dialogues look like? So, kind of paint that picture a little bit.

Natasha Willis:

Yes. So let me share an example that, a common, your typical eCom store might do a product launch each month. So let's say that, you sell a consumable collagen protein supplement. And so each month, you release a new flavor. So this month, what you would typically do is that, when you guys have your launch during, let's say a one week period, you're going to be posting on your Instagram stories and add a link on the story. You're going to say, "Hey, click this link. We just drop this new product. And in fact, we'll even give you 10% off, because it's a brand new product just for this week." And you're expecting people to look at this story and then click the link and go and buy immediately, which almost never happens. Then, you've got the link in your bio, which you're going to put the link maybe to that product page and even change your bio, say, "Hey, check out the link. We are having this product launch."

And then, you'll also maybe put out posts and reels as well, and even run Ads to the product launch, because you want people to go to the website and check it out. Now, the challenge with all of that is, you're sending people from, let's start with the organic side. You're expecting people to stop everything they're doing and dive straight into the buying opportunity. And sure, maybe your most loyal people will, because they're excited about it. But the majority of people, which we find is one to 5% of the people who actually saw your post, are going to go to that link in bio or go to that link in your story. And then from there, even a smaller percentage is even going to give you their information to follow up from there. And, you don't have a sales team, like stereotypical eCom store.

And so, there's no one who's actually going to follow up with maybe 100s, maybe 1000s of leads that have come in and are interested in that, but just didn't take the final step. Because maybe, if they didn't have their card information or they're like, "I'll check it out later. I won't forget before the product launch ends", et cetera. Now, we flip that on its head. And instead, now what happens is that, when you have the product launch happen in your stories and your posts and your reels, let's start with your stories, you have people reply to it. Which by the way, is the most natural action that someone can take from your Instagram stories, is to reply. Because it says at the bottom, send a message. Reply to this.

Brett:

Because that's what people do. You're watching a story of a friend and they're on vacation. You're like, "Oh, that looks like fire. That looks amazing. I wish I was with you", or whatever. That's what people do with stories.

Natasha Willis:

Exactly. It's supposed to be that interaction. And that starts a conversation, regardless of how short or long it might be. A quick reaction or a, "Oh, that's dope. I want to go there too." Now you start back and forth. So in the same way for the business, what we do with stories is that, we want people to just interact a little bit. Maybe sometimes that is a direct, "Hey, if you want this discount code, then drop the word collagen", or something maybe a little more simple, "And we'll send you an automated message." And then from there, they'll receive an automated message from you that says, "Hey, looks like you're interested in the new product we just dropped, the flavor's chocolate, tastes amazing. Just reply to this. Let me know if you want it and I'll send over some information." That's the level one. The simplest version of this. Now, just to blow people's minds a little bit without melting their brains too much is that, you want to be able to take that...

Brett:

A little bit of brain melting is good. Too much brain melting, we have to watch people are driving right now. But, I like some melting of brains. It's good.

Natasha Willis:

But we won't make it too dangerous y'all. But the idea here is that, you can start to get more advanced with it. So now, let's say somebody received that message and didn't reply after 10 minutes. Okay. Now we're going to shoot them a little follow up. Be like, "Hey, are you still interested in this?" And now from there, we can also even go further and say, "Hey, seems like you're interested in our products, but you want to make sure that this is the best product for you right now? And not maybe something else like our matcha flavor or whatever the heck we have? Then let me ask you a few questions and see what would be the best for you because, maybe your priority is stronger nails and skin", or maybe it's whatever their benefit or their goal, their desire is. You can really hammer that in and sell personalized to them. So, those are just a few examples of the things you can do. Answer FAQs, et cetera. Really decrease the amount of time someone needs to make their buying decision.

Because that's all you're doing, is just guiding their buying decision and then being able to interact with them as well in fun and delightful ways too, which we can dive into some examples for. Is all that making sense so far? I know we don't have a visual, but...

Brett:

Totally making sense. Yeah. I do have a few questions about, what are the limitations of the bot and when does the conversation maybe get too advanced for the bot to handle? When maybe human has to step in? Or I don't know. I know there's lots more to unpack maybe ahead of that, but anything you want to reference related to that initially? Do some of these conversations quickly lead into territory or questions that the bot's not equipped to answer?

Natasha Willis:

Definitely. So, that was the 20% of conversations that I kind of implied to earlier. Which means that, the bot will be able to handle about 80%. Once you're optimizing. When you first launch, you shouldn't expect it to answer everything. You should be checking the DM conversations, making sure everything's firing properly. And for us, because we approach these DM systems, really, it's not just about one funnel, but we want to have FAQ built in, which is the support pillar. Then we have the marketing pillar, just like ... And then we have the sales pillar. So, these three are really important to us at the level that we operate when we come in. But if you're just going to start your first thing, then you should expect that the bot's not going to answer every single question that comes in. But once you optimize about 20% of those conversations now, we'll go to support people or whoever's answering the DMs.

Brett:

Got it. And so, to impact those pillars just a little bit, and then I want to get into some of the stuff you talked about in Miami. So you got the support pillar, marketing pillar, sales pillar. Is that right? Those are three pillars you are talking about?

Natasha Willis:

Correct. Yes.

Brett:

So, it's on the support side. That's where someone's looking for like, "Where's my order? When will it ship?" That type of thing?

Natasha Willis:

Yes, but also bridging the gap between them being generated as a lead, so the marketing and the sales. Because, really the correct order and I should have kind of preface with this, but through it out there, just to start that conversation is that, we have the marketing pillar, then the support pillar, then sales. And sometimes support after that too. Like you just said, "Where's my order?" But most of the time, the support questions that you get in the DMs, have to do with someone buying. So they're like, "Hey, is this the right thing for me?" Or, "Hey, the checkout page isn't working", or whatever it might be.

Brett:

It's fitment, it's use cases. It's feature benefit. Will this work for me, type of thing.

Natasha Willis:

Exactly.

Brett:

Got it. Okay.

Natasha Willis:

And, what was your first question? I think I'm forgetting that one. Or maybe we already...

Brett:

Oh, the first question was, when do conversations evolve into where the bot can handle it, which you answered that perfectly. And then looking at those pillars then I guess, what should we be thinking about with those pillars? So, you got the marketing pillar first, support, then sales. Can you walk through what those look like? And I know, it's always harder with a podcast, because we've got to explain everything and you got to just paint a mental picture. So, we may have to dial it down a little bit or whatever. But, what do each of those pillars kind of look like?

Natasha Willis:

Yeah, totally. So going back to my example, when somebody opts in, so AKA, they send you a reply to your story or some of the other examples we didn't get into, but are really powerful would be, from an Ad, someone coming straight into your DMs, instead of going to your website. And also, when someone comments on an Instagram post or an Instagram reel...

Brett:

So you'd run an Instagram Ad for the new protein launch, the new chocolate launch, which by the way, if you're just now launching chocolate, if chocolate wasn't your first flavor, maybe we didn't think about your product strategy. But anyway. So, you're running an Ad on Instagram for the new chocolate flavor. And when they click on that Ad, they go to the DMs. Is that what you're saying on that?

Natasha Willis:

Correct. Yes. So, they would totally bypass or just at least skip initially going to your website, because you end up losing most of the traffic there. Whereas, when you take that into the DMs, you've now captured them on your DM list and now you can follow up with them. So, we can dive into that fun stuff. But that's the first pillar, just generating that person as a lead, as a DM subscriber. Then the second pillar of support, that's going to come where, during the lead gen process, they're obviously opting in for something, whether it's a free offer or it's something more direct like, "Hey, we just launched this new product come by this." So whatever that offer is, someone's going to have some questions. Like we talked about earlier, "Features and benefits, is this right for me?" Just all the different FAQs they might have.

And so, that's going to be the second pillar is the bot being able to walk someone through that, either through something like a quiz format, which we can go into some specific strategies on how we do this. So that, then by the end of a quiz, the way it's positioned, they're like, "Cool. I understand how this works. I'm educated on the product. I'm educated on why I need to buy this. I'm going to go buy it immediately." And then also, being able to answer user inputted questions like, "Hey, do you guys ship to Canada?" Or whatever. So, that's going to be the second pillar. And the third will finally be the purchase. Now, right now with the way that Instagram shop works, there are ways to start to integrate actually buying inside of the DMs. But, it's still a fairly new feature and not everybody can access all the features right now.

So the safest thing to do is, send people still to your eCommerce site or to Amazon, wherever you sell. And then just following up with people, like you would with an email cart abandonment sequence, but never assuming anything, unless you have that data flowing in, there is a way to do that. But, just being able to be like, "Hey, what'd you think about it? Did you already buy it? Awesome. Here's a bonus or here's an instruction manual", or whatever your product is. So, that's kind of how the three pillars will play out in this example. And then, a lot more can happen underneath them. But, that should be the approach that I recommend any eCommerce brand go into this thinking of is, that's the experience that you're trying to design, to make the most ...

Brett:

Love it. And, I do want to look at maybe some specific examples of how you run the quiz and maybe where that fits. I know it fits in the support pillar, but what does that look like and stuff. I think what would be kind of fun to do though is, "Hey, we're all entrepreneurs. We want you to show us the money a little bit. Why should I do this? So, let's pause for just a beat before we get back to the tactics." What kind of lift could we or should we be expecting? And maybe you can throw out a case study or something like that of, "Hey, when we run this type of Ad and get chat bots involved, what kind of lift can we see? What kind of results can we expect?"

Natasha Willis:

Yes. So in terms of Ads, and then we can talk about organic, because there's a huge unlock for organic, regardless of how many followers you have. If you literally have five people looking at your stories, let's say 30, then you can at least be capturing some of them as sales, for sure. Because, most people are just lurkers, but this turns those lurkers into buyers.

Brett:

Nice. Turning lurkers into buyers. I like that.

Natasha Willis:

In terms of Ads and what can happen here. Typically, we're able to half a lead cost. So, I'll give you a webinar example, just because usually lead costs, they're always rising. But especially for webinars, they've been fairly expensive. So, there's a lead cost for one of our clients at $25, that we're able to bring down to $5. And that's quite a decrease. But the idea there is, at least with the first campaign that we run for both eCommerce and info commerce, we're able to at least drop by 50%. The reason why is that, you're not only converting where people on the front end. So for example, going with the webinar, we also increase the number of people that register in the DMs, versus on a landing page. For one of our clients founder, they run webinars for millions of watchers every single year. And, one of their highest converting pages gets a 23% conversion rate.

Now in the DMs, we're able to get a 70% conversion rate on that. Because of the environment, but then also because we're able to follow up with people after they've initially opted in and maybe they didn't complete their sign up or they had a question before they sign up. So, you're not only getting that lift. So it's kind of like a double whammy there. But then, on top of that, let's say someone's like, "You know what? I'm a busy entrepreneur. I don't have time to watch this 60 minute webinar." So in one of our follow ups we might be like, "Hey, you busy?" And you just want to get a quick PDF report or be able to share something with them that's less commitment, if it's going to be a free thing. That'll take less time from them. Or, if you're selling a product directly, then something that's a little bit less expensive or again, less of a commitment, less of a thoughtful investment.

So, that will now become where your bot turns into this online sales person that's there 24x7 and can now pivot the conversation. And so, that allows us to make just a lot more sales, because we end up converting a much higher percentage of everyone who came into the funnel, instead of just of shoving one offer down someone's throat when they go to a landing page. And then in the email sequence and in the retargeting Ads, just not personalized to that person's needs.

Brett:

Awesome. So basically, you are building and we even said so in the title, you're building... This is a $30 million Instagram DM funnel, but you're building a funnel of, "Hey, you connected us with us through DM. You either complete a quiz or you don't, either show up to the webinar, you don't, or you download this, you don't", or whatever. And now you've got responses and follow ups to each of those actions, all built in through the chat bot through Instagram DMs.

Natasha Willis:

Yeah. Right on. And, one keyword that you mentioned there is, kind of getting feedback or just a response. One of the most valuable things is, apart from all the revenue growth that you're going to see and the lead gen growth, being able to gather feedback on why someone didn't want to buy, or why didn't they like your free webinar offer? Or anything else that you offer them, we can easily capture that before we let them go and say, "Cool, have a great day." But then, we can present that to a client on a silver platter or in a Google sheet and say, "Hey, here's all the reasons why maybe people aren't opting in or want this", and then they can improve their marketing message as well.

Brett:

That is brilliant. The feedback alone is valuable. And then when you're talking about-

Natasha Willis:

So tough to ...

Brett:

... cutting lead calls in half or 70% conversion rate on leads, it's crazy. Yeah.

Natasha Willis:

Yeah. It is. It's definitely a magic bullet in some regards, because it's just so easy to turn on and be able to see results pretty instantly. So yeah, I feel like we've shared a good amount of examples so far in terms of how you can do that. But, there's definitely just some simple unlocks that people can do, even if you just do one auto responder. You will get way more clicks to your product page, than if you were to use the link in bio or the link click story.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. And I think I may have cut you off. Were you about to share something about feedback and getting this feedback loop you're getting from clients? And I may have just misheard there.

Natasha Willis:

No, you're totally good. I think actually we covered everything I wanted to there. So, all good.

Brett:

Okay, cool. So, let's dive into several more specific questions. But on the quizzes, what do those often look like and how are you deploying those? How are you using those?

Natasha Willis:

Yeah. So as you know, quiz funnels have exploded, especially for digital product businesses I've noticed, but also eCom, I feel like I've seen 50-50, where everyone's trying to use a quiz. The problem with digital or digital website quizzes is that, you don't capture someone's information until either the end or if you do it at the beginning, then you lose a bit of the opt-ins that you could have gotten. So, what we have found is, inside of the DMs, what we can do is, instead of sending them to a website page, we can send people into a quiz, which in terms of the framing of the quiz, that's the most important thing. Because, no one really cares unless they're really hot, warm traffic about what product they should buy from you. They just want to know what solution they should get or they want to learn something that they don't know.

So, let's say that you are a beauty company that uses the marketing angle, that you guys are all organic and vegan and totally eco-friendly, sustainable, et cetera. So, those are the angles you guys go off of. So then perhaps, you create a knowledge quiz where you're like, did you know that 90% of beauty products contain toxic chemicals that mess up your hormones. Or, then you go into being able to teach people about that, and then you're leading them to your products or explaining what ingredients are important in these new products that science has found are better for you. And then at the end, you're able to sell your product. And the thing with quizzes too is, you don't need to have more than one product to do a quiz. You could do a knowledge quiz like that. And then at the end be like, "Hey, so we have this subscription. We have one magical serum that we send to our customers every single month. So you can sign up for a trial of that, test it out. And then if you like it, then you subscribe."

So, it really works for any kind of business model, because again, it's not about recommending a product as much as it is just framing the product, being the right solution for the user's desired outcome.

Brett:

Yeah. It's super interesting. I think they're natural use cases where a quiz makes a ton of sense. We used to work with an online company that sold at home hair coloring. And so the quiz was, find the perfect tent. So what tent do you want for hair? Are you covering gray? Are you not covering gray? Is this your base color or not your base color? So this whole quiz, but that makes sense. I've got a million different... Maybe not a million, but different color options. I need help in guiding that. I've definitely seen some quizzes where I'm like, "Why did you just ask me a quiz? You had one product to offer me the whole time." But you can't to your point, you can't do that, but then you've got to get creative. And then it's more like a knowledge quiz, not just about one product.

Natasha Willis:

Exactly. Right on. And one example I'll give of that is, because DMs, like the way that everything works and there is super easy, where you can save every single thing someone says to you in a field to get a little bit tactical at the end, you could take all the responses that they gave you or any of the relevant ones. And you could say, "Hey, since you are a female that's age 25 to 30, and you're looking to decrease wrinkles or whatever", maybe that's not the best example for them, "But prevent wrinkles. Then I believe that this product would be the best one for you", et cetera, et cetera. So, that even if you do only have one product at the end, at least you have framed it in such a personalized way that they're like, "Okay. This completely makes sense." I'm not even doubting the fact that they try to scheme me and think that they only have one product and try to make me recommend a product for me, et cetera.

Brett:

So, still personalizing it at the end of the day, which is interesting and which can feel good for sure. Cool. Okay. Awesome. So, kind of going high level for a minute. I know one of the things you talked about in your presentation in Miami was that, one of the driving forces here is that, people expect convenient experiences. That's what we want. We expect convenience, whether we're shopping in store or online or hybrid or whatever. So, how does that desire for convenient experiences that all consumers have? How does that tie into Instagram DMs? Which happens.

Natasha Willis:

Yeah. Well the interesting thing is that, now more and more, there's two aspects to this. Firstly, when it comes to communication, people don't want to email anymore. They don't want to have to call businesses. They want to just... On the social media platforms that they're spending most of their days on, they want to be able to go on and just ask businesses questions there. Because they're just so used to hanging out on there and they're familiar with the platform, et cetera. That's where they talk to all their friends.

Brett:

One interesting quick story that I think you'll find fascinating, Natasha, just really quickly is, I was at an event recently, speaking at an event and I got to meet the CMO of Circuit City. Now I don't know about you, Natasha. I didn't realize that Circuit City still existed. I thought they were completely gone. It turns out, Circuit City still exists online, and wait for it. I hear stores are coming back. They're planning on doing that. What the CMO said and this was interesting is, they're actually leaning into phone support. They want to be available to answer your questions. Because for some people, buying a laptop for a college student or upgrading your router at home or whatever's complex. And so, they want to call somebody and talk to somebody. And someone as this guy was talking, someone the crowd was like, "What about millennials and younger? They don't make phone calls."

He was like, you're right. It's all chat based. But the point of the story was, "Hey, this could be a differentiator, where of course Amazon's faster shipping and faster everything and cheaper potentially, but can you get someone to actually help you?" That's pretty difficult. So, leaning into this as a differentiator of either personalized support and I know bots are going to be powering a lot of this, but still getting support either through chat or in the case of Circuit City phone calls for that older crowd, can be a real differentiator. And, I know your whole point is it closes more sales. But yeah, I think it makes a lot of sense. We can't out convenience, Amazon or out deliver faster than Amazon, but we can be more helpful with our conversations and our support than Amazon.

Natasha Willis:

Yeah. Completely. And it's an interesting point you make because, without going too deep into it, being able to free up your support team to answer the most intimate or the hottest leads or the most critical, terrible situations that have unfortunately occurred and you're on the brink of losing customers or they want to sue you or who knows. Craziness is ensuing.

Brett:

You haven't have any ... that they are going to refuse.

Natasha Willis:

You can actually jump on those, instead of being like, "Crap." Yeah. I've got to answer these 20 incoming messages. Instead you're like, "Cool. I can give my time and dedicate to this one and really make sure that it does well. I know the bot's handling those other 19."

Brett:

Yeah, love that. That's beautiful point.

Natasha Willis:

I really like that story. To just go back to your question and kind of close the loop there. So the two things, convenience, people want to talk where they're already spending all their time. Just the same way that apps honestly have become fairly obsolete over the years, that making sense as a channel for businesses to create what they could do inside of a bot. In my opinion, most apps are dead, because they can be doing the same thing inside of the DMs inside of messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, there's functionality for that now. So, it's only a matter of time until people know about it. But unfortunately, sometimes people still invest in doing an app and then everyone does it.

Brett:

And that's what consumers want. We'd rather live inside of our Instagram DMs, than we would in having a separate app for a 100 different retailers that we do business with. If you look at the way things are going down in China, everything is done in WhatsApp as an example. So, that's what consumers prefer.

Natasha Willis:

Or WeChat.

Brett:

Yeah. I don't know what I just said, but yeah, WeChat. Yeah.

Natasha Willis:

They sound similar and they're very similar logo. But, in regards to the other piece I wanted to mention, which might be interesting to you and I'd be curious to hear your thoughts is, a lot of people now don't even go to Google or other search engines as much as they do now, well the younger crowds to TikTok, to Instagram, to YouTube, they jump on there and they look up. Even my husband. We're in our 20s, but he used to look at blog articles on maybe how to grill a steak or whatever it's going to be. And now he's like, "I'd rather just go to TikTok, because I can learn in 15 seconds and I can see the visual, it just solves my need immediately. And the search engines really good on there." So, that's another interesting aspect too is like, 81% of people on Instagram use it to search for products and services, which is why Instagram's going so heavy with the commerce side.

But it's also that, that's keeping people there for so long and then they want to be able to message the businesses that they find products for to know, "Hey, I just found you. Is this for me?"

Brett:

Yeah. It's a really interesting concept. One, I'm super excited that there's an integration with Instagram shops. And I'm assuming, is that a direct integration with Shopify or is it going to be with other eCommerce platforms or do you know?

Natasha Willis:

Yeah. So, they'll probably open up for more over time. I don't know entirely if it does the full integration with Shopify right now, because it's still fairly early. But, the way that it worked for Messenger, which is how they're going to replicate it for this is that, it will be full integration with Shopify, with any of your other platforms. So that way, it can handle tracking and all of that information.

Brett:

Yeah. Super interesting. So in terms of how people's search behavior is changing, I don't know what percentages go to TikTok versus YouTube versus Google or how things are overall being impacted. I know as you look at overall Google search volume, the number of queries being submitted to Google, whether that's through typing it out or voice text or whatever, the number of queries continue to increase every year. So, people are using Google more and more for sure. But, I know just observing my kids and I've got a pretty good... I guess it's a limited case study in that. It's all in the same household, but I do have eight children, which is a lot. And as I observe my teens, who all have smartphones, they're definitely searching a lot on YouTube. So anytime they want to learn something, they are on YouTube. But in terms of the apps, they spend time with, it's for sure, Instagram number one, TikTok for those that we allow to have TikTok, Pinterest as well.

But I could totally see that, I could totally see them searching for, I want to know about this product and I'm just going to look on TikTok or look on Instagram, instead of going to Google. And so, it's a really fascinating thing, but also important to realize that, I think the younger generation and even myself, when I'm in my 40s, I go to YouTube if there's something that I know I need to see. I had to recently fix my gas cooktop, which if anybody's a long time listener, I'm not handy. I break things. I hire people to do almost everything. I couldn't find someone to fix my stove top. So, I watched a YouTube video and I fixed it two nights ago. The house was not burned down and is not blown up and we used it. So anyway, kudos to YouTube. But yeah, I think the younger generation totally leaning into those visual video experiences to find what they're looking for.

Natasha Willis:

Yeah. A 100% and right on par with what we're seeing. So all that behavior, ultimately leading to just the increase in people wanting to chat on these platforms, because it's convenient.

Brett:

Yeah. Very cool. So, you said something during your talk that really just spoke to my marketer's soul. Like chicken soup for my marketer soul. Where you said that, companies that are really succeeding, whether it's Chapa, marketing, whatever, they've got a good mix of AI, plus creative humans. Plus creative humanity. And, that's where you really see things flourish. And we talk about that all the time. We can't just be dependent on the algorithm, because we know that things like iOS 14 and other shifts can really throw the algorithm off and you don't want to be an algorithm cripple anyway. But, how do we lean in and both leverage technology, but also apply our creativity to get really great results.

Natasha Willis:

Yes. And, this is such an important topic because, I think too often, and even at the highest levels. I've been in rooms and maybe this happened to you too, because you guys have a similar philosophy where you're talking to a very established, impressive business owner. And they're like, "But, I really just want my customers to have a human person to talk to at all times. And we're super against bots or automation or automating the experience." And so I think that, ultimately as you've already restated, being able to have a combination of it is not only much less stressful, but a lot more profitable and just better for both sides. Because I think, too often as happens with anything. And in fact, when I was doing an interview with Seth Godin a couple months ago, one of the most important things...

Brett:

Wait. You did an interview with Seth Godin?

Natasha Willis:

I did. I interviewed him...

Brett:

How did you do that?

Natasha Willis:

I interviewed him for Ad World Conference.

Brett:

Dang. That's awesome. Congrats. I love Seth Godin. Legend. He's like a godfather of marketing. Yeah, it's amazing.

Natasha Willis:

Indeed so. And one of the interesting things he brought up, which I think about, but I try not to think about that often is that, with each new platform, as in fact, we've actually seen with NFTs or any new tech is that, the spammers jump on it right away.

Brett:

Totally.

Natasha Willis:

And especially more recently, there have been so many fake Instagram accounts that have popped up, so many more unsolicited DMs coming into your message request saying, "Hey, do you want to buy this crypto from me or sign up for this NFT project", or just all kinds of crap. And so, I think that a lot of that behavior deters business owners to be like, "Oh, that's why we've got to do everything manual. And everything has to be QAed by a human", et cetera. And at the end of the day, that's just not how the largest companies are going to win. And it's also not the most authentic, because now you're leaving people hanging on the phone for hours. Anybody been on the phone with their Bank of America for three hours or instead being able...

Brett:

Yeah. That's a good way to ruin someone's day.

Natasha Willis:

Completely. And so, that's I think the point of that whole little point that I try to make there is that, it's important to consider both and just keep your mind open. Not be afraid of the technology and also not be afraid of what can happen with it, because it really can provide just such an amazing business unlock for people.

Brett:

When you automate the easy stuff and someone can now type in and figure out where their order is or what the status is or the answer to this easy question and they get it in a matter of a few seconds and you didn't have to lift the finger for that. That's way, way, way better for both parties, for sure.

Natasha Willis:

Yeah. And your employees will appreciate it. They will be like, "Thank God I don't have to copy and paste this for the next 300th time."

Brett:

Yeah. And, we all know what it's like. It's hard to find good help. And it's hard to find help, especially at potentially the lower level entry level type support positions. And so, chat bots can assist there for sure. Cool. So, another point you made, which I absolutely love is, you said conversations are at the core of every buying decision. So, you can either be a part of that conversation or those conversations can be happening without you, or maybe it's even just with the buyer conversing with themselves. Just trying to figure it out in their head. So, unpack that a little bit and how do we interject ourselves into those conversations?

Natasha Willis:

Yes. And a tangible example to help people understand why this matters, especially to your bottom line is that, we have had agencies come in one specific example where the first DM funnel they implemented for a client, took that client's sales cycle from two weeks to five hours. And, I love that example.

Brett:

That's pretty good.

Natasha Willis:

It is. It's awesome. Their sales reps are like, "Dude, this is amazing." And not only that, but again, your employees will appreciate you. When you can actually be able to qualify people for them, help them, increase the quality of their conversations and not even just salespeople, but support people, et cetera. And so, being able to filter out your traffic and also guide those conversations, especially for, let's have the example of a product launch. And what I see very often is that, people will ramp up for this product launch regardless of what you're selling.

And then let's say, 10% or 20% buy. And then they ignore the remaining percentage that didn't buy. Don't really follow up with them. Don't do much with them. Well, the same thing happens with evergreen, where there's a big percentage of people who get ignored, because either they weren't quite ready for your product, but they will be soon or they just didn't get the questions answered that they needed or takes too long to hear from you. So, all those things combined. Being able to speed up the buyer's decision, that's serving them the best. Instead of saying, "Hey, we're going to force you to talk to a human. And that means you may have to wait two weeks to hear back from us." Instead, you're actually serving them right there and then, and that makes people a lot happier and a lot more likely to engage with you in the future, buy from you again. And even what we've seen more likely to give you a positive review or give you feedback and all the other things that are kind of hard for companies to get.

Brett:

Yeah. And when someone has raised their hand, when they've indicated, "Hey, I'm at least somewhat interested here", You got to strike while the hiring's hot. And if you can get those answers and get that conversation really going when someone's interested, it's so much better than saying, "No, no, no, no. I know you're interested now, but you get on my timetable." And that means, "Yeah, I'll talk to you in a couple weeks." My head is even turning now for my agency and how can we maybe implement some of this for us, which...

Natasha Willis:

Getting back to leads instantly, instead of a couple days where they have already moved on maybe.

Brett:

Starting to get some of those details right away and some of those things. Yeah. Super interesting. Okay, cool. So as people look at this, and I know people are listening and hopefully chopping at the bit and ready to implement this in their business or find out how to work with you. What are some of the top mistakes that companies make when implementing chat marketing, that we should be aware of so that we can avoid?

Natasha Willis:

The biggest mistakes I see, which I think just comes from a lack of understanding. And hopefully, everyone here understands that it can be so much more of a fruitful conversation for both the business and the user, when you take it a few steps further than just one autoresponder. That's the biggest mistake I see is that, people think, "Oh cool. We're sending people to the DMs. So, I'm going to treat this just like email, where as soon as someone DMs me, I'll just send them a message back with a link. To the product page or to my help desk or whatever it's going to be." Or they say, "Hey, email us because we can't help you here." Which is the worst one. Because you're like, "Really? I just spent time typing on my whole message to you and I've got to go and email you guys." And then I'm just like, "All right. Screw it. I'm not going to do it." Whatever. So, that's definitely the biggest issue I see is just people not using the technology to its fullest capabilities. Even if it's just to take it a few steps further, keeping stuff native.

So, trying to keep stuff in the chat as much as possible instead of just being lazy and saying, "Okay, now go to my landing page." Instead of qualifying them, maybe even getting their email and then saying, "Hey, the offer is right for you. Go and check it out." Other mistakes that people make, come down to what I actually see quite often, it's the CTAs and their content or their Ads, not being super clear to say, "Hey, just DM me." Because once you get this information or once you get your first funnel in place, you don't really need to send people to your website pages, because your bot's going to do that for you.

That's not to say you should remove the link in your bio. But for example, all of your stories or all of your post CTAs, the worst ones when people put a not clickable link in their Instagram post and you're like, "I can't even click on this." So, being able to comment there or reply and then giving them those links only in the DMs, at first you're like, "Well, what if someone doesn't go through?" But I'll tell you, we see that 200 to 800% increase in leads. Simply because they were able to get it in a place that's more convenient for them. So, those are just a few of them. I could go on, but...

Brett:

Yeah. That's perfect. If they get the link in the DM after they've already requested it, what's the click through right there? It's got to be off the charts versus the link being readily accessible and viewable, the click through rate's going to be normal. It's going to be half a percent or 1% or whatever it is. So yeah, that makes a ton of sense for sure. Cool. What are some of the other things we need to be aware of? As we're looking at chat based marketing? Anything else we need to be aware of? Any kind of quick hit pointers or tips?

Natasha Willis:

Yeah. I think one thing that's a little more strategic, but just to think about, is that the way we implement chat marketing now on the different channels. Especially if you're running Facebook ads on both Facebook and Instagram or you're considering WhatsApp, because you've got an international audience or your customer base uses it is that, we like to use Instagram now in the first 90 days of implementing chat marketing. And then we'll add a messenger right after that. Usually takes about a month to two months to get a ton of funnels up and running there. And then we'll add in WhatsApp after that. SMS usually makes it at the beginning, along with Instagram. And the reason we do it that way is because, Instagram has the biggest unlock with your free or organic traffic. As long as you're posting a couple times a week on there, immediately, you could double to triple your legion from your organic Instagram, just by changing your call to actions, to comment on a post or a reel or to reply to your stories instead of that.

And then from there being able to use messenger with Ads primarily at this point in time, is really powerful too. So you can capture the people who are on Facebook as well. That's one big thing just in terms of how people are looking at implementing this.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. I love it. Natasha, this has been fantastic. We're essentially out of time, which is unfortunate, because we could keep going here. I've got more questions. This is a whole new world for me. And so, I'm excited to learn more, but as people are listen, and they're like, "Man, I need to just talk to Natasha either to learn from you more or to potentially hire your company. It's School of Bots, but how can people connect with you and then just walk us through what are the levels of service and or education that you provide people?

Natasha Willis:

Absolutely. So the easiest way to see a demo, if you guys want to see the visuals of everything we've talked about so far, is if you go to Instagram and look up School of Bots, you can just DM us the word, learn and you will see a demo.

Brett:

You mean, people can DM you on Instagram? So it's amazing. Yeah.

Natasha Willis:

Yes. So that'll be the easiest just so you guys can see a demo. You're also welcome to reach out to me personally on my Instagram, if you have any questions. But in terms of how we can best served. So if you're an eCommerce brand or an agency, then we have both done with you and done for you, full scope options. So if you're a brand you're like, "I just need an expert to handle this for me and help me double my sales ASAP. Then we can do that for you, if you just head to our website, schoolofbots.co. And in terms of done with you, we've got a ton of free education, which I strongly recommend you check out first, just so you can understand how this works on YouTube and Instagram. And then from there, we've got a done with you program where we'll come in and implement our whole system alongside your team.

Brett:

That is amazing. So, schoolofbots.co or School of Bots on Instagram will be linked to all of that in the show notes. So check it out. Natasha, this has been fantastic. You're delight to interview, very bright, very informative, good stuff. I'm impressed by what you do for sure. And now super impressed to know that you've interviewed Seth Godin, which is just something that you can talk about and remember forever.

Natasha Willis:

True that. It was very memorable. Well, this was a blast, Brett. I'm so happy we're able to do this together and bring this to your audience. And I'm excited for you to learn more and start to potentially use this too. So, I will resource to you.

Brett:

I want to talk to you in five minutes about how we can do this from deep. So anyway, yes. Thank you. We'll have to look for you and I doing round two on chat based marketing here in the, of not ...

Natasha Willis:

Yes.

Brett:

So thanks, Natasha. Awesome. And as always, thank you for tuning in. I would love to hear more from you. So what would you like to hear more of on this show? Give us some feedback. If you haven't already, leave us that review on iTunes, it makes our day. It makes my producer, Jonathan, it makes him happy, warms his heart to see those reviews and me too. And with that, until next time. Thank you for listening.






Episode 201
:
Mike Jackness

Is it Better to Build or Buy? Plus Tips for Selling Your Brand

Should you build a brand from scratch? Or buy an existing brand and apply your genius to scale or improve it?

Mike Jackness is one of my favorite eCommerce pros to talk to. He’s a podcast host. He’s built, bought, and sold multiple brands. And he has a heart to teach.He’s currently running a successful eComm brand that I’m an investor in, and it’s in the process of selling.

We wanted to hop on the podcast and talk about the process plus the pros and cons of buying vs. selling.

Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • What you’re actually buying when you buy an existing business.
  • How Mike looks at brands, he wants to buy or invest in.
  • How to approach due diligence as a buyer or a seller.
  • Surprises to look for in the due diligence process as a buyer or a seller.
  • How getting your business ready to sell now will make your business better regardless of if you sell it or not.
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly of M&A.
  • Plus more!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Mike Jackness

   - eMail: Support@EcomCrew.com

   - LinkedIn


EcomCrew Podcast by Mike Jackness & Dave Bryan

How My Wife Quit Her Job (Podcast with Steve Chou)

NetSuite



Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today I've got a pro on the podcast, longtime ecom guy, he's a fellow podcaster, we hang out at events all the time. And so really excited to have Mike Jackness on the show today. He's the host of EcomCrew, which we'll hear about in a minute. I believe we met initially through our mutual friends, Steve Chew, shout out to Steve Chew, Seller Summit and also the podcast, How My Wife Quit Her Job, fantastic podcast.

And so Mike is always just one of my favorite people to talk to in the industry. Talking about trends, talking about the economy, talking about buying and selling businesses and all of that. And so we were talking recently and we're like, "Hey, we got to get together and do a podcast." And so today we're diving into the topic of, should I buy? Should I build? And then also tips for selling a brand. Because I think one of those concepts is probably going to fit you right now. With that quick intro, Mike, welcome to the show, man, how you doing?

Mike:

I'm doing good, man. We got to see each other in person again, things are back ... I don't want to say they're back to normal. But at least we're seeing each other again, which is kind of cool. So, yeah.

Brett:

It's feeling more normal, right?

Mike:

Yeah.

Brett:

Airplanes are pretty full, we got events happening. We were in Vegas not too long ago, a prosper show recently, a Steve Chew's event. And so it's feeling good, feeling hopeful-

Mike:

Definitely.

Brett:

Feeling excited about in person events again.

Mike:

Absolutely.

Brett:

Yeah, man. So give us the background, for those that don't know and I know a lot of people listening are like, "Hey, I know Mike Jackness, everybody knows Mike Jackness." But give the quick rundown because you've bought, build, sold brands. Also host the EcomCrew Podcast, but give your 30 second background.

Mike:

Yeah. The 30 second background gets hard and harder to do as you get older, because there's more to cover every year. But in terms of my online entrepreneurial career, I quit my job back in 2004 to get into affiliate and content marketing, eventually ended up in eCommerce kind of in an interesting round about way. We also were into investing in domain names and still are, and one of the domain names we had bought and invested in with hopes of one day turning into an affiliate site, but turned into an eCommerce site eventually was treadmill.com. And that's actually how we got into eCommerce.

Brett:

It's a good domain.

Mike:

It was a good domain name, it was a fun project. But we sold it in 2015 and have since then either bought or started several eCommerce businesses and sold several now. And so yeah, we were just chatting about the whole, should you buy? Should you start from scratch? All that stuff. And so I thought it'd be interesting. Our journey along the way, we document everything we do on EcomCrew. So the podcast is kind of a day in a life of Mike Jackness and his crazy brain and also interviewing other interesting people about eCommerce and topics like this.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. If you listen to this and you're like, "Man, this is fascinating, interesting. I got to have more Mike in my life." Check out EcomCrew podcast ...

Mike:

Said no one ever.

Brett:

That's awesome. So in fact, we both spoke at Seller Summit recently near Miami and we were at a speaker dinner. I actually talked to a really successful brand owner, he's a client of ours and a friend of yours. And so we were chatting about, why would you buy? Why don't you just build? And I think we're actually talking to an attorney about this, too, he was at the table.

Mike:

Yeah. Right, right.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I've definitely got some thoughts here, but what are your thoughts? Like buy versus build? What are the pros and cons and what should you be thinking about in that decision?

Mike:

Yeah. I mean there's never a perfect answer to anything. But I'm kind on this side of the fence of, I'd rather buy than start from scratch. We'll talk about the pros and cons of each, but the high level reasoning being that when you buy a business, you're getting something pretty valuable for your money. Unlike in a lot of other things, when you go waste your money in life. If you buy a good business, someone else has already taken a chance, the things that you don't think about, maybe you have a bit of an ego and you think everything you're going to do was going to be successful.

I have been in business for 18 years and I know that's far from the case. And so I have lots of battle scars of things that I've started, maybe didn't stick with them and it failed. Or stuck with it and put my heart and soul into it and it still failed. Which is even more depressing than when that happens, but it certainly happens. And so someone else has already taken that chance. So you're buying a successful business, you're also not buying all the other failures out there. And so I think that's a cool thing to look at.

You're also buying some multiple of revenue and in theory it should be one of the best investments you'll ever make. You invest your money in the stock market and you hope to maybe get 8% per year. If you're buying an eCommerce business or a content site or some other business in today's environment, you're probably paying something a three X or maybe four X multiple of earnings. And so that should give you a return to 25% to 33% per year on your money. As long as the business stays the same.

But the main thing that I like is looking for a particular opportunity in that I'm buying a really successful business. One that really has good systems and people and products or whatever in place. But they haven't necessarily turbocharged the business with my skillset, the things that I think that I'm good at. And that's never to be taken as the old owner is an idiot and doesn't know what they're doing. There are lots of things that people do out there that I am very impressed with or feel overwhelmed with or can't figure out how the heck they did it. And in fact that one of the businesses that we most recently bought, I feel that way all the time, I can't believe like the systems and the processes and the way that the old owner approached it and just did an amazing job. It blows me away every day when I look at the business.

But there was a few aspects that they just weren't good at, just as much as I'm not good at something. And so the things I think that I'm good at, we spent a lot of time sourcing from China over the years, and so we went and did that instead of sourcing from the US. We have a background in SEO, so we applied that. We have a team and processes in place to rapidly launch products, and so we did that. And have been able to quickly see an uplift in the business because it was already a great business and we just kind of sprinkled that pixie dust on it.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that. And I want to unpack just a few things that you mentioned. You talked about how as entrepreneurs and most of us successful entrepreneurs, we've built at least one, maybe two really good businesses. We automatically think the next business I built, that's going to be just as successful, right?

Mike:

Yeah.

Brett:

We got this bias because of our past success. And while it may be true that the next business you build is successful, it might not be. Because success isn't just determined by the skillset of the entrepreneur. Although, that's the biggest factor. It could be the market, it could be the brand, it could just be poor timing, all kinds of factors going into the success of a business. And when you buy, you're buying a brand that already has traction, it already has customers. That's an extremely valuable asset. It already has, hopefully, some systems and things in place.

So just like you mentioned, if you find a brand that's doing pretty well, but they've not applied your genius or your skillset. That's the ideal place to look. I know the brand you're talking about is one we've invested in and you're running right now. And yeah, there was just some amazing systems in place, but they still could use some Mike Jackness and some of the other people that are on the board and stuff. And so it was an ideal fit from that regard.

Mike:

Yeah, you just said something earlier that has taken me a long time to really get a grip with, timing and other factors are just such an important thing. I firmly believe in the whole concept of you create your own luck. You work hard and persevering and just stick with something over long and a period of time, you'll eventually get lucky and have the things kind of click.

But looking back at the things that have been successful, luck has been just a huge component of it. When I was doing online poker affiliate marketing, well, the fact that I found that in 2003, when that industry was just starting and we were there on day one basically or very early, makes such a huge difference. I see the same thing in Amazon, being there in 2015, no wonder we were successful, you could throw up a box of poop and be successful. Because it was that easy, there was nobody else competing against you. Versus now, it's much more difficult. Same thing with the coloring brand that we made. We had a very successful coloring brand, it's pretty well documented publicly. But we just happened to find that niche, a time when it was on the uptick. And it made it seem like we were is more than we were. And it's an easy trap to fall into.

Brett:

I want to use a quick surfing analogy and surfing is something I've been trying to learn for years, I'm pretty terrible at it, but it's still really fun. Take a great surfer and put them out when the ocean's got no waves and nothing is happening or just the surf is terrible. Nothing's going to happen. But you put a good surfer in the perfect conditions and then magic happens. And so we underestimate that, I think. I totally agree with you, you do create your own look over time. But man, why not surf when the surfing is good? Why not maximize your timing and get all the conditions right and then apply your skill set. And I think that's what you can do when you buy a business properly. Yeah, really, really good. What are some of the other pros and cons you had mentioned?

Mike:

One of the cons that jumps into mind, just kind going on the other side of the fence is the pressure when you buy an existing business. When you're starting from scratch, even if you make a business that's the same size, it happens over time. And so one of the things you just lose track of is a human being is just the curve in which you're learning and the time that takes. And so if you build that business up over three or four years, you're kind learning one out of 1500 days at a time or whatever that adds up to.

And versus being handed this business and having to know everything that's happened up to that date in order to just to keep the wheels on the bus, simply keep it from not falling apart. That was certainly an eye opener to me. This was, I think, the largest business that I had ever purchased. It was well into millions of dollars and hundreds and hundreds of SKUs and just a lot of moving parts at warehouse and lots of places to source from. And I mean, it was just a lot to take in. And I remember sitting down on day one and just the owner was helping with transition and everything that they were saying was going over my head. I was like, this is so overwhelming because I just don't-

Brett:

And you get a lot of experience. You're not an eCommerce newbie, you've been doing this for decades.

Mike:

But I mean, I didn't know what part A versus part B versus part C was. And why they used that nomenclature and they were using different systems. And who were the names of the employees and what do they do? I mean, there's just a lot of things and all you're trying to do on day one, even though they're trying to help you on all these different regards. Is like, you got to go get the Amazon account name change, you're trying to get the LLC created, put people on payroll properly, get your insurance moved over, make sure that the lights can turn off, so the electric bill on the right name. There's all these basic building blocks you're just trying to do as if you're being hit by a fire hose. And by the way, we had driven across the country-

Brett:

None of those things are particularly fun.

Mike:

No, they are all the awful things.

Brett:

None of that part is enjoyable.

Mike:

It was awful. It's the stuff that's not fun at all. Especially if you borrow money, which most people do and I encourage people to do it to buy a business to leverage in some capacity. And so you're payment returns are based on today's revenue and if things start to fall off because you've now inherited this and actually done a worse job, it can be pretty intense. And so the first three months or so of my life of owning this business were really, really difficult. Just trying to get over the learning curve and then past that it became significantly easier.

Brett:

Yeah. I think that's something we, again, underestimate is just the learning curve of this brand. This was a sale ... and I got to watch this pretty closely. Sale went smoothly, previous owner, very agreeable, very well documented system. Just like an ideal environment because the previous owner was so wonderful, the seller. But still, it's a big business, there's new stuff to learn, it's overwhelming in the beginning. So even when the conditions are right, that transition period is tricky. So, that's something to keep in mind.

Mike:

Every day while I was there, like I said, we drove across the country to be in person to do the transition because it was just that complex. I was just like, "Man, what if this was the typical seller? Where they just kind of ghost you after a couple of days and they're just like, I got your money. Goodbye." Meaning holy crap. Because I mean, felt like a little two year old kid. I never had more questions in my life. I was like, "Why is this here? And why is that there? Why did you do this? And how come you didn't do that?" It was just over and over and over again.

I mean, I couldn't even find the bathroom the first day in the building. You're just coming into everything brand new and it was definitely interesting. Again, that could be a con, I mean, there's definitely bad sellers. I mean, I've been through it. The ice wraps business that we bought the day after the guy got my money, I literally never heard from him again. No matter how badly I needed his help for something even super small, it's like you had the money and it was like, see you later.

Brett:

Yeah. Good luck buddy.

Mike:

Good luck.

Brett:

It's one of those things where now you're the owner, now you're in charge of the CEO, the president, whatever. And you don't know your way to the bathroom, which is a weird position to be in. Especially coming from likely a successful business where you did know everything and you built everything and you know everything from top to bottom. It's a little bit disorienting and stressful. And then we get the pressure of, I got to pay back this loan and all those things. That's something to be aware of, prepare yourself for that transition. And are you ready to handle the pressure of, "Hey, you're putting your neck out there a little bit, getting this loan and acquiring this business. You got to make it work." Lots of advantages to doing it this way, but pressure and difficulty, as well. Anything else you would add there? Pros and cons, either way.

Mike:

I mean, I think at a high level, in terms of buying a business, those are the ones. We can maybe talk about starting a business.

Brett:

Yeah, let's do that. Yeah, talk about why would you and when would you start a business over buying one?

Mike:

I think that if you're looking at buying a business that is less than two years old, then I think maybe you can make a pretty good argument for starting one. The business we buy, I always like to buy businesses that are much more established, that have multiple years of revenue history and that can really prove that my investment's going to be worthwhile here. And so if you're buying something that's just a couple years old, it could be a fad or a fluke or maybe you're not that far behind and starting from scratch is good. Starting from scratch is also good if you have a lot of other commitments, let's say you are listening, you have a full-time job right now and it isn't feasible to have a large ...of cash and go out and buy something and just quit your job and go do this new thing.

Brett:

You may need to grow as the business grows, right?

Mike:

Yeah.

Brett:

So starting it may be better fit for you.

Mike:

Absolutely. And that's what we did with treadmill.com. Yeah, we owned the domain name, but we got into eCommerce with that site, which was a job shipping site, which is probably easier than having your own inventory, developing your own products. But in that process, we learned how to ... we actually use Big Commerce to build that store at the time. But learn how to get into Big Commerce and learn how to get a payment process or learned how to do basic support and just take transactions online on the internet. All that was completely foreign to us at the time.

And I think back to, would I rather have bought a business or started one in that juncture? I think that starting something was way better because things are happening in real time as you grow, you're learning one more thing. You're learning one more thing. I think at some point then when your skill set is good enough, when you put your 10,000 hours in, the whole Malcolm Gladwell Outliers Effect, then I think it makes sense to start shifting the mindset of, wait a second, I already have all the skills.

One of the things that I've really come to realize is that no matter how big of a business you're running, you're still going to spend the same amount of time in whatever you're doing. If I bought something for $30,000 and it was just me taking it over and working on it, I would probably still be spending 60-70 hours a week on it because it's something new when you're trying to learn it all. Versus buying something for $5 million that has a team and all these things in place, the same thing. I'm still spending the same amount of time. And times like your most valuable commodity, so being able to leverage that as much as you can and not lose sleep, I think is another really good thing in terms of buying a business. But if you aren't there yet, I would encourage you to start a little bit slower, learn the ropes and do one from scratch.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that. So really those two criteria are, if you can't find a business that's ready to sell, one that's established and has that proven track record, ideally longer than two years. Or if you're not ready to buy a business, which is okay if you're not. You need to grow and yet if you don't have those 10,000 hours in, if you don't have mastery of certain things relate to ecom, then maybe makes sense to build and grow with the process, grow into it, so to speak. So really great perspective, Mike, appreciate that.

So this next question, I think as you answer it, this is going to be helpful for two groups of people. One, someone who's looking to buy a business, because I know I've got tons of friends, I know you do too in the ecom space and they're looking to buy, invest, sell, or all three, we're kind of in the all three category or the first two, anyway. What is it that buyers are looking for when they're seeking a brand? Because I think this will help if you're both trying to sell or if you're looking to buy yourself.

Mike:

Yeah. When I'm looking for something, I'm looking for some sort of defensibility. I don't really want something that anybody else could quickly copy. So intellectual property of sort, something that the barrier to entry is quite tough for someone else to replicate. The business that we bought, it wasn't as defensible as I would like, but there was some other circumstances that led us down the path of buying it. But the defensibility thing it did have is it'll be really difficult from someone from scratch finding these products in jungle scale to just go out and buy them because of the MOQs. The MOQs were incredibly high and so you had a pretty big ...

Brett:

Minimum order quantities, for those that don't know. I know most people probably don't know that.

Mike:

Sorry about that, yeah, minimum order quantities. So the minimum order quantity of this stuff is actually done by weight and not even by pieces because you're buying so many of them. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of pieces of each SKU at a time. And having to fill an entire container of something that's like the size of a dime, you're talking about a lot of pieces. That has a facility that already was in place to help package that stuff and do these things.

So while it's a great opportunity for a business, the average person that's like looking at Helium 10 or Jungle Scout and doing research would just get down the path and find out, "Oh, well, while this is a great opportunity, there's no way I can afford to get into it with the MOQs." And the risk is just too high and it's also competitive. And so it would turn a lot of people off.

Another great business I would look at is one that we sold, which is ColorIt, which is I would be attracted to as a buyer because of all the intellectual property. Some artist hand drew every drawing in every coloring book, copyright from that perspective is actually quite strong in the United States, it's actually one of the few areas of law that is pretty saw where you can shut someone down pretty easily for copying. All the other stuff becomes more difficult, if you have a patent you're trying to push back on or other things, it gets expensive and hard to defend. Where copyright stuff is really easy to defend. And so I think the buyers pick the particularly good niche because it had all this intellectual property, had a big email list and a big pixel audience and high lifetime value of a customer and repeatable processes that make more books and more supplies.

And lots of other people have tried the copy of that brand and just fell flat on their face because we had some pretty good secret sauce components there, that made it hard for other people to copy. And so I think that's the type of thing to be looking for versus just there's some random widget like an iPhone case or something that isn't ... that just happens to be a thing on my desk right now. Or pens, just some random pen, it just doesn't make sense to buy a business that doesn't have any defensibility where anybody else can just go grab those products and sell them.

Brett:

And I love that the first example that you talked about, while there's not really a lot of IP there necessarily, the processes are well built out and it's still a high barrier to entry. Someone couldn't enter it, but it'd be difficult. And this business had beautiful systems, the products have tons of reviews, just the head start there was so large. That as long as we could continue to pour fuel on the fire and I say, we, really you. Then success was very, very likely. And then in the terms of ColorIt, you had IP and it was defensible IP and you had a playbook and you had all these things going for it. So I like that. Defensibility because defensibility creates predictability and it means like, "Hey, this is lower risk." If I'm looking to invest my dollars, plus also take a loan out to buy this business. Then I need to limit risk and defensibility limits risk.

Mike:

Exactly.

Brett:

What else do you look for when you're buying?

Mike:

Well then it's the contentious part of, are you trying to pull the wool over my eyes? And that's really important because unfortunately that's exactly what a lot of people try to do. And so it's on you to figure that out. I would not just expect that every person out there is honest, unfortunately. Again, been through this more than once.

Depending on the size of the deal, you want to hire some sort of due diligence company. I've done deals where they were small enough where I did that myself. You don't need to go crazy here, you don't need to overspend and turnover rocks that just don't need overturning. If it's a relatively simple Amazon business, just get the login into the Amazon account and look at the reports and make sure they tie out, look at their tax return, make sure that ties out. Make sure that the advertising spend that they're reporting back to you, ties out. Look at invoices from vendors, make sure that makes sense. There's not a lot of other things that you can really do on a smaller Amazon business to pull the wool over someone's eyes. Maybe there's other black cat things you want to be looking for and making sure that the review profile and other things make sense, as well. Because you don't want to take over the account and two months later get shut down because the old owner was doing something black hat. So those are things I will look at.

Same thing goes when you're buying a content site, you want to look at their backlink profile and make sure that there isn't any trickery going on there. You make sure you fully understand when you're buying a content site, do they have a network of other sites that are ... one of the reasons this thing's successful because they link from a bunch of other places and is there a chance that they're going to remove those links, which could hurt you? So those are some things you want to be looking at.

As the deal gets bigger, then you want to look to hire a professional due diligence company. It's actually funny, the people that did the due diligence on us for ColorIt are friends of ours and they're just good at what they do.

Brett:

So you selected them? It sounded like the buyer probably selected them.

Mike:

The buyer selected them, but we knew of them. They were actually friends of Andrew, a mutual friend of ours. And yeah, I mean, they did a great job. It was interesting having someone that you know looking into your soul. But in the end, I mean they did a really good job. They actually found things that we didn't even realize that we were doing wrong, which is embarrassing. But the buyer makes the decision at that point, is this worth the risk? Do I want to re-trade on the multiple or the valuation? Or is this person doing this on purpose? It was clearly something we were doing by accident, our bookkeeper was just making a really stupid mistake when it came to currency conversion from UK and Canada that I never picked up on.

The thing that was interesting was it kind of balanced out because the UK dollars so much stronger than the US dollar and the Canadian dollars weaker than the US dollar. And so over time it was actually not causing this huge disparity, so that's why I didn't really notice it. Because it kind did balance out. And so luckily it didn't really cost us an arm and a leg. It actually didn't cost us anything because our business was growing as we were going into sale, which is also important. If you've got a business that's falling as you're going in the sale, that can be a lot more contentious.

Brett:

Yeah, that can almost be the kiss of death. If your business is declining as you enter the sale process, I mean most buyers are just out at that point.

Mike:

A hundred percent. Yeah, I mean, it's like they are starting to wonder, why are you selling? Do you know something they don't know? Again, it's always a part of it. And so you got a business that has a rocket ship trajectory over a long period of time. It makes it a lot easier sell. It's like, "Okay, even if they're pulling something over our eyes, we'll make it up in the growth." So it gives you a little bit more confidence as a buyer. And so all those things are important. But yeah, I mean due diligence is super important, just as much as if anyone listening is importing from China right now, I mean doing an inspection on every order before you take delivery is also similar concept. And so why would you ever place an order in China and not do an inspection on it? Why would you ever buy a business and not do due diligence?

Brett:

Yeah, if you're going to inspect one run of a product, how could you not inspect an entire business when you want to buy that?

Mike:

Exactly. Yeah, really important.

And I think you can take it too far. I mean the people that are trying to buy us right now, I think are taking it too far camp, where just like, holy crap, man. You're looking at things that you don't even necessarily need to look at.

Brett:

Right, at the end of the day, do you want to buy the business or not? And you do need to understand, is the person trying to pull the wool over my eyes or not? If there's a little bit of yes, is the asset still worth it? Do you feel like you can still make a go of it? And then, what are the critical factors? And yeah, this is one of those things where you're like, "If I answer this question, is that even going to change anything about this deal?" Why are we digging into this detail? It's not going to change the multiple, guessing it's not going to change your decision to buy it. Why are we doing this?

So yeah, you definitely want to do enough due diligence, but at the end of the day, you could prolong it forever. And what are the critical pieces you need to look at? And go from there. And I think you nailed it where you talked about size and complexity of the deal that really determines how much due diligence and whether you go that alone or likely, you're going to want to bring in a third party or even just someone who's done this before that you can pay for a few hours, if it's kind of a smaller deal, but a little bigger than you'd be comfortable doing diligence on your own. There are people that have done this before that you can pay four, five, six hours worth of their time to look at, as well.

Yeah, awesome. What else are you looking for in a brand that you buy and/or what do you know that other buyers are looking for?

Mike:

When we talk about buying things, the only thing that I always think about is that you're buying time. I don't think I quite mentioned this in the beginning. Any successful business ... or most successful businesses take that first couple of years to just lay the groundwork and the hockey stick growth comes on the tail end of that. It starts to feel so easy all of a sudden. And we often, again, as entrepreneurs, forget about that when you're starting your own business and you kind forget about those hard early days and think more about the more recent thing.

And so that's another thing that I love to evaluate, to be looking at a business that is, let's say, five years old. Even if you could have maybe done it more optimally and done it in four years or three years, you're still buying all that time. You're compressing your ability to do good things with your time. And so that's one of the other things I look at as I'm evaluating a business, is it leveraging my time or am I buying time in a more efficient way versus other businesses? And that's kind of some idiosyncrasies as you're looking at, what were they doing? I mean, is the business, let's say, organic search dependent? Where like most of their traffic is coming from organic search. Again, now you're buying defensibility, but also that's like the ultimate time saver. Because no one can really rush ranking a site from scratch with organic search, it takes a lot of time. And if you build the business around that, it builds a really good moat.

And so just again, looking at more about time resources, how quickly can I make my money back? Am I buying a moat of IP or other things? Or just the general things I'm looking at? And then all the other things that I look at in terms of eCommerce is still applicable. I like buying or looking at brands that have repeat business, that have a passion audience, that has, if you're lucky, has consumability to it. You can write really good content around, maybe there's like a mini course or something you can do. People that would be willing and eager to share user generated content because it's something, again, they're passionate about.

Is there a large pull of influencers in the niche? Or is it just a boring product that no one wants to talk about? And it's hard to do marketing for, where you just constantly feel like you've got a rain cloud over you that follows you around like Charlie Brown. Those are all things I still look at, whether I'm starting something or buying.

Brett:

Yeah. Am I buying time at a discount? Am I able to make the best use of my time? Highest and best. Is this opportunity worthy of the skillset that I bring to the table? And then specifically, what can I leverage? And can I leverage the things that I'm best at? So really awesome.

I want to dig into a few other things. I want to talk about some surprises and some tips in the due diligence process. But first, any thoughts on the LOI process, the letter of intent process? That's kind of the first step. It's the first step if a buyer's getting serious with a seller. Any thoughts or tips around or things to expect with the LOI process?

Mike:

I would say the LOI process is almost always indicative of how the rest of the transaction is going to go.

Brett:

Yeah.

Mike:

So when you find someone that's just needling to live and crap out of you and making life difficult at the LOI stage, it's probably going to ...

Brett:

It's probably just going to get worse.

Mike:

It's going to get worse. It might be a good time to just go try to find another buyer. I know it's tough, especially when you're basically at the altar, you're very close to getting the deal done. But you might be better off trying to find somebody else.

Brett:

Yeah, it's like the couple that's like, "I know we fight a lot as we're dating, but when we get married, it's going to get better."

Mike:

Right, right.

Brett:

And then you're like, "Well, Probably not."

Mike:

Probably not.

Brett:

It's probably going to get worse.

Mike:

Probably not.

Brett:

Yeah.

Mike:

And so what I'm looking for is a buyer that is already in the middle of the road. Whatever side of the transaction, seller or buyer, you can be on either side, doesn't really matter. You're negotiating an LOI from one point or the other. And when the other party ... let's just call them the other party, in this case. When the other party is already in the middle of the road with you, rather than way off in left field or way off in right field. That's a good buyer or seller.

And I've been in this situations where they want to start all the way over in left field, hoping that you'll miss some of the weeds on the way to the middle of the road. Or just get exhausted because there's so many things that you're trying to negotiate just to get to what I would call the middle of the road. What do most transactions look like? Across millions of transactions, what are lawyers from both sides trying to get to in terms of middle of the road and being fair to everybody? Because that's where I like to be. I always like to-

Brett:

Are they starting there? Are they starting way off in left field-

Mike:

Way off in left field.

Brett:

Just trying to take advantage of you. And again, the way they start the process, it's likely the way they're going to finish the process.

Mike:

A hundred percent.

Brett:

And so that LOI is very indicative of what's coming next.

Mike:

And we were discussing this with a friend of mine who was just looking at an LOI that was just so egregious. You know what the rest of the process is going to be when it looks like this. If you asked your lawyer, make this as good for me and as bad for the other party as possible, and hope that they don't catch it, like let's write that document. That's basically what they had written. And in hopes that you would not be sophisticated enough to ... or your lawyer would not be sophisticated enough to find it all.

And typically when you're working with a party in good faith, one of the things you had to think about is, this is the battle that I want to fight. There's a lot of things in the document, you're like, "I would love the red line this or red line that." But let's pick the three or five things that I really want to go to bat over. And again, when the contract's starting so far off in left field, where they're asking for a 10 year non-compete in all of eCommerce or something just ridiculously stupid. Asking you to give them all your assets, but also pay all your liabilities or something stupid like that. Not pay you for inventory or ask you to stay on for 17 years or whatever. It could just be completely ridiculous.

Versus the people who bought ColorIt, I talk about this pretty publicly all the time. The LOI that they put in front of us and eventually they asked the purchase agreement, was written in a way to get the deal done. It's like, "This is the fair thing. We've already negotiated other deals in the past, this is what other lawyers and other parties have asked to get." And so when I had my attorney review that LOI and asset purchase agreement, it was like small grammatical things that they were looking at, not major deal points. And that's the type of buyer or seller that I want to be working with because that's how I am. And it makes the transaction so much easier, it's kind of a breath of fresh air these days to find somebody that thinks that way. Versus again, some of these crazy things. And there's just been a lot of dirty tactics that have been documented, especially in the aggregator space where they try to re-trade in some way at the very last second, when you're back really up against the wall. And it's just really unfortunate.

Brett:

It is. And it's one of those things, and we kind of outline this before. Even when everything is right, even when the buyer seller is in good faith and they're a great person and everything is looking good. It's still difficult. So why go any further with a buyer seller when you look at the documents early on, you're like, "This is going to be a fight. We're going to fight over every little detail." Then why even go further?

Mike:

We're in a position right now, as we record this, I feel the tide turning. But we're in a position right now where it's really a seller's market. So if you're on the sales side-

Brett:

Yes.

Mike:

You probably have more than one option. And the offer that comes in with the biggest price tag is not always the best option. You got to be asking other questions to discern that.

Now, if we go into a period moving forward, which it does feel like we're heading towards where-

Brett:

It does. It feels like we've passed the peak of the highest multiples and we're on the way down. So depending on when you listen to this, that's likely to be true.

Mike:

Yeah. I mean, not the thing I'm rooting for, it just kind of feels that way. We're at the tail end, it feels like of the longest bull market in history, like by far. We've beat this now by many, many years. And so just as a statistics person, it's like, how many times is the roulette wheel going to fall on black before it finally hits red? And it feels like we're pushing our luck a little bit here. And I realize every spin and scenario, it's the same chance each time.

Brett:

Yes, exactly.

Mike:

It does feel like we're at that point. But right now there's lots of options. This is just how life is, if we're at a point where there is only one buyer and it's a really crappy seller's market and you want to sell for whatever reason. Well then maybe you got to deal with some of these things. You always got to think about things in life in terms of timing and those things. But right now, yeah, I mean, I think it's better to go find another buyer or wait than to go through it with a bad person.

Brett:

Totally agree. Yeah, wait or find another buyer. Don't go through something that you just feel and can see is going to be very contentious from the get go.

So let's talk about the due diligence process and like we've established, you've been doing this for a long time. You bought and sold businesses in the past, but you're in the middle of due diligence right now.

Mike:

We are. The hardest one I've ever done.

Brett:

Yeah. Any surprises in due diligence or anything? I know you can't talk about specifics, but anything you would mention to people that are maybe about to go through due diligence for the first time. What do you wish you knew ahead of time getting into this?

Mike:

Yeah, I think every due diligence, literally every single due diligence process kind of has some surprise along the way.

Brett:

Yeah.

Mike:

A lot of times, actually, it's a surprise for the other party, as well. They weren't necessarily trying to be mischievous. When you're running a business with this many moving parts, it's hard to ever have it perfect. I think that-

Brett:

It's the exchange rate thing you had with ColorIt-

Mike:

A hundred percent. It's a great example.

Brett:

No one expected to find that, you didn't expect it was going on, your accountant didn't expect it. They didn't even know there were making mistakes.

Mike:

Yeah. It was so funny because I remember ... I can barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday, my memory's getting bad. But I remember this conversation because it was just so embarrassing. The guy calls me up, introduced himself, like, "I'm so and so with the due diligence company." I was like, "Everything's already in the drive, organized for you. I have all my ducks in a row, ready to go through the due diligence process. This is going to probably be the easiest due diligence process you've ever gone through. Everything is very organized and a hundred percent accurate. And I know the buyer has to go through these steps, but there's nothing to find here."

And then they proceeded to find ... it was actually three things that were all pretty material. That I was just like, "This is so embarrassing." Because this is exactly what somebody that's trying to scam you would say. And I was just like, "Oh my God, I can't believe that." But we've been through five different bookkeeping companies and try to do it ourselves and use different software and stuff. And until you're at a point where you can afford NetSuite, eCommerce accounting is really hard. And there's definitely a part of you lick your finger and stick it up in the air and get it as close as you can. It's just never completely accurate.

And so there'll be things like that they'll find. These guys are way better at this than you are at sniffing this stuff out. And this is why it's so important to have a third party company helping you. Because these are the moments in life ... even though I've been through this multiple times, I still have questions-

Brett:

Sure.

Mike:

Of what would you do? Kind of thing. What are you seeing in the marketplace overall? In this exact scenario, should we just accept this as a risk? Or maybe the deal is slightly different now in terms of our back of the napkin math of how it pencils out by a little bit. But I don't feel comfortable pushing back on the other party for a price adjustment. Or this is so out of line that clearly I should be asking for a price adjustment here. Or is it just like you need to run? Even though you're emotionally invested in this thing right now. Which is really tough, because you might have spent six months getting to this point or maybe a year of looking at different businesses and getting packages and interviewing people and finally finding the thing that you ... it's kind of like dating, we're talking about this earlier. Now you're at the altar, do you run away at the last second? And the answer is yes. I mean that's the hardest thing to do.

Brett:

It almost feels like you can't. You're at the altar, you feel like, okay, everybody's here. In this analogy, like everybody's counting on this. Can I really run? I can't run.

Mike:

Everybody's already bought you gifts.

Brett:

But you can and you should.

Mike:

Yeah, you can and should. Give the gifts back to everybody or whatever. Because here's the thing that I've also learned the hard way. Once you sign the dotted line, it's done, you can't go back.

Brett:

It's done.

Mike:

You can regret it all you want, but it's over. Like your money is gone, your time is gone. You're now having to deal with this messed up asset, if you want to even call it an asset, depends on how bad of a situation it is. And you'll realize the hard way that you would've been better off just throwing away all the time and effort you had to that point and moving on to the right thing. Rather than trying...

Brett:

And I think it really underscores the need to have the right team around you. And you even kind of alluded to this, you've done this now multiple times and you've been in business for several decades. But you may be bringing on a due diligence company or working with an investment banker or working with someone who they've done hundreds of deals or that's all they do is deals. They're doing multiple deals a month. Where when you run into something, you can say, "Hey, what would you do? What am I missing here? What am I not considering as we look at this deal?" And even in a situation where it's a good faith buyer and a good faith seller, can be surprises. So having that right team around you is really important.

Mike:

Absolutely. And I look at the broker and the due diligence company, just as much as a bartender or therapist, is all the other things that I've hire them for. Because it is a very emotional process, again, on both sides. I think on the sell side more so, just because at least in my experience-

Brett:

It's your baby.

Mike:

When I've been looking to sell ... it's your baby. That's definitely a big part of it. There's also, at least for me, been some sort of burnout factor that a company's wanting ... and I'm just like, I'm just done. I'm mentally just ready to be whatever it is. And that's one of the reasons I'm looking to sell. Not that it's a bad business or anything like that. I tend to run fast and towards the sun. And eventually you get a little chard and need to recharge yourself. And when you're right at that last second and the other party is trying to pull some sorcery on you, you're at the weakest possible moment in ...

Brett:

Yeah. Demoralizing.

Mike:

It is. Yeah.

Brett:

For sure. Yeah, I've heard stories of friends who've recently sold all of their business or sold most of the equity, who have gotten to a place where they're like, "I think I just want to quit. I'll quit the whole thing. I don't care anymore." Because they're so emotionally taxed and emotionally drained.

Just other tips or suggestions, let's talk about it from the seller side for just a minute. Tips, suggestions, things to consider if you're a seller right now.

Mike:

Yeah. So I mean, I think number one, you should always have your business arranged in a way that you might want to sell it tomorrow. In my experience, you just never know-

Brett:

It's a better business when you do that anyway.

Mike:

That's exactly the point. It's a better business when you do it this way. If you're organized in a way that you have financials prepared, all the documents are already in a Google Drive and organized, et cetera, et cetera, you have a better business. A lot of people put accounting off and all these other processes until way too late. And so what they end up realizing is that they don't have a business that's worth anything at all because their profit margins of what they thought they were, or just a lot of other things are out of line. And so if you are running your business month in and month out, always preparing to sell. Even something that's brand new, that you just started a couple of months ago. You're going to be in a way better spot, your business is going to be better, you'll thank yourself for it.

Another thing that it's important when you go to sell is just complete transparency. Each time you get caught fibbing or lying about something, it will wreck the confidence of the buyer. And depending on how big of a thing this is, it might be something super small or innocuous or whatever. But if you get caught in some lie, it will really hurt the credibility of the deal. And so don't do that. I mean, I can't believe I have to say this out loud. Anyway, I mean, if you're a human being, you shouldn't do that.

Brett:

Yeah. It should go without saying but maybe it's like-

Mike:

...

Brett:

Yeah. And maybe what some people may be tempted to do is like, "Oh, I don't really need to mention that." Right?

Mike:

Yeah.

Brett:

So it's not a lie, I think most people, hopefully, that are listening will be like, "No, I wouldn't do that." But I think probably what you're saying is, "Hey, even if there's something they're not asking about now. It's going to come out in due diligence, so bring it up now. And talk about it now."

Mike:

I mean, a good example, when we sold our last business, there was a pending lawsuit. We had sued somebody for something and then it was wrapped up or whatever. And so we made sure we disclosed that, that these are things that maybe some good due diligence company would find as they're doing a background search on a company. And so explaining it, why that happened and how that might have affected the business one way or the other upfront is a lot better than going, "Oh, well, I didn't know you needed to know about that." Or whatever you say when they come approach you later, it looks really bad. Because then it's just like, "Well, what else are they trying to hide?"

Brett:

What else do they hiding from me? That's the immediate question. Exactly.

Mike:

Again, in the vein of always treating others like you like to be treated. I always like to think about if I was writing a million dollar check to somebody, how would I feel? Because it's just as uneasy for them. It's a great day for you, like you're looking to sell your business and you're going to go pop the champagne and run into all this life changing amount of money and woo-hoo. Well, the other person is taking an equal bet, making a life changing ...

Brett:

They're on a hook for that-

Mike:

They're on a hook for it.

Brett:

Life changing amount of money.

Mike:

And they're taking a risk just like you have in life, as an entrepreneur. And so just being transparent about that stuff is always the best policy, in my opinion. And in actuality, I've found that by being ultra transparent, it actually helps you get more for your business, helps the deal close quicker. It just actually makes things better, not worse. Unless you're trying to do something really squirrly, then shame on you.

Brett:

Right, exactly. And I think sometimes you're super transparent, you bring up stuff that maybe they'll care about, maybe they won't. But you're bringing up all the dirty laundry, so to speak. Then that gives the buyer confidence and they may say, "Oh yeah, it's not a big deal. I don't care about that. But thank you." It gives them confidence that you're being so transparent.

Mike:

The last thing I'll mention is that the deal should not be done in your mind the day that the wire transfer hits the bank. Again, in the vein of treating others like you like to be treated, be prepared for weeks or months of transition. And go out of your way to help them. Again, just try to remember if you've ever bought a business or if you could put yourself in that mindset of, I just spend a ton of money. And again, the bigger the transaction, the more complicated it is.

And there's going to be little things that the buyer is going to need help with days or weeks or even months, and sometimes years after the fact. I mean the people that bought ColorIt from us every now and then will still email me about something. I mean, obviously it's few and far between, they were amazing buyers, by the way. They asked the least of just about anybody that I've ever done something with. But just make sure that you go out of your way to make sure that every login's turned over, they have all the passwords. That you explain all the vendor relationships that you send emails, transitioning relationships properly. That you're there to answer questions that they might have. Because again, they're coming into it all brand new and they're going to be feeling like they are being hit by the fire hose. And just trying to keep the wheels on the bus to begin with, that they don't know, again, your part number naming conventions or why this product was discontinued or why you sent this particular email out or ran this ad or whatever it might be.

And so they might have questions about that a couple of weeks down the road when they finally get their head and their feet underneath them. And you should just try to be there for them, for those things and not be looking to just run away. Because that's just not fair.

Brett:

Yeah, be prepared on both sides for that transition period. And this process of buying, selling businesses, building them, doing tuck-ins, roll-ins, exiting. It's the way wealth is created. And these are big opportunities and it's a lot of fun. But it's also, these are big deals and it's difficult and you need to be prepared for the difficulties and the surprises that are there. And so, yeah, I think that just understanding ... this has been super, super helpful, Mike. Thank you. Understanding the good, the bad and the ugly about due diligence and about the transition, about even the LOI process. This is all super, super valuable.

So we're kind of up against it, this hour flew by. It's been a ton of fun, Mike. But as people listen and they're like, "Hey, I want to hang out with this guy a little bit more." Obviously check out the EcomCrew Podcast, wherever you like to consume podcasts. But how else can people connect with you? Are you active on the socials? Is there other ways that people can follow you?

Mike:

Yeah, we're getting actually a little bit more active on social. I've always been kind of like an anti-social media guy, because I feel like it's done more harm to the world than good. But we have been, for EcomCrew stuff, more on social media. So it's EcomCrew.com EcomCrew on Twitter, YouTube, all the socials, on podcast. Everywhere you can find anything about technology or whatever, we're there and EcomCrew everywhere. If you want to email its support@EcomCrew.com. That'll get to me eventually, if you're looking to chat with me about something. But yeah, hopefully you'll check it out and appreciate the plug man.

Brett:

Awesome. Mike Jackness, ladies and gentlemen. Mike, this has been an absolute pleasure. Really enjoyed it and I look forward to chatting again.

Mike:

That was like an Ezra Firestone.

Brett:

It was, actually. Yeah, I think that's where I got that. That was-

Mike:

Mike Jackness in the house.

Brett:

Mike Jackness in the house. That's awesome. So-

Mike:

Thanks, Brett.

Brett:

Mike Jackness ... yeah, thanks buddy.

And as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear what you think about this podcast. Leave us a review on iTunes if you haven't already done that. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.






Episode 200
:
Brandon Ham

3-Step Process for Writing Amazing Copy with Brandon Ham

<iframe width="100%" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CdVDERLasp0" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

I’ve always believed that writing good copy is one of the most profitable skills you can have as a marketer. And even if you don’t want to write copy yourself, understanding the process that your team should go through to create great copy is super important.

Recently I spoke at Nick Shackelford’s Geek out in San Diego and I met Brandon Ham there. Brandon used to work for Agora Publishing, the multi-billion direct marketing behemoth that was built on great copy. 

Whether you want to write better email subject lines, create more engaging video ads, craft display ads that drive conversions, or improve your landing page conversion rates, this approach can really help.

Here’s what we cover:

  • Brandon’s 3-step research process for powerful copy.
  • How to spy on competitors and see what’s working and what’s not. 
  • The biggest mistakes to avoid when watching competitors.
  • How to “tell your story better”.
  • You sell with your ears, not with your mouth and what that means for copy.
  • How to speak your customer’s language.
  • Plus more!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Brandon Ham

   - LinkedIn

   - Twitter

Zero to One

James Van Elswyk

Nick Shackelford

Geek Out

The Agora

Justin Brooke

Brett’s TikTok

David Ogilvy

John Caples

Claude Hopkins

“My Life in Advertising” & “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins

Adbeat

Outbrand

Taboola

AdSpy

Meta (Facebook) Ad Library

VidTao

Anstrex

Semrush

BuzzSumo


Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry and I am so excited about today's topic. We're talking about how to write better copy. And what we're going to dive into today, I believe could transform, could impact the way you write email copy, the way you write your display ads and Facebook ads, the way you write your YouTube scripts. It applies to all of it. And I can't wait to dive in.

Brett:

So, my guest today is the co-founder of 021.inc. And those are all numbers, 021.inc, Brandon Ham. And Brandon is partners with James Van Elswyk and Nick Shackelford, two of my buddies and two people that I highly respect in the industry. And so I got to hear Brandon speak, he and I were both speaking at a recent Geek Out event in San Diego. And I took a ton of notes because everything Brandon was saying was like totally jiving with me. And really resonates with my background in direct response copy. As soon as he was done talking, I was like, "Man, I got to get Brandon on the show." And so with that quick intro, Brandon, welcome to the show and how you doing, man?

Brandon:

Great. Glad to catch back up, dude. It's been a bit. But great over here and excited to catch back up .

Brett:

Absolutely. So not only is Brandon wicked smart when it comes to marketing and all things copy and direct response, he's got a killer beard. So if you're not watching this video, I mean, it is a legendary beard. How long ... just for those that are interested, how long have you been growing that beard, Brandon?

Brandon:

Since lockdown. I used to rock a stash. I started with a beard, then there was a wedding, so I had to like trim up. My family wanted me to wear a goatee. I look very aggressive with the shaved head and a goatee. So did not feel good about that.

Brett:

Not everybody could do the goatee. Some people look friendly, most people just look angry with the goatee.

Brandon:

Yeah, no, I couldn't rock that anymore. I was like, I look too angry. So had to like change it up and I was like, "I'm not going back to like clean shaven." So I rocked the stash for a long time. And then lock down, it's like what?

Brett:

The stash can be friendly. The stash can also be creepy. Not everybody can do the stash either. I look super weird and untrustworthy, I think you could pull off the stash.

Brandon:

It's a decent stash. It's not as good as like some of the other guys, but it was decent. But then I was like, "Okay, lock down. Don't see anybody. It's time to grow it back." And then-

Brett:

Sweet.

Brandon:

Kind of just kept it going.

Brett:

We're looking at like two and a half years of growth to whatever. So it's awesome. All right, man. So give us your background really quickly because you've done some stuff for Agora and of course you've got amazing partners with James and Nick. But give us kind of the 90 second background and we're going to dive into your approach to writing effective copy.

Brandon:

Yep. So I am a media buyer by trade. I still love media buying, geek out about it all the time. So actually that was my job at Agora. I was a media buyer for one of the divisions. And while there, I actually worked-

Brett:

And for those who don't know, I think a lot of people listening do know and a lot of people listening are like, "Whoa, you work for Agora." There are other people that are like, "What's Agora?" So, give the 30 second pitch. It's impressive to me because I've been following Agora for years and years. But give us the low down.

Brandon:

Agora is a billion dollar publishing company, they publish financial newsletters, health newsletters. And everything they do is based on copy. They spend a ton of money on traffic, which is why I wanted to go there and like learn as much as I could. Which I did. And then, it's just very different than like eCommerce or whatever, but the learnings are very applicable-

Brett:

Very applicable.

Brandon:

To all businesses.

Brett:

Yeah, it's a legendary space for direct response marketing and copy and long form copy. Like my buddy, Justin Brook was there and Perry Belcher's got some ties there. And I took a copywriting course that Michael Masterson put together. Anyway, just Agora is an impressive place, for sure. Okay, awesome. So continue on the background.

Brandon:

So while there, got to work with a bunch of amazing people. One of the groups, people I worked with was James Van Elswyk. So while as a media buyer, I was like, "Who do I want to network with?" So I picked out like the big media buying gurus on the network site, like Native. I really wanted to... Native, so I hired James Van Elswyk to run as an agency for us. Me and him hit it off, he made a ton of money with us. Me and him worked very well.

Brandon:

So when it came time that I was like, "Hey, I've done my learning growing, I'm leaving Agora." I hit him up. And he was like, "Hey, why don't you come help build our copy team for the Native side? Like you helped bridge that gap between Agora's copywriters and us as a media buyers. Why don't you do something similar and just like home grow some copywriters?"

Brandon:

So then I took over the copy side for James's Native agency. Because on Native traffic, you have to write a lot of advertorials, it's very cold traffics. The copy needs to be great and you need out of system for that. So we built that. And then over the last year we were like, "Hey, what if we built a copy agency, specifically focused on advertorials? Because that's what we really have an expertise in." And that's where we've even systemized our process more, which will cover today, like our research and stuff.

Brett:

That's awesome. Love that background. And what's so interesting about what we'll talk about today, is most of the work when it comes to writing copy or a lot of the work, it comes in the research phase and comes in the prep stage. And so that's mainly what we're going to break down here is your approach to researching copy so that you can write amazing copy. And you're right, if you're running Native ads or you're creating advertorials, nothing is more copy intensive. And the margin of error is really slim there, you've got to be spot on. But these principles and these lessons can apply to e-com and anywhere really. So that's why I'm thrilled to dive in.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brett:

Sweet. So let's talk about this. So your approach is called, All You Need, emphasis on A-L-L, it's an acronym.

Brandon:

Yes.

Brett:

And so we're going to dive into these and easy to remember. Love acronyms. We all love acronyms. And so we're going to dive in. So the first one is ask. And one of the things you talked about and my buddy, Justin Brooke talks about this too, when you're looking at, "Okay, what's the angle we're going to take here?" So again, display ad, email copy, YouTube video, Facebook ad, whatever. Are we going to go pleasure or are we going to go pain? So are we going to be encouraging someone to pursue pleasure? Or are we going to be encouraging someone to avoid pain?

Brett:

You talked about it like, are we trying to get people to heaven or get them to avoid hell? That's kind of the way to frame it. So talk about that a little bit and how does that influence the ask part of your approach?

Brandon:

Yeah. So when we say ask, what we're trying to do is we're trying to get all the information out of the product owner. If you're an info based business, the guru. What we're trying to do is extract and ask all these important questions to get the information out. Specifically from the product side. So right now we're focused on the product.

Brandon:

So what we do is we'll ask, "How does this keep customers ... how does it get them towards their goal? How does it keep them from falling behind?" So, pleasure versus pain. Because it's better than just listing like, "Hey, what's great about your product?" Because usually what you'll get is a list of benefits, which people then just slap on their product page which does not-

Brett:

Or features, which are even less compelling often.

Brandon:

Yeah. A little less useful. So, what we do is we have a ton of different questions that we just run through with a product owner or with a guru to just extract all this. Pleasure versus pain, basically how they would describe how they can get people towards pleasure or away from pain. That gives us like two little things. There's other questions, so for example, we'll ask them about ... first, we'll get all the benefits and features. We'll just go through a list. So, okay, give us all of this. And like, we have a ton of questions that their sole goal is just get all of the information on one page. And after we've done this for like 30, 40 minutes with someone, you really start digging deep. And like to get something new, they really have to think. And that's where a lot of our other questions come into it.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. So you gave an example, which I loved and again, I've got a marketing background, I've read a lot of the greats. Actually, I'm creating some TikTok videos now, so depending when this episode comes out, follow me on TikTok @TheBrettCurry, I'm just giving it a shot. We'll see what happens.

Brett:

But talking about some of the marketing greats, like David Ogilvy and John Caples. And then who we're going to talk about right now, Claude Hopkins. Claude Hopkins wrote my life in advertising and scientific advertising, really old books. And Jay Abraham, who some of you will know and many of you won't. He said he read, My Life In Advertising and Scientific Advertising like a dozen times. And he said each time he read it, he felt like it made him a million bucks. This is like super, super powerful book. It's old, but a lot of it still applies today.

Brett:

So tell the story about Claude Hopkins and Schlitz Beer. Because I think it underscores what can come out in this process.

Brandon:

Yeah. So Claude Hopkins was hired by Schlitz Beer to help them come up with the campaign to make more money. I think at the time there were like 12th on the list out of the beers. They weren't very popular, to say the least. So in the process, he's asking all these questions, going through his research and at one point he's like, "Hey, can I walk through your manufacturing plant and see what's going on there?" So he goes through, he sees they filter their beer so many times, they steam the bottles so many times. Like they have this whole huge complex purification and quality control process.

Brett:

There's like a 5,000 foot artisan wells that are dug to pull this water out of and just crazy.

Brandon:

Yeah, like it's insane. And he's like, "Hey, why don't you talk about this?" And so context real quick, at this time, all of the beer companies, like the thing people cared about was the purity, the quality. So everyone was saying, "Hey, my beer is the purest." "No, my beer's pure." "My better quality." Like that's what people cared about.

Brett:

Yeah. So now it's like, calories or just image, so beer is sold differently today. Then like purity and quality was a big deal. Because this was in the twenties, thirties, something like that.

Brandon:

Yeah. I want to say around there.

Brett:

Yeah, we'll call it that. Close enough.

Brandon:

Long time ago.

Brandon:

So everyone was saying, hey ... it was just a, mine's better, mine's bigger, mine's pure, whatever. That was the claims. And so when he went through this whole process, he like, "Why aren't you talking about your process here? This is amazing." And they're like because this is the same process every beer goes through, everyone does this. And he is like, "Yes, but no one's talking about it." So after that trip, he wrote up a campaign for them, which skyrocketed them up ... I don't know if they're first. But they're in the top, probably three. Like they were winning at that time because they talked about something which was common to every beer, but no one was talking about it. It wasn't common knowledge to the average person, so the average person was blown away.

Brett:

Yeah. So Claude Hopkins did two things. One, he understood what people wanted and he keyed in on that. So, that's the first thing. Two, he understood there's a story here and you are missing it, Schlitz Beer, because you're too in this, you're too close to the product to see it from an outside perspective.

Brett:

And here's what I believe about products. I believe most products are not crazy unique. There are a few ... take a purple mattress, as an example, where maybe they're the only mattress that passes the raw egg test, maybe they're not. But that's where in the ads, they drop the big sheet of glass onto the raw eggs that are on top of the mattress and the mattress cradles it. So like, that's a unique thing, nobody else maybe can say that and certainly no one else is saying that. But there's a lot more products where, okay, a lot of the processes are the same, then you just have to say it better. And if you're the first one to bring something to light and make it clear and compelling. Then it's pretty hard for your competitors to come back and say, "Oh, we do that, too." Then it loses it's power.

Brett:

And so yeah, digging into the product, asking questions, understanding what's important to the customer. How do we bring that to life? And also that pain versus pleasure is really important. Anything else you would dive into on the ask portion of your all process?

Brandon:

I would say, just go as deep as you can. Especially if you own a brand, like agencies can only go so deep because they have to do this for everybody. As a brand owner, you should have a folder that's just chalked full of everything about your product. Just a list of its features, its benefits, how it's manufactured, quality control. Because once you have all this information, as well as the stuff we will cover, you can basically pass it to your internal people when it comes time to write or create new assets. Or if you work with an agency, you can give this to an agency or a creative agency.

Brandon:

And with the amount of information, you can blow your competition out of the water. Because normally what happens is ... like you're saying, there's so many products that are unique. What's the difference between one pen and another pen? Now if all of a sudden you talk about, "Hey, in the manufacturing process, we pressurize the ink cartridge. So it results in a constant steady flow of whatever." Think about when you normally work with an agency and they're like, "Hey, send us over everything you can." Are you going to send them, "Oh yeah, our cartridges are pressure controlled, whatever." If it's obviously not something already on your webpage. You might not have picked up like, "Hey, this is big. We can use this." But if you just everything, compile on a folder paper, and that way you can pass to people, like it's huge.

Brett:

Yeah. And so, what we're trying to find here is stuff that you as a brand owner may think is boring or may think is just obvious or old hat. But it's going to be new and exciting to customers. What are some of the specific questions you ask? Because I know one that I took a note on was, what's something about your product that would surprise me? And that may take a little digging and thinking again, because most brand owners are too close to our product. But I love that question. What's something about your product that would surprise me? What other questions are you asking?

Brandon:

Yeah. So some of the other questions like ... hey, quick on note on that one, that one we usually ask at the end. Just because at the end they've been so primed, they've literally told us everything they can think of. And then it's like, "Okay, you've told me who knows how much for the last hour. What's something that's going to surprise me? What's something you haven't told me?" It really makes them dig deep or like refine what they've previously said.

Brandon:

But some other questions, like other things we try to collect is basically any rewards, information about the product owner. So is there a backstory to the company? People bond with like founder stories. So, is there anything about your company? Is it all woman company? Did it start from a garage? Like just little things like that.

Brandon:

Other things is like proof points. So do you have any video proof of, let's say it's a teeth widening, do you have a time lapse of the teeth getting whiter? Did you have a study done? There's all these different proof points that we just try to collect. Have you been featured in anything?

Brandon:

Like, even if ... this is something I thought about the other day, we don't ask this. But the best proof is, for example, like think of a product, let's say you have a ... let's just say a book or whatever. That's not the ideal one, but you have a book. And all of a sudden you see a celebrity doing like a podcast or they're streaming something. And in the background, you see your book on their shelf, like the book you wrote. Like that could be huge proof that if you don't keep that, record it and put in something, then it won't ever pop up later. So like just having a process for any proof point that your team you comes across of, even if like you didn't originate, like, "Hey look, this celebrity's wearing our shirt." You just need to put it in a folder for later because one day someone will find an amazing way to use it.

Brett:

I love that. I love that. Anything ... and really, as you train yourself, as you go through this process, start looking for stuff. Anything that you think you may be able to possibly use one day, save it, put it a folder and drive or whatever and keep that. So awesome. Okay. So, that's the A part of the All Process. So the next is look, so this mainly keys in on spying on competitors, which I'm a big fan of. I think there's a lot of misconceptions here, too, and a lot of mistakes that could be made as you're spying on competitors. We'll talk about that in a minute. But what is your advice? How do we spy on competitors? And what do you recommend? We'll dig into some tools in a minute.

Brandon:

Yeah. So spying should be a standard practice of your team. Generally it should be, A, at least do it monthly. Monthly, go into the spy tools, download everything that's applicable, A, to your brand, but also cross niche. Like some of the biggest takeaways can be taken from like you may see a financial offer and it may have one section which all of a sudden you can take over to your physical product and it can make a huge difference. So for example, on a financial avatar I was reading, it talked about, "Hey, here's proof that everything we're saying is true. Here's the guy's tax return. Here's his tax return that shows he actually made this much money." You're like, "Wow, this is amazing." Well, how can you do that for eCommerce? How can you bring that level of proof?

Brandon:

And when you see this in other niches, all of a sudden you can be like, "Okay, how can I do this for eCommerce?" So it's like, if it's a review story, maybe you put a picture in of the receipt or if it's a study, all of a sudden you bring a journal, it's been featured in ... it's one thing to say it's been featured in Times Magazine. It's another thing to actually take a picture of it on your phone and include that on the page. Like, how can you prove what you're saying? And so just looking in your niche for like trends and what the market is currently seeing, but across everything. If a direct response eCommerce like any offer is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, millions of dollars a month. If it's one of the top offers, I don't care what niche it is, I want to see it because there's something I can learn from it.

Brett:

Absolutely. Yep. If someone is spending hundreds of thousands dollars on it, you know it's creating a return. And so if it's creating a return, you want to know why. And you want to be able to break that down and really look at it. So let's talk about what are some of the ad spying tools that you like and that your team uses regularly?

Brandon:

Yeah. So my favorite personally is Adbeat. So Adbeat, it's best used for spying on like GDN traffic, so Google display network and like high tier Native. So like Outbrain and Taboola. It does feature smaller Native networks, that's not normally how I use it. I love that tool just the way it works. You can clearly see how well things are performing. When I get, I always do the mid tier or higher, I've had different tiers of it. But the mid tier gives you 90 days history, I think, or more. You at least want that much amount of history. So you can see how long something's ran.

Brett:

Yeah. So something is ran ... what's your cutoff? Are you looking for something that's run for at least 60 days, 90 days? What are you typically looking at?

Brandon:

60 to 90 is like a good ... like most people aren't going to lose for super ... over 90 is the ideal. Just because you look at what agencies pitch. And agencies, when they come to you they're like, "Hey, we're going to do a three month contract. We're going to work together for three months. Month one, we're going to test a lot of stuff. Month two, we're going to break even profit. Month three, scale, whatever. That's like the normal pitch.

Brandon:

So it's like during that three months, technically an ad that still could be losing could be like inching it's way along. Now if it's spent a ton of money, that's the other metric. If it has a ton of views, if it's a YouTube ad, if it has a ton of money spent behind it, according to the spy tools. You can get away with it being live less time. But if you're not sure on the actual performance of the ad, the longer is the better, because no one's going to leave an ad longer than three months, even two months is like, eh, that's like losing. It just doesn't happen.

Brett:

Right. Right. Makes sense. Yeah, Adbeat, what else are you looking at?

Brandon:

Adbeat for Facebook specific Adspy. Adspy is good. Then you can get actual-

Brett:

Are you using a combo of Adspy plus the Facebook ad library kind of using ...

Brandon:

So, I-

Brett:

Facebook ad library, that's a tool that a lot of people don't know about. You have to look at a specific advertiser, but it's free. And it's Facebook hosted, so you can dig in and see anyone's ads.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brett:

Do you use those two together?

Brandon:

I use them slightly differently. I used to not need Adspy or a Spy Tool because the Facebook ads library, if you right click to video, you could get a video URL, you could actually get the exact post ID. So then you could go read all the comments on it, that doesn't work anymore. So the downside of ads libraries, you cannot see the comments, you can't see the interaction, the likes, the proof, how many video views, like you don't see that anymore. So you're still guessing, unless you're looking at time. And then is it retargeting ad? It could just be like ...

Brett:

Right.

Brandon:

Where Adspy by it will link you to the actual post IDs. So you can see the comments, you can see how many millions of views are on it. So that's the one benefit over. Ads library can be good just to a quick refresh and a quick look, because Spy Tools can be a little more complicated, it takes a little more time. Or if you're not in the spot where you can spend money, A, I always think spending money on Spy Tools is worth it, always.

Brett:

Totally.

Brandon:

But if you can't justify it right now, ads library will get you 80% of the way. So those are the main two, there's obviously like Vidtao for YouTube, if you're doing YouTube.

Brett:

Yeah, we use Vidtao for YouTube, it's great. And again, it's going to-

Brandon:

And it's free.

Brett:

Show you top spenders on YouTube. Yeah.

Brandon:

Yeah, Vidtao is free, so it's a great tool if you're not already using it. And Anstrax, that's more of a lower tier Native. So this is really relevant for like affiliates, drop shippers. Like it's a lot more aggressive stuff. Not always the best learnings. I prefer Adbeat, but Anstrax does show stuff. You can get Anstrax for push notifications, if you're doing push traffic, stuff like that.

Brett:

Cool. Cool. We love Semrush, if you want to look at search ad copy and display and things like that, or Google shopping, some spying intelligence tools there. So Semrush is great for that.

Brandon:

Semrush also gives you some display ads. I haven't used it in the past three years, but it used to be my go to. Because I needed the keyword research as well as some display. And it does have some display. So if you already have Semrush, you can probably not need Adbeat for a while, you'll be close enough.

Brett:

That's great. That's great. So I love the idea and I heard about the swipe file idea from way back in the days when I took my first copywriting courses and stuff like that. So spying and seeing what competitors are doing and seeing what unrelated companies are doing and learning from that, super valuable. But there's some temptations here, there's some mistakes that could be made as you're spying on competitors. So what are the mistakes to avoid in this process?

Brandon:

The big mistakes are people copy or rip. Like, again, we're not looking to copy or rip people off, like we're not trying to recreate their ads. What we're looking for is trends and learnings. Which is why looking across niches can be super helpful, it gets rid of that temptation.

Brandon:

But inner niche, like let's say if you sell baby blankets or whatever. Let's say you spy on all your competitors and what you can do is look for trends. So trends in images. So maybe there's pictures of a baby holding a blanket. And so you collect all those images and that's like image type one, that's a trend. Then you see, "Oh, Hey, there's product only, but it's all nice and folded next to like a pacifier or baby bottle or whatever." So, that's like an type two image. Then there's type three where it's like, "Oh, Hey, the mom's out and about, or maybe there's a crying baby, maybe that's image type four." What you can do is look for trends and then recreate those.

Brandon:

Because after having so many different types and organizing them visually like visual aspects, you can then tell your team to be like, "Okay, there's a ton of people with working ads that show this type of image. Now let's go recreate that type of image ourselves." So like that is the easiest example. Like with copy, people get tempted, they're like, "Oh, let me take this part or whatever." But with images, obviously you can't advertise someone's product. So like that's the best example. Like you're looking for trends which then you can recreate and apply to your business.

Brett:

Yeah. Love that. We're looking for inspiration, we're looking for ideas, we're looking for trends. We're not looking to plagiarize. That's not a way to find success.

Brandon:

Yes. So, that's mistake one. Mistake two, we kind of touched on earlier is like studying ads that don't work. So you need to look for ads that have been around a long time or you have proof that they're working. If you ever hear from like friends or you talk to people and they're like, "Oh yeah, we're spending this much money." And they're a believable friend or you've seen their ad account, add it to your swipe file. You know how well they're doing, why not study it? They're a different niche, it doesn't matter. You can learn something to benefit your business, to benefit your market.

Brett:

Yeah, you could look at a spy tool and be like, "Oh, look at that ad. I like that ad, let's copy that or let's be inspired by that." You don't know if it's a winning ad or not if you don't dig a little deeper and see how long it's been running and how many views it has, how many comments it has, things like that.

Brandon:

And that's a big mistake with people that just screenshot their Facebook ad, like going down their feed or the ad library, even occasionally. Is they all of a sudden are looking for inspirational ads that don't work. Where if you dig deep on the spy tools, you can get certain the ads work or if your friend tells you, "Hey, we're crushing on this or whatever."

Brandon:

The other mistake is not doing cross channel spying. Like if you only run YouTube, like YouTube ads are displayed in a certain way. YouTube ads generally appear differently than Facebook ads. But you can take learnings cross channel, but they will not be exact. So it's kind of a toss up on ... some things work very well on one channel, they don't work well on another channel. So it's not always a guarantee, but it's still important to see. Because like people interact in different ways and the core message or core angle still could be passed over to a different channel in a different way. So spy cross channel. Just because you only run Facebook ads or YouTube ads, don't think that's the only way to do it. There are other places to look, but that does not mean it will work when you take it from a different channel.

Brett:

Exactly. But I still love the learning process there. So as an agency, we run YouTube and Google traffic, we don't run Facebook traffic. But I love looking at Facebook ads. Because what we've found and when you really get to know your channel, you know what elements of other channels translate and what elements don't. So as an example, if we find an ad that's really crushing on Facebook, a video ad, often we can uncover some elements of, "Hey, that probably makes for a good hook." That opening of that Facebook video could be a good hook on YouTube. It's not going to be likely all we can see on YouTube, but it might be a great hook.

Brett:

Or another example is, you see something in Instagram, that's very product demo heavy. Or we see this sometimes on sponsor brand video on Amazon. Although most of those are bad, honestly. But we see like a really great product demo video. And we think, "Okay, that could be used in a YouTube ad for the product demo portion." Which is not usually at the very beginning of an ad. So, cross channel learning is great.

Brandon:

So real quick, I didn't even mention this when I originally talked about it, but something I've been thinking about more recently too, is just looking ... yes, looking at your competitor's ads, whatever. But also looking at what the market looks at. So again, like you brought up like Amazon, whatever. But there are things like documentaries, what do people just consume in that market that's relevant to your niche? If you sell vegan protein, go watch those vegan documentaries that went viral on Netflix. Like there is something you can learn because after those-

Brett:

Like there's clues there and what that market is interested in.

Brandon:

After those went viral, like everybody was like, "Hey, maybe I want to be vegan now." Or this or that. Documentaries are a great source, viral blog posts. Like there's always something that like ... or even just like organic Facebook videos. I use that a lot of times for image inspiration. Or even YouTube ads ... not YouTube ads, YouTube videos, just straight YouTube videos. The thumbnails, the intros, the hooks. Like studying just organic stuff. Like spying is easy because you can see the spy tools. There's other stuff for organic, is it BuzzSumo? There's other ones that like rank blog posts, rank whatever. But also if you know, Hey, this is a top documentary in my niche, this is this. You can learn something from it. Which then you can translate to your ads, as well.

Brett:

What's the language that they're using? What are the specific words they're using? What are the things they're really keying in on? Yeah, really great points. So much to learn from documentaries and blog posts and other things, rather than just spy tools. Yeah. Awesome.

Brett:

All right. So, we got ask, we got look, last L is, listen. And I love that you said this you believe is the most important, if I wrote that note down right anyway. And you also said, and I love this, you sell more with your ears than you do with your mouth. And I know we're talking about digital marketing and stuff, but anyway, I love that quote though. So, explain the listening portion of your process.

Brandon:

Yeah. So on ask, we looked at our product and our product owner. On listen, we're looking at the market, what our competitors are doing, like in a broad sense. The listen, we actually look for feedback from the market itself. So we're looking for what are customers objections? What are their feedbacks about us and our competitors? What are their personal experiences in the market and industry in general?

Brandon:

So basically we kind of divided out into a couple main channels. Like there's a lot of different ones you can look at. But for example, with Facebook, we'll look at Facebook comments to see people's questions, concerns, their objections. Like what are Facebook comments that are useful? Like looking at them. It's a complaint about, "Hey, this didn't work for me." Or whatever. Which if you can find those on your competitor's ads or your own, you can improve. But also it's questions like, "Does this work for this? Does this work for this?" And all of a sudden you were hearing from your market on what you can do to improve. And nobody look ... okay, very few people look at Facebook comments because media buyers, they have enough on their plate that they're not going to look at Facebook comments, they don't manage it. Normally what happens is you have a ... what are those? I'm drawing a huge blank.

Brett:

Like just the-

Brandon:

Customer service team. You have a customer service team or a social person manage it. That information almost never makes it back to copywriters or media buyers, or they blow it off. And like, "Hey, people don't like this ad." And you're like, "Well, yeah, but it's working. So we're going to keep doing it." That's the normal response. So if you dig into comments and look for trends again, where it's like, how many people are complaining about this issue? How many questions are popping up about this? And you just manually pull, have someone go through and just pull comments from your ads, as well as your competitors. You can see like, hey, in this market ... let's say you're doing a polish for a car. All of a sudden you see people asking like, "Hey, how long does the polish last?" All of a sudden, can I use it for examples-

Brett:

Can I use it on multiple surfaces? Can I use it on glass and on the paint? Can I use it on the tires?

Brandon:

Exactly.

Brett:

Things like that. Yes, so you're understanding, what are the questions? What are the hurdles? What are the objections? We're uncovering these because customers are telling you, so you're uncovering those and then you're able to address those in your ads.

Brandon:

So yeah, then you can address those in your ad, your pages, whatever. So that is one. Another source we look at is Amazon. So the product reviews of our products, our competitors' products. So you can go in and you kind of see the feedback and stories of success. Or kind of how it failed. Like, I personally don't like one star reviews, they're usually garbage.

Brett:

Usually those are people that...

Brandon:

Two star reviews-

Brett:

Usually those are just people that are angry with life.

Brandon:

Yeah, exactly. There's not much information. But two star reviews, you usually get like an actual thing. Like someone says, "Hey, this pain cream, it burnt me. It scarred me." All of a sudden you start seeing trends like that. Or it made my skin more sensitive. You can bring that up like, "Hey, our cream doesn't make your skin sensitive like other brands." Or this or we know your pain. Like that, as well as the success stories. So looking at five and four stars, you get an eye of what's like real. But you can start seeing trends and you can run these through like a word cloud. But run them through and like, what are people saying? How are they describing their success?

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. And you talked about looking ... you gave one example about snow teeth whitening on Facebook. And one recurring comment was, "Can I drink wine? Can I drink coffee when I'm going through this process?"

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brett:

Maybe like, "Oh, well, like of course." I wouldn't even thought that we need to address that. But that's what everybody's wondering. So you need to address that.

Brandon:

Yeah. And they did, and it took off. I saw those ads everywhere, people were asking for a long time in the comments. And then when they addressed that, it went crazy.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. It's so interesting that sometimes being creative really just means spotting things. Not creating things from scratch, but spotting things. Spotting that, "Oh, this is what they want and this is the thing keeping them from buying now that I see that." Okay, now I'm going to bring that to the forefront and address it in ads and things like that.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah, awesome. You also talk about the language that people use because that's important. You don't want to use the totally ... you don't want to use graduate level language when people are using slang that are your customers. Like you want to speak their language and in any examples there? And I think you also ... there was one women's product that you gave an example of.

Brandon:

Yeah, so while we do the spying, while we look for feedback from customers. What we're doing is we're pulling out their language. So like, how did they describe their problem? How did they describe their desired result? What did they describe as their desired action?

Brandon:

So for example, in ads for an anti wrinkle product, it was using like word saggy jowls, Turkey neck, stuff like that. The desired action was to like eliminate or erase or tighten, snap back. All of a sudden you can get all these different ways to describe it. And then like the desired result, like if you look through Reddit, there's a lot of forums on how these women want dewy skin. So it's like bright, plump. I haven't looked at that in a while. But dewy-

Brett:

Dewy, pretty interesting.

Brandon:

That is a key word for them. Yeah, so all of a sudden you can use that in ads, you're speaking their language, you're getting unique words that they resonate with, that then you can implement in your marketing. So all of a sudden, let's say you have a winning headline and it's like, "Hey, you erase your crows feet or whatever." You can change erase to what if it's tightened, disappear, lift? You can change crows feet, maybe there's other things. And all of a sudden you can play with the different language. Same thing for e-comm physical products. There's ways they describe the joy they felt, how it fixed the problem. There's no more like whatever, my kid doesn't cry all night. They might describe it some way else that you can then implement.

Brett:

Yeah. Love that. Love that. And I think there's also some tips you gave or some suggestions where sometimes ... and like we were at Geek Out, dominated by dudes. I don't know why. But it's like dudes that are media buyers and stuff like that. And sometimes there's a lot of dude copywriters. But we're selling a product to women, like we need their input and what are the actual words they're using? And so, you want to bring in some diversity as you're doing your research and want to make sure you're getting feedback from the right people. And anything to speak to there?

Brandon:

Yeah. And that actually plays into like the final step of this research is like, when we use our research, when we write, we like to have three copywriters, at least. Three to four, maybe five in a room. All with different backgrounds, all with different experienced levels. Because when they brainstorm together, it's a different dynamic. They have like a hive mind where they're able to comb through everything, bounce ideas off each other and come to new conclusions. Which results in better promos.

Brandon:

So like for us, that was the core reason we wanted to build bigger copy teams, is we noticed the more copywriters we have on a project, the better it works. And that's where like, okay, as a brand owner, it may not make sense to have three copywriters all specialize in this one field. But let's say you have an email copywriter, as well as a ad and product page copywriter, they can interact. You throw in a third person, maybe you, the media buyer or the product owner or whatever. At least at a minimum, having three people within the company. Could even be customer service or something. But like three people discussing all of the research, going through it and bouncing new ideas off each other is where you'll come up with new breakthroughs.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. And really, if we look at what drives success on ad platforms, whether it's Facebook or Native or GDN or YouTube or TikTok. It really comes down to the copy and the script first. Obviously then how those things are executed, if it's video, who your spokesperson is, who's actually delivering it if it's video or an image, that's important. But it all starts with a script.

Brett:

Just like your favorite movies, the best movies have great scripts. The best shows have great scripts. And so you got to have good copy. And really it all begins here. And this process is less about being creative and more about asking, looking, and listening. And then delivering exactly what your customers want in a fresh way based on trends. And so I love this process, man. It's super awesome. This has been very, very valuable. I can keep talking about this stuff because I geek out about it. But as people are listening and they think, "All right, I got to dig in more. I either got to learn more from Brandon or I got to connect with Brandon and James and Nick's company." How can they learn more from you? Do you have any resources, any guides, anything like that?

Brandon:

Right at the moment, no. But I'm always willing to chat. And if they just want to hit me up on Twitter, just search. IamBrandonHam on Twitter. That's my, whatever we call it.

Brett:

Twitter handle.

Brandon:

Handle, yeah.

Brett:

Exactly.

Brandon:

So hit me there. You can DM me. I don't really care. Always down to chat. You can check out our website, 012.inc, but I don't think you'll get as much value. Add me on Twitter and you can hit me up whenever.

Brett:

Awesome. Love that. And that's 021, all numeric .inc.

Brandon:

Yep.

Brett:

Brandon Ham, ladies and gentlemen. Brandon, this was awesome, man. Thank you so much.

Brandon:

All right. Thanks, Brett.

Brett:

All right. Awesome.

Brett:

Thanks again. We really appreciate you. And Hey, as a listener we want to hear from you, what would you like to hear more of on this show? Also, we got a new podcast, Spicy Curry, check that out, as well. We'd love your feedback. We'd love that review on iTunes. And until next time, thank you for listening.





Episode 199
:
Amber Norell and Trenton Bodenbach - OMG Commerce

Prime Day 2022 Recap - Surprises, Insights and Lessons for the Next Prime Day

Prime Day is now one of the most anticipated shopping events of the year for both shoppers and sellers.

It started in 2015 as a way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Amazon.  Mostly it was designed to help boost sales during one of the slowest times of the year (July). 

It has since grown dramatically and rivaled some of the largest shopping days of the year. 

In this episode, we break down what we saw this year including some surprises, key learnings, and take aways for upcoming big sales events like other Prime events and Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

OMG is large enough now that aggregate data from our clients is informative and meaningful.  In this episode we unpack global Amazon trends and data and data from our growing list of OMG clients. 

Amber, OMG’s Amazon Director, and Trenton, our Amazon PPC lead, join the podcast to break down what we saw from OMG clients and what we saw globally. 

Here’s a look at what we cover.

  • 300 million items were purchased on Prime Day 2022.
  • 60,000 items purchased per minute (wowza).
  • Most shopping was done from 8p-9p PT on Wednesday 7/13.
  • What happened to CPCs and conversion rates during Prime Day.
  • What offers and deals did well, vs. what didn’t do so hot.
  • What categories really shined and outperformed others (some pretty surprising results here).
  • Key learnings to apply for Prime Day Early Access and Cyber 5.

Mentioned in This Episode:

OMG Commerce Resource Guides

Trenton Bodenbach

- LinkedIn

Amber Norell

- LinkedIn

Amazon DSP Roadmap (Guide by OMG Commerce)


Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello. And welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today, joining me are two of the best and brightest from OMG Commerce.

Brett:

And I do want to clarify something. I didn't say the best and brightest. Every time I say something like that, someone else on my team says, "Oh, so they're your favorite?"

Brett:

I do love these team members, they're absolute rock stars. You're going to see that for yourself in just a minute. But hey, today we're talking about what has become a lot of people in eCommerce's favorite summer holiday, Prime Day.

Brett:

So we're going to be unpacking what just transpired with Prime Day 2022. We're going to look at some of the global numbers and some of the surprising things that happened this Prime Day.

Brett:

We're going to take a look at our clients because now OMG Commerce is big enough that we have a lot of meaningful data from clients, so we can talk about some trends and some things we saw. What types of offers and deals and what kind of prep led to good results, and what didn't.

Brett:

So that you can be ready for it next year's Prime Day, but also a new flavor of Prime Day that's coming this Q4, which we'll talk about in a minute.

Brett:

So I want to introduce these rock stars to you right now. So first up, Mr. Trenton Bodenbach. And Trenton, this is your first podcast ever. Do I have that right?

Trenton:

Ever. First podcast ever.

Brett:

First podcast ever, but he does listen to a lot of podcasts. And Trenton's not shy. Trenton, we do an annual award show at OMG, we call the OMGs. And did you actually name those awards, Trenton? Did you come up with that name?

Trenton:

I did.

Brett:

Okay. Yeah. So he named it and he's very comfortable with a microphone, very comfortable in stage. Especially if you've got a microphone and a drink in your hand, you're super, super comfortable.

Trenton:

Coffee this morning, ...

Brett:

Got it, man. Got it. And so Trenton is our Amazon advertising lead, so this guy knows Amazon Ads inside and out. As we're analyzing new clients to take on or as we're working on new strategies, Trenton is heading that up and he's at the forefront. So really, really sharp. So Trenton, welcome to the show and congrats on your first podcast.

Trenton:

I'm excited.

Brett:

Apparently, we were supposed to have another podcast, but I bailed on you. And I don't remember this story, so you

Trenton:

and you canceled and I went by the wayside. You never ...

Brett:

Oh man, that's hilarious. Gave Trenton the cold shoulder, and then forgot about it. But you're back, and this is going to be awesome.

Trenton:

But I'm back. And I'm here for Prime Day, so it's going to be fun.

Brett:

Here for Prime Day. And we'll see how it goes, Trenton. We should probably do another podcast after this, depending on how it goes. We'll see. Just kidding. And then back again for, I think, the third time Amber Norell, who is our new Amazon director.

Brett:

And I will say, if I ever have an Amazon question, or if anyone says, "I wonder if this is possible on Amazon? I wonder how you do that on Amazon," my immediate reaction is, "I don't know, talk to Amber. Amber will know, Amber knows everything about Amazon."

Brett:

And that's maybe only a tiny exaggeration. But Amber's been working in Amazon now for about, what, eight years. Something like that, Amber? Eight-ish years.

Brett:

Managed some really big brands, helped launch some big brands, helped launch BOOM! By Cindy Joseph. She is just phenomenal when it comes to anything Amazon related. And so welcome to the show again, Amber, and really glad you could take the time.

Amber:

Thanks, Brett. Excited to be here.

Brett:

Yeah. All right. All right. So quick history lesson, and I know that's probably not the way you want to start a podcast. Some people are tuning out right now or falling asleep, but Prime Day started in 2015 on the 20 year anniversary of Amazon.

Brett:

And the whole idea was, can we do something to get more people to become Prime members? I think at this point, it's really hard for me to imagine life pre-Prime membership, right?

Brett:

But that was the tipping point, getting that Prime membership. That's when you go from, "I order from Amazon occasionally," to, "I order everything from Amazon because of Amazon Prime."

Brett:

So in the early days, it was all about how do we get more Prime members? Now it's just this huge freaking holiday in the middle of summer. Everybody shops for stuff.

Brett:

We even see a lift on sales from D2C stores, people that sell not on Amazon see an increase on Prime Day as well. And so this year was a bit of a monster.

Brett:

Some weird stuff over the last few years. You had the COVID year, where they had to shift Prime Day to Q4, then you have last year... Was it last year when Prime Day was in June instead of July? I think that was last year. Bad with years on occasion.

Brett:

But anyway, it's just been different. But this year, everything's right with the world, right in terms of Amazon Prime Day. It's back in July where it all began.

Brett:

And so as we look at some of the global numbers, this is just some of the stats that came out from Amazon and other places, what surprised you guys? What was interesting about this Prime Day year?

Amber:

For me, the weirdest thing that we saw was the impact on different categories. So in past years, we would always see luxury products or products that just people wouldn't typically indulge in just go through the moon on Prime Day: 3, 4, 5x in sales.

Amber:

Things like groceries, home essentials, things that you actually need. There was a little bit of an uptick, but nothing crazy. This year was totally different. Some of those were some of Amazon's biggest categories, and that was just totally unexpected to us.

Brett:

Yeah. Usually Prime Day's the day for buying expensive TVs or other cool things you don't really need, but you want, you've been holding out on. Yeah. Go ahead, Trenton.

Trenton:

I'm from the Midwest so I'll probably say every time I accidentally talk over somebody. No. I was going to say just from some of Amazon's data they put out, that one of the best selling items worldwide was Honest diapers and wipes.

Trenton:

We've seen that historically for all the accounts I ran when I was in the nitty gritty of running for clients. To see a jump in that kind of a market on a Prime Day, we're just showing that people are looking more at what they need from the day to day and not just the big ticket items. And so the increase on the smaller sellers was higher than we've seen historically.

Brett:

Yeah. It's a super interesting time economically, right? A lot of signs point to recession. And a lot of the pundits and experts are saying, "Hey, recession is on the horizon. It's not a matter of if, it's when."

Brett:

But everybody's got a job still, so there's still money flowing and moving around in the economy for sure. But we all know inflation is just a monster.

Brett:

It's a bear right now, which is contributing to this where it's like, "Yeah, maybe I'm not going to buy the TV, but I do need a deal on diapers," because those have gotten super expensive lately. Just like everything else has.

Brett:

So yeah, really interesting, the shift to like, "I'll just buy my groceries and some other stuff on Prime Day because I really want a deal there." So that's unique to this year. And maybe one of those things that won't happen again, if we had to predict. So what else was interesting in the global numbers?

Trenton:

I'll say for, again, a historical point is day one on Prime Day has always been really good for our clients. And then day two is usually pretty soft compared to... Always an increase in overall sales, compared to the weeks leading up or your average-

Brett:

Always better than a normal day, of course. Yeah.

Trenton:

Man, on day two for our clients, we saw not all across the board, but a majority of them almost hitting the same numbers as day one. So an increase that we haven't seen in the past.

Trenton:

And I think Amazon released that the US did the most shopping actually on day two from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM. So the day two was actually... We sold more units on that day than on day one, which is historically not the case from our experience.

Brett:

Yeah. So Prime Day is a two-day event. So this year was Tuesday, Wednesday, July 12th, July 13th. Yet typically, there's a lot of hype, there's a lot of buzz. Day one, we just come out of the gate strong, people sell a ton of stuff.

Brett:

By day two, a lot of people have spent their budget on Prime Day, so we see a slow down. Not the case this year, both days were strong. And yeah, that 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM Pacific time on Wednesday was when Amazon saw the most shoppers, which was pretty crazy. Any thoughts on reasons why there, Amber or Trenton?

Amber:

Yeah. I think people were more focused, again, on what they actually needed this year versus what they wanted. Of course, there were people that were indulging, but it was contingent on when were those Lightning Deals running on those products.

Amber:

So if they were running on day two, that's when they were buying. And I also think a lot of people have really adopted Prime Exclusive Discounts this year, which are running both days. So that dispersed it a little bit more than it has in previous years.

Trenton:

Yeah. I'll echo that obviously over the last couple years, we've seen an increase in sellers on Amazon. And so Prime Day, obviously there are going to be more deals throughout the day, and so I think that we saw...

Trenton:

The prime placement historically has been day one. Prime? The placement that all of our clients or anybody selling on Amazon was on day one.

Trenton:

But I think also for me, an example from my life, my wife didn't even know... I should've told her because I work on Amazon, I work on the platform, but she was like, "Oh, it's Prime Day. I had no idea."

Trenton:

So she didn't even realize till the afternoon of day one. And so then for us, we ended up buying a vacuum or a vacuum wet mop thing. And she waited and we found the lightning deal was on day two. And we kept looking.

Trenton:

And so those deals that normally were hitting on day one, some of the bigger players and the bigger clients, day two was really good for them. And so a lot of consumers were...

Trenton:

And this might just be the lack of paying attention or it's because Prime Day moved around so much and not historically the same weekend, and so people don't know it's coming. But they figured out Prime Day was happening, and they figured out why it was happening.

Brett:

Yeah. It's really interesting. So yeah, more Lightning Deals or more deals being spaced out throughout those two days, just because there are more deals.

Brett:

Which makes you wonder, will this eventually be a three day event? Will it become Prime week at some point? Like we have the Cyber Five globally for eCommerce. We shall see. It's hard to say, but super interesting.

Brett:

A couple other little tidbits that I thought were fun. 60,000 items purchased per minute, on average. So there you go. That gives a little context to what's shaking on Prime Day.

Brett:

Also thought it was interesting, there have been times in years past where I just heard... Everybody I knew was buying an Alexa device. And we've got Alexa devices in all of our rooms, so I'm sure people are listing in all the time.

Brett:

But I don't hear as much buzz around people buying Alexa devices now. But Amazon released, in their press release for this year, more Alexa devices were purchased during this Prime Day than any Prime Day in the past, which is pretty crazy.

Brett:

So that's another area that really is going to give Amazon an edge going forward. The more data they can get from these Alexa-enabled devices, is it going to allow people to shop...?

Brett:

Voice shopping, which will be more of a thing, I think. But also just the data is extremely powerful for Amazon. So any other global numbers, Amber, Trenton that you thought were interesting that we can dive into before we look at OMG specific numbers?

Trenton:

This isn't something that is groundbreaking. So the US best day was on Wednesday, but the global best day was on Tuesday.

Brett:

Interesting. Yeah.

Trenton:

So like-

Brett:

Which is more what we would expect, right?

Trenton:

Yeah. Just to be aware of that. And so I think for me, all of this data, I'm always thinking of it from a client perspective like, how do I use this in the next year or the next?

Trenton:

What we just alluded at, maybe a Prime Day two, which we're not supposed to call it that. Whatever they named the one coming up in the fall,...

Brett:

So there's an event coming up in the fall. We'll talk about it more later. We'll tease it now.

Trenton:

Yeah.

Brett:

What's that called, Amber?

Amber:

What's that?

Brett:

The event coming up in the fall, the Prime whatever. Prime Early Access or something.

Amber:

We're calling it Prime Day two, but we don't think it's actually going to be Prime Day Two.

Brett:

Prime Day Two?

Amber:

Yeah.

Brett:

You heard it here first. That's our name for what Amazon calls it. It's surprisingly different.

Trenton:

It's Early Access or something like that.

Brett:

Early Access? There you go. There you go. Yeah.

Trenton:

There's not much information about it, but we'll get to that in a minute. So for me, I'm always thinking about, how can we use the data points that we have?

Trenton:

And so looking at worldwide, so for sellers that we have at OMG, if you're looking at the next Prime Day, knowing, okay, maybe Tuesday is going to be the day that we push heavily, shift a lot of that budget there.

Trenton:

If we don't use it, then we can shift it to Wednesday. Or knowing the US maybe historically this year, Wednesday was a bigger day. So thinking about how you use those data points in informing what your strategy is for the years to come.

Trenton:

Cyber Five coming up. We have a lot of big days coming, so these data points are always good. So just looking at the Amazon numbers for us, just saying, "Where's the money being spent? What categories? What days? What times?" And then that informs us on when and a strategy to talk to our clients about.

Brett:

Yeah, because one of the worst things would be to run out of budget. Run out of ad budget, midday, day one of Prime Day when you're just slaying it.

Brett:

Or you hit budget caps in your campaigns and you don't notice it, so you can't raise those and fully take advantage of Prime Day. And so yeah, understanding the trends both to prep for next Prime Day, but then also yeah, for Cyber Five and Early Access and other cool things like that. So good.

Brett:

Awesome. Any other global takeaways, Amber? If not, I want to get into some specifics that we saw with our clients who are high growth e-commerce brands.

Amber:

No I think just outside of the change in less exciting products, we saw even more increase in the exciting products that we expected to do well. So increases in clothing, beauty.

Amber:

According to Amazon, customers purchased more than 1.2 million pairs of sunglasses and one million swimsuits. So a lot of people out there buying a lot of different things this year.

Brett:

Getting to the beach baby, let's go back on vacation. It's happening. Yeah. Good signs that those categories are increasing. And it was interesting. Looking at again last year's Prime Day, it was not a huge increase year over year.

Brett:

Some of the early years... And this is typical, early years of Prime Day, you'd see a 40% lift year over year of Prime Day numbers. And we're talking about billions of dollars in sales. And so huge increases.

Brett:

Now Prime Day isn't quite as new and quite as novel, so year over year growth has slowed down. Last year was almost flat. It was just barely growing year over year.

Brett:

I think a lot of us, going into this Prime Day, we wondered how good of a Prime Day would it be? But would you say it's safe to say, Amber, that we've probably exceeded most expectations, like Prime Day was better than most people thought it would be this year?

Amber:

Yeah. Based on last year, we were expecting there could almost be a decrease on some accounts. And there was year over year growth, pretty much consistently across all of our clients, which was awesome to see.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. So let's dive into a couple of, "Hey, what were some interesting results versus expectations?" We already talked about categories.

Brett:

So we saw some of the home essentials and everyday goods that likely saw a bump because of inflation, but what were some other expectations that didn't line up with results?

Trenton:

So we have some consumable clients who are in the supplements, which have... Historically, we see a bump. Again, rising tide raises all ships. So when we have a client...

Trenton:

And we've broken some of our data into clients who ran ads, and then some of our clients don't want to run ads on Prime Day, because their products historically haven't been good products to run ...

Brett:

And ad costs go way up on Prime Day too. Right?

Trenton:

Yeah.

Brett:

So it's like, "Why do I want to overpay if people aren't buying?" Yeah.

Trenton:

But we saw with a couple of our clients who, again, have a consumable product and within the supplement category, their growth was higher than we really expected, in the sense of what we've seen historically. So that was awesome. Slightly unexpected.

Trenton:

I remember being on the call, I think it was about three weeks ago and we were still deciding... Because we signed up for the Lightning Deals just in case we wanted them, we weren't for sure. Historically, they've never ran ads... They've turned off ads on Prime Days, so it's not worth it. We'll just ...

Brett:

"Our category doesn't explode on Prime Day, like others. So let's just not pay the increased CPCs."

Trenton:

We talked them into, "Let's test this year. Let's just do something different." So we ran ads and their growth was just phenomenal. So I think we saw about 4, 5x total sales that day or something like that.

Brett:

Over a normal day?

Trenton:

Over a normal day.

Brett:

Crazy.

Trenton:

We take the average of the first two weeks leading up to Prime, so we have a benchmark. And I would say we were right at 4 to 5x for that client, which is crazy.

Brett:

Crazy. And that's a category. Yeah. You don't look forward to... You're not probably sharing with your spouse like, "Hey, we can get this supplement cheaper." Not like you would have a TV or a new mixer, or something more fun like that.

Brett:

So yeah, that's interesting. But kudos to you, Trenton and team for saying, "Let's just try it. Let's just put something together and let's see how this goes." Cool. Amber, what about you? Where did results differ, exceed expectations for our clients?

Amber:

So I think what was a little bit unexpected to me is that over the past couple of years, we always knew there was going to be an increase on Prime Day.

Amber:

Even on consumables, home goods, those essential products, it would be very, very slight, but they would see some sort of increase from the week prior.

Amber:

And we weren't seeing as much of a difference if people were running deals versus not. We would have some clients not running any sort of deal and get a two to three increase on their sales.

Amber:

This year, it was very, very clear that people were shopping for deals and being very selective about what they were buying. We split everything up according to people who were running deals versus not running deals.

Amber:

And on day one, those that were running deals, on average, had seen a 352% increase. Those that were running no deals only saw 60% increase. And when we say deals, we're talking about Lightning Deals, Prime Exclusive Discounts, coupons. I mean anything really. Even a nominal 5% coupon saw a much bigger lift than if you just did nothing to prepare for Prime Day.

Brett:

That's crazy. So companies that did nothing day one of Prime Day, grew... Sales grew about 60%? Which is still nothing to sneeze at. That's still exciting.

Amber:

Right.

Brett:

But those that did any kind of deal, even a 5% deal, whatever, 352% lift, which is better, which is awesome. So can you unpack those deals just a little bit? So we got Lightning Deals, we got Prime Exclusive, we got...

Brett:

You can just do a coupon or whatever you want to do. What are the ranges there? Because for some deals, you've got to go minimum of 20% for some categories of deals. Can you talk through what that looks like, Amber?

Amber:

Yeah. So the Prime Exclusive deal, it's really close to a standard coupon, but it says Prime Exclusive deal on it. So there's a lot of urgency, they think they'll only get that coupon on that day.

Amber:

Like you mentioned, there is a 20% minimum, so it's not viable for a lot of people. But for those that it is, it's super effective during Prime Day, during Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

Amber:

Standard coupons, that's a great alternative to that if you need to be at a lower percentage off. And then the Lightning Deals, Seven Day deals, those are... What we saw this year is, it was 50/50.

Amber:

So some of them did exceptionally well. They had what we would have considered great timing. And in the past year, that's how we would determine which deals we would keep.

Amber:

Versus this year, it could have had great timing but it didn't get any visibility, so it just did not do well. So we were super selective with what we were submitting for Lightning Deals.

Brett:

Interesting, and Lightning Deals... I heard you say Seven Day deals as well, but Lightning Deals are often... It's a shorter time window typically, right?

Amber:

Right. Usually around 12 hours.

Brett:

Got it. Got it. Cool. Any other areas where you were like, "Wow, we were expecting this, and Prime Day far exceeded it"?

Trenton:

I will say historically for the clients who just ran coupons... So again, talking about... Amber just overviewed those. Again, we'd see a lift. But the lift we saw this year, even with just a coupon was significantly higher.

Trenton:

And so I think that's either buyer intent, like people are looking and they want those consumables or they want those smaller items, ticket items. Again, sometimes for clients I've run in the past, the bigger the item, the better they do on Prime Day. Or the more expensive the item, the better they do.

Brett:

Right. Right.

Trenton:

Whereas this year, our clients who have maybe a $30 to $50 product, their increase was bigger and way higher than historically. But also, we were just talking about the increase in overall sales. The conversion rate for me, I was looking at that, was interesting.

Trenton:

Historically, I went back and looked at past Prime Days. And the average across, I think, 2018, '17, '18, '19 was like 11%. Somewhere there. And then it jumped during COVID a little bit.

Trenton:

For our clients who ran deals, their conversion rate on average was just over 18%, which is awesome. And for those who didn't, they still saw a rise, but it was right at the average of the historical Prime Day, which is right at 11.

Trenton:

So just even if you have the ability to do those coupons right now or coming up thinking about that, if you can use... And again, I'm not saying... Always run your numbers in a range, from worst case scenario to best case scenario.

Trenton:

So maybe running from that 11% conversion rate to that 18% conversion rate, take your historical clicks, find out how many people you're landing.

Trenton:

And then you can then begin to write a narrative of like, "If I run that 20% and I hit the 11% conversion rate on what we saw last year," then you can have a model for next year or a range of thinking through what you might actually do.

Trenton:

So thinking through that conversion rate and your price points, and then choosing what discount you might want to do. "Do I want to do the 20% off? Do I want to do the Lightning Deal? The Lightning Deal's going to cost me X amount."

Trenton:

And I don't know what average they were for our clients this year to get into that Lightning Deal. But you can then begin to have a working model for your team to think through a strategy, or whoever's running your ads to think through a strategy for the upcoming years.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that. I want to unpack that just a little bit. So you start a few numbers. Typically on Prime Day, the conversion rate's 11%. This year we saw it was like 18%.

Brett:

Just to put that in a context, standard eCommerce conversion rates, when you look at all e-commerce sites, it's 1% to 3%. So one to three out of 100 people that visit an e-commerce site purchase.

Brett:

Amazon's higher. Most people just go to Amazon to buy. They're researching or buying, so the conversion rates on Amazon are higher. But on Prime Day, if it got to 18% for some people, that's insane. That's an insane purchase conversion rate.

Brett:

So you got a couple things at work here. You got more people shopping on Prime Day, and then a much higher percentage of those people buying on Prime Day, which really has a nice compounding effect.

Brett:

So as we look at that, how would you run some of those models, Trenton? What are we seeing, in terms of increase in number of visitors? So you're looking at that maybe 11% to 18% conversion rate. What kind of lift are we seeing, in terms of visitors to our stores and our PDPs?

Trenton:

So I'd always use your historical models because we have a lot of people in different verticals. So I can give overall numbers, but those are going to be a little bit skewed in the sense of we have electronics, we have home goods, we have consumables.

Brett:

Right. Right.

Trenton:

So when I talk like overall here, please be aware that...

Brett:

Always check your numbers. Yeah.

Trenton:

Check your numbers. Please look at your vertical. Talk to your Amazon rep, if you have one. Find out what the average growth for impressions were on those days.

Trenton:

And then what I would do is I'd apply that to, let's say, the month leading up to next year's Prime Day. So let's say you're averaging 1,000 impressions a day. It's an easy number.

Trenton:

But we saw a growth of 20% of impressions last year. So you can then take that and say, "You know what? I'm going to have this amount of growth for impressions. If I run a deal, I can have maybe 11% to 18% conversion rate."

Trenton:

Again, look at your historical conversion rate. Because if you're at a 15% already, you're probably going to be at an 18%. If you're running at 11 historically...

Trenton:

So you always have to use your historical numbers, but then you begin to take the information that we've gleaned from this year, so a high number... I think our highest conversion rate, it was up there. It was something like in the 30%, which is super high.

Brett:

Crazy.

Trenton:

And then we had obviously lower, the 10s and people who were running lower than that. But what we were going to do is say average across the board is 18%.

Trenton:

So if I take those impressions, I know my click through rate, I can then see how many visitors I could have there. So an increase of X amount of visitors and increase of X amount of purchases.

Trenton:

You've got to remember you're giving 20% off. So then my profit margins are coming down. So then you can really begin to build a model, "If I have this many sales..."

Trenton:

And you can just tier it. "If conversion rate is this and my sales are this..." And then you can begin to go all the way down and find where you want to be. So again, I always look in brackets from worst case to best case.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Trenton:

But when you use those historical data markers, it does give you a context to work within to forecast what you can do.

Brett:

Love that. So this is very much related to what we just talked about. But ad costs... So conversion rates are up, more people are shopping, but that also means more advertisers are bidding on clicks.

Brett:

And so ad costs go up. How should we be planning our ad budgets for next Prime Day? And the new thing in Q4, what do we typically see there as far as ad cost and budgeting?

Trenton:

So historically, for most clients that I would run, I would say you're looking at usually at 2x for budget. That was higher this year. We saw spend increases, I want to say, on average between 3 and 4x for most clients, which is pretty high. There were a lot of people shopping this year.

Trenton:

For clients without a deal, that was down to about 2x. 1.5 to 2x on average for people who were not running. Again, strategy wise, you have to think through like, "Am I going to run a deal? Am I not?" And then you can then apply the model.

Trenton:

So I would suggest anywhere to be thinking through, and be okay with anywhere from 3 to 4x in your budget for those two days. Again, you will see an increase in the two weeks coming up.

Trenton:

So that's why we try to take the average for those two weeks because you do see an increased traffic because people start to run deals early, the week leading up.

Trenton:

People are running coupons and things like that. And so your traffic might be increasing then. And that's when we also start to pay attention to... We're always paying attention to CPCs, the cost per click.

Trenton:

But for this year we saw, again, wide range of different verticals. There's a lot higher and some lower. But for those not running a deal, I would say our cost per click was about the same, but that's based on strategy.

Trenton:

That's people who were like, "Hey, we don't want to spend more. We want to stay where we're at. We would rather just our profit margin go up so we're not spending more. We're going to see sales increase anyway."

Brett:

So that could be that, "Hey, we're just not going to bid more on clicks for Prime Day." So for those clients, the CPCs didn't go up?

Trenton:

So a different strategy. Usually that's, again, in the historical verticals that don't do really great on Prime Day. But now I would say... I'd probably come back with them with this data next year and say, "Do you know what? Hey, you need to rethink this strategy, because we saw a different Prime Day in 2022 compared to previous iterations."

Trenton:

But for our clients who were running deals, we saw an average of about a 50% increase in cost per click. Again, that ranges. There are a lot higher... Electronics were higher than that.

Trenton:

And then the consumables were, I think, right at 70%. Somewhere in there. But the average across all of them, 50%. So I would, again, probably plan on at least a 50% increase in your cost per click, and then a 4x in spend overall for budget for those two days.

Brett:

Awesome. Love it. Got to be competitive. So there's a lot more people shopping. But hey, advertisers are like sharks in the water and they're trying to get those clicks. So got to be ready, got to be prepared, got to budget for it.

Brett:

It all works out if you've got the right strategy in place, but you've got to be ready. So awesome. Good stuff. So Amber, let's think about what are some tips?

Brett:

What are some takeaways? What are some key learnings that we can apply, knowing what deals worked better, what pricing strategy might work better? So just walk us through. What are some of the tips and learnings that we can apply to next Prime Day?

Amber:

Yeah. Definitely Prime Day, but even sooner Black Friday, Cyber Monday, you want to take a similar strategy. Again, Prime Exclusive Discounts. If you can swing it with your margin, they're amazing. They do really well. You get a lot more visibility, so I definitely recommend those.

Amber:

Lightning Deals, again, they can be 50/50. But I think if you have a best selling product and you're getting offered a really great time period, take it, test it, if you're comfortable with it. As long as the projections make sense.

Amber:

And then something that we did see work this year, which you do have to be careful with, is changing the listing price. So typically, we avoid making any changes to pricing 30 days when you got-

Brett:

Right. It can be dangerous, right? Amazon doesn't necessarily like it. And you don't really know how consumers are going to respond when you change the list price.

Amber:

Right. People have Chrome extensions on their browser. They can see that this was listed lower at whatever point or 60 days before. So that's definitely a red flag. It can cause ad suppressions, deals get canceled constantly. So those are things you all want to definitely keep an eye out on.

Amber:

But if you're really strategic about it, you're lifting the MSRP price, which is now called the list price... That's where we saw a little bit of success this year.

Amber:

And just doing that about 30 to 45 days in advance so that it's showing us strike through price on the page. We did have one client, they did extremely well with it, but they did get picked up as, I think, a featured deal or something like that. And it just blew up. It went viral all over a bunch of blog sites.

Amber:

So we think a lot of that came from that sort of lift there. But we did have a handful of other clients that were testing that, and they definitely saw a similar lift.

Brett:

Awesome. Good stuff. Anything you would add to that, Trenton? Just some key takeaways on, "Hey, let's do this next time." We were talking about budget and bids, so I know that was probably the core of it. But anything you would add to that?

Trenton:

So the only thing I would add on the actual advertising side of cost per click and looking at keywords is the 80/20 rule. We talk about this a lot here.

Brett:

Yeah.

Trenton:

It's a lot of you could put 100 keywords in a campaign and really 20 of them are going to... Usually, five of them were going to drive most of your traffic. It's just the weirdness of Amazon.

Trenton:

So paying attention, strategy wise, of maybe your budget. Thinking through best keywords and mainly getting down, and thinking through your customer's journey to your product.

Trenton:

And thinking and strategy like, "What do I want and where do I want to spend this money?" Our profit margin might be higher on some of these long tail keywords, but obviously there's not a lot of traffic to them.

Trenton:

So really putting that money towards those keywords that are driving most of your traffic to your product detail page, and then also utilizing DSP in the... Weeks.

Trenton:

Or sponsor display, if you don't have access to DSP. To then begin to remarket to those customers who, A, did purchase. And maybe thinking through, also in the coming weeks, to still maybe doing some type of coupon, and then pushing and remarketing to those people who didn't purchase your competitor's or your product.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that strategy, and that's something... We need to get Austin on a future podcast. He's the lead for Amazon DSP, which if you don't know what Amazon DSP is, it's basically a way to run, display video ads on and off Amazon to people based on their Amazon shopping behavior. So it's a way to run remarketing.

Brett:

So you can remarket people that visit your PDPs. You can remarket to them the next time they're surfing the web with their favorite news sites. They could see an Amazon DSP display ad there.

Brett:

And so yeah, this is the time to have your DSP strategy in order because you just 3 or 4x to your visitors to your site, and yes, you increase your conversion rate, but there's still a lot of people that didn't buy.

Brett:

And with Amazon DSP, you can build audiences of people that visited your site or your competitors that didn't buy, or your products and your competitor's price that didn't buy. You can build an audience there, and then you can target them. So it's next level strategies.

Brett:

That's something we look at doing for Prime Day, for Cyber Five, any really big sales event and ongoing too. But especially for these big events.

Brett:

Any other tips, takeaways? Because I want to transition to talk about this new October event here in just a minute. But any other tips or takeaways or learnings that you'd want to share, Amber or Trenton?

Amber:

Yeah. I would say if you want to see growth in your account, we're not at a point where you can simply just not plan for peaks at this point. So you hear horror stories about people that just take every deal that's accepted to them. They'll throw up a 40%, 50% off coupon, and then they're like, "Well, I had all these sales, but I made no money or I lost money."

Brett:

Right.

Amber:

You have to run deals, but you have to be strategic about it. Think about what Trenton was mentioning about the numbers and the increase in conversion rate, what that's going to do to your future sales, what that can do to your advertising.

Amber:

As you mentioned, DSP, following up the days after Prime Day and having some sort of small coupon on there. It's going to give you more visibility. It's going to improve conversion rate.

Amber:

It's just super important to partake and get that visibility at that point, especially knowing that consumables and things like that are on their rise, where you have the opportunity to really hold that customer as a long-term customer, get them into Subscribe and Save.

Amber:

So if you're seeing a slight decrease on your profit, if it strategically makes sense and it's going to drive that longer term customer value, that's what you need to be thinking about going into these peaks, for sure.

Brett:

I love that. Yeah, think strategically about your discounts. I'm not a huge fan of discounting, but I do know that when you do it the right way, it's great to bump sales and to get new customers.

Brett:

But yeah, if you do a 40% or 50% off deal, that's potentially, and probably, cutting your profits by like 90%. Well, now you've got to 10x your sales just to make what you would normally make.

Brett:

So that's where for some people... And Trenton and Amber, you guys both talked about this, for some people, you look at your numbers and you're like, "I can't even do a 20% discount. I'll just take my bump that I get from Amazon Prime Day. I'll maybe spend a little bit more on ads. But it doesn't make sense for me to discount that much because of the lift I'd have to have."

Brett:

So run the numbers, look at the math, think strategically, which goes without saying, but we need to say it. Anything you would add to that, Trenton, before we talk about the new October event?

Trenton:

Yeah. Two things, and they're pretty... Well, I'll piggyback on what Amber just put out there, because what she said is great. And you're also changing your mindset, in the sense of thinking of it as an investment in your brand.

Trenton:

It's hard sometimes to... Especially when profit margins are tight, but thinking through of, man, the more people... Especially if you have a quality product.

Trenton:

And if people are excited and you know what you have is a good product, getting that into consumer's hands, word of mouth is so powerful at times.

Trenton:

And so thinking through of just like this, "You know what? Our profit margin is going to go down, but we're going to get into more people..." Household, and whatever your product is. We're going to get this product into the hands of consumers more, and hopefully build the brand awareness along through word of mouth, through social media, through whatever avenues you can.

Trenton:

But along with that, and this is the most simple advice I can give because I've ran into this in the past and it's the worst, is think through your inventory before you push a product.

Trenton:

Because the worst thing that happens is you have this crazy awesome Prime Day, and then... Especially if you're in a crowded vertical market where you have a lot of competitors with similar items, and you do great, you knock it out of the park, and then a week later you completely run out of stock, and then you're scrambling.

Trenton:

Or a month later, whatever. If it's detrimental to your ability to push your product on Amazon, then that'll affect the strategy of which I would say to push your product.

Trenton:

Because man, stock outs on Amazon are not a joke, especially with... Again, like I said, if you're in a vertical that's crowded or you have a lot of similar products or competitors are selling, and then all of a sudden you're like, "I was Amazon's top choice. I was number one."

Trenton:

And you come back a month later and you're so far down on the list, and it's just a heavy climb to get back up there. And there are tips and tricks, and it's going to cost money.

Trenton:

But if you can avoid that, then thinking through the strategy long term of, "You know what? We're not going to push this heavily because our inventory doesn't justify this." But make sure you're thinking through all those avenues.

Brett:

Yeah. Such good advice. Really, really good advice from both of you. That's awesome. So we've only got about five minutes left. I want to talk about this new October event.

Brett:

So a couple years ago, Amazon had to shift Prime Day to October because of the pandemic bump and supply chain and things like that. And you know what happened.

Brett:

Prime Day, when it was in October, was pretty good. It pulled some of those holiday shopping numbers a little earlier in the shopping season. If you can be the first merchant to get holiday purchases going, then that's all the better.

Brett:

But just like we always see, even stuff like supplements and other things that aren't gift items typically, those see a lift too. So new October event called Early Access Prime something or another... Early Access Prime Sale in October.

Brett:

What are some key dates and things we need to know about that, Amber? And then, what should we do to prep? And I know we've already talked about prep a little bit, but any insights you can share there?

Amber:

So right now, the only date that's been released for that Prime event is the Lightning Deal submission cut off, which is today. So by the time you guys hear this, it's going to be ...

Brett:

Oops.

Amber:

We're keeping an eye out to see if Prime Exclusive Discounts are going to be something that pops up for that, because that would definitely be something we pursue.

Amber:

But keep in mind, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, they are doing very early deal submissions on that. And the timeline is coming up very quickly. I think that's-

Brett:

September 2nd. Is that what I heard you say?

Amber:

September 2nd, yeah. So if you're going to be applying a similar strategy that you did during Prime Day, during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, make sure you're getting those deals in before September 2nd.

Brett:

Awesome. Yeah. So any insights on... I guess we would pull from a couple years ago when there was an October Prime Day, but anything we should be thinking about as we look at that sale?

Brett:

And then not too far after that, we've got the Cyber Five. What are you doing to prepare, Trent or Amber? How are you thinking about that? How are we advising clients right now about those two events?

Trenton:

Not to reiterate too much, but talking to my specialist, the main thing I'm talking about is inventory levels. Preparing for Q4, because you're not just having Cyber Five anymore. We're going to have a Prime Day two, and then straight into Cyber Five, straight into November, straight into December. So that's going to...And that's another reason... If inventory levels are a little bit low, that's another reason to not discount too much, right?

Trenton:

Yeah.

Brett:

Because you've only got limited items. So keep those margins healthy.

Trenton:

So forecasting there is really important, just of what your run rate was last year. And then maybe increasing that, knowing full well that you're going to have more discounts coming in this fall.

Trenton:

But also honestly, we asked our reps at Amazon or their contacts of, "Hey, can we get more information about this sales coming up?" And they were like, "We don't have any information."

Trenton:

So one of my biggest pieces of advice is just keep your ear to the ground, because we saw the Lightning Deals, we were like, "Whoa." And then we reached out to our clients very quickly like, "Hey, these are expiring this week. Let's sign up and we can always cancel it, or whatever."

Trenton:

But we reached out and we were like, "Hey, we saw these. What else is coming? Do we have any information?" And they were like, "There's deadlines coming and we don't even know about them yet."

Trenton:

So keep your ear to the ground because the information is sparse right now. At some point, someone was wondering if it's not going to be for all categories, if it's just certain categories. But for our clients, Amber, we're seeing most categories have Lightning Deals offered to them.

Amber:

Yeah.

Trenton:

So just be looking at your discounts that they're offering you, pay attention. Blogs. I hear stuff from blogs before Amazon does, and so just keeping that information...

Brett:

Blogs, forums, Facebook groups. Talk to your agency, hopefully they're keeping you in the know as well. So yeah, great advice. Awesome. Well, that is going to do it, as far as timing goes.

Brett:

I want to mention a couple things here before we wrap up. One, is if you maybe heard about this Amazon DSP thing, or maybe heard about it a long time ago and just wanted to go deeper on that, we do offer a free Amazon DSP roadmap.

Brett:

If you go to omgcommerce.com under resources and guides, you'll see the Amazon DSP roadmap. We'll link to the show notes as well. Check that out.

Brett:

We also have a couple other good Amazon guides, like how to run sponsored brand video, which is one of our favorite ad types. And you may be thinking, "Man, Amazon's going pretty good for me, but what would happen if I had Amber and Trenton helping me with Amazon?"

Brett:

And I can tell you one thing, it would get better. A whole lot better. And they do direct all things with our Amazon department, and so would love to chat with you if you are in growth mode and wanting to learn more about OMG's Amazon services.

Brett:

So shameless plug there, check it out. But as we leave, any parting words of wisdom, Amber or Trenton? This could be Amazon advice. This could be your favorite quote. This could be your favorite...

Brett:

I don't want you to tell your favorite joke. This could be any parting words of wisdom. Actually, if you have a good joke, that's fine too. But any parting words of wisdom, as we wrap up?

Amber:

Well, I know Trenton's got a joke ready. So I'm just going to say, be ready to pivot. Keep your ear to the ground, like Trenton mentioned. Maybe even treat it like Black Friday, Cyber Monday is coming early, and then just start implementing your strategy ahead of time, so that it has a nice override there.

Brett:

Love it.

Trenton:

I'll leave you with my kids' favorite knock-knock joke. We do this every night ... Okay. You ready?

Brett:

Ready.

Trenton:

Knock-knock.

Brett:

Who's there?

Trenton:

Boo.

Brett:

Boo who?

Trenton:

Why are you crying, Brett?

Brett:

I'm crying because his podcast is over and I wanted to keep going. That was beautiful, guys. Thank you so much. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insights. Prime Day was a lot of fun.

Brett:

Looking forward to Q4. Even in the midst of economic craziness, you can have a successful Q4. I firmly believe that. So thanks, Trenton and Amber. You guys crushed it.

Brett:

And as always, thank you for tuning in. And hey, let us know what you'd like to hear more of on this show. Give us that review on iTunes, if you haven't already. And with that, until next time. Thank you for listening.

Episode 198
:
Matt Slaymaker - OMG Commerce

How to Achieve Full Funnel Growth with Google Ads

The Google ads ecosystem offers opportunities to grow your brand that you really can’t find anywhere else.

Google is the world’s most popular search engine and the number 1 most visited site on the planet.YouTube is the world’s 2nd most popular search engine (even though it’s really a video site) and the world’s 2nd most visited site.You can leverage both channels for both targeted growth and scale. But how?

We’ll show you in this episode. Matt Slaymaker is a Lead Google & YouTube Ads Specialist at OMG Commerce. Dubbed “Slaymaker the Playmaker” - Matt joins me to talk about top strategies and tactics to achieve Full Funnel Growth on Google Ads in 2022 and beyond.

Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • Where to start with Search and why this is still super important even though it’s the true Google OG.
  • What has changed with Google Shopping.
  • What channels we recommend for remarketing and how to structure your audiences.
  • What the best audiences are for YouTube Ads.
  • And more!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Matt Slaymaker

   - LinkedIn

Ezra Firestone

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Google Shopping

eCommerce Evolution 184 Joseph Wilkins

eCommerce Evolution 70 Andrew Eckblad

FunnySalesVideos.com



Transcript:

Brett Curry:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the Ecommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today I have a treat for you, because you get to meet one of OMG's finest. And we get to talk about a topic that is one of my favorite all time topics when it comes to marketing, we're going to look at how to build full funnel growth using Google Ads. So using all that Google has to offer you, how do you create full funnel growth? We're going to get a little bit nerdy, but I also want to help make sure this is practical and applicable and easy to understand. So my guest today is a team member at team OMG that I actually get to work with almost on a daily basis, which I don't know if that's a privilege for this guy or if he dreads it. I really don't know. We'll find out right now on the podcast. I'll give more of an intro in just a minute. But welcome to the show, Matt Slaymaker. What's up, Matt? How are you doing?

Matt Slaymaker:

Absolutely. Thank you so much. I'm doing great.

Brett Curry:

Good. Well, thanks for coming on here. I know it's one of those things when your boss reaches out and says, "Hey, you want to be on the podcast?" Like, "Well, can I say no? Can I not say no?" You and I have done a few things together. We did a webinar, not too long ago with our Google reps. You did an amazing job. So, really excited to pick your brain and dive into this full funnel of growth topic for Google Ads. But before we do, all of you listening should know a couple things about Matt. Not only is Matt a rockstar and one of the best when it comes to Google Ads management. He also is the owner of quite the interesting nickname. Now, I call him Slaymaker a lot. But in football, growing up, I heard that Matt was called Slaymaker, the playmaker. Maybe we could even hear the quick story on that, Matt. How did you get dubbed the title Slaymaker, the playmaker.

Matt Slaymaker:

I'll tell you it did not come from making plays.

Brett Curry:

That's even better.

Matt Slaymaker:

I was by far the smallest member of the football team. So, I really didn't make any plays. But one of the moms just loved my last name. So anytime ...field, do anything, make one tackle throughout the whole game, I'd hear Slaymaker, the playmaker. That's how that started.

Brett Curry:

That makes that nickname way better. It's one of those things where it's like, yeah, thanks mom. Thanks for calling me the playmaker. Moms just have a way of making people feel good. So, that's awesome. Slaymaker, the playmaker, I remember that. But even if you weren't totally lighting up the football field, you were lighting up the Brazilian jujitsu mat. So tell people, Matt Slaymaker, what belt you achieved in Brazilian jujitsu. And if you don't know Brazilian jujitsu, this might not be as.. It'll be impressive regardless, but what belt did you achieve?

Matt Slaymaker:

Don't downplay Brazilian jujitsu, this is top level on martial arts.

Brett Curry:

This is top level.

Matt Slaymaker:

I eventually ended up at first degree black belt. If anyone doesn't know what Brazilian jujitsu is, it's like wrestling, but it has the submission component to it. So arm bars, chokes, all that kind of stuff.

Brett Curry:

I did not grow up doing martial arts. I played football, basketball, but I recently, my kids and I, took some BJJ classes. I know you know that, Matt, we talked about that. We had a couple friends that are amazing BJJ practitioners, Ezra Firestone is one of them. But I learned that it's the hardest martial art to get your black belt in. Not like it's easy to get a black belt in any other martial art, but takes the longest... It's the hardest to get your black belt.

Matt Slaymaker:

Yeah, it's that balance between the physical component, which is really hard. And I'm sure, as you've seen, it's a great workout.

Brett Curry:

It's an amazing workout.

Matt Slaymaker:

But then all that technique that you just have to memorize and download into your brain. Luckily, when I was younger going through it, it's easy to remember that kind of stuff. I can imagine, it's probably hard for you.

Brett Curry:

I don't know, was that an old joke, Matt? ... What are you trying to say? Yeah, it actually was hard, but I really enjoyed it. So, let's dive into this topic of Google Ads management. I want to preface this by saying... So Matt, is a Google specialist. Actually, do you want to tell people what you do, Matt? What does a Google specialist do? What's a day look like for you here at OMG?

Matt Slaymaker:

Google specialist at OMG and at any other agency really, we use Google Ads to do two things, really. Demand generation, so getting people interested in your brand, your products, what you do, building awareness and consideration for that kind of stuff. And then capturing demand that's already there. So people who are actively searching for that kind of stuff, people who are actively searching for you or have been to your website before. Getting those people to actually end up converting. So, our goal is to move people through what we call a funnel, starting at that awareness level, down to consideration, eventually get them to purchase. And then not just stop there. We want them to purchase again later on down the road, and we call that loyalty. Then a step below that's called advocacy, getting people to go share and tell their friends about that kind of stuff. So my goal is to use the tools available through Google Ads, which is Google Search, Google Shopping, YouTube, Display, and Discover to move people through that funnel.

Brett Curry:

Love that. And great breakdown there. Just want to mention, and this is probably very obvious to everyone listening, but really Google touches essentially every online user. If you're going to search for something, you're looking for a product, you're researching for reviews, or you're actually looking to make a purchase, you're probably going to touch Google at some point in time. Maybe you buy on Amazon eventually, but you're probably going to touch Google along the way. If you are looking to learn or research or do or buy or something, and you want to look at video first, you're probably going to YouTube. So those are the two most trafficked websites on the planet. Google number one, YouTube number two. You have access to both of those through Google Ads.

Brett Curry:

And then through the Google Display Network, we were just talking about in a minute. You can access like 80 something percent of the web that way too. So whoever you're trying to target, you could reach through Google Ads. So, let's dive in a little bit, Matt Slaymaker, the playmaker. Let's talk about the foundation. So if we're looking at how to build a full funnel on YouTube, I like to really start more at the bottom, mid and bottom of funnel before we go higher than that. But let's break this down by channel a little bit. Let's talk search ads first. So eCommerce store, where should they start? What should they consider when it comes to search ads? And maybe talk a bit about what search ads are, just to make sure we're all really clear.

Matt Slaymaker:

It'll sound obvious once I explain it, but search ads are those ads that appear at the top of Google Search. So if you've got to do a search for ...

Brett Curry:

These are text ads.

Matt Slaymaker:

Yeah. So we'll talk about shopping ads a little bit later, but these are those text ads that only have the text elements to it. Usually you'll get two or three up at the very top of Google, and then you'll see a few down at the bottom. So when it comes to Google Search ads, there's a couple key components there to what you've got to piece together for those campaigns. Where you typically are going to start, are going to be at your keywords. And with keywords, typically we break these down into three categories. You've got your branded keywords, which we'll talk about a little bit more in a minute. Non-branded keywords, so these are people doing that kind of hats online for sale search. And then competitor keywords. So any of your competitors out there who we want to bid on, we want to steal some traffic from, we can target those types of keywords.

Matt Slaymaker:

The other component of this are the ads themselves. In piecing together those ads, determining which keywords we want to show for, got to get an ad in front of them. And with those ads, can't just put up an ad and say who we are and expect people to click on it and convert. We've got to usually address three main things. Who we are, what are we selling and why should somebody buy from us? I think that third one, the why is really the most important part. Because when somebody does do that search, hats for sale, they're going to see three ads there, that why is really what gets them to click on us as opposed to those other ones there.

Brett Curry:

I love that. And it's also really important that you have to put the ad in the context of that keyword. This is what makes Google unique to really any other advertising type is that, it's intent-based. What we're talking about now is query-based, it's search-based. You know exactly what someone is searching for, Google knows that. Then you can tailor your ad to answer that question or that query that someone's typing in. And then address that, what we're offering, why you should click on our ad. You could address those things. It's just super powerful. And I want to talk about something you hit on in the beginning, Matt, which is really important to underscore. We classify eCommerce brands in two categories, and most brands straddle the two categories a little bit, but they lean more one way or the other.

Brett Curry:

And those two categories are demand capture or demand generation. Demand generation is more... These are products you're maybe not thinking about, maybe you've got a problem you're thinking about, but you're not thinking about a product. So we have to generate that demand. Think about some of the, as seen on TV products that you've seen, like the George Foreman grill back when that was introduced. No one's sitting around thinking, "Man, I wish I had a more convenient grill." I don't know. But if they saw it, they're like, "Well, that's pretty cool. I'd like to have that." And be like Michael Scott in the office and cook bedside with the George Foreman grill. But that's demand generation. Or there's demand capture where this is something you're maybe only going to look for when you have a specific need. One example I would use is auto parts. If I am shopping for new breaks for my truck... First of all, I could just go to the dealership.

Brett Curry:

But if I were doing it on my own, I'm not going to be persuaded by YouTube ad or a Facebook ad. "Hey, upgrade your breaks, because it's really great." No. But if I had a need, a specific need, I would go out and I would search for it on Google. That's more of a demand capture business. Most businesses straddle or lean one way or the other, but a little bit of both. To give another example, BOOM by Cindy Joseph, a friend of the show. Shout out to Ezra Firestone. They sell pro-age cosmetics. So cosmetics that are really good for you, but for women who want to embrace where they are in life. Maybe stop coloring their hair and let it stay gray and things like that. So they're more demand capture with a little bit of demand generation. So, as we look at that, search really falls into that demand capture space and it does it quite well. Let's talk about two things. Let's talk branded search first, because this is a hot topic. Why, Matt Slaymaker, would somebody bid on their own name? Why would you run branded search?

Matt Slaymaker:

This is one of the most common questions we get from clients all the time. They always ask, wouldn't it be easy... Aren't we going to get that traffic anyway? Aren't they just going to click on our organic listing there? So aren't we wasting money by bidding on branded traffic? And really there's three main reasons I say, "No, absolutely, you need to be bidding on your brand." One is simply competition. If you're not bidding on your brand name, your competitors likely are. And even if they are not, there might be vendors who are bidding on your brand name, whether that's Amazon, Ace hardware, Walmart. It's almost always...

Brett Curry:

Somebody else who's reselling your products, they maybe bidding on your name.

Matt Slaymaker:

Yeah. And it's almost always going to be a lot more profitable to have the user click on your branded ad, buy through your website, then go through one of those vendors. But in addition to both the competition and the vendor, say none of them were there at all. What I've seen really strong impact from branded campaigns comes down to the improved clickthrough rates and the control over messaging that you can really have. So a lot of the research out there shows that, if you do have those branded ads active, you see a 10, 20% boost in your overall clickthroughs, combined organic and paid.

Matt Slaymaker:

A lot of people think if I just have organic there, I'll still get a 100% of those clickthroughs, but really you won't because there's all sorts of other options for somebody to choose from. In addition, you also have a lot of control over your messaging there. So, say, you have a promotion that's happening at the moment. If somebody did that branded search and saw your branded ad had that promotional messaging in it. Gives them all that more urgency to go ahead and click your ad and buy right then and there. So, all sorts of reasons. I think competition is probably the number one, make sure you're pushing those guys down the page and not losing any traffic to anyone who's out there.

Brett Curry:

I love that. I'm so glad you underscored the controlling the messaging aspect, because if you don't control that, then you're really leaving it all up to Google. Google picks what they display in the organic results. Yes, you may have a title tag and a meta description that Google could pull in. They could also pull in something else random, if they wanted to, if they felt like that was more relevant to the user. So when you run that ad, you control that message. Then in terms of the competition piece, I think this is really interesting. We have some clients, I'm thinking of one client in particular, where they just dominate the search results page if you search their brand name. They've got YouTube videos, they've got the infograph, it's just loaded with their stuff. And no one's bidding on their name.

Brett Curry:

So, they would be okay to slow down a little bit on branded search. But most of the clients we look at and most of the accounts we audit, you look at their brand name, they've got two, three, four competitors bidding on them. You've got other things popping up. I guarantee you there'll be some people that search for you by name, click on a competitor. And don't know that it's a competitor, if you're not there. So you've got to get there. Then I'll throw in one fourth reason, Matt, is tracking. As we're looking at... You've got search console, you got Google Analytics, but a lot of the keyword data has been stripped from Google analytics. So getting data to see how people are converting, and then as we do more top funnel stuff we'll talk about in a minute. Then being able to see those people convert through branded search, really powerful. Because most people, if they see them on YouTube or Facebook and they don't buy, the next step later is to search for it on Google. And we'll capture that.

Matt Slaymaker:

That's where I love branded ads in particular, is being able to see two things. One, as you really level up and up your scale in terms of those non-branded efforts, those top of funnel efforts, what happens to the branded searches? Do they go up? Do they stay stagnant? Great way to track that. But then in addition, you can layer audiences, whether they're remarketing audiences, viewed video audiences onto your branded campaigns and see exactly how are YouTube users who see that YouTube ad then going and searching for our name. So on top of those other things, competition, visibility, messaging, all that kind of stuff, the tracking that you just mentioned, all really cool stuff.

Brett Curry:

Watching the brand lift as you engage in top of funnel activities.

Matt Slaymaker:

Totally.

Brett Curry:

Really smart. And we'll touch on that a little bit more too, when we talk top of funnel. What are a few things, Matt, that have changed recently with Google Search ads?

Matt Slaymaker:

I'll throw at you two things. One from a keyword perspective and then one from an ad perspective. Back in the day, really there were three match types that you could work with with Google. There was exact match, there was phrase match and there was broad match. A little later on, they introduced broad match modifier, which is somewhere in between phrase match and exact match. And for those who might not know what the difference between each of those are.

Matt Slaymaker:

Exact match, the idea behind it is, it's only going to show exactly for the keyword that you bid on or some close variant, misspelling, stuff like that. So if you bid on hats for sale, it really should only show for hats for sale, if somebody searches for that. Phrase match is a little bit broader. In the past, could take that hats for sale and then show for anything that came before or after that. If someone searched for cheap hats for sale or hats for sale online, then phrase match would capture that. Broad match would take one, maybe two of the keywords in that keyword. So if it was just hats for sale, maybe it's just going to show for when somebody searches for hats or ...

Brett Curry:

Or how to make a hat? Or ...

Matt Slaymaker:

How to make a hat, exactly.

Brett Curry:

... crazy stuff. Free hats, whatever ...

Matt Slaymaker:

So almost always, we tend to steer away from broad match, even to this day. Broad match modifier though was something where it was a little bit more in between phrase match and broad match. It was actually a good option for a lot of people, that however recently got deprecated. So that is no longer an option for targeting. Now we're back to the phrase match, exact match and broad match. Except now phrase match is a little bit broader than it used to be, so now it's going to capture a few more of those loosely related keywords there. Something to watch out for. And even exact match is a little bit more expansive than it used to be. Instead of just capturing misspellings or adding an S to the end-

Brett Curry:

Plurals.

Matt Slaymaker:

... hat instead of hats. It's now showing for a few other more loosely connected things. So, another thing to watch out for there.

Brett Curry:

Google's on this definite trend where they're like, "Hey, trust us a little bit. Let's ease this up a little bit, trust the algorithm, trust that we get your best interest at heart to grow your business." And I don't think that's untrue, they're definitely always trying to get users to trust them a little bit. And this match type discussion is important, because we're trying to line up our ad with shopper intent and searcher intent. A really interesting stuff that a lot of people don't know is that, every day 15% of searches conducted on Google, Google has never seen before.

Brett Curry:

That's shocking when you think about the millions and millions of searches conducted every day, 15% are brand new to Google. And that's just because as population we're searching more, we're searching for more things. We're using voice search, we're making up queries. It's not just the same thing as hat for sale, it's all kinds of random hats or random, whatever. So broadening the match type of, "Hey, we want people that are searching these types of keywords." That allows us to hopefully get in front of more people. Awesome. So keywords have changed a little bit or keyword targeting has changed a little bit. What else has changed in terms of Google Search ads?

Matt Slaymaker:

On the ads themselves, if anyone was in Google Ads a couple years ago, you might remember that they used to have what was called text ads. And these gave you two headlines and one description. They were very simple, and pretty short. There wasn't much to say or do there. You had your 30 character limit for headlines, 90 character limit for descriptions. None of that's changed.

Brett Curry:

That was it.

Matt Slaymaker:

Couple of years later, what they introduced was expanded text ads. So these now gave you three headlines to work with and then two descriptions. And not always with that...

Brett Curry:

Let me say, for Google Search nerd like us, like other agencies, it was like, "Are you kidding me? Expanded text ads, more real estate, 50% more real estate or whatever." We went nuts on expanded text ads.

Matt Slaymaker:

Just that extra headline, that extra description to give you something to put out there and say to try to pull that user in, huge difference. So that was a big change and a great change. But now, they're actually starting to get rid of expanded text ads as well. And now, what is the default ad type for Google Search are called responsive search ads. And these give you up to 15 different headlines that you could throw in there. Same character limits of 30 characters, and then four descriptions. And Google will rotate these out based on the user's search intent, the historical performance of those headlines and descriptions.

Matt Slaymaker:

So if it sees that, hey, description one does way better than description four, when a user searches for this, we're going to show one at a more often rate than we would show for. And then same with a lot of those headlines. That said, you can still have control over a lot of those things. So if you don't want your headline number 10, which says free shipping for US orders, to show as your headline one, you could still pin that to the position three or position two, wherever you want it to show in terms of that order of operations. But now there's a little bit more liberty on Google's end to swap that stuff out and optimize based on the user's behavior.

Brett Curry:

Again, Google is saying, "Hey, trust us." But in a lot of ways, it does make sense. In this case, Google is saying, "Hey, we're going to watch the data here. So you give us more headlines, give us more descriptions. We're going to mix and match. We're going to find the perfect combos, we're going to be able to line up this combination of headline and description with this type of keyword, this type of user. And over time, it really can work. You still have to put thought into writing those headlines and those descriptions. But over time between, if you're a smart marketer and you leverage Google's algorithm, you can see pretty magical results over time.

Matt Slaymaker:

Absolutely.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. One question we get a lot is, how should we budget for this? Right. How much of my budget should go to search? There's no exact answer here, but a good rule of thumb that we found is, for search anywhere... This is looking at your Google budget, not your total marketing budget. But the amount of money you're spending with Google for eCommerce stores, typically your search ads are going to be in the 15 to 30% range, sometimes a little bit more. So, that's what we typically look at. Any final thoughts on search, Matt, before we move on to the next channel?

Matt Slaymaker:

Yeah. Just on the, how much of your budget should go to search? It really just depends on what your goal is. If your goal is growth and you do have a more