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An eCommerce Podcast Hosted by Brett Curry

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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

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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 robust full funnel strategy, where top of funnel plays a really big part. Then that 15, 30% probably sounds about right. But if you're maybe more conservative and short-term, immediate term profitability is your goal and you really just want to launch with search, shopping and some remarketing. Then maybe search could end up being more like 30 to 50%, and then shopping 30 to 50% and display, remarketing, et cetera, another 20%. So it really just depends on what your goal is. There's no set rule of thumb there. But if you're doing a full funnel strategy, which we think you should, then that 15 to 30% is most likely where you'll fall.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. Totally agree. Let's now move to Google shopping. And this is a topic that I've been speaking about forever. Love it. But Matt, for those at home that do not know what Google Shopping is, what is it and why is it so important to eCommerce brands?

Matt Slaymaker:

For the most part, Google Shopping's going to show in the same places as Google Search, with some additional placements like YouTube, Gmail, Discover, places like that. But the shopping ads are the ones up at the top of Google and then on the side of Google, right side you'll usually see it. Where you see the product itself, you see the price of the product, the number of reviews, all that good stuff. So in terms of behavior, it operates a lot the same way as search ads do, but you get a lot of qualifying information there, which is why I typically see that non-branded traffic. We'll go back to that hats for sale example. I actually see that almost always perform better on the shopping side of things than I do for search. And the reason I think that's the case is because-

Brett Curry:

What kind of hat are we shopping here for, Matt? This is an important side note. I just want to know. I've never actually seen you wear a hat. I don't wear hats much either. If you were to wear a hat, what would you go with? We're talking like a cowboy hat, we're talking about a baseball cap? We're talking about...

Matt Slaymaker:

I was thinking sombrero, specifically.

Brett Curry:

Sombrero.

Matt Slaymaker:

Brett, you don't see me wear hats often, but when I do, that's what you'll catch me.

Brett Curry:

I'd love that, man.

Matt Slaymaker:

Or fedora. Fedora as well.

Brett Curry:

The fedora. Can't go wrong with the fedora or the sombrero. Okay, good. I'm glad we got... So now, every time Matt mentions hat, you picture sombrero.

Matt Slaymaker:

...

Brett Curry:

Good. Sorry, I derailed you. So back to shopping ads.

Matt Slaymaker:

The reason I think that those sombrero for sale searches are going to do better on Shopping than they typically do for Search, is because you do see a lot of that qualifier information. Prices, reviews. And then what does the product look like before you ever even click on it? Because Search ads and Shopping ads as well, they are going on a pay-per-click basis. So you only get charged when somebody actually clicks on the ad. If that price point is a deterrent for a lot of people, then they're not even going to click on the ad, which saves you some money there.

Matt Slaymaker:

If you only have a certain number of reviews and they only want to shop for somebody who has a 100 five-star reviews, then they're not even going to click on your ad. So for those reasons, I typically see... People who come through on those non-branded searches for shopping, convert at higher rates than Search. Because with Search, they might still see those differentiators, and we can give them an idea of pricing with things like price extensions and other extensions that we can talk about some other time. But for the most part, I think Shopping is really powerful in giving a lot of those important information details to ...

Brett Curry:

Shopping is really the workhorse for eCommerce. Google Shopping is the number one comparison shopping engine outside of Amazon. So seeing that image, the price, the title, the brand, reviews, hopefully a good picture. Seeing all of that is pretty compelling. So yeah, you're a 100% right. The leads that come through Google Shopping are more likely to convert than almost any other click, other than branded search. So we've found... Some of our clients, we have auto parts clients and others, where Shopping's 60% of the total Google budget because it just converts and there's a lot of search volume there. So it's pretty powerful.

Matt Slaymaker:

Another quick note there, just imagine from your own user behavior, whenever you do any search out there, looking for barbecue rubs for sale, anything like that. And you see a search ad up at the top of Google and then you see that same company shopping ads scattered out there as well. That is such a big credibility boost and it's such a great way to establish yourself as the name for that product. So, I think they can boost each other just by running alongside.

Brett Curry:

Totally. There have been studies done there, when you have a Search ad and a Shopping ad together, it boosts your overall clickthrough, just like you were talking about before with organic and paid. Same happens. And think about the ultimate trifecta. You've got the search ad, you've got hopefully an organic listing, and you've got a Shopping ad. You are now super credible and people want to click. And maybe even someone just understands the way the search universe works and they click on your organic listing anyway. But having those ads there help to drive that organic click, which is pretty powerful. Now, a couple of quick notes that we'll talk about, and I'll mention these and then chime in with anything you have, Matt. You've probably heard people talk about Smart Shopping. So Smart Shopping is a newer thing in the last several years.

Brett Curry:

We admittedly were not fans when... At least I was not a fan of Smart Shopping when it first launched. But in recent years it has gotten way better. Google really emphasizes Smart Shopping. I'll have you chime in on our approach in a minute map. But one thing to think about Smart Shopping is, Google has opened up more inventory. So not only do your ads show up in the search results like you talked about, your ads can show up on YouTube. That's why, if you've ever been on YouTube watching a video about how to fix your lawn mower and you see lawn mower ads or lawn mower parts ads. And those shopping ads that's part of the reason why Google's open that up with Smart Shopping. It also has a component of remarketing built in and a few other things, but pretty powerful. How do we like to approach it though, Matt? Because people are always asking us, hey, smart versus standard shopping, which do you prefer? How do we usually approach that?

Matt Slaymaker:

I think you've got to run them together, because while Smart Shopping has a lot of advantages in the sense that, like Brett mentioned that expanded inventory that isn't fully present with standard shopping. It does have a downside. And the one critical downside to me for Smart Shopping campaigns is that there's really a lack of visibility. You can't see any search terms at all. So if your campaign has a 3X ROAS, you make $3 for every $1 you spent, you don't really know what led to that. Was it all branded searches, was it all non-branded searches? You can't fully know.

Matt Slaymaker:

And that's where standard shopping running alongside of that can help clarify a lot of that stuff. Because with standard shopping, you do still have the ability to see those search terms. It also enables you to get an idea of, are the non-branded searches that are coming through actually relevant to us? We had a client recently where we took over and their Smart Shopping was doing okay. But then we launched standard shopping along with it, and we saw that the search terms that were coming through were completely irrelevant. There were some good ones, but a lot of irrelevant search terms. So that gave us the idea to go back to that feed-

Brett Curry:

Was this the one, Matt, that was... It's health related, so like supplements. And one of the cures was like a boot or something like this.

Matt Slaymaker:

The example was they make health tests and gut tests, where you can test your microbiome and gut health, stuff like that. And what was coming through were pregnancy tests or COVID tests. And things like that, where they're converting really well for the relevant stuff that comes through. But all that irrelevant stuff, that's just a waste of money. So, I think you do have to run them alongside each other. And then within your standard shopping campaigns, have a system of AB testing where you do make some changes to your feed item, the product title, the description, stuff like that. And AB test it and see, how does that affect the searches that are actually coming through? Ideally you can try to run them alongside. And then once you do feel like you're at a point where the shopping feed is really well optimized, you can phase out one and give more budgets to the one that's doing best.

Brett Curry:

It really is owning that digital shelf. If we think about this like a physical shelf in a retail store, how does a product stand out and why do you pay attention to one product versus another? Some of it is price, some of it is packaging. So the way we work on merchandising through Google Shopping is through the feed. And just like Matt talked about, title, image, maybe we're playing with price in a few different areas. But you've got to work on that test set. A lot of times people just say, "Here's my feed, Google go nuts." And then they never look at it again. Where you've got to think merchandising here to optimize that and really own more real estate. Because what's cool is, the more people click on your ads, the more Google will reward you by showing your ad more. If Google determines, hey, for these keywords, people love these products and they click on them. They're going to show your ad more, and then you're going to get cheaper CPCs and likely more conversions. So optimizing that is super important.

Matt Slaymaker:

What Brett is referring to is a component of what's called quality score, and quality score... And this is especially important when it comes to your search campaigns. Looks at three main things, your ad relevance. So does the ad talk about the keyword that just got searched for? The landing page relevance, does the page that you're sending them to talk about what somebody just searched for? And then your historical expected clickthrough rate. That's exactly what Brett just talked about. If your ads are getting clicked on more than other people's ads, Google's going to reward that.

Brett Curry:

It was a brilliant innovation, quality score, that I really think it was the magic ingredient that helped Google become what it is today. Because it incentivized advertisers to make great ads. And it incentivized them by charging them lower rates. If they had a good quality score that just led to... It led to advertisers getting smarter and then it led to users getting what they want. Then it led to Google making bazillions of dollars ... So everyone's happy, I think. Awesome. We've got Search, we've got Shopping. Let's talk remarketing now. So, we're building the foundation of our full funnel growth. I'm watching the clock, Matt, we've been getting excited and I'm going to blame myself for being long-winded. We're not going to leave ourselves very much time for top of funnel. That's okay. We can always circle back to top of funnel and go deeper later, we will touch on it. So we've got Search and Shopping, those are foundational. Let's talk remarketing now as well. What channels do we recommend for remarketing? What are some of your top remarketing tips?

Matt Slaymaker:

That's going to be a tough one to be brief on, because I love remarketing. This is my favorite ... of advertising, honestly. First, just want to break down what's different about each of these channels. So Display Network, what is that? That's about 90% of the websites out there and it also covers mobile apps. You've probably seen Display ads there. Discovery ads, they look just like Display ads, you have a little bit more characters to work with, but these show exclusively on YouTube, Gmail and the Discover Network, which is like a personalized feed through Google. And then YouTube is YouTube. You get your YouTube ads in feed or in the YouTube home page as well.

Brett Curry:

That's awesome. Why do you love remarketing so much, Matt?

Matt Slaymaker:

I love remarketing so much, because I look at the funnel... I related this recently as like pouring water into a cup. And without remarketing, it's as if you have holes at the bottom of the cup. Where you're pouring all this top of funnel traffic and this non-branded traffic in, but so much water is just leaking out through the bottom and you're not actually retaining anything. I look at remarketing as a way to patch up those holes and make sure you're keeping more of the water that you're pulling in. Without remarketing, I think there's a lot of waste out there. And this is our opportunity to follow up with people who have initially made contact with our business, or have already purchased from our business. And we know that they know us and they love us. And to get more out of those users.

Brett Curry:

That's awesome.

Matt Slaymaker:

...

Brett Curry:

Love it. We can all think of scenarios where we've seen a cool ad, we've clicked on it. We visited the site, we think, "Oh, that's really neat, I might try to check that out." Then we get distracted or we don't want to spend the money right then. And then we forget about it. We need those reminders, we need that remarketing ad to get us back. So, let's talk audiences really quickly here. What audiences are we typically building to be able to effectively remarket?

Matt Slaymaker:

There's a lot that you can do. My absolute favorite is starting with your purchasers. These are the people, like I said earlier, we know that they like us because they've already purchased from us before. Especially if we can find a way to target repeat purchasers. So within purchasers, three main categories. There's the opportunity to cross-sell users. These are people who bought product A, but they have not yet bought product B. Maybe that's, they bought barbecue rubs from your company, but not the sauces. And we know those would pair really great together. Then the other option would be an upsell opportunity. So they bought product A, but they didn't buy the bundle. Maybe they bought a single barbecue rub, but we have a combo pack of eight different barbecue rubs that we know you would like. So, getting in front of them with something like that.

Matt Slaymaker:

And then the last one within purchasers is replenishment/reordering. People who bought product A, but haven't done so recently. And getting back in front of them with that, because we know they know and love it. And just getting them to try it again. After that... That's just the purchaser component of it. From there you could... And this is what most people think of when they think of remarketing, is targeting all of the visitors who've come to your website at all. That's by far going to be your highest volume remarketing list, but it might see the lower ROAS, because this is simply all visitors, regardless of their level of engagement. A step below that in terms of them showing a little bit more engagement, would be product page viewers or service page viewers. People who visited a particular product on your page and have expressed a particular interest. From there, another one of my favorite ones is called car abandoners. This one typically will see the best efficiency on it.

Matt Slaymaker:

You'd be surprised, about 80% of people actually abandon their cart. Maybe it's more like 70%, but it's a really high rate of people that adds something to their cart and end up not purchasing. But if we get back in front of them, almost always, I see cart abandoners see the highest efficiency in terms of ROAS and really low CPAs. The reason somebody abandons their cart can vary. Most of the time, they just forgot. They were that close, now we just get back in front of them and have them finish their purchase. And the last one that I think you would love to talk about a little bit more are viewed video audiences. This is where those top of funnel efforts that you're doing on YouTube really come full circle. Maybe they never visited your website before, but we have made that initial impression on them from these YouTube ads that we're running for top funnel. So, getting back in front of them with the Display, Discovery or even YouTube ad, just from them viewing the video is also really powerful.

Brett Curry:

Really I believe any eCommerce brand needs to consider what we just talked about, Search, Shopping, remarketing. I think it's a must for everybody for the reasons you mentioned. To get more repeat purchases, to close more of the purchases that you almost got. And what's really interesting, Matt, is we audited a lot of Google Ads accounts. And we audited a lot of Google Ads accounts of people that are spending 3, 4, 5, 6, 700,000 a month on ads across Facebook and other channels. Some more than a million. And you'd be surprised... We're not anymore, but you'd probably be surprised how weak the remarketing structure is. It's like one remarketing campaign, all visitors, where we're looking at breaking it down. PDP viewers and cart abandoners and different recency windows and replenishment and cross-sell and upsell. And you bought this, but you didn't buy that. So you build that out. And now, you can be more aggressive with your top of funnel Facebook and your top of funnel YouTube.

Brett Curry:

Because you're closing more of the people that you get to check out your site and check out your products. I don't disagree with you about remarketing, because it is really valuable and super fun. But man, I like the juice of top of funnel. So, let's talk top of funnel really quickly. And we're going to have to do this a grave disservice. We're going to talk about top of funnel here for a few minutes, and then... I know what you did, Matt, you're trying to get part two. You're trying to get round two. You want to be on the podcast again, you're like, "Let me just drag this out a little bit and then Brett will invite me on for round two." Okay, fine. You got what you want. So let's talk top of funnel marketing now. Now, what are our opportunities... And this will actually be... Tie this in a little bit to remarketing too. But what are the channels for top of funnel? And you mention them for bottom of funnel as well. But why is it important to consider all the channels, basically?

Matt Slaymaker:

The channels are the same three ones that we just mentioned, so there's Display, there's Discovery and then there's YouTube. Every channel has its advantages and their disadvantages. What I really love about YouTube and Discovery in particular is that, really only one ad is showing at a time. So when it comes to YouTube ads, that's your moment in the spotlight. There's nobody else there. Somebody's watching their video, you get in front of them with an ad and it's just you there. And Discovery actually works a lot the same way, say, you're scrolling-

Brett Curry:

And what are Discovery ads, for those that don't know?

Matt Slaymaker:

Again, it looks exactly like a Display ad. It's an image based ad with some headlines and descriptions, but it shows up on Gmail, shows up on YouTube. So if you ever see an image ad on YouTube, that's a Discovery ad.

Brett Curry:

And the Google app supposedly, but I don't ever see them there. I only see them on Gmail and on YouTube. But really great placements.

Matt Slaymaker:

And each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. Frankly, Discovery and YouTube see the best conversion rates in terms of... And it depends on your creative. If you have really strong YouTube creative, and maybe more weak images, then YouTube might be your very best top of funnel platform. And then vice versa, if you have really weak YouTube creative, but really strong images, then Discovery might be your best. But usually... The other flip side component of this, there's the direct performance aspect of it, which we measure by conversion rates, ROAS and CPA.

Matt Slaymaker:

But then there's the awareness side of it. How many people can we reach with $1 with $2, a $100. And that's where Display is really powerful. Display almost always will see CPMs, which is cost per 1000 impressions of, two to $4. Discovery, it's more like eight to $10. YouTube, it can be more like 15 to $30. And it corresponds with what you see with conversion rates. Where conversion rates are a little bit stronger, the cost per impression is a little bit higher. So, I would say test out every single one of them based on the creative and the images that you do have available to you. And then just see what works the best, given your goal of driving awareness and direct conversions.

Brett Curry:

100% agree. I tend to lean towards YouTube just because I love it, I've always loved video marketing and I started in TV a long time ago. Love YouTube. But it does depend on what you're selling. If you're selling something that's really straightforward and simple. I'm a Chiefs fan, I see your Tony Romo Jersey in the background there, Matt, but I'm going to one up you here. I'm a Chiefs fan, Patrick Mahomes. If I'm selling Patrick Mahomes jerseys, I don't need a lot of explanation. I don't need a full video to tell you what a Patrick Mahomes' Jersey is. If you see the Jersey and you see NFL logo, you know what it is. So Discovery, display, perfect for that.

Brett Curry:

If there's a cool offer, I'm going to click, I might buy. If it's something more complex. So, it's a new protein shake that doesn't taste like chalk, or this is a unique tool to fix your car. Something that I need to see explained, video's going to be better for that. And the more you can tell and explain and show, if it needs to be demonstrated, then obviously nothing beats video for that. Let's talk about audiences really quickly. These audiences can be the same across channel, across YouTube, Discovery, Display. But what are the best audiences that we usually start with, Matt, when we're going top of funnel?

Matt Slaymaker:

I have a bit of a power ranking system, and the power rankings have changed a little bit in the last year. But number one is still undefeated, for me personally, and that's custom intent audiences. What custom intent audiences are, if you're familiar with in-market audiences, they are very similar to that in the sense that these are people who are actively in the market for something. They're actively searching for something. But with custom intent, we can tell Google exactly what we want to be those inputs. So instead of in-market, which are predefined, maybe we loosely fit into one category, but not really all that much. Custom intent allows us to drill into it a lot, on a more detailed level. So, that still is my favorite audience. I recommend testing that out first. From there, I would say number two of my power rankings are demo only audiences, actually.

Matt Slaymaker:

The reason demo only is good... What that means is just demographics only, so no audiences, no content, anything like that. It's just, what do you know about your target market in terms of their demographics? Maybe it's women in between 25 and 34 who are in the top 30% of incomes. And just target that. The reason demo only can do really well is because compared to any of these other audiences, it's going to have the lowest CPMs, CPCs and allow you to reach a wide variety of people at a relatively low cost. So if you can see good conversion rates from demo only, by having creative that resonates with that audience, then they typically work really well. A few other ones, but the only other one I'll mention is custom affinity audiences. Which are similar to custom intent audiences in the way that you set them up and everything. But it's more based on their long-term interest rather than necessarily what they're searching for in the moment.

Brett Curry:

Love it. The input's changed. So for custom intent, you're giving Google keywords and you're saying, "Hey, target for me people who have searched for these keywords on Google or on YouTube." And customer affinity is more, "Google check out these URLs or these videos or these things, and build an audience for me of people like those that visit these." So really powerful audiences. I like your power ranking there, I think that's just pretty awesome.

Matt Slaymaker:

And each of those really just talk about the audience targeting side of it. That's one way that you can target on Google, is by targeting people based on what they have been doing, who they are, what demographics that they fit into. The other way that you can target on Google is by targeting the content of the video that they're watching. There's a few different ways to do that. There's what's called keywords, which allow you to target the actual video itself. So somebody's watching a video about female hair thinning, and you get in front of them with a product about hair replenishment. Then that could work really well. Placements is another option there, where you can target specific channels, specific videos. So there's two sides of the coin. There's the audience side of it, where you're targeting people and what they're interested in. And then the content side of it, where they are, what are they actively watching on YouTube?

Brett Curry:

Love it. Let's talk briefly about the creative aspect. And I will mention a couple of other episodes, I've done several now on creatives. But one recent episode, episode 184 with Joseph Wilkins from funnysalesvideos.com. Also did an episode with Andrew Eckblad, which I'm going to mention in a minute. But basically you want to really think about the creatives, because YouTube ads are different than Facebook ads, or even TV ads or other video ads. They're just different. We don't have much time to talk about this, Matt, but any tips or suggestions or things you've noticed about videos that work well as YouTube ads?

Matt Slaymaker:

Like you said, it'll be a disservice to try to cram it all in about a minute here, so I definitely recommend going and watching some of those other podcasts that Brett's done as well as some previous webinars as well. I think there's a few main components you can't miss out on when it comes to those creatives. You've got to hook them in those first five seconds. As we know with most YouTube ads, you have five seconds before that big skip ad button pops up. And most people are very eager to click that as soon as they possibly can. But if you manage to hook them in the first five seconds where they do want to keep watching, that is really powerful. So, that's the first part. Then you've got to lead with that strongest differentiator. Don't save your strongest bullet point, the strongest part of your business for the end of the video.

Brett Curry:

Don't bury the lead, to use a journalism quote.

Matt Slaymaker:

Exponentially people are dropping off on that video, so if you can lead with the strongest thing that you think is going to resonate with them, absolutely do that. And provide social proof. That's another big thing. I think a lot of times people think of social proof of, oh, I need a celebrity endorsement, I need to be mentioned in Forbes or NBC or something like that. It doesn't need to be like that. It can be as simple as user-generated testimonials. And a lot of times, that converts even better than a celebrity endorsement might ever. I was talking with some of our other specialists today and I talk to customers all the time. But a lot of times, the user testimonials relate more to them and are more powerful because they resonate, they can relate to that. That's me as a user-

Brett Curry:

And believable too. We need to be able to believe and trust what we're seeing and hearing. And the right type of user generated content really creates trust and believability.

Matt Slaymaker:

Then the last component there is just have a strong call to action. After they've watched that video, give them something to do. Don't just say it in a way that is, "Hey, click the link below." Create some sense of urgency, whether that's with an offer or just more unique messaging. Have a strong call to action there at the end, that gives them that next step.

Brett Curry:

Love it. So the other podcast to check out is with Andrew Eckblad, episode 70, that was the first interview I did with Andrew. Depending on when you're listening to this, I'm about to record another episode with Andrew. He's brilliant with video marketing, and that's E-C-K-B-L-A-D, Eckblad. So search for that Ecommerce Evolution and Eckblad. Check that out. But Matt Slaymaker, this has been fantastic, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Matt Slaymaker:

Awesome.

Brett Curry:

A couple of the resources I'll mention, if you want to learn and really dig deep into Google Ads and YouTube ads go to omgcommerce.com. Under resources, we have some guides that are designed to really help you level up here. There's a Google Shopping guide. I just refreshed that, it's also published with Shopify, so you can find that at Shopify as well. There's the top YouTube ad examples guide, that really shows some of our favorite and most successful YouTube ads. You can learn from some of the best there, that's all free. Then there's also a guide on creating authentic customer testimonials. So, how do you collect those? How do you get those? How do you identify a winner? We map that out in that free guide as well. Matt, any final words of wisdom, anything you want to say as we wrap up? Then finish part one of your episodes here.

Matt Slaymaker:

I'll go ahead and plug myself a little bit as well.

Brett Curry:

Please.

Matt Slaymaker:

If you guys are wondering anything about how iOS updates impacted Google Ads in 2021, go to omgcommerce.com, check out our blogs. Recently wrote an article there talking about what are some of the big things that changed. Also, if you're curious about what's the difference between dynamic remarketing and standard remarketing, maybe you've never heard of those at all. Go check that out on the OMG Blog as well. Currently, our featured blog at the moment might not be for long, so go check that out when you get the chance.

Brett Curry:

Matt-

Matt Slaymaker:

Brett, assuming I dragged this out long enough, I'll see you for part two.

Brett Curry:

Exactly. Check it out. Matt is in the spotlight all over the place, his blog is featured. Killer episode here, Matt. Awesome job, man. Thank you so much for taking the time.

Matt Slaymaker:

Thank you. Appreciate it.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. And as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear from you. What would you like to hear more of on the show? Do you have feedback for us? Leave that review on iTunes if you've not done so, that would mean the world to me. Give Matt some love online as well. With that, until next time, thank you for listening.






Episode 197
:
Justin Brooke - Ad Skills

Why GDN is Better than Facebook Ads with Justin Brooke of Ad Skills

Misconceptions about GDN are rampant in the eComm world. It’s too hard. It’s too expensive. The targeting isn’t as good as Facebook. It doesn’t work. Justin Brooke knows better.
Justin is an ad veteran who knows just about every ad platform out there. He’s partnered with and trained media buyers for Russell Brunson, Frank Kern, Dan Kennedy and more. He also worked for Agora Publishing. He KNOWS his stuff. And he believes GDN ads are better than Facebook?
Why?

  • You can still get $.40 and $.80 clicks.
  • GDN offers targeting that you can’t match on Facebook.
  • GDN creates the impression that your brand is “everywhere”.

Here are some tips we cover:

  • His unique approach to GDN for eCommerce.
  • His landing page must-have elements.
  • How quality is in the quantity when it comes to GDN headlines and copy.
  • Testing 3 angles for every idea - toward pleasure, away from pain, and something controversial.
  • Utilizing the overnight celebrity strategy with testimonial GDN ads.
  • How deadlines and testimonials work together.
  • How to work hand-in-hand with the algorithm for amazing results.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Justin Brooke

   - LinkedIn

   - Facebook

   - YouTube


AdSkills

   - Website

   - Facebook

   - YouTube


Traffic Tips for Busy People

Russell Brunson

Frank Kern

Dan Kennedy

Ezra Firestone

Semrush


Transcript:

Brett:

Today we're looking at why the Google Display network is better than Facebook ads. What, you might say, Google Display network better than Facebook? Heresy.

Brett:

Well, no, not heresy, but it is the opinion of my guest today, Justin Brooke. Justin is the founder of AdSkills. He's also one of the smartest marketers that I've ever met, and more about Justin in a minute. But what we're going to unpack in this episode is, one, Justin's formula for using the Google Display network to grow your e-commerce brand. We'll talk about must have elements for your landing pages. We'll dive into his overnight celebrity strategy, which is one of my favorite ad strategies. It could be the key to unlocking the Google Display network for you. We talk about misconceptions and why people fail with the Google Display network. And really, I think we're just going to make your brain explode. We might make your brain hurt just a little bit, but Justin's going to deliver amazing value. So lean in, buckle up and enjoy this interview with Justin Brooke.

Brett:

The Spicy Curry podcast is brought to you by OMG Commerce, Attentive, OneClickUpsell, Zipify pages, and Payability. Well, this is an episode that I can confidently say has been years in the making. I've been looking forward to this. I've been planning this, I've been dreaming about this day and it's finally here. And so I get to interview mister Justin Brooke. Our paths have crossed numerous times throughout the years, even dating back to like 2008, 2009. We were both actually partnering with Russell Brunson on separate projects. And I remember being in Russell's office and being like, "Hey, there's Justin Brooke, that guy's famous." And so then we've crossed paths in a few other ways.

Brett:

We're talking today about the Google Display network, a topic that I love, and I believe there's nobody out there better than Justin. And so I can't wait to tap into his mind and allow him to share with you and me his best insights on GDM, but just a couple of quick things for you to know. So Justin founded AdSkills in 2016, they've trained over 13,000 media buyers. They have 300 plus certified media buyers. He's worked with and trained media buyers for Frank Curran, Dan Kennedy, Russell Brunson. If you've been around direct marketing, you know all of those names.

Brett:

He also has a really well-read newsletter. In fact, some of the smartest people I know referenced Justin's email newsletter, Traffic Tips for Busy People. And so you should check that out as well. But with that intro, Justin, welcome to the show. How you doing, man?

Justin:

Thanks for having me, man. I'm so glad and hardly famous, man. Nobody gives me a second look at the grocery store, man, but I appreciate the accolades and everything.

Brett:

Yeah. So it's famous. You're famous in my mind, but it is funny. There's the Dan Kennedy always used to call him famous people that nobody knows, right? So you're not airport famous, not grocery store famous, but like you get into a room of marketers and you're like, whoa, holy cow, it's Justin Brooke. You got to get tap into this guy's mind a little bit.

Brett:

So let's dive right into this topic, because I think it's one that, and I encounter hundreds of eCommerce brands every year, we're auditing dozens and dozens of accounts. I know almost nobody doing Google Display network well. We run into people all the time that are spending mid to high six figures a year, a couple million dollars a year on Facebook. Most people are spending nothing or close to nothing on the Google Display network, but let's maybe start with what are some misconceptions about the Google Display network? What do you hear people saying about it that just drives you crazy?

Justin:

Yeah. So this is why you don't see a whole lot of people is really it's the misconceptions. So when you think of Google, we are still all stung by the Google slap years ago. We still think of, oh the cost per clicks are really high. They terminated all of our accounts. That stigma is still very much in the air in our industry. It's almost like a branding now, Google Ads is expensive. You know? That's like what immediately what we think. It's expensive. It's hard. And they're going to shut down my accounts. A lot of that has gone away. I'm not saying it's not expensive anymore. There are certainly some crazy expensive niches West Palm, cosmetic dentistry, just stay away from it. Just stay away.

Brett:

Avoid that, yeah.

Justin:

But they've really a far way. They got in a lot of trouble from their stockholders and stuff. When their stockholders were like, wait a minute, you're just like shutting down accounts? Is that the way you guys make money? And that's the way our stocks go. Could you not do that anymore? So yeah, they got a lot of trouble and I'm super paraphrasing it, but there was an event years ago. They're super helpful now. I mean, you can get on the phone with reps. I'm almost a little annoyed sometimes how much the reps are reaching out to me. It's like, okay, yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. Reps are reaching out, wanting to schedule meetings, wanting to get time on your calendar, wanting to meet with you. Absolutely. And some of them are super helpful. Some of them not, but some of them are super helpful.

Justin:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It's really a different situation. So a lot of that stuff has gone away. And I would say, so if you've heard that about Google Ads, I would say it's different. I would say it's still the same in the first two weeks of an account, they're very strict in the first two weeks of an account, that's usually where-

Brett:

Manual reviews. A human is reviewing everything at that point, basically.

Justin:

Even machines. So it's like if you're landing page, your ads, anything smells bad in the first two weeks, there's going to be a high shutdown rate. And that's just because there's trying to stop the churn and burn guys and they have to be very strong because that's where those guys live. They're just creating new accounts all the time. And so it in the first two weeks play it cool. Just advertise your blog a little bit, just be very, I guess, kosher. I don't know the right word, but just play it cool for the two weeks. And then you can start stepping up your direct response and whatever. So that's the biggest misconception. Also, they think Google Ads, they think expensive. Google Display is much different. It's very common for me to get-

Brett:

Display can be very cheap.

Justin:

Yeah, you can get 40 cent clicks. Are you getting 40 cent clicks on Facebook? Not today. You got to be really good at Facebook to be getting those click rates anymore. But it's very common for me to get 40 cent, 80 cents, 60 cent and lower. I've gotten 8 cent, 18 cent, 20 cents clicks on Google Display.

Brett:

So, and you're talking even in the last, for the last year, last six months, you've been getting CPCs.

Justin:

Last couple weeks, absolutely. So when you think Google Ads and they think expensive, that's usually search, and search legitimately can be expensive. I would say that's also very profitable. That's a whole nother podcast, but Google Display is not part of that. You can get very cheap clicks on Google Display.

Brett:

Yeah. Awesome. So you touched on this just a little bit, but I remember seeing a post on Facebook that you made and you were like, "GDN is better than Facebook," and man, those were fighting words to some people because the comments were lightening up and on fire and, "Blasphemy, heresy,", Justin Brooke. But anyways, it's a fascinating statement. So why do you believe, and in what ways do you believe GDN is better than even Facebook at times?

Justin:

Yeah. If you do, if anybody wants, if you got like 20 minutes and you're absolutely bored out of your mind and you want to go search my wall of posts, but if you go search through there, the guys who are actually using GDN all came to my defense and like, "He's absolutely right, this is true." And it was all the other Facebookers who were telling me I was crazy. So the thing is, is Facebook didn't invent interest targeting. They like to claim that they invented interest targeting. The branding is like Google invented PPC, Facebook invented interest based targeting. That's what most people think about or know. It's completely false. Facebook borrowed everything from Google and continues to this day trying to build Google Ads. They are the mighty billion dollar advertising company in every way that you can measure a company, Google wins.

Brett:

The number one online advertising platform bar none, Google's number one and likely will be for some time.

Justin:

The only place that's even argued is in our little like Facebook world. Outside of that, Google is by far the gorilla. So there's that. But then also when it comes to ... there's so many different levels, and I don't want to go too far on this, but okay. So with interest targeting, you have levels of interest targeting, where on Facebook there's just interest targeting.

Justin:

We have keywords, a keyword is an interest it's like, I'm interested in this topic. And so that's a keyword. Then you have topic based. And so keyword essentially, it doesn't exactly work like this without going super scientific, essentially. If I said tennis shoes or tennis, right. That's an interest, but it's also a keyword. And my ads would show up on any pages about tennis, but then there's topics. So we could go sports and now I'm interested in sports and now I'm going to show up on all the pages related to sports and then there's affinities.

Justin:

And so that would be like sports junkies. And so they're going to show up on fantasy league pages, news pages, sports pages, all kinds of different things. And so there's levels of interest. And then the other thing that I would say that separate it's them is really the big thing. And what I keep trying to shake the cage about is it doesn't change. So like Facebook is a newsfeed and so you need constant, fresh, creative. Otherwise, that person is seeing the same ad over and over and over again. And there's only so many time-

Brett:

Ad fatigue is a very real thing on Facebook.

Justin:

Yes, absolutely. Ad fatigue is turning and burning. And so you have to feed this monster, lots of ad creative. Google Display doesn't work like that because it's, the only time you're going to a best tennis shoes article is the time when you're searching for best tennis shoes. It's a very rare person who's going to go visit these same pages over and over again. Sometimes it happens in the precious metals industry, copper price, silver price, gold price, you know? And so you're going to that same page over and over again every day. And so you might start seeing the same ads, but it just doesn't happen in a lot of different industries. Mostly what happens is you're interested-

Brett:

There's audience refresh on GDN.

Justin:

Yeah. You're interested in something. So go to Google, you type in whatever. And then you see an article and you click into that article. And then on that article is ads that are relevant to the thing you just searched. So you're getting search traffic, but at a super bargain of it and in a much more relative space. So that's the other reason why I think it's so much ... you can put a Google and it could run ... my record was two years, but I mean, it's common for one created to run for months on end.

Brett:

Yeah. And we see the same thing on YouTube as well. My industry does a lot of YouTube, ad management and in creative work as well. Sometimes we see ads, the winning ad on YouTube lasts for a year. Because the audience is turning over. You're on that audience when you're interested in something and about to buy something. And then you get off that audience after you made a purchase or whatnot. Yeah, so super smart.

Brett:

So let's break down, let's get tactical for a little bit. Let's look at ... because you've got a unique approach to GDN for eCommerce. And again, I believe nobody does it better than you and your team. So, what does that approach look like running GDN to grow an eCommerce brand? So break that down for us and then I'll have several follow up questions.

Justin:

Yeah. So I think e-com has come a long way in their landing pages. I hat tip to Ezra Firestone. I think he's helped create a lot of best practices in e-com landing pages, but like before there was no reviews, testimonials. There wasn't these big credibility, believability things on an e-commerce page. And so it's come a long way, but it's not quite there yet. I don't love sending page traffic to e-com pages, especially Google Display, which can be-

Brett:

When you say you've got pages, a typical product detail page that's not where you typically want to send cold traffic.

Justin:

Yeah. Yeah. I don't like to say it. I would have a landing page that would send to that page, you know? And so that's what we do is I just say, hey, what's your best product? Everybody knows what their top selling product is, their best product. So then we take that product and we'll build out a page specifically for that one that when they click by goes right to cart, and so they're almost like a digital sales page. Very similar, you'd sell basically anything else. You got a sales page, it goes right to the cart.

Justin:

Whereas in e-com, it's like you go to a product topic page or product category page, and then you go into the product page and then you go into a checkout and then you go to cart, and so we just bypass a little bit of that. And then what we do is once we acquire the customer with a normal sale page checkout or sales page cart. And then once we've acquired the customer, we bring them back to the store. So now they can buy additional things and we get our revenue per user earnings average order value off of that. But we get our lower cost per acquisition using a dedicated funnel for their best or top three products.

Brett:

Got it. This is always a little bit difficult on a podcast, because we're just talking through things, but what are some of the elements that you really want on that page? So you're bypassing the traditional product detail page. You're sending cold traffic from a GDN ad, which we'll talk about the ad in a minute. You're sending them from a GDN ad to a specific landing page you built, what are some of the elements that you want on that page?

Justin:

Number one thing, when it comes to eCommerce is product demonstration. They want to see the knife cut through a tomato, you know? They want to see the, let's see, Tre has got that butter scraper thing. Makes your butter easier to spread. It's a weird product, but that's the thing is you can't just show me a picture of this weird looking butter knife that has a couple of circles on the end of it and expect me to understand that's going to revolution a eyes butter for me, but all of a sudden you have a quick 15 second video showing that those little circles create little shavings of butter and now immediately, oh, it melts the butter faster, because it's taking these little shavings off there. That's why it spreads though my toast better. And that's what I'm talking about when it comes to product demonstrations.

Justin:

When it comes to Ecom, demonstrate the product and I don't think pictures are enough. Most people these days have good enough internet and you don't need a long video. Don't have a long video. Short, almost like animated images, gif images, show me how product works. That's going to go a long way. And then reviews, reviews are huge. Believable reviews. Don't only have five star reviews on there. That's going to reduce your credibility. Have a couple of ... you don't have to have your worst review on there either but make it real, make it believable, be genuine about it. Those two things are really going to help a lot.

Justin:

And then the other thing is on a lot of eCommerce sites there is a frequently asked questions section. We like to bring some of that onto the page. And so what we've learned is everybody thinks ... when you're creating a sales page, you're trying to convince the person from top to bottom, from your headline all the way through, you're doing everything you can, how can I muster up? What words do I have to say? What images do I have to say to get this person to click the button? But when the visitor lands on the page, they're doing the opposite. They're thinking of why should I not buy this?

Brett:

Why should I bail? Give me some reasons to say no, right now.

Justin:

Why is my wife go to yell at me for buying this product later on? And so, you need to think about that. Don't think like us when you're making your page think like them, because we're making the page for them. We're not making the page for us. So we need to think about they're looking for gotchas. And oh, this is why I shouldn't buy it, or that. So you want to have good, not long copy, but good copy blocks. Almost not even a-

Brett:

Into chunks, right?

Justin:

I dare not say I'm not a fan of bullet points. I'm not saying that, copywriters. Don't kill me. Okay? But I'm saying is I almost like lots of copy nuggets, better than bullet point.

Justin:

Old school, long bullet point list is a little ugly, a little tedious. I like just these little squares, you can rotate them, left align, right align, little images. And that's giving you all the different like, and this reason and that reason and this reason and this objection, we counter it here. And this objection, we counter it here.

Justin:

It's not like in person where you have the opportunity to read body language and tonalities, so you got to answer all of them there. You got this person one time, you need to think of every objection they possibly could have and put all that on the page. But in a way doesn't intimidate them. So short blocks of texts, small sentences, lots of images. Think children's book. Not because consumers are dumb. They're just busy. The baby's crying in the background. They're trying to shop while they're at work and their boss might turn the corner any minute. A life is happening to this person, and so we need these little nuggets of stuff.

Brett:

Yeah. And one of the things that I hear people say all the time is, oh, nobody will read all that copy. And the answer to that question is, yeah, you're probably right. But what people will do is they will scan it. They're scanning it, looking for answers to their specific question.

Brett:

Sometimes someone's going to scan the page. They find one or two of those nuggets, either bullet point or a little chunk of copy. And they're like, "Oh, okay, well, if that's true, then this is okay." And then they may go back and read more. So I think understanding how people consume a page, and you're right, you got to have every possible objection covered in that page or else people will bail.

Justin:

Yeah. A great example on that is right now I'm getting into, or at least I think I'm getting into Japanese woodworking. It's kind of ...in my brain lately.

Brett:

Wait a minute, you're doing Japanese style woodworking or you're just buying it?

Justin:

I'm getting into it, like chisels all saws and joints and things like that. And so I'm looking at the different chisels and specifically looking for a certain type of steel that the chisels are made out of because it affects the sharpening and how long it can hold an edge. None of the pages that I'm going to talk about. It's the biggest thing. When you talk to other people that are in this, they're like, "Oh yeah, you want to make sure your chisels are made out of A2 steel because of this, that and the other.

Justin:

So it's a normal conversation that the woodworkers would have. But when I go to the sales pages, nobody's addressing this conversation. The biggest thing you want out of a chisel is, how do I sharpen it? How long does it stay sharp? ... And that number one question is not being answered on the page. And that's a great example of, make sure your product is talking about that thing that everybody's talking about.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Okay. Let's talk about the ad side for just a minute. So, what are you thinking about, how are you crafting those cold traffic ads? So the first ad someone sees that then sends them to this page we were just talking about, how are you crafting and how are you creating those initial ads for cold traffic?

Justin:

I'm glad you asked me this question and this one hurts me. I have like the world's hardest to show off tattoo because it wraps around my arm. But basically it's an ink quill, it's a Quill with an ink jar and cash. I'm a die hard copywriter. I am a copywriter. First, I sell traffic, that's the shingle I hung, but I live and breathe as a copywriter. So I promise you, it hurts me more than anybody else to say this, copy today isn't what it used to be.

Justin:

I would say for the last hundred plus years, in all the books that we read. They're trying to get you to write the best ads. It's like you're going to write this one ad, like you're going to put all your energy. You're going to do all this research, the whole process, everything we've learned and done over the last 100 years in terms of copy is a little bit almost out the window. Not all the way out the window because today we're not really writing for consumers as much as we're writing for algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence.

Justin:

And so the best way to create an ad today is to understand the fundamentals of copying. But I just made a Google ad the other day. My ad rep says, you need at least 15 headlines. What? 15 headlines? For most people that would blow their mind away. What do you mean I got to write 15 headlines?

Brett:

I have three good ones in me. The other 12 are going to be, yeah.

Justin:

Right. And that's us because we're in the industry, die hard's, been doing this forever. The average person, one headline is hard for them. So you need 15 headlines, 3 descriptions, and at least 2 images, but one's got to be square. And then the other one's got to be 16 by 9, you know?

Justin:

And so like, we're really writing ... it's ultimately to the end consumer, but it's first to the algorithm because they're going to go and put all these pieces together. And so that's really where you need to be at. I would say today, less deep dive into copy, more breadth of like, how do you write a headline? How do you write a good ... it's like social media copy. How do you write good sentence? A good post? How do you write a good Twitter post? That's what you need because that's what's working these days. And a lot of the ad networks are going that direction.

Justin:

So when it comes to creating a good ad today, you need to know that it's about creating a volume. I don't know if I'm inventing this. I just don't know what else to call it. I'm calling it modular copy. And so you want to put together, you want to have a folder or even a spreadsheet of a bunch of headlines, a bunch of descriptions, a bunch of images, bios. These are the pieces that we need for social media, for blogs, for podcast interviews. You needed a profile picture and a bio and websites need these social networks. The ads need these. So that's what we need today to make a good ad. And then you need to understand the basics of copy so that your headlines, descriptions, bios, logos, they can't suck. But today the guy who I ... call him the John Belcher, good friend of mine, he is the-

Brett:

He's a legend.

Justin:

He's amazing. He's the modern media buyer and he's not a creative. And I'm not making fun of him or anything. He would say the same thing. He just understands the machines and the new way of doing things so much better. And he can out copy a copywriter who's been doing 15, 20 years experience because he's going to run 753 variations while you've spent two weeks coming up with one, so.

Brett:

Yeah. And it's interesting, because the algorithm is really like the gatekeeper in some respects, it's what's connecting advertiser to potential shopper and really it is a volume play to a certain degree. The machine up front wants a combination of things or this modular copy. I love that phrase, because the machine wants to test. It knows if it can test, it can find the right combinations.

Brett:

So really goes back to an old concept. I can't remember where I first heard this, but sometimes the quality is in the quantity. You got to test quantity and then you just find things that you're like, "Whoa, I never thought that headline could have been the winner, but it was and Google found it," you know? Yeah. And so, yeah. Super duper interesting.

Brett:

So where are you finding inspiration then for headlines and for copy blocks and things like that? Are you pulling from search ads that have performed well, are you pulling from the website copy? How are you going from, okay, back in the old days we spent weeks and weeks on a few headlines. Now we just got to have mass quantities. How are you getting there?

Justin:

You know what I like to do? I used to, for many years I taught use a spy tool, an Adbeat, Semrush, whatever. There's tons of spy tools out there, and you can do a lot of-

Brett:

Spy on your competitors and see what else is in the space. Right?

Justin:

Right. But what you end up doing, there's almost no way to not become a me-too version of the copy. You're essentially saying, even if you spin it into your own words, you're essentially saying the same message as other people. So what I actually like to do is I like to go to a different industry.

Justin:

If I'm selling knives, I'm going to go to fishing and I'm going to go look at what are the top and that's going to help me get good copy and then bring that over to my industry. So go look at what the best people are doing in an industry. Don't go ... like if you're in fishing, go to sewing or things like-

Brett:

Knives and fishing, that's connected. That's often the same buyer, but it's a different products that opens your mind a little bit, but still so on point.

Justin:

No, yeah. Do still use the spy tools and stuff, but try to broaden a little bit, go a little bit outside of your industry, see what's working, same customer, different products and bring some of that goodness back into yours, which will help you make sure you have good copy, but it's going to be a different message a little bit. And at the end of the day, we all know free works, best works, top works, must have. I mean, you can't really say that any other way. So, but that's what I like to do is look up other industries.

Brett:

And sometimes you run into people that just want to be creative. And they're like, "I don't want my ad to look like everybody else's. I don't want use the word top or best or must have." And you're like, well, okay, do you want to get clicks and conversions? Do you want to be original, or do you want to be effective? And so there's some things you just got to test.

Justin:

Well, a couple other things I'd like to add ... absolutely everything you just said. I also like to test different ... so a good story is when I was back early days in the website flipping, I thought everybody wanted to make more money with website flipping. So like all my copy, all my sales pages were like how to make $15,000 with your next website flip, or how to flip a big site, but that's not what they wanted. So I split tested, I didn't even think it was going to work. I split tested how to flip a website this weekend and that just, that blew up. So it's not always bigger. Sometimes it's faster. Sometimes it's cheaper. Sometimes it's-

Brett:

Fast and easy, like you can do it this weekend. It's just check this out. You'd sell a website this weekend. That's interesting.

Justin:

So test those different angles. And then also I like to test towards pleasure, away from pain and then something controversial. So if I'm trying to write three, like, okay, I got to write three different headlines. How am I going to say the same thing, three different ways? And so like, one way I'm going to say is, here's how you could make $10,000 this month. And the other one I could say is, here's how you could save $500 next week.

Justin:

So one's towards pleasure. One's away from pain. And then I'm going to say, you'll never believe how this woman made $500. So something controversial or shocking. So there you go, you're saying this same thing, selling the same product, but you were able to say it three different ways that might appeal. And you want to know if your market is a towards pleasure market, a shocking market, or if they are away from pain market.

Brett:

Yeah. Love that. And that really does make it easy. Again, if we're having to write all these descriptions and headlines, you have one concept, you can spin that concept three different ways, towards pleasure away from pain, and then a controversial spin. I like that a lot. That's fantastic.

Brett:

So I remember back in the old days, and I'm an old ad guy, did TV and radio back in the day to some radio and TV production. And I just remember there was always these old school grandfathers of advertising saying like, "Hey, people need to see an ad six or seven times before they purchase." And I think some of that was just like, hey, we got to sell more air time. And we got to sell more ads in our publication, in our magazine or whatever. But I also think there's a lot of truth there. We see this in Google analytics and other reporting platforms where some people got to see an multiple times. I have to visit your site multiple times.

Brett:

So let's talk a little bit about remarketing, because I know you've got a unique approach to remarketing as well. So what does that remarketing funnel look like? So we talked about the landing page. It's a separate page for your top product. We've got some ads now, we've got some different angles we're writing for that cold traffic ad. How are you setting up remarketing? And what does that look like?

Justin:

Okay. So remarketing and retargeting, just in case anybody ... they're the same thing.

Brett:

Yeah. You define those real quick.

Justin:

Yeah. So retargeting, remarketing is the same thing. We're taking somebody who's already seen your page at some level, and we can talk about all the different levels there, but they've basically, they've been here before and now we're remarketing. We're retargeting that same person to bring them back. And sometimes, I mean, we may want to bring them back somewhere different. Like one of my best strategies is I like to advertise blog posts because they get high CTR. They're like a Trojan horse. They don't even know they're like-

Brett:

Low CPCs, right?

Justin:

They think they found me, but I targeted them with the blog post. And what I do is I'll target them with the blog posts, give them a nice wow experience. And then remarket them to my sales page using testimonial ads. And we can break all that down. That's my favorite like one, two punch combo in advertising. But essentially remarketing, retargeting is the same thing. Remarketing is what Google calls it. Retargeting is like what everybody else calls it. Essentially you take somebody who's been there and talking about your seven touches thing. I think just life is going on. I think there is truth to it. I think there's less truth to it than they want us to believe.

Justin:

But I think it's just somebody hears a radio ad and the reason why they need to see it again is they were in the car. They couldn't buy, they were driving down the road, they were listening to the radio while on a jog. And so when they saw the magazine ad that pushed them over to the internet or to Google search and then that pushed, you know? And so that's why the different touches.

Justin:

So it's legitimate. You do need to have these different touches in different areas. Remarketing is absolutely... you should have it because our consumers are busy, like I said, the baby's crying. The boss is just about to come in, they're watching TV whatever. So they're just busy and they need to see these things. And that's really where remarketing comes in is maybe they didn't have their wallet on them. They were downstairs and they left their wallet upstairs because they just took a shower or whatever. And so they see the ad again, later on now they got their wallet on them and think remarketing was the thing. But it was the whole picture. It's the whole picture that made it work. So how far do you want to get into this?

Brett:

Yeah. So perfect setup. I love that. Let's let's think about like, what are some of the specific campaigns you create? Because what we often look at when we're doing remarketing is, hey, these are people that have been to this presale page. That's a separate remarketing campaign. These are people that have been to a blog post, but nowhere else. That's a separate remarketing campaign. These are people that have taken the introductory offer, but not the next offer. So you got like bot X not Y. So can you map out you at least, what are some of the campaign? What is that remarketing, retargeting funnel look like for you?

Justin:

Yeah. So essentially you have two different things. All right. You have your basic recycler, I call them like brand retargeting. And so like they're just seeing you somewhere and you're bringing them back somewhere. That's your most basic thing. And then you have like the more clever retargeting of funnel retargeting. And so I'm trying to get people who've seen my lead gen to see my front end, and people who've seen my front end product to see my upsell or people like, for example, for a long time, AdSkills, our model was we sold a book, Retargeting Recipes about retargeting. So we'd sell a book, so every one of those customers, we would then want them to see the big back end that we were selling. That was like our whole model right there.

Justin:

So there's essentially those two ways of doing it. It's just a recycler and then there's a funnel advancement. And then there's just umpteenth ways of splitting those two up into different things. And so the traffic recycler, just the bare bones, basic remarketing is they've come to your sales page, but they didn't buy yet. And so you're going to show them more ads back to the sales page. That's it. That's the simplest way. And it could be your blog. It could be your sales page, your webinar page, whatever it is. Then you can make that a little bit more advanced. Okay. So they came to your page, but now when you bring them back, you're going to bring them back with a discount. Grant Cardone does this a lot.

Justin:

You go to his $200 whatever video course. And then you go off on a Facebook to go ask your buddies in your Facebook group. You know, what do you think about this? Should I buy it? And all of a sudden you see get that course for $35 or whatever. There's usually some big discount. And then bam, you go and buy it. You don't have to discount that steep. Often as little as like 10% can really be the thing. They were right about to buy. That's why they went to your page. They went to your page because they liked something about it, but they just didn't ... this wasn't enough to get me to jump off the fence and take action.

Justin:

But this 10% off this weekend only, now I'm going to go take action. So that's the recycler with a discount and then you can do, you can do recycle, right? So like my sales page, bring them back to my sales page. You can run that one. You can have these things set up on like automation rules. I don't know how geeky you want me to get, but there are automation rules. And so you can say like, okay, show that to them for seven days, if after seven days now show them this ad. So now you're going to show them the discount after seven days.

Justin:

And then after seven more days, maybe there's a new discount. So you can do a month long steps. And then finally like the last week, try it free and pay nothing down and only pay if you keep it for 30 ... So you can really get super slick and advanced with these things. But don't at first. Okay. Just try the simple things.

Brett:

Yeah, just the simple remarketing out is a great place to start, but I'm assuming the way you're building that is you're building audiences like a seven day audience, a 14 day audience, a 30 day audience and then you're targeting and excluding throughout there. Yeah. Yeah.

Brett:

Because one of the ways we like to look at it and again, I think more in terms of YouTube, because I know YouTube really well and I don't know GDN as well. Although, we do a lot of GDN remarketing at least, is sometimes you got to look at why did someone not buy? So they clicked on that first ad, so there was interest. They visit at that sales page that there was more interest, but they didn't buy. Why is that? Well, you mentioned it earlier, sometimes it's life happens.

Brett:

So sometimes they just need to be reminded and sometimes they need to be convinced. Right. And sometimes it's a little bit of both. So that's where I really like that. Yeah. Week one is just like, hey reminder, hey, this is cool. You really want these benefits. You want these cool things. Then okay, well they didn't say yes yet so now they need more convincing. We might do something on the video side where we're showing more testimonials or more demonstrations and whatnot, but then yeah, maybe you need to up the ante on the offer, on the discount at that point, which I think makes a lot of sense.

Justin:

I'm a big fan of the ... we call it the overnight celebrity campaign. Whereas you use your whatever traffic, could be your social media, your email, whatever advertising to bring them to your sales page, your page. And then what you do is use Google, especially Google, because that's going to show all over the web. You can do it also in Facebook, but you want testimonial ads. Okay. So different testimonials. How do you make a testimonial lead? You put the person, just like you'd make a testimony on your page, right? You're going to have a picture of the person's face. And then the words as your headlines and description and all of a sudden there's going to be testimonials all over the web.

Justin:

So like they learned about you in some form and then the next thing they know they're visiting US Weekly or whatever. And there's testimonials for this product all over, everywhere they go. There's all of a sudden these people are talking good about this. That one, two punch is really, really good. The other thing that you mentioned is ... the only thing I'd add to what you said about the reminded, convinced is deadline. People need a deadline.

Brett:

Push them over the edge. Yeah.

Justin:

Yeah. I'm not a fan of fake deadlines, but there's tons of ways to create real deadlines. It could be a bonus. You get this bonus by Monday, if you join. Or you're the pink one is only available until midnight tonight or there's a 10% coupon today only. There's a lot of different ways to create real urgency, real deadlines. That more than anything, it's testimonials and deadlines. Those are my two tricks that I use over and over again.

Brett:

Love it. And it does speak to your original point, right? Where we're looking at a product and we're thinking of all the reasons, all the ways we're going to get in trouble if we say yes to buying this, right. My wife's going to yell at me. I'm going to have buyers remorse. I'm going to feel bad, whatever. Or just we're naturally, we're safe. And we take, we're inert. And so having that deadline pushes someone off the fence and gets them to take action. So that's brilliant. Awesome.

Brett:

Okay. So we're running tight on time, but I got more questions. We're going to maybe go a little rapid fire through a few other things. What is your take on smart bidding? So this may be a little bit nerdy, but stick with me. If you're not into the nerdy side of this, there's going to be some good stuff that's broadly applicable in a minute, but I think everybody still needs to know this and know your perspective. How do you feel about smart bidding versus manual versus however you like to do it?

Justin:

Buckle up. I don't think there's going to be a choice soon. I think it's everything we're going to be doing is going to be smart bidding. This is the way it's all moving. Google has already started ... it used to be, there was smart display campaigns and display campaigns. Now it's smart bidding inside display campaigns. And so we're going to see even more of that. This is going to permeate through all ad networks. It's just the way advertising is going to go. It's just more algorithms. More machine learning, learn what it is.

Justin:

Basically it's giving them lots of different options and then allowing their algorithms to ... you give it the confines like, hey, don't make this cost more than $40 per unit. Don't spend more than $3,000 per month. Don't target these different audiences, but other than that, you paint the picture of the fence. And then within the fence, the algorithm is allowed to go nuts in the ... what's really happening is a live auction that's happening at the speed of electricity. And so you just let the algorithm go and the algorithms are getting really, really good. I wasn't a fan a couple of years ago. Today, you're getting hard pressed to beat them as a human anymore.

Brett:

Yeah. 100% agree. And then we were the same way, right? Smart bidding, targetized bidding, smart campaigns, like smart shopping and stuff. In the early days, we're like, "Come on now." And we tested it and some of them were pretty cruddy, but now, dude, you can't beat the machine. You can't eat the algorithm. It's learning and getting better and picking up momentum. And it's just getting better all the time, so totally agree there.

Brett:

With that, then this is a follow up question. What do you view as the role of a media buyer? So what is an advertiser's role? What does a media buyer's role? If the algorithm is taking care of finding the right person up and bending down on all these things, what do we do?

Justin:

Yep. I definitely see us being replaced one day. And if you want, we could talk about that on another one. I got a whole vision for it, but I definitely think we still have another 5 to 10 years. And really what our job is today is to stop learning all the ... learn a little bit of the old ways, because there's a lot to pick up from history, but we really need to be disciplined enough to stop being lazy.

Justin:

I know, it's hard to go learn what smart bidding is. It's hard to go learn what a neural network is, machine learning algorithms, how do they actually work? You have to. If you want to be a good media buyer today and five years from now. If you're climbing up and you want to be the best, that's it, that's your homework. You have to learn how these machines ... that's our new job. Our new job is to know how smart bidding works. One, how to do it on the screen and the interface, but then also knowing the underlying functionality of how it works so that we can be better at working on the interface level of it. That's where we are. Going forward is we need to learn how to ride the tyrannosaurus, not try to avoid the tyrannosaurus.

Brett:

Just one minute. I'm updating my resume. I'm actually pretty good at manual labor. So I think it's a future for me as the agency world winds down, I can load trucks or something. No, I totally agree. And I think there's going to be more and more of the activities that we do that we do as an agency. I run a 50 plus person agency. There's things we do that we won't have to do in three or four or five years.

Brett:

I think there's always going to be an element though, where you need good strategists, right? And you need someone, even if it's just guiding and creating the fence, I like the way you talked about that for the algorithm, right? Here's what you need to start with. And then here's how I can manage you along the way, things like that. And thinking strategically and holistically about business growth and business goals and things like that. But it's going to be wild times, man. It's going to be interesting watching how this industry evolves.

Justin:

So just real quick that, I believe today we are the human interface that sits between the electrical interface. And so our client verbally tells us. We get on a phone call and they tell us what they want. And then we go and we type that into the machine. I don't think it's going to be ... I think 10 years from now, the client is just going to be able to talk directly to the network. And they're going to verbally say, this is what I want. They're going to verbally say set the parameters. And then the machines are going to be able to go out and they're going to use the spy tools to look up the headlines and they're going to test 7,750 different headlines and all these different audiences. And so that's where I think things are going, but I believe we got a good 5, 10 years of us still being the human interface.

Brett:

Yeah, really cool. Really cool. I'll keep the resume on file then. I won't get it out there just yet. This has been fantastic, Justin. So there's lots more that I want to talk about. So we'll definitely have to schedule part two to this conversation and lots more we can dig into, but what I want to do though, I know people are listening and thinking, "Man, I want to learn more from Justin Brooke," or, "I want to send my team through some of what Justin has to offer." So talk to me a little bit about AdSkills. What is it, what do you guys offer? How can people tap into your marketing brain more?

Justin:

Yeah, so we used to be almost exclusively for the ad agency. We used to charge $5,000 and help them get clients. And that was great. We built a very successful company off of the back of that, but I wanted to go bigger and I just realized our run rate, our team, we were just working so hard to keep things going. And so we flipped it. We are now more of like a Netflix model. We're $8.99 a month. And you get everything. Except for the certification. There's like an upgrade if you want to go onto that. But if you just want to learn how to do this stuff for yourself, it's $8.99 a month, you get a nine week course that gives you like the fundamentals, like go through this and you'll learn a to Z.

Justin:

Then we have the short tutorials, how to set up your Facebook campaign, how to set up your TikTok campaign, how to set up your Google campaign. And then if you want to like specialize or you want to master in something, we have their classes from all kinds of experts out there on YouTube ads or TikTok ads or Facebook ads or e-commerce. So all of that is all in there for just $8.99 a month.

Brett:

It's insane. I remember when you posted that model on Facebook, it was like, dude, this is either going to be really amazing or I don't know of what it's going to be, but it's crazy. And it's a great deal. So go out, everybody should buy this, right. $8.99.

Justin:

There's talk of flipping the price up to like $12.99. So if you're watching this like six months from now, it may be a couple dollars higher, but.

Brett:

It doesn't matter. Yeah. It's like $12.50, $30. Well, it's all the same. It's totally worth it. You got to check it out. You got to do it. So what's the URL for that one more time?

Justin:

It's just AdSkills.com, AdSkills.com.

Brett:

Awesome. And then, Justin, how can people follow you? How can they find you on the socials? Because you are one of my favorite follows on Facebook. You mix good business, marketing tips. You also talk about your faith, which you and I have the same faith, which I really appreciate that aspect as well, but there's plenty of business stuff if that's all you're into, but what are ways people can connect with you on the socials?

Justin:

Facebook and YouTube. We have a blog. Again, if you just go to AdSkills.com you're going to see all of our stuff, you're going to be able to get onto our newsletters. I'm spending a lot more time on our newsletters. We have a Wednesday one that goes out where I get into the meat of things. And then we have the traffic tips for busy people, which is a curated, like instead of reading all the stuff out there, here's seven things I really think you should read this week. So you'll find those on AdSkills.com. And then if you just search AdSkills or Justin Brooke on YouTube or Facebook, that's where you're going to find our free stuff. And we're actually uploading whole courses to YouTube now because we just believe that's the future, so.

Brett:

Awesome. Love it. And that's B-R-O-O-K-E, Justin Brooke. And so check out Justin. Justin, brother, this was amazing. It was everything I hoped it would be. It was fantastic. Now, I'm thinking about round two. So we got to plan that soon.

Justin:

Awesome, man. Can't wait.

Brett:

Thanks, man. Really, really appreciate it. And thank you for tuning in. Hey, if you enjoyed this, like it, review it, share it with somebody that needs to know this information and do leave that review. Because it helps other people find this show and we're trying to reach as many people and help as many marketers and e-commerce entrepreneurs as possible.

Episode 196
:
Andrew Eckblad

8 Mistakes That are Killing Your Video Ad Performance

Andrew Eckblad is one of the sharpest video minds I know. He started in TV and film and even won a few Emmys. He was Frank Kerns’ “video guy” for over 10 years. Now he runs convertsmart and works with DTC brands making videos that convert on all platforms: Facebook, IG, YouTube, and TikTok.

In this episode, we focus on the 8 biggest mistakes he sees DTC brands making when it comes to video marketing. 

Here’s a quick look at what we cover:

  • How the pattern interrupt really needs to do more than interrupt - it also needs to frame the video.
  • What the real goal of the first 5-10 seconds should be.
  • How you need to lean into authenticity and what that looks like.
  • What the ideal length of a video is after millions of dollars of testing.
  • A simple yet HUGE recommendation for your CTAs (I’ve been guilty of making this mistake).
  • How you might be overthinking your video strategy.
  • Plus more!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Andrew Eckblad

   - eMail: Andrew@ConvertViews.com

   - LinkedIn

Convert Views

Genesis Digital LLC

Frank Kern

Kartra

Harmon Brothers

David Ogilvy

Ogilvy on Advertising

“Tested Advertising Methods” by John Caples and Fred E. Hahn

Ezra Firestone

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Jared Mitchell

Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG commerce. Today, you've got a treat because this is a guest coming back for round two. Not many guests get to come back on the show a second time. You only do that if you really crush that first episode, and this guy did.

Brett:

Are you a D2C 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, Monin, Organifi and dozens more. 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 300,000 to 400,000 a month on Facebook, you should be able to easily spend a 100,000 to 150,000 or more on YouTube. Visit omgcommerce.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 at omgcommerce.com.

Brett:

Andrew Eckblad is with me again. He's one of the smartest video marketing guys that I know, runs an agency, has a rich background in video, and just as a fascinating guy to talk to. We're going to talk about eight mistakes to avoid when creating your video ads. It's going to be super fun, high energy, very helpful, and so with that, let's dive right in. Andrew, how you doing man? Welcome to the show and thanks for coming on.

Andrew:

Yeah, thanks for having me back. I love it. I got some good response from the last time I was on.

Brett:

Nice. It was a good episode.

Andrew:

I'm back in. I'll do it. You don't take too many people back a second time. Is that true?

Brett:

Well, I just don't know if people don't want to come back.

Andrew:

Oh, okay.

Brett:

It could be more me. Maybe they're bored with the show.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Brett:

We've had some guests that have been back for sure, but it is not a huge list.

Andrew:

All right, all right.

Brett:

You're still part of an elite club, so you got to feel good about it.

Andrew:

Excellent. That's all I cared about.

Brett:

Now speaking of elite clubs, for those that are watching the video, if you've got really good eyesight, you can probably see behind Andrew's head the sign of... I'm counting six trophies, and then another one that I just now saw because you moved more.

Andrew:

Oh, yeah. It's a Telly.

Brett:

It's a what?

Andrew:

Telly.

Brett:

A Telly, okay.

Andrew:

Those are easy to get. Those don't...

Brett:

Okay, so forget about the Telly.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Brett:

The other ones, I was like, Andrew, those look like Emmys, and guess what? They are. So tell us a story about these Emmys. How'd you get them?

Andrew:

So early two thousands, I worked more in television and film and we did a series in New York that was like a fashion documentary series. It followed the whole like photo shoot process from conception casting shoot to print. It was like a limited run. We did like, I think it was five or six episodes and yeah, so those are regional image. They're not the big national ones you see on TV, but they're regional ones and yeah, it was really fun getting to

Brett:

It's still pretty cool. When you first told me regional Emmy, I really wondered you're based in San Diego. I wondered was this, was this work with Ron burgundy or, or what was this?

Andrew:

Yeah, I tried. I tried to, but I couldn't get in with him.

Brett:

He's pretty tough to work with, and so it's probably good that didn't work out.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Brett:

That's awesome, man. So we've got these eight mistakes we're going to dive into, really excited about that. But before we do, kind of give your background, because not only have you been winning Emmys and stuff, but you've been doing some other cool things as well. Give us the background here.

Andrew:

Yeah, I'll give you the 30 second background. I initially was very interested in TV and film. That's what I worked in, in the early 2000s. I decided that I actually wanted to make money at some point, so I hooked up with Frank Kern, who's a pretty well known marketer. Started working with him in 2008. Helped him with his video. We came up with a lot of video techniques together that kind of combined direct response marketing, and entertainment, and the structure of television, so we'd do kind of entertaining stuff, and ... back then.

Brett:

I remember some of those videos. I still remember one where Frank Kern was driving in a VW van, and there was this internet marketing sneak attack, or something that he did.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Brett:

I still remember those videos, and those were really, really old.

Andrew:

They were so fun to shoot.

Brett:

I was coming up in the game and learning as well.

Andrew:

Yeah. There wasn't a lot of video online back then. It was harder to post things. YouTube wasn't what it was. Facebook wasn't what it was. But, he would have huge lists, and so these videos would go out to hundreds of thousands of people, and then they'd get traction, and he would be able to sell his products. But through him, I learned a lot about video marketing and direct response marketing, especially, and I've been able to take those skills, combined it with my skills as a video guy, and kind of apply that not only to advertising, but also to VSLs and those sort of things for different companies.

Andrew:

I have my own agency called Convert Views, which is just the creative for video ads for Facebook, Google, stuff like that. Then I also had content for a company called Genesis Digital, who my late friend, Andy Jenkins started. I still work with them on all their content and everything. That's Kartra, WebinarJam, and EverWebinar are their products. But yeah, so I kind of have my foot in all areas of video online, but a lot of video marketing stuff

Brett:

Love it. So such a rich background. Love Frank Kern's stuff from back in the day, and what Andy Jenkins and crew built, phenomenal. I know you're carrying the torch there, doing some really cool things. You and I then collaborated on a pretty large D2C automotive brand, did some video work together, which was super fun. So, I know you're doing a lot of e-comm stuff now. So, et's dive in. Let's dive into these eight mistakes. Number one, go.

Andrew:

Okay. Number one is I think everyone understands that a video has to capture attention. If you don't know that, then know that you have to do something to capture attention on the front of a video, so some sort of pattern interrupt. But, lot of people don't do the correct pattern to interrupt. A friend of mine called it a light show, so fireworks or explosions might get attention, but it's not going to compel someone to continue to watch the video, so that's a big mistake. What you're trying to do is you're trying to, in the beginning, frame the video, create a true hook, and give them a reason to watch right off the bat.

Andrew:

I'm already jumping ahead, but that's going to lead into our number two, which is going to be a reason why having a hook. But the point is, that pattern interrupt should be a real quick introduction to why they should watch in a creative way. An example of this, I just did a video. It's a script. It's not shot yet, but the front end... The company was selling a battery back up, and it was supposed to be going against gas generators. The very start of the video was, are gas generators really the best solution for an emergency situation? Visually, it was pulling back from a gas generator, and it had a box next to it. The idea was that you're questioning what everyone thinks is the best solution. You're providing curiosity because there's something there that people want to see what the answer is, and you're framing the video in a way that could carry someone to the next part. I might have kind of butchered that explanation because it's a new video, but that's kind of an example of how to start a video the correct way.

Brett:

Yeah. I love this. It's not that hard to get someone's attention, or to get someone's attention in the wrong way.

Andrew:

Right.

Brett:

You can yell something obnoxious. You can be crazy, whatever.

Andrew:

You can throw a ball at the screen and it can make someone jump.

Brett:

Right. Start a fire, do something crazy, and that will certainly get attention, but a proper pattern interrupt should also frame the message. It should frame-

Andrew:

That's right.

Brett:

... you're about to sell. I've talked a lot... I'm a YouTube guy, so I talk a lot about the Harmon Brothers videos, but it's real easy to see what they're doing and their pattern interrupts frame the video. You got the pre-video with the girl in the red dress sitting in a public toilet. She talks about a mother load she just dropped. It's kind of shocking and whatever, but it sets the stage for this before you go spray called Poo-Pourri. Then similar to what you're talking about with a gas generator in that video for a specific audience, you got the box, that's kind of a little bit of curiosity. You're posing a question that's going to make someone think. So, yeah. Pattern interrupt is super important. You need to interrupt someone. That's what you're doing with the video. They didn't come to YouTube to watch your video. They didn't go to Facebook to watch your video ad there either, so you got to interrupt them, but you have to frame them at the same time.

Andrew:

Yes.

Brett:

Talk about that a little bit. That first five to 10 seconds, and this is mistake number two. What should we be doing with those five to 10 seconds?

Andrew:

We should be giving them a very specific reason to watch the video. This could be done in a lot of different ways. It could be done with curiosity. You could pose a question, you can state an objection, you could establish a problem and a need. A lot of that goes back to fundamental copywriting. I think good copywriting, and people who do video marketing should probably study copywriting for scripting and stuff, because a lot of it carries over.

Brett:

100%.

Andrew:

Yeah. You're really kind of setting up the reason why someone wants to invest their time into the video. Out of all the stuff we're talking about, that's probably one of the most important things. I actually think this is more true on YouTube than it is on a place like Facebook, just because the nature of the audience, and the nature of the format, and people's expectations when they're going through YouTube, where their mind's at.

Brett:

Totally agree. Yeah. People are on YouTube to learn, to do, to buy, to be entertained.

Andrew:

Research. Yeah.

Brett:

I'll just kind of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, which is fine, and then sometimes something quick and easy can kind of can do get the job done on Facebook.

Andrew:

Yeah. I think a side note, it's important to understand that there is a difference between those two platforms. A lot of times something that works really well on one won't necessarily work well on the other. Sometimes it's just about tweaking a few things to make that work better.

Brett:

Totally agree. We've really only had a few advertisers, the automotive brand that we collaborated on, Boom by Cindy Joseph is another, a few others where the same video hits on YouTube and hits on Facebook, but typically, Facebook is shorter, YouTube is a little longer, all things is being equal. But, sometimes what works on Facebook could be a good hook for YouTube, or what works on Facebook could be the product demo portion of a YouTube video, things like that. But yeah, the platforms are different for sure.

Brett:

I want to key in a little more on this concept because I think it's really powerful, that you want to give some kind of promise in the first five to 10 seconds that it's going to be worth my time to watch this video.

Andrew:

Yes.

Brett:

Right. I remember I'd been a student of marketing for a long time. I've read some of the marketing godfathers, like David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising, and John Caples, Tested Advertising Methods, and several others. I don't remember who first said this, but they posed the question: What's the goal of a headline? You think about a print ad or whatever. What's the goal of the headline? Well, the goal of the headline is to get someone to buy. The goal headline is to get someone interested in buying. The answer to that is, no. The goal of the headline is to get someone to read the next sentence. The goal of the headline is to stop them and get them to engage with the ad. The whole purpose of the ad is to get them to take action, but the goal of the headline is to get them to keep reading.

Andrew:

Yes.

Brett:

That's goal of a good video as well is promise something where they realize, my life may be better if I watch this video. They may still be skeptical, but really, all you're asking for is a maybe. Maybe if I watch this, I'll get something out of it.

Andrew:

Yes.

Brett:

Any other insights there? Any other good examples there? I know it's kind of hard to think of them on the spot, but any other thoughts there?

Andrew:

No. I mean, you definitely covered it really well. I know why you're the host because you say things so much better than I can.

Brett:

It only feels that way.

Andrew:

You're expanding on it in a way that's like, "Oh, that makes a lot of sense." I'm just like, blah. But no, I think it's really just having a filter like, do I care? I will say this. The wrong way to start a video is with a satellite statement, something that people already know. So saying, "Everybody knows tap water's bad for you," and then trying to get into like a reason why they care. That's a terrible way to do it. And also assuming that people care about what you have to say is also terrible. The people watching aren't your friends and aren't your family. They don't care, so you really have to have that filter when you're creating this open. It's like, "Do I care? Does someone else care? Why is someone going to invest their time, even if it's just 30 seconds, 45 seconds a minute to watch what I have to say?" That really has to be hit in the first five to 10 seconds.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that. Don't don't make statements like, "Yeah, tap water's bad for you," or, "You're a business owner. You're trying to cut expenses." Well, of course.

Andrew:

Or introducing yourself. "Hi, I'm Andrew Eckblad. I like to make videos." It's like, skip, skip, skip, skip, skip. No one cares.

Brett:

I love seeing that stuff on the internet and you do too.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Brett:

It's one of those things where introducing yourself is fine, getting your name there is fine, but that's not what you lead with.

Andrew:

That's not an open.

Brett:

It's not an open. Maybe for something like radio where it's harder for people to change their channel. Well, it's really not that hard, but yeah. For online video, you're right. People are pretty ruthless. Even nice people, even people that be super patient with you face-to-face are ruthless online.

Andrew:

It's worse than it used to be. Every year, the attention span gets lower. You used to be able to do anything and make money, but-

Brett:

Right, right.

Andrew:

... not with ads.

Brett:

Because they're so novel like, "Whoa, there's a video ad online. This is crazy. I've never seen this."

Andrew:

Yeah. "I need to watch it." But yeah, it's this cutthroat, so you really got to be direct.

Brett:

Yeah. You've got to either have some promise of a benefit, some promise of the answer to a question so you're opening that loop with the promise of closing it, something to get them interested to get them to keep watching. So, cool.

Andrew:

That's right.

Brett:

Any other examples or thoughts on that one before we move to number three?

Andrew:

Nope. That's all I got.

Brett:

Cool. All right. Mistake number three. What do you got?

Andrew:

Let's talk about length, video length. Listen, when I first started doing online stuff, I thought length was really important because the fact is the more time a video goes, the more people are dropping off and not watching.

Brett:

Right.

Andrew:

But the reality is through millions of dollars of testing, that length doesn't matter. We have successful videos that are 10 minutes. We have successful videos that are three minutes, even 60 seconds. Even, ironically, some of the longer videos tend to do better, like in the five to six minute range. But of course, that falls back to the product and the audience. There's a lot of variables. From what I've seen, length doesn't really affect how well a video does. You could probably speak to this better than I can since you actually do the media buys and stuff. What have you seen on this?

Brett:

This is such a fascinating question. It's also one of those questions that's one of the most frequently asked. I speak at events a lot talking about YouTube, and people are like, "Hey, how long should my YouTube video ad be?" I think, just because it's an easy question to ask. I think the way that I would frame it is there's no magic length. Right?

Andrew:

Right.

Brett:

It's not that length doesn't matter. It's just that it depends. There's no magic formula, right? One of the videos you and I collaborated on back in the day, I think one of the top hitters was 45 seconds, but for the most part, as we've tested, and now we've spent millions, and millions, and millions on YouTube, is that usually needs to be longer than 60 seconds. If you go less than 60 seconds, especially in the 30 second range, you just don't get conversions. You'll get views. You'll get better view rates. Your cost per view will go down with a shorter video, but you don't get the CPAs you're looking for. Right?

Andrew:

Right.

Brett:

You and I were talking about this. Google reps and other people will say, "Hey, no. 15 seconds test..." 15 seconds. "Six second bumper."

Andrew:

Six seconds, yeah.

Brett:

We did that so many... In fact, you and I worked on some six second bumpers, could never bet them to work. Generally, I like to say minute or longer, but like Ezra, Boom by Cindy Joseph, he's in that same ballpark that you talked. Five and a half minutes are some of his top videos, but then we have several others that are a minute and a half or so that are just crushing it. So yeah, we found more in the minute and a half to three and a half minute range as a rule, but I wouldn't be afraid at all, of going a little bit longer, and I wouldn't be afraid of going closer to that one minute either, as long as you say enough. Say enough to really push someone to where they want to click.

Andrew:

Yeah. I think the one caveat to that, which I've just thought of ,is on Facebook, we've done like sale videos with badges, like 60% off, and it's showing off someone with a really expensive jacket, or a sheet. Something that has a really high AOV with just a quick sale notice, those tend to do okay. Those are the only short ones I've ever had success with, but when you're actually demonstrating something, or selling a product, or doing something a little more in depth, the short stuff, like you said, it doesn't really matter how long it is. It's the message. It's as long as it needs to be, and that's it.

Brett:

Yeah, exactly. As long as it needs to be, keep their interests, say enough when they feel like they have to click, and then you're good. I think if someone has a frame of reference, like they know your product, they know your brand, they know what you're selling, then yeah, do... If it's a sales, something like Men's Warehouse or something, people that are customers of Men's Warehouse, they know what they have. If I saw a thing that was 50% off or whatever, and I was looking to buy a jacket or a shirt, then it wouldn't take much to get my attention. But, if it's a new product where I don't really know why I would want it, or what it does, or why it's great, then you need more time.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Brett:

Love that. It's awesome. Video length, getting hung up on video length, is a mistake for sure.

Andrew:

Yes.

Brett:

Awesome. So, that was mistake number three. What about mistake number four?

Andrew:

Okay. So number four is build for the small screen. That's something as an editor, I forget because I work on a desktop. Whether you're doing graphics or video, you're seeing it on a big screen. You're able to feel the nuances and everything. But when it comes to people consuming video ads, whether it's Facebook or YouTube, I mean the huge, vast majority is on a small screen. You probably know the numbers better than I do.

Brett:

Yeah. But I mean, depending on the product it's 60%, 70% higher. That's even on the low end. Even like for Boom, by Cindy Joseph, where we're targeting women 55+, it's still mostly mobile, which is crazy. Another one is 90%-

Andrew:

I think Facebook's like 85% or something, or higher now. Then you have TikTok and all that stuff, and Instagram. It's remembering that people can't see everything on a phone, like they can on a desktop. What does that affect? Primarily, it affects titles and graphics. You don't want small titles. You don't want small graphics. If you do titles, make them big, fill the screen, keep them simple, very visually consumable, one or two lines. That's definitely one thing.

Andrew:

Another thing is for YouTube, is understanding the safe zones on YouTube. The bottom right, you have the skip button. The bottom left, you have a clickable CTA. Is that correct?

Brett:

That's correct.

Andrew:

Then the top right, you have a link to the actual advertiser, right?

Brett:

Correct.

Andrew:

Then my understanding is that YouTube, depending on the platform it's showing, it may crop slightly, on certain areas. If you were to look at this on a screen, you have a little section in the middle that's uninterrupted, and maybe a little on the top left, but other than that, you want to keep the edges clear. Either large graphics, large texts, or just don't do graphics and texts at all.

Brett:

Yeah. You really want to keep that, especially that lower right, where the skip ad button is, because it is more of a region. You want to put some kind of call to action button there and get someone skipping the ad, and then doing the opposite of what you want, but also the lower left there's that built in CTA that Google has, or even the play button. You can be in those zones. Top, middle can be okay for logos or things like that. But yeah, for sure that upper right corner, you want to kind of avoid that as well. Understanding the safe zones, super important.

Brett:

It's so funny. In the past it was always like, "Hey, let's optimize for the big screen, and let's think about the big screen." Aspiring actors wanted to be on the big screen, and now, we're doing everything for a small screen. But that's where most of your views are going to come from, and so that's where most of your clicks and conversion are going to come from as well. I also love the tight framing, maybe not to the extreme of TikTok videos where it's right on someone's face, but still, tighter frame makes a big difference. Especially someone watching on their phone and they see it in landscape mode at the top, a tight frame is important.

Andrew:

Yeah. You don't want to be tiny in there. You want the product. If you're presenting it, then you want to fill the screen. On top of that, you want it to be bright and easy to see. You don't want to be in a dark room with weird shadows or all that stuff, because the harder it is for someone to watch something, the less effective it's going to be.

Brett:

Yep.

Andrew:

So, simple, bright, you don't have to over-complicate it.

Brett:

Exactly. The more someone feels like they have to work to understand what you're saying, they're just going to give up. Right? They-

Andrew:

Yeah. What do they say?

Brett:

If there's too many things going on, they're not going to work hard for you.

Andrew:

A confused mind never buys.

Brett:

Yes, love that. A confused mind never buys. Really, we're lazy when it comes to ads. We don't want to exert effort for your advertising.

Andrew:

Don't want to dissect it. We just want to know, and either click or not.

Brett:

Yep. Awesome. So we're about midway through. I'm going to kind of recap real quick, and then we'll get onto number five. So number one, we want a pattern interrupt. We want a pattern interrupt that properly frames the product, the problem, the situation, what we're trying to do. You want to frame it and interrupt people properly. Interrupt the right people in the right way. Two, we want the first five to 10 seconds to really provide a promise, so there's going to be a benefit for just watching the ad. Get them to want to around, and make that appealing and enticing. Number three, don't get hung up on the length of the video. It needs to be long enough to sell. You don't have to get too hung up on it. Build for the small screen is number four. What is number five?

Andrew:

Okay. Number five is taking advantage of authenticity, or at least trying to use authenticity as a way to get people to engage with the video. There's a lot of nuances to this because you could do something like these really bigger six-figure expensive ads obviously are produced. They're acted, but they're very well done and they're very successful, but you're not going to make 30 of these videos and continuously rotate through them. You're going to have hero videos. When you're looking at cheap, effective videos that could be produced quickly, that are successful, that have a lot of return on investment, then I think using authenticity is a great way to take advantage of that.

Andrew:

The best example would be a UGC, a user generated content video, where someone's giving their opinion or their review, or someone's holding their phone up, shooting themselves, and they're being like, "Oh, I just got this great outfit. I love it." They're looking at themselves in the mirror, and they're showing it off. Because it's in the same format that people use to communicate with each other anyway, especially like on Facebook, people are going to at least give it a shot, as opposed to something that looks very polished, like an ad that I immediately identify as an ad, so I immediately skip it. I think taking advantage of the format's native language, I guess is a way to put it, is a powerful way to easily and simply create videos that can be effective.

Brett:

Yeah. It's so great. I talked to a friend of mine who runs an agency that focuses on TikTok and they like to say for TikTok, don't make ads, make TikToks.

Andrew:

Yeah. I love that.

Brett:

That's super clear and makes a lot of sense for TikTok, but it really applies to every platform. Understand the Facebook platform. Understand what looks and feels authentic there. Understand YouTube. YouTube, you can get away with a little more polish and a little more production value. It skews a little more TV than these other platforms, but still, you want authenticity. If it just feels like a commercial, looks like, feels like commercial, people are just going to keep going on, on Facebook. If it looks like a commercial on YouTube, well, people know that it is anyway, but if it doesn't grab you and if it's not authentic, then they're going to skip it there, too. I love this. I also like for YouTube, but also for Facebook and other places, a mixture of some production value with UGC. Sometimes those working together can be really valuable.

Andrew:

Yep. Yeah, absolutely. I think it's knowing the language of the platform, and being okay with speaking that language with your advertising.

Brett:

Yeah.

Andrew:

Especially on something like Instagram. People are scrolling, and if it looks like something that their friend shot, then they're going to give it a chance and listen.

Brett:

Yes.

Andrew:

Especially if it has an interesting open or something. If it's a really high polished ad with a bunch of graphics, they don't stop. There's no reason to.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. We've been living conditioned that that's the salesperson selling me something. No, thanks.

Andrew:

That's right. That's right. Of course, every platform is different, so you really got to look at different platforms, but that's kind of a good... For low budget ads, that's kind of a good thing to remember.

Brett:

Love it. Yeah. Lean into authenticity, and lean into UGC. And I think that applies across all platforms.

Andrew:

Yes. Absolutely.

Brett:

All right. Number six.

Andrew:

Number six. You're going to know more about this than me, but it's advertising the right product. What I mean by that is having a product that has the AOV to support the advertising. Something that I've found in video marketing is it's really hard to make money off something that's less than $65, $70 average order value. It's having a product that could pay for the ads, but it's having a good upsell path, the right landing page, the optimized landing page. Having all the backend stuff there to support the advertising, I think is something that a lot of people forget.

Brett:

Yeah. I'm so glad you mentioned this because as media guy and someone who's been buying and creating campaigns for forever, this speaks to my soul. So thanks, Andrew. But yeah, you really do need that AOV to be often $65, $75 or higher. Or another way to look at it is you need to be able to absorb a customer acquisition cost of $50 or higher. Really, now on most platforms, a cost per acquisition of $50 is probably low, especially for cold traffic. If it's warm traffic, remarketing, repeat purchase, then you can certainly spend less than $50. But probably as a rule of thumb, if you can't spend $50 to $100 acquiring a new customer, you're going to be limited on some of your channels for attracting customers. Now it could be then that your AOV is north of $100, or it could just mean that we know what our six month LTV is. We know how many times we get someone to purchase for six months, and then you could absorb that $50 higher customer acquisition cost. Understanding that is really important.

Brett:

Then one of the other pieces here, and I'll mention our mutual friend, Jared Mitchell, that's how you and I met.

Andrew:

Yes, my best friend.

Brett:

He's your best friend, and he's a good-

Andrew:

Yes, the best man at my wedding.

Brett:

Yeah. That's next level, although he is going to host all 10 Curry's at his house for like the second or third year in a row. We go out to Cali and we crash at the Mitchell's.

Andrew:

I got to stop by for that.

Brett:

You do. You got to come and see the whole Curry clan at the Mitchell's.

Andrew:

I got to meet the family.

Brett:

It'll be crazy. Yeah.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Brett:

Jared and I were working on a YouTube deal for he and his wife's business, Skincare by Alana. We were working on a specific product. As we were running YouTube, we just did a small test, just kind of for fun. As we were doing a test... His wife, Alana is great on camera. Actually, you helped with this.

Andrew:

She is. Yeah.

Brett:

You did this.

Andrew:

Are these videos I shot?

Brett:

Yeah, these are the videos you shot.

Andrew:

Okay.

Brett:

We started running them and we're like, "Well, the CPAs aren't great, but the other video metrics are really good." The view rate was good. Click through rate was actually great. People were clicking on this ad.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Brett:

CPV, the cost per review, were low. As we looked at it, we were like, "Jared, these numbers are pretty good." People are enjoying watching these videos and enjoying clicking on them. He's like, "Well, let me get to work." You know what Jared has going for him. He knows CRO. He knows conversion rate optimization. He's a super smart guy.

Andrew:

He's great at that.

Brett:

He reworked the page, and then he got his funnel built out, and then they started working, and then they started hitting those numbers. That was never designed to be a scale project, but it did start to work. It did start to hit those CPA targets once he fixed the landing page and some of the follow up sequences. That's where also understanding the numbers, where you can look at the performance and say this is... As an example, if the view rate's really low for an ad, but let's say the click through rate's kind of high, we'll know you need to fix the opening. You fix the opening and the view rate's better. Or, view rate's good, click through rate's bad. Something's wrong with the product demo or with the CTA. You just have to look at the numbers and understand what to fix next.

Andrew:

Yes.

Brett:

Really good. So right product, understand your numbers, you're going to have the upsell system-

Andrew:

If someone says, "Oh, I got a $20 product, or $25 product," then start looking at bundles, start looking upsells.

Brett:

Exactly.

Andrew:

How can you bring that AOV up to where it makes sense?

Brett:

Right. Right. Yeah. I've consulted with some Amazon businesses where AOV is $25, and they don't really know when people purchase again. I'm like, "Well, that's probably more of a search marketing activity, running Amazon search ads, Google search ads, things like that, is probably your path there.

Andrew:

Yep.

Brett:

Cool. All right. We got just a little bit of time left. That was number six. Let's lay down number seven.

Andrew:

Number seven is a big one that people forget, and that's, don't throw away the CTA. What I mean by don't throw away the CTA is it's an opportunity to pitch to the viewer something specific. A lot of people have their video and then it comes to a title-

Brett:

I've been guilty of this one, by the way. Even as a video guy-

Andrew:

Me too.

Brett:

... that loves performance and loves direct response. I've made this mistake many times.

Andrew:

Yeah. Yeah. You don't want to just have a card that shows the product and say, "Click now, lower." You can still have that at the end. What you really want is someone on screen, and if it's a scripted video, then this is part of the script. But whoever is taking us through the video, the "host," they need to present the CTA at the end of the video directly to the viewer. That makes a big difference in how that CTA is actually consumed. Then of course, that CTA, that should have either a special offer, a deal, a promotion or some sort of bonus. It should be a strong offer presented by the person on camera. That can make a big difference in videos.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that. Such a simple thing, but sometimes we get right up to the close, people are... If they've been sticking with you that long, they're interested, they're engaged, they're likely a good prospect, but then you don't ask.

Andrew:

Yeah, you don't ask.

Brett:

You just leave it to a visual to ask. Have the person on camera make the ask. Go here, check this out, try this out, read this thing.

Andrew:

It's like going back to VSLs. In a VSL, you have the offer in the VSL. You should do the same in the ad.

Brett:

Yep. Just like back in the days when Frank Kern was pitching his stuff. He did the pitch. He did the close at the end. We've seen this work too, whether it's hair care, or skincare, or automotive, or whatever. This just works. The interesting thing is even if you do all the steps right and you get up to this point, if you don't ask, a lot of people won't take action. You got to ask, and you got to make it compelling.

Brett:

The thing I'll also point out here is I love introductory offers. We work a lot in the supplement space, so there's a case to be made that, do free plus shipping samples for supplements, or do some kind of introductory offer. If you're doing a subscription, make that month one bundle irresistible, and you can kind of work with price. But, you don't have to do that. You could just tell people to go here and check this out, see it in action, see how this will help you, run this calculator or get this guide. See how this is going to impact your life or your business. For Boom, by Cindy Joseph, almost never, ever, ever do discounts. It's always click here, check out our five makeup tips for older women. This promise of a benefit, and then they go and they get that benefit. We've been sending traffic to those pages for years and it just works, and it gets a predictable CPA. There needs to be a CTA. If it makes sense to bundle and discount for your brand, then do that. But if it doesn't, then don't. You don't have to.

Andrew:

Right. Right. You don't have to, but thinking about the CTA and incorporating it into part of the video can help. We've even done tests where we put countdown timers on it as if it's a page, and that has helped.

Brett:

Has that helped?

Andrew:

Not always, but we've seen... Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but you could do fun stuff like that at the end of the video. But more importantly, have a delivered CTA and just ask. It could be simple. Just tell them what to do next.

Brett:

Yep. Love it. Delivered CTA. Don't skip it. It seems simple. Seems like, "Yeah, do we really have to do that?" Yes, you should really do that.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Brett:

Awesome.

Andrew:

Okay. That was mistake number seven. Mistake number eight.

Andrew:

Mistake number eight. The last one is don't make it more difficult than it needs to be. Video is very intimidating for a lot of people. Luckily, it's easier now than it's ever been before, because we all have a phone and we could just shoot ourselves. Sometimes, that's all it needs to be. If you don't know what to do, create a script, get a phone, shoot yourself in a UGC style, shoot some B roll, throw some shots in, make sure there's value in the video, show off the product, demonstrate the product if it's demonstratable, and if it's a project... When we're working with a car care product, before and afters were awesome. Just showing a before and after from a cell phone footage is fantastic. I think if you're getting started in video, don't over complicate it. Don't make it more difficult than needs to be. You have the tools right now to create a compelling ad. You just have to structure it correctly and try it out.

Brett:

I love it. I'm so thankful you made this one of the mistakes, because we do have the tendency to over complicate things. That's one of the reasons why I don't like to mention that YouTube is kind of like TV, even though it is. When I mention that, then people think super bowl ads or something. I got to create this super creative-

Andrew:

I got to get a huge crew.

Brett:

You got to get a huge crew. This has to be a major production. It doesn't. I think one of the things to consider is if you're a business owner, think about the times, think about the phrases, think about what you say when you're one-on-one with someone when they light up, when you make this comment or you saw an automotive product and you show them this thing, when do people get all excited? When do they lean in, when do they really perk up? Those are the things you need to say in your ad. It can be super simple. I would much rather test with a simple video, one person on camera talking to someone, just like you would to a friend or to an ideal prospect, and give that a try first, and then try more complicated things from there.

Brett:

I remember, and I don't know if you've seen this or not, but Frank Kern, he had a video, I think I saw on Instagram first, but he started... It was just him with a microphone, staring at the camera. This was recent. He was like, "This was an ad."

Andrew:

Yeah, like classic Frank Kern.

Brett:

It was oddly captivating. Part of it... I haven't followed Frank Kern for a long time, but I don't think that was it. Part of it was just oddly captivating. I just watched it, but it was just Frank talking. Barely any edits, barely any anything. He just said, "This was an ad."

Andrew:

Well, that's a perfect example of what I'm talking about because Frank used to pay me to create videos. He needed a video guy to... You used to have to shoot on cameras, not your phone, so he needed a camera guy who could shoot, and who could edit, and who could do all this stuff. Then as time went on, him and a lot of other people realized that they have the tools to just create something, and there's authenticity with it. Him saying, "This is an ad," that's a great interrupt, even though it's...

Brett:

It's a great interrupt, and it really ties into your first point because it's a pattern interrupt, first of all. Why would you say that? That's interesting, so now I'm listening for a second, at least.

Andrew:

Yeah. Why are you admitting this?

Brett:

He's talking about marketing, and he's talking about how he's speaking to business owners, and so it is a beautiful, simple hook that works.

Andrew:

Yeah, and he self shot it, and whatever little edits he had to do on it, he did it. If it's clunky, it doesn't matter because you still watched it. It's a good example of just kind of where we're at with video, which is knowing the structure is half the battle.

Brett:

Yes. T.

Andrew:

He rest of it's testing and just getting it done.

Brett:

Totally agree. Yeah. Having that right script, understanding the nature of the platform you're running an ad on.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Brett:

Being simple, being straightforward, really mastering that hook and that pattern interrupt, and then dropping in some of your key benefits and some of the things that you know resonate with people. It can be simple. Then you're just testing and iterating from there.

Andrew:

That's right.

Brett:

Awesome. So we did hopefully demystify a little bit and make this seem a little simpler, but I'm a guy that understands video. I still like having video people to work with. I still like talking to the pros like you. I love working with you, Andrew. For other people that are watching this and thinking, "Okay, okay. So I could do this on my own, but I'd rather just call Andrew, or get a hold of Andrew." Call Andrew... What is it, the '90s? How can they check out your company and your services?

Andrew:

The company is convertviews.com. If you want to talk to me, you can always email me at Andrew@convertviews.com. Even though we gave you these tips, it's all super difficult, so you have to hire me to do everything. You can't do anything on your own. None of this makes sense. This was all just...

Brett:

It was just good radio. It was just to make an interesting video. No, the truth is you can do it.

Andrew:

I mean, you cannot do it on your own. You have to pay me tons of money to help you. That's the last point.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah.

Andrew:

No, I'm just kidding. But yeah, if you have a larger company that needs a lot of media... We don't really work with startups because it doesn't make sense for them to pay someone when they're so little and they're just testing, but if you're a company that needs consistent creative, we don't do the media buys, we just do the creative. We're not trying to replace your ad agency. We're not trying to replace internal people, but if you need just a steady flow of effective video ads, that's what we do.

Brett:

Yeah. Love it. If you're in that stage where you're needing 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12 videos a month, that's the type of client that's great for you.

Andrew:

Yes.

Brett:

One thing I'll say too about you, Andrew, and this probably came through in the interview, but you understand data and you understand performance. We used to get on calls. You look at videos and be like, "Hey, this view rate's not good. This conversion rate was off." Then you know kind of what to test from there. You're really looking at data driven creative, which is super helpful.

Andrew:

That's right. That's a very good point.

Brett:

Convertviews.com or andrew@convertviews.com. I'll link to those in the show notes as well. So Andrew, man, round two may have been better.

Andrew:

Do I get a round three? Do I get a round three?

Brett:

Let's start thinking. Let's start thinking about round three?

Andrew:

Have you had three rounds with anyone?

Brett:

I have. Yeah. One other business. Well, a couple... They're OMG people. I'm trying to think of anybody outside OMG that's been three times.

Andrew:

Yeah, OMG doesn't count.

Brett:

OMG doesn't count. Maybe Ezra. I think guys were Firestone. That's a pretty short list.

Andrew:

He's a different level than me, so that's okay.

Brett:

He's next level from all of us. So anyway, Andrew, man's been a ton of fun, and thanks for taking the time.

Andrew:

Yeah. Hopefully I'll see you when you visit Jared.

Brett:

Yes. Let's hook up next time we're in Cali. Let's absolutely do that. All right, brother.

Andrew:

It was great talking with you.

Brett:

You as well. And as always, thank you for tuning in. We would love to hear from you. What would you like to hear more of or less of on the show? If you haven't done it, leave us that review on iTunes. It helps other people discover the show. Don't forget to subscribe, and don't forget to check out my new podcast, Spicy Curry. You find it on the website or on iTunes. It is spicy. We just talk to the top names in eCommerce, so check that out as well. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.


















Episode 195
:
Brian Moncada - Adspend

7-Figure YouTube Ad Framework with Brian Moncada

As you know, I’m no stranger to YouTube ads. It’s been an obsession of mine since 2016. 

But, I love talking shop and swapping ideas with other YouTube ad experts. 

My guest today is Brian Moncada. He and his team run YouTube ads for other marketing legends like Frank Kern, John Asaraf, and others. Brian knows his stuff!

Brian has worked mostly with info marketers and influencers. We work almost exclusively with DTC brands. So our combined perspective on YouTube ads is pretty powerful.  

Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • Brian’s ad framework.
  • How to harness intent-based targeting.
  • How to create urgency and scarcity.
  • Why most YouTube ads fail.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Brian Moncada

   - LinkedIn


Adspend.com

7-Figure YouTube Ads Swipe File & High-Converting Script

Adspend YouTube Channel

War Room Mastermind

Dean Graziosi

Tom Breeze

Russell Brunson

YouTube Advertising Masterclass

Tommie Powers

Tony Robbins

The Harmon Brothers

Viome

Transcript:

Brett:

Well, I am so excited about today's topic. I'm going to geek out today more than usual, if you can imagine that. This topic is one of my favorites, it's been one of my favorites for years. We're talking YouTube ads and I have a YouTube ad expert on the show today. And we actually met through my business partner, Chris Brewer, the man himself, Chris heard my guest today speaking at War Room and was blown away and he's like, "Brett, I know you're the YouTube guy, but you got to hear from Brian." And so Brian and I connected, instantly hit it off, kindred spirits on the YouTube side of things.

Brett:

This episode of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast is brought to you by OMG Commerce Resources. That's right. Here at OMG Commerce, we want to help make sure you're educated and in the know to capitalize on the latest tips, tricks, and strategies to help you grow your e-commerce business. So if you go to omgcommerce.com and under resources click on 'guides', we have some cutting-edge free information for you on things like how to dominate with Amazon DSP ads, or how to use Amazon sponsor brand video ads and how to craft the perfect ad. We have several guides on how to capitalize on YouTube ads, from creating the perfect ad to knowing when you're ready to scale. Plus, there's the newly updated Google shopping guide, plus more. Check it all out at omgcommerce.com and click on 'guides' under resources. And now back to the show.

Brett:

I'm delighted to welcome to the show Brian Moncada and Brian is the founder, the visionary, the leader of adspend.com. Fantastic URL. So with that quick intro, Brian, welcome to the show. How you doing, man? And thanks for taking the time.

Brian Moncada:

Dude, Brett, thanks for having me, man. I'm glad to be here and I am doing phenomenal.

Brett:

Yes. We were just talking about this. I don't know what time of the year you'll be listening to this podcast, because this will be... have some longevity. I'm in the Midwest. It's literally snowing and sleeting outside right now and Brian is in Miami just living it up. What's the weather like in Miami today, Brian? Just make us all feel bad, for those of us...

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but it's beautiful. It's 78 degrees and it's sunny and it's nice.

Brett:

Yeah. All right. Well, that's the forecast. The forecast For this podcast is going to be hot and so we're going to dive into YouTube. And so let's talk about this, Brian, because a lot of the clients that we talk to... and just to kind of set this up a little bit better, this will be, I think, a unique perspective on YouTube, the two of us together, because myself and my agency, OMG Commerce, we're all e-com. We're 50 people strong and growing but all e-com. You're all Legion and info marketing and working with influencers, and then so really those two unique perspectives, I think, will be great. I think it'll be gold for the listeners. And so before we dive in, can you give everybody a background? How did you become YouTube expert? How'd that happen?

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, great question. So about almost four years ago now, I went to work for Dean Graziosi full time. At the time he was not running any YouTube ads. I actually got hired on to run Facebook ads and about two or three months into my journey with him they're like, "Hey man, YouTube ads is an untapped traffic source for us. You should learn YouTube ads." I learned YouTube ads through... Actually, I bought a course from Tom Breeze and Russell Brunson-

Brett:

Tom Breeze.

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, he's-

Brett:

Friend of the show, friend of mine, just a legend. Love Tom.

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, I love Tom as well. And I got their course that he did with Russell Brunson. I ran some ad spend through that course. Then I got consulting with Tommy Powers, another OG in the YouTube ad space.

Brett:

I know Tommy as well. Yep. Good friend. Good guy.

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, and so after that I was able to successfully scale Dean's free plus shipping book funnel, Millionaire Success Habits, to multiple seven figures in revenue, run a few other YouTube ad campaigns through his businesses, including mastermind.com with Tony Robbins and Russell Brunson. And then after that, I started adspend.com to essentially do the same thing, but for another wide variety of entrepreneurs who need help getting more leads with their business and YouTube ads. So that was about two years ago, going full time for adspend.com, so we've grown pretty well since.

Brett:

Amazing, Brian. Yeah, really great story and you've worked with some big names in the industry, tremendous track record, you get invited to speak at places. I mentioned War Room. I know you've spoken at their events and so really delighted to have you on the show. So let's talk about the differences between Facebook and YouTube. So let's do a little compare and contrast. So in what ways is YouTube different from Facebook? And then I also want to kind of dive into... maybe where you feel like YouTube's a little better than Facebook. So let's start with the differences though first.

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, differences, I mean very plainly, YouTube is a search... intent-based platform. With YouTube ads, you can actually target people that are searching for specific keywords or intent-based queries that you can go ahead and show your ads in front of. And also it's an education and entertainment platform. With YouTube... I don't think anybody here goes to YouTube to find if their friends are online. That's what Facebook's for. Facebook is a social platform to interact with friends and basically, I like to refer to it as high school. You go in there, it's kind of like a very good drama show sometimes. People are going back and forth, they're liking statuses, it's a talent show. But then YouTube, it's like college because people go there to learn or to be entertained. And you know, Tom Breeze, what we just talked about, put it in a very good way. You want to create edutainment for YouTube, so-

Brett:

Edutainment. Love it.

Brian Moncada:

Exactly. And with YouTube, you're going there to watch videos of your favorite influencer or your favorite brand and/or learn how to do specific things. Like the other day... I'm in Miami. I have plants, a bunch of snake plants and there's gnats that sometimes infect your plants, which I didn't know. And so I went to YouTube to search how to kill gnats in my snake plants. And I was able to find a video specifically about how to spray your plants to kill your gnats. And that ultimately is what separates YouTube from Facebook, being able to watch videos, to solve problems and to also be entertained. It's the new TV. And with Facebook, you can't really find those specific answers to those problems that you have. When you have a question, when you want to solve a problem, you don't go to Facebook to search for answers. You go to YouTube or you go to Google. And so that's really the main difference, and I'm sure you have other suggestions as well, Brett.

Brett:

Yeah. I'll just kind of riff on that just a little bit. You're researching on YouTube how to kill these gnats. What a perfect time for someone either who has an information play to run an ad, to place an ad in front of that video pointing you to a resource or some information that they then monetize in some way, or a product. Like, "Hey, here's a quick, easy..." I don't know what you would use... spray, trap, something... net, to kill these gnats. That would be a great time to put that ad right there. And yeah, the intent signals are available on YouTube because YouTube owns Google and it's got all those intent signals and what a powerful thing. Facebook knows a lot about you too, but Google and YouTube arguably knows as much or more. And you've got just a different reason why you're going to YouTube. Love the way you kind of frame that. What are some other differences between YouTube and Facebook that you've identified?

Brian Moncada:

Other differences specifically is just with YouTube, it's just a better quality buyer. It's a better quality customer, specifically when it comes to return on ad spend. The platform itself, in my experience, almost every time leads to a better quality buyer because again, using the reference of the high school and college, people on YouTube, they typically cost more when you're running ads to them. But they also have a higher LTV, from my experience, in the online education course and coaching space for your business. And the reason why is because it's more intent-based.

Brian Moncada:

Like you were just saying earlier, if someone had put an info product in front of me as I was clicking on this video on how to kill gnats, I probably would've clicked. And if it was an offer that was super irresistible, I probably would've downloaded it. I probably would've bought it because I needed to solve the problem fast. I had a pain point that was I want to kill these gnats, so I don't have to worry about gnats flying around my apartment so I can make sure my plants are safe, and I don't have to deal with the stress that comes with clapping my hands and killing gnats every single time I see one. And that's why YouTube is so powerful, where Facebook, like you said, does work and is great, however, YouTube also has a lot more scale because there's just so...

Brian Moncada:

It's the number two search engine in the world. The number two search engine in the entire world and if you can crack the code on YouTube, your scale is a lot more prone than just Facebook. Because Facebook, you can only get to a certain amount of scale for... unless your offer is just so broad. Because you can see results faster on Facebook, especially if you have a niche offer, from my experience. But what happens if you try to go scale, if your offer's not broad enough, it's never going to appeal to a wide variety of audience.

Brian Moncada:

As with YouTube, what we found is if your offer is still niche, but at least broad enough, your targeting can be a little bit more broad as well, and really allow you to get those jaw-dropping return on ad spends, unlike Facebook and dealing with the ad disapprovals and the constant headache of... sometimes that you experience with having to go through ad rep and email support. Where YouTube, you get a little bit more support as well and more consistency is the biggest thing as far as differences from what I've seen. I'm sure you have others as well.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah, I love that. And I think one thing to keep in mind too is that Facebook, and this has started a few years ago, Facebook has to limit the number of ads that they put in the newsfeed. There's a limited amount of inventory in the newsfeed to keep people coming back to Facebook. When you look at YouTube and just the sheer volume of videos that are there and when you also look at the fact that when someone visits YouTube, that average session duration's 40 minutes. People are spending a lot of time on YouTube.

Brett:

The level of inventory is almost unlimited and you mentioned it and you're spot on. It's the second most popular search engine behind Google. And you may think, wait a minute, it's not a search engine. It's not. It's a video sharing site, but people use it just like you did to solve your gnat infestation problem. You go to YouTube when you're trying to find stuff, learn stuff, buy stuff, things like that. And so really the scale is huge, so you can be really, really focused and niche, like how to solve this gnat problem, or how to fix this issue with my lawnmower or whatever, or you can be really broad. You've got the ability to be laser focused and the ability to scale on YouTube, which is pretty unique and really not anything else like it.

Brett:

Now, Brian, you mentioned something and you talked about how it's kind of the new TV. I think that's actually a pretty good segue to talk about creatives. So how do you look at, how do you frame creatives for YouTube when you're talking to clients, or when you're teaching this from stage?

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, great question. So as far as a holistic overview of creatives, your ads on YouTube have to do two things, like I talked about earlier, they have to be educational and they have to be entertaining to some degree. Because ultimately, if you're trying to sell to another business owner, they don't have to be as entertaining as someone who's trying to interrupt the binge watching routine of someone who's trying to watch their favorite influencer to sell them something they've never thought of selling them. Whereas if I'm going to sell to somebody who wants to run YouTube ads for their high ticket coaching and course business, I need to hit them with a very powerful hook, keep their attention by sharing something valuable that they can use, whether they click or don't, and then ultimately, give them a call to action so that they can click and learn more about our solution, our offer.

Brian Moncada:

And so with creatives, just to back up here, again, those two things, educational, entertaining. Educational and entertaining. And so that may seem pretty crazy because the biggest thing and myth that people have in their head is, well, I have to film videos, that's going to take a lot of work. I have to get a production team. I have to hire a videographer and all of those myths that people believe, when in reality, all it takes to get a high-performing creative on YouTube is you have a really good phone and camera in your hand right now probably. It's an iPhone. It's probably the best camera quality that most people have access to in the entire world. And as long as you have good lighting and good audio quality, everything else takes care of itself in terms of the script. You need a good high-converting script. You need a hook, you need a story, or a body, depending on what you're selling to, and you need to make an offer at the end.

Brian Moncada:

So hook, story, close is the format that we teach our clients. And we always write five hooks for our clients with a different variety of angles in terms of the hook, which are usually from 0 to 15 seconds, and then this story, which is the educational and entertaining piece of the body, and then the call to action at the very end, which is the offer. So that's the framework and ultimately, in between you must be able to share some educational content with the viewer and entertain them by keeping their attention, if you're selling B2C as well, so I hope that answers your question. Obviously-

Brett:

Yeah, it is brilliant. And so I want to dive into a few things there. I'll start with the iPhone though, because I don't want to forget this part. So get the iPhone, this is the 12S Pro... I don't remember... Max. But I like the new iPhone commercial that says 'Hollywood in your pocket'. That's really accurate. You can create good quality videos from your iPhone, especially if you're pitching information or you're an influencer, I think sometimes they work best that way on the product side. So on the e-com side, some of the most successful videos we've spent millions and millions of dollars on videos that are just a mashup of different UGC of customer testimonials. Or for an automotive client, we had a matchup of people walking around their vehicle and showing this accessory that we were advertising and it was brilliant. It worked and we spent millions on it.

Brett:

And so yeah, you don't have to spend a ton. This could be your camera for your YouTube video. The other thing I want to mention, I want to key in on both entertainment and education. And I love the fact that you brought up both of those and you do need to do both. I think there's this real value that if you educate someone along the course of your ad, that delivers so much value and it actually creates a stronger connection between you and your prospect, where they feel like, "If you deliver this kind of value in just the ad alone, what are you going to do if I actually do go learn more, or do take your course," on the info side, "Or what if I do actually buy the product?" You're going to have more faith or more trust that you'll deliver value there because you deliver value in the ad itself.

Brett:

And then, hey, we all want to watch fun videos. We want to go to YouTube. Maybe we are there to learn, but we've all experienced a video that was so deadly, dull and boring that we just... we skipped, we couldn't tolerate. I compare it to accounting class in college. You used the college example. I was a marketing major. I respect accounting. I need accounting, running an agency. But I had one accounting professor that literally read the slides, so put PowerPoint slide up on the wall, read the bullet points, just read it. I'm like, this is painful. Everyone was fast asleep. Okay, so you can have an educational video that was that style, it's going to bomb. You need to have some entertainment, spice, some humor even, something to make people want to keep watching. I want to unpack more of the framework too, but I want to talk about that. How do you strike the balance between education and entertainment?

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, that's a great question. So one thing that we always try to do with our clients, especially on the info side, is most of them always just overthink the creative in general. So what we try to do is share with them the minimum ... production elements necessary to be able to produce a creative that's going to get some conversions for their business. And so what does that look like in terms of the entertaining? Well, the entertainment comes from making sure that in the actual editing and post production process, we're adding different elements in there, from motion graphics, from sound effects, from music that goes along with tone, all of the actual ad. So that way it's not just, again using the iPhone example, just filming, talking head without any other elements to keep the flow of the video and more importantly, the attention of the viewer.

Brian Moncada:

So post production does come into this a lot, however from the actual filming side of things, the way we make it a little bit more entertaining is the hooks are always filmed in one central location. And then for the body, or the story in this case, where they're actually sharing value, educating them, we make them film it in a different location. So it sets up the video to be more interactive, more interactive by just setting the different setting for the actual story.

Brian Moncada:

Now, does there have to be anything in terms of making funny jokes or doing something crazy on camera? Not necessarily, because the script that you write ultimately has to be very punchy, especially now, as you know. Because YouTube ads are now penalizing if you're above three minutes. They're up charging you if you have a three-minute ad, or if you have an ad that's above three minutes. So you really have to be key with your script and just keep the attention of the viewer. And so again, the way we do that is we have the hooks filmed in one central location. We have the influencer then film the body in a different location. And then in terms of the post production, we add B-roll we add sound effects, we add music underneath to not overpower the actor's voice, but just to keep the user's attention enough to make sure the flow of the script is still entertaining somewhat, but nothing crazy other than that.

Brett:

Yeah, I really like that. And so yeah, you don't have to be a stand up comedian. You don't have to be Harmon Brothers level humor necessarily. And the Harmon Brothers, it's the group behind Squatty Potty and Poo Pourri and Purple Mattress and things like that.

Brian Moncada:

The legends.

Brett:

Really, really funny. Also, they're legends. Really funny, really great at selling stuff. You don't have to be that funny, but you do need to think about pace and you do need to think about some of those certain elements that really spice things up. So you talked about post production. What's so interesting... and this would be a great example. The point I'm about to make is not about music, but I'm going to talk about music. If you've ever maybe watched an action sequence of a movie without the music, or you watch like the scary scene of a horror movie without the sound, it really loses an element. It's like, "Well, this doesn't even feel real." So sometimes those little elements totally change the emotion of what you're watching. And something that'd be similar in post production, adding a graphic, adding a sound effect, adding a close up. Sometimes just the angle going from a wide to a close up really changes both the engagement and the feel of the commercial. And so some of those things are super, super important.

Brett:

Can you talk about hooks just for a little bit? So is there a specific approach you take to hooks? Because I'm of the opinion, if you compare hooks and videos to headlines back in the day of print ads or subject lines and emails, the hook is the most important part. You got to deliver on the rest of it too, but how do you approach hooks and what are you thinking about, what are you trying to create when you're designing a hook?

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, great question. So we follow a very specific framework and for your audience that has more of the e-commerce business and background, these elements will still apply, it's just customizing them to their specific business. So what we try to do in the hook, the first zero, five seconds of the ad is a pattern interrupt. So what's the pattern interrupt? Well, you want to make sure that you get their attention and there's a few ways you can do that. So you can narrow their attention on maybe an object or by showing them something, like a prop. So for example, one of our clients, Mike Basevic, he actually sells essentially mindset coaching for high performing CEOs and professionals. But he's also competing with big pharma, because what he does is he helps them overcome their limiting beliefs.

Brian Moncada:

One of his ads that we wrote for him was stop taking pills, stop doing all of these substances to overcome your anxiety. And I was like, "Man, this would really make it a lot better if you showed the pills on the screen in the first five seconds of the ad." So that's exactly what he did. So having a prop to use, if it's relatable to the script or in your case, in your client's cases, having the actual product and making it the center of focus in the first five seconds in a way that the viewer pays attention to it. So you can flash something on the screen that's confusing. You can make a shocking statement. You can allude to something that means danger's coming.

Brian Moncada:

So for example, you can drop a big hook, that's unique, that's useful, that's ultra specific in terms of the script where it's, in my case, going back to the example that we're running with here is, if you're a homeowner that experiences gnats in your plants and you want to get rid of them as fast as possible, well, that's also another pattern interrupt because it's very specific to the person you're targeting, which is beautiful for YouTube ads, like we talked about because you can target those specific people watching videos related to how to kill gnats.

Brian Moncada:

So that's the first five seconds, the pattern interrupt. And you want to make sure this is fast-paced because you only have five seconds again, before they can skip the YouTube ad. Next is the big promise, the big promise, 5 to 20 seconds. So this is the immediate big promise made after the pattern interrupt. And you're not stating the benefit of the product, you're stating the benefit of consuming the rest of the ad. So it's basically your headline. So it should hook their attention, build curiosity, feel new and speak to a specific desire. So big promise can mean a number of different things, especially in the e-commerce space, but the big promise of the actual marketing message of the product.

Brian Moncada:

Then from then on, then you go into the big proof, but mainly what we focus on in the hook is just a pattern interrupt and just the big promise. And then we transition to the actual body, or the story, by usually saying a one liner then, "Keep watching this video because I'm going to show you..." big promise. Or, "Then don't skip this ad because in the next two minutes, I'm going to show you..." And then you allude to the rest of the ad and what they're going to learn by sticking around to watch the video. So for an e-commerce space, it could be the same thing with a little bit of a voiceover work, just making sure that they continue watching the ad to see more of the product demonstration, for example. So that's the hook that we focused on with YouTube ads.

Brett:

Love that. And so I'll give a quick example. Working with a client right now, Viome, with a V, V-I-O-M-E. And they are a-

Brian Moncada:

Dude, I just got their product.

Brett:

Dude, it's fantastic. I'm on day 30 of using their... So basically what it is that they will... it's a gut health intelligence test. They'll give you personalized food recommendations, so what you should eat based on what you can metabolize and what your digestive system, what your gut can handle, and then they create personalized supplements for you. It's a brilliant concept.

Brett:

So this video we're working on, and the hook actually came from them, but we're, we're spicing it up a little bit. I'm going to butcher it a little bit, even though I helped write the script, but basically it's like, "Hey, it is broccoli really good for you? Like, really. Is it good for everybody?" It shows broccoli and stuff. And then it says, "Did you know that actually 49% of people should not eat broccoli?" And that's actually true.

Brian Moncada:

Wow.

Brett:

And then the other one is like, well, what about kale? The most super of super foods. There's nothing more super than kale. Actually, it's only a super food for 11% of people, for others it's okay. Some people shouldn't need it at all. As an example, spinach, I should not eat spinach and I should not eat broccoli. Yeah, my body doesn't process it. So that's the hook and then we said, "Hey, do you know that gut health... gut health actually is tied to anxiety, obesity, inflammation, and diseases." so you unpack this and you're like, "Okay, well, you got my attention." If I'm either suffering from something or I'm kind of a bio hacker, which that's what kind of what I am, and then you think you probably are too then you're hooked, you're in. So you got that pattern interrupt and the big promise. I love that. So that's the first... so you talk about the pattern interrupt being the first five seconds, which makes sense. That's when the skip button comes on. Big promise was like 15 to 20, is that what you said?

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, 15 to 20 seconds. But what you said is actually a beautiful framework as well, because what that script is using is the question, which is also the hook, or in this case the pattern interrupt. It's asking them a question. And then you're expanding on that question by asking them another question that's really just not general knowledge to the mass public. Did you know that broccoli can actually be harmful for 49% of people? Nobody really knows that as common knowledge.

Brett:

Nobody's talking about that.

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, so it's like, whoa, what is this? That's what they're asking themselves now. "What is this?"

Brett:

Yes.

Brian Moncada:

And you're just buying five more seconds of their time. So what you just did is a perfect example of the pattern interrupt and the hook in general.

Brett:

Cool. All right and then I like the names you have for these. So we go from pattern interrupt to big promise to big proof. So talk about the big proof and how you guys approach that.

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the big proof, man. So that's really also what you can do in the actual hook as well. The hook could also be just big proof when it comes to a specific case study or testimonial where... for your example, the broccoli, did you know this can be harmful, 49% of people and the gut biome. Like, well... for example, Jade here went from struggling with anxiety, fatigue, restlessness, sleepless nights, his Oura Ring score in the bio hacking case because people in the bio hacking case would probably have an Oura Ring, was always hitting less than 70 every single night when he woke up, to being able to sleep better, eat better, move better, all these different benefits in terms of proof for the actual product.

Brian Moncada:

Or in this case for Viome, for you, it would be something for... "That's why we created Viome. Viome helps average Americans, modern day Americans improve their gut score by 50% within 30 days after taking our free..." or whatever the case may be. It's not free in this case but, ... after taking our gut health test, which we ship to you as well." So it's that big proof after the actual promise to show them, okay, cool now here's the product introduction as well with the proof of what it actually does for the person.

Brett:

Yes, spelling that out, spelling out what this product actually does for somebody. Awesome. Where do you guys-

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, just building authority-

Brett:

Yeah. Go ahead.

Brian Moncada:

No, just building authority, making sure it's more authority, right?

Brett:

Authority, yes.

Brian Moncada:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. Hugely important. Where does social proof for UGC, how does that fit into the framework for you typically?

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, I mean, so what we found on YouTube is there's really three different styles of ads that we run. So for UGC and for social proof, after we make the proof claim, we're usually dropping one, two, maybe three testimonials right off the bat. With actual user generated content in terms of transformations. If it's in the health and fitness space, for example, or screenshots, if it's in the business coaching space, for example, with actual income or results generated and making sure that we're showing those on the screen, or as B roll, when we're talking about that big proof.

Brian Moncada:

So a lot of the time, the reason why the ads work so well, especially in our space, is because we're showing that proof. So it's very important as we're speaking about a specific claim, we show actual screenshots, we show actual B roll, especially for building up the authority of the influencer, the authority of the brand, showing them on stages speaking, showing them, working with their clients, or showing them teaching in front of their camera, their laptop, really making sure that we're showing all of the articles they've been featured in too.

Brian Moncada:

So it's really making sure all those edits are in place to prove to the viewer that this is worth spending five more seconds of your time listening to, because we're an authority figure in this space and we have this big promise and proof that can help, potentially you, and then you continue into the next part of the actual body. So huge, huge piece for us as well, and especially for you guys. I can imagine the best ads, like you were saying earlier, I can imagine how many user generated content you have access to for Viome, because I posted all my story, like, whoa, this was my gut score. This is my natural age that it tells you as well. So I was like, whoa, they could just take that and they could clip it and they could use me as a case study.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely and they're doing that and it's beautiful and it's brilliant. So we got big proof, we're building authority, we're doing all the things you mapped out there. Love that. So pattern interrupt, big promise, big proof. What comes next?

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, reveal the new opportunity, man. Reveal the new opportunity. So well, first of all, actually, let me back up, just got to expand on the promise more. So this is where you actually go into the education. So go into the education. So you basically want to obviously show them after you build up the authority, with us and our clients... So for the actual big proof, what we do is, again... they're the face of the brand, so it's like, "My name is Brian Moncada. I'm the founder Adspend.com and our agency books our clients 25 highly qualified sales calls on their calendar every week guaranteed or their money back. We spent millions of dollars on YouTube ads. We currently manage $1.6 million a month on YouTube ads traffic alone in the high ticket coaching and course space."

Brian Moncada:

"And the biggest mistake that I see..." So now we're going into the education. "The biggest mistake that I see most people make when it comes to running YouTube ads is number one, their offer isn't packaged or positioned correctly for the YouTube ads platform. They run the same funnel with the same ads through YouTube and they just simply don't convert and they're scratching their heads, 'Why?'" So now I'm going into the education. Well, if someone has tried YouTube Ads and they haven't had success and they hear me say that, it's like, "Okay, well, I actually tried that and it didn't work." And then I get them for the next five seconds, so now you're going into education. So educate them on one to three bullet points that can actually help them right now.

Brian Moncada:

"The second reason why most people fail with YouTube ads is because the creative stuff. And the creative is how the message from the ad, the funnel, is being communicated to the viewer. So if that messaging is off or it's not enticing enough, the funnel's never going to convert and the ads are never going to get clicks to get traffic to your page. So that's why at adspend.com..." And then I go into the actual offer now, the new opportunity, what we do and I really soft CTA that. So again, just the next piece is just the education. One to three bullet points that are mistakes people are making right, mistakes or other products people use that just simply don't work and just simply are ineffective and really educating the viewer in two to three sentences max per bullet point, you can get through the ad very quickly.

Brett:

Love it, love it. And then how do you close the ad? Are there other elements then to the framework, or how are you closing out the ad?

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, so in that case, we do a soft CTA. "And if you want to learn more about this, you can click the link on or around this YouTube, ad. You'll be taken to a page that looks like this." So then you show the page, you show the landing page, you show exactly what the user-

Brett:

Let people know what they're getting into, what they're about to see. Yeah.

Brian Moncada:

Overcome the skepticism that way, because people still are afraid to click on things, which is totally understandable. So you show them the page they're going to land on, you show them what's going to happen next. And then you go back into more of the urgency, the scarcity, the twisting the knife as I like to call it, because again, if they're having a problem and they're looking for a solution, or they're in the market for a solution, you got to really make sure that you persuade them to take action to solve that problem. So we go back to urgency and scarcity now.

Brian Moncada:

And the reason why you don't want to wait to take action on this is because if you keep running Facebook ads, for example, in my case, then you're always going to be relying on one traffic source. And what happens if your traffic source or your ad account gets shut down? It's a scary thought, but this happens to a lot of our clients before they started working with us, which ultimately caused tons of stress on their business. You paint the picture of what happens if they don't actually take action right now and click to learn more. So urgency, scarcity, twist a knife, another call to action again. "So if you're someone who wants to generate 25 highly qualified appointments on your calendar using our Done For You YouTube Ad system, then click the link right now. You'll be taken to that page where you can enter your first name, your email, learn more about how our process works and speak to us to see if this is a good fit for your business."

Brian Moncada:

So that's the call to action number two, and then finally what we do is we do just a sign off. Like, "My name's Brian Moncada. I'm the founder of Adspend.com. I look forward to speaking with you very soon." So you just leave them feeling good as well.

Brett:

That's awesome. That's fantastic. And so we've kind of broken this down, but really good marketing and good advertising has always been the right message to the right person at the right time. And then YouTube can really deliver that well, almost better than any other platform. And so we've kind of broken down the right message and I love your framework and I love that you kind of... And you can tell you were the one voicing that spot because you kind of just did it here live on the podcast, which was super fun. So we talked about how to deliver that right message and we talked a little bit about audience too, because we talked about it's an intent-based platform we're going to learn or buy or research or whatever. But what are the audiences that you like to start with and how do you think about audience targeting on YouTube?

Brian Moncada:

Great question. So we use what's called intent-based validation, intent based validation and what this is a combination of different keywords and custom intent audiences. So every single time, no matter what, our agency starts with five campaigns, five campaigns that are broken up into keywords and custom intent audiences. So what custom intent is is custom intent is you typing in specific keywords in building an audience based off actual keywords. People have searched for on Google or YouTube, which is pretty insane if you think about it, because again, going back to, for example, Viome in this case, you could target people who search Viome on Google and show an ad to them the next time they're on YouTube. You can show people an ad the next time they're on YouTube if they've searched for the keyword of how to kill gnats and I could show them my ads.

Brian Moncada:

So custom intent is very, very powerful because again, it's an intent based audience. And we start with that type of targeting first, along with keywords, which keywords are also super powerful because the big thing that used to be working really well a few years ago was video placements and channel placements. And although those do still serve a purpose, what we're seeing now, especially in 2022, or even beyond if you're watching this, custom intent is just way more specific, way more profitable, especially when you're starting out because it's again it's your lowest hanging fruit first. People who are already raising their hands saying, "Hey, I have this problem," and you're showing them a solution the next time they're on YouTube. So custom intent and keywords. Those are the two types of targeting we start with always.

Brian Moncada:

And of course, not going to figure it about this one here. I normally don't mention it because it's pretty obvious, but I'll mention it anyways, remarketing, website visitors, customer lists, people who have already visited your site, but haven't taken action in your sales funnel. You want to show them ads that are specific to them to get them to take the next action in your funnel. So remarketing, keywords and custom intent. And of course, if you have a YouTube audience, meaning you have subscribers on a channel that you can remarket to as well, we always start with YouTube remarketing, actual website visitors remarketing, and then custom intent and keyword campaigns. Those are your lowest hanging fruit first. We prime your account for scale. And if those work, you can realistically be sure that if you expand out a little bit more, you'll most likely convert.

Brett:

Yeah, as you train the algorithm with those audiences and get enough conversion data, then you can really start to expand and go crazy and experience some of that scale, like we talked about, the scale that's really unique to YouTube. And yeah, I'm glad you mentioned channel actually, YouTube channel, because this is something that doesn't apply to everybody. I'd say most of the clients we talk to, especially in the e-commerce space, don't have big YouTube channels, but some do. We have a competitive barbecue client, which some of my favorite rubs and spices that they sell and so they've got this competitive barbecue YouTube channel. Well, there's a lot of people that just watch the channel for the tips. They don't know about the products, and so it's a great place then for us to target people that are subscribers, viewers of the channel and get them to buy the products.

Brett:

One thing I will underscore is that... just like you said custom intent is all about what someone is actively searching for on Google or on YouTube. And so you can enter that conversation that's taking place in someone's brain based on what they're searching for. The keyword campaigns, totally agree. We love keyword campaigns. Basically, those are contextual, so that's going to... if you type in 'gut health' as a keyword, then Google's going to put your ad by other content related to gut health. So often the way someone gets there is by searching, but sometimes people... I think I've seen it about half of the views on YouTube now come from what YouTube recommends and their suggestions and things like that. And so those keyword campaigns can be super, super powerful. So I love that combination. I would fully agree with you. Those are great places to start and then you can kind of scale from there, so that's awesome.

Brett:

Cool. Other tips or tricks or things that you'd like to tell people about YouTube, who either don't know much about YouTube or maybe they've tried it and it didn't work.

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, great question. Well, nowadays especially, with the amount of videos that are being uploaded on YouTube every single day, like you were mentioning at the very beginning of this podcast, Brett, there is no reason why if you have even a smaller e-commerce business in this case, that you shouldn't at least test a small budget to YouTube ads. There's people that can buy your product and are in the market for your solution on YouTube. And with 2022 and responsive ads, that's the new norm. So you can no longer just show your ads in stream. You have to show your ads in stream plus Google display.

Brian Moncada:

So a few extra tips for you guys, make sure when you upload your ads to YouTube, you put a thumbnail because your thumbnail, if you don't have, it's going to be seen without it and it's going to look weird. It's going to take a random screenshot from your video and put that as the thumbnail. You want to make custom thumbnails for your ads. And you also want to link your call to action, aka your landing page in your description of the video and in the first comment of the video, because if people click on your ad as what's called an in discovery ad, because there's those videos on the right of YouTube when you're watching a video that are suggested videos. And probably a lot of your clients have clicked on them, or your viewers have clicked on an ad or a video, not thinking it was an ad because it was in the suggested videos, but it turns out to be an ad.

Brian Moncada:

Now, the problem with that is if you don't have your call to action in the description, you may have a chance of losing a potential conversion there, so make sure your landing pages in the description, make sure you pin a comment on the actual ad with the landing page as well, and make sure you have a custom thumbnail that's enticing, captivating, really just intriguing for the viewer so that they click and they actually watch the ad. And ultimately-

Brett:

That's great.

Brian Moncada:

... running YouTube ads.

Brett:

Yes, yes, absolutely. So can you talk about thumbnails for a minute? How do you guys approach thumbnails? Are you mainly just looking for the right frame, the right images that will make someone click, or are you thinking about what copy to overlay on that thumbnail? Talk through kind of what you look for in a powerful thumbnail.

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, so the framework we use is if the hook of the video is a specific... Like, we use the first sentence or the main hook of the actual copy on the thumbnail. So for example, for our ads we had... The main copy of one of our ads is, "How to generate an additional six to eight figures in revenue using YouTube ads in our HSP system." So we took a copy of that and we put it in the thumbnail copy, how to generate an extra six to eight figures in revenue using HST YouTube ads. The average person, they're going to wonder what the HST system is or what HST YouTube ads are.

Brian Moncada:

Plus, we have a picture of myself in there so it's also showing them what they're going to experience. Very simply for your audience, we have five to seven words for the actual headline, which you get from the actual hook of the ad, which in your case for the Viome example we shared earlier, 'Is broccoli actually good for you?' That's the thumbnail copy right there. And the picture is probably someone that has broccoli like this looking at it. Like, I would look at something like that would be like a good enticing thumbnail. So we are customizing the thumbnail and the copy based off the hook of the ad. That's the easiest way to do it.

Brett:

Yeah. Love that. Love that so much. Well, Brian, we could keep going because this is exceptionally fun for me and it's been fun for everybody as well, but we're coming up against time. For those that have been listening and like, "Dude, I love what Brian is having to say and I would like to find out more," talk about how people can connect with you, what resources do you have and what should someone do from here.

Brian Moncada:

Yeah, great question. So the biggest and most important piece of any YouTube ad campaign is the script. You need a high converting script, especially if you already have an offer and funnel that's proven, so that's the biggest bottleneck that most of our clients experience and well, maybe you out there experience because you overthink, what do I say, how do I say it, how long does the video I have to be? And we've solved that problem by creating what's called our seven figure YouTube ads video swipe file and script template. You can get that very easily by going to adspend.com/free-download, adspend.com/free-download. And I'll send Brett the links so we can potentially put it in the notes of the episode and you guys can get that.

Brett:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Brian Moncada:

When you guys do get that, it'll give you our script template that you can literally copy and paste your answers from to create your first five, or next five, high ROI YouTube ads to start running YouTube ads immediately. Plus, you'll also get our swipe file of five proven ads that have all scaled to the seven figures in revenue path or more to get a really feel of an idea of what different industries are doing. You can see and model those same principles in your YouTube ads that we discussed today.

Brett:

Awesome. I love it, man. I am going to go download that right now. I'm always looking for... I love the idea of a script template. I love the idea of a swipe file. We've created something similar just with swipe file on the e-commerce side, so that's available at omgcommerce.com if you look at resources and guides. Check that out. It's the top YouTube ad templates and examples. But dude, I can't wait to read your guide and check that out. So I will link to Brian's guide in the show notes, check that out there. I'm sure you google it and find it as well, but I'm excited to check it out. So Brian, this has been fantastic. Any parting words of wisdom? Any final thoughts as we wrap up this chat on YouTube ads?

Brian Moncada:

I just want to say thank you, Brett, for having me on. Thank you for letting me share a little bit about YouTube ads. And I know you and I geek out about this stuff a lot anyways, so it was fun masterminding with you and sharing some values with the audience. Thank you.

Brett:

Yeah, thanks man. Thanks for coming on. And so if you need YouTube help check out Brian's agency, hit him up, get those free resources, begin that conversation. Brian, thanks, man. This was awesome.

Brian Moncada:

Thank you.

Brett:

Awesome. And as always, thank you for tuning in. We could not do this without you. It'd be a waste of time to do this without you. And so we'd love to hear feedback from you. If you have not left the review on iTunes, please do that. That helps other people find the show and hey, it makes my day. And so with that until next time. Thank you for listening.


















Episode 194
:
Ezra Firestone - BOOM

Ezra Firestone's Top 7 eCommerce Growth Strategies

No one knows more about eCommerce growth than my friend, Ezra Firestone.

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No one knows more about eCommerce growth than my friend, Ezra Firestone. Arguably, no one is a more interesting interview than Ezra either. This episode does NOT disappoint. Ezra bootstrapped growth for Boom from $0 to $40mill + per year. He also recently bought another high-profile eComm brand (more on that in the show).

This episode is straight fire.


Here’s a look at what we dive into:

  • How Ezra is approaching email marketing and email list growth in 2022. I’m guessing you’re missing his email strategy - even if you consider yourself an email marketing pro.
  • How BOOM is approaching front-end offers.
  • Why you should consider inventing a holiday and how BOOM did just that.
  • How to grow your SMS list.
  • Plus MUCH, much more!


Mentioned in this Episode:

Ezra Firestone

   - LinkedIn

   - Instagram

   - Twitter

   - Facebook

 

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

oVertone

Zipify Pages

Smart Marketer

Blue Ribbon Mastermind

Klaviyo

Postscript

Attentive

Dan Kennedy

Jay Abraham

Native Deodorant

Northbeam

John Grimshaw

Molly Pittman

Train My Traffic Person

Transcript:

Brett Curry:

So today I've got the man, the myth, the legend. He's flexing if you're watching the video. Got Ezra Firestone on the call. We're talking about eight top strategies to just blow up your business this year in a good way. We may not get to all eight, we'll see how it goes. But with that intro, Ezra, what's up, man? How you doing? And welcome to the show.

Ezra Firestone:

Brett, the Fury Curry, I'm fresh out of the cold plunge, dog. One minute, 30 seconds, 32 degrees. My whole body is red, I'm shivering, I'm shaking, we're podcasting. Happy to be here man, thanks.

Brett Curry:

It's hilarious. You hopped on the call and I was like, "Oh no, something's wrong with Ezra. He just doesn't look right." It's like, well, you just got out of a 32 degree bathtub. Of course, your body's in shock. But I appreciate taking the time to do this. And man, it's just always, always fun to chat.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, man. And just watching your journey, I seen you come up in the game from back in the day, when you had an SEO agency. You know?

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

From way back. I don't even know if it was 2008, 2009, it was a long time ago. 2010, whatever it was. And then to watch you rise to be one of the most prominent voices in the e-commerce world, and also to have a top 2% advertising agency, maybe you guys are top 1% at this point, I mean, you run all of our stuff. So it's been fun to watch your journey and just happy to be on the podcast.

Brett Curry:

Dude, thanks. It's been so fun to grow. I credit you and your community with a lot of that growth. And your approach to having fun, and doing what's right, and being extremely successful, and that blend, is awesome. Your motto, for those that don't know, is "Serve the world unselfishly and profit." And actually before we get into tactics and strategies for this year, and there's some amazing ones, can you talk a little bit about that for those that are new to the world of Ezra Firestone?

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, I mean, I think that's a description-

Brett Curry:

... Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

I think it's a description, not a statement. It's how I have seen things work. That when you are in a role of service, unselfishly with the goal of serving, you do profit by the very nature of serving. And it may not be monetarily. Maybe it's spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, energetically. But my goal is to serve. And I find joy in the act of service. I think there's a lot of value, and fun, and enjoyment, and good. And also in business, if you can truly serve a community, you will be profitable. And so I think that's just a description of how it goes. And also it's what I'm looking to do. I'm looking to serve the world unselfishly and also profit. I want to take care of my family. I want to take care of my community. I want to put resource towards causes in the world that I find noble. And I need fucking money to do that. Right?

Brett Curry:

Exactly. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

And the way going to get that money is by helping a group of people out with solutions to problems they have.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, I love that. If you look at, what is leadership, what does it mean to lead a company or to be a CEO, it's really serving. Serving your team more than commanding and dictating.

Ezra Firestone:

100%.

Brett Curry:

And how do build a brand, how do you build a business? It's serving a community. It's serving the needs and meeting the needs of buyers. And so, yeah. I love it. So it's really, really just-

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah. And then just because you're serving a group, doesn't mean you can't sell them stuff.

Brett Curry:

Exactly.

Ezra Firestone:

Selling them stuff is also serving them.

Brett Curry:

Because people want to buy stuff, right?

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

They want to have those needs met. And retail therapy is a thing too. So one of the greatest acts of service you can do, is sell a good product to the right person.

Ezra Firestone:

I'll tell you what dude. You and I both know that this last six months have been the most intense and stressful on the personal side of my life, with some health problems of some family members. And I done fucking discovered stress shopping, bro. I had never done that. I'm not a guy who buys shit that I just don't need or want. I'm willing to buy things. I have a lot of money, and I didn't come from money. I now have more money than basically everyone that I know, and I'm not against purchasing things. But I usually purchase things that I really like. I'll buy a nice espresso machine, or I'll buy a nice skateboard.

Brett Curry:

Which I've had espresso from that espresso machine. And you pull a mean shot of espresso, my friend.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah. I will spend money happily on things that are enjoyable and that I will use, but I don't just buy frivolously, until now, dude. I bought six pairs of the same Chelsea boot. When I turned around, I was like, "What? I have lost my mind, dude." This is stress shopping.

Brett Curry:

Why did I buy this?

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

I think one time I was on a call with you and you just recently bought like a samurai sword or something. I don't think it was actually a samurai sword, but it was some kind of sword.

Ezra Firestone:

A katana. Yeah, it was a Japanese katana. I use it to chop wood for my sweat lodge. So that was actually a useful tool. It's good for chopping kindling.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. That's awesome, man. Super fun. So people are buying right now. The economy's pretty hot, and certainly there are some issues too. But people are buying stuff. So let's dive in. You recently wrote a blog post, which I'm going to link to, so you can see this in the show notes, talking about eight top growth strategies. And first of all, for those that don't know the journey, talk about Boom by Cindy Joseph and how it's grown.

Ezra Firestone:

(singing)

Brett Curry:

Because you guys are set to do about 40 million this year, right?

Ezra Firestone:

So I started this brand in 2010. Took me to 2014 to make my first million dollar a year in total revenue. By 2016, I was doing 17 million. This last year, I did 42. This year I think I'll do 47. Top line revenue at about a 25% EBIDA margin, so maybe making six or 7 million a year in profit on that.

Brett Curry:

Which is amazing. Amazing.

Ezra Firestone:

I got about 30 employees at that company. I also own Zipify Apps, about a $10 million a year software company. Also a couple million bucks in profit on that, maybe about 60 employees there. And I just bought a company called Overtone Color, which has about 20 team members. It'll do about 25, 30 million this year. And I got Smart Marketer too. And I'm just a guy. I didn't go to college, I have no special skills, other than that I'm a good communicator and I'm willing to put my foot down and do the work, and ask for help when I need it. And I think my story shows that if... I'm a complete failure in the eyes of the school system. They labeled me a dumb kid, and someone who was not going to be successful. And I think for anybody who doesn't fit into the mold, who maybe is dyslexic, or maybe has some reason why the general society is telling them that they can't be successful, the internet opens up an opportunity for us.

Ezra Firestone:

And there's skills that we can develop. Advertising, direct response marketing, landing page optimization, copywriting, product development, podcasting, social media, that can support us in taking care of our families. And I didn't come from resource, and so I wanted to create that. And I've been able to, and I've been doing it now for 17 years. I got pretty fucking good at it. I made every mistake you could make. I didn't pay my taxes, I did all the stupid you can do. But I did it when I was younger, and earlier in my... And I didn't have podcasts like yours to learn from. I had a bunch of creepy dudes on an internet forum who were shilling fucking gambling and porn. That was when I got into the game.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Online marketing was a bit of a dark place back in those early days.

Ezra Firestone:

You didn't want to say you were an internet marketer. It wasn't good.

Brett Curry:

No, no, that was not prestigious. No one looked at that highly. For sure.

Ezra Firestone:

So yeah. So I've been doing it a long time now, I'm really good at it. And I've been talking about it since about 2011. I was one of the first people to start blogging about e-commerce. And by the very nature of being one of the first, I became popular. Not that I was anything special than anyone else, but I was the first to do it, and so I got real popular. And I've stayed in that space of documenting my journey. And I got a bunch of people who think it's cool, and follow what I do. And I'm pretty good at it, you know?

Brett Curry:

Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

And I've been able to successfully train and educate, and bring up in the game, thousands and thousands of internet entrepreneurs over the years. You being one of them who I've impacted.

Brett Curry:

Big time.

Ezra Firestone:

Not that I did anything for you, other than show you what I was doing. So yeah, so I like talking about this stuff.

Brett Curry:

It's been so amazing to watch that progression as well, and getting to see behind the scenes, seeing you operate with your team. So I've been to your house and I've hung out with the inner circle of Smart Marketer and Boom. And of course we were on calls, and our agency serves you and stuff. So I've seen you in a lot of different capacities. And man, you're the same leader behind the scenes as you are on stage. You care about people on stage or one on one. You're extremely smart and strategic, and you get marketing, and you understand human in nature, and you take massive action. All kinds of stuff we can break down. So it's been really fun to observe that and get the front row seat of that as well.

Ezra Firestone:

I can also do a cool poker chip trick. Look at this.

Brett Curry:

Is that right? Oh, look at that.

Ezra Firestone:

Wait.

Brett Curry:

Look at that.

Ezra Firestone:

Hold on. Damn, that was not cool. I dropped it. Hold on.

Brett Curry:

We're going to try this again. So if you're listening, just take my word for it. He's a great poker chip-

Ezra Firestone:

My hands are frozen. My hands are frozen. We should probably get into tactics.

Brett Curry:

Do not attempt a poker chip trick out of a cold plunge.

Ezra Firestone:

People are going to be like, "Enough of this bullshit, dude. You should talk about some tactics." We should talk about some strategies.

Brett Curry:

Exactly. So here we go. So let's dive in. One thing that we've seen you guys operate on, we're running this on YouTube for you, but you're buying more email leads. So talk about that. So this is top strategy number one, buying more email leads. What does that look like, and why?

Ezra Firestone:

Dude, nobody's talking about email. Everybody's like "SMS, video ads." This and that. Well guess what has always been since I've been in the game, about 25 to 40% of my business? Literally since '05, dude. Emails.

Brett Curry:

Email. Email.

Ezra Firestone:

I've been sending motherfucking emails since 2005. And it is to this day, it'll be 36% of Boom's total revenue this year.

Brett Curry:

It's crazy.

Ezra Firestone:

And nobody-

Brett Curry:

Email touches 36% of all purchases through Boom.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, it's last click, dude. It's last click for 36% of my purchases.

Brett Curry:

It's awesome.

Ezra Firestone:

So why would I not be putting so much energy in growing that list? Nobody does it. Everybody just runs top of funnel video ads, conversion ads, and they hope that when somebody comes to their website, their onsite popup, or their card abandonment, or their exit intent, are going to capture the email lead for them. Great, do that. But also, you know what I'm doing? Gated content. I'm doing giveaways. I'm doing all kinds of different straight up lead generation campaigns. One of my best ones, is we use these things called pre-sell articles, which are basically articles that are story-based, like, "Five makeup tips for older women." Or "Seven makeup tips for women who wear glasses." Or "How to overcome perfectionism in your fifties." Or whatever kind of content that our community is interested in, that leads back to our products.

Ezra Firestone:

And we use those in our email auto responders, we run ads to them, we mail them to our email list. We use them everywhere. At every stage of the sales process. What we also do, is we gate them. So we put an opt-in front of it, and it says, "Hey, enter email address here to get our five makeup tips for women over 50." We run ads to that with a conversion objective for the lead event, the lead event fires on the thank you page. They enter their email address, guess where they get dropped? On the same pre-sell that I'm running at the top of the funnel.

Ezra Firestone:

But now we have their email lead, and we put them on a automation sequence, to warm them up and try to sell them. And if they don't buy, we put them on our bucket list. I also run giveaways every six weeks. And basically those are my two main top of funnel lead gen strategies, is gated content and giveaways. But I'll do Facebook lives, and I'll do other things as well. But if you just do gated content and giveaways, you should spend about five to 10% of your total marketing budget on email lead generation. Because some people take a little longer to warm up than others. So if you're only running conversion ads, you're going to miss out on growing your audience in a way that could be beneficial for you.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. I love this so much, and it's something that we've observed you doing, and something we're talking about now with other clients. That, if you can grow that email list, and if you're properly running email marketing, you're going to be able to convert that at a really high rate. And so gated content, so information people want, and/or giveaways, great ways to drive that list. And I was looking through some of your notes here. Looks like over the last 12 months you spent about 200,000 buying email leads that have then generated 750,000 in sales. So about a 375% return on add spend. That's not bad. But that's not like-

Ezra Firestone:

And that's with excluding anybody who was already on the list, dude.

Brett Curry:

What's that?

Ezra Firestone:

That's with excluding anyone who was already on the list. So those are new leads.

Brett Curry:

Just strictly new leads. So that really changes the game, because you could be looking at those campaigns and thinking, "Well, I just drove an email sign up. I didn't make a sale there, so it's not really worth a whole lot." But then you've got to look at that whole picture. What did those email subscribers do for you over the next six to 12 months? And in your case, it's a 3.75 X ROAS, which is amazing.

Ezra Firestone:

Pretty sweet. I mean, not that everyone's going to have that result, but it's worth doing, still, nonetheless.

Brett Curry:

Exactly. So, all right, awesome. So strategy number one, buy more email leads. I'm sold on that idea. Idea number two, launch new products. So talk about how Boom is approaching launching new products.

Ezra Firestone:

So to have a successful e-commerce business, you have to get your repeat customer rate up. Ideally over 30% of total revenue comes from repeat customers, people who bought from you once before. The best way to do that is to sell them more of what they already bought, if it's consumable. Or to introduce new items that they might want from you. And by the way, if somebody knows you, likes you, trust you, you're putting out content, you're engaging them, you've delivered a good product, they're going to probably want to buy whatever else you have to offer if it's tangentially related to what they bought in the first place.

Ezra Firestone:

So what we do is we send a customer survey every six months to our two X buyers, and we give them a bunch of stuff, like "If we were going to add more colors, what colors do you want? If you could wave a magic wand, what products would you have us create?" We have a 20 question survey. We say, "Hey, five people who take this survey are going to win $100 gift certificate to the store". We get a couple thousand responses. Based on that, we figure out what products to make next, based on the desire of our community.

Brett Curry:

That creates your product roadmap.

Ezra Firestone:

As an example, 50% of people wanted a mascara, 46% of people wanted a lip gloss, and 53% of people wanted an additional color of Boomstick. We released all three of those products last year, based on that information. They were our three best product launches ever. We just released the Boomstick color last week, we sold 15,000 units in 18 hours. 650 grand in revenue in 18 hours.

Brett Curry:

Whoa. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Say that again. You sold what?

Ezra Firestone:

We sold 15,000 units in 18 hours, dude. We sold out. 650 grand in 18 hours. Now of course I've got a mature company, but the point is that this process gets better over time. So when you're developing a new product, you're doing it in desire to your past customers, in relationship to their desire. And for us, you have componentry, formulation, and secondary packaging. So componentry is like, what is the component that it's going to go in? Well, the Boomstick, we already have that. That's great, we'll reuse the component we already have. The formula is, what is it going to be, why is it going to be that way, what are the benchmarks other brands are doing that we want to meet? We go through a bunch of iterations, we send it out to our best customers to test. It takes us about six months to a year to develop a formula.

Ezra Firestone:

And then our secondary packaging, is what is the box, what's the write alongs, what are the inserts? We get all that together, we run a photo shoot for it. And then we do an early bird. "Hey, we're going to launch this new product. This is what it is. Get excited, sign up for it to hear about it first." And then what happens is, as they're signing up, and as they're posting on social about it on the thread, we're finding out what they want to know. They're asking, "Is it hypoallergenic?" And we're like, "Oh shit, we don't have hypoallergenic on the sales page. It is hypo allergenic." So we add that to the sales page. The questions they ask, they become the FAQs that we put on the... So we use the pre-launch as a way to build out the marketing material. Build out the FAQ, build out the sales page.

Ezra Firestone:

And then we launch it, run ads to it, do emails to it. And then it becomes part of our ongoing marketing. Put it in bundles. And you can do this too with products you already have. So you can reformulate them to make them better than they already are. Based on feedback, you can change the componentry or packaging, make it more sustainable. You can bundle it with other items to make a kit. So you can renew and make better products you already have, and relaunch them, as well as introducing new items. But for us, we are aiming to introduce four new items a year, which is once a quarter, which is hard to do.

Brett Curry:

That's aggressive. That's one a quarter.

Ezra Firestone:

It's hard to do when you're making them all from scratch.

Brett Curry:

It's hard to do, yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

But it's a huge, huge part of the business. So yeah, it's really important to continually making the products better.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. And it's interesting that it's also fairly risky, too, to launch a new product. Will it go well, will it not go well? But the approach you're taking, it really eliminates a lot of the risk. You know that if you deliver a good product, which you guys do, you know how to do that, you're delivering exactly what someone is requesting, and exactly what someone wants.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, and they also then can become a new top of funnel sales processes. So we can run top of funnel ads now. So for our mascara, I mean, that's our second best seller of all time, and we can run it at the top of the funnel because everybody's interested in mascara. And we didn't have one before. So we couldn't run ads for it at the top of the funnel. So we were missing a customer acquisition funnel there that we were able to add to the business.

Brett Curry:

Love it. And so then this actually directly ties into it. So this is strategy number three. Create more front end offers. So talk about that and how that's evolved for Boom, more front end offers.

Ezra Firestone:

I think that's mature business strategy. For Boom, we did 10 years where we had one front end offer, which was our Boomstick trio.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Boomstick.

Ezra Firestone:

And all of our social proof, all of our sales funnel optimization, all of our pre-sales, all of our video ads, all of our email sequences, everything was about that front end offer. Just make that as deep as possible. Have marketing assets for it, loyalty assets for it. Just really work on that and scale that. And that's a lot easier to go deep rather than wide. And a lot of people have a thousand skews, and they can't do that. Like with this product, this brand, I bought, Overtone, I got a hundred skews. So it's hard for me to have one front end funnel.

Ezra Firestone:

But for low skew e-commerce, it's easy. You just pick whatever your widest and best seller, and most relevant seller is, and just focus on that. But once you scale that, now you got to start introducing new front end offers. There's only so many people who are interested in a multipurpose blush stick. Some people aren't interested in blush, but they're interested in mascara, or lip gloss, or brow gel, or whatever. So we've now introduced a bunch more products to the... You're right, my voice is kind of frozen. It's funny, I sound like a frog.

Brett Curry:

You're good, dude. Hey, you're so you're bringing the fire, even though I'm feeling cold for you.

Ezra Firestone:

I usually have such a rich, deep voice, man. Anyways, it gives us the ability to have more fish hooks in the sea.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Love it. Love it. Let's go on to the next one, and this is related to number one, but this is now strategy number four.

Ezra Firestone:

By the way, another front end funnel is one of those lead gen funnels, too. Even if it's leading to the same product.

Brett Curry:

Yes.

Ezra Firestone:

It's a new top of funnel way of getting people in the mix. That's a new funnel. It doesn't have to be a new product.

Brett Curry:

Totally. And so looking at that, and what we've observed, working with Boom, working with other successful brands, is that a lot of them have one to three really successful top end funnels that they just push hard on, almost forever. And then with some tweaking and changing, and then you've got all your backend stuff as well. So, yeah. Really, really good. So let's talk then about strategy number four, growing your SMS subscribers. So diving into text based marketing. So, tips or suggestions you would give there for growing that list and utilizing SMS?

Ezra Firestone:

I mean, the 80/20 of SMS is this. Have the collection at checkout, where you're collecting people who check out from you, who click the little box to be collected. And have a two step opt in. First, get the email, second, incentivize for the SMS. So they come to your site, you say, "Hey, get 10% off, entering your email address". They enter it. "Hey, by the way, do you want an extra 5%? Give us your SMS". Klaviyo lets you do this, Postscript lets you do this, Attentive lets you do this, et cetera. Those are your two main ways to collect. And that's 85, 90% of the value. You can do other shit to collect, but it's not worth it. Just do that. And then when you send an abandoned card email and they don't open after 18 hours, slide a text in there, via Klaviyo. So connect it to your email logic, and do your-

Brett Curry:

Is that usually the way you do it, where you'll email first? And then if there's no response there, then you text?

Ezra Firestone:

Always. Yeah, because SMS is more expensive. So we'll use it as a... And you can only do this if you're using Klaviyo, because it talks to it. You can't have Attentive in Klaviyo, because they don't talk to each other. So if you're using Klaviyo, Klaviyo's a little more expensive for SMS, but if you're doing it the way I do, it doesn't matter, because you're only using it as a... You know? You're using it as a way to capture the people who aren't responding to email. Instead of just blasting them with both, and spending the money for that. So, if they don't respond to the card email, we'll slide an SMS. If we go purchase email, they don't cross-sell, we'll slide an SMS. And then once a week, you broadcast your bucket list with a piece of content or a sale. That's it. That's all you need to do. Have an opt in pre purchase, have an opt in at checkout, use it in your automation sequences, do one broadcast a week, your solid potato salad, you have 85% of the value you can get from SMS.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. You really go beyond that, it's just going to be tiny little gains. And potentially a difference-

Ezra Firestone:

It's not worth it. It's not worth it.

Brett Curry:

Not worth it. Not worth the effort.

Ezra Firestone:

Just spend your energy acquiring more customers.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, totally. And so those weekly broadcast on SMS, are you doing a mix of promotions and content?

Ezra Firestone:

So those will be content. The best piece of content from the week will drop via the SMS. And then if we're running a sale, that week, we won't send content, we'll send about the sale.

Brett Curry:

And your best piece of content pulling from the way Boom is doing it, it's based on blog, is that right? So you're writing blogs weekly or something?

Ezra Firestone:

We send three pieces of content to our list every week. Maybe it's a long form article, maybe it's a user generated content video, maybe it's a recap from a Facebook live we did. Whatever. We're sending content every week, at least three pieces, long form written articles, videos, user generated content. We've got a whole social media content engagement system. And so whatever worked the best that week, we'll drop to the SMS list. And then every six-

Brett Curry:

Nice. So you're emailing that content initially. So you're emailing-

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, we're emailing that, we're posting it to the blog, we're posting out to social, we're amplifying it. We're doing the whole system. And then the best shit, we drop to the list, which links over to the blog. And we drop to the SMS list. And then every six weeks we're running a product launch or a sale. So that sixth week will be a promotion via SMS.

Brett Curry:

Got it. And anything you can say about response rates, metrics? How is SMS working in comparison to email? I know it's just designed to be a compliment to email, but anything you can say about stats, performance?

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah, I mean, SMS gets better response rates, but you have smaller lists. And you get way more unsubscribes. So it's-

Brett Curry:

And you got to be really careful about spam related stuff.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

People get pretty hot on-

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah. Yeah. There's a lot you got to worry about with that. But basically it works really well, and you should use it as a compliment, and not instead of... And you should do what I'm talking about, which is basically 80/20 it.

Brett Curry:

Not really standalone. You're not going to just be like, "Hey, SMS is my one strategy."

Ezra Firestone:

Some brands do. Some brands do. But I think if you ignore email, what are we doing?

Brett Curry:

Right. For most people, it's just a beautiful compliment, and a way to really increase the effectiveness of email. But it is a compliment. Awesome. So now we're going to move into strategy number five. I actually love this one. I love all of them, this is all gold. But this is something that was kind of an aha moment for me. I first heard about a strategy like this, it was made be Dan Kennedy back in the day, maybe Jay Abraham. I go way back, man, looking at marketing stuff. But you're talking about inventing a holiday. So there's this idea that people need a reason why. They need a reason why I should buy now, they need a reason why your product is better. And sometimes an invented holiday is a great reason why you should buy now. So, talk about invented holidays, and talk about what you're doing at Boom.

Ezra Firestone:

So excuses to communicate are important. And we take everyone we can. We communicate on Earth Day, we communicate on Animal Friendly Day, we communicate on National Dog Day. Because people like that kind of shit.

Brett Curry:

They do. People like it.

Ezra Firestone:

And everybody has a dog, and everybody likes the earth, and so on and so forth. And we do too. And so we are always doing emails like that. Like, "Hey, it's Earth Day. And you know what? We care a lot about sustainability. And these are our most sustainable products, for these reasons." And whatever. And so we're constantly mailing on using the fake or created holidays as a reason to communicate on social and on email. And so we made up our own. We made Pro-Age Month. We are the first people to say pro-age. Now it's a commonly known thing. Now you've got a million knock brands, but we spent 40 million over six years, popularizing the concept of pro-age, back in 2010. And now Allure is stealing it, and it's like we have penetrated the mainstream with this.

Brett Curry:

It's awesome.

Ezra Firestone:

We've entered the zeitgeist with this concept. And so now it's a thing. And so we want to claim ownership of that, because we do own it. You don't never own an idea, but we created that movement. And so we created Pro-Age Month. And the month of August is Pro-Age Month. And we tell pro-age stories, and we've got a logo for it. And we are claiming our rights to the pro-age movement. The pro-age revolution that we started in 2010. And a good way to do that, was to create a holiday around it.

Brett Curry:

Create a holiday, create a month, and people love that. And it's such a great conversation starter and connection point. And if you think about one of the big components of building a brand, is just building that connection and that community. And sometimes odd or unusual holidays do that. And inventing your own holiday, I think it's brilliant. I think more people should look at it. And I think a lot of brands lend themselves well. Maybe it's not pro-age for you, and Ezra owns that anyway, so back off, really. Seriously.

Ezra Firestone:

I mean, whatever. You could say pro-age if you believe in that. What I find, is most people say pro-age and they don't actually know what it means. Which is hilarious. They'll be like, "Pro-age..." this or that. And then they'll have anti-aging skin drops.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. "But cover your gray, and no more wrinkles." Yeah, yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

You've missed the point here.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Yeah. But inventing a holiday, pure gold, I love it. Anybody can do it. And so highly recommend that as well. So we're getting tied on time, so we're going to have to maybe move rapid fire through some of these or just save some of them for the blog. But number six is, list products on Amazon.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah.

Brett Curry:

What are you guys doing there for your brands? Talk about that a little bit.

Ezra Firestone:

Amazon will make up 20 to 30% of a good brand's sales. And you're going to miss those customers if you're not over there. And our-

Brett Curry:

Because some people only buy on Amazon. That's just it.

Ezra Firestone:

I mean, yeah. And we waited 10 years to put our products on Amazon, because we could fill the demand that we had with... Our supply chain could barely fill the demand we had from direct to consumer. But once we beefed up our supply chain, and we realized that adding to Amazon wasn't going to cannibalize our direct to consumer platform, we added our main product on there, and it just crushed. It just added 10 to 15% of incremental sales.

Brett Curry:

Immediately. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

So now we're adding every one of our products, once every two months, onto Amazon. You guys are running all of our ads over there, doing all of our A plus lists. All we do is do the customer support, and create the assets for the page. You guys literally do everything else. You run all the ads, you optimize all the pages, you handle all the seller support. You do fucking everything for us. So it's great for us, because it's a channel that really works, that we don't really have the expertise for, that you just do for us. I mean, we pay you for it, but probably not what you should get paid. Because I think you give us a deal. But-

Brett Curry:

We do. We do. But, gladly. We gladly give you that deal, for sure.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah. So it's been really good for us.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, it's been amazing, it's been fun to execute on our end for sure. And one thing we noticed with you, we noticed this with native ... as well, client, friends. And we don't run their Amazon, but we observe. We run their Google and YouTube. Is that there's some expectation that when you launch on Amazon, there's going to be some cannibalization of your store's sales. And certainly that happens some, but this has been mostly incremental growth for you guys, right?

Ezra Firestone:

100% incremental. There's been no cannibalization whatsoever. Which is crazy, because I was sure there was going to be. We sell it at the same price, and some people just like to buy over there. And I think what was happening was a lot of people were seeing our ads on Facebook, going to buy on Amazon, not finding it, and then buying knockoff brands. Because they only buy on Amazon.

Brett Curry:

Buying something else. Buy knockoff. Yeah, we experienced that. That'd be a topic for another podcast. The copycats and the people that were...

Ezra Firestone:

...

Brett Curry:

... really leeching off of your brand name on Amazon.

Ezra Firestone:

Nightmare.

Brett Curry:

But yeah, nightmare for sure. For sure. But we're getting there. So yeah, big believer in Amazon. And what's interesting to me, and this is where Boom and Overtone are set up perfectly for Amazon, is that success on Amazon in the long term, and I think even right now, is based on building a brand. So taking the community building aspect, the brand building aspect that you're doing off Amazon, and do that on Amazon, that's where you see long term success. It's not just hacking the titles and the keywords, and the bullet points, to try to inflate your ranking, or using super URLs, or some other strategy to hack your ranking, but building a real brand.

Brett Curry:

And that's what you guys are good at, and that's what we're helping you with. And it's working. It's working on Amazon right now. So let's talk, and this will probably be our final concept for the podcast, and I'll push the final one, people to go check out on the blog post. But the seventh strategy for growth, is advertising on television. TV? What? Come on now. So what are your thoughts on TV? And this has been fun to watch too, but what are your thoughts on advertising on television?

Ezra Firestone:

I think it's really only for very, very, very mature brands. Because the minimum that you need to do it is 350 grand. Minimum. Just to test. And that's a two month test. And you also have to produce television quality ads. Now we were able to use user generated content. We spent 50 grand on a TV commercial produced by a fancy agency, and at flopped all crazy. And then we made our own ad, based on UGC that we had. And we crushed. So we're much better direct response advertisers than these TV agencies, it turns out. Which we should've known, because we've been fucking running direct response ads for 15 years. Makes sense we would know what would work, versus what they produced. Even though what they produced, it was a whole... We could talk about that another time. It wasn't very good.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone:

But it's hard to tell how successful TV has been for us. We've spent about half a million dollars over the course of six months, and I think incrementally, it has been successful. But we're having Northbeam, which is a company you hooked us up with.

Brett Curry:

Shout out to Northbeam, Austin, and the folks there.

Ezra Firestone:

We just turned it off, and looks like sales are down 15K a day since we turned off TV. We'll see. I think TV is great for omnichannel presence. If you're spending three, four, 500K a month on social media ads, you should add in TV at 10, 15% of your budget, to reach more people, and reach the people that you're reaching on social in a different area. And for us, we just turned it off to see how it's going to impact whether we run it or not. And so we're still trying to figure out the attribution on it, and how well it's working. But our sense is that it worked pretty well.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. And that's a great way to test it. Turn it off, see what the impact is there. And it also helps tremendously to have a tool like Northbeam, third party attribution. Brilliant stuff, check it out. And we're seeing some similar things. So first of all, I got my start in TV, radio, print. So I still really like TV. I'm still involved in local TV just a little bit with a friend of mine. But I love this strategy. I think it is for bigger brands. But yeah, if you're spending multi six figures on Facebook ads, YouTube ads, then TV may be something that you check out. But along a similar vein, we're testing now, we tested it with Boom and with a few other clients. Creating some awareness, we call it awareness layer YouTube campaigns.

Brett Curry:

And again, you kind of need something like Northbeam in place, to really see the impact of this. But the idea there, is as well we're just going for low cost engagement, low cost views. We're seeing CPMs for some of these awareness level YouTube campaigns at six bucks, five bucks, which is crazy low. But there's something to be said, and this is marketing 101, old school stuff. If you talk to the right people enough times, with a right message, so right message, right market, right media, you're going to get results. And so obviously you got to be ready for it with budget, and you have to have the tracking in place to really make good use of it. But I love that you guys are testing TV. And I also love the fact that it wasn't the super duper polished stuff that worked. It was what we do. The UGC stuff that did well on TV, too.

Ezra Firestone:

Yeah. It was UGC. And we started doing video view advertising on Facebook, when iOS 14.5 happened, because Facebook lost all its data. So we started running video view campaigns to all the audiences that we used to run conversion campaigns to, to let Facebook build up some data of the people who watched most of our videos. And then we would follow up with those people and run conversion ads to them. And now we're doing that with YouTube as well. And I think that strategy post iOS 14.5 on both networks, where you spend a thousand bucks a day at our scale, running video views, or maybe 10% of your overall spend, is a great strategy. We're doing it at Overtone too.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, that's awesome. Well, this has been amazing, Ezra. So that's seven of the eight tips. Hey, to get that eighth tip, check out the show notes, go check out Ezra's blog, smartmarketer.com, and get that final one. But Ezra, as people are listening, I know we got some super fans-

Ezra Firestone:

I'm cold, man. I'm cold. That's what's going on.

Brett Curry:

You're cold. Then yeah, you need to go warm up, dude.

Ezra Firestone:

I do. I need ...

Brett Curry:

Get your robe, get your blanket, go sit by the fire, or something like that. But for those that are listening and thinking, "I need more Ezra Firestone in my life." How can they connect with you, where should they learn more about you? Where should they do that?

Ezra Firestone:

I'm on Instagram @ezrafirestone, I'm on Twitter @ezrafirestone, I'm on Facebook, Facebook.com/MeetEzra. I'm on smartmarketer.com, which is a blog that I have, I'm on zipify.com, which are my apps for Shopify. But you can find me on social media. I'm on YouTube, all the social media networks. Whatever ones you use, I'm there. You can Google me on there or search me on there. And yeah. Thanks for hanging out, hope it's been some kind of helpful. Appreciate you, Brett. I love that you're between two ferns over there.

Brett Curry:

That's a hilarious show. And you're not the first person to say that. They're like, "Dude, are you between two ferns here? Are you Zach Galifianakis or what? What are you doing?" I'm a little more courteous to my guests and a little more on topic, but that show is hilarious.

Ezra Firestone:

It's awesome, dude.

Brett Curry:

But another plug that I'll make here as I'm sitting between two ferns, is, do check out Smart Marketer. Molly Pittman, John Grimshaw, running that with Ezra's leadership, Ezra started it. But some amazing resources there. Train My Traffic Person. So if you got in-house media buyers, you need to send them through Train My Traffic Person. You get to learn from me too, I'm a faculty member there teaching YouTube and teaching Google. But check that out, smartmarketer.com. Highly, Highly recommend it.

Ezra Firestone:

Thank y'all.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. Ezra, appreciate it, brother. This has been amazing, thank you so much. And see you next time.

Ezra Firestone:

Talk soon.

Episode 193
:
Miki Agrawal - Tushy

Disruptive Marketing and Building Edgy, On-Brand and Fridge-Worthy Ads with Miki Agrawal of Tushy

I’ve never met anyone quite like Miki Agrawal.

I’ve never met anyone quite like Miki Agrawal.


She’s incredibly creative. No really. She once hosted a “funeral for a tree” at an old cathedral in NYC hosted by comedians and actors. It drew a crowd of thousands, generated millions in free press, and helped shed light on the toilet paper waste that her company TUSHY can help solve.
She understands trends in marketing. She knows how to grab attention. So much so that she was banned by the NY transit authority from running subway ads. Which led to a PR fight that she won…and in the end, got more press and attention than if they hadn’t been banned.


She’s also warm and kind and FUN.


She’s created multiple 9-Figure businesses and has garnered some pretty incredible recognition. She was named “Fast Company’s Most Creative People”, “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum and INC’s “Most Impressive Women Entrepreneurs”.


She’s also the author of #1 best selling books Do Cool SH*T and Disrupt-HER.


In this episode we unpack Miki’s wacky, impossible-to-forget and wildly successful marketing strategies and tactics.
Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • How Miki was banned from advertising on the NYC subway and turned that into a huge PR win for her brand THINX.
  • How to use Accessible + Relatable language.
  • How to create ads that are both effective and “fridge worthy”.
  • How iteration is perfection.
  • How to start with play to create great ideas.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Miki Agrawal

   - Website

   - Instagram

   - Link Tree to Resources


TUSHY

   - Website

   - Instagram


Thinx

   - Website

   - Instagram


Wild

   - Website

   - Instagram


“Do Cool Sh*t” by Miki Agrawal


“Disrupt-Her” by Miki Agrawal


“Zero To $100 Million” on Mindvalley


Cap Con 5


Ryan Daniel Moran


Toto


“Funeral for a Tree” by TUSHY video on YouTube


Butt Con by TUSHY


Transcript:

Brett:

Welcome to the Spicy Curry Podcast. We explore hot topics on eCommerce and digital marketing. We feel feature some of the brightest minds, with some of the SPT perspectives on what it takes to grow your business. Season one of this podcast is built on the old business adage that, what it really takes to succeed is three things. One: have something good to say. Two: say it well. And three: say it often.

Brett:

My guest in this episode is Miki Agrawal. She's the founder of TUSHY, but she's also the entrepreneur behind several other wildly successful companies. I don't know anyone better than Miki at the, have something good to say and say it well, aspects of growth. And so just a couple of accolades. Miki was named one of Fast Company's Most Creative People. She was also named by Inc Magazine as one of the Most Impressive Women Entrepreneurs. She was also my favorite speaker, and she's also one of the favorite speakers that most of the events that she attends.

Brett:

We're going to dive into some crazy wild stories from her entrepreneur journeys. We're going to learn why she was banned by the New York subway from running ads there, and how she actually overcame that and then ran some pretty powerful ads on the New York subway system. We're going to talk about how she creates events that are just, blow your mind. Like, they had a funeral for a tree, and there's a reason why they did that and got millions of dollars in free press. And she talks about how to craft things that are both artful and fridge worthy, but also effective. And so, I think you're going to absolutely love this interview. And so, lean in, buckle up and enjoy this interview with Miki Agrawal.

Brett:

Over 81% of consumers are opted into text message messages from their favorite brands, and that's where Attentive comes in. Meet Attentive, the company helping thousands of innovative brands connect with their customers through personalized text messaging. Attentive's text marketing platform lets you grow your subscriber list, interact with customers in real time through two-way conversations and drive the war revenue. Brands who use Attentive see $55 in sales for every $1 they spend. See what Attentive can do for you, at attentivemobile.com/omgcommerce. Attentive: drive sales with text message marketing.

Brett:

All right, well today I am abs absolutely thrilled that my guest is Miki Agrawal. Now, I was recently at an event, CapCon 5 in Austin, Texas. My good friend, Ryan Daniel Moran was the host. And there was a star-studded lineup of speakers. Amazing, blow your mind speakers. And I got to say, Miki was probably my favorite. And I hope that some of my other friends that were speaking don't hear this, because I don't want to hurt their feelings. It's just that Miki was amazing. And so, Miki is the founder of a number of really transformative businesses. Most recently, TUSHY. Also, THINX and WILD. She's also author of some amazing best-selling books. Do Cool Sh*t. Disrupt-Her, which I'm actually in the process, I've gone about halfway through it right now. And even though it has "her" in the title, Disrupt-Her, instead of disruptor, it's for dudes too. Right, Miki? And so, I'm actually getting a lot of value out of it. And so, we're going to talk about growth and having an amazing marketing message, and thinking differently and all kinds of great stuff. So Miki, welcome to the show, and how's it going?

Miki:

Yes. I'm so happy to be here with you. And just, the thing that I just can't, I'm just so like, I love is that you have eight children, and you're sitting at the table with 10 people every night for dinner. That just blows my mind.

Brett:

Yeah. The level of noise at the dinner table is sometimes crazy. And we do this thing called highs and lows, where everybody goes around and tells their high of the day. You have to have a high of the day, you don't have to have a low of the day if you don't want to, but it is required to have a high. And the noise level is crazy, but it's also super fun.

Miki:

I love that you do that. That's beautiful, that's amazing.

Brett:

Yeah. So, part of what attracted me to you, Miki, and why I was so thrilled to chat with you afterwards. Is one, you're a master marketer. And the way you craft messages and the way you get attention, it's mind blowing, which is awesome. But you're also like, you believe in strong women, right? And I've got six daughters and I just, I want them to conquer the world. That's probably a weird thing to say, but I want them to just do whatever they feel led and whatever they feel passionate about doing. And so, love the energy you bring and the inspiration you're bringing to young women as well.

Miki:

Six daughters. I mean, it's just, yeah. Like, I think about the food bill just for that dinner, just for those meals, just now. It's just [crosstalk 00:05:10].

Brett:

The food bill is crazy. So I'm happy to talk about that with anyone offline. Yeah. So, when you include groceries and eating out, it's a median household income. It's a lot of money, yeah. But grateful to be able to do it. I wouldn't have it any other way, but it is completely [crosstalk 00:05:28].

Miki:

I love it.

Brett:

So yeah, it's awesome. Well, let's talk about a few things. So if you would Miki, give people kind of just the quick background on you. Because we're going to dig into some of the specific messages that you use at TUSHY and things like that. But give people the background. Like, how did you become this, because not only were you my favorite speaker at CapCon, but I've seen, you were voted best speaker at Inc and Fast Company, and some of these other big events. Everybody loves what you have to say. So really, how did you get here?

Miki:

Well, I'm one of three children, and the interesting fun fact about the three of us is that we are all born within one year. So I have an identical twin sister. The third sister, who's 11 months older. So we're actually, we're Irish twins.

Brett:

Yeah, Irish twins and identical twins [crosstalk 00:06:18].

Miki:

Irish triplets.

Brett:

Okay.

Miki:

So we're twins, plus Irish triplets, yeah.

Brett:

It's insane.

Miki:

Yeah. And then we grew up to a Japanese mother and Indian father. So my mother's from Japan, speaks with a thick Japanese accent. My dad is from India, speaks with a very thick Indian accent.

Brett:

I'm doing the audio book of Disrupt-Her. And you do the Indian accent for your dad, an it's just amazing. You do such a good job, yeah.

Miki:

But yeah, his most, the thing they always say is, he says, when he meets somebody, he goes, "Very good vibes". Or, "Very bad vibes." And immediately, because yeah, he can sniff people out just by "their vibes".

Brett:

By "their vibes", okay, I love that.

Miki:

By "their vibes".

Brett:

That's awesome.

Miki:

Yeah. And I grew up in Montreal, Canada. In French Montreal, in the south shore of Montreal. In a town called [foreign language 00:07:12]. And it's like, I grew up in French, like literally, we were the token Asians in the most French neighborhood ever. And so, it was really beautiful to grow up in this true mosaic of cultures. Japan, India, French, American. And then of course, Canada attracts so many, I mean, every culture, every religion, and they're all celebrated. And so of course, growing up in a household of just diversity and then going to school with just all diverse kids, I think we just learned to question everything. And to look at things from different angles. To be like, oh, this is how the Indians look at it, this is how the Japanese look it, how the French look at it, and the Americans look at it, this is how the Canadians look at it.

Brett:

It forces a fresh perspective, rather than just everybody being the same.

Miki:

Totally. So it's a mosaic versus melting pot thinking. And I think that that mosaic thinking creates beautiful picture. When you think about a mosaic image, and it's just this, all these colors and all these textures, and all of the different historical context of things, creates a different frame than just a single pain. So I think I was very blessed in just being born where I was born, to be given the various perspectives. To not just be like, okay, this is the way it is. It's like, wait, is this, or should I question it? And is there a better way, or is there more thoughtful way? Or that kind of thing.

Brett:

When did you realize that, hey, I might be an entrepreneur? Or have you ever? Like, is that really a conscious thought? Like, when did you think, hey, I'm going to build companies? And not just companies, but wildly successful and disruptive companies.

Miki:

Yeah. I mean, I think I'm just genuinely unemployable. I think I'm just like, you're not my Indian father. That kind of vibes. Where like, anytime someone told me what to do, blood would rush to my head and I would just get really frustrated. I would, I don't know, get triggered or something. But no, I think I just always beat to my own drum. And I think because of this questioning, because of this philosophy of looking at things from different perspectives, I think I just always had different ideas that I wanted to put out in the world. That entrepreneurship, when it was introduced to me, I remember, I'll never forget. I met my very first entrepreneur, standing in line in New York City when I was 22 years old, at this Armani party.

Miki:

I was invited to my very first VIP door, or whatever. [crosstalk 00:09:47] And I was like, oh my God, I'm so cool. It was like, Armani. You know, whatever. Back when it was really cool to go to those things. And I remember standing in line, and in front of me was this gentleman who I'd met. And his name was Graham, and he's now since become one of my dearest friends. But I met him randomly, standing in line in front of me then. I was 22, and he was in his mid-thirties when I met him. And I was like, "oh". Like, "What are you up to?"

Miki:

And he's like, "I'm an entrepreneur."

Miki:

And I was like, "What do you mean?"

Miki:

And he is like, "I have my own business." And this is, by the way, in 2001, when entrepreneurship wasn't a school thing. Nobody was getting invested in, it wasn't a thing. I mean, Facebook wasn't even there until 2006.

Brett:

Now it's super trendy. Everybody wants to say entrepreneur, stamped that on their [crosstalk 00:10:33].

Miki:

Now, everyone. But back then, nobody. It was doctor, lawyer, investment banker, management consultant. Going to work for a company. Becoming a whatever at a company. Becoming a person who starts a business was just not even in the lexicon, in the zeitgeist of culture back then.

Miki:

And he was like, "I'm not in firm."

Miki:

I'm like, "What do you mean?"

Miki:

He's like, "I have my own company."

Miki:

I'm like, "Well, what do you do?"

Miki:

And he's like, "Well, I started a company called treehugger.com."

Miki:

And I was like, "Oh, that's cool."

Miki:

And he's like, "And I sold it." I think he sold it to Discovery Channel, whatever.

Miki:

And I was like, "Wow!" And then he, the next day, invited me to this brunch with a bunch of other entrepreneurs. And that's when it was my big ding, ding, ding moment. I can start my own company, I'm going to do that. And I think in life, we just get given these gifts of chance meetings. And either we kind of get opened by it or we close to it. And I was sort of just blasted open by the possibilities of that. And I think that's what really put me on the course of this new way of thinking and being, and then carrying forward.

Brett:

That's amazing. And I do want to, let's give kind of a brief overview of some of the companies. Just to give people some texture and some more context. So your mind was blown, and you're thinking, I could do my own thing. And then you have, and you've been wildly successful. Really at, essentially, everything. But can you give a quick rundown of the companies, and what they've done?

Miki:

Yeah. Well, I will first start by saying, one of the biggest stories that changed the course my life was when I was 22. After that time, 9/11 happened, and that was a huge turning point in my life.

Brett:

Yeah, because you were an investment banker, working down on Wall Street, right?

Miki:

Yes. The World Trade center was my subway stop every single morning. And it I was working at Deutsche Bank, in investment banking. I call it douche bank.

Brett:

Wow. Someone was asking for that, honestly, right? Deutche Bank, it's so close to douche, you're going to make the jokes, yeah.

Miki:

Know what I mean? Yeah. So yeah, when I was there, yeah, 9/11 happened. I was supposed to be there, and 2 World Trade Center was my subway stop every single morning. And I would walk upstairs to 2 World Trade Center, at the cafe there. And I would get tea with my girlfriend, who worked on the 100th floor. And then I would walk across the street to my office, directly across 2 World Trade Center. And then 9/11 happened, and it was the first day of my life, the only day of my life that I slept through my alarm clock.

Brett:

That is crazy and amazing.

Miki:

Yeah. And 700 people in my girlfriend's office died on that day. Two people in my office died. It was one of those, just like, you can't make this shit up. Like, this is not a real movie, that kind of level of unfathomableness.

Brett:

Unfathomable, yeah.

Miki:

Yeah. And so that single experience, again, it's those moments that I kind of really recognize as these turning points in my life. And that was a big turning point in my life. Where I was like, wow, I could die tomorrow. And when you're 22, you don't think about death. I feel like we start thinking about death after we have children, in a lot of ways. And I'm just always making sure I'm not going to die. Do you know? And I'm sure, with your eight children, I don't even know how [inaudible 00:13:50]. You know?

Brett:

Yeah.

Miki:

But death, it's just not a thing, when you're a kid, when you're 22, you're just sort of like, whatever.

Brett:

You're usually not thinking about it at all, yeah.

Miki:

Just not thinking at all. But then, because I had this near potential death experience, and people around me died, and I was just sort of like, wow, this is a real thing. And I really felt my mortality in that moment. And it was like, wow, I got to make every single day count.

Brett:

Got to do something, yeah. We're going to blink and we're going to be 70, right? And so, what are you going to fill your time with now? Yeah.

Miki:

That's right. And so yeah, for me, it was, I wrote down three things. The first was to play soccer professionally, the second was to make movies, and the third was to start a business. And that sort of set me on sort of a total path after 9/11,.I played soccer for the New York Magic, I worked in the film industry for a couple of years, and then I started my first business, which was in the restaurant space. And so, my first business was born out of a stomach ache. We know that famous thing, necessity is the mother of invention.

Brett:

Yes, so true.

Miki:

Yeah. So the first business was born out of a stomach ache, and I couldn't eat pizza anymore. It was my favorite comfort food, but I just couldn't eat anymore because it made me bloated and gassy, and just so gross feeling after I ate it. And it was full of bleached flour, processed cheese, sugar-filled sauces, processed toppings, it was all that. And so yeah, I basically started New York City's very first gluten free alternative pizza concept. And 17 and a half years later, we're still in business. Almost 18 years this year. In November, 18 years.

Brett:

Amazing. And it's called WILD, correct?

Miki:

Called WILD. Just go to @eatdrinkwild on Instagram. We have a couple locations in New York City, and one in Guatemala.

Brett:

And [crosstalk 00:15:42] for surviving the pandemic. I couldn't imagine owning a restaurant during the pandemic in New York City. That had to been just absolutely brutal. So grateful, yeah.

Miki:

It was nuts. My partner Walid is incredible, and he's such an ingenious person. He has lots of [inaudible 00:15:57]. Where actually what we did was, we opened up, on Seamless Web, three restaurants, out of our restaurants. So during the pandemic, not only did we have our regular standard fair, but we opened up two different restaurants, working out of our kitchen. So basically, we made tacos and we did burgers, or whatever, so that people could order from us multiple times a week.

Brett:

Oh, super smart, super [crosstalk 00:16:24].

Miki:

So, take away. And not just have our gluten-free pizza stuff every week, but they would have tacos one night, and different stuff. And so we just opened three different restaurants under the same roof during the pandemic. And then we got the outdoor cafe seating. And that, our business all came back. And it was actually incredible, because it felt like a bit of Europe being in New York, with all the outdoor cafes everywhere, and people walking around with the menu. It was just, it was very romantic, very beautiful. So the rest restaurants was the very first business I learned. I think I learned so much of the thesis around people and psychology in my restaurants, that then led to building Thinks and led to building TUSHY. Both now valued over nine figures, well over nine. And so I, what I learned at WILD was, when I stood outside my restaurant for almost seven years, handing out little pieces of pizza, just handing them out.

Brett:

That's how you grew the business, was samples, yeah.

Miki:

Exactly, yeah. And getting people to try. And I would also test. Like, if I said healthy pizza, people wouldn't come. But if I said, farmed fresh, healthy farm to table pizza, people would be like, oh, what does that mean?

Brett:

Yeah. Nobody wants healthy pizza. That sounds cardboard.

Miki:

Exactly.

Brett:

But farm to table pizza, interesting. And so, you were testing out those messages as people were walking by?

Miki:

AB testing, literally like email, subject heading.

Brett:

I love that.

Miki:

You know? And it was such, seven years of, it was genuinely like double PhD in human psychology and what led people to come closer to attract them, or to kind of move them back. And it was a really interesting thing. Just by standing, literally person by person, like hand to hand combat, just really getting to know people.

Brett:

Fascinating.

Miki:

And that experience led to this thesis, understanding, that again, built THINX and TUSHY. Which was having a best in class product. Like, if someone bit into it and they're like, Ugh.

Brett:

It doesn't matter, yeah.

Miki:

[crosstalk 00:18:30] my underwear. Like tight now, I'm wearing my period-proof underwear. It was so amazing because, I started my period today, I went to my bathroom. You're like, I have six daughters, don't worry about it.

Brett:

So, it does not bother me in the least. Like, yeah, this is a common conversation around my house, yeah.

Miki:

Yeah.

Brett:

Think of the podcast first, though. First to confess on the podcast, which I embrace this, I welcome, this is awesome.

Miki:

First of all, every single human being is here because of a women's period. So, you're welcome. You know?

Brett:

Yes.

Miki:

[crosstalk 00:18:59] Be more uncomfortable. Yeah. So today, this morning, I went to the bathroom and I was kind of like, there's a little bit of blood everywhere. And so I basically sat on my toilet, used my TUSHY bidet, washed myself clean, And then put my THINX underwear on. And I was just like, ah.

Brett:

You're like, this is amazing.

Miki:

I solved my own problem twice. Just now, in this moment. And that's when I was like, yeah, this is why these businesses are doing well. Because genuinely, they truly, truly, truly solve problems that we face every single day.

Brett:

Authentically solving the problem, not just identifying a problem and kind of addressing it just for a cash grab, but you authentically solve the problem.

Miki:

Needed it, yeah. Which is why in my book, Do Cool Sh*t, I talk about the three questions I always ask myself before starting any business. The first question is, what sucks in my world? That's to start with me, a problem in my world that sucks. And then question number two is, but does it suck for a lot of people? Because if it just sucks for me, then I'm kind of a diva or whatever, and who cares. [crosstalk 00:20:04].

Miki:

And then the third question, which I think is the most important. Which is, can I be passionate about this issue, cause, or community, for a really long time. We know the saying, it takes 10 years to be an overnight success. People don't want to sit in that discomfort for a really, really long time, and then they quit or decide to leave early, and they don't kind of get through it. I think about the entrepreneurs, I think about the musicians, I think about the actors, I think about all the people in my life who've made it. And they've made it because they've kind of grinded for a really long time. And they made through it, and they just stuck with their passion, they stuck with the thing they truly believed in. And so I think, yeah, what sucks in my world, has sucked for a lot of people. Can I be passionate about this issue? I think the passion piece is the most important. [crosstalk 00:20:49]

Brett:

It's super important. And this is something I think you may have shared at CapCon already with somebody else. But, tactics without the underlying passion are worthless or it's going to be short lived. Tactics only work for so long. Like, you've got to have that passion and that drive to push through all the messy and confusing and heartache and suffering that you have to go through as a business owner. And so yeah, the passion is super, super important.

Brett:

Now, why do you think you're so attracted to difficult things to sell? So we'll start with pizza first. So, selling healthy, gluten free pizza. When you started the business, gluten free wasn't trendy. Like, gluten free wasn't a selling point. It's not something you want to stick on all your labels. Because people were like, what are you even talking about?

Miki:

Yeah. And no one was talking about farm to table, no one was talking about [crosstalk 00:21:36], no one was talking about seasonal.

Brett:

None of that.

Miki:

This is in 2003-2004. I mean, it was still super nascent, all of those conversations, it was extremely different.

Brett:

Yeah. And when you started THINX, which is period-proof underwear, no one was really talking about periods. Or, not wanting to talk about it. And maybe some people don't want to talk about now. [crosstalk 00:21:50] But yeah, you just got to get over it. But then also TUSHY, a bidet. I still remember so many conversations just as stuff started to get in the news. People were like, "Oh, bidets are nasty."

Brett:

And I'm like, "How is it nasty to use water to clean yourself versus dry paper?" But anyway, you're choosing these categories that are difficult. Like, it's new to people or taboo to people. Why do you think [crosstalk 00:22:13]?

Miki:

Well, it's a culture shift that I'm interested in. I think from a creative perspective and as a creative challenge. Like, how do you change people's behavior, is the hardest change to make. And then how, how do you utilize innovation and creativity to do that? And so I think from a creative kind of person's perspective, it's like, wow, this is a really fun challenge to tackle. How do you get someone to change their behavior when it comes to food? When it comes to habits? Daily habits that they've been doing their whole lives, not even their whole lives, but for generations. To get them to try something new, and not only try it, but adopt it fully. I mean, that is why Toto hasn't made it to America yet. That is why the tampons and pads, which were invented by men, which is fine. But not that fine, cause they're made for women. So it's just, it's like, those are the most pervasive products in the world, because it's taboo. And so, how do we enter these conversations in a way that's artful? In a way that's accessible, and we're using the best in class product?

Miki:

And I think those, my thesis that I learned from the pizza, from the restaurants was that was that, was the three prong. Prong number one is best in class product. It has to be a best in class product. It has to be a big day that, when I clip to my toilet, it actually feels good, it looks good.

Brett:

It adds to the appearance of your bathroom. Like, it makes your bathroom feel better, cleaner.

Miki:

It makes it more upscale and cool. It makes people want to bring you to their bathroom when you're having a dinner party. You know like that? Or when you're wearing THINX, like when I'm wearing my underwear right now, I feel really sexy in them. I feel really taken care of in them. I know that I'm protect, I know that this product works. So, best in class product. The pizza, when I eat it, it tastes the most delicious pizza. It doesn't even taste gluten and free, it tastes the most delicious pizza you've ever tasted. So, best in class product, no question, that is baseline. Second prong, to really shift culture, is art. Using art to really challenge conversations.

Miki:

And I talked a little bit about this at CapCon. When I remember putting our first TUSHY ads up, or our first period ads up, out in the world, whether online or offline. People's first reaction were like, wow, that's so beautiful. And then their second reaction's, oh my God, they're talking about poop, they're talking about periods. Like, oh my [crosstalk 00:24:49]. But their very first reaction was leaning into the art and the beauty of that. And I think that, that opens up people's hearts and minds. Art just does that, and for everyone at every level, does that. It opens, art just gives people something to lean into. And I think when they're leaning into something, it makes them be curious. And so the first thing is, can we design from a lens of art? So, we hired all artists, we hired all creatives. I think art is such a beautiful lens to shift people's perspective. I mean, that's why people go to museums, people look at magazines, people look at nature as art. And a place to go and really open up our souls, open up our perspectives, change the way we look and see things.

Miki:

And I think that really lends itself to giving people the space to question their existing thinking. And I think that's all we need to do, is give them that space to question, and they can make the decision for themselves. And so then, that's the artfulness, the best in class innovation.

Miki:

And then the third part is the accessible, relatable language. I think we so often want to be so heady, and so clinical, and so technical, and so medical, and so academic, and sound really smart. And make everyone feel we've been and doing all this patent pending work and whatever. And it's just like, people don't care. They want to know, does it work? Does it make me feel good? Does it support me and does it support my life? Like, what's the point of this? Like, I don't care about your terminology.

Brett:

Patent pending.

Miki:

And like, I don't care about high sounding or smart. Like, whatever. And then, I tested all of that. That was all tested. I learned that, the more we speak from our space of truth, the more we speak from our place of that lit fire inside. We talked about that at CapCon as well. The more we speak from that real, true, authentic place, people respond. Because it's real, it's true. It's not coming from like, I wonder what they want me to say? And I'm just going to say it that way. That doesn't feel good, to receive that kind of inauthentic message. Like, imagine if you're receiving a text message from a best friend. And you can tell when they're being inauthentic or they're authentic. You can tell when your sister or brother is being authentic, you can tell when your wife or husband is being inauthentic or authentic.

Miki:

And so it's just that, can we write copy, can we text, can we write our messaging in the same way as we're texting our best friend? And I think that is such an important way to think about messaging to people. Because we're just being bombarded with advertisements, with so much people shouting at us. And we don't want that. We want authentic truth, we just want that juicy truth. And I think that truth is really what, that truth, coupled with art, coupled with the right beautiful aesthetic, the right innovation that you would want to use where, on a daily basis. That together, creates change, creates culture shift. And I've seen that time and time again. Across Wild, across THINX and across TUSHY. All three of them share the same philosophy of best in class product, artful aesthetic design across every touchpoint of our brand, and accessible, relatable language across every touchpoint of the brand.

Brett:

I love it so much. And really, when you combine all of that, plus you go back to the starting point from your first book, Do Cool Sh*t, it has to be addressing something that sucks for you and sucks for a lot of people. Right? So it's got to be that. And so then, when it's addressing a real issue, and then you've got the artful design and best in class, and it works. And you got the accessible, relatable language. All that comes together and it just works.

Brett:

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Brett:

What's so interesting and what was so powerful for me. And I remember talking to the guy that was sitting next to me at CapCon, and I made a couple comments about this. I've been in the ad world for a long time. So there's the brand building space of advertising, which is interesting. There's direct response, which I followed and studied for a long time. And I've worked in the infomercial space and stuff. But you have this ability to create stuff that looks beautiful. Like, you just want to look at it. It's an ad for a bidet, but you want to look at it. But, it also kind of makes you say, I'd like to try that. Like, I would like a clean butt too. I would to do...

Brett:

Because I think sometimes people, they go too far into the art. And it's abstract, and like, I don't even know what you're trying to say to me. Or I'm talking about patent pending, and all aloof, and who cares. So, how do you strike that balance and how do you create something that's fridge-worthy? As you'd say, artful and fridge worthy. But also, that connects and makes you say, I want to buy that underwear. Or, I want to buy that bidet. How do you do that?

Miki:

Yeah. Well so first, just to quickly unpack the word fridge-worthy, for those who don't know what that term means. Fridge-worthy simply means the idea that, you know when you walk into your home, and you go to your kitchen and you see your fridge? You go out, before, you go to grab a beer or whatever from your fridge. You see your fridge, and on your fridge are emblems of your life. You see pictures of your family members, of your eight children in your 10 person family.

Brett:

They take up the whole fridge, exactly.

Miki:

Yeah [inaudible 00:31:16] all over. You have invitations to weddings, you have little postcards from family members, you have little pictures of nieces and nephews. Or whatever it is, right?

Miki:

Hi, Stan.

Miki:

And my challenge to my team has always been, can you create something so beautiful, so artful and so personal, that it can make the small real estate on your fridge? That it can really make that small personal space on your fridge, that it can take up that space. That you can make something for TUSHY or THINX so beautiful, something so cool, that it can live in your home in some way. And so we design from that lens. And from that lens that, again, hits you personally and makes you feel something.

Brett:

It does cause you to shift and think differently. Now it's not just about, well, I'm going to choose blue. Like, you're thinking about everything differently.

Miki:

Yeah. Like, what is it that's going to make, how does it make me feel? And that's a different lens to creating.

Brett:

For sure.

Miki:

Yeah.

Brett:

So then, how do you blend fridge-worthy then with some true sales power, or some power to make people say, I want to buy this.

Miki:

So I always say to my team, in the art of it, I still need to know. I mean, it depends. Like you said, there's top of funnel stuff, where you want to create intrigue and mystery. And that kind of stuff is like, if you look at our TUSHY Bellagio spot that we just shot. I just shot this ad, where I finally figured out, where my friend is this genius rigging person. And he rigged 10 toilets with bidets on them, with our TUSHY Ace bidets on them. That we can play them like a piano.

Brett:

Like the Bellagio fountains?

Miki:

Bellagio fountain.

Brett:

I got to see that, then.

Miki:

I'll share, I'll text with you right after this. It's crazy. And so basically, it plays. So we made this like, (Beethoven's 5th). And just this wildly weird thing. And we don't show you very much about it, but it just says at the tagline at the end. Which makes you mysterious and makes you want to click and see what the hell this is. So there's that mystery and intrigue, which hooks you into wanting to know more.

Brett:

It's a curiosity play, yeah.

Miki:

Pure curiosity play, pure top funnel. Just stuffing people in. And then we spend the rest of the time, really converting them to the bottom, bringing them down the funnel. Educating them on the product, the value propositions and all of that. So that's the one strategy.

Miki:

The other strategy for top of funnel. I always think about prospecting. I always think about, how do you get people to both fall in love with our brand, with our ethos, with our playfulness, with our just [foreign language 00:33:56], with our love of life? They can feel it in this thing, but they're also understanding, what is the product? How does it work? Why do I need it? So it really answers those questions. And maybe like, why do I need it?

Miki:

Like, we just shot another commercial with the singing toilets, with the kind of the playing toilets. Where, it's this very Wes Anderson, weird thing. Where it's like, five people laying, they stick their heads in the toilets at once. And they're laying on these, which kind of represents the heated seat. And then all of a sudden, we start spraying. Like, I start kind of smushing ice cream on this guy's face. And then, this one woman takes a chocolate cake and squishes it in her white glove. And then she smacks it on the ass of white pants on this guy. So it kind of represents all taking a shit, basically, the chocolate looks like shit. And then the sprays go off, and then we get clean. And it's this debaucherous clean thing. And then we press the blow dryer, and then we're getting blow dried. So you're seeing the value, of how it works. Like, you're seeing, we press the remote, and then the nozzles go off and it starts spraying. It's clean. And then you press the dry, then it just blow dries it. So you see slow-mo, the hair blow dried. We walk out frame. So you're kind of, you're getting the idea of what this thing is. But you're still intrigued, tickled. You feel good vibes, you feel "very good vibes". You know?

Brett:

You're probably laughing. You're probably like, I can't believe I'm watching this. But it's also product demonstration in a really fun and creative and crazy way, which is super cool.

Miki:

Yes. And so, it's a lot of things. And I always look at, what are our best performing ads? Our best performing ads are the edutaining ones. Ones that are hilarious, and the ones that educate. Tells you, why you need it, how it works and how to use it.

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense.

Miki:

You know? But in a really simple, easy way. And so, yeah, it is an art and science, and they have to go hand in hand. And, creative and marketing always do sometimes have this natural tension, but I think it's a good tension if you have the right leadership.

Brett:

It's a healthy tension.

Miki:

A healthy tension, yeah.

Brett:

Love it. So one thing you talk about a lot, and I remember you showing these examples. That, you'll use actual statements from real customers. And you also talk about campfire stories, sharing campfires stories as a team or whatever, to kind of stir up creativity. So, can you talk about that a little bit? Like, how do you use customer statements in your ads? And then, what about campfire stories?

Miki:

Yeah. So, I always think like, our best advocates are our customers, our users, who love our products. It just, it makes so much sense. And so many times, companies are scared to, they don't want to bother their customers. But if customers love it, and you're asking them, hey, just fill in the blank. THINX is blank. Or, TUSHY.

Brett:

This is my favorite, yeah. Just fill in the blank. TUSHY is, fill in the blank.

Miki:

Fill in the blank. TUSHY is, blank. Just fill in the blank. And within 24 hours, we got 1000 responses. For things specifically, it was, THINX is Mary Poppins in my pants. THINX is strength, freedom and dignity for all women. TUSHY is...

Brett:

One of them was, eye candy butt bliss. I wrote it down. I got the thing.

Miki:

Yeah, eye candy butt bliss. It's like, TUSHY: you could eat off my butt hole. You know? And just like, my rusty starfish has never been so clean. Stuff like that, where it's crazy, hilarious, random.

Brett:

Especially when you know that it was a real customer that said it. It's like, okay, that's super fun. And I'm now totally entertained by reading this.

Miki:

Yeah, by real. And we always say, name of the customer, from a real pooping human. And so, we now use these campaigns, as actual campaigns and taglines for our company. Because our customers know what's best. And we don't have to oftentimes scratch our heads to ask ourselves, what creativity can we use? We can literally just reach out to our customer base, and they'll give us, and they're delighted in giving it to us. And if they see it in the world, they'll be like, oh my God, that's my line. And they now feel even more connected.

Brett:

And then they totally will put that on the fridge. They will totally put that piece, and share with everyone they know.

Miki:

And they'll share it with all their friends, tell everyone they know. And it engages people, attracts them. The same thing with PR. I talk about that a lot. Like, we do a ton of inbound marketing, inbound PR. And we've gone viral so many different times. And it's because, again, studying the psychology of people. Like, how do you create intrigue? How do you create mystery? Where, they want to complete the storyline. So often, people are like, send press releases, and hope that the press will write about them. But it just never works. It piles up on people's desks. Versus, you send these mysterious boxes where you have to assemble this thing. Or like, unscramble a riddle. So recently, we just launched our TUSHY Ace, part of our electric bidet seat with the most beautiful remote in the world.

Brett:

It's the heated seat, right? Which by the way, if you've never experienced a heated toilet seat, it is pretty magical, it really is.

Miki:

Heated seat, warm water, blow dries your butt. Best blow dryer on the market. It's not like where you have to still use toilet paper, because this is a nice strong blow dryer. And it looks an Apple product. It's the most gorgeous remote. Our design, it's just, it's the most beautiful product. And so, we were launching this. And our team, we were like, okay, we are going to create mystery around this product. And so, we put together these deck of cards. And these deck of cards that we made, we made actual TUSHY deck of cards, designed by hand, by my designers. And we had this instruction sheet for the press. And we said, pull out all the royal flushes.

Brett:

Nice. Royal flushes.

Miki:

[crosstalk 00:40:03] And so, they'd pull out the royal flushes. And they had to unscramble the royal flushes, based on the riddles that they were given. Like, for the diamond royal flushes, this is the riddle. And you had to unscramble it based on the different words. The letters that appeared on the 10, jack, queen, king, ace. There was a letter hidden, that then unscrambled based on the riddle. So then, it made the press have to work hard to actually unscramble and send the responses. And then once they get the TUSHY Ace product and install it, they're going to feel they've accomplished something. Like, they actually, they feel so much better.

Brett:

And they're so engaged, and you've delighted them.

Miki:

They're so engaged.

Brett:

You've just made their day in so many ways.

Miki:

Instead of just sending them a product, review it. You're almost like, dance monkey, dance. Versus like, let me bring you into this fun, mysterious story with us. And we're going to be surprised and delighted together. And we're going this extra mile for you, to make you just regale in the delight. And I think that, that is what people want in life. They want to be just surprised and delighted. They want to be regaled. And like, "Oh!". And giggle. They want their heart to flutter.

Brett:

They want magic, they want mystery, they want excitement, they want to be kind of caught up in something. Right? Not just reading.

Miki:

Who doesn't want to be caught up in this ,"oh', moment. And it feels so good and it just enlivens our being.

Brett:

So, how did that work out? How was the press' reaction to that?

Miki:

Well I mean, this one, we just sent them out actually last week, so we're still underway. But guess what? The fact that we had almost, I think it was like 20 press asked for these cards. Because first, we were like, we're going to send you a mysterious package. Are you willing to take it? We need your home address, because we're COVID times. And so we had, almost 20 press gave us their home addresses, to send them the mystery packages. And so that already means that they're hooked. And we did this before, for THINX. Where we had people go and smash bricks, and they had to open the bricks and look for these invitations. And 80 people showed up to our event, after they smashed the THINX. 80 press RSVPed. We had another event, where we poked a hold in eggs, and put these mystery scrolls in them. And then all 20 press showed up to our event, because they wanted to crack open the egg and look at the scroll. And we said, you can't open them until you come to the event.

Miki:

So it's just, creating the mystery, creating the intrigue. It's human nature that, when they start something, they want to finish it. They don't like incomplete story lines, they like to complete story lines. And when there's an incompletion, there's still this intrigue, this mystery that keeps you wanting more. And so, we're in that storyline right now, with the TUSHY Ace, and I'll let you know how it goes, but I feel very confident.

Brett:

Yeah. That idea of opening and closing loops. Once a loop is open, people want to close and they want to figure out. They want to solve the mystery. That's why cliffhangers work, and all of those things.

Miki:

And in relationship and romance. When you're romancing, you're seducing. It's the same kind of storyline. It's so much fun, that game.

Brett:

Yeah. And I know you've got to go, so I've got two quick things. But I also want to mention, just briefly. You talked about two stories, two events. Because you're the master of doing these just crazy, off the wall events, that also work. So, one was ButtCon, and one was the Funeral for a Tree, for TUSHY. Are those outlined in one of your books? Because even if nothing else...

Miki:

Not yet.

Brett:

They're not? Oh, dang it. Okay.

Miki:

Not yet, but my next, maybe. I might have a Do Cool Sh*t sequel, and talk about TUSHY in that.

Brett:

We'll highlight that, or I'll find the story, that I can put. Anyway, I'll let the audience [crosstalk 00:43:41].

Miki:

I'm happy to share them really quick. I can share them over the next couple minutes, no problem.

Brett:

Okay, just do it quickly over the next two minutes, yeah.

Miki:

Sure, yeah. So again, it's all about creating unorthodox events, unorthodox gatherings. That make people go, "Huh? What are you talking about? What is this?" So we held two kind of events before COVID happened. And we're going to now resume them once COVID's now finally, hopefully at bay. But one of them was called A Funeral for a Tree. And the other one was called ButtCon. The Funeral for a Tree is, we actually held a real funeral for a dead tree at the Judson Memorial Church, which is the biggest memorial church in all of New York City. In Washington square park. We had a 400 seat capacity, and we sold out. And we had a 25 part choir. We had Matthew Morrison, the actor, is one of our dear friends, playing the reverend. We had his wife, Renee, who is one of my best friends as well, who played Maple, the wife of the dead tree. It was just the most wild experience. And the people who came...

Brett:

People were reading eulogies. Which, I got to hear one. It was hilarious. Just super funny and well done.

Miki:

I mean, it was just comedy. It was sad, it was beautiful, it was inspiring. It was all of the above, and people left so inspired to save trees. [crosstalk 00:45:14] And to do it by buying TUSHY, by doing all kinds. You know? But it wasn't a marketing...

Brett:

It didn't feel like a sales pitch. It didn't feel a, "Hey, here's your coupon for TUSHY." As you walk out the doors.

Miki:

For one second. It didn't feel like. It just felt TUSHY opened my eyes to these important things. [crosstalk 00:45:31].

Brett:

We are killing a lot of trees because of toilet paper, and here's how we can help solve that.

Miki:

That's right. 50 million trees are cut down every single year because of toilet paper consumption. 30 million cases of urinary tract infections, hemorrhoids. All these health hygiene issues, not to mention planetary issues. All these things could be alleviated by just using a bidet, using TUSHY, under $100 product. You know? But we didn't even say any of that stuff at our Funeral for a Tree event. That was, we just put on this amazing event, brought to you by TUSHY. And people just were like, this was the most inspiring theatrical event I've ever been to.

Brett:

You get an insane press on it.

Miki:

[crosstalk 00:46:07] Amazing press. And same thing with ButtCon. We held this event called ButtCon, which was all things butt-related. We had butt lift surgeons, we had anal reconstructive surgeons, we had anal porn stars, we had cake sitters who makes money on sitting on cakes as a living. We did a class on making money on your ass. I mean, just crazy things. Like, we had Kim Kardashian's physical butt trainer, came and showed us how to do butt exercise. We had twerking champions doing the twerk, teaching people how to twerk. Just name. We had gut doctor, Dr. Mark Hyman, who is one of my dearest friends. And he did a whole gut and butt session on how poo the right poops, and what the right poops look like. We had, again, every walk of life in the realm that touched the butt, or gut, or the poop space was there. And we had 49 press, of the top, top, top, top, top press came to the event. Because they were like, what the hell is ButtCon? We had to see for ourselves.

Brett:

They said, "What are you doing?"

Miki:

What are you doing here?

Brett:

And the press you got from both those events, to pay for that kind of exposure would be almost impossible. But you got it because you did some crazy stuff.

Miki:

Yeah. It was truly, again, another reminder that just, what you put in. When you put in, like, if you build it, they will come. And you have to build spectacles. Again, things that surprise and delight. Things that make people go, I need to go and see what this is about. And that's the most important thing.

Brett:

I love that, I love it. So I know, you've got to go. So just kind of in closing. If people are listening to this and they're like, I need more Miki Agrawal in my life. And so, where can they, one, go to find your books? But also, just experience your marketing. Because hopefully, this has opened your eyes a little bit. Like, you need to pay attention to what Miki is doing from a marketing standpoint, you're going to learn a lot. So, how can people get more Miki in their life?

Miki:

Yes. Well first, you can also always come check me out on Instagram where I answer most people's questions pretty directly. Like, people have questions, I'm pretty good about responding. So Instagram, just @mikiagrawal. You can also go to mikiagrawal.com. If you subscribe to my mikiagrawal.com page, you'll actually get one disruptive move every week to do for yourself and for your business. So it's 52 disruptive moves. So that's just on mikiagrawal.com. And of course go to helloTUSHY.com. Check it out, get a TUSHY bidet. It's the best gift of all time. Holidays, it's the gift. It's just the best gift you can do for yourself. I mean, period, end of story. From a health high hygiene, confidence, feeling sexy, feeling good perspective. And then you can also, oh, if you want to learn about the strategies. I mean, definitely, Do Cool Sh*t, Disrupt-Her, check out my books. But then, if you want to actually learn about all of my tactics, of all of my strategy and building my companies from zero to $100 million plus, I built an actual course called Zero to a $100 million on Mindvalley.

Brett:

Mindvalley, I'll link to that in the show notes.

Miki:

If you go to my link in bio on my Instagram, I link to a free masterclass, a one hour masterclass which goes into a lot of these campaigns. But then, it also links to the quest, the Mindvalley quest, Zero to a $100 million. So, definitely check it.

Brett:

Beautiful. Got to check it out. I got to check that out. I got to watch that. And I'm going through Disrupt-Her right now. I absolutely love it, I highly recommend it. I like the audio version. I'm an auditory learner. And you narrate the books, so I get to listen to more Miki as I'm driving around. So that's been awesome as well. So Miki, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for doing this. I've been inspired, and got some new ideas cooking around in my head. I know other people have too. So, really, really appreciate it.

Miki:

Yay. I was happy to be here.

Brett:

Awesome, thank you so much. And as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear from you. What do you think about the show? What do you want to hear more of? Less of? Let us know. And until next time, thank you for listening.

Brett:

Are you a D2C 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, Monan, Organifi 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 300,000 to 400,000 a month on Facebook, you should be able to easily spend a 100,000 to 150,000 or more on YouTube. Visit omgcommerce.com to request a free strategy session, or visit our resource page and get some of our free guides loaded with some of best strategies for YouTube Ads, Google Shopping, Amazon DSP and more. Check it all out at omgcommerce.com.

Episode 192
:
Drew Sanocki and Michael Epstein

How Direct Mail Can Deliver Higher ROI than Facebook or Email Marketing

My guests today are two legends in the eCommerce space. Drew and Michael most recently ran and successfully exited Auto Anything.

Today we’re going Old School. We’re not talking email. We’re not talking TikTok, Facebook or even YouTube. 

We’re talking Snail. Mail. The gold old USPS. Physical mailboxes. 

Why? 

Because this is an untapped opportunity for DTC brands.

My guests today are two legends in the eCommerce space - Drew Sanocki and Michael Epstein. Drew and Michael most recently ran and successfully exited Auto Anything a multi nine figure eCommerce brand. Now they are helping DTC brands grow through direct mail marketing. And while that might not sound sexy, it’s incredibly effective. 

Why postcard and direct mail marketing? 20-50% of your customers don't have a good email address on file. And email open rates are only 20-30% at best. So you’re missing a lot of your current and past buyers if you’re just relying on email and SMS.

Here’s a look at what we cover in this episode:

  • How should brands use direct mail?
  • How to build a great postcard
  • What postcard campaigns to start with
  • How Ezra Firestone turned $1,400 into $4,000 using a simple postcard
  • How to make direct mail part of your email and SMS flows

Mentioned in This Episode :

Drew Sanocki

   - eMail: Drew@PostPilot.com

   - LinkedIn


Michael Epstein

   - LinkedIn


PostPilot

PostPilot GFO (Godfather Offer)
Axle Group Holdings

AutoAnything

Karmaloop

Teamwork

Odeo

Chris Tyler

Klaviyo

“How Brands Grow” by Byron Sharp (Audio)

Shopify

Ezra Firestone

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Petalura

Allan Shiffrin

Handwrite

Austin Brawner

Overlander

Bulletproof



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 fun. It's going to be informative and it's going to be old school with a very modern twist to it. We're talking direct mail. Now, if you know anything about my background, I got my start in traditional media, TV, radio, a little bit of print. I used to do a little bit of direct mail. I actually love direct mail. But here's the interesting thing. It is an untapped, unleveraged opportunity for eCommerce brands. And so we're talking about that today. And so my guests on the show today are really two eCommerce pros, eCommerce veterans, guys that you need to know if you don't already know. And so I'm going to intro them and then bring them on here.

Brett:

But the first is Michael Epstein. Now, Michael was the CMO of Axle Holdings, so AutoAnything, and a number of other big brands. He ran marketing for that group. Had a majorly successful exit. Also has worked in SaaS. And just a really, really smart guy. I've had the privilege of being on several calls with Michael. I always learn something when I'm chatting with Michael. So Michael, welcome to the show and thanks for taking the time, man.

Michael:

Always great to be here, Brett. Thanks.

Brett:

Yep, absolutely. And then the next guest is truly a legend, truly a legend.

Drew:

To go along with the old theme.

Brett:

I wasn't sure how to play that off. I wasn't sure, really lean into OG or not lean into OG. I don't know. I do feel good, Drew, that you have more gray than I do because my beard's really starting to go gray. But super excited to have Drew Sanocki on the call. And I met Drew through a mutual friend, Ezra Firestone. I got to hang out with Drew at multiple events. He's always one of those speakers that when he shows up in an event, people are like, "Oh man, we get to learn from Drew Sanocki." And so Drew was the CEO of Axle Holdings and ran AutoAnything, also ran Karmaloop. Was a CMO for Teamwork. There's even a story, and I don't know that we'll get to it, but in his previous, his first e-commerce business, I think it was your first one, Drew, you guys shared office space with Twitter, right, back when Twitter was a baby?

Drew:

Everybody loves that story. Yeah, they were across the hall. They were a podcasting company called Odeo. And Twitter was across the hall. Airbnb was upstairs. And then we were there selling furniture in the middle of all that, thinking we were the most successful out of all those companies.

Brett:

They're like, man, we can teach these guys so much. Twitter? What's that...? Airbnb? Yeah, whatever. That's so cool. And actually, Drew and I got to work on a few projects together. And I remember after one particular project, Drew, you were working with one of our team members, one of the Chrises, we have lots of Chrises on our team. But one of them was like, "Dude, I want to be like Drew Sanocki when I grow up." That was his feedback after.

Drew:

I don't remember which Chris that was or why.

Brett:

It was Chris Tyler. But he was just like, "Man. Drew Sanocki is so smart."

Drew:

I'm not sure why.

Brett:

Anyway. So fellas, we're going to get into some serious education. We're going to talk about why to consider direct mail, how to consider, how to use it, all that type of stuff. But talk to me, you guys are now behind a really cool company called PostPilot. And so, can you guys describe what that is and why you're involved? And then we'll get into the education.

Drew:

Yeah, it's probably why Michael and I are both on this call together. So we've worked together for about 10 years. We've been in e-commerce each for about 20. And so we were at this previous company together, which was an e-commerce roll up in the automotive category. And one thing we've always sort of done is use direct mail at all the retailers we've run. And we were sort of interested in the category, that we acquired the software company about three years ago, called PostPilot. PostPilot's direct mail for e-commerce. If you think of Klaviyo for postcards, that's essentially what the software app does. And we were, at first, kind of curious, running it as a side project, and then it got a full head of steam. And now having exited the automotive roll up, we are all in on running PostPilot. So what PostPilot does is plug into your e-commerce store, pull your customer data. And the goal is to make direct mail as easy as email.

Brett:

That's awesome. Really excited to dig into this. And like I mentioned, my business partner, Chris Brewer, actually used to have a direct mail company. So he's all over direct mail. I actually used to do lumpy mail back in the day. When I was first starting another agency, we did direct mail. So I'm a big believer in direct mail. I've got some thoughts here too. But why is direct mail so powerful for e-commerce? And I'll let either one of you take that. Epstein, you want to take that first? Why is direct mail so powerful for e-com?

Michael:

Sure. So in this day of kind of digital overload where people are getting bombarded in their email inbox, they're ignoring or deleting most of what's in there, and the age of iOS impacting people's Facebook performance, there's just an appetite to look for unsaturated channels that allow you to cost effectively reach and convert more of your customers. And so, direct mail has become one of these kind of must haves now for eCommerce brands that are looking to kind of fight back against 20% email open rates and iOS updates impacting your ad performance. So this is a great way to get in front of those customers and drive incremental revenue and profit.

Brett:

Awesome. And you know, one thing that I've noticed too. There was a time, so when I was first getting into marketing in a major way, and when I started my first agency, it was in 2002. And at that time, there was an abundance of direct mail. There were times you open the mailbox and it's jam packed full. And most of it is marketing mail, which is the nice way of just saying junk mail. But it was full of marketing messages. That's not the case anymore. I don't get that much direct mail sent my way. And when I do, if it's interesting, it's occupying a different head space than when I'm checking my inbox.

Brett:

And obviously, email is super important. We're all fans of email on this call, for sure, and SMS. But direct mail's a little bit different head space. You're usually reading that at a different time, in a different location. Maybe you're in the kitchen, maybe you're in the bedroom, whatever. It's a different time. Anything you would add to that, Drew, on why direct mail is such a hot opportunity for e-com?

Drew:

I think just because it works. If you said to me, "Hey, there's this untapped channel where there's not a lot of competitors."

Brett:

Your competitors aren't using it, almost certainly.

Drew:

Your competitors aren't using it. It's a way for you to talk directly to your customer. And your competitors won't see you doing it. It's not like they'll see your ads or they can sign up for your list. I would be interested. And I think, when I talk to retailers and I say, "Who's your most attractive segment?" And broadly speaking, it's always your previous buyers. You're going to do better marketing to your previous buyers than you will to prospects. So we all agree that previous buyers are the best audience. But then it's sort of this dirty little secret that you can't actually market to all your previous buyers. And the reasons, I've read something like, under 50% of your actual customers are subscribed to your list. I mean, it's going to be different by the retailer, but on average. And then on any one email send, maybe 20% of those open an email, right. And that is an e-commerce average.

Drew:

So you put those two together and it's a very small percentage of your best target audience that actually can hear from you and reads your messaging. It leaves a wide swath that you can target via direct mail, which is really the only thing that can fill that gap and go out and communicate with that group of customers. So that's why I find it really compelling. It's sort of been a secret weapon I've used for 20 years. Predates me. I mean, it went back to the '50s, and the growth of catalog retailers. But it works. The cost is capped because postage is capped. Competitors aren't using it.

Drew:

And as you said, Brett, there's a lot of neurological studies and psychological studies as to how people perceive mail. And they perceive snail mail as sort of a gift. They like it. It's tangible. It's a tangible way to sort of present your brand. And people interact with it differently than they interact with an ad or with an email. So all those put together, I think it just makes it a compelling channel.

Brett:

Totally agree. And we love remarketing, as a Google and YouTube agency. We use previous customer lists to run display ads and discovery ads and YouTube ads. And those work. And running repurchase campaigns or loyalty campaigns. But you're right. You're still not reaching everybody. You're just not. There's going to be a lot of people on your list that you are missing if you're just running email and just running remarketing campaigns. And therefore, that's where direct mail can come in and fill the gap. So that's kind of the why. What about the how? How should we be using direct mail as an e-com brand?

Drew:

Well, I think you hit the nail on the head there where you do a lot of remarketing. And I think when we say direct mail to people, people automatically think prospecting. That's certainly one part of it, just plastering a zip code with flyers. But really, the highest ROI, just like in most marketing, is remarketing and retargeting to existing customers, existing buyers. So I think starting there, and kind of working up the funnel is a great way to sort of test the waters. You start with your win backs, abandoned cart campaigns, second purchase campaigns, anything that happens after the initial purchase, and you're going to find a strong return on those types of campaigns.

Michael:

And it's an incremental return because you're targeting a lot of folks that just have not engaged with your digital channels. So you're leaving profits on the table. If you've built all these great campaigns, you've figured out the right audiences. And then again, you look at open rates or you look at your reach and you're just not reaching all of them. So there's incremental LTV and revenue to be had when you can find an effective way to reach those customers.

Brett:

Got it. So you got win back campaigns. Maybe it's a product someone should purchase every three to six months, and someone hasn't purchased for nine months, so you're sending them a postcard. Or someone who's added a cart and has not purchased, you're sending them a postcard. How are you fitting that into the flow? Because you mentioned, and I love this positioning, Drew, that this is like Klaviyo, but for postcards. So are you just making one of those follow up steps in the process a postcard, you're kind of working that in? So maybe the first couple touch points in either win back campaign or abandoned cart campaign are email or SMS, and then postcard comes next? How does that flow work?

Drew:

I think you could do a number of things. Where we've seen people get paralyzed is, number one, where should I start in terms of the campaigns? And then number two, how should I design the actual postcard? And regarding the former, I would just say, open up Klaviyo, open up your email software, look at the campaigns that are highest ROI and just clone them to postcards. If it's a discount ladder that goes out over 90 days with an increase of discount, then let's just take that same cadence and that same offer and flip it into postcards.

Brett:

So then it's running in tandem with emails? You're running the email and you're running the postcard, basically same message, same people, different mediums.

Drew:

Yes. And we get that question a lot. How should I de-conflict the two? And there's a lot of data that says you don't have to bother de-conflicting. If the same customer sees the same messaging through email, a Facebook ad and through a postcard, then AOVs, average order sizes, typically go up and conversion rates go up.

Brett:

And conversion rates go up.

Drew:

Right. And there's some theory behind that. This guy, Byron Sharp, wrote a book called How Brands Grow. And it's all about the salience of your messaging. The more messaging you have in front of a customer from your brand, the better.

Brett:

Often, the more messaging from multiple types of media, right? So not just the same thing over and over again. Multiple touch points.

Drew:

Exactly. So it's one of those, if you can afford, I would do all three. If you can't, then you certainly could do things like send email for a month. And if the customer has not responded to email, then you move into your print campaigns. We see that with a lot of abandoned cart campaigns where companies like to hit the abandoning customer a couple of times via email almost immediately. And then a week later, send the postcard if the customer hasn't replied.

Michael:

And you can segment customers the same way you do in your email service provider like Klaviyo based on what they purchased, how long it's been, average order value, all those things. Or you could even integrate directly with Klaviyo and use the same list and segments you've built in your email platform to target your postcard campaigns.

Brett:

So you could use almost the same audiences, same flows almost. But copy that over to postcards.

Michael:

Yeah.

Brett:

Do you do the same thing then as soon as a purchase happens, if it is a win back campaign or abandoned cart campaign, then that cancels the rest of the flow so that that's all built in as well?

Michael:

Yeah.

Brett:

Nice.

Drew:

Yeah. We've actually got a native integration with Shopify and with Klaviyo. So you can just pull in your Klaviyo campaigns right into PostPilots so they will sync.

Brett:

Got it. Cool. What are some of your favorite direct mail success stories for e-com?

Michael:

There's a bunch. I'd say, the one that comes to mind, you brought up Esra Firestone earlier. And he ran a postcard campaign for Boom, the cosmetics brand, and had a ton of success with it. Spent something like $1,500 and generated $40,000 in revenue from that campaign by-

Brett:

And that was a win back campaign, is that is what that was?

Michael:

That was a win back campaign. Yeah. So it was basically like, you've got customers buying makeup. You expect that customer to rebuy within a certain period of time. That's how long the product's supposed to last. You've been hitting them with email campaigns. And if they go longer than the expected timeframe without repurchasing, then you hit them with a postcard campaign and you get just extraordinary conversion rate and revenue off of that.

Michael:

And this is super profitable because, again, you didn't pay to reacquire that customer. You got a customer that has bought from you to buy a second or third time. And there's so much more margin in that. And you get them back into their kind of routine of buying again. So it extends to subsequent purchases after that, and they get more orders coming in because you've got them back on track.

Brett:

Yeah. So that ROI that you talked about, that was off that initial purchase. But the beauty of this is, if you sell a consumable or you have repeat purchases, then this reactivation of a customer can be extremely profitable because of all those future purchases as well.

Drew:

I've got two favorites.

Brett:

All right. Yeah.

Drew:

And I would say one is a PostPilot win. And the other one is one that is on our roadmap, but is just a more of a direct mail win that I like. And PostPilot, what I see a lot of customers doing are abandoned carts where you put the QR code on the postcard. And because of the Shopify integration, we can get that sort of direct link back to the cart.

Brett:

Nice.

Drew:

I see a lot of customers, you get an abandoned cart, it triggers maybe an immediate email, an email a couple days later. And then if the customer still hasn't replied or if they're not on your list, they get the postcard three, four days later with the QR code that sends them right back into the cart where the product is.

Brett:

It's their QR code?

Drew:

Yeah.

Brett:

That's fantastic.

Drew:

So I think that's kind of cool from a usability point of view, just like an experience point of view.

Brett:

And one interesting side note. This is one of those kind of unexpected benefits or shifts, digital benefits from the pandemic. It's shifted so much of our digital behavior. But QR codes, man. I remember when everyone was like, "Yeah, QR codes are dead. No one's using them. Those are long gone." But now that we had to use them at restaurants or other places, QR codes are very much alive. I'm seeing them everywhere. And actually pretty easy because you just use your camera app on your phone. And so that's really, really useful. So QR codes sending you right back to your cart. That's super cool.

Drew:

Yeah. And then you could put tracking and UTMs in the QR code too so the postcard campaign shows up in Google analytics now. So I just like that as a usability thing. And then I really like this brand Petalura, Allan Shiffrin's the CEO.

Brett:

What's the name of it one more time, Drew?

Drew:

Petalura. He's a colleague. I met him a while ago. His background's in cataloging. So, ran a printer. And he's just been able to grow, I mean, I'm not at license to say how big his brand is, but let's just say mid eight figures brand or eight figure brand, I would say almost 90% off a catalog. Isn't that crazy, in this day and age, that you could grow an e-commerce business that big off of catalog prospecting? Get the right list and then send that list a catalog. And he's just wash, rinse, repeat. And he's done it profitably. It's not like he's bleeding money as he acquires these customers.

Drew:

So just my conversations with Allan have been really inspiring and have got us thinking through how we're going to roll out prospecting at PostPilot because that, I think, is the next big win this year, is starting to get into prospecting, but doing it right, not just doing it off zip code. Putting some more thought behind how we can get prospecting audiences and look alike audiences and just some really cool stuff off a customer behavior on your website.

Brett:

Yeah, I think that will be an amazing innovation, because just doing blanket zip code targeting. That's really never worked very well. But if it's a very targeted list, and if you could somehow build that lookalike audience or behavioral audience and pull that into email or direct mail, rather, that would be pretty powerful for sure. So let's talk a little about the creative aspect behind a postcard. I think most of us understand what it takes to build a good display ad, or a good email. Email's all about subject line and opening line of the copy and have an offer, an image and stuff like that. What does it take to build a great postcard, a postcard that people want to read and want to respond to? What are some elements there?

Michael:

Sure. So I think we talked about QR codes. You can do dynamic personalization, meaning, you can insert fields like their name or other attributes about them dynamically onto the card so they're one to one personalized. That's great for engagement. You want to think about it similar to ad copy or ad creative, where it's engaging, it reflects your brand so that it's easy to spot when somebody opens their mailbox. And you want to include an incentive typically, get them, create some urgency, put a deadline on it, give them an incentive to come back and act on that with a strong call to action.

Michael:

But I think we also rolled out done for you creative services. Because we realized that, this was kind of a pivotal moment for us at PostPilot, no matter how big the brand was, eight, nine figure brands that you think have this creative team. And I'm sure you've seen some of this on the ad copy side and ad creative side, Brett. You say, I'm just going to send it over to the creative department and wait for something to come back and it can kind of get stalled. Everybody's got a lot on their plate. So we actually brought in designers in house, and we have a professional design team that will help create your campaign using best practices that we know because we've seen millions of cards and thousands of campaigns go out, and we'll just make sure that we implement a great best practice design that we're very confident is going to get you a great return.

Brett:

Yeah. And I love that because what we run into is, we work with some larger brands. And a lot of them do have a creative department. But as a kind of a comparison, we do a lot with YouTube. So we create YouTube ads. Most of the time, even larger brands don't have anybody that's a YouTube expert or YouTube person. I guarantee you, most of these brands, they've got designers, but they don't have a postcard person, like, assign this to the postcard expert. We don't have one of those. So makes total sense. Anything you would add to that, Drew? Anything you would want to point out as far as headline goes or other personalization tips? Anything you would say that makes a postcard really work?

Drew:

Yeah. I mean, I think you mentioned a couple things. I think about it more as an ad. Think more of an ad than as an email. So it's a visual medium. So all the ad principles would apply here. And then a best practice is, when you design it, think ad. But when you implement it, think email. The campaigns, the automation, the personalization, a lot of that stuff should be more analogous to how you use email.

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense. So design it, use design principles of an ad, but then think about your flows and your campaign more like email. Any specific tips? It's been a while since I've done postcards, but I did run postcard campaigns back in the day. But you know, sometimes you look at rules for headlines that sometimes 7 to 10 words is ideal, and things like that. You want to have enough copy, but not too much, and some of those things. And any specific guidelines there, or does that just vary?

Drew:

Yeah. I don't know about rules of thumb there. I mean just, white space and images are all great. I think it comes down to, if you're going to put a coupon code on, we like to recommend single use coupon codes as opposed to a generic coupon, unless you want it to go all over the internet. I mean, there may be a case where you need that. Automation and triggering is something that I'm not sure people realize you can do with direct mail. But define that audience. Take a VIP, for example. If you want something special to go out to one of your top customers that spends X dollars, then you can set a tripwire that kicks in when any customer spends over that amount. And then design an evergreen card that constantly is sending out when customers reach that threshold. So that's pretty compelling, as a marketer, to be able to set it and forget it.

Brett:

Really compelling. And I know you talk about this a lot, Drew. You did some presentations back in the day, I think for Andrew Youderian and also for Ezra. We talk about whales. So not just good customers, but the best customers, the whales, like they talk about at casinos, the high rollers and stuff. So what would be some ideas there? So once someone reaches a certain threshold of spend, now we're sending them a postcard that kind of thanks them and recognizes them and gives them an offer? Or what does that often look like?

Drew:

Yeah, you can do a lot with that. I mean, the general idea is, you've got these whale customers who drive your business. And usually, if you lay out all your customers in a spreadsheet and sort them by their spend, you'll see that it's the 80/20 rule. You've got 20% of your customers are going to drive 80% of your revenue. So once you realize that as a marketer, you should be thinking of those whales all the time. Like, how do I get more of them? To extend the analogy, how do I turn minnows into whales?

Drew:

And one of the ways is just a simple VIP campaign that thanks them. There's a lot of data that shows if you just reach out and thank the whale customers, they are more likely to come back and order again. So at ROIs, whether you put a coupon in that email or not, or in that postcard or not. We acquired a business last year called Handwrite, Handwrite.io. It's robotic handwriting. So you can have an email from the CEO, if you're an influencer driven brand or from a salesperson, that's like, "Hey, just want to thank you for spending $2,000 with our store."

Brett:

Yeah. This would be a postcard or something that would go out?

Drew:

Yeah. It could be a postcard or could just be a handwritten note. You could then say, here's a special offer for you. Or if you don't want a discount or give a coupon, that's fine too. Just the thank you should ROI for you. It should have that customer come back. One thing we did at AutoAnything is, the VIP's got a custom invite to sort of premium service. So, "Hey, here's your own sales rep, with his or her phone number direct line. And even though you might send that ultimately to your whole customer support team, but it's nice to kind of have the VIP think that they're getting premium service. And it's a good way to kind of conserve your customer service spend. Do you have to answer the phone for every customer? Probably not. But you'd want to answer it for your VIPs. So give them a special number. It's a great way to sort of treat them.

Michael:

We actually did a test.

Brett:

It's super smart.

Michael:

We did a test with one of the AutoAnything brands too, where we carved out a segment of VIPs and sent them a thank you note once they hit a certain number of orders or a spend threshold, and then measured the performance of that cohort versus the control group that didn't receive that thank you note, and actually saw over a 10 times better increase in revenue over the next 90 days for the group that received the card versus the ones that did not. So really just an effective way to drive brand loyalty and get those repeat customers really engaged with your brand.

Brett:

So just to make sure I'm understanding the test. So you took two groups of whales or VIPs. One of them, you did not send a thank you to, but they're still VIPs. The other, you did send a thank you to. And the group that you did send that thank you to, their spend was 10X the control group?

Michael:

Yes. And these were customers that were getting the regular email campaigns. They were both getting the same email campaigns. They were both exposed to potentially the same Facebook ads. The one difference was that one received that card and the others didn't. And we just saw much higher engagement from that group.

Brett:

Yeah. Sometimes we just want to be seen and recognized, right? We start to feel it internally if we're spending a lot of money with a particular company. And it's nice to be like, "Hey, is anybody noticing this? Does anyone see that I'm forking out these kind of dollars for this company?? And so even just being recognized is pretty powerful.

Michael:

Absolutely. You've got a lot of choices on where you could buy from. And so, how do you create these different surprise and delight and memorable experiences that keep you top of mind and make sure that you're the default choice next time a customer's in the market for a particular product? Drew talked about salience and Byron Sharp. That surprise and delight type experience is almost like a cheat code to increase mind share, and make you more memorable for when you're in the market for a product in the future.

Brett:

Are you recommending? And it almost seems like, if you're going to recognize that VIP or that whale, that maybe a handwritten note would be better than a postcard? Are you guys recommending? And do you guys do either of those, by the way?

Michael:

We do both. And so, there's a bit higher cost to the handwritten card. So it kind of depends on what type of business you are. Jewelry businesses and other businesses that have really high LTV and want a super memorable, premium experience for their customers. And it's easy to justify spending two bucks to target your highest value customer, and keep that customer loyal and coming back and potentially spreading word of mouth about your brand, because they got this handwritten note in the mail, and it was just super delightful to them. And then other brands, you can certainly do it with just a postcard too. Because you can still personalize it. You can still say, thank you. You can still include a loyalty reward or incentive for them. And those work great as well, and super low cost.

Brett:

Very cool. So kind of walk through, and I'm sure there are all kinds of opportunities here. But what does it cost to do this? So what does it cost to send postcards to a win back audience? Or what does it cost to send a handwritten note to a VIP? You mentioned two bucks or whatever there, Michael. But, can you give some examples, some ideas there?

Michael:

Sure. So postcards start at 49 cents. And that's an all in price. So that includes postage, printing everything. So typically, less than the cost of a click these days. And then, as Drew mentioned earlier, the nice thing about it is that price is capped. So it doesn't matter if you're targeting that customer during peak periods like Mother's Day or Black Friday, you're not going to pay more because it's a certain time of the year.

Michael:

You're not going to pay more because you're targeting a very coveted audience type that has a ton of competition from not just direct competitors, but people in other industries that still are targeting the same audience as you. So that's a really nice aspect of direct mail is that the price is fixed. And then we have our handwritten cards, which start at under two bucks. And that, again, includes everything. First class stamp, handwritten envelope, handwritten card on custom printed stationary. So it's a pretty cost effective tool now.

Brett:

Yeah, that's awesome. And I totally see that where, if you get a really high AOV and high LTV, high lifetime value customer, then the handwritten note is a no-brainer. For most others, the postcard is probably okay too. On the handwritten note. And I've seen, and I don't know if this is the technology you guys purchased or for something else. But is that where you write something and then it tries to mimic your handwriting? Or is it just, it looks like handwriting?

Michael:

Well, you can either select from a variety of styles that we have. And they'll have all the nuance of human handwriting with the letters looking different and the angles and spacing and all of that stuff. Or you could actually digitize your own handwriting as well. And it can copy your handwriting or your signature.

Brett:

Yeah. I was just curious about that. Because I know for me, my handwriting is absolutely terrible. I probably should have been a doctor. I've definitely written notes and not been able to read them myself. So while it would be cool and novel to put my handwriting there, it'd be better if it was somebody else's handwriting for sure.

Michael:

We've got a couple chicken scratch options for those folks who are like, "This is way too neat. Nobody would ever believe me."

Brett:

Yeah. Okay. That's that's awesome. Fantastic. How do you encourage folks to look at this as they're kind of laying out their media mix? Any thoughts on that? I love what you said, Drew about, start with bottom of funnel. Start with existing customers and abandoned carts and win backs and things like that. Any advice you would give to how you structure this in the media mix and into your overall planning?

Drew:

I think it's just, as we've seen last year with iOS 14, attribution just got killed for Facebook and even email, because I think email clients got hit later in the year.

Brett:

Yeah. And iOS 15 just killed it. We don't have open rates now. So that's a real loss of important, meaningful data there.

Drew:

Yeah. So you've got to put the dollars somewhere. I would start running tests with simple retention campaigns. Win backs, abandoned carts come to mind as probably the best. You choose, every business is different, but on average, maybe it's customers who haven't purchased in 60 days. They should get a postcard and it should say, it could either be a cross sell type postcard, "Hey, you bought the toy, here's the batteries. Come back and buy the batteries." Or it can be a discount to buy from another category on your site. So I'd probably start there, because that's the most likely to get the win for you. And test that, automate it, have us do it. As Michael mentioned, we've got a program where we'll do it for most retailers out there of a certain size.

Drew:

And then we lock that in and then you could start moving up the funnel and put those dollars towards more of abandoned carts and even some cold prospecting lists and things like that. But when I'm putting together my marketing, our marketing budget at AutoAnything, Mike put it together, it was always, what's going to ROI really over the next quarter, if not the next 30 days? That's just kind of the business that we ran. So the retention stuff was kind of a no-brainer. And you realize when you build that net around retention, every dollar you go and spend on acquisitions is going to be more profitable because you've got that stuff backstopping you.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. And that's where guys like me and agencies like OMG, we can spend more on YouTube because now every customer is worth more. And that's good for the brand because now we can be more aggressive at top of funnel because we're making each customer more valuable.

Brett:

Do you ever use postcards? Just thinking about email flows, I know our mutual friend, Austin Brawner, talks about indoctrination campaigns. So you sign up your initial sign up to get that first coupon or whatever. That's the indoctrination sequence that would talk about the brand and the products and why you should buy from us and why we're amazing, or I've heard them called acquisition campaigns. Do you ever use postcards in that sequence? And if so, how?

Michael:

Yeah. We have a number of customers that use it for welcome sequence. So whether it's a postcard or a handwritten card. Again, depending on kind of the product and the price point, and what type of experience they're trying to deliver. But certainly, a lot of brands to send that thank you card with, again, typically an incentive to come back, because these are customers that are really warm. They've just recently engaged with their brand. They're probably the most engaged that they're going to be right after they make a purchase with your brand. It's crucial to get that second purchase as quickly as possible because, we talked about it earlier, that's where the profits are coming from. That initial acquisition cost is so high now that you've got to be able to figure out how to get that second purchase. And that's what's going to allow you to be competitive when you go out and look to acquire more customers.

Brett:

Awesome. And that makes sense. And then what about before? And I've been out of the direct mail game a long time so this may not be available. But is there a way, if you get someone's name and email, there's not a way to look up their address pre-purchase, is there? Like, if they sign up for that initial list, there's not really a way to send them a postcard. Is there?

Michael:

There will be.

Drew:

He's teeing you up, Epstein.

Michael:

Yep.

Drew:

He threw that ball up above the rim.

Brett:

And we didn't even practice this.

Drew:

Epstein's going to jump up there and he is going to dunk it right now.

Brett:

Dude. Yeah.

Michael:

Yeah, stay tuned.

Drew:

There's no possible way to do that. Is there, Michael?

Michael:

Not until now, Drew.

Brett:

We didn't rehearse that. We didn't practice that. I didn't ask about that offline. But that was what I was thinking, because that's another piece, again, thinking about I'm a top of funnel guy, right. But I know that new customers, that's only one way to grow a business. You also got average order value increasing, and increasing the number of repeat purchases. Those are the ways to grow business as well. But if you can drive traffic through top of funnel, YouTube, Facebook, whatever the case may be, get an email opt in. Now you increase your odds of closing them. But if you could throw a postcard at those people, that's pretty exciting. So it sounds like that's coming soon. TBD, to be determined type of thing.

Michael:

Yeah. Glad to hear you're as enthusiastic as we are about it, because we think it could be a really killer capability for-

Brett:

Yeah. Because I think that's, as you talk about going upper funnel with postcards. That's the first step in upper funnel. Because that could be a pretty big audience. And so, you tackle that and then you can start going beyond that.

Michael:

Exactly. These are people that have at least raised their hand. And so they're a lot more engaged and likely to buy. And that's where you start, again, versus going totally cold and just blasting people in a particular area or particular demographic group.

Brett:

Very cool. Anything else you guys are really excited about as it pertains to direct mail for e-commerce that we haven't talked about yet?

Drew:

The thing that's on our mind right now is prospecting coming later this year. The other exciting thing to me is just that it's sort of untapped. It's been around for hundreds of years actually. And e-commerce has just been hesitant. It's like a bit of a blue ocean. Most retailers I know haven't tested it. So that's kind of exciting to me. It's like this old channel that is relevant again.

Brett:

Yeah. It's old. It's proven. And that's why I kind teed it up in the beginning as, it's old school for sure, but with enough digital twists to make it really, really interesting. What about you, Epstein? Any interesting things that you're really excited about that we did not talk about yet?

Michael:

Oh, I think we covered a lot. Drew touched on some of the prospecting and other capabilities that we're working on. But in general, I think it's exactly what you said. E-com and direct to consumer is in our DNA. So we built the product that we know makes sense to direct to consumer marketer, gives them the tools and capabilities that they're accustomed to, makes it as easy as sending an email campaign. And I think we just are consistently finding new ways to continue to further that experience within the platform and just make it that much easier, continue to deliver stuff that we know matters to e-com specifically.

Brett:

Awesome. Well, fellas, and if someone's listening and they're like, okay, I'm sold. I'm in. I want to give postcard and direct mail a shot for my D2C brand. How can they learn more about PostPilot? Should they just call Drew on his cell phone, I would assume?

Drew:

Yeah, you can do that. Send me a piece of mail.

Brett:

Should they write to you, just send a letter?

Drew:

Yeah, write to me.

Brett:

No, what's the best way to find out?

Drew:

It is drew@postpilot.com. I'll reply.

Brett:

Great. Okay.

Drew:

I would say, go to the website, PostPilot.com. We've got a great offer if you want to start out where we essentially do anything for you. The customers we've acquired and that use the platform that don't stick. They have really high lifetime value. And what that allows us to do is do almost everything for a new customer. As long as you're doing over a certain amount of revenue, we can build you a campaign, design it for you and send it out on our dime and show you the results. So that's at PostPilot.com/gfo. Godfather offer.

Michael:

Godfather offer.

Drew:

Yeah, I should have said. GFO is the godfather offer.

Brett:

What is that? So godfather offer. I like it. Very cool. So PostPilot.com/gfo. Check it out. There's a cool little video there from you, Drew, which is awesome. And there's an offer you can't refuse here from the godfather himself. So I love that. I love that. Cool. Any other resources or things people should check out? I see you got some nice examples on the site from Boom and Overlander and Bulletproof. So I think it looks like there's some really good opportunities. If you just want ideas. And I know for most people, the way they get ideas for their next email campaign or video campaign is sometimes to see examples. And so you've got lots of examples of successful postcard campaigns on the site as well.

Michael:

Yep. We're going to continue to add more of those. But case studies are great ways to get inspired.

Brett:

Awesome. Well, fellas, this has been fantastic. It was a little bit nostalgic. It was motivational. It was inspirational for me to talk direct mail with you guys and to see this in action. Any closing thoughts, remarks, closing asks for the audience?

Drew:

I got nothing.

Michael:

If you haven't looked at it.

Drew:

Thanks for listening.

Michael:

Yeah. Thanks for the time. And if it's not something that you've explored before, give it a look and let us help figure out what we know is going to work for you.

Brett:

Direct mail, just do it. Just check out the godfather offer as well. So we'll link to everything in the show notes, of course, or just Google it and check out what Drew and Michael have built. Fellas, thank you so much for the time. It's been a lot of fun chatting with you, and informative as well. So I really appreciate it.

Drew:

Thanks, Brett.

Michael:

Thanks, Brett.

Brett:

Awesome. So as always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear feedback from you. What did you think about this show? If you haven't already, we'd love that review on iTunes. It helps other people discover the show. And with that, until next time. Thank you for listening.















Episode 191
:
Josh Chin - Chronos Agency

The Future of Email, SMS, and Push Marketing with Josh Chin of Chronos Agency

Josh Chin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Chronos Agency, an email marketing agency with a team of 100 strong.

Josh Chin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Chronos Agency, an email marketing agency with a team of 100 strong. Josh has been a featured speaker at top industry events including Geek Out, Affiliate World, Ecommerce World, and others.


In this episode we discuss top email and SMS mistakes Ecommerce store owners make, what strategies are working now, and what the future holds for these channels.


Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • The top 3 automations you need to build right now.
  • How relying on templates could be dragging down performance.
  • What to do now that open rate isn’t a thing anymore.
  • Utilizing push notifications and tap cart - what you need to know.
  • Top email strategies - what’s changing and what isn’t.
  • Real World email examples.
  • Plus more! 

Mentioned in This Episode:

Josh Chin

   - LinkedIn

   - Twitter

   - Instagram


Chronos Agency

Ecommerce Profits Podcast

Industry Report “Future-Proof Your eComm Business in 2022 Report"

Tapcart

Nick Shackelford

GeekOut (GeekUp)

Josh Chin’s Podcast with Brett

Ezra Firestone

Gorgias

Really Good Emails

Klaviyo

CD Baby

Google Analytics

Postscript



Transcript:

Brett:

Well, I am absolutely thrilled to welcome to the show, josh Chin. He is the co-founder and CEO of the Chronos Agency, and more about Josh in a minute. I'm excited about this topic because today we're going deep on email marketing, SMS, and a little known thing called TapCart. And we're going to be talking about what's working right now, what you're likely missing and how to really optimize these channels this year and beyond. And if we've learned anything in the last year or two, with iOS updates and attribution issues and rising CPAs on Facebook and Google and other places is that email, email is still a breadwinner for e-commerce. It's absolutely critical. It's not going anywhere, and so we're going to dive in.

Brett:

So let me tell you just a little bit about Josh. You're going to love hearing from him, learning from him. We actually both spoke at the same event, so we hung out in LA a few months ago. Our buddy Nick Shackelford, shout out to Shack, called Geek Out. Spoiler alert, that event is changing to Geek Up in the future, which is cool. But we were both speaking at this event. We get to hang out. We were like, wow, we're having a lot of fun chatting about... you know, we're geeking out about marketing stuff. I was on Josh's podcast. Now, Josh is coming on my podcast, but he runs a team of 100 and... almost 100. And they run email marketing, SMS campaigns, tap commerce, really doing some amazing things in the industry. He has a great reputation, so does the company. He's spoken at places like Geek Out, just talked about that, Affiliate World, Ecom World and others. With that, Josh, welcome to the show and thanks for coming on, man. How you doing?

Josh:

Brett, I'm super excited. Thank you so much for having me and I'm thrilled. You know what? eCommerce Evolution is one of the podcasts that I listen to and have been following from a long time back. I started the agency about four and a half years ago, and it's been a wild ride, incredible journey. And one of the things I love about the industry is that people are so open to sharing their so-called 'trade secrets' and insights that they've gathered. It's very unlike any other industries that I've come across. And that's one of the big reasons why I love talking about the stuff that we're doing, what's working, what doesn't work, and it ultimately benefits the community at large. And it puts me in a better position to succeed as well.

Brett:

Well, first of all, thank you for the shout out on the podcast. Glad you enjoy it. Glad you're a listener and glad you're here today. And I totally agree. One of the things I love about this industry is, in general, there's a lot of really cool people who are willing to share their secrets and ideas and tips and tricks. Whereas, I got my start in TV and radio way back in the day.

Josh:

Wow.

Brett:

And in traditional business, there's a lot of closed-lip, "Hey, this is my secret, my tricks, my tips, and no way I'm letting it out there, because then competitor will grab it or whatnot." And so I like going to things like Geek Out, or Ezra Firestone's events, or other events where people are just pretty open, people share ideas and it's super fun. So that's what we want to do on this podcast as well. So let's dive right in, Josh. Let's talk about email marketing and let's look at, what are some of the biggest mistake you see e-commerce companies making when it comes to email marketing?

Josh:

Ah, okay, I'm I'm going to answer this question in layers. The first-

Brett:

Layers. I like it.

Josh:

... mistake, layer one is not having the right foundations. And that often comes from a point of view of email is such a massive channel. There's so many things to do. I have absolutely no time to get things done. And that often happens when a business is approaching the one mill to crossing the one mill in revenue mark. And people often think about email as, "All right, I'll get to it when I have time." But the truth is you need email to get profitable and to scale successfully and profitably, especially at the beginning. When you think about channels that we traditionally rely on in the digital space with Facebook, Instagram, Google, it's getting increasingly expensive. So it's increasingly more important for us to build a strong relationship with customers that you're bringing through the door from day one. And the only way you can do that is to provide a coherent, consistent and good experience post opt-in and post purchase.

Josh:

So if you had to simplify email down to just its core essence, it's three automations that you need to build before anything else. And it really doesn't take that much time with the templates that are available and tools like Klayvio and the guides are available on our website, at Chronos. You really have no excuse to not do it. So it's a welcome series. That's what welcomes your new subscribers, along with a popup or an opt-in-

Brett:

So this is pre-purchase. So this is you sign up, you see a YouTube ad, Facebook ad, Instagram ad, Google ad, whatever, you land on the page, you don't buy.

Josh:

Exactly.

Brett:

But you opt in because of a popup or something that grabs you. Now, you get a welcome series.

Josh:

Correct.

Brett:

Okay. Got it.

Josh:

A welcome series. We call it a customer acquisition series, because that's the core focus of that flow. Then we have a cart recovery flow. Some people call it the cart abandonment flow. That's critical because that's often a key point in the customer's journey, where they're kind of indecisive or making a decision. They're distracted or they have some questions about your products that are unanswered. And that's why they're not making a decision, but it's critical because that's where interest and intent is at its peak.

Josh:

The last piece is in post-purchase. Post-purchase is incredibly important. It's one of the highest revenue generating activities and flows that you can have in your email system over the long run. Without your post-purchase flow and automation, you will not have a good experience for customers coming into your store. So if you have to break the two things up like between cart abandonment and post-purchase, a lot of people rely on just templates and prebuilt stuff. What I would strongly recommend everyone listening here to do is to customize your emails, to make it your own. Don't rely on templates that you can pull off the Internet. It's not you, it's not your brand. You got to make sure that it's on brand, it speaks to your audience, and only you know how that's done.

Josh:

The reason you want to have these two flows done up right from the get go, is that you're setting yourself up for success in your future campaigns and future communication. You're setting a good first impression for new customers that are just getting to know your brand, who you are, what you sell, what are the products you have. It's super important to have that foundation laid out.

Brett:

Yeah, so really, really good stuff here. So one of the issues is, especially as you're kind of smaller and you're growing, you're like, "Hey, I don't have time to email and fulfilling orders and doing all these things." So it's more of an afterthought. It's there, but it's not optimized. Then, let's kind of look at those layers. I definitely like the idea of don't just grab a template off the Internet and plug that in. You want your brand to shine. You want your personality to shine emails that are fun or emails funny, or emails that just have your personality shining through, are so much more effective than boilerplate templated emails. But let's maybe break that down just a little bit. So I love those three main automations: welcome series or customer acquisition series, cart recovery series, and then post-purchase. What are some of the mistakes at each step. What are some of the mistakes you see? Let's just start with that first one, the welcome series. Where do people get that series wrong? I'm guessing one of the ways they get it wrong is they don't do it at all, but-

Josh:

Yep. That's one way.

Brett:

... what are some of the mistakes they make there?

Josh:

Now, the most typical offer that people often have on their business is a discount code, a 10% discount code, or something that takes some amount off the price, which is fine. But what people often forget is two things. Number one, you don't just stop at one email. Stopping at just one email limits your ability to reach a wide enough audience. Now to give you a sense of the magnitude of the problem, we send approximately... as a globe, globally, about 26 trillion emails are being sent every single day.

Brett:

Wow.

Josh:

That's a lot of emails for very few people have access to the Internet. To stand out, it's incredibly important for you to have frequency of your messages, as well as the personality and personalization of your messages. These two things come hand in hand. So the easiest gap to fill here is the frequency of your messages. If done right, on average, each email is going to generate about a 30% open rate. Your welcome series are typically going to be higher at 60%, 70%, 80%, because they're expecting an offer. But what you often find is that even with 60%, 70%, 80% open rate, your click rates are going to be significantly lower at maybe 16% or 17% on average. You still have a huge chunk of your people who have seen your message, but hasn't converted yet. So have multiple followups.

Josh:

One of the easiest forms of a followup is a text-based email that links up with your customer support team. Because often you'll find that your biggest objections coming from your customers are things that are recurring, things that you can deal with, either through your customer support team, or through an FAQ of some sort. So if it's a common question that you're getting, you can have a simple FAQ type of... series of information in your emails, or you can redirect people into your custom support team, then they can handle that. We use a tool, an amazing tool called GORGIAS. We sync that up on the backend.

Brett:

GORGIAS is great.

Josh:

Amazing tool. They turn your customer support team, essentially to a profit center, which is amazing. And that process eliminates the likelihood of people seeing a message, but not converting as much as possible. So you're opening up the top end of your funnel significantly more.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. And this is one of the reasons why I love email so much. Obviously it's a huge driver of revenue and when and you mentioned earlier, "Hey, email is driving 20% of my revenue," I know some businesses that email is like 40% of the store's revenue, or at least email is a part of 40% of revenue. It's super significant. That's huge. But also, I'm a huge YouTube fan. As an agency, we do a lot of top of funnel YouTube. And so that's often the first touch. But whether you're doing Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, if you can drive more signups and then you have a really polished, welcome flow, and then you have a great abandoned cart flow and you start to convert more, then guess what? You can spend more at the top of the funnel to really grow the business and accelerate that growth.

Brett:

So when it comes to the welcome series, how many touches are you typically looking for? Because you mentioned frequency being something to consider. How many emails are you looking for there? And any other tips. Is that going to be a combination of... Sounds like a combination of email and text. What does that look like from frequency standpoint?

Josh:

So when I talk about text, I'm looking at two forms of so-called text. You have text-based emails and SMSs, and we'll touch on SMS in a little bit, that's super exciting. But when we think about frequency, the number of emails that we have in a welcome series, it really depends on how long the conversion cycle looks like for a customer. For instance, if you're selling a mattress, an amazing mattress client that we worked with, they sell relatively inexpensive mattresses. But even then, the amount of time that people take to make a purchase from initial impression to conversion, is on average, a couple of weeks long. It's not immediate. It's not like a low ticket item, where people make an impulse purchase.

Josh:

For that reason, that's kind of an extreme. Or furniture, that's another really great example where people take a relatively longer time to consider. On the flip side, you have products that are really cheap, things that are a lot more impulsive by nature and your products are probably going to fall between that spectrum, somewhere in the middle. So understanding that cycle, how long when people take to consider a purchase is important for you to create emails that answer and address key problems and key issues that people have in making that purchase, whether that be comparing your product against someone else's products, your brand against your competitor's brand, the opening experience, the unboxing experience of your product, what that looks like, the post-sale support, if that applies, what does that look like?

Josh:

All these questions can be answered pre-purchase within that welcome series, and that's what you want to think about. So it can be as short as three emails to as long as 10, 30 emails, until someone converts. A good rule of thumb to kind of visualize this is as you add more emails, your engagement is going to fall significantly over time. Between open rates and click rates, it's going to fall over time. And once you see a steep decline in attention, that's when you know you've probably hit your... close to the maximum of number of emails that you should be having in your welcome series.

Brett:

Nice. Okay. And then, any tips on what you prioritize there? You talked about showing unboxing, or showing what the post purchase is like, or showing how you use it. Any tips or I ideas to kind of guide the building of that?

Josh:

That's a really good question, and it's a difficult one to answer because it comes from a lot of testing and a lot of data. That information can only be applied to your brand specifically. The starting point for that conversation, I would strongly recommend looking at reallygoodemails.com as a source of inspiration.

Brett:

Reallygoodemails.com?

Josh:

Reallygoodemails.com.

Brett:

Just a collection of great emails?

Josh:

Collection of amazing emails run by great buddy of mine, Matt. And they curate the best emails that they've seen in the marketplace based on categories, industries.

Brett:

Nice. I had no idea this existed. This is great.

Josh:

Exactly. Amazing, right? Amazing stuff. And you can look at what some of the biggest, most successful brands are doing. Because you have probably already invested quite a bit of time, resources, and data into split testing what works for your welcome email, and start from the categories that fit your industry the best and take inspiration from the structure of those emails, and create an email that fits your brand's personality. That's one way of looking at it. The framework and the structure, I would look at competing brands. The copy is where it's really unique to your brand, and you got to align that to what's happening on your website, your ad copy, and all that stuff. You don't want any dissonance between different channels and how you speak to consumers.

Josh:

The last piece of the graphics... Now, I would strongly recommend that if you're just starting out, just keep it simple, as simple as possible. Tools like Klayvio make it super easy for you to create an email with just drag and drop, no code, no HTML. So keep it simple. Make sure that you're keeping the structure easy to edit in the future, because you want to be creating multiple variations of that email, ultimately along the way. So that's... Yeah. What else? That's basically it.

Brett:

Yeah. No, it's super helpful. Let's go on to the cart recovery process. So for that cart recovery flow, what are some tips... what are some strategies to keep in mind there?

Josh:

All right, cart recovery, here's what people often get wrong. Cart recovery is, as most brands would understand, it's one of the highest revenue generating, highest ROI, email series that you can have in any email system. And that's true for most brands. So why aren't we optimizing this series even further? We end up seeing... when we do a lot of audits, we audit... I think hundreds of brands every single year, and one of the most common mistakes that we find is that the cart abandonment series has been in place since the beginning of the email program's inception. Nothing has been changed, no split tests, no optimization, which severely limits the growth potential of the brand, because that's where most of the conversions can potentially happen.

Josh:

Some of the benchmarks that you want to be looking at, cart recovery flow should be converting about 20% of all of your email subscribers coming through that flow. So if you're having 1000 cart abandonment emails sent out, you should be converting up to 200 of those people into customers. That's a lot. 20%. If you're using a typical plug-in cart recovery app plugin, you're probably going to be converting at maybe 7%, 8% to 10%. But if you customize your experience, make it unique to your brand and you can draw inspiration from other brands and what they're doing. You'll find that your conversion rate goes significantly higher up.

Josh:

A tactic that I can share here is to split test email number one with just a pure text email. We've been doing this for a long time. We have a really nicely designed HTML based email, versus a text-based, just pure text, no images, just one link back to the cart. And we kind of compare the results based on these very, very different looking emails with the same subject line, everything else remains same.

Josh:

We often find that the text-based email performs a little bit better, and this may change in the future. I attribute that success to the way that the algorithm is set up with Gmail specifically, where Gmail is by far the market leader in email. Gmail looks at text-based emails and they tend to categorize those as conversations, and conversations are not marketing emails. So because of that, it's typically prioritized in the key inboxes that matter the most, the primary tab, the updates, the things that people actually check out for. So you see your open rates go up, engagement go up and click rates go up significantly more. Obviously, this is not something I can do for every single email that you send. It's something to be used sparingly and in a way that makes sense for your customers.

Brett:

Yeah. Very cool. And then what about that final post-purchase flow? What are some tips or strategies you'd recommend there?

Josh:

All right, a couple of things. On a high level, post-purchase is where you're building the relationships that matter most to your brand. This is where your customers have... these are your customers, people who have converted, they have trusted you, they gave you their credit card information. They've made that leap. Now you got to ride that wave, continue on that excitement. Post-purchase is typically the moment where people have the highest sense of excitement, attention and anticipation. So think of different ways to build on that emotion, whether it be showing your personality a little bit more. A really good at example is CD Baby's post-purchase email. If you're not familiar with what that is, definitely go Google that.

Brett:

You said CD Baby?

Josh:

Yep. CD Baby, run by... started by this man called Derek Sivers, and he wrote a book about it and it's incredible. He turned a typical transactional post-purchase confirmation, order confirmation email, into something that's unique to their brand. Fascinating. It created a lot of loyal customers for them, and it's something that really changes the way that consumers relate to you as a brand of their choice. So personality, think about how you're building anticipation and excitement.

Josh:

On a tactical level, what you can test out is what I recently tweeted, actually, on my Twitter page. Include an upsell within your email. In fact, the first email that goes out, would you like to add A, B, C product? Something that makes sense to their order, into your cart at no shipping cost at all. We'll just tag it on to your existing order. What that does is this essentially creates a second purchase opportunity, where they have to confirm that purchase, click on your link, complete that auto form and all that stuff, which reduces the friction to a third purchase. A second purchase typically happens at maybe 20%, 30% of the time, if you're doing really well. But the third purchase happens at 60% to 70% of the time, so 60% to 70% of your people-

Brett:

Yeah, if someone makes that second purchase, once someone's bought twice, they're very likely to buy a third time.

Josh:

A lot more. Way more. So you're reducing the barrier to the third purchase, so that's what I would test. I would strongly recommend that. It's one of the tests that we're running right now. So, yeah.

Brett:

Very cool. Very cool. We'll talk about a couple of the things that I know are really, really important and pressing issues, given the current state of attribution and privacy and tracking and all that, but post iOS 15, what should we be measuring? Because now we can't see open rates on iOS devices, what should we be measuring? And what workarounds do you have so that you have enough data to optimize what you're doing with email marketing?

Josh:

Look, it's terrible. Brett, it's terrible. Open rates are not a thing anymore. We have to look at metrics that make sense in this current landscape. So that's click rates, that's other forms of engagement. We're using the UTM parameters a lot more. We're looking at how people are acting on the website and extracting that behavior and information onto email. So in a nutshell-

Brett:

Quick question, Josh. Why are you guys using UTM parameters more?

Josh:

That's just... It just comes down to click rates. We won't be able to measure the impact of opens anymore. So as a proxy, we got to look at the secondary metric that happens right after, which is the clicks. And we need to understand where the clicks are coming from, what campaigns are driving those clicks and all that stuff. And we wanted a unified place to visualize all that information and that's Google Analytics. We're still learning and growing in that aspect, but it's been wonderful. And it's so important to have... when we talk about attribution, one of the problems with attribution is that every channel has its own methodology and way of attributing success and conversions. So the only way we can agree and have agreement across all channels is to rely on the single source of truth, and in our case, the easiest, lowest hanging fruit is, well, UTM parameters and using Google.

Josh:

So with iOS 15, one of the biggest shifts that we have seen is that something we've been advocating for a long time. With Klayvio and SMS and all these fun tools, it's all about building a strong relationship with your customers, but what that kind of translates to is information. That's first party information and zero party information. So when we talk about zero party and first party data, zero party data, that's information that your customers are giving you through surveys, or inputting information manually to you and giving you information directly. First party data are things like site behavior, what they have clicked, what they have purchased, what they have seen, how long they've lingered on a certain page, and all that stuff paints a picture of who this consumer is, what they prefer, what they like, what they dislike and what they're going to do next. That gives you the information that you wouldn't otherwise have to create journeys and automations that are uniquely personalized to each consumer.

Josh:

That's where the power of email and SMS is shifting towards and where the most money's going to be made, versus just here's a template, here's the framework for email, slap it on, click send and the end. That's... biggest mistake number two that I see. So we talked a little bit about this before hitting record. We have seen a lot of brands, and I personally come across a lot of brands that have gone from like 30%, 40%, 20% of revenue generated with emails doing really well to 8%, 5% over the course of three months, and it's like a gradual decline. So it's not a sudden reduction in revenue, but a gradual one.

Josh:

So you'd be able to see the warning signs along the way, reduced click rates, reduced conversions, reduced click throughs, people not engaging with your emails anymore, the number of replies, if you're tracking that, that's all going to paint a picture of how well you're doing in your email program. And those are warning signs to keep a lookout for, as you continue monitoring and building your email program. People often set it up one time and forget about it and not optimize the system, and that's where it leads to its gradual decline.

Brett:

Yeah, it makes sense. And so, really now that open rates are kind of not a thing anymore, we're primarily then looking at click through rate, conversion rate, reply rate, those things. There's really no proxies or no workaround to tell what emails are getting open more than others. I guess we can still tell this subject line versus that subject line. If the click through rate is better, we can guess the open rate was probably better too. Any other tips there, or proxies, or workarounds?

Josh:

Start looking at alternative channels, I would say. I mean, even before I was 15, the average open rate that you're going to be seeing on any individual campaign on your email is going to be 20%, 30%, if you're doing really well, if you're segmenting your list really well. That still leaves 70%, 80% of your audience untapped. You got to be looking at alternative channels that can address that 70%, 80% of people that you're not touching with emails and that's SMS, that's mobile apps with TapCart, which we have been diving really deep into.

Josh:

TapCart's an amazing partner. They build mobile apps for Shopify stores that ultimately acts as a dedicated app, that is a standalone sales channel for the business, which is fascinating because then you live on your consumer's mobile phones, you get to send out push notifications for free any time of the day. Obviously, don't overdo it. With SMS, you have a really intimate channel. And we talked a little bit about this as well. With the level one of SMS being a communication channel, the second level being a marketing channel, that relies on the same pool of data and information that email has, and the final level tree evolution of SMS is a conversational tool.

Josh:

And it's moving into a much more intimate space of conversation and relationship building with a brand. It's something that we are really looking into and how that might pan out is going to be really interesting, because we'll be coming into two really key bottlenecks. Number one, to create authentic conversations one on one. It's really expensive because it takes a lot of people and it's really unscalable. Number two, the alternative to have a pure AI play is incredible inefficient and ineffective, because it doesn't understand context. At least-

Brett:

It doesn't lead to good outcomes. That's where the user becomes frustrated. They can tell they're communicating with a bot.

Josh:

Exactly.

Brett:

And they get frustrated. They leave. It leaves a bad taste in their mouth towards your brand.

Josh:

And it just takes one detractor to make the whole thing not worthwhile. And so the current solution and the current optimized solution sits between the two extremes of using AI enablement and support with a human support behind the scenes. So knowing where to include human interactions in that conversation is incredibly important. But having the FAQs, the frequently asked questions, the things that you know can be answered very quickly, like, where's my order? Can I get an update? Stuff like that can be answered by AI, but anything that's more complicated than the frequently asked questions, that's where you got to include a human in it. And ultimately, be authentic, be real. If you're using a bot, say that you're using a bot. People need to know that that's what they're dealing with. Often businesses-

Brett:

"Hi, I'm the CBD Baby bot."

Josh:

Exactly.

Brett:

"And I can help you with these things." And so you're like, all right, now I know I'm communicating with a bot. Now, my expectations are in the right place. And so then they go for it and yeah. Makes sense. Okay, so then how do you... let's just talk SMS and email first, the blending of those two, then we'll touch briefly on TapCart in a minute, and then close out here in a few. So how are you blending the email and SMS? I love the fact that you point out, even though we can lament, we don't have open rates. We knew even in the good old days when we did that, hey, it's only 30%. If you're doing really well with email marketing, only 30% are opening. So 70% of the people on that list, not even opening. So we can connect with them, ideally through SMS. How do those two, how do those blend? So you've got... maybe we go back to some of these flows. Where does SMS fit in alongside email?

Josh:

The number one thing, the number one opportunity here is to use SMS as a reminder tool to your email offers. With a tool at Klayvio, and Klayvio does email and SMS all in one platform, which makes it super were easy. We use Postscript as well, as well Klayvio. When you're thinking about using email SMS, they have to speak to one another. So if this, then that, kind of built out of automations, play a huge part in the success of email and SMS. So using Klayvio, as an example, if someone has clicked on your offer in your welcome email number one, what do you do next? Do you send a followup email, or do you send an SMS followup with that same offer? The easiest way to answer that question is through a split test. You can create two... basically two splits and two flows that happen as... basically, two scenarios. You can then compare the click rates between the two of them and conversion rates that occur based in those two scenarios and make the best decision they can.

Josh:

So that's one way of looking at SMS. Another way of building SMS as a channel that drives revenue is using SMS as an exclusive platform. So what I mean by that is using SMS for offers that are uniquely SMS. So things like pre-sale launch. You're dropping a new product, and it's only available on SMS. So people have to sign up to your SMS list to get notified ASAP. The reason for that is with SMS, you're seeing an open rate of what, 80%, 90% and more. It's really incredibly annoying to have that red little notification on your SMS app unopened.

Brett:

You got to get rid of it.

Josh:

You got to get rid of it. So people are going to look at your messages and super easy to read. It's much shorter. It's much more concise and you're delivering messages at a higher frequency. So for all those reasons, SMS is an incredibly powerful platform to use for launches, like sales launches, product launches. Using SMS as a lead in for that, and then email as a tag along for more information. For example, if I'm launching a new series of backpacks, I know that these segment of consumers are travelers. They're work travelers. They're digital nomads. I'm going to send them a text message that speaks to them, tell them about this new product that's designed specifically for them. And if they don't convert, send an email that outlines the features of the backpack, what to expect, photos, images, gifs, and all that fun stuff within that email, and then follow that up with another SMS with the offer. So building that out as an experience is way more powerful than just relying on email, email, email alone, where you're only tackling like 20%, 30% of people all the time.

Brett:

Got it. Yeah. Makes sense. So testing layering in SMS with email, love it. I know when I get a marketing text message, I read 100% of them. Doesn't mean I like them. Doesn't mean that I want to get them all the time. Doesn't mean that I don't opt out, because sometimes I do, but I open them for sure. So speak about that a little bit. How do we keep people engaged and enjoying our SMS messages, versus being annoyed and potentially opting out of SMS for us?

Josh:

I love that. That's such a good question. When we build SMS as a program, we often think about what is the identity and the brand's personality. We typically have a persona for the brand and we often give that persona a name. Say Kate, Kate from CD Baby. How does Kate from CD Baby text her friends? That's the question that we ask and we extrapolate that into our marketing messages, using the tone of voice. And one of the biggest things is that people often get caught up with grammar and punctuations and all that, all the minute details in text. But you realize that text, in text, when you're texting a friend that often goes out the window.

Brett:

Totally.

Josh:

You're trying to sound human, not like a textbook. That's the biggest thing that people often not realize with text, especially in the marketing space. You want to be able to relate to consumers, not bombard them with messages and information. So when you think about that from a conversational perspective, it becomes super easy, because we all text. We all text our friends and you know exactly what it feels like to receive a good text in a marketing message.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Speak the way your customer wants to hear, speak like they're talking to a friend. And then I'm guessing there's also some frequency considerations there too, right? We're going to want to text less frequently than we email?

Josh:

Yes. 100%. It's a matter of testing, but in general, we look at maybe one to two texts, SMSs per week. In some cases we text a lot more, especially during product launches or sales launches, especially when the consumer has explicitly opted in for more messages. So that's how we think about it. But it really depends on how-

Brett:

So one to two texts per week? How many emails per week are you typically sending?

Josh:

We're looking at-

Brett:

And I'm sure it varies.

Josh:

Yeah. It really varies. And it really depends on how much content you have to offer. It's not about, hey, we got a discount on this product, 20% off, 10% off all the time. It's really boring and you'll see engagement go down really quickly. But we're looking at anywhere between two emails per week on a low end, sometimes one, if the list is really small, to as high as five emails a week, or even daily emails, if it really applies to the brand. It depends on what the context is. If you have just one product that you're selling, that's killing it, or two products. There's only so much content that you can send about the product, so you got to start looking at other forms of information and content. What problems are your consumers trying to solve and how can you provide value around that problem, is how we think about creating content.

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense. Super cool. Okay, so we just have a few minutes left, but I definitely want to hear about TapCart. So push notifications and mobile apps for Shopify stores. So explain to those that are not familiar with what TapCart is, what is it, and then why are you so stoked about it?

Josh:

Absolutely. TapCart.com is a site, it's currently for Shopify only. They've been talking about mobile e-commerce, mobile commerce for a long time now. And what exactly does that mean? When we think about an experience that's purely on mobile, we often think about the mobile version of a website, and that's often limiting because it's still a browser. It's not native to a mobile phone. It's not as fast. It still relies on the load speed of a website, the connectivity of the site and all that stuff. But when you have a mobile app that's built for your brand, you own the entire interaction and the experience that people have on your website. And that allows you to create opportunities of communication that you 100% own.

Josh:

Push notifications are channels that are 100% in your hands, that you own that is not relying upon Google, corporations or platforms. There are no platform risks except for maybe TapCart, but still you own the app. So that's what I'm interested in. One of the key problems that we are facing right now with TapCart is that downloading an application is a high commitment activity.

Brett:

It is.

Josh:

It's often really difficult to get people to download an app. So what they're building up next-

Brett:

Because I've heard we all use like seven or so apps on a very frequent basis.

Josh:

Exactly. '.

Brett:

And beyond that, it's hard to get any real frequent adoption of your app.

Josh:

So adoption and app downloads, app installs is incredibly difficult, especially if I was 14, app install, ads are going to be even more difficult now. So the shift that we're seeing right now is creating an experience first for a consumer through email, SMS, and then lead in with TapCart for an elevated experience for the next level of your top 10% of your customers. That's how I think about it right now, but what's coming up next with TapCart is app clips, which allows for the app experience to be delivered via a QR code and iMessage, a text, or anything, without having to download the application itself.

Josh:

So you get to go to the site, experience the app, go through the checkout process, even make a purchase without even downloading the app. And then if you choose to, you like what you have experienced, with a tap of a button, you get to download the app for free. So that's bridging the gap. Then you got to think about all right, now that we have a really good tactic tool to make that happen, what's the reason for people to come on to the app in the first place? I get to go on the site. I get to use my mobile phone. The mobile sites working. Takes little bit longer-

Brett:

Yeah, Shopify does fine on mobile. Check out on Shopify, it's fine on mobile. So why... yeah.

Josh:

Yeah, it's totally okay. Yeah, what's the point, right? Then you got to create opportunities through your brand to have people come to your app. Some of the really interesting ways and strategies that we've seen, private launches through your mobile app only. A lot of businesses are reliant on drops, especially in the fashion space. New drops, new releases. What if you released a collection of products that's only available on your app for the first 24 to 72 hours? And people-

Brett:

It's the true VIP experience.

Josh:

Exactly.

Brett:

That's where the most loyal customer hangs.

Josh:

Correct.

Brett:

Or may likely use your app.

Josh:

The top 10%, 20% of your customers. And you're then opening it up, that option up to everybody who's interested. And you're expanding that VIP segment a little bit further and creating an experience that's really, really mobile first and super intuitive to your consumers.

Brett:

Really cool. Well... So just really quickly, because we're about out of time here, but once you have TapCart, once you have that mobile app, now you can send messages to those app users whenever through push notifications. That opens up a whole new world of notifications. Any additional insights there?

Josh:

Exactly. And it's instant. It's instant delivery, even SMS gets throttled a little bit over... you go sending batches sometimes with email. It takes a bit of time. With push notifications, it's instant. It's super quick. It's multimedia as well. I got a ton of push notifications right now on my phone from Skype, Google and all that stuff. There is no way to miss it. One of the pitfalls that we've seen with push notifications is that it can get annoying very quickly if your messages are repetitive. So think about the experience from a consumer's point of view and whether that really adds value to their lives or not. Is it important that they know that there is a 10% discount off this specific product on your site right now? Probably not. But is it important that they know that the product that they've added to their wishlist has just come back to stock? That's important.

Brett:

They'd be eager to see that. They want that notice. They don't want you spamming them with coupons all the time.

Josh:

Exactly. So that's how we think about TapCart and push notifications.

Brett:

Cool. I love it. I love, it. Well, more we can unpack there I'm sure. Sadly, we're up against time. So Josh, what resources do you have and how can people get in touch with you if they think, "Man, I'd love to talk to Josh and his team about my email marketing and SMS marketing?" Or going with something like TapCart and a mobile app. How can they get in touch with you and what resources do you have?

Josh:

Absolutely. The best way to get in touch with my team is Chronos.agency. That's At C-H-R-O-N-O-S.agency. You can connect with me on social. I'm getting pretty active on Twitter as well. It's @JoshuaChronos.

Brett:

...

Josh:

That's right. It's @Joshua C-H-R-O-N-O-S. And resources, we have a ton of ebooks, case studies and guides available on our resources page. We recently put together an amazing massive industry report. We call it the Futureproof: Your E-Commerce Business in 2022 Report. We've gotten a bunch of partners that we work with very closely from Klayvio, Postscript, TapCart, and all these fun people with a lot of information in there. I will... I guess I'll send you the link to add in your show notes or something along those lines?

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah, send me the link. We'll drop in the show notes. We'll also link your Twitter account, but check out the site, get some free resources. Any final words, any final bits of advice, any final asks for the audience, Josh?

Josh:

Yeah. If you haven't set up email, SMS and TapCart yet, now is definitely a time. If you're hesitant and if you're confused, feel free to schedule time with my team. We'll be happy to run you through what your options are and all the best. Crush it out there in 2022 and beyond.

Brett:

Love it. Josh, thanks so much, man.

Josh:

Brett, thank you.

Brett:

You brought the fire and super, super good. Amazing. So thank you, Josh. And thank you for tuning in, as always couldn't do this without you. It would be pointless to do the show without you, our loyal and faithful listeners. And so we'd love to hear from you. If you have not done it yet, leave that review on iTunes. That helps other people discover the show, makes my day as well. And also, we'd love to hear what topics would you like us to cover this year? Any feedback on things you'd like to hear or things you're sick of hearing. And so with that until next time, thank you for listening.








Episode 190
:
Josh Durham

Lessons from the Trenches - $10 Million in Sustained Growth

Josh Durham has achieved some amazing success online. He’s also a survivor of an eCommerce crash and burn story that’s truly spectacular.

Josh Durham has achieved some amazing success online. He’s also a survivor of an eCommerce crash and burn story that’s truly spectacular. He built an amazing brand from $0 to $10 million in just 3 short years and then lost it all in a matter of months. 

After the dusting off the debris Josh joined my buddy Peter Goodwin as the head of growth for Groove Life and helped add $10million in top line sales (with good margin) in about a year and a half.

In this episode we dive into valuable lessons from rapid growth and rapid failure. Here’s a look at what we cover.

  • Law of Quarters - and how it should help you think about margins, product pricing, and operations.
  • How failing to introduce successful 2nd, 3rd, and 4th products can spell death to a brand.
  • How to structure a successful Ambassador program that will become a new content engine for you.
  • Tips for building a real community around your brand.
  • Knowing your numbers and your MER (Media Efficiency Ratio).
  • How to generate an unending supply of amazing User Generated Content. 
  • Plus more!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Josh Durham

   - LinkedIn

   - Twitter


Aligned Growth Management

Aligned Growth Management Newsletter

Weighting Comforts

Groove Life

Peter Goodwin

“The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss

“Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki

QALO

Enso

Athletic Greens

Mossy Oak

Realtree Camo

Enquire Post Purchase Survey Shopify App

Triple Whale Shopify App

Northbeam

Pura Vida Bracelets

MVMT Watches

Gymshark

Transcript:

Brett:

Well, I'm absolutely thrilled to be talking to Josh Durham today. And this is going to be a how I did it, how I'm doing it story. Merchant success story. Also agency success story. And this was really, really fascinating because Josh has just a very unique experience in a pretty short period of time. But he was the founder and CEO of Weighted Comforts, a weighted blanket company that he's really started from zero and built to $6 million a year in revenue and then it imploded. So we're going to hear that story. Lots of lessons from the good and the bad of that. He was then also the head of growth at Groove Life. Working with our mutual buddy, Peter Goodwin at Groove Life. Shout out to Peter. And so Josh helped Groove Life add 10 million to the top line in growth as he was the head of growth, which was an awesome experience. So we're going to unpack that a little bit. And then now he's running an agency called Aligned Growth Management. And we're going to unpack that just a little bit as well. So lots of good stuff to talk about. Can't wait. With that intro, Josh, welcome to the show and thanks for taking the time, man.

Josh:

Absolutely Brett. Thanks for having me.

Brett:

Yeah. So where are you hailing from? Where do you call home?

Josh:

I am from Nashville, Tennessee.

Brett:

One of my favorite cities, man. And it's a city that's just absolutely exploding. A lot of tech and eCommerce energy It seems in Nashville. So that's a pretty hot place to be right now.

Josh:

Absolutely. Always a fun new restaurant to be visiting. I also feel like I'm living in a war zone because there's just construction constantly around me. Like the house across the street from my house actually just got torn down and they're going to build three houses its place, but it's definitely a fun place to be for sure.

Brett:

It's crazy. Maybe not at the level of Austin. I just got back from a trip to Austin recently and all kinds of construction and mayhem going on there, but Nashville's really growing at a fast clip too, which is super interesting.

Brett:

Yeah man. So let's dive right in. So Weighted Comforts. Weighted blanket company. You grew it from nothing to six million, to implosion. Tell us a little bit about the ... What was the genesis of that? Why weighted blankets? Which by the way, there's probably not a worse thing to ship other than maybe gallons and gallons of water or something. But how did you get into the weighted blanket business?

Josh:

Yeah. Great question. I was going to say on the shipping side, one of my biggest accomplishments was we got it down to $12 per unit, even though the average blanket was 20 pounds. So that was quite the accomplishment.

Brett:

I guess they're not super bulky, but they are extremely heavy.

Josh:

So heavy. I know. That was probably one of the worst parts too is when you're getting started and you're shipping product yourself, you're going to throw out a disc in your back with all these blankets.

Brett:

Yeah. My wife uses the weighted blanket. I personally don't like them. But as I just try to move it, I always forget how heavy it is. I try to move it, I'm like, "Holy cow. What is this thing?" It's just always shocking how heavy it is.

Josh:

Yeah. You're like, "Someone's on top of me," when you're sleeping in the middle of the night. But yeah. So how I got into it was actually my mom. She was a marriage and family therapist and she was actually using these blankets for her most anxious clients. And so as soon as they would use this heavy blanket during a therapy session they would calm down immediately. And so she was like, "Oh, there must be something to this." And she was telling me about it. And of course I feel like if you're an entrepreneur, you've probably either read one of two books. You either read The Four Hour Work Week or you read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. And for me it was The Four Hour Work Week.

Josh:

And so I'd been looking for a product with high margins, high revenue per product, that kind of thing, and just thought that it was an amazing product. And so we started selling it on Facebook Marketplace. Touting the benefits of reducing anxiety, improving sleep. And one of the first posts that we put on this Facebook group we sold over $1,000 off of just one organic post. And so I just knew something was there. And so for that first year we just made everything custom and actually met customers at Jo-Ann's Fabric. Had them pick out their own fabric, their own custom weight, all those kind of things.

Brett:

Wait a minute. So you were generating leads. You would then schedule an appointment, go meet me at Jo-Ann's Fabric, and then you were making them custom for each person.

Josh:

Yep. Exactly. That's exactly how it started.

Brett:

Wow.

Josh:

Yeah.

Brett:

And then you realized that's probably pretty miserable or scalable at least.

Josh:

Yeah. Totally. So then I started to dink around with Shopify. Built out a Shopify store and just started trying to figure it out. And so something that we realized early on in that market was most of the brands were catering to children with autism or some kind of disorder. A sensory processing disorder, for example. And so we really saw that there was room in the market for adults with just general sleep ... Like a general sleep disorder or just general anxiety. And so we catered the brand. And so we started making the weight of each blanket a standard weight and a standard size instead of having it all custom. And that really enabled us to go into eCommerce and to scale quickly. And so for a while we were doing about $10,000 a month online once we started rolling. But it wasn't until I really figured out how to run Facebook ads, which I hired a coach in 2016, where we went immediately from 10K a month to about $50,000 a month.

Brett:

Facebook ads, that was the channel, that was the vehicle that really allowed you guys to hit scale.

Josh:

Yeah.

Brett:

Well, that combined with you've got standardized sizes and stuff where you're not making stuff at Joy-Ann's fabric. Yeah.

Josh:

Totally. Yeah. So that was actually ... Yeah. Facebook. That was really when Facebook video ads were just absolutely crushing. Like more of a long form type video. And so we were just getting super cheap cost per views, cost per clicks. But really a big part of that business too was employing the refugee community in Nashville. And so we actually discovered that through a program called Sew For Hope, which basically would teach refugee women how to sew to have a source of income for their family. But when they would graduate that program, they didn't have anywhere to go to. And so we started hiring all of their graduates out of that program and basically were able to-

Brett:

Large refugee population in Nashville?

Josh:

Yeah. Actually an extremely large population here. And so part of the benefit that we had with them was giving them a consistent source of income but also eventually when we got into our own physical space, we started doing paid English classes on site so that it would help them integrate culturally.

Brett:

That's amazing. I think that is a ... One, it's a noble to do. It's also a good business practice. I'm sure some of the ladies you hired were amazing workers and it worked out well. I know that led to some issues too. We'll talk about management of cogs and some of those things here as we go. But let's first talk about what were some of the things you guys just absolutely got right, right out of the gate? And then we'll talk about some of the failures in a minute.

Josh:

Yeah. For sure. The things that we got right I think were, like I said, honestly, standardizing the weight of each blanket. So standardizing the product. But also the demographic that we were going after. The brand was really for moms. Moms were the buyers. Whether they were buying for themselves or for other members of their family, that was our target market. And so we were really in the vein of Magnolia Farms, Joanna Gaines type looking brand with really natural light and photos and stuff like that that really had more of an aesthetic than if you were buying a blanket from another brand that might have minions on the fabric.

Josh:

It wasn't gimmicky like that. It was more for adults. More florals and pastels on the fabrics. And so I think that's the thing that we got right as well as just the channel. And so just going deeper and deeper into Facebook where eventually we were spending close to a quarter million a month on advertising fairly profitably. And so I think those were some of the big ones. But I think that ... Well, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think some of the things that we didn't get right was really evolving the product into what the brand should have become. It's like a product 2.0.

Brett:

Got it. Got it. But you did understand your target market pretty well. You nailed that product. And then you're really good at marketing, right? You dove deep into Facebook, you got great results there. So yeah. So let's talk about then what did you not do well? So product 2.0, talk about that. So you built this amazing hero product and you weren't able to extend the line or do kind of that next gen product.

Josh:

Yeah. One of the difficult parts about the weighted blanket was for one, most people only needed one blanket.

Brett:

Yeah.

Josh:

Right. So they're kind of one and done. So the repeat purchase rate was so low. I think it was almost at only nine or 10% repeat customer rate.

Brett:

So you're not thinking about LTV at that point. Return on ad spend for getting that first sale.

Josh:

Yeah. There's no LTV. It's just they spend $200 then they're gone.

Brett:

Just AOV. AOV is all that matters. That is-

Josh:

Yeah. Exactly right. And so the product that really helped drive sales primarily was our ... We had a weighted blanket that was made with Coolmax fabric. And so the benefit of that was that it was a heavy blanket but it wasn't hot because the fabric would wick away sweat and the fabric would breathe. But after that there was no secondary product. There was no pillows. We didn't really get into any kind of essential oil diffusers or sheets, that kind of thing. It was kind of a difficult business to be in. Are we a health and wellness company or are we more of a home goods company? Because really the main benefit that we were driving with the blanket was reducing your anxiety, improving your level of sleep. And so I think that's where we got caught is where we were really scaling one single product but we didn't add on to those lines to where it would make it easier to have a stronger structure of revenue coming in from other products.

Brett:

So you kind of struggled with, are we more of a bedding company? Do we need to have pillows and other betting related things or are we really an anxiety reduction, a stress reduction company? So why do you think you got hung up there? Was it just running in too many different directions or why were you not able to nail that identity?

Josh:

Yeah. Honestly, I think one of the things that I got caught up in for sure was just wanting to continue to scale without having to evolve the product. I was just a money hungry marketer that wanted to ... I'm all about keeping things super simple and just trying to go deeper in a few things and just continue to scale that core product because it was working. And we were-

Brett:

And you cracked the code on Facebook. Facebook ads were really working and that was the golden era of Facebook. And I think that is one thing that I'm curious if you agree. That is one thing that I think some startups don't really understand is that even if you nail that first product, customer acquisition costs are always going to go up. It's the nature of platforms. It's the nature of business. It's just your CAC costs, customer acquisition costs, are going to go up. So what are you doing to increase LTV, increase your average order value? How are you addressing those things? And it sounds like you maybe waited a little too long. You were loving the action on Facebook and just trying to press that lever rather than thinking about expanding.

Josh:

Yeah, exactly. I was putting my foot on the gas. And that was the golden year of Facebook ads for sure. I think we hit the perfect timing for that product as well.

Brett:

Yeah. Which is awesome. We'll talk about Groove Life in a minute, but they're a really shiny example of product extension. Peter's always wanted to be more of an adventure company. So silicone wedding rings. I forgot to wear mine today. But silicone wedding rings. But then as they pivoted and they've successfully ... Or not pivoted, but they've added to their product line belts. And I've got on my Groove Life belt right now.

Josh:

The Groove Belt.

Brett:

The best belt I've ever worn. It's kind of magnetic the way it clasps on the buckle and it flexes a little bit with you.

Josh:

Very addicting.

Brett:

Yeah. And that's their number two product and it's a huge part of their business, but it fits. It's accessories. It's for people that are active and engage in adventure and then they've added some other things as well. Wallets and some other stuff. It's been cool. So they nailed it. So I think that is something ... Any thoughts or advice you would give to a merchant? Like here's how you would approach product line extension now knowing what you know from successes and failures?

Josh:

Yeah, for sure. I think a lot of it is around just revenue growth. So I think that having that core product, getting that up to a half a million a year to a million dollars a year, I think that's a great threshold of that's where I would start thinking about your product 2.0. Of how you can add to that. Because you really need that core funnel or that core product to go sell on its own. And then adding on those secondary products of like, okay, what are these customers also going to purchase?

Josh:

Even the things that I learned at Groove Life was ... For example, the Apple watch bands. A lot of the customers that were buying the Apple watch bands weren't the same customers that were buying the silicone wedding rings. They were actually two very different customers.

Brett:

Interesting.

Josh:

The Apple watch band market from what we could tell was a lot more urban and maybe more concerned with health and fitness than the typical person that was wearing a silicone wedding ring. Because really Groove Life started out of this more blue collar outdoorsman market versus an urban health and wellness market. But once we added in the Groove Belt ... Everyone bought the Groove Belt from our customer list when we launched the Groove Belt. Whereas when we launched Apple watch bands, it really came onto like ... I don't know how you say that. Cold use? Not cold use but-

Brett:

New users, new shoppers, new ... Yeah. Yeah.

Josh:

Yeah. It didn't take off inside our email list, but it would do decently well on cold traffic. And so I think that's just something that you have to keep in mind too is how different products will connect with the type of customer that you're already trying to attract. And so, who's going to buy it after that core product and what kind of person is going to also buy from you versus Amazon? And so I think it's a lot more easier said than done, but it's definitely something that you have to figure out as a brand owner.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. So let's talk about some of the key takeaways from the weighted blanket experience. So you talked with me as we were prepping a couple weeks ago. You were talking about how there's such a need to get granular with your costs and to know your numbers inside and out. What advice would you give to people and what kind of key takeaways do you have from that experience related to understanding the numbers in your business?

Josh:

Yeah, for sure. One of my favorite sayings is top line revenue is vanity, bottom line profit is sanity. And that's-

Brett:

It's fun to brag about those top line numbers when you're at events and masterminds and marketing conferences and stuff like that but does top line really matter?

Josh:

Yeah, exactly. I'm an EBIDTA man. I just think that it really matters about your bottom line profits in terms of how healthy your lifestyle is going to be for sure and if you're going to be able to sleep at night. But yeah, there's this framework that I like to use for most eCommerce brands whenever I'm analyzing a potential client to kind of look at ... Looking at their numbers. And it's what we just call the law of quarters. And so this was actually developed by Taylor Holiday largely and I gave him a lot of credit. I've learned a lot from him. But basically it's just you have four main costs in an eCommerce business. So let's say that your cost of goods sold is at 25%. So that would be one quarter of your cost in an eCommerce brand.

Josh:

And then another 25% of your cost in a total eCommerce brand would be your marketing cost. So that would be ... Say you're running at a four X ROAS. That would be 25% spend to revenue ratio so that would be another 25%. And then the third 25% would basically be your operational expenses. So that's your overhead, rent, maybe you also include shipping in that cost. And basically through that framework you're basically going to be ending up with 25% net profit at the end of the day. And so if any of those numbers are different for your business you can actually allocate a different percentage to each different bucket so that you can still end up with 25% net margin. So maybe you're actually able to cut back on your op ex expense and maybe you're able to allocate more budget to profit or maybe you have to allocate more budget to your marketing expense. Whereas that's probably the case for most brands. But that helps me and in some way be able to go into any eCommerce business and get a basic understanding of how the numbers play out for each brand.

Brett:

Yeah. I really like that. So quick recap, the law of quarters states 25% to cogs or cost of goods, 25% operation, 25% marketing, 25% net profit. Obviously it's going to flex or change a little bit depending on your business. But I think it is a great way to look at it and say, "Oh wow, my cogs are actually 55%. Whoa." That's a rough space to be in eCommerce because now you got no money for market. Either you're going to have to be bare bones on operations or you're going to have very little money for marketing and it's just not going to work. So if it moves a little bit, a few points in one of those categories, then you've got to be able to justify that adjustment to other categories as well.

Brett:

And one thing I'll point out here too is that when you're looking at 25% dedicated or allocated to marketing, it's not necessarily that it's a four X ROAS in platform. You're looking at more of a four X as far as MER. Media efficiency ratio. So total sales and total marketing dollars, you're looking at a four X there. Rather than sometimes your new customer acquisition cost is going to be higher than that. But looking at that total media efficiency ratio, four X in this case. So yeah. So were you not able to get to the law of quarters with your weighted blanket business?

Josh:

Yeah, exactly. So the thing that happened with that business was ... So in December, 2018, basically, we hadn't hit our sales goals like we had hoped. We actually hit ... In November we hit 800K that month. In December we also hit another 800K. But we had forecasted closer to 1.2 for each month. And that year we had actually tried going from two million to 10 million in one year.

Brett:

Five X to grow in a year. It's a lot.

Josh:

That's just a huge jump. Especially operationally. When you're bootstrapped, that makes it extremely, extremely difficult on cash flows. And your team in general. Especially as you're making that jump, you're probably going from a cash basis, accounting to accrual in that. So it just creates a lot of different confusion when you're making that jump. But anyways, we really over invested into inventory and then very quickly in 2019, we really started to see ROAS drop as more competitors came into the space. We went from tracking four competitors to over 30. And Target came out with their own weighted blanket and their cost was closer to $70 when ours was closer to 200. And so very quickly the numbers no longer made sense. Our op ex was probably 30% of revenue. All of a sudden our ROAS on Facebook was at ... It was at probably at like a three X blended. And so just the margin was starting to shrink very quickly. And so it just made things extremely, extremely difficult.

Brett:

Yeah. Totally makes sense. And so lots more we can unpack there, but in an interest of time, I want to transition to Groove Life. And we may circle back to weighted blankets as we go here a little bit. But let's talk about Groove Life. So you were the head of growth. You guys grew by $10 million in top line while you were there. I know the bottom line was healthy too. Talk about some of the key things you did to help Groove grow as the head of growth.

Josh:

Yeah, for sure. Obviously it wasn't all on me. Peter's a great marketer-

Brett:

Super smart.

Josh:

Himself to Groove Life. And Bryant was there.

Brett:

Yeah. Bryant Garvin, shout out.

Josh:

As well as the CMO. But yeah, one of the big things that really helped Groove grow ... I think outside of just marketing, I think we can talk about YouTube. I think that we can talk about a lot of the fun stuff that we were doing on TikTok and Facebook ads. But I think that one of the things that really helped Groove grow is what we were already talking about was just adding in these new product lines. Because really that was kind of like the new revenue growth. Because I think that we had really saturated the silicone ring market of people who were probably going to buy a silicone ring regardless. And I think that we were capturing a lot of the attention of that market already. And we had quickly taken over a large market share from KLO and Enzo as well was one of our other competitors. But really adding in the belt and really increasing the revenue share into the Apple watch bands, that was actually kind of a huge component that enabled us to grow.

Josh:

So that's how I like to think of things is really your marketing strategy starts from your product development. I think that's one thing that Peter's really great at is thinking from a marketing perspective when he's designing each and every single product. What are the benefits? What are the calls to action that we can make inside an ad that's going to make this click worthy, inside the timeline? Right?

Brett:

Yeah. It's kind of the way Amazon does it, just to give a quick insight there. They start with the customer and work backwards. When they're doing a new initiative or a new product designer rollout, they think about what would we put in the press release? That's what they think about from the very beginning, because that forces them to think one, what is worth talking about here and what will people want and who would want this? And so it sounds like that's something Peter's really good at is thinking about, "Okay, if we're going to build this belt, what are the points of differentiation going to be? What are we going to be able to say in our ads and why will people fall in love with this?" And that's key because sometimes I think people are just like, "Hey, this market's hot. Let's just make a belt. We can sell it." But really thinking about marketing from the beginning is really smart.

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the other things that was really cool that we were able to do was ... I don't know. Have you ever seen ... Have you gotten the ads from Athletic Greens where they're running all the different ads from different influencer pages? Also, it feels like Athletic Greens has just been absolutely destroying everyone on ads recently in the last couple months.

Brett:

I heard of Athletic Greens through the Tim Ferris podcast. I don't see their ads much. I'm not sure why they're not targeting me specifically. But yeah, I'm very familiar with them, but just not their ads.

Josh:

Oh, that's funny. I've been talking with a lot of people on Twitter about everyone seems like they're getting the Athletic Greens ads.

Brett:

I'll visit their site and then I'll see what their remarketing game is like.

Josh:

There you go. Yeah. Check it out. But anyways, my main point was just around their influencer strategy of white labeling influencers. Just the added trust that you get from influencer marketing. And so we leveraged a lot of that for the Groove Life account to where inside Facebook, I was actually running 20 different ad accounts on behalf of Groove from different influencer accounts. And also even some of our licensing partnerships, like Mossy Oak Camo, Realtree Camo, all those guys. We were actually running ads from those accounts and being able to leverage their remarketing audiences.

Brett:

Yeah. So super smart. So you were basically ... You had access to their Facebook manager account. Mossy Oak and/or some of the influencers. You were running ads with their content, pointing people back to Groove Life, but you were doing all the spend. How did you position that? Because it's a real win-win for you and for the influencer, for you and the partner brand. How did you position that as a win-win?

Josh:

Yeah, for sure. It's definitely a case by case basis. Sometimes in the licensing contract it might come with that as part of the deal to where we get access to their ad account and can run ads through their pages. In the case of a smaller influencer, sometimes they got a 5% rev share through any revenue attributed through the Facebook account. Other ones were just a one time fee for the year. So we would sign an MMA athlete or we would sign a bull riding athlete. And so that would just be a part of the added fee for the year. But yeah, we'd set all those up basically for them and really leverage all the creative and start to do some fun remarketing campaigns where at seven days this person would see this on a site visit or then they would see this next page. And it just seems like you're omnipresent once you go through the remarketing funnel, of everyone's talking about you.

Brett:

Yeah. It kind of feels like you're everywhere and that everybody ... Especially if someone happens to be following multiple influencers which does happen in a given space. Then you turn around and you're like, "Whoa, everybody that I trust and know is talking about Groove Life. This is huge. They're everywhere." Omnipresent.

Josh:

Right. Yeah. Some people, I think, think white labeling is a silver bullet. Which I don't know that it really is you're just going to do white labeling and it's automatically going to get you a huge ROAS. But what I do think that it can enable you to do is to get into new markets. And so if you sign someone in bull riding or if you sign someone that's more of a fitness athlete, it lets you leverage that person's audience and that person's likeness into a new market that you maybe never had access to before where just running ads from your brand page would kind of be offsetting or it might not make a lot of sense. But this gives you a stepping stone into a new market and gives you new volume that you hadn't had before.

Brett:

I love it. I love it. I want to talk ambassador programs in a minute and then talk about what your agency is doing. But before we do that, I know one of the things we talked about ... And I talked to Peter about this too. He and I hung out at an event in October so we were talking about this. But going beyond attributed ROAS. So going beyond the ROAS, return on ads spend, that you can see in platform. Can you talk about that a little bit? How are you guys thinking about that? Because I know you're still running Facebook ads for some clients and you're still very plugged into that as you're doing ambassador stuff, but how are you going beyond attributed ROAS?

Josh:

Yeah, that's a great question. So what we like to do is we looked at just your blended ROAS overall on the whole store. But you obviously have to pay attention to some level of in platform reporting. And so, one of the things that we've been doing has been A, well, we like to use a tool called Triple Whale, which I've shared with you previously.

Brett:

Yeah. I've met with those guys. Yeah. They're great.

Josh:

Yeah. Those guys are awesome. Max and AJ have done a great job building out the platform. But basically being able to see ... Basically with Triple Whale you're able to see your in platform reporting from Facebook, in platform reporting from Google, it brings in your Shopify revenue, Collegio revenue, all those fun things and gives you your site wide media efficiency ratio and your site wide ROAS. And so we love to look at that first and foremost. But another thing that we're doing-

Brett:

That's the real number right? You got to know how each platform and each campaign is performing. But there's going to be some cloudiness there and multi-touch attribution still isn't perfect. And you've got iOS 14.5 and later issues. But knowing that blended or MER number of total ROAS, that's the key number.

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. That is the key number. And I think that a lot of people get caught up in the end platform reporting so they're not able to scale. And so one of the things I did last this last year in October was I took on a brand that was on a more of a profit share deal. And basically I installed a post-purchase survey where it was asking where'd you hear from us? It was actually from Inquire. Inquire Post-Purchase survey. It's an app on Shopify.

Brett:

Nice.

Josh:

It's really awesome. Check it out. But basically I installed that app and started getting almost 50% or 70% of people that were answering it were answering Facebook and Instagram. But really inside Facebook and Instagram, inside as manager I was getting a 1.0 ROAS. Maybe 1.2.

Brett:

... in platform, right?

Josh:

Yeah. I was getting really cheap cost per outbound clicks. And that was the cool thing is I was getting these really cheap clicks and so I doubled the budget immediately and all of a sudden my revenue doubled as well at a four or five X blended ROAS. And of course it was still-

Brett:

So your total ROAS was great. It's just the in platform it didn't look so rosy.

Josh:

Exactly. And so, we ended up quadrupling that store's revenue within three months, just because of that one change. And in platform, it looked like it sucked, but overall it was doing a four to five X ROAS after email marketing and all that fun stuff. And so I think that's definitely something to look at. Just kind of getting ... You have to have different touchpoints and understanding the whole marketing funnel, not just inside Facebook or inside Google.

Brett:

Yeah. And that's such good advice. And yeah, We hear really great things about Triple Whale. And I know Max so shout out to Max. They built a great tool. We also love Northbeam. Tool that we recommend to clients where it fits. But yeah, looking at how all of the platforms work together and then measuring your total ROAS is super important because ... We've seen this YouTube too. And we're more of a YouTube agency and we actually ... Our paths almost crossed. We helped Peter launch on YouTube and then ... Which the goal there is always we would launch it and then you guys would take it over and you did and did great.

Brett:

But we're seeing the same thing on YouTube as well where in platform you maybe seeing a 0.75 or a one ROAS, but you also notice that, yeah, but when we turn YouTube on Amazon sales go up and branded search and shopping go way up. They grow 300% in some cases. And so yeah, that's where you've got to look at the translation of what in platform numbers translate to the proper MER. That's the key. Not getting hung up on, I got to hit a four in platform, but I've got to hit a four total. What number in platform translates to that total number that I need to hit? So that's the real key. Yeah. Yeah.

Josh:

Absolutely.

Brett:

So talk about ambassador programs for just a little bit. What are you doing there now in your agency and maybe talk what you did at Groove as well. But what do those ambassador programs look like? Is that what you were just talking about where you take over people's ad accounts?

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, I'm really stoked about ambassador programs mainly because last year, I think a lot of brand owners, when iOS 14, iOS 15 started to hit, really, they saw that drop in their in platform ROAS. Everyone was like, "Okay, what are the other ways I can make money on my eCom store without spending money on ads?" The answer for a lot of people was, "I want to start a community." But I haven't really seen anyone build out a community well for eCommerce brands. There's very few. You can kind of look at maybe PureVita or you can maybe look at MVMT watches or maybe Gymshark. More of these huge legacy ... Now legacy eCom unicorns.

Josh:

But I really want to set out to really build communities for eCom brands to do one of three things. The first is really driving organic traffic in sales through influencers. Just through influencers. And so that way you're getting the benefit of the organic audience, getting that organic traffic, which a lot of brands struggle with. But then number two is maybe the most important, which is getting the creative from those influencers and being able to leverage that across channels. And so by building an ambassador program, you're actually building out a well of creative to where it's getting refreshed every single month and you can refresh your ad account instead of running your same old static image ads that you're running from your product pages. You're getting something fresh and you're getting some more EGC style creative. And so my thesis is basically, what's going to perform better? The ad that two white guys thought of in a studio together trying to shoot on a backdrop or giving creators your product to help build a new piece of creative?

Brett:

Yeah. It's so good. Yeah. Do the best ideas or the best ads come from sitting around the boardroom so to speak and white boarding ideas and stuff? Maybe, but probably not. Probably your next breakthrough ad is going to come from an actual user, an actual customer, an actual influencer. And so we love this. And I know on the Facebook and Instagram side, you've got to be generating new content. It's very content hungry and that monthly refresh or even more often in some cases. We see the same thing on YouTube where we want to be testing regularly. We also find that creatives last a little longer on YouTube. So maybe it's more like a quarterly refresh, but you still want new, fresh creatives and you don't want to have to be the one racking your brain and coming up with new hooks and new product demos and new appeals to get someone to take action. Let your users, let influencers do that. So that's what you're doing here. So any tips or suggestions? How does one go about building an ambassador program? Other than calling Josh, which I would recommend doing that too. But how can you build an ambassador program? What does that look like?

Josh:

Yeah, for sure. So what I always like to say is your best ambassadors are the people who have already bought from you. And so I always love to start ... I always like to launch an ambassador program to your existing customers. And so that's what we do with each brand. We actually go to their current customer list and we launch. We'll use a piece of software. There's a bunch of different softwares that you can use for this. Our preferred one is Dovetail. It's a great piece of tech. It's also very affordable. It's not going to charge you $2,000 a month like most influencer softwares are. And you can actually have them apply to your program. And maybe you give them a 10% commission on confirmed sales from the organic following, but really the benefit is A, they already have your product so most likely you're not going to have to ship out more product to them if they already have it. Obviously very dependent on the category.

Josh:

But then you're actually enabling them to share about why they love your product so much. And so that is actually going to flood your applications to where you might get 80 new applications from your existing customers. And then from there, it's really on doing outreach to new ambassadors that make sense for your brand. And so what we like to do is really building out campaign briefs. Really asking for more of a testimonial style piece of creative. That seems to be the easiest way to shoot. Face the camera, displaying the product, talking about the three things they love about it and having a call to action.

Brett:

You're giving them that direction of, "Hey, you face the camera, have the product and just tell us the two or three things you love about it." Is that the instruction you're giving ambassadors?

Josh:

Yeah, exactly. But also past that. The two biggest problems we normally see with ambassador programs is A, there's usually a lack of support. Just because usually it's a social media marketer in-house or a performance marketer in-house. They're trying to run this while doing a million other things. So that's one big thing. Then the second one is just poor tracking of ROI. So a lot of people, they either don't have any links that are tracking the sales or they're not leveraging it into pay to really see how you're monetizing the ads. But the third one is just treating every influencer the same. And that might be the first tier of having a testimonial style video. But what if you have an influencer that has 500,000 followers that's been around the block and can actually build out some really gnarly creative. Then you really want to have them in a different here of like your ambassador program so that they're getting a high touch treatment.

Josh:

So maybe you're hopping on a Zoom call with them once a month, talking to them about your promo calendar, showing them, "Hey, here's how I think we help you earn more money." And have a greater level of partnership. And really just developing that relationship so that maybe you eventually put them on a retainer. Because influencers, they really want a long term partnership and consistent income. Those are the two things they want the most. And so if you can paint that picture for them, then you're going to have a really successful program as long as you deliver on your end. And so, yeah, just out of that we're able to get tons of new creative every month from your ambassador program and just keeping them up to date on what your promo calendar looks like and inviting them to new campaigns. We like to build out new campaigns usually every six to eight weeks, so that it's staying top of mind and so that they can continue to earn commission.

Brett:

New campaigns to outreach to find new ambassadors or new campaigns running ambassador content, promoting the product and stuff?

Josh:

New campaigns to your existing ambassadors. So once you maybe sign a hundred ambassadors, just keeping your new campaigns internally for those ambassadors. To be posting about whether it's a new product, a new promotion, maybe you want to launch them all at the same time. All those kind of things can help grow your ambassador program.

Brett:

It's amazing. I love it. And yeah, I'm sure the 80/20 rule, or maybe it's the 90/10 or 95/5, where 80% of your results are coming from 20% of your ambassadors or maybe it's again 90% coming from 10%. But you've got to focus in on those influencers that are really making a big impact and make sure they have everything they need and make sure they stay motivated and make sure they're incentivized and all those things. That totally, totally makes sense.

Brett:

Well, let's do this Josh because we've only got couple minutes left. Tell me a little bit about your agency and what you do specifically. And then I know you've got some really cool resources to help people get started with ambassador marketing. So let's talk about that.

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. So our agency's called it alignedgrowthmanagement.com and we help eCommerce brands scale to multi seven figures, multi eight figure brands. And yeah, right now we're really focusing on helping scale ambassador programs and doing your paid social as well as a part of that. But yeah, we just actually put together this really cool Google Drive of creative from seven figure, eight figure and actually one nine figure brand in there that we took their top UGC that has done over six or seven figures in sales. And so you can actually come and see what that creative is at alignedgrowthmanagement.com/newsletter. And we're actually going to give you a quick breakdown of 10 different brands and then links to each video so that you can actually duplicate that and take those principles and apply that to your own creative. And hopefully that'll see your cost per clicks decrease and your conversion rate increase.

Brett:

Awesome. So again, that's alignedgrowthmanagement.com/newsletter. Did I get that right?

Josh:

Yep.

Brett:

Awesome. So check that out. I think one of the best ways to learn is by looking at other successful ... Even if it's UGC, where you're not the one actually creating this. Your influencers or your customers are going to be creating it. When you see UGC that's done well, that really strikes that emotional chord and is motivating and convincing and compelling and all that, it can help you understand how do I coach my people to do that? And then also, how do I identify when I get some of this UGC back from my brand? How do I identify which ones I want to run and which ones I don't? And so highly recommend you check that out. And then, Josh, you guys are also for hire as well right? So if someone's like, "Hey, I want to build an ambassador program." And I know you guys are full and probably got a backlog, but you guys are for hire for that as well, correct?

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. Just come to our site and book a call and happy to chat to see if we can help.

Brett:

Awesome. Sounds good, man. Well, this has been a ton of fun. I'm actually a little disappointed that we're out of time because I have more questions about Groove Life and about ambassador programs and about all of it but we'll have to consider round two at some point. So Josh, this has been fantastic, man. Thank you so much for the time. Any other parting words of wisdom, any asks of the audience? Anything you want to wrap up with?

Josh:

No, I don't think I have anything else. If you want to really connect with me, I'm pretty active on Twitter, @JoshJDurham. And I'm always chatting about D2C growth, how I hate oat milk, and lots of other things on Twitter. So I would love to connect with you there.

Brett:

Continue that conversation. Share you your hatred for oat milk as well. Follow at ... You said it's @JoshJDurham?

Josh:

Yes, sir.

Brett:

Awesome. I'll link to that in the show notes as well so you guys can find that. But Josh, thanks man. Been a ton of fun.

Josh:

Thanks, Brett.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. And thank you for tuning in. We love your trust and your support of this podcast and hey, if you haven't subscribed, if you haven't liked ... Actually liked is not a thing. If you haven't given a review or if you haven't shared this podcast, do that. We love that. It helps other people find this podcast of course. And helps us impact and reach more people. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.









Episode 189
:
Kim and Tim Lewis - CurlMix

How to Raise $4 Million in Crowdfunded Equity

Kim and Tim have been on Shark Tank and they were featured as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things.

Kim and Tim Lewis are truly an inspiring success story. They’re happily married with 3 kids. They run a business that just raised $4 Million in crowd-funded equity. They’ve been on Shark Tank and they were featured as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things. They have huge goals for the future. So what is their brand Curl Mix? It’s a line of hair care products formulated for curly hair…and it has a raving fan base. 


In this merchant success episode we unpack some key lessons including:

  • How Curl Mix got started and how doing FB lives from the shower helped their products go viral
  • How they got on shark tank and tips for doing the same
  • The definition and explanation crowdfunded equity 
  • 3 tips for raising $4.5 million + of crowdfunded equity
  • How CurlMix plans to become a black-owned P&G
  • How to increase recurring revenue
  • Plus more!

Mentioned in this Episode:

Kim Lewis

   - Via LinkedIn

Tim Lewis

   - Via LinkedIn


Kim & Tim Lewis Instagram

- Instagram

CurlMix

   - Website

   - Wefunder


Blue Ribbon Mastermind

“Influence” by Robert Cialdini

“Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” by Ryan Holiday

Ring

eE 112 Liz Germain

Jeff Weiner

Wefunder

StartEngine

Republic

Adam Goldenberg

Fabletics

Savage X Fenty

Kate Hudson


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 have a merchant success story, and it's one that I'm just super excited to dive into this. I think I'm going to have as much or more fun recording this than you will listening to it. This is an amazing power couple in the eCommerce space that I had the privilege of meeting in Denver several months ago at Ezra Firestone's Blue Ribbon Mastermind. We met, I was like, "Man, you guys are awesome. What you're doing is amazing. And so, let's get on the podcast and talk about it."

Brett:

This episode of the eCommerce Evolution podcast is brought to you by OMG Commerce Resources. That's right. Here at OMG Commerce, we want to help make sure you're educated and in the know, to capitalize on the latest tips, tricks, and strategies to help you grow your eCommerce business. So if you go to omgcommerce.com and under resources, click on guides, we have some cutting edge free information for you on things like how to dominate with Amazon DSP ads, or how to use Amazon sponsor brand video ads, and how to craft the perfect ad.

Brett:

We have several guides on how to capitalize on YouTube ads. From creating the perfect ad, to knowing when you're ready to scale. Plus there's the newly updated Google shopping guide. Plus more. Check it all out at omgcommerce.com and click on guides under resources. And now, back to the show.

Brett:

So I have with me today the husband and wife team, Kim Lewis and Tim Lewis, Kim is CEO, Tim is COO. They're co-founders of CurlMix, and they've been on Shark Tank, been on Oprah's Favorite Things. They're ruling the world. Tim even went to college in my home state of Missouri. And so, just thrilled to have you guys on the show. So Kim, Tim, welcome, and how's it going?

Kim:

We're doing well. Thank you for having us, Brett. We're excited to be here.

Tim:

Oh yes.

Brett:

... just look fantastic. You guys just look cute. You look like you know what you're doing? And you all look snuggled in there...

Tim:

That's half the battle

Brett:

It is.

Kim:

That's so kind, but thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Brett:

So lots, lots we want to unpack here. And then I love doing these types of interviews because I think we all learn from success stories, and we learn from failures along the way as well. But you guys have just done some amazing things. I love your site. I love your brand. I love how you guys have been able to grow.

Brett:

So, talk a little bit... And also, side note. So you guys are married, but you met in high school. So you guys have known each other since high school, got married after college, running a successful business together. What is it like? And how did this come to be? Because you guys look like you still like each other.

Tim:

I actually do. Kim is my person. She's my best friend. So I'm an introvert. And so all this entrepreneurship stuff

Brett:

You're an introvert?

Tim:

Yeah. I play a really good extrovert on TV, but honestly I'm an introvert. And Kim is my one person, and we're best friends. She likes me still so far, so I haven't messed that up. But I met Kim first period... No. Freshman year, second period gym class.

Brett:

Nice. Met in gym class.

Tim:

Oh yeah. Yeah, you know what? It took me a little while...

Brett:

So who was interested first? And sorry if I cut you off, but who was interested first?

Tim:

Yeah. It was actually-

Kim:

It was Tim.

Tim:

It was me. She caught my eye. We were sitting in the same line in gym, and I was like, "Man, she's super cute."

Kim:

He barely made the class. I wasn't checking for him. I was like, "I'm going to date somebody who's going to class."

Tim:

That's true. But it took me a couple weeks to build up my confidence and go talk to her. And I talked to her after school, we were chit chatting at her locker. And then out of nowhere, she introduces me to her boyfriend who walks behind me... Ugh, whatever.

Brett:

Take that, Tim. Yeah.

Tim:

Until junior year until she was available again, and we started talking. And we finally made it official our junior year.

Brett:

Junior year. I admire that persistence, Tim. And Kim, I'm just curious, and this is relationship or a dating podcast, but this is super fun and interesting. What won you over? What was it? Because Tim's a good looking guy, but what finally convinced you?

Kim:

It wasn't his looks. He's cute, but it was... Tim was the nicest guy I've ever met, and today is still the nicest guy I've ever met. And so, every time I think about... I go to a lot of conferences. I meet attractive men who make a lot of money, but I'm like, "This guy's not going to do all the things that Tim has done for me or treat me the way that Tim has treated me." And I'm reminded of that ...

Tim:

Trying to get points over here.

Kim:

Stop ...

Brett:

You guys a recording of this, just anytime you need it

Tim:

Need a clip. We're going to run it on a loop.

Brett:

That's awesome, guys. Well, really excited to be chatting with you. So let's talk about CurlMix because like I mentioned, I love your brand, and you guys have done some amazing things from Shark Tank appearance to Oprah's Favorite Things, to now you got a VIP membership and all kinds of crazy stuff that we'll dive into several things, but what's the origin story? Where did the idea for this business come from? And how'd you guys launch?

Kim:

CurlMix, I like to say that it's my... This is CurlMix 3.0 right now, because initially we started a social network for natural hair. So niche social network, though, don't work. And that's what you learn the tech industry.

Tim:

Yeah. We were fresh out of college when we started that business.

Kim:

Yes.

Tim:

We had just read 4-Hour Workweek, and we were oh, we'll be internet entrepreneurs.

Kim:

And didn't actually have a business model. We didn't have a way to make money. So I was like, "The next time I start a business, on day one we're going to make money." And at the time, I was making all my haircare products at home. And I was like, "Man, if somebody would just send this to me in a box, this would save me so much time." And so, Tim convinced me to launch it.

Brett:

Now, why were you making stuff from home? You just couldn't find anything that actually worked for you?

Kim:

Yeah. So a lot of women who have curly, kinky hair, we don't... Early in the early 2000s, there was nothing on the shelf for us. And if it was, you didn't know if it was any good, you didn't know if you could trust it. And many of us, we had straight hair our entire lives. So we didn't know even how to use the products sometimes. So many of us spent hours and hours on YouTube, learning how to do our hair and learning what products to use. And in that journey, some of us end up making things at home because we can't find what we want on the shelves.

Tim:

And not just making stuff at home, but she would go to Whole Foods, spend hundreds of dollars, come back, destroy the kitchen and leave me with the dishes, and may or may not even like what she made. so it wasn't all roses and rainbows.

Kim:

Yeah. I'm sorry. I did. I skipped a bunch. And then, I was watching an episode of Shark Tank one day, and this lady was doing it with organic cookies. She was having everything prepackaged and put it in a box, and then you go home and you make the organic cookies. You didn't have to shop for anything, and you knew it was organic. And I was like, "I wonder if anyone's doing this for hair?" And Tim was like, "You should do it." And we did it. Sold one box to my cousin, I was like, "This is a failure." He's like, "No, Kim, if Airbnb can relaunch seven times, surely CurlMix can relaunch twice."

Brett:

Nice. I Love that. Yeah.

Tim:

Yeah. We just didn't know what we were doing. So we read a bunch of books, things like Influence by Robert Cialdini.

Brett:

Classic.

Tim:

I think Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday. It was just anything to learn how to pitch journalists, how to get press. And so we ended up relaunching a month later. We were able to line up not only press appearances, but a partnership with a large influencer in the space. And we ended up selling 100 boxes on that first day, including another box to my cousin.

Brett:

Repeat customer. Your cousin is a big part of this story.

Tim:

She's now our chief of operations too.

Brett:

Nice.

Tim:

So she's the CurlMix ... diehard.

Kim:

Yeah. And so we did that, and we did that for two years, the DIY box. I think our best year, we made close to 200K, but it wasn't enough for me to work working in tech full time. And so, our best customers started to unsubscribe because they basically were like, "I can't do a lot with all these boxes. Every time I go to do my hair, I still have to make my products." And they were still buying ready made products.

Kim:

And at that time, our flaxseed gel was our number one selling box. It was the one thing everybody was buying over and over and over again. And the reason they were doing that is because it wasn't on the shelves. No manufacturer would make flaxseed gel because you literally boil raw flaxseeds and extract the gel, and it helps give you this hairstyle.

Tim:

Yeah. And we know... They wouldn't make it because we asked them.` I think we got turned down four times when we tried to ... and they just said, "It's too variable. It's too hard to preserve." No one had figured that out yet. And we got the ...

Brett:

Challenge accepted and opportunity ...

Kim:

Yes.

Tim:

We got the advice from our advisors. You never just stop selling your best selling product. Just find a way to make this work. Because if you do, you have something great. So Kim being the entrepreneur and hero that she is, she spent a month in our kitchen, whipping up 50, 60 different batches, seven months pregnant, mind you.

Kim:

Look at that.

Tim:

Until we finally got something that worked and was preserved. And we decided we've done the entrepreneurship stuff for a while now. We know what we're doing. Let's make sure people actually want this, so let's pre-sell it. So we don't make anything yet. Let's just see if people actually want it. We opened up, I think, 60 spots at the time, because that's how much we could make in a pot on our stove. And we were like, "Let's just sell those 60 and see if people want it."

Kim:

And we sold at the same price we were selling the box for. But the margins on the bottle were 70%, and the margins on the box for 30%.

Brett:

That's amazing.

Kim:

And we sold out twice, basically hundreds in amount of hours. And after that we were like, "This is it." So we pivot the entire business. We threw out six months of box content and-

Tim:

Yeah, we had worked with influencers, we'd done photo shoots, we had ingredients. And we just had to...

Brett:

Man, this is it. Yeah. Because people don't want to mix their own hair products. It was easier, way easier than what you were doing back in the Whole Foods days, but still people want it in a bottle, and so-

Kim:

Exactly. So we pivot the business, and ...

Tim:

Yeah, that was January 2018. Mind you, our first baby boy was born December 2nd, 2018.

Kim:

2017.

Tim:

2017.

Kim:

Yeah.

Tim:

It's his birthday today, by the way.

Brett:

Hey, happy birthday, little man. All right.

Kim:

Happy birthday,...And so we did a million that year in revenue after we pivoted. And so, it was like, oh this is... So Tim quit his job, came to work for the business. And then the next year, we were on Shark Tank, and then we helped propel us to about five million in revenue. ... completely last two years really a lot of success, but the first four to five years, we were struggling.

Brett:

Yeah. But so you were an overnight success story that was five years in the making, like mostovernight success stories. So let's talk a little bit about Shark Tank. I know some people want to get on, and other people were just interested by it. So what was that process like, and how did you get on Shark Tank?

Tim:

Sure. So ...

Brett:

You guys were fans of the show, right? You were fans of the show for ... Yeah.

Tim:

We watched all the episodes and even more, once we found out we were going to be on the show, but I'll jump into that.

Kim:

You know what's funny, though, after you go on the show, the people who go on the show stop watching.

Tim:

That's true.

Brett:

Have you guys stopped watching?

Tim:

Sort of.

Kim:

Yes

Tim:

Yeah.

Kim:

I've met a ton of founders who no longer watch ... who were on the show.

Brett:

Is it because the mystique is gone and because maybe it wasn't... Or maybe your perspective on the sharks change a little bit or something like that?

Kim:

I think it's the mystique. I think it's not knowing what goes into it makes it alluring or just interesting, like, "Oh my god. If I could just get in front of the sharks." Yeah. But when you really peel back the layers, it's six months of a part-time, sometimes full-time job, getting ready for the show ...Just to get ready.

Kim:

Yeah. So it's intense. But go ahead on the show, yeah.

Tim:

So January 2018, we got rid of all of our boxes. We basically had no sales. I think we had our lowest month in sales ever. Kim cried. And she was like, "This is stupid. We made a mistake." But I was like, "You know what? Let's just keep going." And then she said, "If we can just double, we'll be okay." So we ended up doing more than double, 8,000 that month. And then if we can double next month, we'll be even better. We ended up tripling to over $30,000.

Brett:

What were you guys doing for traffic at that point? Just curious, how were you driving traffic...

Kim:

We were not spending money on Facebook ads yet. So we were working with micro influencers ...revenue sharing.

Tim:

Email list.

Brett:

Yeah.

Tim:

we didn't have any SMS then, either.

Kim:

No, SMS wasn't even a thing.

Brett:

You were just hustling.

Kim:

Yes. We hustled our way to 30K a month. And then we started investing in Facebook ads right around... Because we knew who we were talking to then, and we knew what they were buying, who our competitor was. So we did that. And then we got to the million in... Oh no, right around March. That was March when we got 30K revenue. And then ...

Tim:

We were like, "We need help," at that point.

Kim:

Yeah.

Tim:

So that's when I quit my job. I told Kim, "I got three months of savings. If I quit my job, we got to be able to pay ourselves in three months."

Kim:

But the Shark Tank, I want to get back to the question, because he basically said... So Tim's aunt called us. And she was like, "Yeah, I know you guys are doing your little business." I said, "Yeah, a little business." And she's like, "Well, they're doing a casting for Shark Tank at UIUC. And I think you guys should go." And we were like, "Oh, we didn't know that." And at the time, our baby was coming everywhere with us because we didn't... he's five months, six months. And he goes to the casting with us.

Tim:

Yeah. It's literally the next day. We have to throw together a pitch. She called us Wednesday ...threw together a pitch overnight, took him to the pitch with us because we couldn't find a babysitter. He sleeps. He sleeps the whole way through the ...

Brett:

That away.

Tim:

And then when we get up to pitch, he wakes up and starts crying.

Brett:

Okay. ...pitch, okay. He was resting up. He was resting those lungs, so the pitch... because he wanted to be part of the pitch too, guys. You can't just... he wanted to be part of the business, like I got something to say here.

Kim:

Man, and we were pitching, he starts crying, we grab one of the boxes and give it to him. And we're Kim and Tim. It was literally hilarious.

Tim:

We thought we bombed. We thought they were like, "This is the worst pitch we'd ever done" But they loved it. They loved us. They liked our story, and they were like, "You know what? You guys made it to the next round."

Kim:

Well, they called us back in two weeks. So, I had been scrolling through my email like a hawk, looking through all the spam for two weeks. And then one day, Tim heard me scream really loud in the house. And he's like, "We got our shark thing." And I was like, "We did." He knew because I was acting crazy.

Tim:

I think I was in the basement. I heard her from two floors.

Brett:

That's awesome. That's awesome. So then it sounds like that really blew up the business, right?

Kim:

We had made a million dollars before we even-

Tim:

Before we aired the show.

Kim:

Yes. And then the year that we aired, that month we were spending heavy, I would say, on Facebook ads.

Brett:

Got it.

Kim:

So we probably...

Brett:

You had a lot of momentum anyway.

Kim:

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Tim:

And that took it just way off... I think we were doing maybe 300K per month at that point. And then the month of Shark Tank, we did almost a million in just that month.

Brett:

That's awesome.

Tim:

Which we weren't quite prepared for either.

Kim:

No way.

Brett:

That's the way it goes so many times. You're not ready for that bump from... And then you guys did it again, probably, with Oprah. It's just this massive influx of traffic.

Kim:

But what I would say though, too. I've had a few friends go on Shark Tank after, and what I have learned, it really matters the order in which you go up. If you go up first, second, third, or fourth on the show, that determines how big your revenue is. Because we did do 900,000 that month, but we probably spent two something on ads that month. So it was a proper 3X ROAS and everything. And if we weren't spending it on ads, maybe we would've done 500 or 600 or something like that, I would probably think. But we went up, I think, third in that episode, didn't we?

Brett:

Gotcha.

Kim:

And I had a friend who sells lashes, and she went up first. And she did, I don't know, maybe a million in two days or something crazy.

Brett:

Wow. Wow.

Kim:

And she's a product that everybody can use, all women can use. And so it really does matter if it's consumer friendly, if you go up first, and if it's something that everybody can use.

Brett:

Makes sense.

Kim:

And if it's more drama in your episode. If you cry or if you do a big production ...

Brett:

Sharks get in a fight or something, or you get a fight with them or something. Yeah. Yeah. Because it's TV, man. They want good. They want action on TV, and it is about drama. That totally makes sense. So any tips or suggestions would you give? Who would you advise, "Hey yeah, it's worth trying to get on Shark Tank," or who would you advise, "No, don't bother."... Do you have any thoughts there?

Kim:

Yeah. If you have a demonstrable product, like the Scrub Daddy guy, he got on there and it was totally HSN. He was like, "You can clean this, you can clean that. You can clean it all over. Look at this, brand new."

Tim:

"Wait, there's more." You can really get into the presentation and wow people, you've got it. The other thing is just having a really great story as well. So we have the benefit of being high school sweethearts from the South Side of Chicago, making a product in a space that is underserved.

Brett:

Yes.

Tim:

So, and then on top of that, Kim decided to turn down almost a half a million dollars. And so it played really, really well.

Brett:

So can you talk about that? Was there fighting at this point? Was Tim like, "What are you doing?" Or were you guys in agreement, like, "No, this is not the right deal. We got to turn this down." And also, what Shark offered you the deal?

Tim:

What were you thinking?

Kim:

So Robert Herjavec offered us $400,000 for equity stake in the business. Now-

Tim:

20%, at that point.

Kim:

20%. But I'll back up. When we were on the show, we were already going to make a million that year. We were already on track to do a million. And this is September, so you know your numbers are pretty solid.We could have gotten angel deals from other, or syndicate deals for a six to seven million dollar valuation. When I looked back, actually compared it to Ring. You know the founder of Ring...his name? He came on the show, asking for a seven million dollar valuation, and he got crushed by the sharks. They're like, "Absolutely not. Why do you think you're worth that? Get out of our face." That was literally the... And I think they brought it down to four or something, or he tried to bring it down to four, and they wouldn't.

Kim:

So that was the... I'm like, "Dang, okay. Well, that's what we're worth, but that's too high for the sharks. So we'll cut it in half, we'll offer a four million dollar valuation for 10% equity in the company." And then Robert cut that in half and was like, "No, you're only worth two million dolla